Best Web Conferencing Software 2021
Web conferencing software is a key element to helping your employees connect and move projects forward. In this review, we’ll walk you through what web conferencing is exactly, how this type of software may benefit your business, and what to look out for when selecting one. After that, we will introduce five of our top web conferencing tools in 2021.
While online meetings were still a new concept in the early 2000’s, they’re an inevitable part of our work and lifestyle today. Think about the number of times you’ve hopped on a video conference for work or a casual group call to chat with your friends this week. Technology has enabled us to talk in real-time with people miles away from us and in completely different time zones. There is a variety of software out there that empowers online meetings, but let’s focus on web conferencing software that is catered for businesses.
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How do I choose the best web conferencing software for my business
When it comes to video calls, businesses often have more complex needs than just the ability to see a few faces. Besides the ability to hold and attend meetings over the internet, web conferencing software for businesses typically supports instant messaging, Q&A, file sharing, and screen sharing — to name a few. These functions are integral for remote employees, customers, and partners to connect. Some use cases for such web conferencing software include presentations and webinars, company-wide conference calls, work training, and real-time customer support. Meeting online means that employees across the world can talk whenever and wherever possible while cutting down on costs related to business travel. Sounds cost-efficient, right?
Top 5 Rated Web Conferencing Services
Best for quality and screen sharing
Ever since the pandemic, Zoom has become one of the most popular platforms for video calls among coworkers and friends. Zoom has a very easy-to-use interface and is quick to set up. You can take Zoom calls on your web browser, desktop app, and mobile app. If your internet is unstable, you can dial in using the phone numbers provided. Let’s take a closer look at Zoom’s features:
- Superior audio and video quality: Zoom provides HD video and audio, which is why you seldom encounter lags on your calls. The HD video is so clear that you can see every little detail of your coworkers’ faces.
- Quick screen sharing: Depending on the format of your call, you will see different functionalities at the bottom of the screen. Screen sharing is easy and allows you to only show a particular tab or application that you’re using. When you’re sharing your screen, you can also annotate, which helps direct your teammates’ attention and generate ideas.
- Max 1,000 participants: Zoom supports up to 1,000 participants at one single meeting and up to 49 videos on a single screen. You can pin someone’s video and just watch them talk, or choose Gallery view where you can see everybody. With such a big group, you can also mute all participants so there won’t be embarrassing noise disruption.
- Easy scheduling through email: You can schedule Zoom meetings directly on Gmail, Outlook, and iCal. You can also directly share a URL and passcode (if any) to a meeting. Feel free to record your meetings and they’ll be saved to the cloud or locally — depending on your preference. These recordings also come with transcripts with searchable text.
Free version available. Paid plans start from $149.90 per year per license. Additional add-ons available.
Best for large enterprise meetings
As part of the Microsoft 365 family of products, Microsoft Teams is the go-to for many large enterprises when it comes to video conferencing tools. You can create group chats, store files, and integrate with many other apps on Teams. Like Zoom, Teams lets you take calls on a web browser, their desktop app, and mobile app. Other features include:
- HD video quality: HD video is possible on Teams, although many users have reported that video quality is better on Zoom. For best quality, make sure you’re connected to a stable internet and that there’s plenty of light where you’re taking the call.
- Give easy desktop control: You can share your screen on Teams as well as request or give control. This feature is especially helpful when you encounter a technical problem and need an IT team member to control your computer and fix the problem for you. Chat is available during audio and video calls, and you can raise your hand to get the speaker’s attention as well.
- Enormous 10,000-participant meetings: Microsoft Teams is great for large enterprises as it allows up to 10,000 participants to join a meeting. That’s one of the biggest numbers of participants possible on web conferencing tools.
- Single-click scheduling: You can schedule Teams meetings on Teams or Outlook. With just a single click you can share the meeting invite among your company. For external guests, they can join using a web browser. Also, meetings can be recorded and the recording will be uploaded to the cloud.
Microsoft Teams comes for free as part of some Microsoft 365 plans. Otherwise, paid plans start from $5 per month per feature. Free trial available.
Best for long meetings and live streams
Google Meet is part of the Google Workspace platform and allows easy scheduling and meeting between coworkers, friends, and family. Its free version allows up to 100 people to attend a meeting at the same time. With a paid plan, you can even live stream a meeting to 100,000 viewers within the same domain.
As part of the Google Workspace office productivity platform, Google Meet is used by companies large and small to hold and attend meetings. No app is needed to participate in a Google Meet call; all you need is a URL. If you’re on the go, you can download the mobile app (available on both iOS and Android) or dial in using a dedicated number. There are quite a few perks to this platform:
- AI background noise cancellation: Google Meet has fairly good quality as the software is smart enough to adjust to your network speed. Their AI enhancements also help reduce background noise so that other people can always hear you clearly.
- Wide range of collaboration possibilities You can choose to share either your entire screen or just a window when collaborating with coworkers. You can also distribute participants into breakout rooms, set up polls, host Q&A, and let participants raise their hands virtually for questions.
- 100,000-participant live streaming: Usually, Google Meet allows up to 250 participants to a meeting. If it’s a live stream meeting, up to 100,000 viewers within the same domain can attend at the same time. This is great for businesses and schools with big town halls and assemblies!
- Check teammates’ calendars at a glance: Since Google Meet is part of the Google Workspace platform, it integrates with Google Calendar perfectly. You can check a coworker’s calendar and compare it to yours to quickly see when is a good time to meet for the both of you. You can record a meeting for up to eight hours.
Free version available. Paid plans with Google Workspace start from $8 per month per user. Free trial available.
Best for recording meetings
Founded in 2009, BlueJeans is another popular choice for business video conferencing needs. The software is compatible with Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android, as well as on all web browsers. BlueJeans is tailored for businesses for many reasons:
- 720p video quality: Video quality is usually great at 720p, and audio comes through clearly. That said, we’ve seen reports saying that there may be a delay of about 1.5 seconds.
- No meeting time limit: This is where BlueJeans excels. There is no time limit to meetings, and hosts can create up to 20 breakout sessions to distribute participants. Not only can you share your screen, but you can also annotate with whiteboard features, and allow remote desktop access. All of these tools help encourage engagement and collaboration.
- Town halls up to 5,000 participants: Maximum 100 participants at the same time for a meeting. With a special service, you can host up to 5,000 participants for town halls, trainings, and other large-scale video events.
- Segmented recording for easy catch-up: It’s easy to schedule meetings with BlueJeans. Once you have your meeting ID, you can also click to copy and share it with your teammates. Meetings can be recorded and broken down into chapters, with segment highlights. This makes watching a meeting recording much easier to follow!
From $9.99 per month per host.
Best for people on the go
Founded in 2004, GoToMeeting has been enabling teams to host and attend video conferences for more than a decade. It has an impressive list of features for business uses. You can attend a meeting on a web browser, desktop app, or mobile app. Let’s take a look at the platform’s features:
- HD video quality by default: All video conferences are streamed in HD by default, so you can always see your teammates’ faces clearly. Audio quality is enhanced by default.
- New note-taking function: Like other web conferencing tools, GoToMeeting supports screen sharing. For Business plan users, you can even launch a virtual whiteboard for participants to mark up presentations. Recently, GoToMeeting introduced a note-taking feature, enabling you to type notes directly into the video conferencing window and send out your notes to all the participants as soon as a meeting ends. There are no tools for polls or quizzes, however.
- Max 3,000 participants: GoToMeeting supports up to 150 people in a meeting. If you need more seats, upgrade to the Enterprise plan and you can hold meetings for 3,000 participants.
- Host a personal meeting room: The scheduling process is fast as you’d have set up some default settings from the get-go. In addition to that, you can host a personal room that’s always active and open for others to join. If you want more security, you can create a password for your meeting or personalize your meeting room link. Meetings can be recorded and shared.
Paid plans start from $12 per month per organizer.
Our Rating Process
There are a few important criteria to consider when selecting a video conferencing software, including:
We all know the struggle of being on a call with someone who cuts out every three seconds or whose face always looks pixelated. If you don’t want to be that person, choose software that does a good job in enhancing the overall audio and video quality. This can be done so through noise cancellation, adjusting users with low bandwidth, and auto-muting non-speaking participants.
Frequently Asked Questions
While Webex has many good features, Zoom appears to be superior in many ways. For example, video quality is much better on Zoom than on Webex. When it comes to the number of participants, Zoom can support up to 1,000 while Webex only 200. While both support screen sharing and co-browsing, Zoom lets you allocate participants into breakout rooms, a feature that fosters more in-depth conversations. In addition, you can also see who’s attended a meeting, after a meeting. This feature isn’t available on Webex. Last but not least, Zoom has a much easier user interface — the buttons you need are right there so less time is wasted on trying to figure out how to use a platform.
Zoom and Skype are pretty comparable in terms of capabilities. However, it does seem like Zoom has an edge over Skype. While both Zoom and Skype support video quality up to 1080p and allow users to join meetings using a web browser without signing in, Zoom’s Enterprise plan supports up to 1,000 participants, while Skype only 300. Moreover, Zoom allows participants to join smaller, more dedicated breakout rooms as well as to raise their hands virtually. These are things that users can’t do on Skype. Last but not least, with Zoom, paid plans charge by the number of hosts, not users (which is the case of Skype), so it might be a more cost-efficient solution than Skype is.
Web conferencing software works by allowing you to hold real-time meetings, presentations, webinars, and trainings via the internet on TCP/IP networks. Most tools let you join meetings via web browser, phone dial-in, mobile app, and desktop app.
To enjoy all the features of web conferencing software, you need to be connected to stable internet, a webcam, and a microphone. Most software support collaborative activities such as screen sharing, instant messaging, giving/requesting desktop control, file sharing, and whiteboarding. They are also integratable with popular calendar tools so that you can easily send invitations to participants.
After reviewing so many different web conferencing tools, we can conclude that Zoom has an edge over other tools. Mainly because of its superior HD video quality and user-friendly interface. The tool is simple, yet full of functionality. It can support up to 1,000 participants at one meeting, allows screen sharing and breakout rooms, and is integrated with popular email providers such as Outlook and Gmail.