The Best Video Conferencing Service Reviews of 2020

By
Chad Brooks
,
business.com writer
| Updated
Apr 23, 2020
Image Credit: EvgeniyShkolenko / Getty Images

With such a wide array of video conferencing services to choose from, finding the solution that best fits your business can be a difficult task. To help you narrow down your options, we spend weeks studying and evaluating the top video conference services on the market.

Best Picks

GoToMeeting
GoToMeeting
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Video conferencing services are an increasingly important communication tool for businesses of all sizes, allowing team members or stakeholders in different locations to meet "face to face" with high-definition video and audio feeds. The best video conferencing solutions make communicating with team members and customers across the world an easy process.  

It's not only for face-to-face communication; video conferencing software also makes actual collaboration easier. Team members can work together in real time, with tools to help them brainstorm and hash out ideas together. Features like screen sharing, whiteboarding and presenter swapping all contribute to an environment that breeds new ideas and solutions, rather than just discussion.  

The best conferencing services can record and store both video and audio in high definition. This lets team members refer back to a meeting session so they can stay on track or refine an idea. Many services also offer transcripts of these recordings. 

Reviews

Read all our reviews of video conferencing software and systems below.

How Much Do Video Conferencing Services Cost?

Pricing for video conference services can vary greatly. Many of today's top services are cloud-based, basing prices on the number of host licenses an organization needs. For businesses that host only one meeting at a time, one license is enough. If multiple employees need to host video meetings at the same time, then your business needs multiple host licenses. Simply joining a meeting doesn't require a license, though there is often a cap on the total number of meeting participants.  

While many providers offer free plans, some restrict how long a meeting can last and how many people can attend a video conference on these plans. Paid plans generally allow for unlimited meetings, with higher participant caps and no restrictions on meeting length. These plans can cost anywhere from $5 to $50 per host per month.  

The other cost to consider is in-room equipment, such as cameras and microphones. If you want to equip your conference rooms with this hardware, you can expect to pay anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. Prices vary by the quality of the products you choose and how many rooms you want them in. 

Many of the video conference services we looked into offer several different plans. The cost of each service plan is usually based on several factors:  

  • Meeting participants:The first major consideration is how many meeting participants you anticipate. Generally, the more participants you need for video conferences, the higher your costs. It's important to partner with a vendor that offers service plans appropriate for your number of users; you don't want to waste money on perpetually empty seats just because you narrowly missed the cutoff for a lower plan. 
  • Video streams:In addition to how many people you want in a meeting, you have to determine how many of those participants you want on camera at one time. Some services restrict how many video feeds can be on at once, while others allow everyone to have their camera on.  
  • Features:The way features impact price depends on the company. Some companies we reviewed offer all their features at every plan level, while others limit the best features to their highest-cost subscriptions. It's important to list your must-have features before browsing services. That way, you can focus on the subscription plans that meet your needs and compare price points across companies, apples to apples.  
  • Add-ons:Some video conference platforms offer add-ons to augment the capabilities of a subscription plan for an extra fee. Typical options include increasing the number of participants, the recording storage space or similar features. Add-ons are a way to expand your subscription package without bumping up to the next pricing tier.  
  • Onsite equipment: Another potential cost is in-room equipment for your office. If you want to equip your conference rooms with video conferencing capabilities, you will need some added hardware. This includes cameras, microphones, speakers and a device to control the software.

Free vs. Paid Video Conferencing Service Plans 

For businesses on a tight budget, a free service can be a huge advantage. However, when considering whether to choose a free service or pay for one, you need to factor in a lot more than just the final cost. 

While many providers offer free plans, some of these plans restrict how long a meeting can last and how many people can attend. Many free plans also provide far fewer features and tools than paid offerings. 

Paid plans generally don't limit the number of meetings you can hold or their length, and they allow more participants. Paid plans also typically have several tiers that include different features. These plans generally cost $5 to $50 per host per month.  

To make the best choice for your business, you first need to conduct an internal audit of your specific needs. How often do you hold meetings? How long do they typically last? How many people generally attend? Once you have those answers, you need to dial in on the features your business could benefit from. Once you have a complete picture of your needs, you will be able to make an informed decision based on more than just price.

Here is a breakdown of your potential options to give you a better idea of the differences between not only free and paid plans, but also different paid plan levels.

Tier Free Basic Midrange Enterprise
Max # of participants 10-50 25-50 50-100 100+
Included features HD video, screen sharing, limited meeting length, mobile apps, dial-in conference line Everything in free plans plus unlimited meeting length, whiteboarding, meeting locks, recording Everything in basic plans plus cloud storage for recording, transcriptions, customizable URLs Everything in midrange plans plus advanced analytics, custom branding
Cost $0 $5-$10 per host per month $10-$20 per host per month $20+ per host per month

 

Some service providers, particularly those focused on enterprise companies or conference room hardware, don't post their pricing, requiring you to get a quote from a company sales representative. These systems can generally be built out to custom specifications and require a more complex installation and implementation process, so it's important to discuss your needs in detail before establishing an estimated cost.  

Since most video conference solutions are cloud-based, many providers offer a limited free trial. This lets you take the software for a spin, giving you a better understanding of what you'll get before you start discussing which plan is best for you. However, some companies restrict features or set limits in their trial and free versions.  

Before making a final decision, make sure you understand exactly what you'll get for your money. For example, if you were given a demo of the highest pricing tier available but then purchase the midrange subscription, you might find you're missing some of the features the demo sold you on. Most video conference companies clearly spell out which features are available in which plans on their websites.

Video Conferencing Equipment

Even though many of today's video conferencing systems are cloud-based, you might still need to purchase some equipment. If you just plan to use your computer, tablet or mobile device to host or join conferences, you probably won't need additional equipment. However, if you have a conference room in your office that you want to be able to host meetings from, you will need to install some hardware. 

You will need a few main pieces of equipment to make a room suitable for hosting video conferences: 

  • Camera: You can choose from a wide range of cameras for your video conferencing needs. Some basic low-grade cameras offer HD, but they don't include many of the benefits of more expensive options. More expensive cameras can do things like pan the room and key in on the person speaking. Pricing for cameras can vary greatly; for example, Logitech cameras range from $300 to $1,300. 
  • Microphone: Making sure your meeting attendants can hear you and other speakers is critical to any video conference, which is why you need a microphone that can pick up everyone in the room who is speaking. Prices for microphones range from less than $50 to a few hundred dollars. 
  • Speakers: Oftentimes, you can buy a microphone with built-in speakers. You can also purchase stand-alone speakers, which, similarly to microphones, can cost $50 to several hundred dollars. 
  • Monitor: The monitor is another piece of the video conferencing room puzzle. There is a wide range of options for monitors. You can buy strictly a monitor or hook the system up to a television. Prices vary greatly based on the size you select. 

The other component that you need is something to control the software. You can usually run it through a tablet or laptop, but some businesses prefer to purchase a dedicated console that stays in the conference room to control the meeting. Logitech consoles run from $300 to $850. 

While you have the option to purchase all of the items separately on your own, many video conferencing services offer room packages that you can purchase as a complete set. 

If you are a remote worker, and your computer doesn't have a built-in camera and microphone, you may need to purchase a webcam and microphone headset. For individual use, neither of these pieces of equipment will break the bank.

Community Expert Insights

We heard from more than 50 video conferencing users, and the consensus was clear: The most popular solution today is Zoom. The vast majority of those we spoke to said they use Zoom and like most of what it has to offer. 

Ryan Joos, a member of the business.com community and owner and founder of Vulpine Marketing, said he has been using Zoom for the past six months. 

"It has really good functionality, great connections, ability to screen-share and even record meetings," Joos told business.com. 

Deborah Sweeney, CEO of MyCorporation, is also a fan of Zoom. 

"The video quality is also extremely clear and does not freeze up," Sweeney said. "I like how you can go on audio and video as well. You can hit mute on audio as needed, so the leadership may speak and turn off, or on, your video as needed." 

Dustin Vann, owner and CEO of Trusy Social, said he began using Zoom during the coronavirus pandemic, and it is a service he will continue to use. 

"The team likes that it is both a video conferencing tool and something where we can share notes and ideas all in one place," Vann said. "It is just like having a meeting in the office. We have used Skype for Business a few times, but Zoom is much more interactive and intuitive."  

While many are using Zoom these days, we did hear from users finding success with other platforms. Vickie Pierre, a videographer who works in marketing and public relations for MyCarInsurance123.com, said that since her company relies heavily on Office 365, Microsoft Teams was a natural fit. She said Teams makes video communication fairly simple and intuitive. 

"As you're conferencing, Teams provides a space in which you can share files, update documents and hold chats," Pierre said. "Once your video conference is in progress, you also have the option of recording it to Microsoft Stream, where it will remain saved and available for download for up to 30 days." 

Krista Neher, CEO of Boot Camp Digital, said she has been using GoToMeeting for years. She has stuck with it for so long because she finds it reliable and easy to integrate with other software or programs she uses. She also likes that it provides a meeting phone number for those who can't join by video. 

"Some of our clients in Asia don't always have the best internet, so having the option to dial in is helpful," Neher said. 

Sophie Summers, vice president of marketing for ProPrivacy, said her team uses RingCentral because they like having their business phone system and video conferencing system on one platform. 

"The primary reason for choosing it was getting the video, screen share, and messaging along with the VoIP phone service plans," Summers said. "Instead of using separate services, we relied on one."

Video Conferencing Features

Video conferencing platforms do more than facilitate face-to-face talks over the internet, although they excel at connecting teams with HD audio and video. They are also full-scale collaboration tools with an arsenal of features to help teams better engage with one another and develop ideas right on the computer screen.  

Here are some of the video conferencing features we think businesses will find most valuable:  

  • HD video: Most video conferencing services provide high-definition video so every participant on camera shows up crystal clear. High-quality video is a key component of any conferencing solution.

  • Screen sharing: One of the most important collaboration features is the ability for presenters to share their desktops. Whether you need to walk colleagues through presentations and files or you're training new employees or clients on how to use a system, the ability to share your screen is invaluable.

  • Recording: The best video conferencing services allow users to record and store both video and audio. This is useful for crucial meetings where big topics are up for discussion or for webinars that include useful training materials. It also means you can keep track of meetings or interactions that clients might want to review later.

  • Cloud storage: Many services allow users to archive their recordings in the cloud. Storage space varies by company, and the price may depend on your service plan. Archiving past meetings in the cloud ensures that you will always have access to them, should you need to review a previous conference.

  • Dial-in numbers: There are times when not everyone is able to join a video conference on camera. To give those participants a way to join, most video conferencing solutions provide toll-free numbers for people to call and listen in via audio feed. Some platforms also provide international numbers for those joining from overseas.

  • Whiteboard: This immensely useful collaboration tool allows users to mark up documents or sketch out ideas in a cooperative brainstorming process. Whiteboarding tools are great for sessions where multiple participants are spitballing in-depth ideas that others could better understand through visual representations.

  • Calendar integration: Many video conferencing services integrate with popular calendar programs like Outlook and Google Calendar, allowing you to schedule meetings straight from these apps. Once you schedule the video conferences, the meeting automatically shows on your calendars.

  • Polls and surveys: Users can create polls or surveys for the audience so presenters can gain feedback or insights on the topic at hand. The information could be used to determine a specific course of action, delegate responsibilities or simply solicit feedback to improve future workflows. You can generally create polls with single-choice, multiple-choice or open-ended questions.

  • Group messaging: Some of the best video conferencing services include in-app chat tools that allow users to send messages to all of those attending the meeting. This useful tool lets participants share an opinion without interrupting the speaker.

  • Subaccounts: This feature enables you to grant other users access to a specific account without divulging your login credentials. All subaccount users receive their own private login credentials, as well as their own allocation of storage space for recording and storing video and audio.

  • Operating systems: Since most of today's systems are cloud-based, they provide the flexibility of access on all computers. Most systems are accessible on both Mac and Windows computers.

  • Mobile apps: Most video conference solutions have mobile apps for iOS and Android devices. Users can generally join and host meetings from these mobile apps.

  • Meeting locks: For added security, some video conferencing solutions allow hosts to make sure only those who are supposed to be attending can access the meeting. 

  • Integrations: Most video conferencing systems can integrate with various popular programs, including Outlook and G Suite. These integrations allow you to schedule meetings directly from those programs. Other popular integrations are Slack and Salesforce. 

Other features businesses might find valuable are single sign-on, recording transcripts, open APIs, virtual waiting rooms, custom branding and the option for multiple people to host a single meeting. 

Some video conferencing services now incorporate artificial intelligence in their platforms. Specifically, providers are using AI and machine learning to allow a video conferencing system to automatically take notes of key points and make recaps of the meeting for those who were unable to attend.

Video Conferencing FAQs

Q: Does video conferencing software have a good ROI? 

A: While return on investment for video conferencing services will be different for every company based on its needs and how it operates, it's safe to say that most organizations will quickly see a benefit to their bottom line.  

Video conferencing software allows businesses to cut back on travel costs and increase collaboration efforts among employees, which will boost productivity.  

According to video conferencing service provider Highfive, these solutions also reduce a business's carbon footprint, speed up the time to market for strategic projects, allow employers to meet employee demands for flexibility, and increase morale thanks to better employee work-life balance. 

To give organizations a better idea of video conferencing's ROI, Highfive developed a formula to estimate the benefit: 

ROI = investment revenue – investment cost/investment cost  

In this formula, investment revenue is the money that video helps a business save or generate, while investment cost is the money you spend on the video conference solution.  

Highfive conducted a sample ROI for a fictitious company of 200 people. You can see the specifics, but based on the formula it developed, this fake company's ROI for cloud-based video conferencing services was more than 23,000%. 

Q: What is video conferencing software?

A: Video conferencing is increasingly popular in today's emerging remote work environment, as it gives employees an easy way to connect with each other. With lower overhead costs, smaller offices and reports of increased productivity driving companies to accommodate remote employees, video conferencing software provides an avenue for workers to stay engaged with one another and the business. 

Video can provide that next level of connection in a way audio conferencing simply can't match. For teams to work at their best, they need to engage in the most meaningful communication possible.  

Video conferencing software was developed to achieve exactly that kind of meaningful communication. With this software, teams can interact as if they were in the same room, even when they are thousands of miles apart. Scattered teams can come together as if they were sitting around a conference table to see, hear and interact with one another. 

Video conferencing apps are largely cloud-based, but there are also conference room solutions that focus more on hardware and local implementation.  

Q: What hardware do you need for video conferencing?

A: When it comes to video conference services, you may need a bunch of hardware or no hardware at all. It all depends how you plan to use it.  

If you just plan to make calls where everyone connects via their computer or mobile device, then no actual hardware is required. Users can simply log in to the service through a desktop or mobile app, and the cameras and microphones on their computers and devices have all the functionality they need.  

You need actual video conferencing equipment when you want to create a dedicated space in your office for video meetings. This could be a conference room, a huddle space or any other area where you want to hold video conferences. In these instances, you will need several pieces of hardware, including a video camera, microphone, speaker and display monitor. The other piece of hardware a video room needs is a device to run the video conference software, such as a computer or tablet. This is how you access the video conference system, control meetings and share your screen.  

The quality of this equipment varies greatly, so research what is available and how it matches up with your needs. 

Q: What are the advantages of video conferencing?

A: Video conference meetings provide a number of benefits. One of the biggest is that everyone can see each other during a meeting. Unlike conference calls, where you only hear what everyone is saying, video calls allow all of the attendees to see each other when they are talking.  

People can understand more of what is being said when they can see the speaker's expressions. A lot can be lost in translation if people can't see each other.  

When remote employees have the opportunity to participate in video meetings where they can see their in-office colleagues, it can make them feel more like part of a team and not just someone on the other end of a phone.  

Video conferencing can also save organizations a lot of money. Instead of traveling to meet with far-flung employees, customers or colleagues, you can hold face-to-face meetings from wherever you're based. This can result in significant cost savings.  

Less travel also benefits the environment. Research from Chorus.ai and Zoom found that virtual meetings, compared to traveling for face-to-face meetings, can significantly reduce a company's carbon footprint.  

The study compared a virtual meeting with an in-person meeting that required someone to travel from New York to San Francisco. When you factor in the plane trip, transportation to and from the airport, lodging, and food, the in-person meeting used 1,515 pounds of carbon dioxide. The virtual meeting, factoring in a commute to and from the office, used just 9 pounds of carbon dioxide. 

Q: What are the best practices for working remotely? 

A: Today, many businesses use video conferencing systems to facilitate remote work. Giving your employees access to quality video conferencing software is a must in today's working environment. 

With easy-to-use video conferencing software, you can build your workforce with employees from anywhere around the globe and still have them feel connected to one another. With the proper software, remote workers can conduct one-on-one meetings with each other, departments can meet as a group, and entire companies can participate in town-hall types of conferences.

Our Methodology

To select the best video conference services for businesses, we created a list of more than 30 reputable companies based on our own research, other reviews and online rankings.  

From there, we eliminated vendors that emphasize video conferencing hardware rather than complete video conference services. We also eliminated video conference providers that specialize in hardware to be used with another service's software.  

After some initial research into the remaining vendors, we cut our list down to 13 finalists: 8x8, Amazon Chime, Arkadin, ClickMeeting, GoToMeeting, Highfive, Intermedia, Join.me, Microsoft Teams, RingCentral, Webex, Zoho Meeting and Zoom.  

We then conducted in-depth research into each finalist. We scoured their websites, read user comments, reviewed Better Business Bureau ratings and complaints, and tested the services when free trials were available. After we narrowed down the list to our final contenders, we contacted each company, posing as business owners, to assess the customer service.  

Please note that our process is based on using the same research methods that are available to business owners. We didn't speak to PR representatives or company executives. Similar to what a potential buyer does when selecting a service or software, we perform all of our research by visiting company websites, calling customer service departments and testing out the systems through free trials.  

We analyzed each service and made our final choices based on ease of use, features, number of supported meeting participants, number of video feeds that can be on at one time, cost and customer service.

Common Video Conferencing Questions & Answers

Have a video conferencing question of your own?

Absolutely! When used properly, this method of communication is fantastic for building business relationships both within the company (if you have offsite workers) and with customers/clients. Treat a video conference just like a normal in-person meeting: dress appropriately, be conscious of what the camera is and isn't picking up at all times, and make sure that you know how to use the video conferencing software/interface like a pro--enough to help others in the meeting if they have...

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I have been using UberConference - https://www.uberconference.com/. The service is great and the customer support is awesome. It just costs $10 for the PRO version.

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I really like Team Viewer seems to work good and smooth with lots of features in the free version. Also it never fails irrespective of the environment and OS it runs on. Ammyy is a great alternative as well http://www.ammyy.com/en/index.html Many company professionals prefer VNC viewer because of its features and quick access. For Free conferencing Free conference call is one of the option https://www.freeconferencecall.com Uberconference free package is a good option as...

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