All businesses have different priorities when it comes to their video conferencing software choice depending on their industry, size, budgets and key use cases. For some small businesses, cost is the primary consideration, while others put a premium on security, reliability and support — perks typically associated with enterprise-grade video conferencing solutions. Of course, many fall somewhere in the middle, making it all that more important to understand the differences among video conferencing software providers.
The Top 7 Video Conferencing Solutions in a WFH World
Since the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen the modern workforce move to a remote lifestyle virtually overnight. This means an unprecedented number of businesses have switched from in-person meetings to virtual meetings to keep their day-to-day business communications going.
Below are the top seven video conferencing tools businesses have been using in a post-COVID world to stay connected:
1. Enterprise-Level Companies: Lifesize
Lifesize has been in the video conferencing industry for nearly two decades and has continuously pushed the bar for quality and ease of use. By setting up a free account with Lifesize, you can quickly start a free video call with up to 25 participants requiring no downloads or installs. Just navigate to the signup.lifesize.com page, enter your name and email and select a password. Guests can join the live call right from their laptops or mobile browsers by clicking on your personal meeting ID link.
Advantages: Unlimited meeting duration, built-in screen sharing, HD-quality video, enterprise-grade reliability and security by default, works on any operating system (Mac, Windows, iOS, Android)
Considerations: Additional features like 500-way calling, Microsoft integrations and 4K video conference room systems require a paid subscription
2. SMBs and Smaller Teams: Google Hangouts™
The free video chat app from Google is a great example of a consumer-grade app that has been accepted into the business world. Google shops operating out of Google mail and Google calendaring will enjoy the native integrations for Google Hangouts.
Advantages: Integrates with Gmail™ and Google Calendar™, works on Chrome™, connect up to 10 participants
Considerations: Requires a plug-in, doesn’t support dual stream video and content, some user complaints about video quality and reliability
3. Individual Consumer to Enterprise-Level Companies: Skype, Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams
The collaboration suite from Microsoft is divided between consumer-grade and enterprise-grade tools. For truly free video conferencing, downloading the Microsoft Skype client gives users access to 10-way calling and a directory that can be populated by individual users. Moving up into the enterprise, Microsoft Teams can be packaged together with an Office365 license. It’s worth noting that teams using Microsoft Outlook™ and Microsoft Teams can access the Lifesize for Microsoft integration, which adds Lifesize video capabilities into the Outlook and Teams interface.
Advantages: Familiar user experience for anyone who uses Skype to connect with family members, available for up to 10-way calling, integrations with premium video conferencing vendors
Considerations: Requires a downloadable application, may be viewed as unprofessional, advanced features only available for premium subscription
4. Smaller Teams & Informal Video Chats: Zoom
The free video conferencing solution from Zoom provides a pared-down service for group video calls. The Zoom Basic plan allows users to have 40-minute calls with a handful of features like screen sharing, local recording, breakout rooms and camera filters.
Advantages: Simple sign-up process, includes basic recording, supports 100-way calling, Mac and Windows apps
Considerations: Requires a downloadable application, calls on Basic plan are limited to 40 minutes or less, no capability to control spam or bandwidth
5. Live Streaming for Gaming: Twitch
The Amazon-owned Twitch is the go-to platform for live streamers to broadcast their video game sessions, and other works, to the web. Twitch is a free service that inserts ads into its streams at regular intervals. If you're an Amazon Prime member, your membership includes access to Twitch Prime, a premium experience that grants extended broadcast storage for live streamers.
Advantages: One of the most popular streaming services with many user-friendly options for both viewers and streamers.
Considerations: May be viewed as unprofessional since it’s primarily a gaming live-stream service. Also, free service includes ads, and broadcasting is limited to PCs and consoles.
6. Open Source Option: Jitsi
Jitsi is a collection of free and open-source multiplatform voice, video conferencing and instant messaging applications for web, Windows®, Linux®, macOS®, iOS® and Android™. Since Jitsi is open-sourced, you can tweak the software to your liking and even contribute to its development.
Advantages: Ability to customize the application, does not require you to register/login or send your personal data before using the service.
Considerations: No ability to set up future meetings, meeting begins only when someone starts it, may be viewed as unprofessional.
7. Sales Demos: Join.me
Join.me is a useful video conferencing tool for sales organizations that primarily need a solution for client presentations. The free plan includes screen sharing with Voice-over-IP (VoIP) calling for up to 10 participants. The free subscription also includes an easy-to-use, one-click screen sharing functionality that is useful for sales demonstrations.
Advantages: Easy to use and offers generous instant screen sharing with VoIP calling included
Considerations: Free plan is limited to 10 participants. Advanced features require a paid subscription.
5 reasons Lifesize is your best solution for free video calls
1. Unrivaled cloud video architecture
Primed for performance and efficiency, our modern microservices architecture leverages best-of-breed technology to deliver an unrivaled, unified meeting experience that you can trust to work the first time, every time.
2. Unlimited meetings, and free forever
With Lifesize, meet as many times as you want for however long you want. There are no restrictions on the number of conference calls or time limits on call length — enjoy high-quality online meetings, completely uninterrupted.
3. Consistent experience every time
Whether hosting a video call from your iOS or Android device (mobile browsers supported, no mobile app downloads required) or your laptop, you can rely on Lifesize for a consistent and effortless meeting experience. No matter where you are or how you’re joining the video call, you always have a voice and a face at the meeting with Lifesize.
4. A secure way to communicate
Lifesize is built on top of open standards with an enterprise-grade global cloud network. Security and encryption are enabled by default, meaning your conversations are always protected, even on public networks.
5. Truly easy collaboration
All you need is an email, name and password to get started! No downloads required — just go to signup.lifesize.com to start your call. Guests just need to click a link to instantly join your video meeting.
Get started with Lifesize
With seemingly endless options for free video conferencing tools in today’s workplace, we want to make it easy to navigate potential vendors and choose the best free video conferencing for your unique needs. And while consumer-grade apps like FaceTime® and Skype will always be a great and fun way to connect face to face with family and friends, enterprise and business-class apps like Lifesize give you more robust collaboration conferencing features like screen sharing while also adding extra levels of reliability and security to your mission-critical business communications. Meet now, it's free.