If there has ever been a year of the surge in online video conferencing service, it can be attributed to the year 2020. The pandemic halted the otherwise seamless connectivity solutions with the sheer surge in numbers that began using the service. The deployment of video conferencing services helped even rigid business practices that did not allow even a fragment of information to leave the room. Its implementation capability was also witnessed in almost every sector you could imagine the health care industry, education, visual authentication, and much more than you can name in a single sentence.
What are video conferencing services?
Video conferencing services are software implementations that let you use your device’s camera and microphone to conduct visual communication. Services imply that it is not merely meant for recreational purposes and is intended to serve a wide range of clientele with varying needs. Simple video conferencing is available in most of the apps but those lack the security and privacy limitations that the video conferencing services provide to their users.
You could use WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and more of the in-app solutions to make video calls and even group calls but the quality of those conferences turns into commotion shortly after the meeting begins. Poor quality audio transmission with blurry video is a prime example of that. That is because it lacks the infrastructure to deal with especially meeting centric requirements. We’re sure you must have tried or even currently use in-app video conferencing solutions but know that they lack the quality that is required for conducting a successful virtual meeting.
Why is a video conferencing service beneficial for conducting virtual conferences?
Video conferencing services usurp the traditional video communication options provided by a variety of social media platforms. Some aspects that the video conferencing services pay attention to are as follows
Being an admin or moderator of a virtual meeting, the struggles are more than you can imagine. Right from incessant interruptions to the outright commotion that can divert the attention from the problem at hand. Video conferencing services make sure to provide robust administrative control over each performing member and provide them with a variety of options that can help them maneuver the meeting as per their requirements. Control over participants, meeting member’s inputs, adding more, or dropping a few members are some examples that video conferencing services provide to the moderator. These features can help the moderator direct or convey his thoughts first and then move on to the inputs of team members in an organized manner.
When conducting virtual video conferences for w business model or a new project, security is the topmost priority. Effective security mechanisms should be in place, that deters the intruders from spying on the meetings, collecting information, and disturbing the flow of the meeting. Several security mechanisms such as authentication, private links, 256-bit encryption are a common set of measures that add multiple security layers to a meeting so that the information stays confined to that meeting only.
The video conferencing services provided elaborate privacy measures so that only the communicating parties know what the idea is. Privacy features such as muting the audio or disabling the webcam when not required along with separate room creation and link generation so that only invited members can join are a few examples that a video conferencing service provides to the user.
Scalability is also a factor when considering a video conferencing service. Small business conferences are nothing compared to when you have multiple rooms and more than 1000 members joining a meeting. Of course, such meetings are not frequently held but having an option to extend the meeting members as the company grows is fruitful.
A video conferencing service is available round the clock and is rarely down so that prescheduled meetings, no matter what the time zone is, are never dropped by the service. The cloud-based video conferencing services can achieve it using Avant-garde infrastructure from top services provided such as Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, and many more.
Audio and video conferencing quality matters a lot especially if there are a lot of moving parts and multiple users at one node of a meeting. The industry-grade video conferencing services can provide minimal latency in audio transmission so that it doesn’t impede the flow of communication on both ends. Video quality, in terms of the present state, HD quality video streaming is a must-have if you don’t want blurry faces and jagged edges. Pixelated video quality will only deter the virtual conference as it will be more like communicating on Skype 5 years ago. Most of them provide true HD quality video conferencing provided you and your team members back the hardware to actually notice the difference.
Side by side communication
A full-fledged voice conferencing service also has multiple options to facilitate side by side and responsive communication while the meeting is being conducted. This includes a comment and chat section inside the meeting that can help members provide insight, raise queries, and converse together without disrupting the moderator of the meeting.
The video conferencing service is also adapting to change the traditional ways of the attendance system. Having all the members join in and then check and compare to see who is left or didn’t attend throughout the meeting. You can cross verify the individual with a response using the live video feed. So attendance is also not a challenge anymore.
Video conferencing services allow the authorized members to share files with the members of the meeting and also encrypt the exchange in the process. The files can be shared in multiple formats and there is a size restriction in place depending upon the pricing tier and the subscription plan in place.
These are our top five recommendations of best tools for video conferencing in 2021.
Best tools for video conferencing
Zoom has been the most controversial and most used video conferencing service of 2020. Zoom has transcended above Microsoft Skype a feat that nobody thought was possible. Skype was and still is a great video conferencing service but zoom has aptly zoomed past it with a diverse range of digital products. It is also topping every statistical data in terms of the user base. Before pandemic zoom was a basic video conferencing software deployed in mid and high-tier businesses that required to communicate with each other virtually due to geographical barriers.
Now zoom was the most hyped band-installed video conferencing service amid the pandemic but its limitations soon began to unravel such as security intrusions, audio interface abrupt drops, etc. But why does still appear on the number one priority list everywhere? Only because it has the capability to actually get some work done by virtual conferencing. First and foremost the security mechanisms have been upgraded. The communication is made via a 256-bit TLS encryption system and the file-sharing is encrypted via the AES-256 encryption algorithms. It even offers an optional end to end encryption that can cross-verify users with a simple request. So security isn’t an issue anymore with zoom.
Meetings can be challenging when you have to find the right illuminated spot with a plain background but that is not the case with zoom anymore. It offers an optional feature of selecting from numerous themes that can act as a background so that you don’t have to find a curtain or a plain wall to hide your mess. A much-needed feature if you ask a newbie video conferencing services user.
The most basic functions offered are meetings and chat that are crystal clear and nothing fancy. The option of having video webinars have gained traction and are provided as a separate feature by zoom. You can also have conferences with zoom and even integrate bots and supported integrations to your account as per your need. The phone system is totally cloud-based and best suited for enterprise systems. The user interface is good and can be customized as per the user’s preference. Presently it supports up to 1000 video participants and a viewer capacity of ten times the member size.
Zoom rooms is another hardware-centric remote video conferencing solution that provides hardware as well as software to conduct high-quality effective and collaborative meetings with zoom rooms. It is a more costly solution fit for enterprises that possess the hardware as well as the budget to use these systems. The pricing starts from a free version with time constraints to three different annually billed subscriptions.
Skype was the revolution in the video conferencing services but ever since the Microsoft takeover, it’s been a little more stringent about every action you.do on it. A free service made slightly better and costlier by Microsoft. I’m being blunt but a video conferencing service should be able to be separately purchased by the user. Microsoft bundles the Skype with Office 365 suite and is not purchasable as a standalone service. So you have to buy the office 365 suite to use Skype. It’s a clear indication of forcibly cramming apps into one another to create a separate ecosystem as Apple does with its products.
If you keep the above ingenious idea by Microsoft aside, Skype is still a pretty useful video conferencing service for businesses of all sizes. For starters, all the services such as High-definition video and audio calls, screen sharing options, internal messaging and file-sharing systems, etc are common between the two. No difference whatsoever in terms of visual fidelity. The only drawback is the inflexible purchase option and pricing so you’ll always have the office 365 suite riding along with skype.
Call recording and instant subtitle generation are also available on skype which comes in handy if you have teams joining in from different geographical locations. The raise hand feature is an intelligent way to quietly raise an issue without shouting during a meeting. It’s in the beta phase now but will be supported across all platforms in a while. Skype also pays attention to the persistent calling issue to the members that aren’t on skype. You can them using Skype credit and the features are currently supported for 25 country prefix codes. The same facilities are available for messaging people too. The new update also brings in the background blur feature, if you can’t customize it, blur it. That’s the solution skype offers currently to its users. Meetings are productive as the quality is crisp but the application would be a lot better without useless Microsoft integrations that impede the productivity of the video conferencing service.
3. Google Meet
The imitation game is on with the two industry giants as Google also has now transformed its earlier generation chant and email application hangouts to hangout meet. Google Meet is integrated with your email and hangouts side by side so that you can switch to a meeting anytime. Setting up a meeting is an easy feat but initially, it can be exhausting to scroll through the tireless list of options.
Call it a bold step but the Google Meet is completely free for all users with a Gmail account. That is benevolent, coming from the world’s largest data holder and advertising giant. It has all the features with a reliable security attribute attached to the brand that includes crystal clear call, audiences of up to 100000, 250 participants, and many more features. A distinguishing feature in our opinion is the ability to separate audio from the noise and provide minimal latency and disturbance. All that is purely software-based so the experience can be different based on the end user’s hardware. But still a nice attempt to eradicate the interference in communication.
Video quality captions are also available on Google Meet that uses their AI prowess to convert audio into subtitles for people hailing from different languages, regions, and hearing-impaired participants as well. Using Meet is simple and intuitive and will get better over Time like every Google product. The fact that it is free currently is a large sigh of relief small tier businesses who can use Google Meet to conduct productive meetings online by generating a simple link. The software experience still needs some improvement but apart from that a good alternative to paid software with comparable features and a reliable security systems in place.
4. EZ talks
EZtalks takes the video conferencing service to a more privacy-focused approach. They are somewhat kind-of zoom rooms alternative as of now. They supply both the hardware and software for industrial-grade meeting rooms of all sizes and capacities. The variety is overwhelming for us as different organizations have varying participant’s size. Regardless of your demands, EZ talks may have a solution in place.
The software aspect of EZ talks as a video conferencing service is on par with the industry standard. They supply HD quality video and audio support so that your members can clearly look and listen to your suggestions and adhere to them. The application also allows easy file sharing that also encrypts them and also a screen sharing option for a live demonstration of the features by the moderator. An exciting feature is a virtual whiteboard that allows you to give life to the ideas inside your held and make it easy for the members to comprehend them.
The public and private chat feature is also supported on all platforms and works like any active messaging service. The feature that we found useful is the ability to set repetitive meetings for example an overview view meeting every Monday to go through the entire week schedule. You can create an event once and the link will be active on each meeting day and will continue to do so until you disable it. Automatic inclusion of the members when the meeting starts is also available. This works effectively when all employees are working in tandem and a sudden meeting is required about a new project or an update regarding the current one. The pricing tier is divided into three parts with varying capacity of the participants and the storage space available to each partner or member.
GotoMeeting takes the collaborative approach to the video conferencing service. It provides a feature-rich interactive user interface that is easy to use and equally customizable as well. The basic features are common as every other video-conferencing application. Hd video and conference calling to name a few. It supplements the screen sharing option to its user for a live feed of the method of execution. It also embeds drawing tools with the screen sharing view so that the moderator can mark the areas of focus or the points of the current discussion.
A webcam preview option is also included so you don’t jump into professional meetings without perfecting every tiny detail. Presenter control allows users to give or take up control of an active meeting with the moderator’s permission. Similarly taking control of the keyboard and mouse is also an option in the GoToMeeting application.
Security features such as risk-based authentication, compliant data centers, medically approved to safeguard patient data, and encryption features along with a meeting lock option are also available. The ability to add custom themes and backgrounds are just added for existing users. The best feature is the active transcriptional that jots down notes for you with the click of a single button. Very useful for taking notes without leaving or minimizing the screen. There are two pricing tiers with an option for a customized enterprise solution.
Zoom is the best overall option for video conferencing services as it provides both the hardware and software required to migrate to a functional video conferencing service. EZtalks takes the same approach as zoom but lacks the experience of working with large solutions. GotoMeeting offers robust security mechanisms that can help you keep privacy at the top. Lastly, Google Meet is for users that currently lack funds for a video conferencing service.