Video conferencing alternatives
If you’re still not sure about Zoom, try these other options for your next work-from-home meeting instead
So you’re now warier of Zoom, no thanks to privacy and security issues like “Zoom-bombing”, when uninvited guests gate-crash a video conference call. But you don’t have to look very far to explore other options. There is a large market of video-conferencing tools out there, suitable for varied budgets and needs. Here are just a few alternatives.
Offering voice and video conferencing, file and screen sharing, including text chat, Cisco WebEx is a platform with everything but the kitchen sink thrown in. Secure and reliable, it’s a good overall solution for businesses. It also offers multiple touchpoints to access a meeting, such as dial-in phone access. The free version is rich in features but if you want more video conferencing tools, such as the ability to record meetings, get a paid plan. Drawbacks of the free version include a clunky user interface and recent security flaws. Up to 25 people can be viewed on a video call.
Price: Free; otherwise the paid version starts from US$13.50 per host per month, with up to 50 participants per video call and zero time restrictions, recording transcriptions, meeting recordings, and more.
Free version: Unlimited usage with no time restrictions for up to 100 participants, and audio call-in.
Get it: Mobile app available for Android and iOS devices, desktop app for Windows and Mac, or run it on webex.com.
Best for small businesses on a budget
Although it lacks the full features provided by the other options on this list, RingCentral Meetings is a solid choice for those who just want a video-conferencing solution without the bells and whistles. The free version even gives you screen sharing, team messaging, private and group chats and secure encryption. If you require more advanced task management and collaboration features, shell out for the paid versions or look elsewhere. You don’t even need an account to join a meeting — simply click a link or type in a meeting ID — but you’ll still need to download its mobile or desktop app.
Price: Free; otherwise the paid version starts from US$14.99 per user per month.
Free version: Group meetings with up to 100 people, unlimited one-on-one meetings, and desktop and application sharing. Meetings are capped at 40 minutes.
Get it: Download the mobile app in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store, or get the Windows, Chrome or Mac desktop app. More info at RingCentral.
Best for large-scale live streams
Formerly known as Google Hangouts, Google Meet is a secure and reliable cloud-based video-conferencing service. This is a great option if your business uses Google’s G Suite productivity and email tools, from Google Drive to Gmail. Easy to use and to join meetings, it also allows you to record meetings and share your screen. Bonus: Its speech-to-text feature gives real-time captions in meetings or video chats. But do note the lack of end-to-end encryption; you also need a Google account to create or join a video call. Up to 25 users can be viewed on a video call.
Price: Free for all until 30 September 2020. G Suite accounts get up to 250 attendees per video call with unlimited call time, and up to 100,000 viewers for view-only live streaming. Other Google accounts get up to 100 participants per video call with no time restrictions.
Get it: Download the mobile app in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. Also works with Chrome, Firefox, Edge and Safari browsers at meet.google.com.
Best for enterprise users
If your organisation is rooted in the Microsoft ecosystem, then Microsoft Teams is the conferencing software for you. Bundled into the Microsoft 365 suite, Teams lets you record meetings, share files and collaborate on documents. However, the platform lacks end-to-end encryption, and only nine participants can be viewed on video calls for now. It’s also not a standalone service – you’ll need a Microsoft 365 account with a business or enterprise licence plan.
Price: The paid version starts from US$5 per user per month, with up to 20 people in a video call, up to 250 people in a meeting and up to 10,000 attendees for a live event. Also offers meeting recordings and screen sharing.
Free version: Limited to audio and video calls, and screen sharing.
Get it: Mobile app available in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store, get the desktop app for Windows, Mac, and Linux, or run teams.microsoft.com from Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge browsers.