Saturday, May 26, 2018

Best video conferencing software of 2018

Tools to better connect your company and those you do business with


BEST VIDEO CONFERENCING SOFTWARE
1. ConnectWise Control

2. TeamViewer

3. GoToMeeting

4. Join.me

5. Skype for Business

Read on for our detailed analysis of each app  

The modern workforce is more free and fragmented than ever before. Working on the move, working from home, and working from abroad are all commonplace in businesses both big and small, creating an ever-expanding market for video conferencing software. 

Not only do employees enjoy breaking free from the shackles of the office chair, businesses are increasingly happy to set them free, thanks to cost-cutting opportunities on overheads and the chance to unlock greater productivity in workers. The big players in enterprise tech have been clocking this pattern for years; hence we have a wide range of communication platforms to choose from. 

Whether you’re scouring the market for a burgeoning startup or an enterprise heavyweight, we’ve got the conferencing category covered, from simple call and messaging platforms to full remote support services. Let’s dive in.   

We've also highlighted the best online collaboration tools

1. ConnectWise Control
Powerful communications software that includes remote support


Remote control capabilities Customizable to fit your brand Good value for money 
ConnectWise Control – the artist formerly known as ScreenConnect – is a remote support, access and meeting service rolled into one.  

Gone are the days when video conferencing was simply a case of connecting two parties for a chat. ConnectWise, a leader in its category, enables you to run sessions with simultaneous collaboration from multiple users, control other machines remotely, customize the software’s appearance to fit your brand, adjust security settings to fit the compliance needs of your customers, and a whole lot more.

There are a number of products and packages that can be tailored to the needs of you and your organization. Compatibility is a plus, as your customers can be supported whether you’re logging into ConnectWise from a PC or Mac, or on the move via iOS and Android.

Pricing starts at $19 (£14) a month and remains reasonable going up the scale. This is a multifaceted and powerful piece of communications software that gives you good bang for your buck – especially if remote support is a business need.   


2. TeamViewer
Feature-packed software with great multilingual support


Remote control capabilities Easy to use More costly than rival services 
Like ConnectWise, TeamViewer offers remote support and access in addition to online meetings. In its own words, the platform “allows users to access their office PC from the road, video conference across town, and share their screen for remote support from the other side of the world.”

When it comes to features, there’s a lot in the TeamViewer locker. We're talking device and contacts management, instant messaging, file transfer and whiteboard tools, remote audio and video, session recording tech, and service desk integration enabling users to manage incoming tickets directly from within their email application.  

In terms of remote control of other devices, users can restart, print and install in addition to the usual controls, while reporting features helps you log incoming and outgoing connections and learn exactly who did what, when, and for how long.

Despite this wealth of features, TeamViewer is easy to use and should slot fairly seamlessly into an organization’s software roster, especially with the pre-built integrations with Freshdesk, Zendesk, Avira and others. If your communications scope goes beyond English speaking borders, that shouldn’t be a problem either, as TeamViewer can be run in more than 30 different languages. Pricing starts at $27.90 (£21) per month. 


3. GoToMeeting
Streamlined software without the bells and whistles


(+)Mobile access 
(+)Easy to host and attend calls 
(-)Lacks bells and whistles 

With GoToMeeting, ease and convenience is the name of the game. This stripped-back platform doesn’t try to overwhelm users, and if remote access and a string of collaboration tools aren’t essential for you and your organization, this could be the video conferencing tool for you. 

With up to 100 people able to join an online meeting from their Macs, PCs, iPhone or Android devices, users can share any application on their computer in real-time. A handy scheduling tool lets the host arrange a meeting in advance while all guests join free of charge. Clicking a link or entering a meeting ID is all that’s needed for attendees.  

The in-call experience is enhanced by hosts being able to see exactly what the attendees are seeing via their dashboard, while presenter duties can easily be handed over mid-call, enabling attendees to share their screen with others too.  

So while GoToMeeting may not have the fancy add-ons and remote control capabilities of the services we’ve looked at up to now, as a piece of video conferencing software, it’s very difficult to fault. Pricing starts from $16 (£12) per month. 


4. Join.me
Multiple connection options with support for large groups


(+)Clean and simple 
(+)Up to 250 participants per call 
(-)Limited capabilities compared to rivals

In the mold of GoToMeeting, Join.me has stuck to the essentials of video conferencing, offering a streamlined platform that allows multiple people from multiple locations to connect and collaborate. 

Among the features at your disposal in Join.me are text chat, screen sharing, scheduling invitations, mobile access and call recording. Joining a call is straightforward and inclusive, as attendees can connect via desktop, VoIP, mobile devices (iOS and Android), and a phone line from 40 different countries.  

If you need to run presentations or training sessions to larger numbers of people, Join.me stands up well, with a maximum of 250 participants able to call in – more than double GoToMeeting’s limit. Another appealing factor is the platform’s compatibility with Outlook and Calendar when organizing meetings.  

With a 14-day free trial and prices starting at just $10 (£7.50) per month, you can see why Join.me is a popular choice for organizations seeking a straightforward solution to their conferencing needs.   


5. Skype for Business
Microsoft's voice conferencing solution for enterprise


(+)Familiar interface 
(+)Office 365 integration 
(-)Upgrade needed to exceed 250 participants 

We simply couldn’t round up the great and the good of the video conferencing world without mentioning Skype. Or more specifically, Skype for Business, which goes beyond the platform’s standard capabilities by throwing in tools and features that make it worthy of full enterprise deployment.   

The service offers advance scheduling, real-time screen sharing, VoIP support, and accessibility across desktop, iOS and Android devices, while up to 250 people can join a single meeting. Want to take this even further and stage a webinar? Skype Meeting Broadcast may be the upgrade for you, enabling up to 10,000 attendees, full producer controls, Azure streaming, Bing Pulse polling and audience participation via Yammer.

Being part of the Microsoft family makes Skype for Business particularly appealing for organizations already using an Office 365 corporate package, as the associated applications come tightly integrated.  

If your needs aren’t too extensive, price packages start as low as $2 (£1.50) per month – worth a pop if the Microsoft ecosystem is already embedded in your organization.   


Best of the rest  

Google’s G Suite, once known as Google Apps for Work, is an increasingly comprehensive collaboration hub, and the video conferencing side of things has been upgraded in recent times thanks to Google Meet, which allows up to 30 participants at a time. This is a perfect communications tool for SMEs already active in Google’s productivity platforms. 

Unsurprisingly, enterprise behemoth Cisco has a well-equipped video conferencing platform to throw into the mix too. With WebEx, participants don’t even need an account to join a call, while nifty whiteboarding, note-taking and annotation tools are available to hosts and attendees alike.  

As a real conferencing all-rounder, Samepage is more than worthy of its mention in our roundup. As well as video meetings, you can compile task lists, set up group instant messaging, share files, schedule meetings and create agendas all on one platform. 

RingCentral claims its cloud-based communications platform is “more flexible and cost-effective than legacy on-premise systems.” It enables voice and video calls, team messaging, online meetings, and even includes a nostalgic nod to the old school by supporting fax. 

If quickfire instant messaging is a bigger priority for your business than long group meetings and training seminars, HipChat may be the most suitable offering. It allows users to set up chat rooms internally, and with clients, to share files and discuss projects in real-time, and it still supports video calling and screen sharing if needed.


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