Video conferencing for businesses: Comparing options
We take a look at four of the more prevalent video conferencing options available for businesses.
Thu, Sep 22, 2011 at 12:55 PM
Photo: Ryan McVay/Getty Images
By now, most businesses, even small ones, have heard of — and many have used — video conferencing. With more employees scattered around the country or working from home, and more far-flung clients, it is in a company’s best interest to know how to conduct a business meeting via online audio and video. But how do you determine which video conferencing package and technology is right for you? There are pros and cons to all of them, experts agree.
Below are some of the more popular and functional video conferencing options:
What it does: According to its website, Fuze works within the Internet “cloud” to allow up to 10 users to collaborate across any mobile device anywhere in the world. With high-definition video content, Fuze Meeting “is browser, operating system, and device agnostic and resolution independent,” meaning users are not confined to one type of device or program. Among its features are screen-sharing, multiple call-in options, branding ability for large conferences and the ability to record your meeting.
What it costs: Price points range from $10 for meetings by the day, to Fuze Meeting Pro, which costs $69 per month or $828 annually. Different features are available depending on the service you buy.
Pros: Users and experts point to its stellar mobile apps, price points, and storage ability.
Cons: Though some price points of Fuze Meeting include high-definition video, recent trials of this and other video conferencing sites by the industry magazine PC World found that other video conferencing companies had better video quality.
What it does: With social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn built into the service, cloud-based iMeet allows conference participants to connect to those sites through its application. Up to 15 conference participants can share documents, presentations and videos during the meeting, and your individual iMeet profile can be personalized, including changing your background and photo.
What it costs: $69 per month for unlimited use, with a free 30-day trial.
Pros: Works on mobile devices; personalized profiles, customized URL for your meeting
Cons: Those social media aspects of video conferencing — changing your background or photo displayed during the chat, connecting via Facebook, creating a bio and, as the website states, “reflect your own style or mood and help people get to know you better” might turn off the more staid or traditional business participants.
What it does: Video conferencing is just one feature of Google+, the company’s new interface. Via Google Hangouts, you and up to nine additional friends/colleagues/business partners can chat, watch videos together, or take the conversation to the streets with mobile devices.
What it costs: Free
Pros: Free! Also connects with your Facebook account
Cons: Not cloud-computing, meaning you do have to download software
Cisco WebEX Meeting Center
What it does: One of the first video conferencing technologies on the market, WebEX allows users to follow up to seven video feeds at once, automatically highlights the video box of the person who is speaking, offers mobile apps, interactive abilities for documents and the like, and the option of recording your meeting.
What it costs: Online promotion is $19 per month for one host and up to eight users; $49 per month to meet with up to 25 people or, if you prepay for the year, it’s $39 per month. You can also purchase Call Me minutes.
Pros: In its recent review of video conferencing companies, PC World magazine editors named this technology their top choice for businesses. “WebEx delivers some of the best video performance around,” according to the magazine.
Cons: Hard to find. “By far the most established competitor in this field, WebEx continues to deserve its position as the standard bearer in the industry,” PC World wrote.