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Best video conferencing tools of 2021

(Image credit: Future)

Video conferencing software has never been more popular and important than today, when unforeseen circumstances can put the entire planet in a lockdown, separate family members and friends, and force employees to turn their homes into makeshift offices.

This is the time for video conferencing tools to shine - helping families and friends to stay in touch despite geographical distances, while allowing businesses to remain operational when meeting face-to-face isn’t possible. Additionally, utilizing these technologies instead of meeting in person also reduces pollution from commuting as it allows employees to work and attend meetings from home.

We’ve explored and tested the current video conferencing options available on the market and came up with a list of top 10 that stand out in the sea of similar products.

(Image credit: Future)

1. GoToMeeting

Optimized for mobile devices

Reasons to buy
+Mobile-friendly +24/7 customer support +Excellent apps 
Reasons to avoid
-Drains system resources 

GoToMeeting is a platform designed by LogMeIn, a provider of SaaS and cloud-based collaboration tools. In addition to providing a quality audio and video conferencing solution, the platform stands out from the crowd due to its support for mobile devices.

In other words, it allows you to conduct a video conference directly from your smartphone, which isn’t something many competitors can do. The Android and iOS apps allow you to tweak image and call quality, as well as to send invites to meetings with just one tap.

There are several subscription packages, all available as monthly or annual pricing options. You can choose the Professional pack at $14/month (or $12 for the annual option) if the (generous) limitation to 150 participants sounds good enough to you. The Business package at $19/month ($16 if you opt for the annual plan) expands the limitation to 250 and throws in some admin options, mouse sharing, and drawing tools. If you require a solution that exceeds 250 participants, then the Enterprise plan might be perfect for you, as it can host up to 3,000 participants. 

(Image credit: Future)

2. RingCentralVideo

Multiple major integrations

Reasons to buy
+Provides detailed analytics dashboard +Integrates with Microsoft 365, G Suite, Slack +Plenty of common and bonus features 
Reasons to avoid
- No end-to-end encryption 

RingCentral Video is a high-quality and comprehensive video conferencing solution that prides itself in its integration capabilities that include G Suite, Microsoft 365, and Slack, allowing you to schedule and initiate calls directly from those apps. You can also integrate your calendar with the RingCentral platform.

In addition to the usual video-conferencing features like screen sharing, built-in chat, video-call recording and scheduling, and annotation, the service throws in some surprises. Namely, IT admins also get an analytics dashboard that they can use to monitor the platform’s usage, as well as narrow down any performance problems to their precise location, network, ISP, and endpoint.

On top of that, RingCentral Video has a bunch of standard and bonus handy features and is capable of operating on web browsers, removing the dependency on any additional software. We only had a bone to pick with the provider’s lack of end-to-end encryption option. However, it’s comforting that it does encrypt media using the Secure Real-Time Transport Protocol and other data via Datagram Transport Layer Security.

(Image credit: Future)

3. Microsoft Teams

Robust platform that integrates with Microsoft 365

Reasons to buy
+Can support 10,000 participants +Fully integrable with Microsoft 365 +Background blurring option 
Reasons to avoid
-Can be expensive 

Microsoft Teams fully integrates with Microsoft 365, so it’s an excellent platform for those businesses already using this collection of products.

It allows you to schedule video or audio meetings individually, as a team, or even organizing a webinar for up to 10,000 participants (300 participants for more basic plans). The platform even supports external guests to join in meetings from their web browsers.

It includes all the industry-standard features like call recording, chat functionalities, screen share, live captions, and background blur technology. There are also features like dynamic view, live reactions, large gallery view, and a few more. In addition, the platform adds its own hardware options, allowing users to participate in calls from virtually any location. There are also integrations with Salesforce, Zoho Notebook, and you can add Teams to your Google Workspace via add-on.

(Image credit: Future)

4. Google Meet

User-friendly business-grade video conferencing

Reasons to buy
+Cheaper than many +Integrates with G Suite products +Easy to use 
Reasons to avoid
-Too much attention on Google products 

Formerly known as Google Hangouts Meet, Google Meet is one of the solutions from the G Suite office productivity collection, designed specifically with businesses of any size in mind. It facilitates using data from other G Suite apps to plan meetings and set up event information.

With a goal to make working with external clients easier, Google Meet includes a web app, removing the need to download any software, as well as a dedicated dial-in number to ensure line quality and stability.

In addition to iOS and Android apps, the platform makes use of the existing conferencing hardware, as long as it follows H.323 and SIP standards for Skype for Business users. Additionally, the supported hardware covers systems by Polycom, Sony, Cisco, Lifesize and Surface Hub. This interoperability requires the use of Google’s Pexip Infinity gateway.

(Image credit: Future)

5. Zoom

Plentiful and affordable

Reasons to buy
+Beginner-friendly setup and interface +Free version +720p video quality 
Reasons to avoid
-A bit heavy on the resources 

Zoom Meetings provides a secure HD video and audio experience, has user-friendly apps for both desktop and mobile devices, supports up to 1,000 participants at the same time, and up to 49 videos on one screen. Large meetings can easily be switched to one-on-one calls and it supports automatic scheduling from Outlook, iCal, or Gmail.

You can save recordings and searchable transcripts locally or on the cloud, and there are integrated collaboration tools such as screen-, note-, and file-sharing, team chat options, searchable history, as well as a 10-year archive. Security of your interactions is guaranteed via built-in 256-bit TLS encryption that covers both meetings and files shared.

You can download a free version which is filled with useful features and supports up to 100 participants during up to 40 minutes, but for a complete business-grade video conferencing solution, you should go for team administration and management option starting at $14.99/month or more dedicated business and enterprise packages with the pricing that starts at $19.99/month.

(Image credit: Future)

6. ClickMeeting

Productivity-focused, data-driven, customisable

Reasons to buy
+Integrates with lots of platforms +Handy marketing and Q&A tools+Productivity-focused +30-day free trial 
Reasons to avoid
-Presenter interface can be confusing 

An excellent solution for webinars and large meetings, ClickMeeting is packed with presentation-optimized features that include screen sharing, slideshows, video player, and even an interactive display the participants can control themselves. A handy bonus is the support for live polls and Q&A sessions to include your audience and collect useful data.

Besides, the platform integrates with marketing and analytics tools. For instance, it supports embedding a Facebook pixel on your webinar’s (fully customizable) landing page or connecting that page directly to Google Analytics.

ClickMeeting also integrates with popular business platforms like Zapier which allows you to take direct advantage of its CRM or email marketing, or Dropbox which facilitates automatically saving your recordings on the cloud.

Pricing is flexible and depends on the number of employees, features, and billing period. For example, its cheapest, Live package for 10 attendees will cost you $25/month (billed annually), Automated $40/month, while there’s also a customizable Enterprise solution for which you should contact the company to get a quote. If there were 1,000 attendees, the same packages would cost $239/month and $279/month, respectively.

All plans support unlimited webinars and online meetings, HD quality, whiteboard, real-time chat translation, social media sharing, event statistics and more.

(Image credit: Future)

Veteran multimedia company’s take on video conferencing

Reasons to buy
+Plenty of features +Has a free tier +Web-based 
Reasons to avoid
-No video-recording unless on PC 

Taiwan-based multimedia software company CyberLink has been around since 1996 and its video conferencing solution U Meeting has earned it a place among our top 10. The product is completely web-based, removing the need for downloading any additional software in order to use it. Unfortunately, there are no video-recording options on mobile.

If this works for you, U Meeting is available under four pricing options. There’s a free Basic plan that supports up to 25 participants during up to 30 minutes per meeting. It’s followed by the Pro 50 option at $9.99/month, including up to 50 participants for the duration of up to 24 hours and which throws in some admin tools and the peculiar PerfectCam feature, which adds computer-generated makeup to your face to ‘create a truly professional look’.

The Pro 100 plan will cost you $14.99/month and will support up to 100 participants. The Pro 200 increases the support to 200 participants and you'll need to contact the sales department for exact pricing. Finally, the Enterprise Features plan comprises all of the features from the other plans and adds end-to-end encryption, meeting analysis, and premium support.

(Image credit: Future)

8. BigBlueButton

Open-source platform ideal for online teaching

Reasons to buy
+Completely free +Useful online classroom tools +Allows group collaboration 
Reasons to avoid
-Limited customization 

BigBlueButton is primarily designed with online learning webinars and virtual classrooms in mind, as it enriches the typical video-conferencing and sharing experience with online teaching-specific tools like a multi-user whiteboard, presentations, notes, chat, and polls.

On top of that, there’s even an option to place learners into breakout rooms so they can work on solving problems as a group. 

As an open-source platform, BigBlueButton is entirely free. It isn’t the easiest to set up, but considering it’s packed with features for which you don’t have to pay anything, it all evens out.

(Image credit: Future)

9. Bluejeans Meetings

Focuses on superior audio quality

Reasons to buy
+Supports Dolby voice +Free trial +Provides analytics 
Reasons to avoid
-Not many features 

BlueJeans Meetings is an interoperable cloud-based video conferencing platform created by a California-based company BlueJeans. If you’re meticulous about audio quality, you’ll appreciate the fact that the service supports Dolby voice.

The platform is available under three pricing options. The Standard package costs $9.99/month per user (under an annual subscription), facilitating video calls with up to 50 participants calling from any desktop or mobile device, and including dial-up numbers. Next is the Pro option at $13.99/month per host (annual subscription), which expands the platform with a command center dashboard, 25 hours of meeting recordings saved on the cloud, and increases the participant count on up to 75 participants. 

Finally, the Enterprise package takes everything offered in the other plans and throws in room system calendar support, connection H.323 and SIP room systems, and extends the participant upper limit to 200 users. You’ll have to contact the company for a quote if you’re interested in this option.

There’s no free plan, but there’s a 30-day free trial so you can get a taste of what this platform has to offer before making a definite decision.

(Image credit: Future)

10. Lifesize

4K video conferencing tool for lifelike meeting experience

Reasons to buy
+Supports 4K video quality +Includes its own hardware +Has a free version 
Reasons to avoid
-Slightly pricey 

Founded in 2003, Lifesize is the company with main branches in Texas and Germany, supplying various video conferencing hardware and software solutions. Its flagship software is a cloud-based video collaboration platform that, with the exclusion of its free tier, provides its own hardware and is capable of providing a 4K experience.

Its services can be purchased under three pricing tiers. The first option, Lifesize Standard at $12.50/month per host, is ideal for smaller teams, facilitating unlimited meetings featuring up to 100 participants, as well as support for personal meetings, lone chat, and single sign-on (SSO).

The Lifesize Plus at $14.95/month per host (a minimum of 10 hosts is necessary) is a great solution for small to middle-sized businesses, as it provides more tools than the Standard option, supports up to 300 participants, provides 1-hour cloud recording per host, real-time meetings analytics, phone and email support, as well as integrating with Microsoft products.

For large businesses and enterprises that require support for live streaming for up to 1,000 viewers, the Lifesize Enterprise is just the thing. It includes unlimited video recording, premium customer support, branding and customization, as well as unlimited audio calling (for the US). You'll need to contact their sales team for the price. 

A free option is available in the form Lifesize Go - a browser-based service which supports hosting an unlimited number of video calls for up to eight users, screen sharing feature on desktop, and no limitations in terms of meeting length.

Sead Fadilpašić

Sead is a freelance journalist with more than 15 years of experience in writing various types of content, from blogs, whitepapers, and reviews to ebooks, and many more, across sites including Al Jazeera Balkans, TechRadar Pro, IT Pro Portal, and CryptoNews.