Zoom likes to call themselves the “cloud meeting company.” They make a product that combines video conferencing, simple online meetings, and group messaging into one straightforward platform. Their solution offers high-quality video, audio, and screen sharing. They offer rich experiences across Zoom Rooms, Windows, Mac, Mobile, and certain room systems. The company was founded in 2010. A team of big influencers from Cisco and WebEx walked away from their companies and decided to make something better. The company’s senior team has over a decade of experience making real-time collaboration software. They’ve done a good job in delivering the company’s core deliverable--building a people-centric cloud service that is fast, simple, and easy to use.
- Cross-platform compatibility
- Screen entrant tools
- Monthly service
Zoom's creators have made it one of the best web conferencing platforms in the industry. Its video conferencing functionality includes a lot of neat features that put it above the competition. It includes HD video and HD voice, dynamic voice detection to help determine who is speaking, a full screen view of the person speaking and a gallery room of everyone who is in the meeting. There is really only one video stream, but it is expandable to two video streams when you use a second monitor. There is also a "view-only" attendee feature, where users can beam in, but not actually participate in the meeting. There is also a way to join a video conference by dialing in, but this doesn't let the attendee use video with that method.
The cross-platform compatibility of Zoom across MAC, Windows, iOS, and Android makes it a powerful collaboration tool. You can easily message people within your group. You can also screen share documents, photos, and other rich media in a chat. The iPhone/iPad option is equipped with a screen share with iOS mirror. Annotation and co-annotation can make this a neat tool to sue in collaboration. White boarding is also available.
It is easy to get into meetings without too much difficulty on Zoom. In addition to the desktop and application sharing, each personal meeting gets a meeting ID and URL name. You can make an instant meeting. You can also schedule a meeting on your calendar. There are Google Chrome and Outlook plugins to get you set up for meetings. You can also record with simple mp4 or m4a formats, archiving your meetings for later.
The screen entrant tools are simple, yet functional. What we really liked about this platform was the host controls, to control who is doing what in the meeting, as well as the hand raising tool that lets users signal that they are ready to speak.
What else did we like about the service? We liked the fact that this was a monthly service. Many companies that sell web conferencing SaaS tend to advertise the monthly price and then add you to a 12-month contract "under the radar." We liked that Zoom was upfront about their prices and did NOT charge you to a year-long commitment.
- System confusion
- Fees and subscriptions
- App integrations
- Customizable URL
We weren't really sure quite how the system worked. What is the difference between a host and a user? Does that mean that hosts are people that start meetings and participants are the ones to attend them? With the Business Plan, you can only have a maximum of ten hosts, but 100 people can participate in your conference. This, to us, seems a little bit on the "low end" for the number of people.
We had some concerns about the branding for the free and pro subscriptions. Let's say that you are a small business and use the pro account plan. Even though you are paying for the service, a step up from the freemium version, you don't get the option of making your Zoom rooms reflect your company brand. This was somewhat problematic for us.
We also couldn't find any app integrations available with Zoom. We wondered if we could use Box, Dropbox, and other cloud storage services. We also couldn't find Sales Force, or any other e-commerce integrations that enhance the functionality of Zoom for different businesses. This was the one area where Zoom disappointed us the most.
We also had a problem with a lack of customizable URL for the Pro plan. The customizable URL is advertised on one of the pages in the site, but we had to read the complete features list to see that we couldn't use the customizable URL unless we purchased the Business-level plan. This was also a huge disappointment for us.
The Bottom Line
We would recommend Zoom to any small- or medium-sized business. Their SaaS model is ideal. You can easily have just one host within your organization and invite users to join within your company if they are away. We also really liked some of the neat features that we saw demonstrated in the product. The only thing that we want to see fixed is with the Pro plan. For a paid service, it does not offer a whole lot more than the free version. We would be willing to pay an increase in price for the Pro subscription to make it more suitable for small businesses.