What is the best video conferencing tool for business & remote teams? We get this question a lot, and it’s a tool we use for the majority of our day, everyday. For a long time, it was hard to find a good video conferencing tool that actually added value to the interactions of a remote team. Now there are finally a number of viable options serving different needs, so we’ve created a series of categories winners, allowing you to pick the best tool for your needs. To get the most out of your video conferencing solution, we recommend checking out our article on the best audio and video setup for remote teams.
We’ve divided our review into the following categories: Large Teams, Small Teams, Cost Sensitive, 1 on 1’s & overall winner.
Best Video Conferencing Tools for Large Teams
1st Place: Zoom.us
At FullStack, we typically have monthly release planning meetings with our biggest clients. Our biggest client, Higher Learning Technologies, asked if their department heads could be on the call, in addition to the development team. We were already at about 9 people at that point without the other department’s, and the Google Hangout quality was not sufficient and had a hard limit of 10 participants. After extensive research, we found that Zoom.us was the best for large teams because of:
- Quality of the Audio – Light on the background noise, and very few problems throughout our many calls.
- Quality of the Video – Consistent video
- Chat functionality- an easy to use chat if you need to share links to drive folders or URLS
- Recordable – Users are able to download the entire conference (with Audio + Video) for later reference or to share if people weren’t present.
- Screen sharing – Zoom also allows users to share screens, great for large conference calls.
- Up to 100 video people on a call
- Cost. Zoom is relatively cheap if you use the service every day, or @ least on a consistent pattern, or if you’re not paying for it 🙂
2nd Place: Skype
In second place is Skype, but it seems as though Microsoft is making Skype a priority once again and the feature set & price is starting to improve. Most people in the US have a skype account (even if they barely use it) but it’s much more popular across the world. Skype was the first VOIP startup and defined the category, but has been pretty light on its extra features.
- Best Video & Sound Quality
- Popular – Most people already have it installed on their computer, so there’s rarely a messy installation process.
- Mobile – Skype has both iOS and Android apps, allowing you to continue (or begin) your call through your phone.
- Price – Free! Skype recently made their group calls free
- Screen Sharing – Skype has the capability to share your calls w/ others.
- App Based – Skype is a desktop application, so even though most people have it already installed, there’s some friction to getting a call started.
- Limit on Group size – Like Hangouts, there’s a limit of 10 people per call.
Overall, Skype is an awesome option, but there were some things that are better suited for large teams / conferences with Zoom. Interestingly, Skype is creating a feature that ‘instant translates’ your language into another if you’re speaking w/ someone from a different country. We can’t wait to use that!
3rd Place: Google Hangouts
Our 3rd place finisher, Google Hangouts, is also the most convenient. Google Hangouts has great audio & video, but is very inconsistent w/ quality. We’ve had calls that were flawless from start to finish, but also seem to be asking each other ‘Can you hear me” for a minute (of wasted time) at the start of about one third of our calls (Quick Tip = We find that taking your headset out & plugging it back in usually fixes this). Although Hangouts is more reliable when headsets aren’t used, audio quality suffers.
Hangouts does have many features, such as chat, sharing a screen & inviting people via a phone number. There’s also some fun features that allow you to add faces and mustaches (for example) w/ their Draw feature.
- Web Based
- Mobile App
- Screen Share
- Extra Features
- Quality w/ Volume – The biggest flaw of Google Hangouts is that the quality of both the audio and video diminishes w/ the # of people on the call, and we routinely see people that drop off.
- There’s a max of 10 people on a Group Video Call.
Hence, the stability most of the time and the convenience factor (it’s a total web application, nothing needs to be installed) makes Hangouts our 3rd place.
Honorable Mention: AnyMeeting
We recently tried AnyMeeting which has a lot of good features, but is ultimately lacking in elite quality of audio. Anymeeting has 2 options, free (ad-supported) and paid, but if you can put up w/ the ads, the free version should be all you need.
- Free – Ad supported version allows you to do almost everything you need.
- Up to 200! users on a call
- Features – ScreenSharing, chats, custom surveys, etc.
- Quality – Not the best
- Inverted camera – This is nitpicky, but all the other services use the same angle, and this really throws me off 😛
Overall, if AnyMeeting invested more into the sound quality and made the actual video screen sizes larger, this could compete w/ any of our Top 3.
Best Video Conferencing for Small Teams
1st Place: Google Hangouts
Hangouts is the winner because the primary negative isn’t a factor (audio & video quality diminishing w/ the # of people). The convenience factor of most people having Gmail, or having gmail as their work email, outweighs the quality of Skype. It’s very easy to schedule a calendar invite (through google calendar) and then use that link for everyone.
2nd Place: Skype
In a close second, Skype’s superior quality shines once again. We can safely assume that small teams have each other’s skype names, and can continue using their skype ‘group’ for calls & to hold all their chats.
Overall, it’s hard for us to really recommend any other services simply because of the convenience, quality, features, and lack of negatives of Skype + Hangouts.
Best “Cost Sensitive” Video Conferencing Solutions
We understand that startups, small businesses, and individuals typically like to save their resources (aka $$) for other essentials, when ‘free’ services are available. However, the services on the following list shouldn’t be looked at as inferior as to the other options. Rather, we think that the features list + the free aspects still make these excellent options for users in the need for video conferencing solutions.
Tie for 1st Place: Skype
Skype is once again a winner because of it’s premier quality, popularity, and features. For most situations, skype’s product suite is a perfect fit
Tie for 1st Place: AnyMeeting
AnyMeeting is a very close second to skype because it has almost every feature a user would need to host large scale conference calls (up to 200), have good quality team calls / chats or to share screens. While the ads can be somewhat annoying after awhile, the ability to have 200 people for an unlimited time is an extremely great value and makes up for any shortcomings.
3rd Place: Google Hangouts
Hangouts is in 3rd place because the quality does not compete w/ Anymeeting, nor their features w/ AnyMeeting. The convenience of Hangouts is always a huge plus, but we can assume that those who are cost-sensitive don’t mind taking one extra step to get a feature they need or have a problem with ads.
Best Video Conferencing for “1 on 1” Meetings
1 on 1’s, or just quick chats between two people are definitely the most common type of video call or chat, but really come down to two things: convenience & speed. Sometimes a quick 5 minute call is infinitely better than a 20 minute email, but it’s obviously based on the situation. For this review, we’ve assumed that the two users speak to each other frequently.
1st Place: Hangouts
This is the only category where we find that Hangouts is a clear #1 and shines above the rest. Most of the quick 1on1’s we have are the result of a miscommunication through chatting, either on Slack or Hangouts, and it’s incredibly easy to stop chatting and just ask “hey, want to have a quick call to figure this out?”, & press the video call. However, one big drawback of Hangouts Calls is that all chats during the call are not saved. We’re not sure why this feature isn’t updated, but we’re sure google is on it 🙂
2nd Place: Skype
The consistently awesome Skype jumps into the #2 spot here, simply because our common chat situation which we explained in our Hangouts review. However, if you typically have Skype open on your desktop, and don’t use hangouts, then we suggest Skype as your #1.
3rd Place: Built-in Service
Our #3 might be a head scratcher to some, but it all is based around our main criteria for greatness in this category, convenience & speed. We’ve decided to not select one application, but a few that are built into some very popular other services.
- Hipchat – If you only use Hipchat as your communication tool, then you’ll love how quickly you’ll be able to do a Hipchat Video. The quality is average, but it’s acceptable for 10 minute calls and under. The only drawback is that it’s only available w/ their premium package.
- Facetime – We’ve only used Facetime a handful of times, mostly when one of our other tools aren’t working. Facetime should be getting more popular since Apple has worked it into Yosemite (their new Operating System Version) and people are just getting the hang of it. The biggest positive is that many people have Macbook’s for work (in the tech world) as well as an iphone. However, the biggest drawback is that it’s not available for those without Apple products.
- Slack– TBD – Slack recently acquired screenhero, which we’ve used a few times in the past. We currently use Slack as our main chat application, and can safely assume that the integration w/ screenhero will make video calls seamless. Slack might move up in the charts soon, but only time will tell!
Google Hangouts! There are many different use cases for having a video chat, but the convenience, cost, quality, and built-in functionality of Hangouts makes it the best overall choice for teams both big and small. We did consider Skype because of their superior quality for video and audio, but Skype didn’t have the overall feature set of Hangouts.
We do expect that this list will change over time, so please let us know what you think of our rankings!