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Video Calls & Video Conferencing: Have you Tried Zoom.us?

Zoom.us vs. Skype & Google Hangouts

Written by Emily Read on Monday, 30 September 2013.

Video Calls & Video Conferencing: Have you Tried Zoom.us?

When it comes to making personal or business video calls, there’s a newish kid on the block – Zoom.us.

I first noticed Zoom had arrived in the neighbourhood this past week, when I participated in a five-way Zoom video conference to discuss a new project.

Zoom’s a lot like the other kids in the area – Skype and Google Hangouts. All three offer free accounts and free communication via messaging, voice and video (you just pay for your data/wi-fi and electricity). They also all offer these services in HD sound and video, and have applications for mobile and tablet users.

But there are a few things about Zoom that are a little different.

Things that I liked.

Things that you might like.

So I figured I’d introduce you to this neighbourhood newbie in case you want to be friends too. And just so you know, Zoom isn’t paying me a cent. My friendship has not been bought; so this post is my unadulterated and entirely unsponsored opinion!

You can also read this post: 7 Random Facts About Zoom I Learned by Accident

Introducing Zoom.us

Zoom was founded in 2011 and markets itself as a “Cloud Video Conferencing Experience”. It allows you to communicate with up to 25 users or rooms at a time, and provides customisable viewing options which I like rather a lot. Zoom’s a cool kid. But like Skype and Google Hangouts, Zoom isn’t perfect. The following table gives a quick overview of how Zoom compares to the other two.

Zoom vs. Skype vs. Google Hangouts

 

Zoom

Skype

Hangouts

Free video/voice calls

Yes

Yes

Yes

Number of video call participants

Up to 25 at a time

2 on a free account, up to 10 at a time with a paid account

Up to 10 at a time

Mobile/tablet apps

Yes

Yes

Yes

Screen sharing (computer screen)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Screen sharing (mobile phone screen)

Yes

No

No

Login using social accounts

Facebook or Google or SSO

Facebook or Microsoft

Google only

File sharing

No

Yes

Yes

Free account call time limit

No time limit for one-on-one calls

40 minutes for group calls (no time limit applies for group calls with a paid account)

No time limit

No time limit

Video/voice call recording

Yes

No – not without another program/app

No – not without another program/app

All users must have an account

No – those you call do not need to login or have an account (see below)

Yes – but if preferred, users can use their Facebook or Google account rather than a Skype account

Yes – all users must use a Google account

What doesn’t Zoom do?

As you can see, one feature that Zoom does not provide is file sharing. If you use file sharing a lot, then this is a big bummer. If not, then it obviously isn’t a deal breaker.  

While there's no time limit on one-on-one calls made with a free account, a potentially annoying issue is that group calls using a free account are limited to a maximum of 40 minutes. You can always call again, but that is a little lame. On the other hand, if you have friends, family members, clients or colleagues who tend to waffle, a 40 minute limit might help them get to the point a bit faster. Ultimately, whether or not the time limit for group calls is a deal breaker is, once again, up to you.

What Makes Zoom Special?

Ok, so now you know what Zoom can’t do. But here are a few special things it does do.

  • More Participants – While Google Hangouts can connect up to 10 people in a video call at one time, Skype only offers this service to users with a premium account. Zoom goes one better by allowing you to call up to 25 participants or rooms at once. For free.
  • Mobile Screen Sharing – While all three platforms offer computer screen sharing, Zoom is the first to offer mobile phone screen sharing. For those on the go, this can be incredibly handy.
  • Video Call Recording – Another feature that sets Zoom apart is the ability to record meetings. If you want to record a meeting on Skype or Google Hangouts, you will need to use an additional application or program. Zoom allows you to record your calls and save them in mp4 format without the use of third-party software.
  • Those You Call Don’t Need an Account – The biggest thing that appeals to me about Zoom is that those you wish to contact do not need to have a Zoom account, they don’t need to sign into Zoom, and they don’t need to add you as a contact. This is perfect for chatting to your less-than-tech-savvy friends, family, clients, or colleagues
    Those you want to call can simply go to zoom.us, click “join meeting”, and enter a 9 or 10 digit meeting number you provide them with. Voila – they are talking to you for free without even having to sign into anything. Easy.

The Verdict

So, is it time to consign Skype and Google Hangouts to the trash, and exclusively embrace Zoom?

Well, no, probably not.

Skype and Google Hangouts still definitely have their uses, and if your clients already use Skype or Google, then it makes more sense for you to use what they use. After all, you need to be where your clients are.

But for those clients, friends or family who don’t have Skype or Google+, Zoom is perfect and oh-so-easy. It’s also perfect if you want to have a large family or work video conference, and it’s perfect if you want to record your meeting, or share your mobile screen.

Over to You

Have you used Zoom? What about Skype or Google Hangouts? What do you think of them? Which do you prefer? Share your thoughts in the comments below so you can help others make an informed choice. If you have any questions about Zoom, share them too. (You might also like my post on 7 Random – and Helpful – Facts About Zoom.us.)

Find this post useful? Be the first to share it with your friends and followers to let them know about Zoom. After all, sharing’s caring! (And if you’re the first to share it with your friends, the extra kudos doesn’t hurt, either!)

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About the Author

Emily Read

Emily Read

Just who is this Emily Read Copywriter person?

I'm an Australian copywriter, blogger, and proofreader who crafts SEO copy designed to appeal to humans and Google. I tinker with words until they sing! 

Away from my desk, I'm an incurable Disney, Once Upon a Time, and IT Crowd fan who likes virgin coladas, and getting caught in the sunshine.

Want to be friends? Let's connect on Facebook, Twitter, PinterestLinkedIn – you choose! 

Comments (15)

  • Des Walsh

    Des Walsh

    09 February 2015 at 10:04 | #

    Clear, helpful review, Emma. It's complicated, working out which web conferencing product is best for particular purposes and also working out the economics for paid versions.

    Thank you.

    reply

  • emad kamel

    emad kamel

    17 June 2014 at 01:55 | #

    hi

    reply

  • Marianna

    Marianna

    09 May 2014 at 11:09 | #

    how do you allow your face to come up during a meeting? I place a flower in the spot for my profile......should I take that out in order for others to see my face?

    reply

    • Emily Read

      Emily Read

      09 May 2014 at 12:30 | #

      Hi Marianna, it depends. If you want your face to show in real time (ie video) then you just make a video call and don't turn the video option off. If you want your face to show on your profile, then you'll need a profile picture with your face on it. Hope that helps! And thanks for commenting :-)

      reply

  • nuJ

    nuJ

    27 December 2013 at 12:11 | #

    If I am using a free account and the video conference ends after 40mins, can I use the same Meeting ID to reinitiate the conference?

    reply

    • Emily Read

      Emily Read

      27 December 2013 at 12:14 | #

      Hi Nuj. That's a really good question - I'm not actually sure. But I'll ask Nick (who commented below), as he works for Zoom and should know the answer.

      reply

      • nuJ

        nuJ

        27 December 2013 at 14:52 | #

        Ok Thanks Emily. Appreciate the response :)

        reply

  • Frank

    Frank

    26 November 2013 at 03:49 | #

    Nice post, good info. I've been looking for an easier-to-use Skype alternative for my geographically dispersed family members, and Google is still just too fussy for non-gmail folks IMHO. My sister is a teacher and uses Zoom at her school, so I searched for something simple about Zoom and found your post (which is a testament to your SEO skills, no doubt). Based on your review, I decided to give Zoom a try. Thanks again.

    reply

    • Emily Read

      Emily Read

      26 November 2013 at 10:29 | #

      Glad it helped! Let me know what you think of Zoom once you've given it a go :-)

      reply

  • Frank

    Frank

    26 November 2013 at 03:48 | #

    Nice post, good info. I've been looking for an easier-to-use Skype alternative for my geographically dispersed family members, and Google is still just too fussy for non-gmail folks IMHO. My sister is a teacher and uses Zoom at her school, so I searched for something simple about Zoom and found your post (which is a testament to your SEO skills, no doubt). Based on your review, I decided to give Zoom a try. Thanks again.

    reply

  • Nick Chong

    Nick Chong

    19 November 2013 at 07:20 | #

    Hi Emily, thank you so much for covering us! We may not have made it obvious that 1:1 call is unlimited minutes per meeting. The 40-mins limit apply to group meetings.

    Thank you!
    Nick

    reply

    • Hilda

      Hilda

      04 November 2014 at 01:58 | #

      Thank you for the information! is really helpful. You said zoom allows up to 25 people. that means all the 25 people can be in the video conference at once? I really need an application that allows more people in a video conference.
      Thank you!

      reply

      • Emily

        Emily

        05 November 2014 at 08:59 | #

        Hi Hilda, yes, 25 people can be in the call at once. My understanding is that on a free call, this will only last for 40 minutes, but for a paid account, it can go for longer.

        reply

    • Emily Read

      Emily Read

      27 December 2013 at 12:15 | #

      Hi Nick - please see Nuj's question above. I don't know the answer, but you should.

      reply

    • Emily Read

      Emily Read

      19 November 2013 at 11:46 | #

      Thanks Nick!
      I didn't realise that - thanks. I'll alter what I said in my post to cover that rather important point!

      reply

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