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.
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
|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|
|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|
|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.
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!)