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Collaborate anywhere with Zoom
Its features are useful and easy to learn with a little training.
finder.com’s rating: 4.0 / 5.0
Quick verdict: Zoom’s powerful collaboration tools can make it convenient to host virtual meetings or provide education services – as long as you’ve got the bandwidth and skills to understand its interface.
In response the the COVID-19 pandemic, Zoom is currently removing time limits on meetings for schools using the free Basic tier in the US, Japan and Italy. To get access, students or teachers can submit an application on Zoom’s website using an email address associated with their school’s domain.
Free accounts with unlimited minutes are also available by request for schools in Austria, Denmark, France, Ireland, Poland, Romania and South Korea.
WATCH: How to schedule a Zoom meeting
Multi-user interface makes it easy to host meetings and share data
Can get more complex, which can be confusing
The core of Zoom’s success can be attributed partially to the way the system — rather than the interface — has been designed. No matter the tier you’re on, you can set up a meeting and share a single link with every participant. They can then launch the Zoom app for their platform of choice or log in via a standard web browser interface.
For the more basic levels of usage, the core UI revolves around the primary host’s view — either webcam if supported or a shared desktop view — and then smaller screen images of participants.
The UI allows you to create or schedule meetings with a unique ID that you then send out to meeting participants to click on. The first time they do so, they’ll usually be asked to download the client application for their platform, but this isn’t mandatory.
Zoom’s UI starts simple, but can quickly ramp up depending on the package you’re subscribed to and your desire for additional features such as breakout groups, screen annotations or cohosted meetings. This is where Zoom can suffer a bit, depending on the training and tech expertise of your host.
Capable of delivering quality video to all participants
Can be choppy depending on broadband speed
I’ve been using Zoom for a number of years now, both in a professional capacity across a number of jobs and in an educational setting. It’s given me an appreciation of where the platform can really sing — as well as where it can falter.
Flexibility in how your group connects is a huge plus for Zoom, which supports native clients on PC, macOS, Linux, Android and iOS/iPadOS as well as a web-only experience if there are users who can’t or won’t install the Zoom Meetings app itself. In my experience, primarily as a guest rather than a host, you’re better off on the dedicated app than the web client — I’ve seen more issues with core video and audio when connecting that way.
Rather predictably, Zoom lives and dies on the strength of your group’s broadband connections. When it’s good, Zoom can fly. When you’ve got group members with shaky connections, expect difficulties. If you experience lag time or blips in quality, it’s sometimes worth experimenting with disabling video if you can get by with audio only.
I’ve worked in places that simply used the free tier of Zoom, and it’s surprising how solid it can be for no cost. The 40-minute time limit can be a little challenging, but there’s something to be said for shorter meetings anyway. All tiers allow you to record your meetings, though the free tier doesn’t offer any cloud-based storage.
Recorded video quality is typically fair, though Zoom’s systems tend to take a minute or two at the start of a meeting before settling on a video quality setting. If the later presentation of one of your meetings in some professional capacity is important to your brand image, it’s worth keeping this in mind.
One of the better aspects of Zoom’s model is that you can start small and scale up to meet the growing needs of your business. If you need more features, more hosts or enterprise integration of other services, Zoom can handle that when you’re ready.
Solid video and audio conferencing tools for just about every usage scenario
Should you buy it?
Zoom has many fans and it’s not hard to see why. The barrier to entry is literally nothing, and the service you get for free is astonishingly robust. Some small businesses could get by almost entirely without sending a cent Zoom’s way.
Equally, there’s plenty of value that larger businesses will find on its paid tiers.
The basic tier is a good place to determine if Zoom is right for your needs compared to services such as Google Hangouts, WebEx and others. But for many, Zoom will likely be more than enough, and at a competitive price.
Pricing and availability
Zoom Video Conferencing
Zoom Video Communications was Named a 2018 Gartner Peer Insights Customers' Choice for Meeting Solutions.
Zoom offers a suite of software applications depending on the size of your business and the scope of your needs. Most will use Zoom for its user-friendly videoconferencing platform, Zoom Meetings, which comes in four different subscription tiers:
Price structure of Zoom
Zoom’s Meeting Plans are its most popular offerings and come in four price structures along with special offers for customers in the education, health and API fields. Other Zoom applications have additional costs. All prices are in Australian dollars (AUD).
Zoom Meeting Plans
Unlimited one-on-one meetings
All features of Basic package plus: unlimited meeting duration for all meeting sizes
All features of Pro package plus: phone support, admin dashboard, vanity URL
All features of Business package plus: unlimited cloud storage, dedicated customer success manager
Host Up To 100 Participants
Administration Feature Controls
Executive Business Reviews
40-Minute Limit On Group Meetings
Custom Personal Meeting ID
Bundle Discounts On Webinars And Zoom Rooms
Unlimited Number Of Meetings
1GB Of MP4 Or M4A Cloudrecording
$19.99/Month/HostWith A Minimum Of 10 Hosts
$19.99/Month/Host With A Minimum Of 100 Hosts
Prices last checked April 2020
Other Zoom packages
Zoom Rooms: High quality video, audio and web conferencing for Mac, PC or Touchscreen; integrates with Google/Microsoft Exchange calendar; screen sharing with Wi-Fi, Airplay or HDMI connection; $49/month/room.
H.323 Room Connector: Works with endpoints including Polycom, Cisco and Lifesize; cloud-based or on-premise room connector; connect systems with desktop, tablet, mobile devices, Zoom Rooms or other H.232/SIP endpoints; $49/month/port.
Video Webinar: Up to 100 interactive video participants; up to 10,000 view-only attendees; host control of various functions; Q/A, polling and registration options; ability to livestream on Facebook or YouTube; starting at $40/month/host for 100 attendees.
Premium audio: Allows addition of call-out, global toll-free and local dial-in for premium countries; no charge to participants to call in from any device; starts at $100/month.
Additional cloud recording storage: Stores, streams and makes video downloads available in either MP4 or M4A file formats. Storage options up to 3TB/month.
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Frequently asked questions
Yes, you can join with audio and/or visual by downloading the Zoom app.
Yes, you can dial in from a landline and participate with audio.
Alex Kidman is the tech and telco editor at Finder. He's been a technology writer with experience spanning more than 20 years, writing and editing at Gizmodo, CNET, PC Magazine, Kotaku and many more. Alex has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of New England and a serious passion for retro gaming.
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