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Zoom review: pros, cons and how to use it

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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.

  • Wide variety of pricing plans
  • Supports multi-screen sharing and private chat
  • Works across several device types
  • Can suffer under bad bandwidth conditions
  • Only as intuitive as its users

Details

Features Video
Price starts atFree, and paid plans start at $14.99/month
App Integration Yes
Tech SupportPhone, Email, Live chat
Monthly Plan$14.99

How is Zoom handling the COVID-19 outbreak?

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

Step-by-step guide on how to use Zoom

  1. Download the desktop app at zoom.us/download. You can also download the mobile Zoom app for iOS and Android devices.
  2. To schedule a meeting, click the Schedule button.
  3. Under Topic, add in a title for your meeting.
  4. Under Start, set the date, time and duration of your meeting. If you want it to be recurring, tick the box Recurring meeting.
    Note: The free version of Zoom will only allow you up to 45 minutes at a time. Once your meeting ends, simply start a new meeting and pick up where you left off.
  5. Under Time Zone, chose the timezone for your meeting in case you’re inviting people from across the globe.
  6. Tick the box Password if you want to set a password to join a meeting for added privacy.
  7. Under Video, choose On if you want to enable your web cam for yourself and for everyone joining the meeting.
  8. Under Audio, choose On if you want to enable audio for your computer and mobile devices.
  9. Under Calendar, choose which calendar do you want to add in the meeting.
  10. Under Advanced Options, check off which advanced options you want for your meeting:
    • Enable waiting room. Allows you to control who is able to join the meeting.
    • Enable join before the host. Allows participants to enter the meeting before you do.
    • Mute participants on entry. Automatically mutes participants as they join your meeting.
    • Only authenticated users can join. Enable this if you want only authenticated users to join.
    • Automatically record meeting on the local computer. Enable this if you want the meeting to automatically record when it starts.
  11. Once you finished selecting your preferences, click the Schedule button.
  12. Whichever digital calendar service you use, it will direct you to sign in and add the meeting in your calendar. For Google Calendar, a pop-up message saying Zoom wants to access your Google account appears, you will then click Allow.
  13. On your calendar, you can adjust settings like your meeting title, date, time and description. Once you’re done, click Save to add the meeting in your calendar.

To join a meeting from a Zoom invite in your calendar

  1. Go to your calendar and click the Zoom meeting link under Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android.
  2. Once the page opens in a separate window, a pop-up message Open Zoom? will appear. Click Open Zoom.
  3. When you join the meeting, you can enable your microphone and webcam settings by clicking Join with Computer Audio and Start video.

Design

  • Multi-user interface makes it easy to host meetings and share data
  • Can get more complex, which can be confusing
zoom review 1

Performance

  • Capable of delivering quality video to all participants
  • Can be choppy depending on broadband speed
zoom review 2

Verdict

★★★★★

  • Solid video and audio conferencing tools for just about every usage scenario
zoom review 3

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 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:

Basic

The Basic (“Personal Meeting”) version of Zoom is free and is surprisingly full-featured, with support for up to 100 participants, group collaboration, web-based desktop sharing and local recording of meetings. Note that the free tier only supports meetings of a maximum length of 40 minutes, and you can only have a single host.

Pro

The Pro Zoom package runs $14.99 per month, but your meetings can run up to 24 hours. There’s the same basic 100-user limit, but with the option to buy add-on packages for up to 500 or 1,000 active participants if needed.

Business and Enterprise

The $19.99 Business tier gives you up to 300 participants, plus cloud-recording transcript options and company branding options. The same pricing applies to the Enterprise tier, which bumps up regular participant numbers to 500.

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