Reviewed by: André Spiteri
Zoom has won various awards for its web conferencing platform, and it isn’t hard to see why. The service boasts impressive specs and advanced features even on the free tier, as well as live support 24 hours a day. More significantly, it complies with web accessibility guidelines and supports screen readers and close captioning. This means just about anyone can use it without a hitch.
Besides its four standard plans (the free Basic plan and paid Pro, Business and Enterprise plans), Zoom also has two industry specific-plans - the Education plan and the Healthcare plan - as well as a plan for API partners.
The Education plan is built with e-learning in mind, and works best as a virtual classroom or online course platform.
The Healthcare plan is HIPAA compliant and rich in features that make virtual medical consultations and other healthcare applications a breeze.
Of course, the plans best suited for business web conferencing are Zoom’s standard plans.
HD audio and video, desktop and app sharing, screen sharing, virtual hand raising and various group collaboration features are standard for up to 50 participants, even on the free tier. In addition, Zoom integrates with more than 20 business apps, including marketing automation software such as Marketo.
Zoom’s standout feature, however, is its accessibility.
The platform is compliant with the Rehabilitation Act and Web Content Accessibility 2.0 guidelines. It’s also compatible with screen readers and supports close captioning.
Unfortunately, while recording locally is free, you’ll need to pay extra to store your recordings in the cloud, even if you’re on a paid plan.
In addition, Zoom is priced per host, which means it can get very expensive if you want to be able to host more than one meeting at once.
While Zoom has a desktop client and a browser extension for Chrome and Firefox, you can also initiate or join meetings directly from a browser by logging on to the Zoom website. The platform works with any browser.
Zoom also supports up to 200 simultaneous participants, of which up to 50 on the free tier. Some other web conferencing platforms we reviewed do support larger numbers. However, 200 should be more than enough for most business meetings and internal training purposes, even if your company is a larger organization.
That said, Zoom is priced per host, which means there are limits to the number of meetings you can conduct simultaneously. Frankly, this puts Zoom at a considerable disadvantage, because running multiple simultaneous meetings could get really expensive. Other web conferencing platforms we reviewed allow unlimited hosts.
Zoom encrypts all meetings and data transfers using SSL 256-bit AES encryption and can work behind your company’s firewall.
You can set individual meetings to be password protected, or even require attendees to authenticate themselves by confirming pre-set session parameters and a unique, randomly generated session token.
In addition, you can prevent specific attendees from recording meetings, mute participants or even expel them from the meeting altogether.
Zoom is extremely easy to use.
The interface is clean and intuitive, which makes for an extremely smooth user experience.
Getting to grips with its more advanced features is equally simple, thanks to the extensive knowledge base and free live training that’s available twice weekly.
Zoom has excellent online customer support.
The knowledge base is easy to navigate and everything is explained concisely in a way that’s easy to follow.
You can also register for free live training, provided you have a basic Zoom account. Each webinar session is held twice - on Mondays and Fridays - so it’s quite easy to fit it into your schedule.
Unfortunately, phone support is only available on the more expensive Business and Enterprise plans. However, if you’re on a free or pro plan you can still submit a support ticket. You’ll also have access to a live chat 24/7.
Zoom is definitely one of the best web conferencing solutions we reviewed. It’s easy to use, secure, and has an impressive set of features even on its free Basic plan. It ranks especially high on accessibility, and stands out as a web conferencing solution anyone and everyone can use. Unfortunately its per-host pricing makes it less flexible than it could be.
Last Updated: April 2016