It's important to stay connected with loved ones and to work by remote if you can. In this article, we'll discuss popular video conferencing platforms and compare the best free video conferencing solutions.
Video Conferencing Online
Video conferencing with friends, family, and business associates is becoming an important way to stay connected during the age of the COVID pandemic.
Social distancing is an important method for fighting the virus, but doing so can leave many people feeling lonely, depressed, and disconnected from other humans.
By using video conferencing technology, people can visit virtually face to face. It’s common to connect with a friend and hang out for hours using this technology.
Many video conferencing companies have increased their limits of simultaneous users, allowing people with large families or friend groups to gather virtually for things like dinners or watch parties.
You might be wondering how to get started with video conferencing online free and what the best video conferencing online platforms are.
I will attempt to shed more light on both those questions in this article.
Video Conferencing Definition
What do you mean by “video conferencing”?
Video conferencing is a way to conduct a virtual meeting, or conference, between two or more people at different locations using computers, phones, or webcams to transmit audio and video.
Video conferencing works like videophone, allowing participants to see and speak to each other, and even share files and text chat.
Video Conferencing Software
There are many video conferencing apps to choose from, so what makes the best free video conferencing software?
Video conferencing software should be:
- Stable (no dropped calls)
- Easy to use (grandma should be able to use it easily)
- High-quality (nobody wants to look at a tiny, jerky, grainy photo)
- Free (there are plenty of competitors giving away video conferencing software for free)
While businesses might prefer the stability and quality of commercial video conferencing platforms, there are plenty of high-quality free solutions available as well.
Tips for Video Conferencing
Using webcams for videoconferencing is easy, and if you keep these four tips in mind, you will have a fun and productive experience with videoconferencing:
- Frame Your Shot- Use the webcam software to frame your shot in advance, this way you know where you need to sit, what can be seen in the background, helping you avoid any embarrassing messes.
- Avoid Being Backlit- Don’t sit with your back to the window; try to keep light sources in front of you to keep your face lit. Webcams don’t work very well in low light conditions.
- Use A Broadband Connection- The better your internet connection, the better image you can send and receive. Cable internet is usually best, followed by wireless, and DSL. Satellite internet has fast bursts of speed, but the latency makes it practically unusable for video conferencing in real-time.
- Use A Decent Webcam- Many laptops have webcams built-in and so do many desktop monitors. Unfortunately, these cameras are normally meant to meet minimum requirements for videoconferencing. Consider adding a higher quality webcam such as the Logitech c310 Webcam 720 ($82 at Newegg) or the Logitech c920 Webcam 1080 ($150 at Newegg).
Before you start your first video conference, take a moment to go over these suggestions for the best results.
Free Video Conferencing Software
Video conferencing software has been around along time. There are some companies that have been doing it for a long time and some companies that have only recently entered the video conferencing market.
In this article I am going to focus on the following free video conferencing platforms:
These are four of the top video conferencing platforms in popular use today.
Video Conferencing With Zoom
If you are looking for a free video conferencing tool, consider using Zoom.
Zoom is a popular free video conferencing platform that allows you to host a meeting of up to 100 participants.
One on one meetings are unlimited in length, but group meetings are limited to 40-minute blocks.
Share your screen or use whiteboard features.
Zoom can run in your browser, so there is no software to download.
Zoom has a desktop app and a phone app that provides extra features.
Ready to get started with Zoom? Check out this video: Zoom Video Conferencing Tutorial For Beginners 2020
Video Conferencing With Skype
Another free video conferencing system is Skype.
Before Zoom became so popular, Skype was the top free video conferencing software.
Like Zoom, Skype can be run in a browser with no additional software to download. Of course, users can gain extra features by using the desktop or phone app to conduct Skype meetings.
Skype allows video calling for up to 50 people.
Skype provides live subtitles during your video call, making it easier to communicate.
Skype also allows screen sharing and messaging services.
Interested in learning more about getting started with Skype? Check out this tutorial video: Skype Video Conferencing Tutorial For Beginners 2020
Video Conferencing With Google Hangouts
If you have a Google account, you already have access to Google Hangouts; Google's free video conferencing platform.
Google Hangouts runs in your browser and doesn't require any software to be downloaded. As usual, additional features can be gained by downloading the app on your phone.
Google Hangouts allows up to 25 users in one meeting.
Hangouts allow you to share your desktop and keep a chat sidebar.
Google Hangouts lets you add real-time filters, like virtual cowboy hats or bunny ears.
If you are interested in learning more about video conferencing with Google Hangouts, check out this video tutorial: Google Hangouts Video Conferencing Tutorial For Beginners 2020
Video Conferencing With Discord
The last free video conferencing platform I'd like to cover is called Discord and is popular among gamers.
Discord allows users to create free private chat servers with subchannels for text chat, voice chat, and more.
Discord runs in your browser, with no additional software to download. Like the other video conferencing programs in this article, using the phone or desktop app provides additional functionality to users.
Using Discord, you can video conference with up to 10 other users.
Discord allows you to share your screen and photos as well. Great for sharing your high score screen-grabs.
Ready to find out more about you can use Discord for video conferencing? Check out this short video tutorial: Discord Video Conferencing Tutorial For Beginners 2020
Video conferencing can be a great way to stay connected with friends, family, and coworkers during the COVID pandemic.
The important things to remember are to use a good video conferencing platform such as:
What's your favorite video conferencing platform? Let us know in the comments below!