Leading video conferencing services have developed into feature-rich platforms that bring sophisticated functionality, including screen sharing, private chat, video playback, and hand raising features. These capabilities let customers go beyond meetings to perform tasks such as delivering events or conducting marketing webinars. Yet some businesses may decide they want to forgo those features to focus instead on a service that’s simple for even tech beginners to use quickly. That’s where Zoho Meeting (which begins at $14.99 per month) comes in as perhaps the easiest-to-use video conferencing service on the market. A drawback is its fairly bare-bones feature set compared with competitors such as ClickMeeting, which is an Editor’s Choice-winning service in our video conferencing software review roundup.
Still, Zoho Meeting just recently added camera-based conferencing functionality, which is a good attempt to compete with the video conferencing elites. However, it remains a tool best used for basic remote support, team collaboration, and application-based demonstrations.
Pricing and Plans
Zoho Meeting comes in two different varieties: the Free version and the Professional version (which begins at $12 for one host and a maximum of five meeting participants, when billed monthly). All plans are 20 percent less expensive when billed annually. The Free plan gives you access to one host and one participant only; however, you’ll be able to host an unlimited number of meetings for an unlimited duration. You can schedule meetings in advance, share your screen, and even let your participant take control of your desktop remotely. This is a great deal for anyone who makes impromptu, one-on-one casual calls to colleagues and friends.
The Professional plan can be modified to increase the number of hosts or participants per meeting. For example, you can have one host and 100 participants per meeting for $49 per month or you can have 20 hosts and five participants per meeting for $240 per month. The former is suited for sales teams that present to large conference rooms full of prospects while the latter is designed for companies that consistently conduct internal calls along disparate lines of business. The largest plan available will give you access to 20 hosts and 100 meeting participants for $980 per month.
Setup and User Interface
Zoho Meeting used to be a desktop-based app, which meant if you were hosting a meeting, then you were going to have to download the software onto your computer. However, Zoho recently updated to WebRTC technology so the tool is 100 percent browser-based. This is a thankful change meant to bring the tool into the cloud alongside powerhouses such as ClickMeeting, join.me, and RingCentral Office (for Business).
You can start a meeting one of three ways: you can schedule a meeting in advance, you can start a meeting immediately, or you can add a participant registration widget to your website. In the first two instances, you will be able to invite users via email. Scheduled meetings let you insert calendar holds for users who accept invitations via Microsoft Outlook, Gmail, or Zoho Mail. Unfortunately, the information you gather from invitees can’t be customized. So, if you’re hoping to use Zoho Meeting for lead generation, then you will need to find an alternate method for data collection.
Once a meeting starts, you’re greeted by a tiny video box that’s low-resolution and can’t be customized, enlargened, or shrunk. You can, however, move the box around so that it’s located where you need it to be. The app’s chat box is located in the lower left-hand corner of your screen. You’ll be able to send and receive messages in a clear and easy-to-locate environment, which can also be moved around but not customized or resized. Unfortunately, Zoho doesn’t offer private chat within the Zoho Meeting app so you will have to log in to another chat app to send one-to-one messages to meeting participants.
Features and Limitations
If you’re like me and you use a multiple monitor setup, then you’ll appreciate that Zoho Meeting lets you share all or one of your monitors for your meeting. This is handy for anyone hosting a meeting while peeking over at a cheat sheet that contains notes.
When you create or join a meeting, you can choose to use audio-only or web-based video. If you, as a host, choose phone-based audio, then you’ll be given access to a dial-in bridge that your participants can use. In addition to video-based conferencing, Zoho recently added Voice-over-IP (VoIP), dial-in numbers for 25 countries, and a toll-free add-on at 2 cents per minute within the United States only.
Zoho Meeting lets you access reports to determine how your team is using the software. You can sort by host or by date. The only information you will receive are the names of the invitees, the date and time of the meeting, the host’s name, the duration of the meeting, and the IP address. You won’t be able to access any of the content viewed during the presentation and you won’t be able to see who actually attended the session. You can, however, choose to record audio and video prior to your meeting, which is a feature that is new to the system.
Administrators can easily adjust the system to add hosts by typing in new usernames and email addresses, or they can remove hosts by pressing the “X” button alongside existing hosts. The app also lets you adjust branding so that you can manipulate the organization name, logo, and portal URL that viewers see when they log in to meetings.
Although Zoho Meeting is a standalone app, you can start a meeting from Zoho CRM. When inside the CRM portal, you can choose a contact, select “Meet Now” and a meeting will start.
One other cool Zoho Meeting feature is the ability to embed a meeting onto a website via inline frame (iframe). This means you can let any users in the world tune in to see your demonstration, whether they have a Zoho Meeting account or not.
Unfortunately, you’ll be missing a lot if you choose Zoho Meeting over other more traditional video conferencing tools. Zoho Meeting doesn’t offer operator-assisted meetings, whiteboard tools, social media integration, or third-party recording options.
But it’s clear that Zoho is working hard to build out the system to compete with the rest of the video conferencing field. The company recently added phone support and live chat support 24 hours a day, Monday through Friday. The company also now offers an iOS app for iPhone and iPad that lets you host meetings, conferences, and live demos on the go. It has also been building out its polling, questions, and analytics features to be more robust. This lets hosts drop pop-up polls and questions into a video conference to get instant user feedback. Zoho has also added customization to webinar forms to help companies gather information on the preferences of sales leads.
Simple Screen Sharing and Presentation
If you’re constantly looking to provide remote support or conduct product demonstrations, then Zoho Meeting is a solid tool that will definitely get the job done. However, if you need an advanced feature set with special features, then you should look at some of the other options available in our best video conferencing software review roundup. Zoho has made great strides over the past several months to build Zoho Meeting into a competitive video conferencing tool. Unfortunately, it is still utilitarian at best.