Zoom: What is it, how much does it cost, and is it worth it?

Zoom Android app

What exactly is Zoom Meetings, anyway, and how does it work? This is a question I hear a lot these days, mainly because of the effects COVID-19 is having on the economy. The virus forced a lot of companies to adapt their operations by making their employees work from home, eliminating the chances of them getting sick on the job.

Working remotely comes with its share of challenges, with one of them being how to establish communication between employees. This is where Zoom Meetings comes in.

What is Zoom Meetings?

Zoom start a meeting

No, we aren’t just bad at grammar. The product name here is actually Zoom Meetings. So what is Zoom Meetings? It’s a video conferencing platform from a company called Zoom. It allows employees of a company to have online meetings while working remotely. The software allows for HD video as well as audio and supports up to 1,000 participants per session, although the exact number depends on the plan you have — more on this later.

Zoom Meetings has all the features a company needs to hold online meetings, no matter how big or small it is. Participants can join in from a computer or a mobile device anywhere in the world as long as they have an internet connection. They can turn on their cameras so others can see them or keep them off in case they want privacy. Each individual can also turn off their microphone as well to make sure there are no background noises when someone speaks. Zoom Meeting offers loads of other useful features, some of which you can check out below. 

The main features of Zoom Meetings:

  • Record meeting: All meetings can be recorded with the press of a button. You can save a recording locally on a device or upload it to the cloud. This allows employees that couldn’t attend the live meeting/webinar to check it out at a later time.
  • Screen sharing: Participants can share their screens with others, which comes in handy for various presentations and educational workshops.
  • Chat: Every Zoom Meeting has an integrated chat feature, allowing participants to communicate with each other during a meeting and ask questions.
  • Virtual hand-raising: When you want to speak or ask a question, you can signal it to the host by raising your hand virtually. This improves communication during a meeting, preventing multiple people from talking at once. 
  • Polls: A host can create a poll and share it with participants in the meeting to gather their responses and opinions on a given topic. This comes in handy for voting on various business-related decisions, for example.
  • Mute participants: The host of a meeting has the ability to mute the mic of any participant. This is a vital feature that’s used when someone forgets they have the mic and their children are screaming in the background, for example.

These are the main features Zoom Meetings offers, although there are loads of others as well. These include Virtual Background that allows you to set an image or video as your background during a meeting. This is a great option for those who don’t want people to see the inside of their apartment. Then there’s Touch Up My Appearance, which is basically a filter that smooths out your skins, making you look more handsome for that important meeting.

As far as privacy is concerned, Zoom Meetings has you covered. It supports end-to-end encryption that makes sure no one can snoop on your meetings — not even the company itself.

How much does Zoom Meetings cost?

The good news is that Zoom Meetings has a free plan available. The bad news is that it has a lot of limitations in place, making it unsuitable for a lot of businesses. The free plan lets you host up to 100 participants and take part in unlimited one-on-one meetings. However, each group meeting can only be 40 minutes long at most.

If that’s no good for you, you’ll have to sign up for one of the paid plans on offer. Pricing is affordable, though, starting at just $14.99 per month per host. You can check out all the pricing plans along with the features each one includes in the image below.

Zoom pricingZoom

Keep in mind that the pricing is per host, not per participant. This means you don’t need to pay a monthly fee for every participant that joins a meeting or webinar. People can join for free, but the host of the meeting — the one who sets up a meeting — has to pay a monthly subscription. The more hosts a company has, the higher the monthly bill is. Keep in mind any user can host even without paying, they’ll just be restricted to all the features of the free plan (like a call no longer than 40 minutes.) 

It’s worth noting that each plan also offers various add-ons. These include the ability to increase the number of participants that can join a meeting, the option to add extra cloud recording storage, and more.

Is Zoom Meetings worth it?

You’re probably thinking why pay for Zoom Meetings if I can opt for a free service like Skype instead. Well, there are a number of reasons why that’s not the best idea.

While Skype is free and doesn’t have a time limit in place for meetings like the free version of Zoom, it does have a number of other limitations. The first one is that only up to 50 people can join a group chat, making the software unsuitable for many mid-sized companies. You also can’t mute the microphones of any of the participants in a call, which is a feature you definitely need during large online business meetings — trust me on this one.

Skype isn’t great for online business meetings and webinars.

There are other business-oriented features Skype and other similar services lack including the ability to raise a hand when someone wants to speak, among many others. Skype is designed for personal and not business use. If you frequently have online meetings, especially with multiple people, we suggest paying a monthly fee for software like Zoom Meetings. We use it regularly here at Android Authority and love it. It’s definitely worth the starting price of $14.99 per month.

However, Zoom isn’t the only video conferencing software available. Skype’s owner Microsoft offers Microsoft Teams, which combines video conferencing and messaging into one service that also includes a bunch of other features. Google’s Hangouts Meet is a great option as well, but it’s a part of the company’s G Suite subscription that also includes additional cloud storage space and other features. Other great options include GoToMeeting and Zoho Meeting, among many others.

What is a Zoom Room?

Meeting

Zoom Meetings isn’t the only service the company offers. It also has Zoom Rooms, which refers to the hardware setup (monitors, cameras…) required to launch Zoom Meetings in a company’s conference room.

Zoom Rooms are aimed at large companies.

The Zoom Rooms service requires an additional monthly fee ($49 per room) on top of what you’re already paying for the Zoom Meetings software. It includes what the company calls a Zoom Rooms Scheduling Display that’s used to view upcoming meetings and schedule new ones. Additionally, it comes with Digital signage that allows you to share images, videos, and URLs to the screens in a Zoom Room when you’re not using them for a Zoom meeting.

A Zoom Room is designed for larger companies with hundreds or even thousands of employees. It’s an expensive setup since you need to purchase the monitors, microphones, and all the other required hardware separately — you don’t get them included with the $49 monthly subscription. Those interested in the equipment needed and recommended by Zoom can head here to learn more.

There you have it — now you know what is Zoom Meetings and why so many companies are using it. 

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