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30 июля 2016, 05:52

Zoho Meeting

Zoho Meeting Logo
  • Pros

    Robust free option. Easy to use. Website meeting embeds available.

  • Cons

    No camera functionality. Desktop-based app.

  • Bottom Line

    Zoho Meeting is an ideal screen sharing and presentation tool. However, if you're looking for a more comprehensive video conferencing tool that has whiteboarding, recording, and social sharing options, you'll have to choose another solution.

The best video conferencing tools are paradoxical by nature. To be considered elite, they have to offer complex functionality that enables users to perform a multitude of tasks, such as screen sharing, private chat, hand raising, and video playback. But they also have to be easy enough to use that even a technological novice can start a meeting. Zoho Meeting (which begins at $12 per month) is perhaps the easiest video conferencing solution on the market, but it's a barebones system that falls well short of our Editors' Choice tool ClickMeeting. In fact, Zoho Meeting doesn't even have camera-based conferencing functionality. This is a tool best used for remote support, team collaboration, and application-based demonstrations.

Pricing and Plans
Zoho Meeting comes in two different varieties: the Free version and the Professional offering (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, coworkers, and friends.

Zoho Meeting - Home Screen

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 month.

Setup and Interface
Zoho Meeting is a desktop based app so, if you're hosting a meeting, you're going to have to download the software onto your computer. This is an easy and brief installation that shouldn't scare off anyone who is more accustomed to cloud-based applications. Thankfully, meeting attendees are able to join calls via a web browser so you won't have to coach every invitee through the download process every time you start a meeting.

Zoho Meeting - Create Meeting

Once you're set up, you'll be able to access Zoho Meeting in two ways: via the web browser by going to the Zoho Meeting website or by launching the application on your computer. If you choose to start a meeting via the web browser, you'll be asked to launch and run the application anyway, so it's in your best interest to just start on the desktop app. Once the app is launched, you'll see the app window on the right-hand side of your screen. From here, you'll be able to invite participants, share your screen, offload control of your desktop to a participant, or make someone else the presenter. Everything is clearly marked and easy to access so you won't have any trouble using the system at all.

The app's chat box is located directly underneath the participant list so you'll be able to send and receive messages in a clear and easy-to-locate environment. Unfortunately, Zoho doesn't offer private chat within the Meeting app so you'll have to log into another chat application to send one-to-one messages to meeting participants.

Zoho Meeting - Start Meeting

Features and Limitations
As I mentioned earlier, Zoho Meeting doesn't offer camera-based conferencing so you won't be using this tool to show people your new hairdo. However, if you're trying to present a Microsoft PowerPoint document or show someone the latest sales figures, Zoho Meeting makes this process easy as pie.

Keep in mind that anyone who is going to present during a call needs to have the software downloaded onto their computer prior to the meeting; this is a bittersweet reality. As many of Zoho's competitors move to cloud-only applications that run solely through the browser, requiring users to download software for any reason is going to present a barrier. However, some cloud-based video conferencing tools don't allow you to change presenters at all, so you've got to accept the good with the bad here.

If you're like me and you use a multiple monitor setup, Zoho allows you to 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 phone or web-based audio. If you, as a host, choose phone-based audio, you'll be given access to a dial-in bridge that your participants can use. Zoho doesn't offer toll-free calling out of the box but you can add 1,000 free minutes for $20 per month.

Zoho 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'll 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.

Zoho Meeting - Meeting Reports

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 application also lets you adjust branding so that you can manipulate the organization name, logo, and portal URL that viewers see when they log into 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 super-cool Zoho feature is the ability to embed the meeting onto a website via iframe. This means you can let anyone 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 doesn't offer operator-assisted meetings, whiteboard tools, social media integration, or third-party recording options. Zoho did say it was developing internal video recording functionality but they didn't say when it would become available. Zoho also doesn't offer phone support, so you'll have to stick with basic email and chat support if you run into any issues.

Bottom Line
If you're constantly looking to provide remote support or conduct product demonstrations, and you don't need your guest to see your face, Zoho Meeting is a solid tool that will definitely get the job done. However, if you need an advanced feature set with all of the bells and whistles, you should look at some of the other options available in our best video conferencing roundup. Zoho Meeting is a utilitarian tool that won't light the world on fire but it will provide you with exactly what you need with little to no hassle at all.

Zoho Meeting - Admin Dashboard
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