Services like Skype and Google Hangouts offer the opportunity to video conference for free but the service they offer isn’t perfect, especially not for business. In this article we plead the case for video conferencing vs Skype.
There are so many choices of video conferencing services and equipment available, but many people start with Skype. It’s a “peer to peer” service, hosted on the internet, which lets you hold a video conference with one to nine other people inexpensively. There are other similar services around, such as Google Hangouts and ooVoo. So when free or cheap video conferencing is available, why would you ever consider investing in video conferencing equipment?
Video conferencing vs Skype
Many people’s first experience with video conferencing is with Skype, because it’s a free (or very low cost) service. But the fact that it’s free is in fact its downfall. The providers of free services don’t have any sort of commitment to provide guaranteed uptime, for a start, so you’re reliant on the service being available when you need it – which doesn’t always happen. When you invest in dedicated video conferencing equipment or use a managed service or a premium online video conferencing service you’re guaranteed to access video conferencing whenever you want it, and you’ll also receive excellent customer service, unlike free providers who can take days to respond – if they do at all. And “premium” doesn’t necessarily mean expensive – something like LifeSize Connections costs under £30 a month (after purchase of the software).
No equipment needed
One of the attractions of Skype is it needs no specialist equipment. You simply download the software and use your webcam and headset. However, the disadvantage is you are reliant on the quality of your and the other users’ equipment . If someone’s web cam is out of focus or very low resolution, or someone else is using speakers rather than a headset and sending feedback squeals to everyone, the conference isn’t going to be successful.
Also if you want to hold room conferences – where the whole room can be seen – a webcam isn’t up to the job, so you will need more sophisticated equipment. And while video conferencing equipment can be expensive there are low budget systems, and you can also look at leasing options, where you pay for equipment over a longer period of time, thus spreading the cost.
The convenience of the cloud
Skype is cloud-based – it runs over the internet. While this means everyone with an internet connection can access it, it also means you’re dependent on the connection being good enough – if it isn’t you could experience choppy video or a complete crash of the service. Having a dedicated system that runs over your network is a better solution. Alternatively, if you don’t have a reliable internet connection you could look at a managed video conferencing service, where you rent “space” on a fast server to access conferencing for a monthly fee.
So while Skype is free and easy to set up, we would argue that for business use there are far better video conferencing alternatives available within your budget that will give you a reliable, high quality service. For more information give us a call today on 0118 336 0010 and discuss the options with one of our experts.