Best Video Conferencing For Small Business

With telecommuters and outside contractors now serving vital roles in most small to midsize companies, it has become increasingly important to be able to meet face-to-face with people across the building, across town, or across the ocean without physically transporting ourselves around.

Fortunately, video-based conferencing services have evolved to meet this demand, making it easier than ever to share documents, demonstrate software, and work collaboratively on a shared whiteboard from the comfort of your desktop PC.

To help you choose the right videoconferencing system for your business, we took five of the most compelling services-8x8 Virtual Room, Adobe Connect, Cisco WebEx Meeting Center, Citrix GoToMeeting, and Fuze Meeting-for a spin.

In selecting the services to cover in this roundup, we looked at numerous options, including stand-alone video services like Google Chat and Skype, that do only video and audio. But ultimately we settled on five services that offer comprehensive collaboration features as well as accessibility across an array of devices. Though many of the basic features of these services are similar, each brings unique benefits to the virtual table. We judged each one on its user interface, its management features, its collaboration capabilities, and the quality of its video experience.

8x8 Virtual Room

8x8 Virtual Room videoconferencing service.Known for its hardware-based conferencing systems, 8x8 has been serving up VOIP phone service to the business world since 2002, but it's less well known to mainstream users. The company's new Virtual Room videoconferencing service stands out from the others in this roundup for offering scalable support for advanced video phones and telepresence hardware without requiring businesses to deploy their own on-premises infrastructure.

What it costs: $200 per month and up, depending on resolution requirements.

What you get: Like the other services in this roundup, 8x8 Virtual Room lets you stream video-up to 15 streams-and share apps, presentations, and desktops. But its main differentiator is its support for Polycom VVX and HDX conferencing equipment, which makes it a full-blown telepresence service without saddling you with the burden of managing your own on-premises back-office systems.

Our take:The $200 starting price for Virtual Room may seem outlandish to people who just want to get online with their PCs' webcams, but it's not aimed at casual users or at businesses that will only occasionally engage in video chats. The service is aimed squarely at midsize companies that want to use high-end telepresence hardware in conjunction with midrange Polycom phones and webcams on a single conference, without making the six-figure infrastructure investment usually required for those capabilities. Of all the services we tried, Virtual Room delivered the smoothest video by far, even from webcam-based users.

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Polycom Polycom Voicestation 300 Analog Conference Phone
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  • Call waiting Caller ID
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  • One touch intercom calling. Busy telephone indication. Speed dialing.
FRiEQ FR-CMF1 Gold Plated 3.5mm Male to Female Auxiliary Stereo Audio Cable for Apple iPad, iPhone, iPod, Samsung Galaxy, Android & MP3 Player, 4 Feet, Black/Green
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