Low-cost videoconferencing options

I’ve been using a paid Zoom account for the last two years. Many years ago, well before the pandemic, I used UberConference.

Before I renew my Zoom account, I’m wondering what other decent options exist. I could try out Google Meet.

What does your paid Zoom account give you that’s “essential” for you above the free Zoom account? That would seem to be one key consideration.

It also depends on how much you use it. I use Zoom a lot … but our company pays for it. However, if I switched to something else everyone would be up in arms … not due to cost, but because Zoom works really well for our needs and everyone is now familiar with how to set up various things in Zoom (sharing screen, etc. etc.). So there’s also the potential cost of moving to a new platform.

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What are you using it for? This makes a massive difference on your options starting with Facetime

A while back I tried to find an alternative to Zoom. I’m using it to host meetings of 25 - 40 people for my business, and honestly I couldn’t find anything that even came close to Zoom’s feature set and cost. The alternatives I found were either severely limited in features, or 3x as costly as Zoom.

I’d start by asking yourself:

  • How many people need to be on the call, and do they all need access to the microphone or are they just listening?
  • How long are your meetings? Some conferencing solutions have caps, as does the free version of Zoom.
  • Do you need to be able to share slides or your screen? Or will you be on camera?
  • Do you need to stream your meeting to other platforms?
  • What are your attendees most comfortable with?

That last one was the deciding factor for me. My attendees all use Zoom frequently, so I don’t have to continually educate them on how to use the app. In my business and for my customers, that was a huge plus. Your mileage may vary, of course. :slight_smile:


I usually recommend people to use Office 365 or Google Workspace tools but in this case I have to say that MS Teams is terrible and the best next thing is Google Meet.

I use all three and completely agree about Teams.

Google Meet is good and better than Teams but I prefer Zoom as it seems to have better algorithms for coping with weak connections.


Thank you all.

This is almost exclusively for personal group calls. I need more than the 40 min free version and a lot of times, it’s more than one other person on the call.

I have been on MS Teams calls and I find that software awful.

I do agree that most people now are comfortable with zoom so it’s the easiest route to take. With a minor discount, it’s still not nothing (around $120/year) but I think I use it enough.

I may try Google Meet for a couple of months as a test.

Note that if you hit the limit everyone can just rejoin the same meeting for an additional forty minutes. Perhaps not practical for business use, but for personal use we do this frequently.

I have heard this but haven’t confirmed.

But for that option, when you create the meeting, do you have to use the ‘Personal Meeting ID’ option or will it work if you have the Meeting ID automatically generated?

Hmmm … I just go into Zoom and set up a meeting. As far as I know everything is automatically generated.

Jitsi is a set of open-source projects that allows you to easily build and deploy secure video conferencing solutions. At the heart of Jitsi are Jitsi Videobridge and Jitsi Meet, which let you have conferences on the internet, while other projects in the community enable other features such as audio, dial-in, recording, and simulcasting.

Easy to deploy, open source, secure and more importantly: free to use

Cross platform apps (mac/ios/windows/linux) and actively developed

If it’s for personal conferencing only, and you have an always on machine or server available, then you might look at Jitsi meet?

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For family and friends, FaceTime works well. It can do multiple people, and there’s a webpage for people without an Apple product to use to access the call.

And it’s free.

I use zoom and teams for work. For personal use, FaceTime is more than okay.


Brave Talk Premium is $7/mo.

I think FaceTime does a great job now, but I do think its screen-sharing options are a bit obtuse. Everything is icon-based (as usual), so under pressure of the call it’s hard to find the correct button to start sharing. Once you know that the roundrect with a little person is supposed to represent a screen, then it’s OK. But would text labels have been so bad?

Ending screen sharing is just as bad (at least on a Mac). I never remember how to do it because the icons have now moved to the menu bar. I suppose that is logical, but having controls start out in a window and then switch to the menu bar? That is not something I have ever experienced.

I don’t know that Zoom’s controls are better, but the are more familiar!

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I’ve got a paid Zoom account, the primary reason is unlimited meetings. I’m using it to do joint coding sessions with other folks on AnimalTrakker. The ease with which we can share screens, work on our own code but un mute and ask a question if we need soemthing from the other person is worth the zoom fees. Since my collaborators and I started doing this we’ve made much faster progress on the entire AnimalTrakker set of packages. We tend to do about 3 hours of solid work at a time. Jumping into a new Zoom meeting breaks the flow of coding we get into and hurts productivity.

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I can understand that, I used Teams for more than 3 years, and was pitched into a Zoom environment for 6 weeks, I struggled to use the Zoom product as the controls felt very unintuitive.

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