It’s not often that I am really, really impressed with a product. This is one of those times.
Ease of Use
Zoom.us required a small download from their website to get started. The only slightly unfortunate thing is that the product requires a login using credentials from either Facebook or Google, for reasons that I can only speculate about. This is only necessary if you want to initiate a meeting. To join someone else’s meeting you only need to be given an invitation via email (which is incredibly easy for the host to provide), download, launch the application, type your name and you are in the meeting.
Joining via iPad is a matter of inputting the room id that is provided at the top of the screen by the host via an obvious button called “Join Video Meeting”. It is possible to initiate a meeting from the iPad, which some other products aren’t able to do.
There aren’t many bells and or whistles to complicate things. There’s no way to change quality settings, but from what I found it’s not needed as I’ll go into below.
Quality of Product
The video image quality was excellent. Even full screen on a 23” monitor, the image from my iPad looked very good with just some pixelization but not enough to notice unless you are looking for it. Video from the desktop on the iPad was excellent as well. Latency between iPad and desktop was as close to non-existent as I’ve seen in a software product. Audio to video sync was virtually spot on. For this test, I pointed the camera at my online radio’s webpage (that I was also streaming at the same time). The web page has a meter that lights up as people speak in sync with the audio. I took my iPad into another room so I could hear the radio and see the meter through it. Sync was incredibly close, by far closer than any other product.
Screen/application sharing was easy and fast. I shared a web page from the desktop and going from page to page appeared very fast on the iPad. Sharing over the web and having to wait for a PowerPoint slide (or whatever) to change while the presenter either has to wait until you see it or just starts talking before you see the information is a little painful to me. No problem with that here.
Up to 15 participants in a meeting, free. A friend told me that Zoom.us is in beta, but I didn’t see that officially. The TOS on their website though has a heading labeled “CHARGES” so I assume it won’t be free forever, especially with language like “Zoom may change prices at any time without prior notice, including changing from a free service to a paid service…”. This is disappointing for a cheapskate like me and I wonder what the end price will be and conditions they will set. Hopefully, it will still be free for maybe three or four participants and charge for more than that. Even the Skype model of charging for multipoint would be acceptable for me so I can still use the free model.
I would highly recommend this product. When/if pricing is involved I reserve the right change my mind.