Costs can vary greatly when it comes to video conferencing. If you are on a budget you might even be about to use video conferencing for free, but if your operation is large then the cost can quickly add up. If you’re just one person, using Skype on your laptop is probably enough, but the video conferencing needs of a school or business are going to be substantially larger. Software can be somewhat expensive, and some software requires a monthly fee, but it’s the hardware that will add much more to your bill.
Some video conferencing systems are so large and detailed that they take up an entire room. These room systems feature plenty of integrated equipment that not only costs money to buy and set up but maintain as well. For smaller video conferencing systems sometimes using some free software and your laptop will be enough. What you need will depend on a number of different factors, but cost is undoubtedly one of the biggest factors you will have to consider. Here’s a look at some of the options available to you based on cost and your budget.
When you’re on a budget
If you have no money to spend or very little your options are right off the bat going to be much more limited, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have a usable and productive video conferencing set up. The cheapest option is obviously going to be free, so Skype is probably the number one choice. There are other free video conferencing programs readily available, but Skype is by far the most commonly used one. It will cost nothing and you can get by with the basics. Skype also has a premium version that costs a mere $9.99 a month. Google Hangouts is another affordable option.
With this program you can connect to 50 people at a time for just $9 on a pro subscription. A business subscription is slightly more at $49 per month, and it will increase the number of people you can talk to simultaneously to 100. If you need to connect to more people at the same time you should expect to pay more. A could based video conferencing system like Blue Jeans can be an affordable option if you are concerned about video conferencing equipment prices.
When you have a little bit more money to spend
If you have a little bit more money to spend you can start upgrading your software and hardware to build a more advanced video conferencing system for your workplace or school. Desktop video chat services are going to be the most affordable option, but if you want to spend some more money you have the option of setting up a modular video conferencing system. Modular video conferencing systems use specialized hardware setups that connect to an HDTV and usually include multiple components, such as a set-top box and HD video camera.
Many modular video conferencing systems are intended to be used in a meeting room by multiple participants. According to Robert Mason, a Gartner analyst who deals with video conferencing, modular systems are often a good choice for companies that have a distributed workforce
When money is no object
If you are not worried about cost then the sky is the limit when it comes to video conferencing. Full room systems can cost exorbitant amounts of money, but of course they aren’t necessary if you are operating just a small business. If you are a huge university, research facility or corporate entity then things of course are a different story all together.
It’s not uncommon for some companies to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for video conference rooms, or sometimes even more. The higher the costs the higher the quality of video conferencing you will experience. The point of the highest end video conferencing system is to offer immersive quality. With some of these systems it feels like all the users are in the same room at the same time rather than thousands of miles away as is often the case.
Depending on your budget the type of video conferencing system you can implement can be very different. Sometimes a simple system that costs a mere $100 a year will suffice, but the more you pay the higher quality you will get. You have to ask yourself what kid of tools you will need for your business.
Paying more money will offer higher quality, that much is true, but it may not offer a better experience – especially if that’s not what your business needs. Examine your budget and needs carefully before choosing the right video conferring software and hardware for your business, personal needs, or educational institution.