Video Chatting: Does Paid vs. Free Matter?

When you are video chatting online, do paid services give you that much more of an advantage compared to their free counterparts? Well, the answer depends on the reason you are chatting in the first place. For most person-to-person chatting, a predominately free service like Skype is probably all you will need. Business users, on the other hand, stand to benefit from some of the extra features paid services offer, especially when video conferencing or holding an online meeting with charts and other documents.


Skype’s Free Service Is Great for Most User’s Video Chat Needs

Skype is one of the most popular video chat services. A free account is all you need to connect with any other Skype user — either through video or instant messaging. The service even offers voice-only calls and simple file sharing between users. It costs a nominal fee to call mobile lines anywhere in the world.

A premium Skype account, starting at $4.99 per month for users paying for a yearly subscription at once, is also available for users who want extra features, including group calls and unlimited free calls to any one country or region. Premium users also get access to live video support. So most personal users probably only need a free Skype account.

Business Users Benefit from Paid Video Chat Services

Many larger businesses and some smaller firms benefit from the extra features offered by most paid video chat services. WebEx, from Internet equipment giant Cisco, is a good example of a video chatting service appropriate for business use. While a free plan is available for up to three users, a premium account, starting at $24 per month, offers HD video and a full range of features suitable for conducting online meetings, such as virtual whiteboards and the sharing of desktops, documents, and applications.

How to Choose

Ultimately, choosing between a free and paid video chatting service comes down to whether or not the extra features are worth the price. Most businesses probably need to choose a paid option if they conduct many online meetings, while individual users can get by just fine with a free service.

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