TrueConf Review: A Versatile Solution for Broadcasting Video

June 18, 2019 Source


TrueConf is a video conferencing launch pad. It is a scalable solution with multiple tiers, including a cloud-based version as well as a secure software server solution. If you are looking to take total control of your video conferencing needs and to push video calling into the realm of webinars and mass audiences, then TrueConf may be the kind of product you’re seeking.

There are plenty of benefits to this versatile and feature-rich platform, but the truth is, if you just need an office solution that will get the whole team into a virtual meeting room regularly, without fuss, and at a low (or free) price point, then there are platforms better suited to your needs. Our TrueConf review dives into the pros and cons of video conferencing solution.

The TrueConf Basics

Russia-based TrueConf is something of a video pioneer. The company was among the first to demonstrate the potential of 4K video calling when the supporting hardware and infrastructure were barely available, and it has provided the video conferencing backbone for some large-scale governmental installations–including an ambitious project to ease communication across the Himalayan terrain of Bhutan. Those kinds of feats lie well beyond the demands of your average small business, but they do provide some aspirational motivation.

However, TrueConf is only as complex and deep as you need it to be. The platform’s initial setup and delivery will be familiar to anyone who has tried video calling using popular commercial platforms like Zoom or BlueJeans. By entering an email address, you can download the free version of TrueConf Online in a few minutes, and, provided the recipient of your call has the smartphone or desktop app as well, you can be chatting with video callers within minutes.

Visually, the app is a familiar layout of rectangular chat windows and sidebar chat panels and provides all the video calling basics: screen sharing, file exchange, video recording, slide shows, and cloud storage. However, none of it is executed with any real design flair. If you’ve staged a call over Skype in the past few years–especially before the 2017 update designed to make the platform feel more like social media–then you’ve been here before.

What makes TrueConf worthwhile is its technical potential.

Webinars and All-Hands Meetings

TrueConf is made for those with video conferencing ambition. Its layout can be customized in detail: your meeting might have numerous democratic, tiled chat windows or a dynamic role-based configuration that prioritizes a few key speakers making an announcement to a crowd of hundreds. The platform specializes in webinar and lecture-type video conferences, in which only the speaker or group of speakers is visible to the audience, and feedback from the audience is given via audio only or through chat. If you want to join the growing trend toward corporate live streaming as a means of broadcasting company announcements, then this is a platform worth pursuing.

TrueConf’s other strength lies in the notion of control. Using the company’s software server (TrueConf Server, which also has a free version) means you can set the limits of your own security and broadcast quality. If you need to be in control of file transfer protocols and input bitrates, then you’ve found a nice little digital toolbox.

The commercial reality for TrueConf, however, may hinge on just how common the need for that level of video calling is in a cloud-based, digital world.

Our TrueConf Review Summary

As we said from the outset, TrueConf is a launching pad. By choosing from among its many options and controls, you can set yourself up to host any kind of video meeting, from a simple huddle to a multipoint corporate webinar.

The trouble is, we’ve seen this done with greater elegance and simplicity elsewhere. BlueJeans, for instance, has created a simple link with Facebook Live, which uses far more user-friendly interfaces to essentially amplify a standard video meeting into a digital town hall meeting.

And if you’re less interested in webinars and town hall meetings and more interested in what TrueConf calls “symmetric” group video conferences (in which everyone on the call can both hear and see everyone else), then, in our opinion, there’s even less reason to try TrueConf. That’s because even the “pro plan” version of the service ($29.95 per month) doesn’t let you hold video conferences with more than nine participants. This is a much lower number than other services allow, including Microsoft Teams, which has a maximum of 250 participants (even with the free version), and Skype, which is free and recently bumped up its participant maximum to 50. This number doesn’t get much better when you look at other TrueConf plans. The company’s “corporate” plan ($300 per month) has the same nine-person limit, and even signing up for the TrueConf server only gets you 36 participants per video call.

TrueConf may be best enjoyed by video conferencing true believers–those out there that want a solution tailored down to the nth bitrate and firewall protocol. It may also be a good solution for those looking primarily to broadcast to participants, as in a webinar or virtual training. But businesses looking for a platform that just makes it easy to have a basic video call meeting–whether large or small–will find the interface and price point lacking. Are we spoiled for video conferencing choices? Certainly. But that doesn’t change the fact that TrueConf has to compete against those choices, and in our opinion, it has a ways to go.

Published on June 11, 2019 by VC Daily
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