In previous part of our comparative review we observed approaches to building infrastructure. This article is dedicated to the details about user endpoints, licensing aspects and upgrading video conferencing systems.
All software client applications by TrueConf are free, do not require separate licensing and are available both on the company’s website and on official shopping platforms such as Google Play, App Store, Windows Store, Samsung Store, Nokia Store, Yandex.Store, and others. All applications are cross-functional: they can be used to connect to a dedicated server TrueConf Server installed in the customer’s network, or connected to the cloud service TrueConf Online.
Users can use Vidyo client applications to connect to the video conferencing server only after acquiring the appropriate license (see Licensing Features).
Both TrueConf and Vidyo allow managers of enterprises to implement BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies, allowing users to use their own devices to work in a corporate environment.
Setting up Conferences
In Vidyo, users create group conferences using the so-called Rooms. Rooms can be public, PIN-protected or private (only selected users can enter those).
In TrueConf solutions, users create conferences using the interface of the client applications in real time, or through scheduling meetings and events. Each method allows selecting the participants before the event and adding and deleting them during the meeting. Each conference and user can be addressed through URL API and/or email invitations.
Standby mode (not in conference)
In stanby mode, TrueConf allows them to exchange instant messages, see the users’ presence status, view their profiles, as well as their own history of calls and conferences.
The Address Book in TrueConf can include subscribers of any other servers or services (supporting TrueConf or SIP protocol), which makes the video conferencing possibility truly global.
TrueConf system administrator controls the lists of user groups, defines their visibility to each other and the rights. Therefore, after logging into any client application, each user can only see their own groups. This is called multi-tenancy. Vidyo solutions require the purchase of additional extensions for such functionality.
Applications for Desktops
TrueConf provides desktop client applications for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux; Vidyo, likewise, provides VidyoDesktop application. Applications allow participating in point-to-point video calls and multi-point video conferences.
As in symmetric group conferences in TrueConf, Vidyo conferences can display up to 16 participants on the screen, while users can see and hear only those who are displayed, and the rest are just listeners (their number is determined by the number of purchased VidyoLines licenses and the capacity of VidyoRouters). Displaying on the screen is based on the principle “Voice Activation Switching”, ie it is done automatically.
Vidyo conference moderator can enable/disable audio and video from the speakers, disconnect participants and send email invitations to join the conference.
In TrueConf’s role-based mode (Virtual Meeting), the moderator can move to the “Podium” up to 6 speakers from the audience of the meeting to be displayed, as well as remove them. He also can send the invitations to the users outside of the conference through the client application and via e-mail with unique ID’s for entering the conference. TrueConf Server’s client applications allow conducting conferences for up to 250 users.
In addition to the Virtual Meeting mode (6-on-250), there are two more – Multipoint Video Conference (25-on-25; every participant can see and hear each other) and Video Lecture (25-on-1; this is a special mode designed for educational institutions, in which the lecturer sees and hears all the participants, while the participants, in their turn, can see and hear only the lecturer).
In VidyoDesktop, video encoding from each participant can reach to 1080p, while in TrueConf applications – 720p. In group conferences, the resolution can reach 4K (UltraHD). By the way, TrueConf was the first (at ISE 2014), while Vidyo was the second (at InfoComm 2014) among the video conferencing vendors to announce the support for such high resolutions.
In a symmetric conference in TrueConf, the total video resolution for 9 users can reach 3840×2160 pixels, making it possible to conduct conferences in 4K (UltraHD) format. If the screen does not support this resolution, the server will send video with lower resolution, maintaining the optimum balance between the video quality and performance of the computer with TrueConf Client.
VidyoMobile and TrueConf Mobile allow users to create conferences and connect to them on smartphones and tablets on iOS and Android. Applications both have global address books, chat and call history.
In VidyoMobile, up to 4 users can be shown on the screen, while TrueConf Mobile allows displaying up to 6 users on iPhone and up to 9 on Andoid and iPad (depending on the model).
Applications run in any 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi networks.
Video Conferencing through a Web browser
External participants can connect to conferences through a web browser both in TrueConf and Vidyo: the remote participants will get a special link to connect to a group conference; there is a slight difference in the approach.
In Vidyo solutions (VidyoWeb, codecs: H.264 SVC and Speex), users connect using a plugin which is available only for Windows and Mac and which supports only desktop browsers (Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari). Concerning the collaboration tools, VidyoWeb offers broadcasting desktop and applications image and group and personal chat.
Web conferencing in TrueConf is implemented using WebRTC technology (open standard by Google). The main advantages of WebRTC, comparing with third-party plug-ins, are 1) high connection speed, 2) no need to install plug-ins or third-party software, 3) the use of modern audio and video codecs (Opus and VP8, respectively), as well as 4) the ability to connect participants even on mobile browsers!
For participation in the web conferences, a browser supporting WebRTC is required, e.g. Chromium-based (Chrome 27+, Opera 15+), FireFox. In Internet Explorer and Safari, the client application will be automatically downloaded for the user’s operating system; it will automatically join the conference. Collaboration possibilities include group and personal chat, desktop image sharing and slide show and content broadcast.
During conferences in Vidyo and TrueConf applications, users may benefit from using basic collaboration tools such as Address book with Presence, Slide Show, Instant Messaging, and Call History.
Unlike Vidyo, TrueConf offers not only Desktop Sharing but also Remote Desktop Control.
Of course, TrueConf client applications allow the users to broadcast their desktop or an application window as a video as in Vidyo. For example, such approach is used for displaying content on mobile devices.
Also, TrueConf has a system for voting during group meetings; allows recording video conferences directly from the client application, as well as on the server; has the tools for checking the connected equipment and assessing of the quality of communication channels.
Read more about the list of available tools in TrueConf on different operating systems in Client Applications section.
In VidyoDesktop, the connections are encrypted only if you purchase VidyoSecurity expansion pack. Without it, there is no substantial security; it is based only on the proprietary nature of the Vidyo protocol.
TrueConf client applications have TLS secure connections support and traffic encryption enabled using AES-256 by default. WebRTC conferences in TrueConf are encrypted using the DTLS-SRTP technology, described in the standard.
Conference Room Systems
Both developers of video conferencing solutions offer products for equipping meeting rooms branded VidyoRoom and TrueConf Terminal. Their functionality is quite similar. The fundamental difference here, as in the architecture, lies in the hardware approach.
Room solutions by Vidyo are supplied as Linux computers, pre-equipped with peripherals. Solutions differ from each other by the availability of locking the resolution of the video transferred to the conference, PTZ camera support and support of one or more monitors. For example, earlier terminals can not transmit video with the quality higher than 720p and do not support PTZ. Another shortcoming is that users cannot upgrade their terminal to more “powerful” by changing the firmware. To do this they need to buy a new solution. Same story with the compatibility of different versions: endpoints are becoming obsolete and the manufacturer does not guarantee the availability of new firmware for them and their compatibility with new releases of VidyoRouter (video conferencing server).
As all other TrueConf client applications, TrueConf Terminal has no restrictions on the peripheral used or locked functionality.
The quality and terminal capabilities are limited only by the needs of customers. Moreover, each partner or customer of TrueConf has the right to create their own endpoint on the basis of this software, so there are no problems with logistics.
To control a meeting room solution Vidyo uses an infrared remote control. TrueConf Terminal is bundled with a capacitive touch panel that allows you to see the list of users, to manage video layouts, to choose capture devices and audio/video outputs. Vidyo provides additional application VidyoSlate available for iOS or Android with similar functionality.
Content support is made in a similar way: both solutions allow you to display received content, as well as to capture content via a VGA connector and transfer it into the conference as a video signal. There is one exception: Vidyo users will have to buy a special capture module, which may not be easily available at your local reseller or distributor to broadcast content from the terminal.
Only Vidyo’s partners have access to the information on the cost of equipment and licenses by Vidyo. TrueConf has no hidden costs, you can view pricing any time.
Vidyo licensing is very close to the traditional video conferencing systems with FullHD ports. Basic license is called VidyoLine and allows you to maintain (not to be confused with ‘connect’) one software client at any given time. VidyoLine is not tied to a specific device, user, or his/her status. It is worth noting that VidyoRoom terminals do not use VidyoLine and can use resources on the server without any restrictions, it is a good marketing move. But do not forget that the capacity of VidyoRouter server is limited to 100 or 150 subscribers. And to install the client application on a PC, you will have to buy separate licenses for the software (not to be confused with VidyoLine).
In TrueConf everything is easier: the number of TrueConf licenses is reduced to one – a license for the number of users simultaneously connected to TrueConf Server, i.e. number of “online users”. The maximum number of user accounts on TrueConf Server is unlimited.
TrueConf client applications do not require a license, they are free. It does not matter who takes the place “online user” in TrueConf Server – TrueConf Terminal, Android app or telepresence system from your partner’s conference room. License for TrueConf Server can be purchased for a period of 1 year or permanently.
We should emphasize that the cost of one “online user” in TrueConf significantly decreases within bigger licenses (3 times lower in comparison between packages for 9 and 100 online users), which makes scaling of purchased system less costly and provides many opportunities for service providers. VidyoLines license is not discounted in this way, and originally it costs 2 times more per user than in TrueConf.
Video Conferencing System Upgrades
When scaling, Vidyo system requires the purchase of additional equipment, its installation and configuration, as well as the purchase of additional licenses. Which leads to an increase in the number of mediators and obstacles in video conferencing service complexity of the overall system.
For small networks Vidyo offers VidyoOne hardware server that combines a router for 20 ports (concurrent connections) and portal for the registration process. Larger companies will need a combination of more expensive VidyoRouter/VidyoPortal devices, the description of which we have given in the first part of the review. The capacity of VidyoRouter is still relatively small.
To increase the number of online users in TrueConf Server it is enough to update the license key. Scaling is not required when the number of subscribers on the same server is less than 10,000. Further increase in capacity is possible due to the grouping of several TrueConf Server units into a single address network (see Federation between servers).
Also, when calculating the cost of license renewal in TrueConf, the time which was not used by the buyer of the previous license will be considered, which allows you to minimize the costs associated with the upgrade!
The most striking difference is in the approach to implementation of infrastructure – hardware approach (AV style) in Vidyo, and software approach (IT) approach in TrueConf. With all the pros and cons resulting from that.
High complexity of deployment of Vidyo solutions. Main features of Vidyo infrastructure, besides organizing group conferences, require purchasing additional hardware modules and licenses, such as user administration, connecting to hardware video conferencing systems, recording and broadcasting the conferences and others. You cannot test them in advance.
TrueConf client applications, compared with Vidyo, have more UC&C capabilities and do not require separate licensing. This simplifies the understanding of the product and reduces the cost of customer projects.
Regardless of the size of the implementation, TrueConf solution will be cheaper, and scaling the system will not require any investments in infrastructure, in contrast to Vidyo.
And most importantly, TrueConf team has the highest tempo of developing video conferencing solutions on the market, releasing the biggest number of updates (up to 5 major releases per year for each product), and the constantly improving functionality. This means that with TrueConf you will always keep up with the technology!
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