2020 was the year of the video conferencing service. Apps saw success based on the quality of calls and ease of use, while others fell by the wayside because of clunky administrative tools and a lack of collaborative features.
While it is true that Zoom rose to the top of the pile, it certainly wasn’t the only conferencing app. Bluejeans is a similar suite. It offers video conferencing and cloud-based calls, but it suffers from a lack of features.
Below, we take a look at the two suites to determine which is the most suitable for your video conferencing and virtual meeting requirements.
BlueJeans is video conferencing software from Verizon and includes the following features:
A virtual meeting should be as interactive and dynamic as a physical meeting. BlueJeans offers HD content and Dolby Voice audio. It enables users to display as many as 25 attendees on-screen at a time, and it includes features like breakout sessions and collaboration.
Rooms enables you to combine virtual features with physical hardware to turn your office meeting rooms into modern venues that combine physical and virtual attendees in seamless interaction. These are essentially hybrid events for online and offline attendees.
BlueJeans Virtual Events are webinars, talks, and town halls conducted online. They can be broadcast to viewers around the world, and they offer interactive features to create a dynamic experience. While meetings are designed for small groups and collaborations, events usually attract a larger audience and while there are some dynamic elements, they are less about collaborative work and more about disseminating information.
Zoom offers many similar features to BlueJeans and boasts of the following virtual services:
Meetings are collaborative and can include up to 50 people, including the host of the meeting. Record the stream, utilize built-in collaboration tools, and offer dynamic features like polls and video sharing across your attendees. Breakout meeting rooms allow smaller groups to break off, too.
Zoom Chat offers audio, video, and chat-based communication between team members. It can be used on desktop and mobile, and channels can be one on one or they can incorporate multiple people and groups.
Compatible with existing Cisco, Lifesize, and other SIP or H.323 video conferencing systems, Zoom Rooms lets you join Zoom Meetings using your existing hardware.
Webinars attract larger crowds and tend to have less collaboration, but can still involve some dynamic elements. Like BlueJeans, Zoom also offers a webinar solution.
One of the first features of BlueJeans is that it offers one-click scheduling. This enables you to add a meeting or seminar to Google or Outlook calendars. Attendees will be able to join the meeting without having to add session IDs, passwords, or other identifiers.
They just click on a link. Meetings can also be integrated with the likes of Skype and Slack while making it easy to share documents and videos at the click of a button.
Smart meeting minutes are a useful feature. You can automatically capture important moments, annotate them, and share via a private Slack group while also assigning specific tasks to attendees.
Perhaps more importantly than the features is the quality of the calls and video. The software uses Dolby Voice, which ensures greater clarity from the streaming audio. However, there have been complaints of latency and it can be offputting seeing an attendee’s mouth moving a short period before you hear the audio.
A meeting can host up to 100 virtual attendees: the same as its webinar service. If you need to host a larger group, Events allows up to 5,000 participants to take part. You can speak to BlueJeans to increase your meeting limitations.
One of the reasons for Zoom’s rise to popularity in 2020 was its reliability. Meetings rarely drop and do not usually suffer from any discernable latency or lag. The software also works with a poor Internet connection.
It isn’t perfect, however, as it misses the capability of being able to add meeting descriptions to invitations. It also lacks toll-free numbers to dial in to meetings, for users in the UK and US.
Attendees do not need a Zoom account to be able to join a meeting, but hosts do. Once signed up, you receive an ID that links to a persistent meeting room. Even if everybody leaves the meeting, the virtual room remains open so that you can all log back in later. If you have weekly team meetings, you can use the same link every week, which will prevent some of your attendees from missing out. If you do need to, you can always set up a new meeting with a fresh link.
Attendees can join a meeting using mobile or computer. There are toll-free numbers in limited areas and toll numbers in other countries so users without Internet access can dial in. It is also possible to join some meetings using Skype for Business.
Like BlueJeans, a meeting can host 100 people and you can view 49 other people in gallery mode during the call. Calls are free but cut off after 40 minutes if you’re part of a group call.
Zoom is easy to use, has little to no discernable latency, and its persistent meeting IDs are beneficial.
The most effective virtual meetings are collaborative. They allow meeting attendees to share work and work together towards the same goal. Screen sharing means that users can share their desktop or another screen with all attendees.
If you’re talking about a particular document, open that document and work through the sections. This enables you, as the host, to navigate through the document and annotate the piece using software like Word or the whitepaper function in BlueJeans itself.
If you need greater collaboration, though, you will have to rely on Google docs or other cloud-based software.
Another collaborative feature of the BlueJeans software is real-time video sharing. You, or any attendee, can upload and subsequently share a video. All attendees watch the video at the same time, enabling live discussion, and the uploader retains the ability to play, pause, and otherwise control the video.
When a video is playing, the audio of the host and all attendees is muted. When the video is paused or no longer playing, audio is restored.
There is a limit of 50GB for video uploads. BlueJeans claims that this is a soft limit and to contact them if you need to upload larger video files. You may have to pay an additional fee for much larger files.
Interestingly, Zoom was the first video conferencing suite that enabled users to share video files with native audio. Otherwise, the audio file had to be played separately, or attendees could not hear what was going on. While BlueJeans and other companies are now able to offer this pass-through audio feature, this wasn’t always the case.
You can also share your desktop screen, as well as your mobile screen including any apps. Whether you’re working on developing an app or you need to provide information from an app on your phone, to other attendees, this is a time-saving feature that prevents the need to screenshot and share everything.
Screen sharing can be as collaborative as you like in Zoom. Once you’ve shared your screen, you can allow other users to co-annotate the screen. You can even give control of your screen to another participant.
If you are trying to find information or show off a feature and don’t know how to access it, let somebody else do it for you without them having to be in the same room. Annotation features include highlighters, pens, arrows, and lines.
Another feature that you will find with Zoom is the hand-raising feature. This is useful when a meeting is muted, for everybody apart from the host. An attendee can indicate that they have something to say by putting their virtual hand up.
The host is informed and can choose whether to allow the attendee to speak, to accept a message, or communicate in some other way.
The remote control and annotation features of Zoom are more advanced than those offered by BlueJeans, and take this round for the video conferencing app.
BlueJeans does offer access via a mobile app, browser application, or desktop download. Features like annotation, breakout rooms, and meeting highlights, are only available via the desktop app.
Similarly, the Zoom desktop app is the client of choice. It enables the launch of polls, breakout rooms, and live streaming meetings and webinars.
Both services benefit from the use of their desktop app, but both do offer a mobile app, so this is a draw.
As well as screen sharing and video sharing, BlueJeans has other tools that improve and enhance the online meeting experience. Some of these tools include:
The whiteboard has been the focal centerpiece of the meeting room and classroom for decades. It allows for the addition and removal of ideas. It can be used to show information and it can also be used to host ideas from groups of people, making it a useful collaborative tool. The digital equivalent, offered by BlueJeans, offers similar features. The host can design their own whiteboard and allow or disable annotation and collaboration from others. The content of the whiteboard can be saved and even shared with other groups, later, if required.
A private chat allows users to share information, without having to interrupt everybody in a meeting. These work differently from breakaway rooms, which are just smaller meeting rooms with more concentrated groups of attendees.
Recording a meeting means that you can share it with invited attendees that were unable to attend. It also means that you can record the dynamic and collaborative elements of a meeting and gather or share information.
Using speech-to-text software, BlueJeans can automatically transcribe your meeting to text and share information on the screen. Some attendees prefer to read along while listening. Providing a copy of the meeting enables all your attendees to go back over what was discussed to find discussion points and to clarify meeting minutes.
Zoom has an array of additional features that can enhance the experience of the software and meetings. It includes whiteboarding and automatic transcription, as well as group and private chats, like BlueJeans. Other features include:
There are plenty of reasons you might want to use virtual backgrounds. Whether you’re a teacher and don’t want your students to see into your home, or you simply want to ensure that your attendees’ attention is on the meeting rather than your background, choose from a host of images. Other filters also exist. They are easy to apply and remove, although there are videos of hosts being unable to remove filters once added, so it may be worth experimenting with the controls before you head into the meeting.
Polls are a quick and easy way of gauging opinion. They enable you to determine what your attendees think of a particular topic, or get their answer to a question, without having to interrupt the meeting with discussion and debate. Your attendees can watch the results as they roll in and you can use the data gathered for a variety of other purposes.
Zoom has a translation tool that automatically translates text. Turn the automatic transcription on and then have Zoom translate it from the current language to another.
Schedule Recurring Meetings
As well as being able to establish a meeting room using a persistent room ID, you can schedule regular meetings. Set aside an hour a week for a team catchup, or offer two-hour training schedules to all of your team members. Whatever the reason, you can set up a recurring meeting and even have the meeting scheduled directly in Google’s Calendar.
Although BlueJeans does have some decent apps and tools, Zoom wins this one thanks to its wide array of tools: some of which are more beneficial for personal meetings than business, but beneficial nevertheless.
The BlueJeans Command Center is the service’s administrative platform for meeting hosts. Reports include meeting performance reports, which show the number of attendees that logged in, how many you lost over the meeting, and even the type of device they used to access the meeting.
This information can help you determine the ideal format for future events. If the majority of your attendees are on mobile or calling in using audio only, it may be better to share video clips beforehand or after the meeting and stick to audio discussion only.
You can see how recent meeting attendance compared to earlier meetings. Also, if you ask attendees for meeting ratings, the dashboard will provide a collated update of how well your hosting is received.
The ROI Calculator at the bottom of the dashboard is a handy little tool. It uses geographical location and other factors to show you how much you have saved in travel expenses by holding meetings online. It even displays the total emissions that have been saved as a result.
This kind of information is useful if you’re trying to determine whether virtual meetings can replace physical meetings.
Zoom also offers a Reports section with its service. You can view data relating to the last 12 months of meetings.
Zoom Reports offers usage data including details of the meetings you have chaired, participants that have attended, and copies of the minutes for those meetings. You can search for poll results from a specific meeting, and, similarly, you can search through all content to find the questionnaire and other completed data.
The available reports are determined by the type of account you have so you will not be able to access Webinar reports without a Webinar account, for example.
Although Zoom does offer basic reports and data, BlueJeans’ enterprise credentials shine through with extensive reporting. The ROI calculator may be a bit of a gimmick, but there is no doubt that BlueJeans offers more informative and in-depth reports.
The BlueJeans Network was founded in 2009 but was acquired by Verizon in May 2020.
BlueJeans feels like it is owned by a major enterprise like Verizon, and its website and other literature give the appearance that the company is targeting similarly high-value and important enterprise clients. In terms of support, the company offers email support and a help desk, phone support, 24/7 live reps, and a chat function.
They also offer plenty of video tutorials and training articles that will help you get up and running with the software and host your first video conference or collaborative meeting.
While BlueJeans feels enterprise-like, there are aspects of Zoom that can feel a little more like a personal messenger. As well as features like chat face filters, the whole ambiance of the website gives the same vibe. With that said, Zoom has a very good reputation for high-quality customer service, but it has had its problems since the beginning of 2020 when more and more people were forced to work from home following the COVID outbreak.
Most of these problems have been related to security, which is an important issue, and the company has done reasonably well at responding quickly.
The greatest controversy came at the beginning of lockdown when its privacy policies were heavily scrutinized because they purportedly allowed the company to do whatever it liked with user data. They have since updated their policies to be more robust.
Security professionals also took issue with its misleading encryption policies.
Finally, there was an issue whereby open Zoom meetings could be bombed by external users, meaning that anybody could join an open meeting.
Zoom has suffered for its sudden rise in popularity but, to the company’s credit, they have responded positively to most incidents. They also have robust customer support.
Zoom takes this one. The company is not perfect and has suffered for its own unexpected and meteoric rise to the forefront during the COVID lockdown, but it has pretty much tackled every security and privacy issue raised while still supporting its users.
BlueJeans does offer a free trial of its paid service, but it does not offer a free account. It also offers different subscriptions according to whether you want a Meetings, Events, or Gateway account, which does make things a little confusing, and also means that you end up paying quite a lot if you want multiple features.
Prices start at $9.99/month for the Meetings package and up to $99/month or more for a Gateway package, which effectively allows for up to 19 rooms combining physical and virtual attendees.
Zoom offers a free trial of its paid services. It also has a free account that lets you host a basic meeting with up to 50 attendees. Beyond this, prices start at $14.99/month. Like BlueJeans, you will have to pay according to the type of account you want, but there are deals for accounts with multiple types of access.
Zoom’s cheapest product is more expensive than BlueJeans, but its free service will be enough for a lot of users and its packages offer more than its competitors.
- BlueJeans and Zoom are video conferencing and webinar software
- Both offer features like breakaway meetings, whiteboards, and co-annotation
- Zoom and BlueJeans offer meeting reporting
- Both offer free trials of paid accounts
- BlueJeans and Zoom have web-based, desktop, and mobile clients
- Zoom has a free account, BlueJeans does not
- Zoom has more backgrounds and filters
- BlueJeans offers better security features
- Access from mobile phones, desktops, or any phone
- Breakout rooms are useful for concentrating efforts
- Reports are excellent
- Some latency reported by users
- Individuals can unmute their own microphones
- No free version
- Free account offered
- Variety of virtual backgrounds and filters
- Little to no latency reported
- Previous security and privacy concerns
- No toll-free dial-in numbers for UK and US
- Expensive for large teams
Video conferencing and virtual meetings are more popular than ever as more of us work from home. Zoom is the most popular and best-known tool that facilitates such actions, and it has a broader set of features than BlueJeans, not to mention access to a free, albeit limited, account.
BlueJeans is a decent competitor. It is geared more towards the enterprise and big business user, and it does have better quality reports than Zoom.