[Product Talk] Why should you NOT use Zoom?

Hrishikesh Pardeshi

Hrishikesh Pardeshi

We had a very engaging discussion last week about why you shouldn’t use Slack or the best practices while using it. I felt this was a perfect segue into starting a new series around remote products where we share our thoughts & discuss the pros/ cons, best practices etc. for one particular product.

I am naming the series ‘Product Talk’, glad to hear if you have any suggestions on the name 😀 Feel free to kick off a new discussion on a product you love/ use.

Product Talk

I picked up another popular remote product for our discussion - Zoom. Firstly, I love Zoom and I’ve been using it for more than a couple of years now. Apart from internal meetings, we also use it for our client calls at Flexiple.

Not just that, I really find the story behind Zoom’s creation & Eric Yuan’s journey to be inspiring - you can read more about it here. Zoom was the only product at the time (around 2008) to have listened to its customers and gave them exactly what they wanted - high-quality conferencing solution with the ease to connect.

But now, our needs have evolved and while Zoom is still an amazing product, I still have a few qualms.

  1. Zoom slows down my laptop when I start sharing screen. Initially, I thought it was just me but then everyone else in the team faces the same problem and I saw a couple of people post this on the Zoom subreddit as well.

  2. Zoom works great if you just want to get on a quick video call with someone but it does pretty much just that. For example, if I want to manage comments during a webinar (maybe delete inappropriate ones), I don’t have the option to do so.

  3. The free plan isn’t so generous (but that’s alright I guess) :)

What do you think? What’s your experience with Zoom?

Here's what our users had to say:

  • Justin said "We’re more Google Meet users ourselves as it’s included in G Suite (which we use and have no complaints on). Can I ask what’s not generous in Zoom’s free plan? Have only been on the receiving end of Zoom calls so no idea if it’s generous or not."

  • Hrishikesh Pardeshi said "Oh cool. I think Google Meet is also much easier since you can add the link directly to your invites. But can people outside of Google ecosystem join calls? With Zoom’s free plan, there’s a 40-min limit on meetings. While this is fine for internal meetings, doesn’t work so well for external calls or webinars etc. There’s also additional restrictions on features like only the host can share screen."

  • Justin said "Re: External parties on Meet, anyone with a link to the call can join. Definitely no limits on time either. However, not much functionality for webinars other than the share screen feature."

  • Hrishikesh Pardeshi said "That’s great. Tbh, we’re also on Gsuite and were using Meet/ Hangouts a couple of years back. It wasn’t as good then I think (I recently had a few calls on Meet & noticed a drastic change in the interface) and so we switched to Zoom. I think it would make life easier if I use Meet instead - planning to give it a try for external calls that I personally take."

  • Justin said "I recall similar experiences initially - it was originally highly limited in terms of features (even more than now) and the quality was spotty. At least on the quality side, it’s gotten much better!"

  • Lindsay King said "Just my two cents on Meet vs Zoom: we do a lot of online events, and Meet gives you very little control over the participants. (There’s no “mute all” option, for example, and no designated hosts. I think for events Zoom has a clear advantage. That said, Google Meet works just fine for small, internal meetings in our case."

  • Karthik Sridharan said "Hmm, that's a great point. I haven't hosted an event yet, so probably haven't faced this trouble. Thanks for the heads up Lindsay :)"

  • Kirsten Boic said "Yeah I use Zoom for my 40 minute lessons, it has a lovely setup, but the free version is very limited.  I also use another conferncing tool called "Whereby" and has very very few limitations.  It may be an option if you are in a small group!"

  • Hrishikesh Pardeshi said "Hey Kirsten, Sorry for the late reply on this :( Oh, that's very cool. I had read about 'Whereby' but never got to use it. How do you think Zoom & Whereby compare?"

  • Mark Walter said "I do agree with these points, Hrishikesh. Zoom uses a lot of resources to run and it does slow down my laptop as well. And if the meetings go on for a longer duration, there are instances where my laptop also heats up. Although I do like the functionality it provides, a lite version would make it easier to use."

  • Hrishikesh Pardeshi said "Absolutely, I still love Zoom for what it is as well. a lite version would make it easier to use. This is an interesting suggestion though."

  • Hrishikesh Pardeshi said "@jean-47, @dinoscool3, @Relja, @maxim_leonovich, @jeremy_hor, @remoteeo, @jointlyAI, @nicofromtomo, @claudiopinkus-385, @CanadianClub, @stephanieharley-401, @maria-426, @kirill-475, @Shawn, @alexsam-497, @javierrodriguez-469, @julian-445, @erbil-452 Saw that you all have added Zoom to your stack. Would love to hear about your experience & thoughts!"

  • Erbil said "@hrishikesh agree with all your points. Security and privacy issues with Zoom hit the news a lot more than a lot of other issues around performance, pricing etc. Things that I specifically love: We use g-suite a lot and the integration with google calendar has been pretty smooth (which i am surprised, google tries to push any meeting to be on Google Meet but still makes it pretty easy (one-click) to make either one time and re-occurring meetings to be on zoom as well) Integrations with other tools like Calendly etc. makes it pretty convenient as well. Joined seminars and events on Zoom; break-out rooms etc. are pretty neat features - haven’t set up one myself but felt seamless as a user. Things I don’t like: I am having a lot of performance issues while using Zoom on my macbook (e.g.; screen just shuts down) - havent dug into it a lot but would love to hear what others are experiencing Increase in security & privacy came at a UX cost; have to unlock rooms, unlock screen sharing, multiple clicks to invite someone etc… not the worst thing but it used to be way easier What do you think? What’s your experience with Zoom?"

  • Karthik Sridharan said "I am having a lot of performance issues while using Zoom on my macbook (e.g.; screen just shuts down) - havent dug into it a lot but would love to hear what others are experiencing Woahh! I thought that just happened with me and blamed myself for not shutting down my Mac for a couple of weeks. Those were some scary 5 mins. A Mac that needs repair is as good as garbage with Apple’s repair prices."

  • Hrishikesh Pardeshi said "Wow, amazing set of points Erbil. The points you mentioned in ‘Things I don’t like’ are so well put - precisely the biggest set of problems I have with Zoom right now. haven’t dug into it a lot Was just reading about this yesterday and it seems we can lower the quality & frame rate for screen sharing specifically which can help improve the performance. Haven’t tried it out myself yet but will share an update once I do. Quick question - have you tried out other features on Zoom like Whiteboard, polls etc. and what’s your experience been?"

  • Frederick said "1 and 3 I have definitely experienced. I don’t host our zoom calls, but I’ve dealt with both as a viewer. I’ve also used it for personal things, and there’s just increased issues when you have more and more people on, even if in presenting mode, cutting off everyone else’s mic."

  • Hrishikesh Pardeshi said "there’s just increased issues when you have more and more people on, even if in presenting mode, cutting off everyone else’s mic. Second that. Do you also use something else for video calls apart from Zoom?"

  • Stella Russo said "Same here, I have also had a fair share of issues as a viewer. What do you usually do to prevent these?"

  • Frederick said "Not in my current position. I’ve used Google Meet and MS Teams with other groups/privately."

  • Frederick said "Not much you can do, just work around it, and test it before hand when you can."

  • Alexandre Beauchet said "Overall I've had a very good experience with Zoom so fare. I actually wrote an article about that topic a few months ago. To sum up, I definitely think that Zoom is not responsible for 'Zoom fatigue'. It's just a matter of organization, collaboration process, and tools. Teams that take advantage of asynchronous collaboration can reduce video conference fatigue significantly.   https://medium.com/@alex.beauchet/zoom-fatigue-is-not-about-zoom-16c742ecea6"

  • Hrishikesh Pardeshi said "Great point Alexandre! You're right, 'Zoom fatigue' doesn't have to do so much with product itself but rather the concept of video calls & a spike in the # due to Covid. Zoom is such a popular product that video calls are consider synonymous to Zoom. That would actually me super happy if I was one of the makers 😉 Also, great post! Do consider sharing it as an independent post on Remote Clan (summary or the entire post) - I am sure we would have engaging conversations of a different kind there as well 😀"

  • Alexandre Beauchet said "Sure, I'll do it in the near future. Thank you, Hrishikesh."