Our Pluot video conferencing review comes with the caveat that the service is being phased out. The startup WebRTC platform has been succeeded by a new service from the same company, called Daily.co. That service is more of an evolution or update of Pluot than a new entity, however, so while the former is still standing it is well worth a look.
Pluot is a download-, login-, account-free WebRTC video conferencing platform that uses the tech built into your Chrome browser to instantly launch two-person calls. There are similar services around that offer the same anonymity, but few match the UI, cleanliness, and effectiveness of Pluot. Crucially, Pluot is designed to launch directly from Slack and Google Calendar, providing a free video extension to both those common workplace services.
Launch a Video Call in Seconds
WebRTC or browser-based video calling is one of the most exciting areas of video conferencing growth. The technology is based on an agreement among leading browser providers to share the keys to their internet communications so that startups and programmers can create public video calling portals within their own websites and products. It’s a simple way to make a video call and one way to break a start-up’s dependence on Skype or Hangouts.
The Pluot developers used this access to create an anonymous, instant meeting portal for video meetings between people who don’t share a video vendor or who just don’t want to go through the sign-in and account-creating fuss. It’s also an excellent choice for those who regularly use Slack and want to be able to jump back and forth between video calls within a chat stream.
That last bit of functionality is what sets Pluot apart from other WebRTC platforms such as Appear.in or the simpler Talky. That and the UI, which is clean and intuitive and tastefully backgrounded, while the other two have a distinct “it’s free, what did you expect” vibe.
To make a call, you just open the Pluot page–that’s it. You’ll be presented with a meeting room URL which you can email to a friend and you’re on your way to a call. Pluot won’t handle the large group calls that have become standard among most popular video platforms, but it does have a couple of tricks.
An Instant Office of Your Own
The URLs that power each new Pluot meeting room may be cumbersome strings of characters–Daily.co allows you to pick your own URL–but they are totally reusable. That means you can set up a regular meeting place for clients or collaborators and return to it whenever necessary–a nice alternative to having to hand over your details to Microsoft or pay Zoom for a subscription.
Pluot also features two-person screen sharing, a step up from the conventional video conferencing feature in that both callers can display a view of their desktop at the same time. Screen sharing also extends to applications and web pages. Screen sharing is an underrated video conferencing tool and isn’t always available within the most basic WebRTC apps (Appear.in does offer screensharing, but only through a downloadable extension).
Pluot also gives you some choices around the quality of your broadcast, letting you account for a poor connection by dropping the image resolution. You can also track the performance of your network with a handy menu option.
Finally, the app offers a basic but functional active speaker feature that will give prime on-screen placement to whoever is currently speaking. The feature is more effective when your endpoints exceed four or five, and it can be a muddle if you get multiple speakers talking over each other, but it is a nice extra tacked on to a tidy free video calling offer.
If your needs extend beyond the video calling basics and you require meeting recording or greater hosting capacity, then you’ll want to take the walk over to Daily.co.
Our Pluot Video Conferencing Review Conclusion
Pluot is a great example of the first generation of WebRTC video callers. It has more polish and performance than other services that appeared with the maturation of the technology around three or four years ago. If you need a quick, painless way to stage a video meeting with a friend or colleague, or a free, regular meeting place you don’t have to justify on your expense report, Pluot is more than enough.
It doesn’t, however, represent the best of modern video calling. If you want to experience what Pluot would look like if it was equipped with the interoperability, portability, and record and store ability of full cloud video calling you’ll have to step up to Daily.co. The instant you do so, however, you lose your anonymity. Daily wants your email or Google details to get you started.
Enjoy the simplicity and freedom of Pluot while you still can–as of August 2019 it is still being maintained “into the future,” but it will be wound up eventually. On the other hand, Daily.co claims to offer free calls with up to 50 participants, screen and media sharing, and video recording. For us, that could be worth giving away some personal information.