Slack is turning video conferencing into an accessory. The revolutionary workplace collaboration app has inspired a host of imitators to create centralized workflow hubs that combine the way we work with the way we communicate. In this scenario, video conferencing becomes a tool for quick face-to-face discussion.
On one hand, that’s a great way to take advantage of and popularize video technology. On the other, it can limit video’s potential. Zoho’s video-enhanced collaboration platform, Cliq, is a prime example.
Cliq is workplace collaboration in its clearest form.
Any Zoho Cliq review with a video conferencing focus has to begin with an acknowledgment that video calling isn’t the primary purpose of the software. Cliq is workplace collaboration in its clearest form–it brings together all your interactions with colleagues into a single space, allowing you to message, talk, and conduct one-on-one video calls while sharing all your spreadsheets, docs, multimedia materials, and more.
Cliq is a nice execution of that principle and it’s one of the cheapest solutions around. However, if you’re a true fan of video conferencing you may be disappointed. Here, video is just a fancy form of messaging. That’s OK, if that’s what you need, but there’s more to video conferencing than just talking heads.
Basic Video for Your Working Week
Cliq is not a pretty video experience. The main screen is designed to fit within a series of chat and messaging columns–and it shows. It’s the same standard chat window format we’ve lived with since Skype’s early days: your colleague is in a big central window and your own image is in a smaller one below. The view from the Android mobile version is even more stark, with little to no functionality available within a call.
More importantly, while Cliq allows chat and messaging among thousands, its video calls are one-on-one affairs (Cliq is compatible with outside extensions, like Appear.in, which enables video conferencing with up to four people, or 12 people with a premium account). That’s disappointing. In an age where dedicated video conference platforms offer group calls by the dozen as well as advanced moderator controls, stylish chat display, and functions like real-time translation, recording, and application-specific screen sharing, you can’t impress anyone with basic talking heads–unless they are wowed by switching to Night View, which is just a darker color palette.
As long as you consider video to be an added communication tool to your overall working day then Cliq is fine.
Not that Cliq is trying to impress. Video in this setting is about function, and that aspect works well. There are video and audio call icons attached to every profile in your contacts that launch instant connections. The calls themselves performed reliably in our previews, and there are some handy features, like icons that let you know your colleague is using a mobile, basic screen sharing, live file exchange, and the ability to message while speaking.
As long as you consider video to be an added communication tool to your overall working day then Cliq is fine. Its real appeal, however, may be its price tag.
Cheap Is Always a Winner
Zoho Cliq is one of the cheapest apps around. It is the cheapest app around if you disregard free social media callers like WhatsApp and the overhauled Snapchat-style Skype.
|Premium||Storage||Screen Share||Group Call Maximum||Mobile|
|Zoho Cliq||$3/user/mo||100 GB per user||Yes||2||Yes|
|Slack||$6.67/user/mo||10 GB per user||Yes||15||Yes|
|Zoom||$14.99/host/mo||1 GB (cloud recording)||Yes||100||Yes|
At $3 a month for a premium solution, Cliq is cheaper than any of its workplace collaboration rivals, including Teams and Slack. It is also cheaper than the consumer-friendly Zoom and BlueJeans, even though the kind of dedicated video calling those platforms offer isn’t really Cliq’s game.
You have to have access to Zoho’s complete bundle of tools–such as CRM, docs, and mailfeatures–to really take advantage of Cliq. However, we’ll stand by that “cheapest” claim, as it incorporates 100 GB of storage, group participation of up to 2500 people, Google integration, searchable messages, and a host of chatbots and customizable commands to pull in external documents and materials. In short, that’s plenty of justification to use Cliq as a collaboration tool.
Even the free version offers enough features to be a viable solution, although in our opinion you’re better off paying for the complete Zoho package ($30/month) if you want Cliq to be a central part of your working life.
And that’s how Cliq should be regarded. This isn’t video calling. This is video calling as a tool within a broader workplace context.
Zoho Cliq: Caught Between Slack and Teams
Cliq is bigger than video conferencing. We’d argue that it shouldn’t be judged against dedicated callers like Zoom and BlueJeans, which offer far more video features and a truer visual experience.
Cliq might have Slack beaten as a business tool since it has its own office suite, but it is a long way behind in terms of familiarity and market penetration.
Unfortunately for Zoho, their real competition is far stronger. Chiefly, Cliq sits somewhere between the sleek, hyper-interoperable original collaboration tool Slack, and Microsoft’s business behemoth, Teams. Cliq might have Slack beaten as a business tool since it has its own office suite, but it is a long way behind in terms of familiarity and market penetration. Teams, too, has a significant head start in the marketplace and its Office 365 package can perform any function Zoho can offer. Of course, the sales performance of either platform doesn’t really matter to the individual business, so make your decision based on which workflow better suits your team. Unfortunately, that side of things is fodder for a different Zoho Cliq review, one that focuses on the collaboration interface rather than the video conferencing feature. And that’s the point. Cliq is not worth judging on video conferencing credentials, which is symptomatic of the trend Slack started.
Hopefully the next workplace collaboration review we write will bring more interesting video call news. No one benefits from video being relegated to a low-functioning accessory.
Note that while this site is sponsored by Logitech, reviews contain the writer’s own opinions and are not influenced by the views of our sponsor.