Note: This post reviews versions of the BlueJeans and Zoom apps that were current as of Q1 of this year. We’ll be publishing a review of the updated BlueJeans UI soon–check back for updates.
If there’s a difference, there’s a preference. Even if that difference is tiny.
That’s how I feel about two very competent video conferencing platforms: Zoom and BlueJeans. On paper their differences are slight (Zoom is a little cheaper and offers a free version of its software) and in use, they offer a very similar experience, though Zoom is a little slicker with its disappearing controls.
You can see a pattern emerging already. There’s relatively little difference between these services, but Zoom seems to win far more little battles by little margins than BlueJeans. VC Daily has favorably reviewed both platforms in the past, so before you venture into this exercise in nitpicking, you may want to see how they stand alone (here’s our original BlueJeans review) and how they compare with others (here’s our Zoom vs. GoToMeeting comparison).
Out in the wider world, both services target the same small-to-medium business market, can be used within your Slack interface, and have plenty of third-party partners, although Zoom has enjoyed the better run of late and become one of the fastest growing apps of its kind.
See, it’s a close race, but in the battle of Zoom vs. BlueJeans, Zoom seems to consistently win…by a nose.
Interface and Call Experience
Neither of these apps is a true beauty. Each follows the typical video calling layout that’s been with us since the dawn of Skype. That means a big central screen, minimized self-view in the corner, additional callers lined up at the base of the app. They do differ in the layout of the controls–BlueJeans presents theirs in a neat strip down the side, while Zoom’s controls disappear when not in use.
Considering that these apps can cater for group video meetings in the dozens, they made a smart move including active speaker-seeking technology. This automatically throws the current speaker up on the main screen, making it easy to follow a conversation among many–although I’ve experienced lag with both that makes things confusing.
And the similarities continue. Both apps allow you to record your meeting and store it in the cloud. Both allow non-members to participate in a call, provided the host is signed up. Both offer screen sharing and HD visuals.
I personally find Zoom’s screen a little cleaner and uncluttered, but there’s still plenty of visual space in operation with BlueJeans. You won’t really find favor with either service with this “eye test” approach.
So, let’s move to some areas where you can find a winner.
Free Is Always the Right Price
Like identical twins wearing different colored bows in their hair, here are a few quick points where you can tell Zoom and BlueJeans apart:
Price: Advantage Zoom
The subscription price for these two is very similar, but Zoom offers greater flexibility in building the platform you need. The user can effectively scale their service by paying for additional meeting participants (up to 400 extra), for toll-free dialing, extra storage space, and webinar functionality.
Free Version: Advantage Zoom
The small business owners I know all love a free video conferencing service as a way of getting to know how the software suits their business. Zoom will give you free screen sharing, recording, and other key features while reducing the size of group calls and putting them on a time limit. BlueJeans offers a limited free trial period, but we live in a world where Skype is free, so let’s be a little generous.
Advanced features: Advantage BlueJeans
BlueJeans does have some novel little extras built into its platform. It offers lockable meetings, which are still rare, and access for vision- and hearing-impaired users, which I’ve not previously encountered. It also has a more comprehensive control panel for the host.
Connectivity: Advantage Zoom
My most recent experiences with both services have been dropout free and smooth. That wasn’t always the case though. My first encounter with BlueJeans was a bumpy ride that regularly threw colleagues out of the conversation–and I’m not the only person online to report a similar experience. We’re going to award a tentative win to Zoom on this criterion, since it seems possible that BlueJeans has worked on their service to make this issue, well, less of an issue.
Zoom Vs. BlueJeans: The Verdict
I’d favor Zoom here, but the contest is so close you could find differing opinions across the VC Daily staff. I prefer the cleaner screen, and I’m always in favor of a free version for users. It’s true that when the rest of the features are so similar, you ending up searching for a difference, but those small differences are enough to sway my verdict.
As pure video callers, both these apps are worthwhile tools for small-to-medium businesses. If you fit that category, however, I would also take a look at what Microsoft Teams, Slack, and even Atlassian are doing with integrated workplace software–especially since they’ve introduced their own native video calling. The future of video calling could well be a merger of text and visuals and Zoom and BlueJeans haven’t made that leap yet. It’s something to consider as you weigh your video conferencing options.