Since the last time we evaluated it, Cisco Webex Business has experienced a major upgrade, especially about convenience. But it is also one of the more costly systems we have examined for video conferences. Apart from pricing, though, a newly simplified front-end combination of enterprise integration and security is a good thing. Cisco aims to continue to extend its services, with spokespersons showing us the Webex Helper, an artificial intelligence assistant who is responsible for administrative chores such as the transcript. However, we observed the software in operation during the demo, but could not do a practical assessment, as Cisco said that only later in 2021 will the Webex Assistant be available with pricing details to be released.
However, even without the assistant, Webex remains a highly comprehensive platform with integration and safety features for small to medium-sized firms and companies. While it’s more expensive than some of its competition, the simplicity of the new interface combined with back-end muscle is enough for Webex, together with competitors, intermediate meetings, and zoom meetings, to maintain its editorial designation.
Related Article: Google Meet Review
Cisco Webex Price and Get Started
For our testing, we chose the Webex business level, which starts at $26.95 per host per month. For starters, Cisco can compete with a Zoom-based consumer base that has grown rapidly since the pandemic began. A level is free. Cisco’s free plan is decent, but only allows one host, 50 minutes of meeting time, and up to 100 attendees. That may not seem like much until you consider that other free programs like Intermedia cap you at four. With Intermedia’s free plan, you can call your parents, and Cisco will connect your family virtually.
Then there’s Starter, which costs $13.50 per host per month. For up to 150 attendees, this level can accommodate up to 50 host groups and provides 5GB of cloud storage for recorded meetings. The Business Level is Cisco’s most popular small to intermediate (SMB) level, and it is the level we examined. Host level 100. The conference lasts 24 hours, but there are 200 participants and 10GB of cloud storage for recorded video sessions.
Finally, an Enterprise tier with unlimited hosts, 100,000 meeting attendees (suitable for virtual executives), and unlimited video cloud storage. Due to the nature of the business, Cisco did not provide us with Enterprise pricing.
Cisco also sells smart conference rooms that are tightly integrated with this solution. Because of the pandemic, most SMBs will likely continue to use Internet Explorer as a standalone video conferencing platform. So, besides offering intelligent conference room technology, the company grows.
Mac OS X and Windows have desktop clients, while the browser client retains the feature. Mobile Webex users can download apps for iOS and Android. Finally, Cisco’s website offers a free 30-day test (separate from the free level) for evaluation.
Clean and Arranged Interface Web Meetings
Registering for an account is the normal process of entering information and providing a payment method for your organization. Once registered, it is very easy to start a new meeting. You can initiate a meeting instantly from the home screen, or arrange it later. Typical features including the password of the meeting, the agenda, an attendance list, and the like are now easy to enter. It is a good idea to get Cisco Webex Productivity Tools, which are accessible for download when you’ve created a pay-per-view account if you’re interested in holding larger meetings. These products simplify your invitation and agenda process for major meetings because they include Outlook and Teams with Microsoft Office.
Screen Image from the Cisco Webex Business Basic Control
During a meeting, Webex keeps a clean UI. You can mute and disrupt your microphone as well as start and stop your video. You also have a screen sharing button. If you need to protect an entire screen or a particular program, use the submenu (where many monitors are needed). You may also easily play multimedia files or share documents.
One of the best options we looked at was sharing an iPad’s screen. SMBs can easily generate artwork and brainstorms using the Apple Pencil and its clones, especially because many newly-owned workers presumably have an iPad or two hanging about. The built-in whiteboard functionality of Webex is still available and features new drawing and annotation options. They are simple enough to learn how to use them.
You can also record a video call. A recording is simple. After you finish your software recording, you’ll get an email saying your recording will be ready in 24 hours. Remember that long video calls may take up a lot of disc space, so move these files frequently to a local storage resource to avoid cloud storage running out.
Emojis via Gestures Webex Introduces
Cisco added emoji. Emojis are enjoyable and useful in larger conferences where a single presenter must do the most work. This is currently standard in most video conferencing software. Competitors can’t present emojis based on hand motions.
We’ve blown up and down. Webex’s identity and screen capture quickly detected Emojis. A connoisseur mistook our sound for cracker clapping when the software was tested.
Unified meeting management with a single button Closed meeting. An essential in the age of zoom bombs. It also keeps late carpenters out. Next, remind everyone who has forgotten or can’t find the link to join. You may also copy the link and paste it into another program, like slack.
The meeting controls are on the right. You can either raise your hand or wait for another user to do so. This is crucial when the meeting involves a presentation or webcast. This feature is still available, but not as widely, at LogMeIn GoToMeeting. In this panel, a new participant’s name is automatically mutated to prevent a conversation from Can be muffled.
Webex also offers the opportunity to have breakout sessions, which we haven’t seen in many competitor groups. The individual participants may assign or select them manually. With this ability, meetings, training sessions or webinars can help. You begin with a whole video session, then separate the audience into smaller teams, each in discrete virtual rooms able to discuss more detailed subjects. Once these sessions have ended, everyone in the central meeting room can ‘reconvene.’
Screen Image from Cisco Webex Business conversation
While we appreciated the flexibility to break out, when we implemented a chat, Webex did not do as well. Yes, users will find a complimentary chat board that allows fast messaging for a chat amongst participants, but this is what the great majority of rivals will find. These chats can be broadcast to anyone or target a particular individual. The deception here was that the chat window does not allow rich text, which again meant that it did not have as many functions as certain competitors, particularly Intermedia. This isn’t a catastrophic failure, but we were disenchanted when we saw individual advances, such as emojis gestures and breakout sessions.
In the Webex notes callout, you will likewise not find much formatting. This appears to be more meaningful for fast notes. There are probably not many design tools, but they are available to several competitors.
Pros and Cons
- Available free plan
- Introducing interface
- Strong app sharing and whiteboard functionality
- Included cloud recording
- More on average costly
- Cloud storage is limited to 10GB
In total, Cisco has provided a good video call and meeting customer with plenty of backend capability and several features that distinguish it from its package. The promised, voiceless Webex Assistant is not the least of these. Again, this is the AI-enabled additional module that can handle things such as the taking of notes, transcriptions, and other administrative responsibilities of rote meetings. But while we saw it shown, we could not test it, as its pricing information will never be accessible until later in 2021.
The assistant also affects the biggest disadvantage of Cisco Webex Business: its pricing. Although the Assistant will provide a major benefit, we’d prefer it to be part of the main business of Webex rather than an additional expenditure, as Cisco describes. In contrast, Intermedia AnyMeeting and GoToMeeting have a considerably lower fee, which has a comparable capability. The 10GB limit for cloud storage in Webex Business is extremely annoying if other competitors offer larger space or even infinite areas without major cost updates.
These are small dings, however. Webex Business is a beautiful product that deserves your attention. Its background muscle and focus on the culture of the central office as well as remote work means it is just as useful as it is for home workers if you move back to work. All these capabilities and a very intuitive interface are very pricey but make this an easy node for our designation as editors.