Seeking opinions on the pros and cons of various telepresence tools

post by mingyuan · 2020-04-05T18:22:51.775Z · score: 9 (3 votes) · LW · GW · 4 comments

In this weird new age of social distancing, everyone is scrambling to figure out how to continue working and having a social life over the internet. There are a lot of platforms and tools out there, and it's hard to know which to choose. This has already been the subject [LW · GW] of some [LW · GW] discussion [LW · GW] on LW. There's a Wikipedia article that compares the offerings of different web conferencing software, and plenty of listicles claiming to rank the best ones, but even after reading those, I don't feel like I have a grasp on the landscape.

So I'm seeking contributions to a publicly editable Google Doc where people can give their subjective impressions of the tools they have personal experience with. You can read and contribute here.

I’ve made a general outline, but I only have personal experience with a few of the tools, so I was only able to flesh out a few parts. I'd really appreciate anything you can add - whether it's anecdotes, hard data, or just cursory bullet points. Feel free to also make organization changes or add new platforms to the list. The eventual goal would be to publish on LW; if I can get enough contributions to make this worth publishing, I'd probably also include a table with important stats like limits on call participants, bandwidth (or whatever the relevant thing is there, I'm not a programmer), pricing, etc. Let me know if you have questions!

4 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by ChristianKl · 2020-04-05T20:26:49.765Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm surprised how much better Zoom works then the other software I have tried.

Today, I had a Zoom call and one of the people had a computer where the fan noise was picked up by his microphone. Zoom automatically downregulated his microphone when he wasn't speaking to remove the noise to then upregulate the microphone when he spoke.

Zoom allows you to remove the background of a video and only show yourself even if you haven't a greenscreen. That's great when you want to have a call with people whom you don't want to show your room.

While Whereby, Microsoft Teams and Google Hangouts only seem to be able to show 4 people at a time in gallery view zoom can show many more people.

comment by Filipe Marchesini (filipe-marchesini) · 2020-04-05T22:25:20.121Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Are you aware or worried about reported Zoom privacy and security issues?

comment by ChristianKl · 2020-04-06T07:22:21.892Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I see no reason to believe from that post that the security is in a different class then the security of most other tools on the market.

Jitsi might be more secure but the first time I tried to have a call with it the server was overloaded.

Someone holding a meeting to run a variolation study might need higher security then Zoom provides but the use-cases I have at the moment don't require high levels of security.

For normal privacy concerns the inability to hide the background in most Zoom alternatives seems to like a lot more privacy relevant data to other people.

comment by Charlie Steiner · 2020-04-06T05:36:30.603Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

My brother the IT professional is recommending BlueJeans over Zoom, but I'm not going to try it out until next weekend, at which point I'll report back.