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Vowel vs. Zoom: What are the key differences?

Vowel vs Zoom cover photo with video conferencing screenshot

Zoom might be your company’s video conferencing tool by default. But if you want to make your meetings more productive — before, during, and after — then Vowel is a great Zoom alternative

Like Zoom, Vowel offers all your video conferencing basics: secure video calling, mic and camera settings, screen-sharing, virtual backgrounds, calendar integration, and more.

But unlike Zoom, Vowel isn't just another video conferencing tool. It's an AI-powered meeting OS that makes your meetings 10x more valuable by turning them into searchable, shareable knowledge. There's nothing to download and no need to cobble together (and pay for) a bunch of different tools and add-ons.

Here’s everything you need to know about using Vowel versus using Zoom. 

1. Vowel has AI-powered meeting summaries

Have you ever wished someone could take notes for you in a meeting and summarize the most important parts? With Vowel, it's a reality!

Record your meeting to power live transcription (more on that below), and moments after you hang up, you'll get an AI-powered summary that gives you the TL;DR of what was discussed. This feature allows you to easily skip optional meetings and catch up later, or revisit any conversation to get the important takeaways in seconds.

The summary is saved alongside the transcript and recording, so it's easy to get more context if you need it. Coming soon: AI-powered action item and decision detection!

AI-powered meeting summary

2. Vowel includes easy-to-use live transcription

Does Zoom offer live transcription? Yes…but you’ll only get the transcript after a meeting ends if you’re on a small business plan or higher. And the ease of use could be better, which is why many Zoom transcription add-ons exist.

Vowel has built-in live transcription — all you have to do is click Start Recording when you’re ready to go. No more plug-ins or extra tools for transcribing your meetings. No awkward “ghost” participant with a robotic-looking name. No downloading a file and uploading it to a transcription service that takes time to process.

Now you can recall great ideas and relive important moments from all your meetings. You can even choose from multiple transcription languages (English, Spanish, French, Mandarin, Japanese, Russian, and more).  

And look, we know: reading a whole meeting transcript is time-consuming. So Vowel lets you get exactly what you need from your transcripts through a powerful search function, time-stamped meeting notes, and the ability to bookmark moments for future reference (and share clips!).

Viewing a transcript in Vowel

3. Vowel provides instant (yes, instant) recordings

Zoom charges you for meeting recordings after you hit your 1GB cloud recording limit, unless you’re on the most expensive enterprise plan. And Zoom makes you jump through a whole lot of hoops like processing time, downloading, and trying to find your recording.

Vowel gives you a shareable link the moment a recorded meeting wraps. That’s right — on-demand recordings, with custom privacy and sharing settings. No downloading or wait time! And the recording will appear in your Recent folder right away, so there's no having to look for it.

When you’re ready to view the recording, there are all sorts of power-user features like X-ray view (so you can jump to relevant speakers), 1.5-2x playback speed (to whip through meetings you missed or opted out of), and a copy of the meeting notes and searchable transcript to view alongside the video. 

Tip: Pause recording at any time during a meeting, or go off the record with one click. When you view the recording, the “off-the-record” section (and transcript) will be blank and pick back up when recording re-starts. 

A screenshot of Vowel where users can view meetings from their dashboard

4. Vowel gives you a universal search through your meeting content

How many times have you *wished* you could go back to a certain meeting moment? Unfortunately, it’s not easy to do in Zoom, even if you have the recording. 

In Vowel, you can use the universal search function to find exactly what you need from past meetings. Whether you’re looking for something someone said (remember when Steve talked about an awesome onboarding campaign?) or patterns in conversation (how many times did our customers mention the auto-save feature in interviews?), searching your meeting content in Vowel is a lot like searching your email inbox or Slack messages. 

Your search terms will show up as highlighted words in meeting transcripts and notes, easy to filter by meeting participant, folder, or date range.

Keyword search in Vowel

5. Vowel lets you take collaborative meeting notes (including action items!)

With Zoom, you’re probably taking notes in a separate doc and switching between tabs and tools. Then you have to make sure everyone at the meeting has access to that doc afterward. Who’s got time for that? 

In Vowel, every meeting includes a shared notepad that all participants can add to and see (all you have to do is click the little notes icon in the bottom right). Every time a note is recorded, it’s time-stamped, making it easy to jump to a certain point in the transcript or recording afterward. 

Bonus: As part of the collaborative notes function, you can create action items with a swift back slash — for example, type “/action,” tag the name of the person you want to assign, and voila! These action items will be stored in your Vowel account and easily accessed from your dashboard (integrations coming soon, so action items can be transferred out of Vowel and into other productivity tools). 

Add an action item to shared meeting notes

6. Vowel makes agenda creation way easier

Zoom doesn’t have built-in agenda functionality, so if you want to create an agenda, you’ll likely be doing it in a Google doc and sending the link around beforehand. It’s also hard to show the agenda during the meeting unless you’re sharing your screen. 

In Vowel, it’s not only easy to create and share agendas — it’s easier to *remember* to create them in the first place. You’ll see all your upcoming meetings and agendas (blank or filled out) side-by-side, or you can access the agenda from your Google calendar event.

And if you create an agenda in Vowel before a meeting, it comes straight into the meeting with you on the collaborative notepad — so it's easy to stay on track, take relevant notes, and check off items as you go. You can even set agenda timers with a "/timer" command!

Vowel upcoming tab

7. Vowel gives you a way to mark key meeting moments (and come back to them later)

Ever been in a meeting and someone says something you want to remember? With Zoom, it’s easy for insights and decisions to get lost in the shuffle — there’s no way to mark a key moment unless you pay for an extra tool or add-on. 

With Vowel, you can easily bookmark a meeting moment as it happens to revisit or share later. The bookmark will show up in the transcript and in the “X-ray” view of the recording, so you can jump to it after the meeting. 

Another way to organize and remember meeting moments? Clips! Create and save clips directly from the transcript, then save them for your own records or share with others — this function is particularly awesome for customer research calls or employee training sessions. 

A screenshot of the Vowel bookmark feature

8. Vowel helps you stay on top of talk time metrics  

When all your meetings happen over video, it can be hard to keep track of if everyone has a say…which is why you might see tweets like this:

But good news! Vowel does track the amount of time each meeting participant speaks during a meeting (you’ll see it on your speaker tile) and provides a summary after the meeting ends. 

It’s easy to turn off the tracking if you want. But it’s a great way to promote more more inclusive meetings across your company. 

A screenshot of a recorded meeting summary in Vowel

9. Vowel is browser-based — there’s nothing to download

Zoom requires you to download software to use it, and then open that software anytime you have a meeting. 

Vowel, on the other hand, is browser-based, letting you jump into meetings without opening anything — you can even start a meeting directly from Slack with a quick “/Vowel” command. You also get a personal room link to use for recurring or ad hoc meetings.

Vowel "Meet in Your Room" button

Covering the basics

Now that you know some of the key differences between Vowel and Zoom, here’s how Vowel covers the basics — things that all video conferencing tools need for high-quality video meetings.  

  • Video calling - Vowel offers best-in-class technology so every word is crisp and clear. It also includes your basic mic and camera settings and a Reactions bar that lets you respond to great ideas and comments with emojis.

  • Security - With SOC2 Type II certification, Vowel employs best practices for encryption, security, and privacy, and keeps your team’s data safe.

  • Calendar integration - Vowel connects with your Google calendar so you can see upcoming meetings and jump in with one click. The Chrome extension also lets you add a Vowel link to meetings when you schedule them in your Google Calendar.

  • Screen-sharing - Don’t fumble around hoping everyone can see your screen. Vowel has a one-click screen-sharing option, with the option to present with your camera off or keep your camera on (so your face is in the corner of the presentation).

  • Dial-in (for US and Canada) - Dial into Vowel meetings when you're on the go or if you have bad wifi.

  • Mobile app - Download the Vowel mobile app for iOS or Android to easily join, transcribe, and record meetings while on your phone (and view shared notes!).

  • Virtual backgrounds - Blur your background, select from one of Vowel’s pre-set options, or upload an image. Preview your background before you get into the meeting to make sure it looks just right.

  • Free plan - No one wants to be tied to a new meeting software if they can’t try it first. Vowel is free for everyone to try (no credit card required) and there will always be a Free plan.

Meet better with Vowel  

Zoom's website states that it “powers all of your communication needs, including meetings, chat, phone, webinars, and online events.” If you’re looking for these types of solutions, by all means, Zoom might be right for you. But Vowel is designed to make the meetings you’re already having more productive and worthwhile. 

Studies have shown how much people dislike ineffective meetings, not the act of meeting itself. Bad meetings don’t just suck when we’re in them; they’ve been shown to cast a productivity shadow after.

The biggest difference between Zoom and Vowel? Zoom is video conferencing software, while Vowel is a tool that streamlines your entire meeting workflow (because great meetings require more than a camera and microphone). Case in point:

Merci Grace tweet

Get more value out of your team’s time together and build up an awesome repository of meeting knowledge! All while being more accessible to asynchronous work styles and distributed teammates.    

Want to give Vowel a try? Sign up for free and let us know what you think!