Zoom doom: the reigning monarchs of videoconferencing may now have good reason to sweat (free; other Beacon plans from $4.95 per month; beaconx.com).


Business schools may one day teach courses on how Zoom, just one of many second-rank videoconferencing services, lucked out during the coronavirus. It’s even achieved the ultimate for a business—becoming a verb. So just as we tell people we’re in an Uber when it’s really a Lyft, we say we’re on a Zoom even if it’s actually Google Meet, Skype, FaceTime, Teams, BlueJeans—whichever.

Videoconferencing is clearly more than a flash in the pandemic; there is every sign it’s going to be with us forever, since it’s convenient, economic, time-saving, and planet-saving.

But what’s perhaps oddest about the Zoom boom is that, aside from having a clever name, Zoom isn’t really very good. The software is clunky and quite expensive, but, most importantly, the quality is largely horrible, like looking through a dirty window.

Whether two years into the coronavirus is a great time to launch a videoconferencing system that trounces Zoom and the others may be the subject of another M.B.A. course, but Beacon, a new system out of Dallas, could be just that Zoom killer.

The first time you try Beacon, you may well gasp. The picture, especially in ultra-HD mode, is startlingly sharp, but it also has a color saturation that makes it look luminous, almost 3D. The audio is clear and natural. And, unless we were lucky while testing, the freezes, bumps, burps, and audio dropouts we wearily accept with other systems are missing.

Beacon was started and is run by Angel Munoz, widely acknowledged as the father of eSports—the world of competitive, organized video gaming—which is significant because squeezing the best out of online connections and minimizing gaps and latency are key to that now massive global industry.

Beacon is still in its launch phase, so you can try the free Beacon X version now without commitment. It’s platform-agnostic, so it works on almost every device and operating system. It has a bunch of add-ons, either in Play Now or Coming Soon, which you may or may not care about: a collaborative whiteboard, simultaneous translation, and an A.I. assistant you speak to like Alexa among them. It also claims better security than its rivals.

But, in the end, it’s probably the superb video that will get you to love jumping on a Beacon.

Article from Air Mail issue №123.
Retrieved November 20, 2021.