PalTalk Free Online Video Chat Review

Mychelle Blake
Friends on an online video chat

If you enjoy chatting with your friends online, or making new friends, Paltalk may be for you! A review of Paltalk's features reveals what you should consider before signing up for the service.

What Is Paltalk?

Paltalk is an online service that lets you speak to people via video chat, voice-only, or text-based chat rooms. It is available for iOS, Android, Windows for PC, and OS X for Mac. The service's website boasts 100 million downloads, and the average number of members is about 60,000. Paltalk claims to have over 5,000 chat rooms focusing on personal interests such as music and sports.

Understanding Paltalk Pricing

Paltalk has several subscription levels. Different levels of subscriptions are indicated by the color of your nickname. The subscriptions range from basic (black), which is free, to the prime (gold) membership, priced at about $30 per month. The basic free subscription includes a nickname, one webcam window, and the use of three chat rooms at once with banner ads on the screen. In general, the more you spend, the more features you unlock, including video windows, stickers, special badges, and the ability to use several rooms at once. You can also purchase "Paltalk credits" to send gifts and get stickers.

Downloading Paltalk

Screenshot of Paltalk web site

There are four ways to download the Paltalk app:

For this review I downloaded Paltalk on a Windows PC and a Chromebook. Downloading and installing it was quick and easy. However, the Chromebook immediately started experiencing slowness and connection issues after installation.

Setting Up a Paltalk Profile

Setting up a profile is easy and similar to setting up a profile on any other social networking service. The dashboard is a bit overwhelming at first and could be designed a bit better for easier viewing. The first time you enter, you will immediately be presented with live webcams which was a bit disconcerting. If you're more "internet-shy," setting your profile to anonymous is a good way to step your toe in the waters of Paltalk without feeling the pressure of interacting.

Using Chat Rooms

You can manage chat rooms you create in your profile dashboard and set them to public or private. I found it very easy to set up a room and send the information to a chat partner. I do like the ability to use the service for private chats with friends, although there are many other services you can use to do the same thing.

Pros of Paltalk

If you enjoy video chat and meeting new people online, I found Paltalk has many nice features. The public chat rooms seem active, and there appears to be a room for almost every topic. Paltalk gets some favorable reviews on Amazon citing the ability to chat with others, although it should be noted that the average review is 2.6 out of five stars. There are several reasons this may be a good fit for you.

Family Friendly Filters

Pros of Paltalk

Families concerned about adult activity can set a family friendly filter to keep their kids out of unsuitable rooms. The ability to set options to allow the use, or not, of chat rooms with adult material is a nice feature if you have children.

Ability to Integrate Videos and Music

Paltalk also allows for integrations with YouTube and Soundcloud, where you can post links in chat rooms "live" so members can enjoy them as a group. I could see this being a useful feature if you want to discuss or watch a video together. I could see it also being useful as a learning group or to discuss songs as a band.

Easy to Set Up Private Chats

If you want to set up a private chat just for friends, it's a very easy process, and you can use this with your smartphone just as you would a program like Facebook Messenger. Having said that, you could just use Facebook Messenger, which is free and just as easy to use.

Helpful User Reviews of Rooms

Another feature I liked are user reviews of each room. Considering the huge number of rooms, I found this useful to look for ones with positive feedback and avoid ones with bad reviews.

Cons of Paltalk

There are also a few things about Paltalk that keep it from being an ideal choice for everyone. Depending on your needs and budget, the following cons might apply.

Price for Value

The number of features you can access with your account are limited without purchasing credits and upgrading. The color coding of the nicknames seems like a very weak benefit when you have to pay to upgrade, and the pricing of extra credits is quite high. While you can use the basic free services to communicate, there's a chance you'll feel pressured to buy more to emulate others online, particularly for younger people. Sitejabber reviewers also note the user base for Paltalk can be less than friendly and the free subscription users are looked down on by paid subscribers. The advertisements on the free service are also very prominent and intrusive.

Overwhelming Web Cams

While you can shut your webcam off if you're not used to multi-web cam chat rooms you may find Paltalk intimidating at first. I definitely did not care for seeing live webcams the second I logged in.

Security Concerns and Repeated Emails

User reviews of Paltalk on Trustpilot highlight some security concerns, such as exposing your computer to malware, spyware, and adware. Other users complain that Paltalk will continue to email you about your subscription after you have cancelled. I have not received repeated emails since unsubscribing from them, but my fellow user with the Chromebook found that the sluggishness of his computer stopped as soon as he uninstalled Paltalk, which would lead me to be very concerned about potential security issues. If you do decide to use Paltalk, I would urge you to use a security monitoring software to scan your computer regularly for malware and viruses.

Poor Behavior in Community

It also has a reputation for poor behavior among some of its chat rooms and in fact two separate users committed suicide live due to insults from other users. The anonymity of Paltalk allows for harsh behavior. However, I don't think this is limited to Paltalk, and you can find bad behavior on almost every online social media site, anonymous or not. It does seem like there is less monitoring of behavior on the site, which might be a concern if you are worried about online harassment.

Should You Use Paltalk?

While Paltalk has some nice features, most of them can be obtained for free through other services, such as Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts, Slack, and more. Most of your current friends and family will probably already have accounts on these services, and convincing them to use yet another may be a chore. If you're looking to meet new people, the large number of chat rooms is a nice feature. Ultimately, each potential user needs to decide if the community and features justify the cost of this service.

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PalTalk Free Online Video Chat Review