The modern workplace is changing dramatically. And one big part of that change is the widespread use of video conferencing. With a move toward remote working or at the very least a hybrid workplace – video conferencing is now a simple must for many businesses.
And with that, there are many video conferencing solutions to consider. But how do you know which one to pick?.. and which is best for your business?
In this article, we look at the best video conferencing hardware for your business.
But first – let’s understand the playing field before we can look at the best options for you.
So what do you need to know first?
Things to consider when choosing video conference hardware
Number of Participants
How many people will be involved in these video conferencing sessions? You might need a wider field of view, HD quality and other features for more participants. The number will determine what kind of camcorders or webcams you use as well along with the number of microphones.
Ease of use
Simplicity should be a key consideration when it comes to your video conferencing. If you end up wasting precious time on setup every time -then that should be a red flag. Fortunately as the tech has evolved- modern day video conferencing hardware is becoming easier and easier to use.
The Types of Meeting?
What type of meeting are you hosting? Is it something complicated your team needs help with like designing a new product, or maybe just brainstorming ideas for an upcoming project? If so, then features such as whiteboards and screen sharing could come in very handy!
It also makes sense that if people are going to be collaborating remotely from home they may want their microphone equipped with noise cancellation technology too because there is bound to always be some background noise (location dependent of course!). Whether it’s for more casual collaboration with hybrid employees or longer communication with multiple employees across different locations – these factors all play into the equation.
The quality of your camera is a big factor in your meetings. The lifelike image quality brings you closer to your company’s partners and clients, even if they’re thousands of miles away. A quality image says a lot about your brand and professionalism – so make sure to have the optimal camera for your setup.
It’s important to find the perfect video conferencing hardware with your preferred collaboration technology. When you turn on any camera or microphone, it should sync up seamlessly in order for both parties involved have an excellent call quality experience each time they connect through this service! Simple compatibility will make life easier on everyone so do some research before purchasing anything just yet!
What kind of extra features do you need from your hardware? Some solutions come with AI to detect where a person is in the room and focus on their face. Other headsets have technology that differentiates between human voices, background noise or other distracting elements for more natural communication experiences while they’re wearing them – just like how some software today can be as intelligent as its users!
To improve the acoustics of any room, it is important to know what type of room it is and where all sound comes from. If there’s loud street noise outside your window every day or if someone has their voice booming through a microphone as they speak into one single speaker at an event… then chances are these conditions will be difficult for those listening to hear clearly. The type of microphone used will be influenced greatly by the room’s acoustics.
Sounds obvious right? There is a wide range of options available to you when it comes to video conferencing hardware. While some parts are non-negotiable, others might be more of a bonus. It’s here that budget will come into play. Understanding the billing with one-time payments vs recurring are all factors to understand when it comes to your video conferencing investment.
In today’s world of over-budget IT projects, it pays off big time when companies know how much they might end up spending before getting started on a new video conferencing platform deployment across their organization!
When Covid struck in 2020 – the world was turned upside down. For the workplace this meant a widescale movement to remote working. Consequently many used cloud based video meetings across devices to conduct meetings (think zoom). However not all are functional with all video conference equipment.
In order to save money and avoid headaches, you should make sure that your meeting room devices can communicate with other technologies.
Ok all make sense? The number of participants, ease of use, extra features, compatibility, room acoustics, budget, camera quality, interoperability and the types of meeting are the basics to consider.
Best Video Conferencing Hardware for Your Business
Now that we’ve covered the key requirements, let’s get onto the best video conferencing hardware to get for your business today.
Let’ start off with 2 of the big software-based video conference room solutions:
1) Zoom Rooms
Zoom Rooms is a versatile choice. As a physical conference room software – it allows you to use a tablet, computer, camera, microphone and more to hold virtual meetings using the Zoom platform. It’s dynamic and very (very) easy to use.
What are the Benefits?
- Interactive white boarding with screen sharing and annotation. (This allows for easy communication as if participants were in the room together)
- Easy to use Content Sharing
- Quick set-up time
- Enhanced Productivity
- Simplified Scheduling
- Cut the cords and clutter of conference rooms
- Centralize Room Management – you can manage everything simply from 1 single portal.
What kind of Business are Zoom Rooms best for?
2) Microsoft Teams Rooms
Similar to Zoom Rooms – A Microsoft Teams Room is basically a meeting room that is enabled to use Microsoft teams. The core concept behind Microsoft Teams Rooms is to streamline the process of conference call meetings. Again it’s smooth UX is definitely a selling point.
What are the Benefits?
- Content Camera with Intelligent Capture
- Proximity Detection
- One Touch Join
- Easy to use and adaptable
- Easy Screen Sharing
What kind of Business are Microsoft Teams Rooms best for?
Any. From Boardrooms to huddle spaces – Microsoft Teams Rooms is also very versatile.
Ok so both seem similar – which is the best option between Microsoft Teams Rooms and Zoom Rooms?
That depends on a couple of factors.
Do you have a preference for Zoom or Microsoft Teams?.. as a general video conferencing service? Both solutions orientate around the use of these video conferencing platforms – so if you prefer one; that could swing it.
Are you already a user of office 365? If so, Microsoft Teams Room is automatically included in this.
How customised do you need it? Zoom Rooms probably edges it in terms of more hardware options and customisation.
That said, it depends on your room, scope, budget and your video platform preference. And one of the best ways to know this, is having a conversation with a trusted video conferencing company.
Ok, so now we have covered 2 of the physical conference room software’s. Now let’s look at some of the solutions which greatly complement and integrate with the above.
3) Crestron Solutions
The Crestron Flex Solutions for Teams and Zoom and Unified Communications will meet many if not all of your requirements. As it’s compatible with the above platforms (and more); Crestron Solutions has a number of tech inputs that can work for your business.
For example, the Crestron Flex M-Series allows for a seamless and efficient meeting experience with its table-top devices. Every element is heard, and every participant is seen, every piece of the richest content. With Quad Array microphones – literally every voice at the table can be picked up clearly within a range of 20 feet.
Furthermore, it’s an isolated acoustic – so no matter where you are positioned at the table, the same high sound quality applies to every voice.
Plus with a 4k camera, the precision and clarity of the images generated is also of the very highest quality.
4) Poly (Formerly Polycom) Solutions
Poly has solutions for both teams and zoom along with other platforms making it a very adaptable choice. Depending on your room size, there are a number of options such as
- Polycom Group 300 – this is ideal for smaller meeting rooms with up to 3 or 4 participants.
- Polycom Group 500 – this video collaboration system is perfect for small and medium-sized meeting/conference rooms with up to 2 screens.
- Polycom Group 700 – this is a more advanced and comprehensive system which has a big focus on collaboration and ideal for larger rooms.
- Polycom CX8000 – This is a dedicated conference room collaboration solution which is purpose built for Microsoft UC.
Like Crestron, Poly has a number of options which can be used with different software’s.
GoTo has a number of different collaboration systems that really simplify remote working and secure business continuity. These include:
- GoTo Webinar
- GoTo Connect
In terms of Video Conferencing for your business – GoToConnect provides a seamless way for your employees to collaborate through a single browser, desktop or mobile application and…to stay productive and connected from anywhere. Although video conferencing is not the main feature alone – GoTo Connect certainly warrants a mention, considering the many other benefits it brings to the table.
What is the Best Video Conferencing software for a Small Business?
This a common question, and ultimately your choice will come down to a number of factors such as budget, number of employees remote vs in person, room size etc. There are free versions of vc platforms like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype and more. However, they might not be enough in your case.
Choosing the dedicated hardware such as microphones, speakers, cameras (and more) is where a conversation with an AV integrator can make a big difference. Different specifications require tailored approaches.
Ok now that we’ve covered the best video conferencing hardware for your business – let’s explore what specific equipment that you’ll need to go with this.
What Video Conferencing Equipment do I need?
A basic but fundamental. To use the video conferencing software, you’ll need a computer and internet access.
A Second Screen
A second screen is a great addition for those who work from home and in the office. It allows you to see what your colleagues are doing and get involved with presentations. The extra monitor streamlines your workflow. Although for the purpose of videoconferencing, it’s helpful but not an essential.
Needless to say, if you cant see each other -it’s not videoconferencing. The camera built into your laptop can be a great option when starting (laptop depending). But if you want ultimate picture quality and professionalism, the polished display only tailored video conference equipment can offer will give you the clearest visuals. And when you working in a professional context – that may be a fundamental. So consider a decent camera if your laptop isn’t cutting it.
Microphones and Speakers
Again, these are basics. Both will be available in your laptop but again to hear and be heard effectively – having something of optimum quality may be a must. Also depending on the location (think noisy backgrounds) a mic that picks up your just your voice, can be a very smart investment.
Other typical Video Conferencing related Questions…
What are the Benefits of Video Conferencing?
There are many so many benefits to Video Conferencing! And really a whole article in of itself. At its core, video conferencing is a great way for companies and employees all around the world to connect with one another in real time. It can boost productivity, engagement rates along with significantly cutting down on travel costs!
What’s video conferencing etiquette?
When you’re on camera, it is important to follow some basic rules for video conferencing. Test your equipment and ensure that everything will work before the meeting so as not arrive late or with any problems; monitor others who speak during a session by muting yourself when they talk. Try not do anything distracting like shuffling papers while someone else speaks – after all this is their time. Furthermore, consider the background. If you are in a place where there is a lot happening behind you – consider blurring or replacing your background in order to avoid distractions.
Ultimately you want the meeting to run as smoothly as possible without any hiccups.
How much does video conferencing equipment cost?
It is very much contextual and depends on your budget, objectives and room setup and size. Buying a new camera, headset and microphone can be potentially expensive. You’ll need to consider what you want in your system before investing though- more features means higher costs! It is at this point, consulting with a trusted AV company can give you a great insight into the costs for your setup.
What’s the difference between video conferencing equipment and room systems?
When we say “video conferencing equipment” we are reffering to the individual components within a video conference system. This could be your webcam or microphone and speaker set – but it also includes your laptop software for collaboration! A room system is all you need in one neat package that provides everything needed including hardware. All meaning a lot less hassle.
Room Systems provide an easy solution with just one purchase because they come complete with cables & converters pre-paired making connecting more seamless than before.
How do I set up a good video conference?
Education is key. If all team members are briefed and understand the basic functionalities – then you should you be fine. On the other hand, if they’re using new hardware for the first time and want an experiment with quality before starting on any professional conferences, then set up one test meeting! A little bit of trial and error before a professional conference commences.
What is the best Video Conferencing software?
As above, that will depend entirely on your business, preferences,objectives and budget. There are many different options to consider when choosing the right video conferencing software.
How Secure is Video Conferencing?
Generally it is quite secure. As long as you don’t have the password for one of these sessions stuck on a note within the frame, then it will be difficult (but not impossible) for someone else jump into that conversation without invitation. Fortunately there are various companies who put different levels of security measures in place – so do your due diligence before choosing which ones work best for your business needs! Factors like how important is privacy and protection of data to your business should be considered. Obviously this is important for the majority but to varying levels.
Is International Calling More Expensive?
Absolutely Not. There are no international fees with video conferencing. As long as you’re calling someone at the right time of day (don’t forget about time zones), then it’s possible for everyone in your organization to communicate with each other. The internet and video conferencing has broken down these formerly rigid structures of communication and collaboration.
Can you get video conferencing software for free?
Yes, but it can be very limited (depending on your objectives).. Free services like Google Hangouts and Skype can work but it’s hard to use for hosting large meetings or enjoying advanced features such as presentation mode, annotation etc.
The free version of these programs offers very little in terms of capabilities when compared with more expensive options.
In the post-pandemic world, businesses need affordable cloud-based solutions because nowadays most employees are working remotely from home (or elsewhere). For many, the traditional office doesn’t even exist anymore since everyone has laptops instead of desks. All of this means, if you are running things at scale (or would like to) a free version won’t give you the same streamlined and productive experience.
Want Video Conferencing for your business? Consider Meritec
While the future of video conferencing will continue to evolve in terms of the tech available – it is here to stay for most companies. And so, choosing the right setup for your business is vital.
Chat with us today, so we can understand your business, video conferencing needs and ultimately to help set you up for success.