Pre-Covid, many of us were already well-used to using webcams – either professionally in the workplace for meetings with off-site team members, clients, or suppliers or for personal use at home, to chat with family and friends.
Post-Covid the use of Webcams has exploded, and the context is often blurred – now you might be at home using your webcam for a working meeting or in the office using it to catch up with friends at lunchtime.
One of the challenges with new ways of working is a lack of standardisation with the tech your team are using at home. Another issue as a user of tech is that you don’t have an IT Department to drop over to your desk if you are having hardware or software problems – if only we had! On top of all that, the tech is constantly changing and it’s hard to feel confident about investing in solutions that may be redundant in a short space of time.
Here’s where Meritec can help. We offer the expertise, the hardware and the software solutions that best suit your commercial requirements. With decades of experience, we’ll help you to consider all the relevant factors; what do you need to do with the equipment (what type of meetings), how many people typically attend, how many are in person and remote, what type of office facilities you have, etc. And just because you are in safe hands with Meritec, it doesn’t mean that you won’t have access to the very latest and the very best tech! Our long-standing partners are global manufacturers that are at the cutting edge of collaborative, intuitive solutions – that work brilliantly for our clients.
But let’s get back to Webcam basics – here’s the Whistle-Stop tour but if you know the basics already and are under time pressure, go straight to our Recommendations.
- What exactly is a webcam?
- Do you need a Webcam for Online Meetings? (Yes!)
- Whatare the Key Features of a good Webcam?
- Howdo I properly activate a Webcam?
- Our Recommendations for the Best Webcams
What exactly is a Webcam?
You’ve probably used one at some stage – at its simplest, they are a plug-and-play solution whereby a small web camera typically connects to your computer screen via a USB. For larger scale rooms, webcams can use high-end tech and need professional installation. They can be used for both visual and audio interactions. In business, webcams are now essential for effective collaborative working where remote and hybrid working practices are facilitated. Often the webcam will only be one element of a solution to enable remote conferencing and it will be combined with other software such as Microsoft Teams Rooms or Zoom Rooms to offer a more comprehensive, effective communications solution.
Do you need a WebCam for Online Meetings?
In theory, if you use Zoom Rooms or Microsoft Teams Rooms, it’s not essential to have a Webcam to see and hear what is happening. But in practice if you want to fully participate effectively in a meeting, it’s vital that you can be both seen and heard. Much of our communication is visual, and turning your Webcam on during a meeting signals that you are fully engaged. It also helps people to understand intuitively what you are saying, from your facial expressions.
What are the Key Features of a Good Webcam?
There’s lots to consider but it’s not rocket science; at a basic level you need high quality visuals and great sound. While you do get what you pay for, even low-cost products can be totally adequate for simple domestic use. But in a commercial setting, performance and robust tech will be important and the specifications needed will vary according to the types of meetings being held and the room size. Meritec can give you great advice on the best solution and features to consider including:
- The Visuals – the level of clarity, the Field of View (what dimensions will be visible) and the Frames per Second (FPS); the higher this is, the smoother the video will be.
- The Sound – the Webcam may have a built-in microphone, though typically a headset or external USB microphone will deliver a better result.
- Ease of Installation and Support – depending on your requirements, you may want something that can be up-and-running within minutes, or you might need a sophisticated solution that needs professional installation and ongoing support… in which case, do talk with Meritec!
- Additional Features – there’s lots of smart features the latest Webcams offer including intelligent cameras, blocked background noise, dual lenses to switch between wide and narrow angles and more!
How do I properly activate a Webcam?
The answer to this question obviously depends on what Webcam you’ve bought but for anyone setting up a home office, typically the product will usually have a USB cable and you simply insert this into the USB port on your computer. Once connected, current operating systems will detect the device and prompt you to access it automatically. It will also show up on the list of hardware devices that can be found in your computer settings. Usually, Webcams come with a monitor mount that lets the camera sit safely on top of the screen.
If you want to learn more about setting up a full video conferencing solution at home, this Guide on How to Set Up a Home Video Conference will be useful.
If the solution is more sophisticated e.g., for a large conference room, there’s a variety of options that enable Webcams to integrate into both the tech and the room in a seamless manner.
Our Recommendations for the Best Webcams
Poly are at the forefront of innovations in webcam tech and if you’re looking for a robust solution – no matter what the room size – it’s hard to beat their tech. We’ve installed Poly solutions for clients large and small across Ireland and the feedback has been excellent. For all of the cameras listed below, there’s a Poly Studio Room Kit for Microsoft Teams Rooms on Windows, allowing any room – at home or in the office – to be transformed into an effective collaboration space. Here’s a summary of the most popular solutions, given the type of room involved.
Webcam for Home Offices and Focus Rooms
Poly Studio P15 USB video bar.
This is ideal for home offices and smaller rooms for lots of great reasons, including USB plug-and-play connectivity which makes it a doddle to install!
- You’ll have it up-and-running within minutes
- Both the video and audio performances are really powerful
- Inbuilt collaboration tools automatically tune out distractions
- You can easily share content, with a single touch
Webcam for Small Meeting Rooms/Huddle Rooms
Poly Studio R30 USB video bar.
The R30 is similar to the P15 above. On top of the advantages outlined above, it facilitates:
- Connections to multiple Video-as-a-Service platforms (like live streaming platforms, YouTube etc)
- A video view of the whole room when required
- Smart Camera technology – PolyDirectorA1
Webcam for Medium-sized Meeting Rooms
Poly Studio USB video bar.
If you need a webcam that’s equally as easy to set up via a USB connection but one that offers a more comprehensive, business-class solution, and is ideal for medium sized rooms – these tick all the boxes.
- It’s not just easy to install, it’s a dream to manage, via cloud-based
- The 6-microphone array gives clarity to each voice; you’ve never sounded so good!
- Presenter mode allows the camera to follow the speaker, just like a cameraman
- Distracting noises are automatically tuned out
Webcam for Large Meeting Rooms
Poly Studio E70 camera
This really is the definitive camera for large meeting rooms.
- The intelligent camera gives Best-in-Class video and audio features
- Inbuilt lenses automatically transition between wide and narrow angles
- A.I. tech creates an unrivalled video experience, ideal for hybrid meetings
- Instant privacy can be achieved through an electronic privacy shutter
Access Great Webcam Advice!
Meritec has been at the forefront of bringing conferencing facilities to Irish businesses for over 25 years. We have the inhouse expertise and the leading partners and brands that combine to offer business clients the very best solution, given their circumstances.
If you are considering new or upgraded conferencing facilities and would like great Webcam and video conferencing advice, given your current circumstances, then please do get in touch with us. We’ll consider your room size, the way in which you want to use the technology, any remote working challenges you need to address, your way of working and of course your budget. All this information will feed into our recommendation and will allow us to design the right solution, within budget, to meet your exact conferencing requirements.
We look forward to talking with you!