So you want to set up high quality room-based video conferencing for groups of people, but aren’t prepared to convert a whole room in your building into a top-of-the-line ‘immersive’ telepresence theatre the likes of which Cisco and others are asking hundreds of thousands to assemble?
You aren’t alone. The market for telepresence systems – special rooms or areas that integrate camera, TV, audio and network technology to make it appear like those meeting-attendees speaking from a far-flung branch of the company are sitting at the same table – has been flagging for the past two years, with year on year declines.
The technology itself has been mainstream for almost a decade, with Cisco’s first telepresence product hitting the markets back in 2006. But in that time little has happened in the way of innovation, high-end customers already deploying these systems are sitting on their investments, and enterprise demand has shifted.
There’s no doubt that video is still an important aspect of collaboration within companies, but the way businesses use it is undergoing a change. In the era of mobile, cloud and unified communications (UC), the idea of having to go to a special room and sit at a special desk to talk to people seems strangely anachronistic, like a scene out of a 1960s science fiction film.
The original impetus for video conferencing systems was primarily to save on expenses and earn green points by cutting down travel, making a life-like boardroom experience a plus point. But it’s become less of a priority than the ability to enable productivity in a flexible, integrated way.
Logitech – better known for as a vendor of bargain peripherals such as keyboards, mice and webcams- seems to have cottoned onto this with the launch of the ConferenceCam CC3000e. The firm claims it is a high quality, affordable option for those who want to ‘turn any small or midsize conference room into a video-enabled collaboration room.’
Logitech emphasises the whole ‘turn any room into a semi-telepresence room’ sell with accompanying statistics on the number of conference rooms around the world sitting there waiting to potentially be converted into video conferencing rooms (60-70 million). Where they plucked these numbers from is anyone’s guess, but looking beyond the slightly slapdash marketing the solution itself has a lot going for it as a low-end telepresence-like solution.
Compared to shelling out thousands for an ‘immersive’ experience or one of the higher end HD video conferencing systems it’s a steal at its starting price of £699, but what do you get for that?
Optimised for groups of six to ten people, the all-in-one speakerphone/camera combo allows for a 90-degree field of view, smooth 260- degree pan and tilt options that mounts to wall, ledge or tripod, making it easy to adjust to different room sizes. It works with your UC application of choice, easily connecting to any laptop, PC, Mac or thin client and can run through all major video tools such as Skype, Google Hangouts, Lync and Vidyo.
> See also: The consumerisation of communications
The lightweight (3.43kg) kit comprises Bluetooth and NFC-enabled speakerphone, camera, dockable remote control and USB hub, and is designed to be simple to set up for ad hoc meetings. I assembled all of it and had a conversation up and running in ten minutes- not bad at all, especially considering five of those minutes were spent recovering the misplaced Wi-Fi password.
A few years ago nobody would be able to get the 1080pd HD video that it offers at this price point, but now it’s fully possible to take advantage of such good quality video conferencing without breaking the bank- I can see how it would be ideal for crystal clear close-ups of whiteboards and content on tablets, and it features a useful 10x lossless zoom.
Its audio is also impressively clear, featuring natural-sounding full-duplex noise echo cancelling mics and excellent volume levels.
The Logitech ConferenceCam CC3000e is a videoconferencing solution thats time has come. There are a lot of different products and set ups out there, but it’s hard to find better value for money if you’re looking for a simple, portable, UC-enabled way to take advantage of high quality video conferencing without paying telepresence-style prices.