The new trend in video conferencing is devices that are all-in-one, plug and play, and compatible with any platform – Perfect for smaller conference rooms and huddle rooms
These days, the demand for video conferencing and collaboration solutions is growing quickly. and in response to this demand, a number of all-in-one video conferencing products have started to hit the market. While having more choices is never a bad thing, it creates a new problem: Which of these solutions is the best for your organization? They all have somewhat similar features and price points, but there are slight differences that might make one or the other a better fit for your use case. Don’t worry – Z Systems is here to sort it all out for you.
What is an All-In-One Video Conferencing Solution, Anyway?
Traditionally, if you wanted to outfit a conference room for video calls, you would have to purchase and install several pieces of equipment: A television, robotic PTZ (pan/tilt/zoom) cameras, tabletop or hanging microphones, speakers, and a video conferencing encoder and decoder. To make it work, you would have to install and configure everything correctly, which can be a laborious process.
Now, these larger video conferencing systems still have their place, because for a larger conference room, a more robust system is still required to make everything work. But what if you have a smaller room or a huddle space, and just want a simple plug and play solution that won’t break the bank?
That’s where the new wave of all-in-one video conferencing appliances comes in. These devices generally include everything you need to communicate and collaborate remotely, in one unit – except for the television. They generally have a ‘sound bar’ form factor, which can be easily mounted above or below a television. Most models have intelligent, multi-element microphones that can detect where a voice is coming from and isolate the desired sound to be captured from any background noise. They include built-in or attached cameras that also have a certain amount of intelligence, with many models being able to automatically zoom in on the group or person speaking at any given time. High quality speakers are included as part of these units as well.
Now, these devices aren’t video conferencing endpoints themselves – they require a computer to work. This could be a fixed computer installed somewhere in the room (or even a small form factor computer mounted behind the TV), or a laptop. Either way, the user connects the computer to the conferencing appliance via a USB cable, connects an HDMI cable from their computer to a television, launches their video conferencing software of choice, and voila, they are up and running, communicating via video with people on the other side of the globe.
There are a lot of choices out there for video conferencing devices, and we have picked four of the most popular ones. Lets have a look at the pros and cons of each.
One of the products that is making a lot of noise in the video conferencing space lately is Logitech’s MeetUp ConferenceCam. When you think of Logitech, you probably think of the $15 mouse you got on Amazon. They have always had a large portfolio of computer accessories, and that includes USB cameras. What you may not know is that they have a very popular line of professional video conferencing peripherals as well.
This device has a lot in common with most of the devices we’re covering in this article: It is very easy to install, has a wide angle of view, a 5X zoom range, and features intelligent speaker tracking technology which which uses three beam-forming microphones to detect who is speaking and make sure they are in the frame (in fact, the device will automatically zoom in on a speaker, leveraging its 4K camera to do this digitally with minimal degradation in video quality). It comes with a convenient remote control, works with virtually any client-based software (like all of these client-based devices, it simply appears as a webcam to your PC), and has a Bluetooth option to function a speakerphone for voice calls from a mobile phone. Additionally, you can extend the audio capture range from 13′ to 30′ with an auxiliary tabletop microphone.
The MeetUp is the most compact of the all the systems we are comparing here, which means it will be less intrusive, and can be mounted in tighter spaces- such as a mobile cart, or under a smaller TV. The compact size may also be the Logitech MeetUp’s biggest weakness, as the form factor doesn’t allow it to house a robust speaker system – it doesn’t get as loud as any of the other solutions we are discussing here. On a positive note, we noticed about this unit is that it has exceptionally high quality audio capture, sounding crisp, yet full. Additionally, the Meetup is the only device of the bunch with a pan/tilt camera, which expands the effective angle of view to an incredible 170 degrees.
PolyCom has been one of the biggest names in the video and audio conferencing space for some time. Their all-in-one solution has all of the trimmings of the other solutions – a 120 degree wide angle of view, lossless 5x digital zoom using a 4K camera, speaker tracking technology, a remote control, available expansion mic, etc.
What sets this device apart from the Logitech offering is that it offers IP connectivity with PolyCom management services, such as the PolyCom Companion App, PolyCom RealPresence Resource Manager, and PolyCom Device Management Service. If you are deploying this in an environment with other managed PolyCom devices, this is going to be a great option. Also, the PolyCom Studio features a six-element, beam-forming array microphone system – the most robust of all the products here, which not only serves to greatly minimize background noise and hear only what is meant to be heard, but allows it to be more refined in it’s automatic speaker tracking.
Yamaha is a massive company that is manufactures sports equipment, musical instruments and electronics of all varieties. The Yamaha CS-700 falls into the electronics category, and just like the previous two Logitech and PolyCom solution, it has all of the features you are looking for in an all-in-one video conferencing appliance. This includes a 120 degree angle of view, beam forming microphone, speaker tracking technology, optional external table mic, Bluetooth connectivity, and so on. This unit doesn’t include a remote control, but instead has basic controls on the front of the device. Because the camera on the CS-700 is HD only, it can’t do 5x digital zoom like the Logitech or PolyCom solution.
Just like the PolyCom Studio, but unlike the Logitech MeetUp, this device has IP connectivity for remote management. This means that one or several units can be configured or updated remotely, which is create for managing a fleet of devices.
The Yamaha CS-700 has one killer feature that none of the other products in this article has, and that is SIP connectivity to allow the unit to work with your VoIP phone service. Of course, any of these devices can function as a speakerphone for your computer, which can run your VoIP telephony software. The difference is that the Yamaha CS-700 is a true SIP endpoint, complete with an API to integrate with room control systems. This means that you don’t need to have a computer connected in order to make audio calls with the device. By the way, a room control system is not a requirement to use the telephony functionality of the CS-700 – there is also a dialer app which works with any Android tablet. To take advantage of the SIP connectivity features, you will need to purchase the CS-700SP model.
Vaddio is another well-known brand name in the conferencing space. Well known for their pan/tilt/zoom cameras, they also manufacture useful devices such as the Vaddio A/V bridge, a product that functions as a hub for cameras, microphones, and TV, allowing the end user to connect their computer to these with a single USB cable.
Because the Vaddio HuddleSHOT is a new product, we haven’t yet been able to see it in action, but the specifications are published online. While it doesn’t have quite as robust of a feature set as some of the other devices mentioned above, it has some unique features that might make it the device of choice for your use case.
First of all, we will start with the drawbacks of HuddleSHOT – It doesn’t feature beam-forming microphones, and therefore it lacks speaker tracking capabilities. It sports a 1080p camera with a 2x digital zoom, (which is going to look grainy in comparison to Logitech) and a fixed camera with a 125 degree angle of view. It can also be paired with Vaddio’s new TableMIC microphones to extend the audio capture range.
On the plus side, the HUDDLEShot features IP connectivity with a web UI for remote configuration and managing larger deployments, and it is the only device mentioned here that can be powered via PoE, avoiding the need for an AC outlet (We aren’t certain how useful this feature actually is, since it will presumably always be mounted next to a TV, which requires an AC outlet).
Another thing that the Vaddio HuddleSHOT has going for it is that it is does have a cool aesthetic, and is available in both grey and black. This is the newest device out of the bunch, but given it’s lack of features, we are hoping that the cost is less than the other devices, once pricing is announced for these units.
So… Which one should I get?
Aside from the Vaddio HuddleSHOT, all of these devices have pretty similar feature sets and fall within the same price range. We have created the comparison chart above to give you an overview of the features of each system. If you are in a very small room or have people sitting almost directly to the left and right of the camera, then the Logitech MeetUp would be your best choice, due to it’s ultra-wide angle of view. If you are in an enterprise environment and you already manage PolyCom devices, then the PolyCom Studio is a no-brainer. If you want to use your all-in-one video conferencing appliance for VoIP calling without connecting it to a computer, then the Yamaha CS-700 is your only choice. As far as the Vaddio HuddleSHOT is concerned, we are waiting to see if there are any new killer features once it starts shipping, because as of now, we aren’t sure exactly what would make us want to chose this device over the others in this article.
Thanks for reading! At Z Systems, we know A/V and pro video, so if you want to purchase one of these units or need any more information, email us, click one of e-commerce links below, or give us a call!
Logitech MeetUp All-In-One 4K ConferenceCamFrom: $899.99Affordable and Compact Video Conferencing Solution with a 170° Angle of View
Polycom Studio USB 4K Video Bar Camera & SpeakerphoneRead more
Vaddio HuddleSHOT All-in-One Conferencing CameraComing Soon!
Yamaha CS-700 AV Video Sound Collaboration System for Huddle RoomsFrom: $799.00All-in-One Video Conferencing Device with Optional SIP Interface for VoIP