Today’s workplace is all about collaboration. With team members increasingly spread out between different locations and the rise in huddle rooms, bring-your-own device (BYOD) and anytime/anywhere work culture, video conferencing is a necessity that just keeps on growing.
For effective collaboration in these nimble environments, teams need to be able to talk, share files and screens and demonstrate ideas on a whiteboard quickly, seamlessly and intuitively. Over the last 18 months with work-from-home and remote learning becoming the norm during the pandemic, the demand for collaboration tools has ballooned — as have the number of options. Ironically, one of the main hurdles to ease of collaboration is the sheer number of platforms out there, many of them new, largely because of a lack of adherence to existing standards for conference-type collaboration.
“Today’s end-users tend to want their solutions to work with everything, but it’s not that simple,” says SYNNEX design sales engineer Mike Tindall. He notes that a new generation of conferencing platforms has risen to the forefront at lightning speed and users have flocked to them, without sufficient knowledge of the existing technology and protocols. In just a short amount of time, AV integrators have had to come up with solutions to the “work with everything” dilemma: a combination of cloud services (such as Poly’s RealConnect for Microsoft Teams or Pexip), one-touch dial service, which Pexip also provides, and other video conferencing solutions.
As a distributor of some of the most trusted and relevant solutions in the collaboration space, SYNNEX COLLABSolv is uniquely positioned to advise its resellers and end-users on the best video-conferencing solutions for their individual needs.
As a means to visually and aurally communicate with your team members, a video conferencing solution solves a number of problems, not least how to facilitate a great meeting experience with high quality sound and video over a stable network. It should allow effective communication between the corresponding group size, be that a large team of coworkers, a group of students, or a small work-from-home team or huddle space. It might even enable a flexible hybrid meeting situation, where some attendees are in the room and others are offsite, or hyflex classroom. And it should be easy to install. Rather than trying to cover all bases or scenarios, it is far simpler to pick a horse and ride with it; so make a single choice of platform — Microsoft Teams is a dependable choice, given its long history — and build out from there.
Several exceptional and innovative collaboration camera solutions exist, and SYNNEX COLLABSolv not only distributes some of the leading hardware, but has the experience and breadth of knowledge to advise our customers on the most beneficial setups for their unique needs as well as how to navigate issues such as compatibility, connectivity, and network-related demands.
Several power players exist or have emerged and quickly adapted to the increasing consumer demands. The following are hardware recommendations for some of the more common video conferencing situations:
Personal workspaces/work from home
The Poly P21 personal meeting display is a single device that includes a camera, display, microphone, speakers and lighting, as well as one-touch keys for answering and muting calls. It’s an excellent solution for at-home video conferencing that utilizes DisplayLink to connect to your computer via USB., The Poly P15 soundbar with built-in camera is a good fit for older laptops; it also uses USB to connect to your computer but is not as processor intensive as the P21. The Poly P5 is a low-cost camera and mic solution that’s excellent for at-home use.
Small rooms/huddle spaces
The Poly X30 and X50 all-in-one “video bar” devices can run a number of different applications such as a Teams or Zoom room, or it can run as a standards-based end space as well. The X50 has great audio up to 20 feet out; however, the camera’s 5X digital zoom is better suited for up to 12 feet as it starts to get grainy at distances too much beyond that. Logitech MeetUp is also a good all-in-one camera and speaker/microphone setup for small rooms.
The Poly auto-tracking E70 USB is a great choice for medium-sized rooms, as is the Poly G7500, a modular system that can be configured with a variety of camera options. The Logitech Rally Bar is a recommended all-in-one solution for medium-sized rooms, featuring excellent tracking capabilities and great audio. AVer’s NDI-ready autotracking TR311HN PTZ camera is an excellent choice as well.
Larger spaces/education lecture halls
Vaddio’s NDI-ready RoboSHOT 12E NDI or the RoboSHOT 30E NDI are broadcast-quality PTZ cameras that are excellent for large rooms. In a larger space, the different audio and video components tend to be separated out. For example, in a Microsoft Teams room a Poly G85T camera can be augmented with a Bose ES1 audio solution with a Sennheiser ceiling mic array (or arrays, depending on the size of the room; one Sennheiser mic array would cover a 30 x 25 foot room). A Poly G7500 with one-touch dialing allows you to communicate with different solutions, and can be paired with a ClearOne DSP mixer for USB audio back to your codec. In larger educational situations, you generally need more sound and more cameras. That’s where NDI comes into play, so you can have several different cameras looking at a bunch of different things. For professors who like to write on a whiteboard (vs. using a collaboration board), Logitech’s Scribe whiteboard camera is ideal, as it’s positioned above the whiteboard and gets converted to the feed, so when people see the content in a high-res format, as if remote students are in the room, it’s squared up like it would be on a digital collaboration board.
Mobile meeting spaces/outdoors
A recent popular development are UCC carts, such as those from Ergotron, Avteq and Legrand, which offer flexible collaboration in a ready-to-go, movable unit. While they may not provide as exceptional an experience as a purpose-built solution for a specific room, the fact that they’re portable is a bonus in situations like higher education, conferencing and for outdoor use when social distancing is priority.
While most of the newer solutions are USB-based for easy connection to a PC, in some cases — notably in larger spaces — it might be necessary to use HDMI cables, which can extend much further than USB cables, or utilize one of the newer USB extenders.
As a distribution partner to the brands it carries, SYNNEX COLLABSolv provides additional benefits such as resources to its resellers and end-users to help them equip and grow their businesses; vendor solutions and services in the form of microsites; vendor loyalty programs; financing services; a gold seal support for help with installation and post-sales support; and a team of UC design engineers for assistance with room designs. SYNNEX COLLABSolv is dedicated to furthering the usage and accessibility of collaboration cameras and supporting our valued partners in connecting with today’s growing and motivated client base. Click here for a Collaboration Bar Product comparison.
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