As the pandemic continues and employees return to their offices in different capacities, many companies are interested in setting up AV systems in their conference rooms and huddle spaces that allow for a more seamless hybrid work environment. Vendors have developed many new products to meet this need; however, the number of options and different platforms available can make this space challenging to navigate. Here we will look broadly at a few of these options and the advantages and disadvantages of each.
Deciding on a Platform
At this point, most vendors are designing their solutions for either Zoom or Teams, and this is typically a choice that needs to be made when you purchase the device. Many devices have earned certification from Microsoft or Zoom after being tested thoroughly and meeting the requirements of each platform. For the best experience, it is recommended that you use devices that have been certified.
Running off a Windows Machine
One option for setting up these spaces is to run them from a Windows computer built for just such a purpose. Using something like the HP Slice Elite G2, which offers Zoom or Teams Rooms integration, you can get set up quickly. In smaller meeting spaces like huddle rooms, you will only need to add a camera, as the integrated audio I/O should be sufficient for rooms with 4-5 participants. A basic webcam will work, but you might have a better experience using something like the Jabra Panacast, which offers up to a 180-degree field of view. Changing or replacing cameras is an advantage with these systems. Still, it can also be a disadvantage if you run into issues with USB connections that can be difficult to troubleshoot.
If you choose to use this system in a larger room, you will need to invest in a more robust audio system. This might be part of the camera hardware you use, as you will find with the Logitech Rally system.
Using an Integrated System
A different approach is to use an all-in-one solution. With these systems, there will likely be more minor troubleshooting issues since everything is integrated into fewer pieces of hardware. Although, an obvious disadvantage is that down the line if something breaks internally, you won’t have the option to swap out individual components. They may also be attractive because they require fewer cables and less clutter will be visible once the install is complete. Some options in this space include the neat. bar, which consists of the audio/video bar with a tablet for control; the DTEN D7 which has everything built into the display; and various options from Poly depending on the size of the room.
Hope For a Platform Agnostic Future
I mentioned earlier that most of these systems only allow for either Zoom or Teams, not both, but some systems propose to offer both either in a limited capacity or by way of running the software from another computer. For instance, the HP Slice with Teams has a Zoom and WebEx add-on that allows the system to join Zoom or WebEx meetings, but in my experience, this does not work as well as the platform the system was built for.
Another option to consider here is the Bose VB1 which allows users to connect their laptop via USB or wirelessly using Mersive Solstice technology. (This method requires an additional piece of hardware from Solstice called the Solstice Pod)
Finally, there are options from Poly that sound promising. With their systems running in Poly mode, you can connect to either Zoom or Teams, and other video call services.
At iuvo Technologies, we can work with you to build better collaboration spaces that enable your team to be more productive in hybrid work environments. Contact us today for more info!