How Do I Choose the Best Video Conferencing System?
It’s 9:55 and you have to be in London by 10:00. You’re still in California. Have a teleportation device? Probably not. But you do have a video conferencing system with the call to London scheduled and ready to connect.
That’s the advantage of video conferencing; scenarios like that are happening all of the time. No need to pay for expensive trips when video conferencing equipment in your own office is just as good as any face-to-face meeting. There’s also no worrying about leaving important documents behind in your desk drawer—it happens to the best of us.
Video conferencing lets remote offices collaborate in real time. Features like content sharing enables multiple conference participants to pass files back-and-forth, and edit them or notate them immediately. Much better than waiting to receive a fax!
Applications for Every Industry
It’s not just SOHOs, SMBs and enterprises that are benefiting from video conferencing. Hospitals, jailhouses and classrooms are also realizing the return on investment of integrating video conferencing systems into their routines.
Doctors can reach patients in their own homes, rather than making patients come into the office or having a nurse travel off-site every day. This saves the healthcare industry money and is more convenient to patients. Surgeons can connect to an expert or specialist immediately, letting the person at the remote site see into the surgery room and offer lifesaving advice.
Media carts specially designed for hospitals or nursing homes make portable video conferencing easier than ever. Visiting relatives in hospital rooms or assisted living is as easy as turning on the system.
Government & Law
Say that an inmate has a hearing. He or she is driven to the courthouse to see the judge. The officers and vehicles involved in this transportation process are pricey. It also removes important personnel from the jailhouse.
Judges and inmates can interact without having to transport anyone off-site through video conferencing. Systems specifically designed for law enforcement or public use are ideal for this use. They can withstand attempts at vandalism, plus offer unique features like only allowing the caller to speak or hang up the call.
Field trip! It’s not always possible to fit a special trip into the budget. Take the classroom anywhere around the globe with video conferencing. Let your students interact with scientists, field experts, business professionals or anyone else. Experience the world as never before.
Video conferencing systems can be mounted on carts and rolled from room to room like any A/V equipment. Systems with intuitive interfaces make it simple for teachers and professors to interact with and control the video conferences.
Piecing it Together
Video conferencing systems are typically made up of a codec, display, camera, speakers, microphones and an interface. The interface is usually a remote control or connected computer.
Systems are available in bundles with all of the components included. Some of these bundles also feature a stand and mounting equipment. Purchasing the pieces separately lets integrators and others with hardware experience customize their video conferencing solution.
Desktop systems can turn a PC or computer into a versatile video conferencing machine. Cloud-based systems are ideal for laptops for taking video conferencing on the road.
Powerful Sharing & Collaboration Features
Codecs that support HD 1080p video can deliver image details with lifelike clarity. No blurry pictures or having to squint at the screen. The crisper the colors and details on the display, the more inviting and natural the conversations appear.
Build or purchase a video conferencing system with dual monitors to share content and interact with remote participants at the same time. Assuming the codec supports simultaneous content sharing and dual displays, this is a powerful set up for collaboration on documents or presenting media. Participants at all sites can see the slideshow or multimedia in real-time, plus the remote participants on the other screen.
Multipoint & MCUs
A typical video conferencing system can support point-to-point communications right out of the box. In other words, connecting with one remote site at a time. Multipoint expands those capabilities, enabling multiple sites or points to connect to the same virtual meeting.
Some codecs can be licensed to support multipoint. A business may not need multipoint right away, so licensing lets the company pay for the feature later when they actually need it.
An MCU, or multipoint control unit, is an external device that can be connected to a video conferencing network. The unit supports multipoint conferences. When a system is licensed for multipoint, that system has to be a part of the conference in order for multipoint to work. This can take up resources, which is why having a device like an MCU dedicated to supporting multipoint can be important.
A Protocol for This, A Protocol for That
Protocols control how video conferencing systems communicate with each other. A protocol is a language that the codec uses to translate signals from the network or remote systems. Making sure the protocols are compatible is important to the vitality of your video conferencing network. Video network standards like SIP and H.323 are widely used.
H.264 is another protocol that is often mentioned. This protocol defines how video and media are transmitted over the network. It uses a minimal amount of bandwidth, while still being able to produce full HD video. Wideband audio with echo cancellation and noise reduction features is also important to those seeking a professional video conferencing experience.
Designing the Meeting Room
A meeting room that’s perfectly suited for real-life conferences might be unsuited for virtual conferences. Fancy artwork and glossy furniture that impresses visitors can be distracting when translated by a camera to a high-definition display. Background office noises can be picked up by microphones and amplified, whereas it is easily ignored in other cases.
Video conferencing has a whole rulebook full of etiquette for the room and participants before and after the meeting. Equipment has to be tested and the room needs to be arranged. As far as participants are concerned, the number one rule is to remember that you’re on camera! The camera sees all.
Return on Investment
Research and proper installation are keys to receiving a return on investment. Without knowing what to expect or how to use the video conferencing equipment, it’s now just fun hardware to look at.
Video conferencing lets small businesses with limited budgets interact with clients and customers anywhere, face-to-face, in real time. It levels the playing field with large businesses or enterprises that can afford to send personnel overseas or to conferences.
Meeting with clients or coworkers to discuss project proposes has never been easier. Documents can be sent to all departments and branches of the company, from coast to coast, letting everyone participate in the development of critical data. A proposal can go from creation to acceptance within a few hours.
Like was mentioned earlier, it’s not just businesses that benefit from video conferences. Any organization or entity that routinely spends on travel and transportation can dramatically cut those expenditures.
There are free services that promise an even greater return on investment. The problem with those services is that they do not receive the same support or offer the same features as business-class video conferencing systems. Free services are better suited for the consumer market, where timing and professionalism are not important. It’s incredibly difficult to maintain a business-wide video conferencing network through a free service.
The latest video conferencing articles in our blog:
The software reinforces Polycom’s commitment to ensuring its solutions offer the best Microsoft unified communications interoperability in the industry. Microsoft Lync was recently updated to “Skype for Business,” requiring a new certification process by manufacturers. Polycom goes beyond this certification, offering unique features such as native content and direct connect support, which will be available in the Group series 5.0 software.
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AVer announced the new VC520 video conferencing system in June . Now it’s available and we’ve come up with five reasons why this is one of the best video conferencing systems out there for small- to medium-sized businesses
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We set up the Yealink VC400 in one of our meeting rooms and gave it a try. The system includes a wide breadth of features that are not normally built into an on-premise video conferencing system. USB call recording and an MCU, for example, are already onboard. Similar systems require licensing or additional hardware for these features, so we wanted to see how well they really work.
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The video conference is underway. One of the participants says something important and you furiously try copying what he or she said into a piece of paper. By the time you’re done writing that note, you’ve already lost pace with the rest of the conversation. Rather than derailing the conference by asking everyone to backtrack, you struggle to keep up, and that one note has cost you a lot of productivity points
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Step one: buy the video conferencing system. Step two: set it up. The first step can be accomplished with a few mouse clicks. The second step, from unboxing to operation, is where a lot of people stumble.
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On phone and video conference calls, background distractions can be detrimental to productivity and they are just downright frustrating. That’s why Polycom has introduced “Acoustic Fence” technology.
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Polycom’s latest solution sets out to solve the problems caused by meetings where participants are clustered to one part of the room or continually in motion. The Polycom EagleEye Producer can tell the camera exactly where to pan and tilt, and how to zoom, in order to perfectly frame the participants.
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Let’s go through a few tips for maximizing your video conferencing experiences and getting the most out of them.
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