While there is a host of many different types of video conferencing cameras and video conference solutions in the market today which work as a BYOD solution where you connect via USB to your computer which drives the conference software of choice such as Microsoft teams, Zoom, Webex, Gotomeeting, Starleaf, BlueJeans, Google meet and many more.
There is also a new bread of products like above with a built in operating system, therefore not requiring a PC/Mac to drive the conference call as these are all in one appliance where you can join your Microsoft Teams or Zoom call with one button joining.
Some of these new bread devices even have the ability to act a a self contained terminals with everything needed to jump straight into a call or connect via USB if preferred when wanting to drive the conference from a laptop PC/Mac.
You then have the two types of scenarios offered at the moment with the current technology, which is front facing cameras in the front of the meeting room or 360 degree video conferencing cameras which sit in the middle of the table.
The 360 degree video conferencing has concept has been around for a few years and has grown massively in popularity with products like the Kandao Meeting Pro and the Meeting OWl leading the way. Unfortunately the Meeting Owl Pro is only available via a online purchase in the US and does not have local support like the Kandao Meeting Pro in Africa due to the distributor handling all the warranty and technical support within Africa.
These cameras are very unique in the sense where everyone in the table is shown to the other side with direct eye contact and therefore making users feel like they are sitting in the same room as each participant is seen in the video ribbon at the top of the screen and as a participant speaks the camera with track and zoom onto the presenter allowing a very free flowing conversation where you can really get that in room feeling. Also, you have an amazing audio quality due to you sitting closer to the device in the middle of the table and everyone can see and hear each other better. Another nice feature is the hard button controls on the unit on the table should the remote go astray, which we know happens all too often and can be very frustrating if you have to walk to the front of the room.
On the other hand, you have your front facing conferencing cameras and video bars like the Logitech Rally Bar, Logitech Meetup, Poly Studio, Poly Studio X30 and X50, the Yamaha video bar and even the new Bose video conferencing bar.
While being in the industry for nearly 20 years we have seen all types of new conference cameras and solutions and we feel there is some disadvantages of the front facing solutions as above.
- Audio comes from the speaker in front while you may be further back at the table in the room missing what is being said and while participants in the front of the table finding it too loud from their position.
- Microphones also sit in the video bar and don’t have the ability of picking up voice pickup as well as a microphones placed in the middle of the table like the 360 degree cameras which have many microhpones built into the sleek design with the speakers of the signal in front of you.
- While people around the table are speaking the far side participants can feel left out of the discussion as the video captured is the side of a person’s face and no direct face and eye contact is experienced unless looking at the TV and therefore users experience a loss from typical meetings around a table.
- The natural way of having meetings in a room for hundreds of years has been the ability to sit and look at one another in the room around the table while speaking. Our new technology like front facing cameras somewhat change this experience and it is therefore not as natural and productive in video meetings.
In our opinion and after testing all the cameras in the market place we feel that the 360 degree video conferencing camera solutions are a far better solution for your meeting room as you really get that in room feeling of everyone being present in person from all participants perspective in the video call and the Kandao Meeting PRo is the superior choice here with its 8k resolution video sensor, built in operating system therefore allowing instant calls to be made with no pc needed from a host of pre installed platforms like Zoom, Ms Teams, Skype, Starleaf, BlueJeans, Webex etc. Also the unit can act a a BYOD solution in USB mode so it does both for the clients needs if they do want to connect their laptop. Lastly the Kandao meeting pro is superior to the Meeting OWL pro as the image sensor is far better, audio output and the 8 x beam forming microphone array has a better test voice pick-up and the system has an auto update built in so you always have the latest firmware. As a bonus the Kandao Meeting Pro can also be used to record local meetings in the boardroom onto a SD card while not in a call as it only records actual activity in that specific meeting room, and therefore doubles as an in room, meeting recording device that records video and audio from every participant with eye contact and highlights and tracks the speaker and presenter at all times. This can then be uploaded to a computer, server or cloud account for future use.
The above features have made the Kandao meeting pro the choice for thousands of meeting rooms based on the above points as they want the best possible solution for the meeting room and the Kandao Meeting Pro is priced lower than all the competition too which is a great bonus.
At the end of the day the video bar solutions may appeal more to some users and the Logitech Rally Bar, Logitech Meetup and Poly Studio are great options for this kind of setup.
But, we recommend you do yourself a favour and experience the new technology of 360 degree conferencing with the AI capabilities that will make the product better and better as time goes by even though its amazing right now as it stands.
The above products are available from our channel parters across Africa and we would be more than happy to advise you further on your mission of getting the best solution for your specific environment.