July 17, 2023
With all the technological advances, video conferencing is now virtually replacing in-person meetings. To the extent that even businesses prefer this model as their sales reps are closing deals, developers can interact better with a distant coworker, and other employees can deliver what is required all over video conferences, thus helping companies save thousands of dollars.
If you are a small business and don’t have the budget to buy a high-end video conferencing system, or even if you do, you can turn any room in your home /office into a virtual meeting space.
It’s becoming more accessible than ever to connect with people worldwide and hold meetings virtually. Interacting with customers, colleagues, and business leaders worldwide through video meetings is becoming an increasingly popular form of communication.
There are plenty of choices in the realm of virtual meeting technology, but it’s essential to pick the right one for your business.
Video conferencing is necessary for anyone running a local business or a startup trying to get a global presence. In fact, you can’t be successful without it. This guide will look at the essential equipment for a conference room.
Let’s look at them one by one.
Video displays are used in conference rooms, boardrooms, and other places where people gather. They provide a visual interface to information and entertainment. The main types include LCD monitors, plasma screens, LED panels, and projectors. These devices are usually connected to computers via a computer monitor connection cable.
There are three major categories of video display units: LCD, Plasma, and LED. Pick one based on your budget and room type.
An LCD (liquid crystal display) television is a flat panel display (FPD), invented in 1969 at Hitachi Ltd., Japan. It uses liquid crystals sandwiched between two glass plates and is illuminated from behind by a backlight. An FPD is an electronic visual display device consisting of a matrix array of pixels, each pixel capable of displaying only one color. The first commercial use was in calculators. In the early 1980s, they were introduced to televisions.
A plasma display panel (PDP) is a flat panel display technology based on gas discharge cells. A PDP works by using ultra-violet radiation generated by gas discharges to excite phosphor materials in individual picture elements (pixels). The phosphors then emit visible light in the red, green, or blue wavelength ranges.
LED stands for Light Emitting Diode. LEDs are solid state devices that convert electricity directly into light via photovoltaics. Unlike conventional incandescent bulbs, fluorescent lights, and halogen lamps, LEDs do not require filament heating, thus eliminating the need for complicated cooling systems. In 2022 LEDs are preferred for conferencing video displays because of the ease of availability at a reasonable price, and it satisfies most of the attributes of a good video display.
Some other options are
Digital Light Processing (DLP) is a digital micromirror device (DMD) projector technology developed by Texas Instruments Incorporated (TI). A reflective spatial light modulator (SLM) reflects incident light from its rear surface to project images. DLP projectors have advantages over competing technologies, including higher resolution, lower power consumption, and smaller size.
Laser Television (LTV) is a laser projection system that projects high-quality video content onto a screen. LTV is similar to laser disc players, except that the laser beam is launched instead of reflected off a spinning optical disc. The laser beam is scanned across the entire screen, much like a raster scan, and the image is updated 60 times per second.
Projection TVs work by projecting a small image onto a larger screen using either a front or rear projection system. Front projections use a mirror to reflect the image from a projector onto the wall or ceiling. Rear projection systems place the projector behind a semi-transparent screen. The image is created by an internal lamp that shines light through the lens of the projector. The image is focused on by mirrors before hitting the screen.
The projector can adjust the projected screen size, and the focus adjuster can display even small text from documents sharply.
With all the recent limelight (read pandemic), video conferencing software and mobile apps have received a lot of attention.
Sometimes choosing one from all the options requires understanding what they offer, primarily when investing. Mostly it depends on your business requirements, but security and scalability are also very important considerations.
If the video conferencing tool provides many features but is not secure and scalable, you might put your business at risk. It doesn’t matter if you are a small business or a large organization, for work or personal.
Decide on the usage. Will these be small, in-person events, or will they be larger and more in-depth webinars or online classrooms?
Different video conferencing applications offer different features, depending on how your business uses video conferencing. For online classrooms, features such as recording, level of interactivity, and mobile experience are key.
The ability to handle a large number of participants while maintaining high-quality video and screen sharing are both important features required for webinars.
There are two types of video conferencing software – web-based and desktop-based. Web-based software is easier to use than desktop-based software, but Desktop-based software is generally more powerful and offers greater functionality; it’s evident that both will require internet access.
Ease of use is another crucial element when choosing a web conferencing tool. You don’t want your end-user to have difficulty downloading the software and joining the online meeting.
You must have a product demo, even if it’s just a simple YouTube video with your product being used in real life. You’ll want it to be simple for the audience, so make sure they know what you’re saying and how to get around any roadblocks.
Finally, Have a support system, and don’t overlook the customer support quality and availability the conference tool provides.
It will be very useful when facing issues between your sessions and needing answers quickly.
So the tool that provides customer support when needed handles customer issues efficiently, and ensures that your webinars, meetings, and online classroom sessions go smoothly should be prioritized. Of course, if your business can afford In-house technical IT support, it will be helpful, and you can focus on your business.
Zoom is an online platform that offers free video conferencing software for both business and personal use. You can connect with people worldwide using their desktop, laptop, tablet, or mobile device. Their service is simple and works well on any internet connection. Zoom’s features include screen sharing, audio calling, whiteboard drawing, webcam viewing and recording, file transfer, chat rooms, and much more. The Free option has limitations on the number of attendees.
Microsoft Teams is a collaboration tool developed by Microsoft. The main features include chat, file sharing, video calls, web conferencing, and much more. In addition, it is also integrated with Office 365 apps such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, etc.
Microsoft Teams has become a powerful collaboration tool, especially for businesses.
Google Meet is a free video-conferencing tool that lets you meet with up to 50 participants at once. It allows you to share screens, chat, and even record meetings.
The new Google Meet is now available to all G Suite customers. It was previously only available to businesses who had paid for Google Apps for Work.
It is fast becoming a competitor to Zoom and Skype.
Skype is a popular video conferencing app that was first released in 2003. It is owned by Microsoft and has been downloaded over 100 million times since its release. Skype is known for being inexpensive and reliable. Its interface is simple, making it easy to learn. As a bonus, skype allows users to make phone calls.
Discord is a gaming platform developed by Discord Technologies. Discord was created to allow gamers to play games together regardless of location. Discord offers voice and text channels for communication and integrated game servers for playing multiplayer games. Discord is also great for business collaboration as it can be used to host meetings and conferences. So if your business is around gaming, this is the one you may like.
GoToMeeting is an online meeting tool compatible with Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and Linux operating systems. GoToMeeting offers unlimited conference space and is perfect for small businesses that need to hold discussions between employees. It is also a good option for schools that want to conduct class sessions online.
Webex is a cloud-based communications solution that allows users to communicate with each other while working remotely. It is ideal for small businesses looking to collaborate with clients or colleagues across different time zones without traveling. Webex offers various tools, including audio/video conferencing, screen sharing, document editing, whiteboards, task management, and messaging.
VSee is a video conferencing program that is designed specifically for Telemedicine. So if your business is around healthcare, this would be a great solution. It is a cross-platform product that can work on computers, tablets, smartphones, and smart TVs.
How should you choose the microphone and speaker system for my conference room? Should you go for good quality or cheap ones?
When setting up a meeting room, selecting the right equipment is crucial. The speakers and microphones play a vital role in the event’s success. They determine whether the participants can hear each other clearly and affect the attendees’ overall experience.
Some of the factors to consider when choosing the right microphone and speaker system for your conference room are: the size of the space, the number of attendees, the type of audio source (e.g., computer, phone), and of course, your budget as with audio systems prices vary a lot.
You can go for a ceiling-mounted sound system with multiple speakers fitted on the ceiling and have 360° coverage, a simple soundbar, or a combination of both. The right audio equipment can improve the virtual meeting experience for the attendees. It will minimize echo, feedback, and other noises making the virtual meeting experience even better.
Speaker quality refers to how well the microphone works. Microphones that do not work properly could cause background noise, loss of sound clarity, and even make people uncomfortable. A great speaker should have a clear voice that does not crack or distort.
The mic’s size is important because it determines what type of sound quality you get. A small mic is best if you want a professional-sounding conference call. However, a larger mic may be sufficient if you just need something simple to record yourself.
Pickup pattern refers to where the mic picks up sound from. There are two types of pickup patterns: omnidirectional and unidirectional. Omnidirectional mics pick up sound equally in all directions. Unidirectional mics only pick up sound in front of them.
Noise reduction is essential because it reduces unwanted sounds around the microphone. These unwanted sounds can range from wind to other noises from people nearby.
Sound level relates to the volume of sound coming out of the mic. The higher the volume, the louder the sound. Lowering the sound level makes the audio quieter.
Audio volume refers to the amount of sound coming from the speakers. Higher volumes can be heard over long distances, while lower volumes are easier to hear at close distance.
Frequency response refers to the frequency range of the mic. The wider the range, the more accurate the recording. The narrower the range, the less accurate the recording.
What qualities should we look for in a camera for the conference room?
The quality of a camera depends on its resolution and color fidelity. High-resolution meeting cams provide good image quality, but they are usually expensive. On the other hand, low-cost webcams offer crisp images, but their resolutions aren’t high enough.
You need to decide whether you want a webcam that can record HD (high definition) video. or whether you need a webcam that supports audio and video chat without HD. There are webcams with built-in speakers, so you don’t have to plug headphones or external speakers into your computer.
Let’s see the attributes of the web camera for a conference room.
There are two types of cameras: Fixed-lens cameras and Moving-Lens Cameras. Moving lens camera auto-focuses on the person who is speaking.
There are three types of lenses: Wide angle lens, Normal lens, Telephoto lens
Resolution is a digital image sensor’s number of pixels per inch (PPI). A higher resolution means greater detail.
If you are going to do video recording, you need a camera that supports 1080p HD video recording. You can always edit the video later on.
A good camera will capture images in low-light environments. If you plan to shoot indoors, especially at night, make sure you buy a model that is sensitive enough to capture the details in dark conditions.
Image quality refers to how much noise is present in the picture. Noise causes random variations in color or brightness in the picture. Lower levels of noise mean cleaner images.
Good to have features like autofocus, flash, and Wi-Fi connectivity are also important but may require extra investment.
Control Panel is an application to conduct online meetings and connect with team members. You can schedule a meeting with just a click, and you can view the agenda of the meeting and other features without leaving the page. You can also send emails to team members right from the web interface.
The most important feature of the bundled video conferencing package like Zoom Room is the convenience of not having to worry about making your meetings run smoothly.
Control Panel is recommended as it gives you full functionality and easy control over your virtual meetings. Zoom rooms need to be on an iPad, Android Tab, or another compatible device to be associated with a control panel.
The best way to control your Google Hardware for Meets is to use deep integrations with your G Suite account. With just one click, you can join meetings, present from your screen, or wirelessly register the meeting room with Google calendar.
How do you manage conference room scheduling at your company? If you don’t have a system in place, you’ll need to spend time updating schedules manually each month. This is highly inefficient and costly.
Companies seek to save time and money wherever possible in today’s busy world. They want to eliminate manual processes and automate them instead. One way to achieve this is through the use of software solutions.
A conference room scheduler is a tool that helps keep track of meetings and events in your office. You can use it to schedule upcoming meetings, assign tasks to team members, and even send reminders about things you need to do before they’re due. It’s a great way to plan your day and ensure nothing falls through the cracks.
Scheduling software automates room bookings and stores schedules in a database. The software also generates detailed reports showing each conference room’s usage history and availability.
Using this can increase your meeting efficiency and give you better control over the timings. Impromptu meetings can be quickly scheduled in a huddle room.
The schedule of a room is visible on the display panel fixed outside the room. You can have a specific format and show other details like participant names, meeting titles, and timings.
A few years back, normal physical whiteboards with marker pens were the norm, but now interactive whiteboards have become essential. It is a great way to enhance the presentation experience for attendees. You can draw, write and doodle through the presentation. You can engage your audience with a presentation that has some fun with slides and other elements. People love those kinds of presentations. It is a perfect tool for brainstorming during meetings.
IWBs offer many benefits over traditional whiteboards, including:
• No need for markers or paint
• It can be shared easily with others
• Easier to move around
• Easy to clean
• Great for group projects and meetings
• Great for drawing or sketching
• Great for offices, classrooms, conference rooms, and more.
Google Jamboard is a collaboration tool that is designed specifically for educational purposes. It offers many features, including digital whiteboards, video conferencing, screen sharing, cloud storage, and much more.
Samsung’s Flip is a digital whiteboard that comes equipped with a projector. It connects to devices via HDMI cable. It also includes a wireless keyboard and mouse. It provides a full-screen viewing experience, and its touchscreen makes drawing and writing easy.
Cisco WebEx board is a web-based system that enables users to collaborate online using their computers and mobile devices. It supports both audio and video conferencing. It also integrates with existing systems and applications.
Microsoft Surface Hub is a multi-touch display that is ideal for presentations. It can connect to various devices and software. It also comes with touch input capabilities.
A wireless presentation system lets you share content from multiple sources like smartphones, tabs, and laptops to a large-screen display. It’s a way to easily share what you’re viewing on your tablet, smartphone, etc., with a larger screen without having to plug anything in.
You can use this to create, save and share ideas, and collaborate on projects. It’s particularly useful in a group project or for making presentations.
There are several popular wireless presentation systems like:
• Barco WePresent
• BenQ Instashow, and
• Polycom Pano
To have a great conference room meeting experience, you should get the right technology and tools, whether you use video conferencing for peer-to-peer web meetings, webinars, sales demonstrations, or webcasts.
While P2P web meetings are easy to use, but when you want to scale up your conferencing needs, you will find that it is not all plug and play, and you may need someone tech savvy to connect all the devices.
There will be times when you face issues due to the many variables and subtle differences, especially when you have devices from different brands.
If you’re overwhelmed by the amount of information or don’t know where to start, it’s a good idea to consult an expert.