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Could you name all the hardware that your conference room has or needs? I'll give you some time to think. Ready with your answer?
If that was difficult to do, I don't blame you. These things can be incredibly complex, and there's often equipment that we don't need to take up space, or things we don't know we need that leave something to be desired. But don't worry. This list will outline some of our favorite hardware tools for you to get the most out of your video conferencing experience.
Although this may seem like a no brainer, there's more than meets the eye to this. We would recommend laptops over desktops for video conferencing for a couple of reasons.
First is portability and ease of use. Today's remote workers may not spend all of their time in the office, and still want the ability to have a high-quality video conferencing experience and set up their meeting from anywhere. Unlike the old days that required a desktop running in a meeting room and only worked for those present, video conferencing software makes it easy for anyone to join regardless of location
Second is the high-quality of today's cameras in laptops. Along with their portability, most laptops have extremely high-definition webcams that would have been unheard of ten years ago. The days of buying a webcam in addition to the one already in your laptop are over (although there are a few better options out there for video conferencing).
With the highest performing processor in the Pro model to date, the MacBook Pro offers the most bang for your buck for those that prefer the Mac OS. With a Retina display, useful touch bar, and a ton of space, you'll be able to do everything you need without worrying about your computer crashing during a conference.
For those that prefer Windows, the Lenovo Yoga has all the benefits of a high-quality desktop in a smaller portable package that can be turned into a tablet when needed. The touch screen interface allows you to let your creativity shine with a built-in in stylus, or for a more hands-on feel.
You'll want to see all of those participants in your meeting clearly, so investing in a superior TV is essential. You'll want one that is large enough for those in the back to view easily, as well as having an ultra crisp display for specific detailed designs or other items you may be going over. TV's with smart capabilities are a plus, but not entirely required if you're going to be using an HDMI cable or others to connect. Although if you want to cut cords, being able to wirelessly connect and cast to your TV is an added benefit.
Your TV choice also depends on the size of your conference room. Use your budget effectively by getting one that fits well into the room, not for the largest one you can find. Placement is also key for achieving the best results; too close and you'll strain your audience's eyes, but too far and they'll have to squint.
This TV is large enough for those in the back to see, and its 4K display will clearly demonstrate any detailed images you're trying to show off. Its smart capabilities make it easy to stream or cast, in addition to its three HDMI ports.
Although you might believe that a TV alone will produce the sound you need, that often isn't the case. In order to fill your room with sound, an external speaker and microphone combination is often the best result. The sound becomes more natural to those in the room instead of coming from the single direction of the television.
A microphone is another essential tool for your video meetings. Relying on a laptop microphone to pick up the sound is usually insufficient, as well as annoying with the creation of that horrible sound of interference from multiple microphones picking up sound. With an external microphone, you'll be able to minimize voice echoing and keep your focus on your meeting at hand.
This combines an external speaker and microphone into a convenient package that's portable and simple to use without sacrificing quality. It plugs into a USB drive, allowing it to be useful for a huddle or large conference room.
Whiteboards are extremely useful for solving problems with your team. With today's technology, you can get even more out of these today than before. Smartboards possess the ability to work out problems, just like a normal whiteboard, with the added ability to digitize, save, and transmit your work to others. You'll be able to bring the collaborative environment offered by traditional whiteboards to the remote worker, bringing about a much more cohesive work environment.
The Jamboard offers the benefits of a 4K TV with the usability of a whiteboard. Easy integration into the Google Suite and live co-authoring make it stand out from the pack.
Your tech is only as strong as your weakest link, and in an office, that can often be the internet that everything depends on to run. Avoid grainy connections and lagging speed that ruins your productivity by investing in a high-quality router. You'll have a seamless connection to run video conferences easily and clearly, while never worrying if the folks on the other line can see or hear you.
One of the fastest routers on the market, the Nighthawk X10 can handle up to 45 devices with ease while providing great coverage over 2500 square feet. You'll be able to connect every device in your office, without needing to buy multiple routers to handle everything.
If you're a remote worker that still needs hardware solutions, Eero will be your best friend for your home office. This mesh network keeps connections in every room of your home fast and stable with sleek outlet beacons that are incredibly easy to install.
Sometimes it's easiest to just set up one device and go from there. If you're looking for simplicity, then there are many whole room systems that can easily integrate useful devices into one package. They also incorporate native video conferencing software for ease of use. Although this may sound confusing, we've got you covered with our more detailed explanation here in regards to Zoom Rooms, and how to set one up.
Like we referenced above, a Zoom Room is a great one stop shop hardware package that easily integrates into the Zoom platform. With custom hardware packages tailored to room sizes and needs, you'll get everything you need in one simple bundle.
However, there is a piece of hardware that can do the job of many others listed here. Using an all-in-one hardware device saves you money by combining devices into one package, as well as simplifying the whole experience of setting up a meeting. Without having to install and configure multiple devices to run with each other, you'll get your meetings started quicker and easier. The simplicity of a device with a camera, microphone, and speaker together provides an effortless experience that anyone can use in no time. Additionally, find one with plug-and-play capabilities, so all you have to do is insert a USB cable into your laptop to get started.
No other product on the market combines a 360° camera, speaker, and an eight microphone array, into such an easy-to-use package. With plug and play setup, it's easy to launch a video conference with the software of your choice.
Now that you have your hardware ideas down, here's a tool to help you set up your meeting room.