Types of Video Conferencing Equipment
There are so many bits and pieces to a Video Conferencing system that it can be overwhelming. We have compiled a rudimentary list of hardware involved in Video Conferencing. This is pretty basic, and you may want more in-depth information. Many topics are discussed in our other articles including, “Types of Video Conferencing Systems,” and, “How Does Video Conferencing Work.” You can always contact the experts at Video Conferencing Systems for an explanation customized for your situational needs.
Simply put, this is the brains of the operation. The codec is the actual piece of hardware the controls the sending and receiving of the Video Conferencing data. Literally, this is the hardware that houses the software that COmpresses and DECompresses the data, thus CODEC. There is a large amount of data that is shared between locations, and this small box is responsible for making sure that your video call is properly packaged and unwrapped so you don’t miss a beat.
Each of the major Video Conferencing manufacturers offers their version of the LCD touch control panel. Cisco has the TelePresence Touch Panel, Polycom has the Touch Control, and LifeSize has the Second Generation Phone. This control interface allows the participants at a given site to place video and voice calls, share data, and input information into the codec such as license keys and firewall configurations.
The camera is how the other participants can view your site. The camera is an integral part of the Video Conferencing experience, although not absolutely necessary if you are only viewing a presentation – such as with Guests who are watching your presentation who may not have a robust video system at their location. Some Video Conferencing systems allow users to add additional cameras to the mix. This is useful if there are multiple groups, a lot of participants, or if you are using a whiteboard or other physical object in the presentation, such as a manufacturing prototype.
You can connect your computer to many Video Conferencing systems in order to share presentations, videos, and other content. With many manufacturers, you can also connect your computer to a codec in order to set-up the codec quickly and easily by browsing to its IP address instead of using the slow, remote control input method.
DVD Player/VCR, Input/Output
Before we begin, I want to reaffirm that yes, they do still make VCRs. Some Video Conferencing systems allow you to connect a peripheral device to share, and record, videos. Just as with data-sharing from a computer, the user can allow the DVD player to display content during a video call.
This piece of the puzzle is where you view the video output. There are options for a display – your computer screen for a desktop-based solution, a video conferencing endpoint that also doubles as a computer monitor, an LCD television, or a plasma television (best for fluid motion). Many of the Video Conferencing solutions offer the Dual Display option wherein you can attach another display to the codec and choose different layout configurations to optimize the screen’s real estate.
Microphones are either one-way or omni-directional. One-way directional means that audio is only picked-up on one side of the microphone, and should be positioned accordingly. An omni-directional microphone can pick-up sound in any direction. The directionality of a microphone is manufacturer-specific. You will not have to choose between the two options when designing your system.
Microphone pods function as one-way audio, meaning that they serve only as a microphone and not as an audio output. MicPods have a typical pickup range of 10 feet. You can daisy chain the MicPods in order to increase your pickup range, which is a cost-effective way to properly mic a larger conference room.
Polycom IP 7000 Phone
The Polycom IP 7000 Phone is a space-aged HD Voice phone is designed for use with the HDX Video Conferencing systems and is a remarkable voice-only voip conference-room phone. There is a 20-foot range and it only handles the mic options while in a video call, although it handles both audio directions for a voice-only voip call.
LifeSize Saucer Phone, Audio In
The second generation LifeSize Phone touts an LCD touch screen that lets you control both video and voice calls, as well as data-sharing, and a 15-foot omni-directional microphone.
Revo Labs FLX, Audio In/Audio Out
The Revo Labs FLX wireless wonder not only looks really, really cool on your conference table, it is completely wireless. You can literally put it anywhere within 65 feet of your wireless source. The microphone is omni-directional and has a pickup range (radius) of 20 feet!
Your Video Conferencing equipment can be perched on a table or mounted. The tabletop option is self-explanatory. You will mount the camera above the display in order to replicate eye contact.
You can choose to mount the display on the wall. You have choices for your camera - mount the camera on a piece of furniture, such as a media console; you can mount the camera to the wall; or you can purchase a Video Conferencing display mount. With the display mount option, there is a place for your display(s), codec, and camera – each in an ideal configuration to achieve maximum Video Conferencing success.
Some companies need their Video Conferencing solution to be mobile – whether it is a hospital taking it from room-to-room, or a company that shares a conference room and wishes to store it when not in use. For this setup, it is highly recommended to use a video cart. This mobile solution puts your Video Conferencing system on wheels, like an IV cart, so that you can simply unplug the system and wheel it on to the next location.