Teleconference, or simply teleconferencing, is a technology driven meeting format. Teleconferences are usually done over the phone or via video to link two persons or two teams together to facilitate communication. This special meeting format requires all participants to have teleconference equipment to maximise the effects of a teleconference.
In this article we go through everything you need to know about teleconferencing and how to best choose your teleconference equipment. Feel free to click through the different sections of this guide:
- How do you choose your teleconference equipment?
- What are the best teleconference equipment brands?
- What products are offered on the market?
Using teleconferences makes sense for your business since teleconferencing makes your team more efficient. This type of meeting done with proper teleconference equipment are perfect for teams that can be further apart to work efficiently together. The development of teleconferencing systems and video conferencing software has made it easier to communicate and collaborate across borders, time zones and teams. The proper teleconference equipment can also increase your overall productivity. Teleconferences can also be used to organise business events. Switching online for your business events will drop your costs and make it easier for everyone to participate.
How do you choose your teleconference equipment?
This will sound simple and basic but before jumping directly to the buying phase, you need to assess your needs in terms of equipment. If your business plans a couple of online meetings with maximum 4 participants, you will adjust the equipment you might need. You also need to be able to reflect on the long-term use of teleconferences in your business. You want to avoid investing in equipment that satisfies specific needs to change a couple of months later to satisfy different needs.
The first big question you need to answer is the conference or meeting room size. The equipment you might need is not the same if we are talking small meetings rooms and big board size meeting room. The type of camera and microphone you need for this size of rooms will not be the same.
Linked to the size of the room, you need to think about room acoustics. Is your office located in a noisy neighbourhood? Is your conference room located close to a noisy open space? If this is the case, the type of microphone you might buy will be different. If you want to have decent audio quality in a big room, you might need to invest in specialised microphones to give everyone in the room a chance to be heard.
If you plan on having an online conference using video, we suggest investing in special gear. Too many older webcams or video equipment use outdated 720px resolution which can lead to grainy or pixelated images. We are used to high definition video quality and we would therefore advise for 4K equipment. Video quality is important to the meeting quality as well as the collaboration potential.
Technology is useful until it gets too complicated to be understood properly by your employees. Investing in a complicated teleconference system and equipment can lead to employees not using your solutions. You want to hit the sweet spot between high video quality and ease of use.
What are the best teleconference equipment brands?
You can find many brands that can provide you with video and teleconference equipment. Brands like Logitech, Polycom, ezTalks, Owllabs and others specialise in this king of equipment.
Teleconference equipment by Logitech
Logitech is a well-known brand in the sector created in 1981. The swiss company is focused on innovation and quality and provides innovative computer peripherals such as cordless and laser mouses. Logitech is not such offering computer specific products but also products linked to music, gaming, and video. Many Logitech products can help you run successful online meetings and teleconferences. The company offers presentation remotes, webcams, headsets as well as speakers. Logitech is also well-known for their specialised teleconference and video conference equipment. They offer equipment for huddle rooms and large conference rooms. The price range for this hardware is $400 to $5.000.
Teleconference equipment by Polycom
Poly, the company born from the fusion between Polycom and Plantronics, is an American company specialised in hardware and software to better human connection and collaboration. Poly offers businesses specialised gear like headsets, video conferencing hardware and phones. At Redback we trust in Poly’s hardware for our huddle rooms by using their Poly Studio solution. This system combines great video quality and audio to provide the perfect in room experience. Poly also offers dedicated teleconference services to ensure the best conferencing quality for your business.
Teleconference equipment by ezTalks
ezTalks is also a main actor on the market. The company from Hong-Kong provides companies with full room solutions. They offer hardware for meeting rooms from 1 to 30 people with specific accessories like speakerphones, cameras, and software.
Teleconference equipment by Owllabs
Owllabs is a relatively new company on the market that produces very specialised teleconference equipment. Based in the US they offer 360° video conference hardware that focuses automatically on the meeting participant that is talking. This system can be used in the centre of your meeting table and the 360° camera helps keeping everyone involved in the meeting. Prices for Owllabs products vary between $799 USD and $999 USD (they seem to offer their products only for the US for the moment).
Teleconference equipment by Cisco Webex
Cisco Webex is known on the market for their teleconferencing software. They also provide companies with hardware available as a service which means that you do not need to own the equipment. Cisco Webex specialises in focused products such as dedicated online conferencing desk devices, board screens and room screens.
What products are offered on the market?
As you might have already read, we are fans of Poly and Logitech products. That’s why if you want to have the best piece of equipment out there, we would go for the Polycom RealPresence products.
With this range, Polycom offers a wide range of solutions in an overall package delivered to you. They offer the Group 310, 500 and 700 which are different versions of the same package. Those packages include the following patented technologies: EagleEye camera (facial recognition camera to follow meeting participants more accurately), RealPresence Touch (a touch screen that allows for simple one-touch calling), Polycom NoiseBlock and Polycom Pano (enables seamless wireless sharing between four users at once). The prices start at $8,000 with the Group 310, $15,000 for the the Group 500 and $22,000 for the Group 700.
Cisco Webex DX Series
The Cisco DX Series are dedicated screens mounted with camera to offer a seamless teleconferencing and video conferencing experience. Cisco offers them as touch screens which allows your team to annotate, co-create, and collaborate with ease. They offer the Cisco Webex DX80 as a 23’’ LCD screen with simple HDMI inputs as well as the Cisco Webex Desk Pro with a 27’’ LCD screen and more advanced functionalities. Prices for the Cisco products are harder to find since they offer their products as services.
Lifesize Icon Series
Lifesize is known in the market for their high-definition cameras which deliver 4K video. Their 4K products can be found in the Icon series with the Icon 300, Icon 500, and Icon 700 products. The Icon 300 product is dedicated to huddle rooms with an ultra-wide lens, noise reduction audio and simple touchscreen. The prices for this equipment start at $5,500. The Lifesize 500 was specially developed for standard meeting rooms and is particularly impressive thanks to it’s 4K capability. The prices for this product start at $8,999. Finally, the Icon 700 is made to adapt to larger board rooms and also comes with outstanding 4K video. Pricing for this equipment starts at $12,999.
At Redback Connect we love Logitech products and the range we can promote is the MeetUp. This product offers an all-in-one conferencecam with an ultra-wide lens for small rooms. The audio and camera adapts to your meeting as it happens and enables you to have natural conversations. The pricing is also very good for the features with prices starting at $1,599.
ezTalks Meet Series
With ezTalks Meet products you will find the perfect solution that fits your room size as well as your meeting types. Those products can be operated with smartphones, tablet, or laptop and include 1080p resolution, cloud recording and storage as well as online whiteboarding. The prices start at $1,000 and can go up to $4,000.