A pixelated image, low quality microphone and bad audio are things that could get in the way of an effective video call.
Communication is so essential, especially when it comes to getting things done! That’s why we believe it’s important to consider your needs, and determine what is available to you to make sure you have the best setup possible. You might discover improvements that don’t even cost that much!
If this has sparked your interest, read on!
Option 1: Built-In
A macbook pro is an example of a high-end laptop that will have a better camera, microphone and speakers compared to a low-end laptop.
If you find yourself mostly engaging in shorter, one-on-one video calls then it’s really more convenient to use the built-in hardware that comes with your laptop. But, if people on the receiving end can’t distinguish between you and the lampshade behind you, it’s probably worth looking at other options.
You’ll find there’s a noticeable difference with higher-end notebooks when compared with cheaper notebooks. So if you’ve already got an upgrade in the works then you might not need to get external hardware. The best thing to do is to test it out when you get it and see if it’s suitable.
If however, you find yourself spending longer on your video calls, you might want to consider external hardware or smaller tweaks to this solution. Which leads onto our next option.
Option 2: External Upgrades
Logitech's C615 - a low cost option that is bound to improve your video quality.
An external webcam is a great way to increase your video quality as well as a way to give you more flexibility with the way you position it.
Upgrading to a high definition Logitech webcam, for example the C615 for around $100, is an inexpensive way to get better results.
You’ll be able to position the camera more easily to get the perfect angle, take advantage of a higher quality lens, get high definition video and even stereo sound.
In addition, we’d also recommend adding some extra lighting and propping your laptop up.
Adding some light in the form of a usb powered clip-on desk lamp gives you the option to directly light up your face in low-lit situations. This also means you have the flexibility to work wherever you like without having to rely on the lighting of the room that you’re in.
Propping your laptop on a stand can also enhance the video conferencing experience, for you and the person you’re speaking to. Using something portable that you can take everywhere like this means you don’t have to crouch or sit in uncomfortable positions to make sure that the person on the other end can see your face. Again this gives you the flexibility to work anywhere without having to compromise your video quality, or subjecting viewers to the classic ‘up-the-nostrils’ view.
Option 3: Video conferencing system
Logitech Conference Cam Kit with NUC
When it comes to remote collaboration with large groups involved, the best solution is to have a permanent, professional video conferencing system set up in your office.
Besides the obvious improvement of video and sound quality, having a fixed video conferencing solution means an entire room can easily participate and collaborate with remote parties.
This is especially advantageous if you have a remote workforce or multiple locations that you are required to collaborate and coordinate with.
Logitech’s Video Conferencing Solution
Logitech have a range of high end professional video conferencing equipment designed to be installed in your boardroom.
This will give you an even higher quality camera than the type of webcam we just mentioned and the ability to pan and zoom digitally using a controller so you can move the camera easily to focus on just one person in the room, or zoom out to see the entire team.
In a larger room it’s often difficult to hear everyone with a standard webcam and microphone setup. So instead of huddling next to each other like a family of meerkats, the Logitech solution has the option of placing multiple microphones in key places around the room so you can better pickup the voices of the group and maintain your personal space.
One of the major advantages of this video conferencing system is that you don’t need to rely on anyone’s laptop to start the video call. This means that your secret love of fabulous shetland ponies can remain hidden, since this system is powered by a single dedicated computer.
We’d recommend using a small NUC, which is just a compact computer, small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. It’s usually placed discreetly behind a large screen TV so you don’t see any cable clutter.
This gives you a lot more flexibility and just makes the video conferencing that much simpler.
And finally there’s a remote control that ties this all together, giving anyone the flexibility to pan and zoom the camera, change the volume, answer or hang up a video conference session.
Considerations for Software
Once you have your room setup with all the hardware in place, you’ll then need a great software package to ensure a seamless experience.
Everyone has used skype before, and it’s pretty good for one-on-one chats. There are just better options out there for business use.
The biggest advantage with zoom is it’s super easy to invite people to a meeting. You just send them a weblink, they click it and they’re automatically joined into the meeting. You can also screen share, video conference with more than one other person
Zoom is also cross platform so it works on whatever system you have, iPhone, iPad, Android, Mac or PC. Although with some phones, tablets or iPads you may be required to install an app.
There are some more advanced features that are available on their paid plans, for example the option to place an iPad outside of a meeting room, that allows you to manage the schedule directly from it.
The good news is If you have less than 50 participants and your video calls are under 40 minutes then Zoom is free!
For more on what features are free and what requires a plan click here.
For those more familiar with Google, you can use Google Hangouts which has similar features to Zoom and is also free to use with no time limits, unless you have more than 10 participants.
Joining into meeting is also as simple as Zoom as all you need to do is share a link to allow them to join the video call.
Google Hangouts offers:
- Screen sharing
- Conferencing with multiple people
- And the ability to easily share meeting invites.
The easiest way to start a Hangouts session is through your gmail account.
If you’d like more advice on video conferencing or need help selecting what is best for your business, get in touch!