Compared to audio conferencing calls, video conferencing offers a clear leg up. With the right tools, a video conference can be as good as – and more efficient than – being there in person.
As more businesses catch on to the value of video conferencing, more solutions have entered the market, but few companies come close to challenging the two titans of the enterprise video conferencing space: Polycom and Cisco.
Polycom and Cisco Systems are the giant players in the industry for a reason: both offer highly functional and seamless video conferencing solutions.
Many of the features offered by both companies overlap; both offer reliable, high-quality video conferencing products. For maximum security, both companies also offer on-premise and IP capabilities for maximum security and flexibility. Their pricing is broadly similar, and both offer an extensive range of products.
VSSi can help you configure a solution which fits your exact specifications, and provide support down the road. But for now, here are some factors to keep in mind when beginning your research:
Cisco systems are one of the first players in the video conferencing space, and is still the largest and most well-known. As an international conglomerate, they’ve been able to use their size to fund innovation and create a wide range of high-tech products.
For example, Cisco was a leader in developing 1080p and 4k resolution video options, and their current video conferencing solutions include audio triangulation technology to help filter out background noise.
Cisco focuses on the biggest enterprise clients; nearly all Fortune 100 companies use Cisco systems for video conferencing. They do customize their offerings by the size of the business, but their products can be more expensive and less streamlined for smaller businesses.
Polycom competes with Cisco with its smaller, more nimble company structure. They focus on hospitals, universities, and entertainment companies. While there are a number of large enterprise clients on their list, they focus more on public organizations than the biggest Fortune 500 companies.
They offer ostensibly more personal services because of their structure, but their main selling point is interoperability with other vendors. Polycom’s video conferencing tools work with Microsoft communication products like Skype for Business and Office 365.
In other words, where Cisco offers a wide range of products which work well with each other, Polycom focuses on fewer products, but ensures that they are open and interoperable with multiple vendors. Since over half of enterprise businesses use more than one vendor’s AV equipment, this can be crucial.
Polycom also claims that all of their products are both forwards and backwards compatible, meaning that new versions of their products will still work seamlessly with the previous and future editions.
Whether Polycom vs Cisco video conferencing is ultimately a better fit for your business will boil down to preference and your specific constraints and needs.
If you already use Cisco systems products, or have a complex or very large organization, looking into an appropriately scaled Cisco video conferencing solution may be the best choice. If you’re a healthcare, education, or entertainment company, Polycom may offer products which fit more seamlessly into your existing AV architecture.
Regardless of what you choose, VSSi can help you choose, design, install, and learn to use AV solutions so that you end up with an easy-to-use and effective set of audio-visual tools and maximize the impact of your investment. To speak with a VSSi representative, click here.
Finding the Best AV Wireless Presentation System for Your Business
Wireless presentation systems are everywhere in business, and for good reason – new technology lets anyone broadcast presentations, multimedia content, or any video conferencing software ( Zoom, WebEx, Skype for Business, BlueJeans, GoToMeeting and etc.) into conference rooms from anywhere in the world.
Wireless systems offer ever-increasing interoperability across multiple types of devices ranging from cell phones to tablet computers, with the added benefit of avoiding cumbersome corded connections.
There is an endless lineup of wireless presentation AV systems devices to choose from. The good news is that no matter your organization’s needs, you’re likely to find an option that works for you. The bad news is that it can be hard to sift through the options available to maximize your budget and find a solution which will perfectly match the specific functions needed by your business.
VSSi can offer you expert advice in a consultation, but here’s a quick run-down of how to start narrowing down your options and find a wireless presentation system which will work best for you:
How to Choose a Wireless Presentation System
How many data sources do you have, and how many participants do you need to support?
Wifi presentation solutions do away with the age-old fight over the HDMI port.
However, depending on how many people will need to present at once, you may want to consider how many displays will be supported by your presentation solution. Some, like Crestron Airmedia, offer solutions with a “quad view” which can split the screen four ways.
Others are simpler, out-of-the-box options which let you wirelessly present whatever’s on the screen of your laptop with a dongle or other small device. Still others will let up to thirty devices connect remotely for high-tech, geographically spaced out conferences.
Do you want to support interactive presentations?
Depending on your needs, some advanced models offer presentation tools such as on-screen annotation, filesharing and other high-tech functionality.
It’s worth considering what level of interactivity you need, and which tools will add the most value to your team’s collaboration when searching for a presentation solution, as these features tend to add to the price tag of a wireless presentation solution.
What are your IT constraints?
If your organization segments Wi-Fi for guest and internal use, make sure you factor in these constraints when designing a Wi-Fi based presentation solution.
Depending on the type of content you will be using, it’s also worth consulting with experts at VSSi or on your IT team to determine the bandwidth required to stream multimedia content wirelessly. Images, PowerPoint presentations, and videos all require varying bandwidth.
What are the top wireless presentation systems?
Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the top models on the market:
The Barco Clickshare uses an app which works on Android and iOS devices. It doesn’t limit the number of connections by port (since it uses an app instead of a dongle or other hardware device). You can connect up to fifty people simultaneously and includes a moderation function to manage content sharing in large audience screen-sharing situations.
WePresent is ready right out of the box. While less customizable that Barco Clickshare, and slightly smaller – it can support up to 64 participants – it’s an affordable, high-end rack mounted option which doesn’t require integrating numerous systems.
ClearOne is cloud-based and minimizes impact on your company’s bandwidth, allowing for multiple people to access presentations and conferences remotely on a variety of devices.
ClearOne works particularly well in hybrid situations when people both access presentations from conference rooms and remotely participate using smartphones and tablets. ClearOne also includes interactive features such as file transferring and a virtual whiteboard.
Creston Airmedia solutions function similarly to Barco Clickshare, supporting up to thirty-two people simultaneously. Crestron also allows up to four screens to be displayed simultaneously and can present Powerpoint Files, documents, PDFs, and photos using any device which can support Crestron’s software. For those who can’t access the central display, presentations can still be accessed using a web browser.
Crestron and Barco both also offer advanced models which can scale up for massive conference rooms depending on your requirements.
Wireless presentation system is increasingly relevant in the bring-your-own device era. Businesses across the board increasingly need a single integrated system to enable people to share content and presentations from their devices – whatever those devices happen to be.
Your IT infrastructure and business needs, such as the type of content you need to share, and with how many people, will affect which solution is best for you and your business.
VSSi has technicians ready to help you talk through your options and suggest solutions which will be the best fit for your needs. Whether you’re looking to upgrade your existing AV system or add an entirely new business solution, we can help. Check out past projects here, or contact us for a consultation.
Few companies today operate within a single space. In some industries, more than half of workers are remote.
82% of these workers say they need to collaborate with others to do their work; if over half of these people work off-site, your video conferencing room quickly becomes the most valuable piece of real estate at your organization.
Even if you already have a conferencing solution in place, upgrading to a system designed for your use and space has numerous benefits, from easier use and faster problem-resolution to improved productivity from distraction-free communication.
As AV technology evolves and improves, the options available on the market do too; today, there are hundreds of viable products and options which can produce highly functional conferencing solutions.
“Telepresence” is one such invention.
Telepresence – Sci Fi to Reality
Telepresence began as a science-fiction dream in the 1960s: what if you could attend meetings and interact with people as if you were actually there, but from anywhere on the planet? Since the 1990s, numerous breakthroughs in AV technology have made this idea closer and closer to reality.
We don’t (yet) have the option of projecting holographic images onto thin air, but we are getting remarkably close to creating the exact sensation of speaking to a group of people as if you’re all in the same room. With telepresence technology, participants in the conversation will look and sound as if they’re sitting right next to you.
Telepresence vs. Video Conferencing: What’s the Difference?
Telepresence conferencing provides the most high-definition experience possible during video conferencing. While “video conferencing” and “telepresence” are often used interchangeably, the underlying technology is slightly different.
Modern video conferencing provides crisp visuals and reliable, clear audio, over IP or internal networks.
While video conferencing works very well for many companies, one area where video conferencing can fall short is when presenting entire conference rooms of speakers with the same level of clarity you’d see if you were all in the same room. When participants are farther or closer to the microphone(s) and camera(s), most systems have a hard time portraying them with equal clarity.
Video conferencing solutions flatten whatever room you’re in – wherever that is – and portray it as is. When more than two or three people are participating in a video conference, it can quickly become difficult to distinguish who is speaking. They also require more end-user involvement in the operation, and can therefore also be more prone to glitches if improperly configured.
Telepresence conferencing provides the most high-definition experience possible during video conferencing.
“Telepresence” refers to tools which allow participants to feel as though they are actually in the same room as whoever they’re talking with.
One way to think about this is as a built-in, room-specific situation. Telepresence solutions take into account the dimensions, lighting, and acoustics of the space and replicates them accurately instead of just capturing data from a camera and microphone and reproducing it exactly.
Some solutions may replicate the appearance of the room on each side to create a more immersive experience – same chair in each room.
Telepresence solutions adjust the video to provide accurate, clear focus on each participant, even at a large conference table.
They also adjust the sound, with embedded spatial audio so that it’s always clear where sound is coming from. Instead of confusing sound coming from each participant on top of another, it becomes obvious who is speaking at all times.
In short, all people are clearly visible, and the focus doesn’t vary depending on how far they are from the screen. You’ll also hear them the same way you would in the room, instead of at varying volumes depending on how far they are from the mic.
Finally, telepresence doesn’t generally require as much end-user configuration, headsets, or other devices; this makes them easier to operate day-to-day, but also less portable.
Which is Better – Telepresence Solutions or Video Conferencing?
In general, you will see the best quality and realism using a telepresence solution.
However, if you plan to regularly change which rooms are connected, it can be extremely costly to set up telepresence solutions in each room you’ll be using.
Cost is the biggest drawback in a telepresence solution. Simple video conferencing solutions can often be installed for as little as 5% of the cost of a high-end telepresence solution.
Interoperability may also be an issue if you need to communicate with others using multiple different vendors or solutions.
Just like high-definition movies, you’ll only see the quality supported by the lowest common denominator. (Think of watching a movie from the 1960s on a modern television set, or watching a HD movie on a 1960s television). A video conferencing solution communicating with a telepresence solution will only present the maximum quality supported by the lesser-quality equipment.
You’ll still be able to communicate as long as there’s a basic level of compatibility, but you’ll get the most bang for your buck by pairing two telepresence solutions.
The bottom line is that if your business relies on closing distances and impressing clients with the visuals etc., telepresence will provide the most impressive and realistic, high-definition solution. However, if you operate in many locations or are a smaller business, video conferencing can fulfill many of the same needs.
Regardless of your needs, VSSi will work with you closely to develop a visually stunning and highly effective conferencing solution to bring members of your organization to you. Check out our recent installations here, or get in touch to schedule a consultation.