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Five Reasons to Consider Zoom Conference Solutions

Five Reasons to Consider Zoom Conference Solutions

When it comes to video conferencing software, Zoom is the new(er) kid on the block. It was founded in 2011 by the original creator of WebEx, who decided to leave WebEx after it was acquired by Cisco 2007.

Since then, Zoom has been growing by almost 20% per year. Cisco still holds a large portion of the market, but Zoom is gaining on them, and fast. 

While there are still a few features that only WebEx offers, users have increasingly flocked to Zoom. 

Why? Here are a few reasons why we think Zoom conference solution is the best choice for many businesses: 

Simplicity & User-Friendliness

To set up WebEx, you will need multiple downloads and logins (client, extension, VCS control, TMS, Smartnet, and a paid account). Starting a new meeting takes over a minute.

This may not be a big deal if the same people will be using the software every day, but if you have non-tech-savvy employees, or most of your staff will only use the conferencing tool occasionally, Zoom is a much better bet.

Zoom was built around the idea that people are increasingly joining conferences remotely and bringing their own devices to work. Most devices will support Zoom, and once the cloud connector account and codec are set up, you can join a meeting in one click.

In general, Zoom is also easier to integrate with third-party apps like Skype for Business. It’s technically also possible to use WebEx with Skype, but the process to set this up is complex and time consuming.

Total Capacity

Zoom supports up to 100 video participants in a single call, and up to 500 feeds. WebEx can only support 8 participants.

If your organization is big enough to require collaboration among or between large teams of people, having this limit on how many people you can include in a call can quickly become a deal breaker.

Ease of Collaboration

Zoom rooms let you keep track of who’s present in an online meeting and look back on meeting recordings after the fact.

Zoom conference solution also embeds a number of other helpful collaboration technologies to support remote meetings.

For example, users can choose custom virtual backgrounds to present themselves more professionally in online meetings. Zoom rooms also offer built-in IM capabilities in the same interface for text communication as well as audio and video.

WebEx offers some of these features as separate add-ons, but they are sold as separate products for an additional fee.

Zoom Rooms

“Zoom Rooms” are another compelling reason to choose Zoom, as they can offer broad collaboration opportunities without the significant price hike and hassle of setting up a fully custom Cisco WebEx configuration.

Zoom is built to run from a single click on an iPad – and these rooms are multi-functional right out of the box. It’s possible to sync calendars, share your screen, call another room, conduct remote presentations using either your iPhone or a laptop, and more.

Price

If the above reasons weren’t enough, Zoom solutions also tend to be more affordable than WebEx solutions. Though pricing is liable to change over time, WebEx solutions can run up to twice as expensive.

Zoom vs. WebEx: Bottom Line

Both of these tools will get the job done, but considering the overall user-friendliness, features, customizability, and value delivered by Zoom, we recommend it over WebEx for most businesses.

Interested in learning more, or getting your questions about video conferencing answered? Contact us here.

LED Walls Vs. Projection System. Who is the Winner of This Competition?

LED Walls Vs. Projection System. Who is the Winner of This Competition?

Regardless of your presentation needs, there are many potential AV configurations on the market. VSSi works with businesses to help design custom AV solutions to fit any space and business scenario.

Many of our customers are unsure whether a video wall or projection-based system will better suit their needs.

Of course, both LED video walls and projection systems are highly functional and impressive solutions.

Both can be customized to provide modern high-tech aesthetics and support multi-media presentations. Both offer cost-effective, high-res, and flexible solutions.

However, whether a video wall vs. projection system will be more effective for you depends on a few key elements about your organization’s space, business, and AV-needs.

Here’s a short guide to video walls vs. projectors:

LED Wall Considerations:

Video walls have changed dramatically over the past two decades; modern solutions are slimmer, more energy efficient, and offer much higher resolution, and less bezels (space between panels) than ever before.

Since they’re made up of multiple panels working together, video walls can be configured into multiple shapes and viewed at many angles. LED panels also reduce glare and can be used outside and in areas with plenty of ambient light.

They are also modern, impressive-looking and elevate the spaces they’re installed in. Unlike some projection screens, video walls can be installed piece by piece. If you need a big solution, but have space constraints like small doorways which might otherwise prohibit large hardware, video walls are a great option.

Because the picture is native to the screen, video walls often require less space than projectors and can be viewed from farther away. They often also have better color saturation.

They are typically a larger up-front investment, since installation can be intensive and component parts are high-tech and must match each other. Some older models can also be more energy intensive than projectors, since each panel used to require its own power source.

Projection Considerations:

Projection systems have been around for much longer than video walls. Since there are more options available on the market, projector component parts tend to be more interchangeable. It’s generally possible, for example, to upgrade only the projection screen or only the projector and scale up slowly. Depending on the model, projection screens are also more energy efficient than multiple-panel video walls.

Ambient light can be a problem for projection systems; they work best in conference rooms, banquet halls, and other rooms which can be darkened to avoid glare. Because the video is removed from the source, you’ll also need a way to keep the space between projector and screen clear of people and other obstructions.

However, projection screens are highly customizable by size and can more easily be moved to new locations. Projection-based systems can be cut into multiple configurations to fit unique shapes.

Projection systems are typically much less expensive up front than video walls, though replacement parts – especially bulbs – can increase the price tag.  You may need to factor in potential additional costs such as cleaning and maintenance, blackout curtains or high-quality projection screens.

LED displays are typically less high-definition than projectors, though this again varies depending on the specific solution you install. Standard high-def projectors can be up to twice the pixel height of standard LED video walls. Whether this matters to you will depend on how far away your audience will be – at larger distances, attributes such as brightness and color saturation may be more important than fine details, or vice versa.

Video Wall vs Projection System: What’s best for your space?

Both projection systems and video walls can be customized to provide an impressive and flexible solution for your organization’s needs.

Knowing how you will use your AV system and what your space is like will help you weigh the pros and cons when choosing a video wall vs. projection system. In light of the considerations detailed above, questions such as:

  • How big is the space? Is it an indoor room which can be fitted with blackout curtains, or a sunlight lobby?
  • How far away is the audience, and what kind of presentations will you be supporting with AV?
  • How much do you want to invest now, vs. down the line?
  • Will space constraints make installation difficult? and
  • How important are color saturation and brightness vs.  image sharpness?

are all important to consider when making a decision.

Whether you want a custom video wall or cutting-edge projection solution, VSSi will work with you to ensure that you maximize the results of your budget and end up with a solution that fits both your space and your organization’s needs. VSSi makes custom-built high-tech AV solutions and supports projects from concept through execution and support down the road.

To learn more, see some of our past installations or get in touch with us here.

4 Benefits of Interactive Touch Screens

4 Benefits of Interactive Touch Screens

From the smartphones in our pockets to the self-checkout machines in the grocery store, interactive touch panels are everywhere, and for good reason:

In corporate, education, customer service, and retail environments, touch-sensitive audio visual tech – which ranges from small portable touch tablets through massive kiosks and video panels – offers a number of impressive benefits.

Here are just a few of the ways touch panels maximize the value of your technology:

User-friendliness and accessibility

Touch screen panels enable a direct interaction with technology that’s hard to match.

There’s something inherently more natural about pointing and manipulating objects on a screen with our hands the same way we could touch physical objects.

Pointing and pushing with our hands is a natural, instinctive gesture that almost everyone does intuitively. In a technological environment, that familiarity translates into instant expertise without the need for advanced training.

Reduced training time on tech, and reduced errors from technological mistakes mean more time to spend on your business or organization’s priorities.

Interactive touch screens also tend to be much more accessible for those with physical disabilities who may find other interfaces – such as a mouse and keyboard – difficult to use.
When they are well-designed, touchscreens offer all the simplicity of a whiteboard or blackboard and chalk, but with the power and functionality of a computer.


Enhanced customer experiences and faster business processes

As an automated customer service technology, touch screen panels offer 24/7 interactive customer support that never goes on break or calls out sick. They offer information, directions, and assistance to customers on-demand.

The immediate interface of a touch screen also makes inputting commands measurably faster.
Faster input translates into more effective and efficient decisions, which has a direct impact on your organization’s outcomes and bottom line.


Versatile, widely compatible, and durable digital technology

Interactive touch panels are among the most versatile methods of sharing information.

Integrators such as VSSI can work with you to configure information in a way that suits your needs and fits in seamlessly with the hardware and digital platforms you already have in place.

From small mobile tablets through massive video walls, touch screens are compatible with a wide range of technology types, platforms, varied hardware.

They are also all-in-one solutions which save space by eliminating non-touch components, limiting cords and wires. Eliminating the extra parts also means that many interactive touch panels are less likely to break, simply because there are fewer hardware components to contend with. Many are portable, offering mobile communications technology.

Touch screens are adaptable for both sensitive tasks requiring fine-toothed control, and for outdoor and other heavy-duty public use.

In fact, with modern technology, touch screens actually last longer than many projectors, offering extended durability to grow with you.


Engaging and Interactive Technology

Flat touch screen panels are visually appealing and attention-grabbing high-tech elements.

Crystal-clear images and graphics are fun to look at and arresting.

In educational settings, touch screens tap into a medium already familiar to most young people. Instead of passively listening to a presentation, viewers can actively participate in the educational experience using a touchscreen.

In business settings, touch screens enable active annotation, review, collaboration, and project management in an engaging, tactile format. Instead of trying to stay awake during a 1-way presentation, touch panels make all participants into active members of the conversation.

Regardless of the information you need to communicate, touch screens make the experience more interactive, dynamic, and powerful.

Get in touch with us to learn more about how a touch panel solution could contribute to your organization’s goals.

As a full-service audio-visual integration (AV) company, VSSI provides high-end, individually-tailored solutions.
After an in-depth consultation with you, our professionally trained and certified staff will work to design the best solution for your needs, vision, and budget. After we build it, we’ll keep working for you, providing 24/7 support to make sure you keep getting the most out of your custom AV solution.

Seamless Video Conferencing Solutions: Polycom and Cisco Systems

Seamless Video Conferencing Solutions: Polycom and Cisco Systems

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

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

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.

Closing thoughts

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.

 

The Best Wireless Presentation System for Your Workplace

The Best Wireless Presentation System for Your Workplace

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:

Barco Clickshare

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

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 Spontania

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.

Crestron Airmedia

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.

 

Bottom Line

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.

Telepresence vs Video Conferencing

Telepresence vs Video Conferencing

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.

Video Conferencing

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

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.