As I took the long familiar march from the back of the parking lot to the Gaylord Palms expo hall, I couldn’t help but think about how different this year was going to be. It would be my first year in many years that I wouldn’t be manning a booth at Enterprise Connect.

As an A/V integrator and solutions consultant, we decided this year AGT would be best served to talk to the vendors, manufacturers and service providers that develop the software and hardware solutions we design, integrate and support for our clients.

Although I was going to miss speaking on panels, briefing industry analysts and educating booth visitors on the services AGT provides, I was really looking forward to the opportunity to having an agenda-free visit to the show floor – not to mention being able to skip out on setting up and tearing down the booth, which somehow despite becoming CEO of AGT after 16 years I was still doing.

I was able to walk the show floor and see many of the latest solutions that are being provided today in the UC, Conferencing, and A/V industries. I also had the opportunity to speak with product managers, engineers and executives from the top hardware and service providers to learn how their solutions would help our clients solve challenges and meet goals.

We are often asked by our clients about what huddle room video conferencing solutions are right for them. It’s not always an easy answer because there are a lot of huddle room solutions on the market today, and many of them take quite different approaches to solving the huddle room challenge. Several things have to be considered, such as the size of the room, the number of people in the space, the current technologies and services in use, budget, IT considerations and most importantly what it is exactly they want to accomplish in the huddle room.

I saw demos of and talked to product managers and engineers about three huddle room video conferencing solutions while at Enterprise Connect – the Polycom RealPresence Trio, Logitech Group and Tely 200. Here’s what I found.

POLYCOM REALPRESENCE TRIO – $2,398 (WITH REALPRESENCE VISUAL + ACCESSORY & HD CAMERA)

The ultimate high quality audio conferencing phone for the board room or the huddle room. An ideal smart hub for sharing content and doing HD video conferences for Skype for Business and Polycom RealPresence users.

The Polycom RealPresence Trio is the ultimate high quality audio conferencing phone for the board room or the huddle room. The Trio, when paired with the RealPresence Visual + Accessory, also acts as the ideal huddle room device for sharing content and doing HD video conferences for Skype for Business users and Polycom environments.

Key features of the RealPresence Trio include:

  • High quality audio conferencing phone
  • Tightly integrated with Skype for Business
  • Content sharing & HD video conferencing
  • Integrates with Polycom RealPresence Infrastructure

For Audio Conferences

The Polycom RealPresence Trio is an audio conferencing phone first. According to Polycom, it’s the best conference phone they’ve ever made. So, as you can imagine it is packed full of features, standards and protocols and delivers the top quality audio conferencing phone experience that you have come to expect from Polycom. There are also many ways to use it. It can be integrated with your Skype for Business directory, it has a one touch join feature that can be used when it’s integrated with Outlook, or you can simply pair your phone via Bluetooth, Near Field Communication (NFC) or connect to it via USB or IP.

For Presentations

In order for the RealPresence Trio to display and share content, you have to purchase the RealPresence Visual + Accessory (it’s a little black box). You basically have three methods to show content.

  1. The RealPresence Trio runs a native Skype for Business client and shows up your companies Skype for Business directory. So, you bring your laptop into the huddle room, open your Skype for Business client on your laptop, locate the RealPresence Trio for that huddle room in your directory and click on the presentation icon in order to display content locally in the room. Once you do that, you are sharing your screen with the Trio and it’s displaying that content on the huddle room monitor. Your laptop will actually be in a Skype for Business call with the RealPresence Trio in that huddle room.
  2. If you have the RealPresence Desktop client or Mobile app loaded on your laptop or tablet, you can use the smart-pairing feature and share content with the trio over the network.
    You can plug your PC into the Visual Content + Accessory box via USB, then load the People + Content IP software on your laptop and share content through that software application.

For Video Conferences

The RealPresence Trio with the RealPresence Visual + Accessory runs a native Skype for Business client directly on the device, so your huddle room will show up in your Skype for Business directory just like any other user. As long as you are familiar with the Skype for Business client, it’s simple to use the Trio for video conferences. If you are sharing content during a video conference, you will only see the content. The Trio does not allow you to see video and content at the same time.

Some Technical Info

The RealPresence Trio is loaded with all the features you would expect from a Polycom audio conferencing phone, including a full array of supported audio codecs, trademarked Polycom enhancements, network and provisioning capabilities, security and user features. The trio unit has three cardioid microphones with a 20’ pickup range, plus an HD audio loudspeaker integrated into the unit. For larger rooms, you can add Trio expansion microphones.

The RealPresence Trio Collaboration Kit includes the RealPresence Visual + Accessory and Logitech Webcam C930e. The C930e webcam is a 1080p HD webcam with built-in SVC support. Other Logitech Webcam C930e features include a 4x digital zoom and 90-degree webcam field of view.

The RealPresence Trio also features Polycom’s ZTP (zero touch provisioning). So, if you have the Polycom Resource Manager, you can remotely push the initial setup configuration and subsequent updates to the Trio units.

units.

LOGITECH GROUP – $999.99 MSRP

The perfect device for a huddle room design or a medium-sized conference room. A high quality pan-tilt-zoom HD video camera and Bluetooth speaker phone that’s easy set up and use.

The Logitech Group is probably the best bang for the buck for your huddle room design as far as video conferencing solutions go. It’s the perfect device for a huddle room or even a medium-sized conference room, especially if you are looking for a solution that doesn’t require any IT management.

Of the top three huddle room solutions I saw at Enterprise Connect 2016, the Logitech Group is by far the easiest to set up and use and has the only wide range pan-tilt-zoom camera of the bunch. Translation: You can use the Logitech Group in a much bigger room, with more people than the Polycom Trio or the Tely 200.

Key Features of the Logitech Group System include:

  • High quality audio conferencing phone
  • Tightly integrated with Skype for Business
  • Content sharing & HD video conferencing
  • Integrates with Polycom RealPresence Infrastructure

For Video Conferences

A big plus is that the Logitech Group system is driven by your laptop or tablet. Just walk into the room, plug a USB and HDMI cable into your laptop or tablet and then fire up the video conferencing software or app of your choice and you are off and running. It doesn’t matter if you use Skype for Business, iMeet, Acano, all of the above, or anything else – the Logitech Group system will work for you.

If you prefer to have a dedicated device in the huddle room, Logitech recently released the Group Kit with Intel NUC, which includes the Intel NUC with Intel Unite wireless screen sharing and a wireless keyboard.

For Audio Conferences

The Logitech Group system is extremely easy to use for audio conferences. You can simply pair your phone via Bluetooth, Near Field Communication (NFC) or connect your laptop or tablet via USB for a VOIP call.

For Presentations

Not much to do here – just connect your laptop or tablet to your display via VGA, HDMI or wirelessly depending on your huddle room design.

Some Technical Info

The Logitech Group is full of features. It includes a high quality remote controlled HD pan-tilt-zoom camera that works well for both small and medium-sized conference rooms. The camera supports 1080p HD at 30 frames per second, includes a 10x zoom, auto-focus and can be configured with up to 5 camera preset positions. It has a 90-degree field of view with a mechanical 260-degree pan and a 130-degree tilt, which gives it a wide area of coverage and allows you to pan, tilt and zoom the camera around via a remote control to ensure you are able to capture your desired view.

It also includes a pretty good speakerphone that you can connect via USB or Bluetooth. The full-duplex speaker phone delivers HD audio and is packed with omni-directional mics, acoustic echo cancellation and noise reduction technology. Participants can converse within a 20’ diameter around the speakerphone and still be clearly heard by remote participants. For an extra $250, you can expand that coverage to 28’ with optional expansion mics.

According to their spec sheet, the Logitech Group is optimized for Microsoft Lync 2013 and is certified for Skype for Business, Cisco Jabber and is WebEx compatible. You can also use the Logitech Group with just about any video conferencing software or web conferencing software you can imagine.

TELY 200 – $1,500 MSRP +$300 MSRP (REQUIRED ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTION TO THE TELY PORTAL)

An ideal small huddle room device to be paired with a cloud service. A high quality HD video camera with easy setup and configuration.

The Tely 200 has come a long way from its predecessors’ origins as a consumer grade video conferencing device for Skype and Google Hangouts. If you subscribe to a cloud video service from Acano, Blue Jeans, Pexip, Videxio, Vidyo or Zoom, then this may be the ideal huddle room device for you because they have apps that integrate right into the Tely interface.

My first impression of the Tely 200 at first glance was that it was a sleek, compact, all-in-one device that fits nicely on top of a flat panel display. Unlike the Logitech Group and the Polycom Trio, the Tely 200 is self-contained in a single device with no cables to run to its own peripherals such as a camera, speaker phone or interface box. It’s a complete no-brainer to install.

It is a SIP-based video conferencing endpoint, and as such has to be configured with specific parameters to work properly. Tely has a great solution for this – the Tely Portal – which provides endpoint provisioning and management through the cloud. Simply put, after you’ve connected it to power, to the network and to your display, you just fire it up and enter a pairing code and then your enterprise configuration is automatically downloaded from the cloud-based management portal.

Key Features of the Tely 200 include:

  • Easy dialing via Integrated Cloud Provider app, Company Directory or Calendar
  • No laptop or PC required
  • Dual Monitor support and content sharing
  • Cloud Portal for management, configuration and updates
  • For Video Conferences
  • For better or worse, depending on your perspective, it’s quite different than the Logitech Group system in that it is a SIP video conferencing endpoint. In some respects, the better is that it can be managed, remotely configured and updated. The worse is that it probably does need to be managed, remotely configured and updated continually if it’s on the corporate network.

Pros – It’s a SIP video endpoint, which means it can connect to other Tely devices and most Cisco, Polycom, Lifesize and Avaya devices.

Things to Consider – Since it is a SIP endpoint, you do have to consider interoperability, securely getting on your network, dialing directories, management, updates and all the fun IT stuff that goes along with SIP endpoints.

For Audio Conferences

The Tely 200 does not include a speaker phone device. You can, however, purchase a third party USB speaker phone and connect it to the device.

For Presentations

Not much to do here, just connect your laptop or tablet to the HDMI input port on the back of the Tely 200.

Some Technical Info

The Tely 200 features include an integrated 1080p HD camera that supports 30 frames per second. The camera has a 4x zoom and a 76-degree horizontal field of view, a 47-degree vertical field of view with a 30-degree manual pan, and a 20-degree manual tilt which gives it a sufficient area of coverage for four to six people in a small huddle room.

The Tely 200 has two internal microphones built into the unit with acoustic echo cancellation, full-duplex audio, automatic gain control and noise suppression. The system also provides support via USB for a third party audio device.

With built-in NAT traversal, AES-128 BIT encryption, BFCP dual content sharing, adaptive bitrate control and resolution switching, the Tely 200 provides many of the same features of the hardcore video systems from Polycom and Cisco.

Stay tuned for part two of my Enterprise Connect blog post series, where I will discuss the latest and most impressive interactive display solutions from the show. Until then…