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Quality, smooth video conferencing

By Jean-Claude Elias - Nov 23,2017 - Last updated at Nov 23,2017

With fast Internet, video capable mobile devices everywhere and inexpensive high definition cameras and audio hardware, it is surprising that video conferencing is not more widely used amongst small companies and home users. Only large corporations seem to do it right and frequently.

At first sight the combined popularity of smartphones and tablets should make conference calls equally popular, but it is not the case. The fact is that fully realistic video conferencing can hardly be achieved with mobile devices. Dedicated, professionally installed equipment is required for that.

Voice or telephone conference calls have been around for many years now. Video conferencing on the other hand is more recent, although it is seen everywhere in the movies, and of course in large corporations who have the financial means to be well equipped.

And yet, the technology is here and is not too expensive, whether for small companies or private users. For efficient, pleasant and realistic video conferencing, the kind that really makes you feel like being in the same location as the participants you are talking to and seeing, quality, specialised equipment, alongside fast networking, is a must.

There are several networks in the world that allow for this trick, with Polycom in the lead. Other channels also provide some forms of video conferencing like the famous Skype. Its free version has some limitations to real video conferencing and to the number of allowed participants, however, with the business subscription it becomes a real cool, nice system to fully enjoy and make good use of.

Again, dedicated hardware is a must, starting with good speakers, items that are often neglected and the absence of which can greatly affect the result. Short of having the right equipment, video conferencing will not work as smoothly as you expect it to. For instance, if there are delays, echo or reverberation in the signal, time-lag between the image and the sound, and if at the same time the number of attendants is say more than four, a real, fruitful discussion, becomes difficult if not impossible.

If you’re relying on just a smartphone or a laptop and its front camera for conferencing, you may miss out on some important features. Such simple systems can work well for a one-on-one call, which hardly qualifies as video conferencing, and is rather referred to as a simple video call. Indeed video conferencing would involve at least three or four people and usually many more.

Generally, for proper powerful video conferencing images should be displayed on a very large screen for everyone to see at the same time. Microphones should be omnidirectional so as to pick up voices from all participants. Quality speakers are to install so that everyone hears everything and at the same time. The idea is to make all participants feel and interact as if they were in one and same location.

Short of taking care of all these aspects, like unwanted acoustic feedback and other annoying sonic artefacts, the participants would not have the feeling of being together in the same location, of carrying on a real discussion. The result might be affected negatively. If you see it working beautifully in the movies it is because every aspect, every detail of it has been taken care of.

Price also matters. Polycom for example, the leader in the market has prices that small companies cannot always manage, whereas Skype can prove to be more affordable.

Whereas the price of a basic but quality kit including microphones, cameras, a large screen and high definition speakers, would be in the range of a few hundred dollars, Polycom subscription fees are usually higher and can reach 10, 20 or even $30,000 per year, depending on the number of subscribed participants. Skype remains more affordable. The Microsoft owned company asks only for $2 per month, per participant.

 

As with any technology that allows for remote work or assistance, what may seem a high price usually saves you money and time in the end and always proves to be a rewarding investment. Given the steadily increasing cost of transportation and travel, money spent on good video conferencing is usually money well spent. This is true even if you are in it not for money making business but for family or friends virtual gatherings on the network.

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