Hi-Tech 21st Century Meeting Room AV Equipment?
June 8, 2016 6:40 PM   Subscribe

My business is growing like hot cakes and will be expanding into a new location that has more meeting rooms but fewer offices. My plan is to let my team telework and I want the new meeting rooms to have flat screens on the walls that are fully equipped for everything: video conferences, audio conferences, the internet, everything. I want all of my off-site staff to be able to see the rooms and vice versa, but I also want the rooms to be able to view live internet video streams as well as local PowerPoint presentations from any device. Can anyone offer suggestions as to the best stuff on the market for this? Is there a turn-key set-up that will accomplish all of this or will I need to hire a design/build firm?
posted by Jamesonian to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
My office has this, or something like it.


1. Flat-screen TV.

2. Apple TV.

3. Video conferencing equipment. Our system is Cisco. Cysco? Sisko? Apparently I'm too lazy to look it up.

4. A receiver with stereo equipment both to create better sound quality (we're a TV production company and do a lot of screenings on this equipment as well as video conferencing) and to make it easier to switch between inputs.

5. Bluejeans video conferencing software. This also allows for audio calls and a face-time esque video chat system, so not only can you do any permutation of conference call or video chat, but you can use the same software to do video conferencing from people's individual laptops or even smartphones. The software also has a screen share feature for presentations done via video conference.

6. Apple Airplay. I work in a field where Macs are industry standard, so it's pretty easy for everyone to integrate with the Apple TV using the Airplay function of our Apple laptops and Apple smartphones. YMMV if your field is more PC oriented or a mix of different platforms. Using Airplay and the Apple TV, we're able to easily share our screens to the flatscreen in the conference room, which makes presentations incredibly simple.
posted by Sara C. at 7:01 PM on June 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

I just ordered a 60" Samsung LCD, a decent small form factor Dell desktop, and a Logitech Group conference bundle to do this. The cost was around $2500, but that was academic contract pricing.

We didn't have the requirement to be able to play presentations from any device, but if I'd been asked to do it for a particular room instead of a mobile cart, I would have gone with a projector with VGA/DVI inputs and gotten a handful of converter dongles so any device could plug into it, plus maybe a Chromecast or something.

For an enterprise turnkey system, I'd look into Polycom; folks in larger (read: larger budget) units than mine seem to like their gear.
posted by hades at 7:09 PM on June 8, 2016

All I can say is don't use avaya VOIP products. We are trapped into using them in my office(yay sunk cost) and we have so far tried every single conference phone they sell, and they are all terrible for more than a few people, and even then then are bad.
posted by rockindata at 7:34 PM on June 8, 2016

The video parts of this are relatively easy (make sure you have nice bright, even lighting). The audio part is trickier, specifically the speakerphone setup. Miking a room so that everyone in it can be heard well is non-trivial. I'd focus your budget on that part and look for a specialist who can actually design a system that will work for your needs. This can include the video portion too, but that's relatively simple.
posted by ssg at 9:40 PM on June 8, 2016

In my office, the best lighting is in rooms that have 2 separate light switches: 1 for the regular florescent tube lights. And a second switch for a set of can lights that are in the ceiling around the edges of the room - mostly away from the screen itself. The very best rooms have a dimmer switch for the can lights so you can control how bright/dim they should be for your presentation - some of the stuff we are presenting uses black screens and other software uses white screeens.

We find the florescent lights are too bright to let everyone see the screen, but turning all the lights off is too dark for the audience to take notes. Having can lights lets us meet that in the middle.
posted by CathyG at 12:08 PM on June 9, 2016

We just went through this at work and here is what we learned.

Be wary of very long rooms for video conferencing as it can make the people in the room seem so very far away. I may only be 10ft from the camera, but it looks like I am 10 miles away in the video feed.

Be aware of what is behind you so that nothing is distracting the people looking at your video feed.

Can lights in the ceilings can cast awful shadows on people, especially on their noses.

Definitely have a way to dim or turn off the lights right above the screens. We found this to be really important and positively impactful to a great conference room experience.

Make sure everyone is 100% committed to smart conference call standards as just one person not on mute can ruin it for everyone.

Update the conference room computers on a regular basis, preferably right at the end of the day so that someone is not surprised with 26 updates five minutes before an important call.
posted by lstanley at 1:17 PM on June 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

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