Skype changed the way the world talked to each other, and now Skype for Business is quietly doing the same to our working lives. Applications like Skype, Outlook and instant messaging are all widely understood and simple to use: the next stage is how to bring the same simplicity into meeting rooms with easy to use video conferencing systems.
While you can simply hook up a PC to a camera, screen and wireless accessories in your meeting room, buying a dedicated Skype for Business room system is increasingly a much more user friendly option. These room systems are starting to come of age, and from our review of the market there are two prime contenders and one in the wings:
- The Polycom Trio 8800 Visual+ started life as an audio conferencing unit but has grown to add video too. It’s relatively inexpensive with good audio quality, but its touchscreen interface is a bit confusing, and content sharing is not straightforward . In addition, the Polycom system doesn’t currently offer cloud based management, which could be an issue if your technical support staff are not always in the same place. It’s also a little fiddly to manage generally.
- The Starleaf GTm series are dedicated Skype for Business room systems with touch screens. These devices were built solely for Skype for Business, are managed in the cloud so you don’t have to configure each device locally and can monitor them remotely. The user experience on these devices is second to none – just walk up to the touch panel, press the green button to join a scheduled meeting and you’re away. The two models available cover a range of uses, from small huddle rooms to larger meeting rooms with multiple screens and cameras. Starleaf devices are unique in the market in working within the normal Skype for Business interface, so you don’t have to get used to a new system in order to be up and running.
- Finally, Microsoft has been talking about their new Skype Room Systems forever and they might be “just around the corner”. However, we know a few things about them already which don’t bode well.
- They rely on a specific model of Surface Pro 4 because other models are either too slow or too hot.
- They run a bespoke build of Windows 10 so you’ll have to make sure they’re patched and updated regularly.
- All the (5) cables have to be connected to the main unit in the middle of the table which is not going to be easy to manage.
For more information, demonstrations or for a friendly chat, get in touch with us at Stripe OLT on 020 7043 7044 or 0117 974 5179, or firstname.lastname@example.org.