Keeping up with advances in technology can be a balancing act. Weighing the impact of need versus budget and whether your company will suffer if they wait a few more months before adopting the latest trends can be a stressful decision to make, especially when the latest advances are in technology, where cost is always a factor. As video conferencing becomes the standard of communication between businesses all over the world it can be alarming to try and factor in that new technology or risk being left behind by your competitors.
But even if your budget is tight and there’s little wiggle room for working in new equipment, all is not lost. One of the true values of the video conferencing market is that there are solutions for virtually any budget already available. From Telepresence rooms for big corporations to more modest (and no less effective) desktop solutions for small businesses, the Telecom industry seems to have thought of everything.
In this article, we review a few of the conferencing solutions that are on the market today and what budgets they best fit into. Starting from high end and working our way down, here are three tiers of teleconferencing equipment.
1. The Telepresence Suite
You’re likely familiar with the telepresence suite because it’s been featured in many publications over the last few years. These suites can be equipped with everything from 3D cameras to robots to stand in for individuals or businesses that couldn’t make the trip. They are the top of the line when it comes to state of the art teleconferencing technology and they come with a price tag to match.
- What is telepresence? This technology was designed to create an experience unlike any previous communications equipment that’s come before it. The aim of this technology is to create an environment that causes users to feel present and wholly represented in a room, from tone and facial expressions to body language and the ability to move around, navigating between other participants as if they were physically present. The sophistication of the software is paired with state of the art microphones, cameras, speakers and an array of display monitors, and sound is filtered dynamically around the room so that one person’s voice sounds like it’s originating from their designated position at the virtual table, instead of simply emanating out of thin air.
- What does it cost? Because the equipment to create a telepresence experience is so state of the art, the price tag to develop and maintain such a room is extremely high. Not only will you need to factor in the high speed dedicated data connection needed to connect this room to the world, but the installation itself can run anywhere from $100,000.00US (one hundred thousand dollars US) to over $500,000.00US (five hundred thousand dollars US).
2. Group Systems and Boardrooms
This tier of teleconferencing equipment is familiar to many people that have worked in a corporate environment for any length of time. Boardrooms that either feature integrated teleconferencing or set-top solutions are two of the most common solutions to keep businesses and meeting rooms connected to other businesses when the need for communication outclasses less complete options such as phone and email solutions.
Group systems can be broken down into two separate classes, though both options fill a similar niche in the telecommunications arena, and come with two separate price tags for even more options. Integrated and Set-top systems are very close to one another in terms of the results each system will get but differ in their installation and how expensive they are to work into a budget. First, Integrated systems are permanent installations that are designed to accommodate multiple users. They have a main display and video equipment set up in a centralized location but also allow the space to be used for other functions when the conferencing equipment isn’t in use. Set-top solutions are much less permanent, featuring equipment designed to be moved from place to place and so can be utilized in a number of environments within a company requiring only the hassle of moving and setting up the equipment before connection is possible.
Integrated systems, by design, are much more expensive than set-top systems and can set you back anywhere from around $10,000.00 to roughly $100,000.00 USD whereas set-top systems, because of their small size and portable design are ranged more modestly at between $3,000.00 and $20,000.00 USD.
3. Desktop and Laptop Options
The third option and by far the most inexpensive of the three tiers of telecommunications software fall under desktop and laptop accessories, equipment and software. They may set you back between $200-$400 USD per desktop system on the high end but the hardware required for use is often included in modern laptops, which come with built in microphones and web cameras. If you don’t intend to have large meetings with multiple participants in the same room, desktop and laptop solutions may be the best way for your company to go. You will need a desktop or laptop with the appropriate hard- and software for each user that you want to participate, but this technology is small and easily installed, often plug-and-play ready and requires little support beyond what present IT can provide.
Whatever size your budget, there’s a telecommunications solution that will help your company remain competitive when the market demands instant access and easy of connection. From using systems and equipment that your company might already have access to, to creating a virtual boardroom where partners from thousands of miles away can feel as though they’re right in the thick of it, technology has advanced to allow for some amazing options to communicate. There’s no right or wrong way to integrate these solutions into your company so choosing BlueJeans best video conferencing equipment that’s right for you is all about the budget and the space you want to create.