The question we get the most is “why can’t I just use my laptop camera?” For a one on one at your desk, sure go ahead. But anyone who has tried to run a multi person team call knows that even the best laptop camera can’t cover a room or more than 2 people. The moment you want to include a team or have a presentation, the field of view and resolution native to laptops just isn’t sufficient.
Regardless of what you’re using your room for, video quality is extremely important. It provides first impressions, branding clarity, virtual face to face interaction, and a level of connection that can be broken by a fuzzy, pixelated, or cut off picture.
Purpose built meeting room cameras have a lot of variations and often conflicting specs. “Pan Tilt Zoom” (PTZ) cameras have taken off for their flexibility and utility. Most have remote controls that allow meeting organizers to control their position, and who’s in focus at any given time. Most consumer grade PTZ cameras are advertised as “Full HD 1080p” which is great upgrade for a desk or laptop camera but you will need a higher level of functionality for a larger meeting. The newest generation of purpose-built prosumer meeting room cameras are 4k minimum. 4k allows you to have an ultra-high-definition image regardless of where or how tight the camera positions its image.
There are two PTZ options, digital and mechanical. A digital PTZ has a fixed lens and performs its PTZ actions through digital manipulation of the full 4k screen. Think of it like a sci-fi viewscreen, you tell the camera where you’d like to focus and it enhances a specific area in the larger image.
Another, and arguably more important feature to look for is automatic tracking. Rooms come in a lot of sizes and layouts and the flexibility of your virtual and hybrid meeting room camera to see what’s going on and focus on the important people matters. Historically it has taken a trained operator to manage camera movements along with someone to give them some level of direction where to focus. Cameras have been either bulky, with all of their additional lensing and preview equipment, or small and feature poor, lacking flexibility.
However, in the last few years, meeting room camera manufacturers have come out with a generation of automatic tracking cameras that can simplify all of these functions by listening to the room, use infrared, artificial intelligence, or machine learning to execute their own internal pan-tilt-zoom functions.
Brands like Poly with their Studio P15, X30, and X50 lines as well as Logitech’s new Rally family have dynamic and smooth auto tracking that turns the biggest room into an intimate 1 to 1 or a small huddle room into a wide angle round table discussion.
In conclusion, your meeting room camera is perhaps the most important piece of technology. Thus, it is vital you get one that best suits the real world needs of your team.