Remote and hybrid work models have been on the rise for several years. But the pandemic has only sped this process along, resulting in many businesses actively seeking the best video conferencing setup to help facilitate these new methods of working. Achieving this requires businesses to equip their employees and their offices with the right tools and software solutions.
This article serves as the ultimate guide for video conferencing, regardless of whether you are based at home or in the workplace, with a focus on the hardware and software needed for effective online meetings. You may also browse through ViewSonic hardware and software designed for video conferencing.
For businesses operating with either remote or hybrid workforces, having the best video conferencing setup is an important goal. After all, video conferencing represents one of the most effective ways to recreate the kind of discussions and collaboration that has traditionally occurred through physical meetings within the workplace.
With that being said, due to the amount of equipment needed and the various software packages required for effective video conferencing to take place, actually acquiring the ideal setup can be a challenge, and it is surprisingly easy to overlook some useful elements. In this article, we offer a complete guide to video conferencing setups in 2021.
Hardware for the Best Video Conferencing Setup
First, it is important to invest in the right hardware for video conferencing purposes. On a basic level, anyone participating in a video conference is going to require a computer or a device capable of running video conferencing software. However, additional hardware is also required, and you can learn more in the following sections.
Invest in the Right Monitor
Video conferencing combines both audio and visual elements; the key piece of hardware linked to the visual element is going to be your monitor, so it is important to make the right selection. You will want to find a monitor with a high refresh rate and with a big enough screen to use video conferencing software comfortably.
Some monitors are purpose-built for video conferencing, and these will typically come with a built-in webcam, speakers, and a microphone, saving you the time and hassle associated with buying those items separately. Investing in one of these options is also a fairly safe way to ensure your employees will have the level of quality they need.
In situations where your video conferencing is likely to require a lot of multi-tasking, it may be beneficial to either buy an ultra-wide monitor or use a dual monitor approach. If you pair an ultra-wide monitor with ViewSplit or a similar software solution, you can have the benefits of a dual monitor approach while removing the ‘bezel gap’.
Or it might be useful to daisychain monitors to expand the video conferencing setup. For example, you can pair a touchscreen monitor with a desktop PC via a USB-C cable. This allows you to attend a video conference on the desktop monitor and access your notes and documents via the touchscreen display simulatenously.
Acquire a Good Microphone
If you did not opt for a video conferencing monitor – or any other monitor that comes with a built-in microphone – you are going to need to purchase one of these separately. This equipment lets you to speak with colleagues and be heard by them, so you must make an informed decision here too.
You will generally want to use a microphone with noise cancellation capabilities, as this will help ensure the audio is clear and crisp for others. Some optional features to consider include a pop filter, which can help to reduce the ‘popping’ associated with plosive words, such as those starting with ‘p’, ‘t’, and ‘b’.
Most microphones used for video conferencing will be unidirectional, picking up sound from directly in front of the mic. However, as an article for Neumann highlights, other options are available, including omnidirectional microphones, where sound is taken from all around. This may be useful for those with more advanced needs.
Buy Speakers or a Headset
You are also going to need to hear others on a virtual meeting, which means you are going to need either speakers, a high-quality headset, or both of those devices. Headsets are ideal for drowning out any other sounds in your environment, allowing you to focus more on the video conference you are part of. They will usually also include a built-in microphone.
On the other hand, headsets may not be ideal in any situation where employees need to be able to hear their surrounding area, and speakers may be better for this. The main drawback with speakers is the fact that they can be distracting to other workers in the same space, especially if they are not taking part in the same video conference.
This means speakers may not be ideally suited to hybrid setups, where people are physically present in the same location. Nevertheless, the eventual decision between speakers or a headset will depend on your circumstances.
External or Built-In Webcam
Another similar decision needs to be made between using an external webcam or one that is built into the monitor. The primary benefit of using an external webcam is the greater scope for flexibility. You will be able to position the webcam more freely and even physically pick it up and move it around during a video conference.
By contrast, a built-in webcam is going to be in a fixed location, connected to the monitor. The advantage of this means you can look at your screen and appear to be looking into the camera, which can give the impression of making eye contact with others in the meeting. There are some built-in webcams that have privacy sliders to prevent the potential risks of webcam hacking.
As an article for Chron explains, when pure image quality is the main priority, a separate webcam will be the better option because there is more room for top-of-the-range lenses and auto-focus capabilities. However, a built-in webcam will be easier to set up and maintain because they are usually ready for use immediately.
Consider a Large-Format Display
If you are looking to take things to the next level, the best video conferencing setup will likely include a large-format display such as a wireless presentation display (WPD) or an interactive whiteboard like a ViewBoard. These devices allow for wireless content sharing, which can be especially valuable when visual content needs to be shared.
ViewBoards have the added benefit of providing touchscreen functionality and offer the ability to share and annotate content in real-time. This makes the hardware especially valuable for video conferences where live collaboration is key. Wireless presentation displays are a useful entry-level option that delivers content-sharing and video conferencing capabilities.
Using large-format displays are ideal for conference rooms where multiple people will be participating in hybrid meetings with remote workers. Their features such as real-time annotation and content-sharing will help ease communication across timezones and borders.
Software for the Best Video Conferencing Setup
Once you have the right hardware for your video conferencing needs, the next step is to make sure you also have the right software. In this section, we explore the most important applications or programs to consider.
Video Conferencing Solutions
The most obvious software you are going to need is a dedicated video conferencing package. Essentially, this is the software that participants will use to connect and make use of audio and visual technology. Crucially, the software will be able to facilitate real-time communication between multiple people at once.
There is a wide range of different video conferencing solutions on the market, but some of the most popular and best-known include Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Google Meet, and Skype. The popularity of these options also makes them the safest bets when your video conferencing may need to involve third parties.
The exact features of each of these applications do vary, but they offer similar core functionality, allowing employees to see and hear each other while making use of other communication tools. Therefore, your chosen software will largely depend on personal preference or on compatibility with the other software you use for work purposes.
Digital Whiteboarding Software
If you are going to make use of a ViewBoard or similar, you are also going to need to have digital whiteboarding software as well. This software will enable the use of a real-time digital whiteboard, allowing visual information to be shared among those participating in the video conference, while other features will also be on offer.
A great option here is the myViewBoard solution from ViewSonic. This comes pre-installed on all ViewSonic displays, including ViewBoards. The software allows you to make use of a digital whiteboard, import files, collaborate using a range of built-in tools, and record and save presentations.
When used alongside your main video conferencing software, digital whiteboarding software can greatly enhance the overall quality of communication, providing extra options, especially when it comes to sharing visual information. Most options will also function well alongside applications like Microsoft PowerPoint and Google Classroom.
It has never been more important for businesses and individuals to obtain the best video conferencing setup, and this means acquiring the right hardware and software. Aside from webcams, microphones, speakers, and headsets, the quality of video conferences can be improved through the use of wireless presentation displays or digital whiteboards. From there, it is simply a case of acquiring video conferencing and digital whiteboarding software solutions.