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lugnut

@look.ca

Videoconferencing help required...

I'm curious if anyone here has used one of these?

»www.futureshop.ca/en-CA/product/···5526en02

I'm wondering mainly about angle of view and if it works well for conferencing in small spaces? My nephew needs a decent videoconferencing solution for his business and the stock camera that came with his Samsung Skype TV blows chunks. It's standard def and a rather narrow angle of view.


milnoc

join:2001-03-05
H3B
kudos:2
$200 for something that probably cost $20 to make? Yikes!

I can understand why the Skype TV cam is narrow. It was probably designed to be used in a living room where people are sitting some ten feet away from the screen, and not sitting up close. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like computer Webcams are compatible with Skype equipped TVs.

How about plugging a computer into the TV and using a high def Webcam on the computer?
--
Watch my future television channel's public test broadcast!
»thecanadianpublic.com/live


lugnut

@look.ca
He's not worried about the money. His business is doing gangbusters. The thing is he needs skype because his customers are in Africa and that's pretty much all they have available.

I took another look at the specs on the Logitech website and they don't list a numerical angle of view but they have a graphic that shows it to be about 180 degrees. I think this is probably his best bet for his tiny conference room.


milnoc

join:2001-03-05
H3B
kudos:2
It's too bad your nephew couldn't just use a cheap PC to host the Skype session. This way, you can use the best Webcam available for the room ("wide" selection right there ), and set up a separate multi-microphone system to greatly improve the sound.
--
Watch my future television channel's public test broadcast!
»thecanadianpublic.com/live


lugnut

@look.ca
Actually he's in the process of wiring up his new corporate offices right now. 100% Mac IT dept.

It would be criminal to waste a $1500 iMac just for videoconferencing.

Anyway, I spoke to him tonight and he's gonna talk to his IT guy about the logitech I linked. Future Schlock has a 30 day no quibble, money back guarantee anyway so, worst case scenario, if it's no good it goes back in a week or two.


Gone
Premium
join:2011-01-24
Fort Erie, ON
kudos:4
said by lugnut :

It would be criminal to waste a $1500 iMac just for videoconferencing.

It would be less criminal to spend $600 on a Mac Mini, though.


lugnut

@look.ca
$600 for a Mac Mini plus $X for a quality HD webcam vs $200 for a low power Logitech turnkey solution? No brainer...

jobr

join:2004-10-21
Halifax, NS
reply to lugnut
What kind of internet connection does he have, and perhaps more to the point, what kind do his clients have?

An HD H264 video stream would be a few megabits/sec in upload speed. Even if his connection can handle that, I doubt you'll be able to sustain that speed for video streaming to Africa over the commercial internet.


lugnut

@look.ca
reply to Gone
Seriously if I really wanted to do this on the cheap and could afford to fart around with running a dedicated skype machine I'd probably use a Raspberry Pi and Linux on a flash drive and a stock webcam, but he needs something that just works and installed quickly with minimum muss and fuss. To save maybe an extra $100 it ain't worth the grief.


lugnut

@look.ca
reply to jobr
said by jobr:

What kind of internet connection does he have, and perhaps more to the point, what kind do his clients have?

An HD H264 video stream would be a few megabits/sec in upload speed. Even if his connection can handle that, I doubt you'll be able to sustain that speed for video streaming to Africa over the commercial internet.

His business connection is Bell Fibe 16. The wild card, as you guessed, is the connection his clients have in Africa. Erratic is putting it mildly, but the big mining operations he deals with I believe might have their own satellite uplinks.

I've personally tried connecting with him in Africa once on his iPhone to my laptop here. Quality is nothing to write home about, but video and voice is acceptable.

Like I said, he uses Skype because it is pretty much universally available over there and I seriously doubt his clients would spring for more sophisticated bandwidth or dedicated hardware or software.

The more I research this, the more I think the Logitech Skype TV unit I linked is his best option for his home base. He has no control over what his clients are using but at least it's his best option for conferencing.


lugnut

@look.ca
reply to jobr
said by jobr:

An HD H264 video stream would be a few megabits/sec in upload speed. Even if his connection can handle that, I doubt you'll be able to sustain that speed for video streaming to Africa over the commercial internet.

One other point is that Skype uses adaptive codec technology to select the best compression factors for the bandwidth of the connection. While he may not be able to stream best quality HD video to Africa, at least he'll still be able to send a full widescreen aspect ratio that would be able to display his entire conference room when necessary.


Gone
Premium
join:2011-01-24
Fort Erie, ON
kudos:4
reply to lugnut
said by lugnut :

$600 for a Mac Mini plus $X for a quality HD webcam vs $200 for a low power Logitech turnkey solution? No brainer...

A $600 Mac mini is a lot less than the $1500 iMac you were talking about before.

MaynardKrebs
Heave Steve, for the good of the country
Premium
join:2009-06-17
kudos:4
reply to lugnut
Buy a used iMac.
Plenty good for what he wants it for.


lugnut

@look.ca
In WHAT Universe is it cheaper or more reliable to run a separate computer sucking hydro 24/7 and still having to buy a separate webcam than it is to buy a standalone network appliance that idles at low power and costs less than one third of the first solution?


Gone
Premium
join:2011-01-24
Fort Erie, ON
kudos:4
said by lugnut :

sucking hydro 24/7

Never heard of a power switch, eh?

When Skype changes something about their protocol in a few years or 1080p video conferencing is the norm and expected, you'll thank yourself for buying a full-blown computer with an easily and cheap-to-replace webcame rather than some $200 "appliance"


lugnut

@look.ca
In 5 or 6 years it'll all be obsolete hardware anyway. Realistically if your hardware functions for 3 years or more you're ahead of the game regardless of what you buy in electronics.

As for Skype changing their protocols any time soon, it's very unlikely, and so far they've managed to keep backward compatibility on everything they've put out for the last decade or so. And believe me, there's a LOT of skype enabled dedicated hardware floating around out there already.

Throughout this thread I haven't heard one convincing argument for any better alternatives to the Logitech unit I linked.

And yes, it would be running 24/7 because of the time zone differences with Africa and his other global customers.


LazMan
Premium
join:2003-03-26
canada
reply to lugnut
Two comments...

First off, reviews of the box you posted seem positive - unless you have a Panasonic TV - there's reports of firmware issues with several models... Otherwise, reviews seem fine.

That said - I'd agree with those that think a multifunction PC could be more useful... And for not much more money. Skype on Windows or Linux isn't hard to setup and maintain; and is far more versatile, if one of his clients wants to do desktop sharing, review a presentation/powerpoint/document, etc, etc...


lugnut

@look.ca
Could you please link to the reviews you found on the Logitech? My google-fu seems to be broken since all I could come up with on the model number was the future shop site and logitech's home page


LazMan
Premium
join:2003-03-26
canada
reply to lugnut
Just googled Logitech Skype tv - got reviews from amazon, pcworld, and a couple other sites....


Gone
Premium
join:2011-01-24
Fort Erie, ON
kudos:4
reply to lugnut
said by lugnut :

And yes, it would be running 24/7 because of the time zone differences with Africa and his other global customers.

... so there's going to be video conferencing going on 24 hours a day and seven days a week?


milnoc

join:2001-03-05
H3B
kudos:2
reply to lugnut
It looks like your original link is your only viable option. Everything else I've found has an angle of view that will probably be way too narrow for the small conference room. Even Webcams don't usually support 178 degree fields of view, which this product does support.

As for Skype in the TV becoming obsolete after a few years, I doubt that. The Skype on my Nokia N900 which I've bought back in December of 2009 still works. And chances are the TV will support firmware updates to upgrade Skype to the latest features.
--
Watch my future television channel's public test broadcast!
»thecanadianpublic.com/live