The way Logitech sees it, setting up a video conferencing system for your office shouldn’t be a choice between a high-end system costing thousands of dollars and a laptop’s built-in camera that everyone is crowding around. The latest version of the company’s conference camera product, the $ 999 Logitech Group, combines an HD video camera and a full-duplex speaker.
Scheduled for a launch in early March, the Logitech Group is designed for conferences containing up to 14 people. Add a $ 300 set of optional expansion microphones to the setup, and you can seat 20 people in a conference.
Those participating in a video conference will be looking at a 1080p camera with a 90-degree field of view and pan and tilt controls. Integrated H.264 with scalable video encoding aims to provide smoother video streaming, according to Logitech. The camera connects to an existing Mac or PC via USB, which should simplify installation.
MORE: 20 Best Productivity Apps
Logitech focuses on hardware. In terms of software, the Logitech Group works with video conferencing tools that your office is probably already using. Logitech says its latest conference camera works with Microsoft Lync, Skype, Jabber, WebEx, and BlueJeans.
“We’re trying to create a simple product that competes with high-end options,” said Scott Wharton, vice president and general manager of video collaboration at Logitech.
The Logitech Group replaces Logitech’s previous conference camera offering, the Lyric CC3000e. This version promises audio enhancements with four omni-directional microphones instead of just one. The microphones use beamforming and noise cancellation technology for clearer conversations. That expansion mic option is new too, increasing the speaker’s reach to a 28-foot diameter from 20 feet.
I briefly had the opportunity to see the Logitech Group in action. Video looked clean and sharp, even when the camera was zooming in on something in the meeting room. I think offices will be equally impressed with the simple setup process, which involves connecting the camera and phone rather than going through an elaborate setup routine.
“You don’t need an IT department,” Wharton said of the setup process.