How often has that overused phrase ‘plug’n’play been used to describe a product that turns out to be anything but? For once the Logitech GROUP video conferencing / collaboration solution proved to be exactly as described on the box- literally, since the simple instructions are actually printed on the underside of the box lid.
There is no software to download. No complex wiring to install (wires and connections are colour-coded and so you can’t really go wrong.) Just position the conference phone, camera and satellite microphones. Open your Skype/ Microsoft Lync 2013, Skype for Business, Cisco Jabber or WebEx compatible account and call.
In less than five minutes we set up a multiparty call between four meeting attendees in four different locations, two using desktop computers, one with a laptop and one with an Android smartphone. This kind of ease-of-use is very much at odds with the popular idea of what video conferencing is all about – and yes we know all about fire wall traversal and the other complicating factors in traditional VC.
Logitech GROUP gets around all of that by using Skype. and other popular apps, as the as the basis for exchanging audio and video content. If you can use Skype, you can use Logitech GROUP to improve the experience. So what do you get that improves on a standard Skype call from a web cam enabled laptop or tablet?
First, Logitech GROUP provides crystal-clear audio and high-quality HD video conferencing for workgroups of up to 14 people (or up to 20 with the optional Expansion Microphones to improve audio reception). Movement of the camera is directed from the unit’s remote control and proves to be highly sensitive. The PTZ camera’s optical performance was excellent, and particularly impressive in in low light. The range of camera movement was excellent, so we could have it see both the floor and ceiling, with a 260-degree pan and a 90-degree field of view.
Audio was again free of any noticeable artefacts. The addition of the Expansion Microphones enabled the more distant meeting participants to heard clearly, wherever those in our Test Center were sitting in the room. The full-duplex, sleek speakerphone delivered sound that is crisp, clear, and can be heard by everyone in the meeting. The unit’s metal case helps improve acoustic performance, and by isolating the microphone and speaker it provides good audio quality.
The combination of four omnidirectional microphones, acoustic echo and noise-cancelling technology delivers conversational realism. Conference participants can converse within a 20-foot diameter around the base, or extend the range to 28-feet with the Expansion Microphones. It can also be used with Bluetooth-enabled mobile devices for audio calls.
The 1080p video quality brings full HD video to conference calls, enabling meeting participants to clearly read expressions and body-language. A wide field of view and smooth pan and tilt controls enhance collaboration by making it easy to see everyone in the room. On-board H.264 with scalable video coding frees up bandwidth by putting video processing within the camera, resulting in a smoother video stream. The 10x lossless HD zoom allows participants to zero in on close-ups of objects and whiteboard content with outstanding detail and clarity.
Pricing and conclusion
Logitech GROUP is affordable and enables organisations to use the same room system configuration for whichever unified communications, web conferencing or video conferencing application they already use. The solution deploys in minutes and is simple to use, allowing any meeting space to be a flexible multi-use video collaboration space. We thoroughly recommend Logitech GROUP as a standalone video solution for SMEs and as a departmental or workgroup solution for enterprises.
Logitech GROUP is available in the UK at a suggested price of £999 ex VAT. To this, you would probably want to add a monitor or a 42-inch or bigger flatscreen or smart TV. The expansion microphones have an SSP of £249 ex VAT. At this price, Logitech GROUP provides new users with an ideal introduction to video collaboration with very little risk. It takes what they already know and use and takes it the experience to the next level.
Logitech GROUP answers many of the traditional objections to an investment in video conferencing – limited audience, high cost and considerable complexity. Our tests revealed clearly demonstrable advantages over the PC / webcam combination that many prospective users might already use. By dealing with the issues usually associated with Skype calls, Logitech GROUP may prove a pathfinder to further business technology investments.
Logitech GROUP Specifications
Windows 7, 8.1 or 10
Mac OS X 10.7 or higher
Camera: 130 mm x 170 mm x 138 mm
Weight: 585 g
Speakerphone: 240 mm x 65 mm x 240 mm
Weight: 1223 g
Hub: 94 mm x 34 mm x 74 mm
Weight: 83 g
Remote: 50 mm x 120 mm x 12 mm
Weight: 51 g
Wall/Table Mount: 210 mm x 120 mm x 99 mm
Weight: 255 g
Expansion Mics: 83 mm x 83 mm x 21 mms
Weight: 230 g
2-Year Limited Hardware Warranty
Smooth motorized pan
Tilt and zoom
Controlled from remote or console 260°pan
10x lossless HD zoom
90° Field of View
Full HD 1080p 30fps
H.264 UVC 1.5 with Scalable Video Coding (SVC)
Autofocus 5 camera presets
Far-end control (PTZ) of ConferenceCam product
ZEISS lens certification
Kensington security slot
LED to confirm video streaming
Standard tripod thread
Dockable 8.5 m
Acoustic echo cancellation
Noise reduction technology
Bluetooth and NFC enabled
LCD for caller ID, call duration and other functional response
LEDs for speakerphone streaming, mute, hold, and Bluetooth
Touch controls for call answer/end, volume and mute, Bluetooth – plus camera PTZ, “home” preset and far-end control
Four omni-directional microphones supporting 20-foot diameter range
Frequency response: 100Hz – 11KHz
Sensitivity: -28dB +/-3dB
Distortion: <5% from 200Hz
Kensington security slot
Hub / Cable:
Central mountable hub for connection of all components
Included adhesive solution for under-table mounting
Two cables for connection between hub and camera/ speakerphone (Length: 5m)
One USB cable for connection to PC/Mac (Length: 2 m)
AC Power adapter (Length: 3 m)
Dual purpose mount for wall placement or for elevating camera on table
Compliance and tools:
USB 2.0 compliant
UVC-compliant video and audio for broad application compatibility
Skype for Business certified, Microsoft Lync, Cisco Jabber and WebEx compatible