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Be Correctly Equipped - The Tools For Videoconferencing

Aug 18, 2007
Knowing exactly what kind of videoconference you plan will tell you the tools you will need. An Integrated System, this refers to a room-size setup, is often the choice for a videoconference room. In the integrated videoconferencing room there is a variety of multimedia equipment and peripherals. There are multiple monitors or large screens used to display the video as well as multiple microphones. Integrated systems can be used for businesses; schools, boardrooms and libraries and if an integrated system is what you need you will need the following:

Codec: This is the computer used to code and compress the outgoing signal. It also decodes and decompresses the incoming audio and video signals. In the case of an integrated system the Codec required is usually a hardware platform due to the fact that hardware Codecs are generally faster in completing their compression/decompression task and thus make near real-time communication more likely. Hardware codecs also often carry their own processing power on-board so they are not reliant upon the resources of an underlying computer system. This is a multimedia platform capable of delivering via audio, video, streaming, and digital. For a smaller videoconference, videoconference software can be used.

Monitor: Portable and fixed systems have one or two large video monitors, 2x80 cm being a reliable size, that usually display the local audience as well as the remote audience, though an economical, installed system using an LCD projector will be a much better solution for larger groups. Most often a computer monitor is used and display quality of the monitor, such as screen size and resolution, affect the size and clarity of the incoming video display, but the performance and capabilities of the codec along with the quality and bandwidth of the network connection will have the most effect on image. Beyond the standard computer monitor, large movie or presentation screens can be used and the video can be projected onto a screen.

Camera: The most common is a single main camera that captures live movement occurring at one end so that it may be sent to the other end in near real-time. High-end systems often come with a variety of input sockets allowing for connections to other peripherals such as a document camera, a second video input connection, and other auxiliary equipment. Two cameras are often required for videoconferencing rooms. One remains a dedicated camera focused on the speaker while another can be used to pan the audience or pull in tight on a person asking a question. A camera for room-size videoconferencing often falls into the category of a PAL camera, which means Phase Alternating Line. Most video adapters that enable computer monitors to be used as television screens support PAL signals.

Microphones: There is a very wide range in microphones used for a videoconference though usually a room-size videoconference requires an omni-directional microphone or several smaller directional microphones placed throughout. A common type of microphone used in a session is a lapel microphone. The lapel microphone is clipped onto a jacket or shirt and worn on a belt. A lapel microphone is wireless and allows movement. The desktop microphone is a microphone that sits on the table and pick up the voices as the speakers engage in the videoconference. In all cases sophisticated diagnostics and processing must be a built-in feature to control background noise and echo.

Speakers: Speakers may be the easiest videoconference tools to select. For most rooms the speakers of a TV or computer monitor can be used or you could get a separate sound system comprising an amplifier, optional equalizer, and speakers. If the room is a permanent videoconference room then wall mounted speakers are recommended to adequately project the audio to all participants in the room.

Your last tool for a videoconference would be the control panel, which allows users to place calls, adjust volume, pan and zoom the camera and more. The control panel is usually contained within the videoconference system as a keyboard and is used just like a computer keyboard although wireless keyboards are also available. Though style and level of the components listed here may vary, this is what you will need to be correctly equipped for a videoconference.
About the Author
For several years now, Jason has been reviewing hundreds of online products and services. Many consider his reviews to be very insightful and reliable. Visit his website 1VideoConference.com
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