Video conferencing can be an awkward experience.
The equipment is hard to set up. It’s confusing as to how to connect to the right room. You often need specific and expensive technology to make it work.
Where to look for a solution to this problem? How about Google Inc.? And I don’t mean the search engine. Google is expanding its presence in the office with its own videoconferencing solution – Chromebox for Meetings.
In short, Google is taking its Hangouts chat and video calling service and packaging it in specialised hardware. Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., ASUSTek Computer Inc., Dell Inc., and Hewlett-Packard Co. have all come forward saying they will be releasing their own versions of this hardware in the coming days and months.
Unbox a Chromebox and here’s what you’ll find: a small box with the hardware needed to run Chrome OS, a wide angle high definition Web cam, a puck-shaped speaker and microphone, and a remote control. What’s not clear at this point is how manufacturers will differentiate their products. But you can likely expect some different price points.
Hook the Chromebox up to a monitor in your meeting room and you’re ready to start conferencing. Type in your guests’ emails to invite them to join you. You can have up to 15 users on one call.
When someone new joins the conference, there is no audio interruption, just a visual cue they are in the room. The camera automatically swiches to the person talking, or you can take control. You can turn off your microphone or webcam at any point, or mute other participants.
Chromebox for Meetings is coming to Canada, but we’re not sure when and at what price.
In the U.S., the ASUS Chromebox for meetings is being sold for $999. That includes the first year of service, a $250 annual subscription for 24/7 support.