Video conferencing is an excellent way for people to instantly connect and collaborate face to face with remote colleagues, partners and customers, but setting it up can present a logistical challenge. Meeting room layouts are unique, and BYOD policies can make it difficult to ensure system requirements are fully supported throughout all of the devices in your organization.
But there are some basic system, software and hardware guidelines that you can follow to set up a video conference that reliably maintain high quality audio and video. We put together this article to give you a simple, straightforward checklist that you can use to get up and running with video conferencing.
Minimum system requirements for video conferencing
Before getting into the nitty-gritty of the exact hardware and software you’ll need for your video conferencing solution, let’s start with the basic network, computing and webcam requirements. Today’s video conferencing solution comprises a central cloud-hosted infrastructure routing calls between personal device clients and meeting room device endpoints. Even the highest quality equipment in the world still won’t work properly if you don’t have a capable network or use a high quality video conferencing service.
1. High-resolution webcam
The visibility of subtleties like facial expressions and body language are crucial to quality video conferencing. If details like these get lost, then meetings lack the authenticity of real-life, face-to-face interactions. For video conferencing services that only support 1280x720 resolution (720p), a 720p camera is all you’ll benefit from. Lifesize supports 4K video conferencing so video systems with resolutions as high as 3840x2160 (4K) can be seen and experienced at their full resolution.
2. Computer processing
If your computer lacks a sufficiently fast processor, your audio and video quality will be downgraded to make the best possible call for your system’s specs. For today’s modern video conferencing, your computer should have a minimum 2 GB of RAM and a quad-core processor.
3. Network bandwidth
The effect of a slow network on video conferencing is similar to that of a slow computer processor: your call will dynamically adjust to give you the best possible quality with the available network. The network bandwidth required will depend on the resolution and frame rate you desire: 1 Mbps is sufficient for 15 fps at 720p resolution, while 30 fps at 4K will require closer to 4 Mbps. As a rule of thumb, the more participants there are in the video conference call, the more bandwidth is required.
Hardware requirements for video conferencing
Now that you know the minimum network, processing and video resolution requirements, it’s time to get all the right equipment in place. The audio/video coverage of your hardware setup will depend primarily on the number of people, locations and room size of the meeting. Here are the basic pieces of video conferencing equipment you’ll need for the meeting room.
1. Video conferencing system
The best quality video calls start with a great video conferencing camera system. Our professional line of audio and video conferencing equipment is engineered to deliver an amazing meeting experience. From all-hands spaces and boardrooms to small huddle rooms, our cloud-based meeting room solutions bring industry-leading video conferencing and wireless screen sharing to all your meeting spaces.
2. Video display screen
The size and type of display screen required will primarily depend on the size and number of people the room is designed for. A single 4K television is enough for many small meeting rooms, while conference rooms and boardrooms are typically suited for dual displays or projectors.
A touchscreen conference phone with built-in microphone is used to navigate your directory, control camera pan/tilt/zoom options and bring essential audio conferencing functions to your fingertips. Conference phones purpose-built for video will feature echo cancellation, automatic gain control and automatic noise reduction to give meeting room participants crystal clear audio. For ultra-large meeting rooms, microphone extensions can be added to extend the reach of the mic array.
Software requirements for video conferencing
A great video call is the combination of capable equipment, a robust network and the software used to tie it all together. Video conferencing software becomes the portal for seeing your colleagues, partners and customers face to face, and it also handles the heavy encoding and decoding required for securely encrypting your calls and ensuring your audio and video is delivered in real time. If you want to get the most out of your system, then you’ll need software that is intuitive and easy to use.
Video conferencing software
Browser-based apps and desktop apps can make use of embedded cameras and microphones or connect to more robust peripherals through USB or Bluetooth connectivity. Apps like Google Hangouts™ are good for simple video calls but less so for video conference calls that need to account for more attendees, require connecting to meeting room devices and need the added levels of reliability and security for mission-critical meetings.
Software that is deeply integrated with your hardware is the key to simple connectivity and fully utilizing your system. Lifesize has developed its own video conferencing software — packaged with its meeting room systems and wireless sharing devices — that provides easy access to features like wireless screen sharing to aid in interactive collaboration.
Mobile video conferencing app
If your meeting participants need on-the-go access, then you’ll need a mobile app. Mobile apps give participants access to the video conference through smartphones and tablets and include features and layouts designed for smaller screens. The Lifesize mobile app, for example, offers a pinch-to-zoom option for seeing fine details on a shared presentation as well as the ability to slide into “listen-only” mode, which disables camera feeds for times when you’re in a crowded space and can’t participate in the call but still want to listen in.
How Major League Baseball configured their video conferencing setup using Lifesize
In 2017, MLB chose Lifesize as their video conferencing solution to plan the World Baseball Classic and the All-Star Game. This required building a system that connected meeting rooms in four different countries along with remote employees from their personal devices.
Lifesize set up video conferencing systems in each of the locations, allowing team representatives and MLB executives to join each daily meeting (a 42% increase from the previous tournament). A big part of this increase was the ease with which participants could join remotely.
“So many changes are made during these calls that it’s important we’re all on the same page. Lifesize makes that happen,” said Daniel. “I don’t use the term lightly, but Lifesize has truly revolutionized the way we conduct meetings.”
—Daniel Gainey, Manager of IT Operations at MLB
Read more about Lifesize’s collaboration with MLB
Even high-tech companies often waste big chunks of time on connectivity issues or fail to properly take advantage of their system’s features. Getting all of your equipment to work in conjunction and providing all meeting participants with easy mobile access can be a nightmare with a free app — especially for bigger meetings.
Lifesize makes it simple: your meeting room devices are integrated with your video conferencing app for built-in connectivity and easy setup. Add to that 4K video quality, and with Lifesize you can create a uniquely immersive, seamless meeting experience that just works.