With a commanding 73% market share, Logitech is the leader in webcams. They’ve been very successful at diversifying their product range, introducing the ConferenceCam, GROUP and PTZ Pro models aimed at business users.
These business oriented offerings have vaulted the company to new heights in the VC/UC space. Yet the meeting/huddle room focus left desktop users clinging to the HD Pro Webcam C920 and C930e. While these are both excellent products, they have been around a very long time.
It’s been a year or more that tools like Google’s Hangouts have supported the ability to share a host computer screen with the viewing audience. This was rightfully heralded as “a very good thing indeed.” However, it’s current incarnation is considerably less than ideal and seems to be stalled. I’d like to lay out a challenge to see if anyone is interested into taking this to the next level, which is something that we’ve tried to do with a few VUC calls earlier this year.
Here’s the fundamental problem; people use screen sharing to give demos of software and share documents, which includes giving presentations a la PowerPoint, Keynote, etc. Currently, Hangouts, Jitsi Video Bridge and the like show either the screen share or the camera. In the case of slide presentations there can be very little activity in view as the presenter speaks to the points shown on the current slide. This creates less than compelling visuals.
There are often little conveniences that we deny ourselves. At least, that’s true around here. To the observant, these can be the basis for a thoughtful and unexpected gift. For example, do you have a high-quality USB 3.0 hub at your desk? Does your intended giftee? Very few people have such a handy little item. I’ve come to think that an exceptionally good one, the sort we would not buy ourselves, makes a great gift.
A USB 3.0 hub acts very much like a port replicator to a laptop. It allows you to have multiple devices connected at once, far more than the number of ports provided on the laptop. In fact, some ultrabook models now offer only one or two USB ports, making a hub even more useful.
I’ve been toying with standing while working in my home office. I say “toying” with it because I really haven’t made a substantial commitment to the idea. At least not until recently.
Back in December 2013 I purchased an adjustable laptop stand that’s capable of putting my laptop at the correct height for working while standing. It’s not great. It’s just not rigid enough to accommodate my typing. It’s adequate for reading but not good for writing. It renders my laptop about the same level of utility as my Nexus 7 tablet.
I also found that my laptop stand, purchased years ago from Frontgate, can just make it up to the right height for standing. In fact, I started writing this post in that manner. However, it too is less than ideal. I find that I don’t like looking down at the laptop display a long time. I also missed the dual-monitor setup that I have on my desk.
Over the course of the past year or two I’ve been making increasing use of video in my home office. Sometimes it’s in a professional context using dedicated hardware. Often it’s less formal, leveraging Google Hangouts or Jitsi Video Bridge. In all cases I’ve found a need to improve the lighting so that I can be well represented on the calls.
I wrote about this over a series of four posts. There may be more coming, too. I thought it useful to collect the series here in one pace for convenient reference.
Lighting for Video Calling and Conferencing in a Home Office