The best conference room webcams are different to the usual best webcams for home working. Rather than being used for a single person, these handy devices enable an entire room to participate. Using wide angle, even 360º, lenses with smart cameras and microphones, the best conference room webcams can connect an entire table of people.
With more teams working across offices and homes, there is more need than ever for conference rooms to be equipped with the tech to share meetings with those working remotely.
You might be wondering what the difference is between ordinary and conference room webcams. Well, while ordinary webcams have a fixed camera (usually atop the monitor), conference room webcams need features to home in on subjects and select sounds without requiring participants to use mics and headphones.
Look for automatic face detection and conference-grade microphones and speakers with noise cancelation. This means that the audio will be clean and clear and even those sat furthest away from the camera won’t be lost in the meeting melee.
When looking for the best conference room webcam for your needs, you’ll also need to consider resolution as well as panning capabilities. Jumping from 720p to 1080p to 4K means that the detail will roughly double each time, if you have the network bandwidth to handle it.
It's also worth noting that some cameras will use digital zoom and perspective correction to hone the footage. Meanwhile, high-end PTZ cameras will track subjects using optical technology, which tends to have superior sharpness over other models. The downside can be the sound of the internal mechanics and a need to oversee the camera’s choice of direction.
When working on your conference room webcam setup, you'll also need to consider the sound and noise cancellation capabilities. Some larger rooms will call for multiple speakers in order to get the best experience.
Best conference room webcams
The Meeting Owl was a successful product, picking up several awards for its cute (but not too cute) design, capped with a 360˚ camera and equipped with the software to identify team members who are talking and give them centre stage. Along the top (unless disabled in the options) is a thin strip showing a perspective-corrected strip of the whole-room view; in both cases the images are considerably more flattering than from a shorter camera thanks to the device's 273mm body height (nearly 11 inches), and the sound is capably handled by the 8 mics which also help locate the subject (and boast a good pick-up range of 5.5m / 18ft). The ‘Pro’ is the newer version, with a more powerful processor, better resolution and louder speakers without too significant a price bump. Camera lock is controlled via a phone app, which is a slightly convoluted solution compared to a remote, but well featured and the device is always popular.
If you want to share the discussion points, the optional Whiteboard Owl accessory adds distortion-corrected view of the whiteboard. The view isn’t even blocked as the board is written on; the software applies partial transparency, and even offers a step-by-step playback. On the downside the device requires an annual software subscription, but it extends the functionality of the Meeting Owl Pro (and only the Pro).
The Rally camera is a Pan/Tilt/Zoom (PTZ) camera which uses Logitech’s RightSense technology to automatically frame every participant – this, they say, is preferable to rapidly moving from one speaking participant to the next and lets you see non-verbal cues. It also boasts good-quality low-light and tone control technology which prioritizes faces, no bad thing when you’re under office lighting. The camera is sold on its own, or as part of the Logitech Rally Plus system, which includes a display hub with a pair of stereo speakers and a smaller table hub to which you can connect microphones. These can be daisy chained to accommodate 46 participants, balancing audio so quieter voicers are still audible on the conference. To make setup easy, the cables and devices come stickered (though you can use a much longer Cat6A cable to connect the hubs if you choose). The remote only has two presets it is good to see a little more urgency in camera movement when one is chosen compared to gentle panning from the directional pad.
See also Best Logitech webcams.
This camera is ideal for meeting rooms where the table touches the same wall as a display. It can be positioned beneath the screen and get a full 180˚ screens-eye view of the whole room so no participants are excluded. Connection is via an optional hub or directly to your computer via USB (the later affording decent portability with a laptop). The system seems to do a good job of blending video from each of the lenses, though you can also opt for ‘intelligent’ mode which zooms into areas of video with movement in (sit too still too long in a meeting and you might get cropped!). Although the device states it’s 4K, it’s worth noting that the reality is that each lens has a 13-megapixel sensor but the camera will zoom past pixel parity so you may see resolution softening on close ups. If you’re not sure you want to share your whole room, Jabra have you covered too; you can choose various fields of view down to 90˚ via the Jabra Direct software.
With a built-in rechargeable battery and Bluetooth connectivity, the Logitech Connect makes sense in a lot of environments where fixing a camera might not; many offices have more meeting rooms than they have conferencing cameras, or you could take one to conduct a site meeting and share it live with the main office. You can plug into a laptop via USB, or your phone with Bluetooth and all but the most intensive meetings should cope with the 3 hours of video or 15 hours audio the battery will provide (though don’t worry, Logitech still provides plugs). The remote control, when not serving as a magnetically attached lens cover, provides pan, tilt and zoom, though there are no auto-tracking features. This is an elegant device, with features like NFC and can make friends with Chromebooks as well as Macs and PCs, and will not disappoint in rooms up to six people. (If you appreciate Logitech’s tech but would like to save on wireless functionality, check the Logitech BCC950 below).
• See also Best Logitech webcams
This meeting camera shows how useful a built-in operating system can be in simplifying the meeting process. While the device itself is built to sit table-centre in a medium-sized meeting room (up to 18ft/5.5m sound pick up), what’s really handy is that it can connect, via HDMI, directly to a wall-mounted display. Using the remote, you can use the display’s menu screen to choose your preferred conferencing app (if it works on Android, it works here). You can even keep the apps up-to-date via the 802.11ac wi-fi or Ethernet and even attach peripherals via USB. The Meeting Pro will act as speaker and microphone, and sports echo and noise cancellation to keep your call clear. It’s possible your colleagues might find the knowledge that there is 64Gb on-board recording space a little unsettling, but the ‘stop’ button is easy to find. The machine’s 8 microphones help it do a good job of identifying the active speaker for the 1080P video output. The camera crunches through 8K worth of input from both cameras which helps people look their best (less distortion correction than some).
The NexiGo Meeting camera creates a 360˚ view of the table it is placed in the centre of using two 195-degree field of view lenses pointing in opposite directions. In that respect it is similar to the Kandao, also in this list. It can also assemble five different arrangements of video which it lists as Discussion mode, Presentation 1 & @ Modes, Global Mode and Patrol Mode. These help you provide the AI with direction without being a slave to camera operation, while the microphone pick up of up to 18ft (5.5m) means the device works on a reasonably large conference table. Having physical volume buttons built in is handy too, since there is no need to track down a remote for problems with volume. Fitters will even be pleased to find a ¼ thread tripod mount on the base, and the device is recognized by all the leading apps: Zoom, Skype, Slack, GoToMeeting, MS Teams and more.
Like the Meeting Owl, this Coolpo sports a 360˚ panoramic camera on top of a tall body which, thanks to built in speakers and four intelligent mics can automatically track the active participant in the meeting, outputting one or more active views and a thin strip of the whole room. The camera is a single lens, looking up, with a 200˚ field of view; it sees slightly below the eye line of the participants, the software does the cropping. If you can place it in the middle of the room, it’s well suited to a huddle-sized meeting table of about 7 people (assuming you have a screen on one wall) with about 15ft / 4.5m sound range. It has broad compatibility in terms of platforms (including WebEx, Cisco, Zoom, GoToMeeting, Skype, MS Teams) and – though it looks like a waiter might use it to offer you pepper at any moment – it’s still pretty handsome. If there is a flaw, the subject tracking seems to take a better-safe-than-sorry approach, framing the round face of even a clock rather than dropping back to two cameras.
Not every conference takes place in a generously sized conference room. Many important meetings take place in a ‘huddle,’ hipster speak for a small meeting in a physically small space, and it is just as necessary for some of these to take place on conference camera. Logitech’s BCC950 tackles that by including a good quality webcam and speakerphone base with the option to position the electronic eye that bit higher if it seems more appropriate by inserting the included extension pole. This means its more likely your remote collaborators are looking you in the eye and getting to hear the discussion, which also benefits from Logitech’s proprietary noise cancelling system. Connectivity is via USB, and works with most platforms.
The Obsbot Tiny, with its in-built mic and gesture-controlled subject tracking, has a lot in common with other devices on this list. It’s also somewhat smaller, making it more portable, because it was conceived, at least in part, with vloggers in mind; it can be set on a tripod – or clipped onto an open laptop. Since a modern conference room can be, more often than not, a fairly lonely place – just you and the whiteboard – this is a fine choice; it can even let yout make a presentation from home to other conference participants connecting via Zoom. Skype, Teams and the like.
We appreciate the dual microphone setup for noise cancelling, and the H.264 video stream with SVC via a USB Type-C cable so it’ll both look good but not overly tax a modern laptop. It’s also a nice touch that the lens can be pointed straight down for privacy.
If you’re looking for a budget option that will nevertheless capture video from a reasonably large conference room – or even work for live streaming events like church services – then the Tongveo is certainly well equipped for the price (as are its siblings with longer zooms but no speakerphone component).
This camera will plug straight into your computer’s USB, Mac or PC, and befriend nearly any live streaming or conferencing platform – and the wireless Bluetooth microphone base (with noise cancellation) means setting the room up is pleasingly quick and without the mess of wires on the table. Camera controls via the remote are not the perfect medium, and as a generic remote there are a few buttons which have no purpose, but that is the price you (don’t) pay for a minimal investment.
Conference room webcams: what to look for
Camera Resolution v Video Resolution
When you’re choosing a conferencing camera, many seem to capture relatively high resolutions. This is because they have several cameras, or unusual lenses with large image sensors, but the image is cropped to fit a standard video shape so its best to think of the output resolution (what people will actually see).
More microphones good
By comparing sound from multiple microphones, systems can get a cleaner sound from people in different places in the room. Even all-in-one devices can use an array of internal microphones to identify where to point their camera. Do note, that some conference webcams expect you to use a separate microphone and speaker unit.
Field of view
Depending on the kind of meeting your planning, you need to decide how wide a field of view you want your camera to have. Something like the Panacast with a 180 degree perspective are similar to placing a laptop at the end of a table, which many traditional conference style meetings do, while a 360-degree device (like the Meeting Owl or Coolpo AI) can sit in the middle of a huddle and let the remote guest feel like a part of the action.
Weight doesn’t matter
More to the point, this isn’t one of those instances where you should be looking for the lightest device you can find. If you’re going to be resting something in the middle of a conferencing table, a bit of heft can be pretty helpful, especially as a counterbalance to a lens which is usually at the top. If you’ve got colleagues who smash the table in anger or celebration, then a few extra grams/ounces will definitely help!
On the other hand, it’s well worth considering where the device’s camera will be compared to the participant’s eyeline. The lower the camera, the less flattering it can be (though you can always rest the device on a few books).
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