In a world where it’s become common to do business remotely, video conferencing is a powerful tool, so it’s important to have the right equipment. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and wondering exactly what equipment is required for audio and video conferencing, we can help.
In this article, we’ve covered the essentials of what you need to know before purchasing video conferencing equipment. After all, we know a thing or two about the subject having recently partnered with Poly to integrate RingCentral Rooms with their Poly Studio X30 and X50 video bars.
What equipment do you need for video conferencing?
When assembling your video conferencing kit, first consider which software is best for your needs. It’s the centrepiece of your setup and will dictate the rest of the equipment you’ll need. This will typically come in the form of some kind of cloud-based app that you download onto your device – be it a laptop, desktop, or phone.
Then there are the audio and visual considerations. Video conferencing is a two-way street so you’ll need a microphone, speaker, a screen to see your caller on, and a camera to transmit from your end. Of course, most phones and laptops come equipped with all of this – but depending on requirements and the environment you’re making the call in, you may need to invest in more advanced hardware. It’s an important equipment consideration to make before your first live video conference.
Lastly, you need a fast, secure internet connection. There’s nothing worse than a video call that’s lagging and cutting out due to patchy coverage. There are a variety of websites out there where you can check the speed of your connection to make sure. Don’t forget, if you use that connection for heavy tasks like downloading or gaming this can choke your internet and result in an unreliable connection on your call.
Choosing video conferencing software
When you’re choosing software, think about the minimum system requirements you’ll need. We’d recommend prioritising safety and security, then considering essential features. That way, if you’re sharing sensitive information, you won’t have to worry about it falling into the wrong hands. RingCentral Office, for example, has built-in security that encrypts conversations between all endpoints.
Ask yourself what software features you’ll need for video conferencing. Can it handle a number of callers? Does it include screen-sharing functionality? Will it integrate seamlessly with other apps that you use day to day?
Ask yourself what software features you’ll need for video conferencing. Can it handle a number of callers? Does it include screen-sharing functionality? Will it integrate seamlessly with other apps that you use day to day? Click To Tweet
There’s also the question of cost. If you’re not planning on making calls very often, it may make more sense to opt for free video conferencing software. Be careful though. Look into the software you’re considering to make sure it’s issued by a reputable provider and is safe to use. Also remember to check that the free version covers all the functionality you need, as there could be ‘hidden’ costs associated with some features.
Choosing a headset
Struggling to decide on the best headset for your video conferencing needs? Consider comfort first. Do your research and read user reviews to get a feel for what headphones might be the best fit.
If you’re taking important video conference meetings, you’ll want to consider a pair of headphones that promise high-quality audio. If it’s less about fidelity and more of a background noise issue, ‘closed ear’ headsets or earbuds will deliver more clarity against intrusive sounds in your immediate environment.
It’s also important to check if your headset comes with a microphone. Some headphones come with hands-free style microphones that are integrated into the cable so that they hang at around mouth level when worn. More on microphones in the following section.
Sometimes the best headphones for video conferencing are not headphones at all. Perhaps you can make do with the speakers built into your phone or laptop? If you’re lucky enough to have a quiet working environment where you can operate with these, you may be able to save the expense of a headset.
Choosing a microphone
If high-end audio isn’t a priority, you won’t need to invest in a fancy new microphone. If it’s just you in a small room, and you’re mostly talking to work colleagues throughout the day, then the best headphones for video conferencing will already come with an integrated mic.
However, if you do need to deliver crisp, crystal clear audio to the other endpoints of your call, you may want to consider investing in a more professional microphone. This can be particularly useful if you’re also going to be hosting large-scale video conferences or webinars where it’s imperative you’re heard clearly.
There are a couple of options for this depending on your meeting set-up. If it’s only your voice that needs to be heard, consider a cardioid microphone. This type of mic captures sound from the front, minimising unwanted ambient noise so nobody will miss a word.
If there’s going to be a few of you in the room, a wireless, omnidirectional microphone (or speaker microphone) might be the best option for your video conference. It’s equally sensitive to sound from all directions. Click To Tweet
Choosing a monitor
Perhaps one of the most important hardware elements for video conferencing – what monitor you choose will depend on your needs. Good monitors don’t have to be expensive, but your laptop screen – or even phone – may do the job so you don’t have to buy an extra piece of hardware.
If you spend a lot of your working day on video calls with colleagues and clients, you might want to invest in a quality screen that offers an enhanced experience for your virtual meetings. There are even video conferencing monitors built specifically for this type of communication, with improved ergonomic design and refresh rate – that’s the number of times a screen updates with new images each second to simulate movement.
Another consideration is whether you need a large monitor or a second screen. This can come in useful if you need to multitask during your video conferences. For example, you might need to have a document or presentation open for review.
Choosing a camera
The best webcam for video conferencing will depend on how you’re going to be using it. Many laptops come equipped with a camera, but you might prefer a better quality standalone model if you’re often meeting with important clients. It’s likely your integrated camera won’t be very high spec, which can result in a grainy picture.
Most integrated laptop cameras have a basic high definition resolution of 720p – the next steps up are typically 1080p and 4k, which you’ll be able to get on standalone models. However, no matter how high spec your webcam is, the quality of your picture also relies on the strength of your internet connection.
Technicalities aside, a standalone webcam has many other benefits. You can control its positioning and angle to better frame your head and background. Or, in terms of portable video conferencing equipment, a wireless webcam can allow you to roam around if you need to (within the limits of your WiFi connection).
As with some of the other video conferencing equipment, it’s important to ask yourself if you really need to buy a camera or if your phone or laptop webcam will suffice.
A video conferencing system to suit you
Ultimately, the equipment you end up choosing will really all depend on your own unique requirements and preferences.
You may decide you need to go all out and invest in high-quality equipment if you spend much of your working week in important video meetings. If, on the other hand, you have limited video conferencing needs the basics might be enough – or perhaps you’ll choose to invest in just one piece of top grade gear, such as a standalone webcam. The good news is that having all the equipment isn’t essential because most commonly owned phones and laptops can do the job.
If you’re looking for a collaborative software system that integrates video conferencing, phone calls, messaging and more, explore how RingCentral Office could work for you.
Originally published 09 Apr, 2021, updated 13 Jan, 2023