In our Buyers Guide for Microsoft Teams Room Systems we will look at some of the best Teams Room solutions currently on the market. One of the questions we find ourselves being asked most frequently is ‘which is the best Microsoft Teams Room’, so hopefully this article will help to answer this question.
Handset Solutions Buyers’ Guides
The aim of our Buyers’ Guides are to help you to make the best purchasing decisions for your organisation. We look at the things you should consider helping you to narrow down a wide range of products to the one best suited to both your budget, and the environment you will be using it. We will cover systems from the smallest huddle rooms or collaboration spaces to the largest board rooms and everything in between. Also see our article on the Best Video Conferencing for Meeting Rooms.
For those not already familiar with Microsoft Teams, it is the ultimate business collaboration tool which includes instant messaging, a telephone system and of course video conferencing. With more the 270 million worldwide active daily users, Microsoft Teams, which is included as part of Office 365, has become the go to communication platform for many organisations.
What is a Microsoft Teams Room?
So what are Microsoft Teams Rooms, or MTR’s as they are often referred to? A Microsoft Teams Room refers to the conferencing hardware that enables you need to transform an existing meeting room into a video-enabled collaboration space. With a Teams Room there is no need to bring a computer to the meeting. An MTR will enable you to hold productive meetings with remote participants at the touch of a button, introducing HD video and audio and enabling you to share content in real-time.
What About Other Collaboration Platforms?
We realise that not all companies use Microsoft Teams for their video calls. Most of the Microsoft Teams Room systems that we cover here are also available preconfigured for Zoom. If you are interested in a dedicated Zoom room system, please ask sales for details. However, some companies will have a requirement have video calls across multiple platforms. We found this article about how to enable Teams Room devices to access multiple platforms particularly useful. It explains how you can configure Teams to enable one-touch access to both Zoom and Cisco Webex just as easily as you can join meetings hosted in Teams.
For more information about wireless BYOD conference solutions you can read our Buyers’ Guide to Wireless Conferencing.
All-In-One Microsoft Teams Room Systems
An all-in-one solution is often referred to as a video bar as the processor, the camera and the speakers are conveniently housed in a sleek collaboration bar. This is mounted on the wall, usually either above or below your display screen. One of the key differences between video bar solutions and a full room system is that they usually use an Android operating system. All in one solutions are perfect for huddle rooms and small meeting rooms.
Five Things To Consider When Buying Video Conferencing
1) Is the video conferencing system easy to use?
Ease of use should always be a top consideration when purchasing video conferencing solutions for your business. If it is difficult to use or figure out, people will tend to avoid using it.
2) Does the solution deliver a consistent experience?
Providing a consistent user experience across an organisation ensures that anyone can enter a room and quickly start a video meeting. Providing the same experience in all rooms, large and small encourages workers to collaborate and make full use of the spaces you have provided
3) Is the solution easy to deploy and maintain?
As well as being easy for workers to use, you want to ensure the solution is easy for IT to implement and maintain. This is particularly important when deploying across multiple sites.
4) Is the solution flexible, offering users choice?
Ideally your solution should be capable of working with multiple platforms. Even if your organisation only use Teams internally, some customers and suppliers may use other platforms.
5) Is the solution scaleable across your organisation?
Video is growing. You want to make sure that your chosen solution can be implemented across multiple rooms, locations and even countries. Also choose a solution that lets you upgrade the audio and video camera elements of the solution as the usage grows.
Poly Studio X Series
The Poly Studio X Series range offer convenient, easy to install all-in-one Teams Rooms solutions for small, medium and large meeting rooms. The Studio X30 caters for small meeting rooms and huddle rooms. Poly’s Studio X50 is for medium rooms up to approximately 10 people. The new dual camera Studio X70 is suited to board rooms and larger groups. While the specification of the camera and the on-board speakers and mics differ to suit the size of the room, all feature a sleek video bar design and the Android operating system which delivers your familiar Teams interface.
Radically Simple Video Bar
The Poly Studio X Series feature Poly’s MeetingAI which use artificial intelligence and machine learning delivering the perfect meeting experience. Advance speaker tracking and framing ensure you always see who is talking and the sound fence technology cuts out any distracting sounds.
The optional Poly TC8 touch interface provides easy access to the Poly Studio X Series video conferencing solutions. A 8” high resolution touch display connects and is powered by a single cable. The TC8 gives access to an integrated calendar, lets you join meetings, share content, adjust the camera and change the participant layout.
Easy to Bring Your Own Device
The Poly X Series supports BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). If you need to have a meeting on a different platform such as Zoom or Webex you can simply connect your laptop to the unit. You also have the option of enhancing the sound by using an additional audio conference unit like the Poly Trio C60 which is perfect for ensuring even those furthest from the display can be heard clearly.
Yealink A20 and Yealink A30 MeetingBar Solutions
The Yealink MeetingBar solutions provide an all-in-one native Android-based Microsoft Teams Room solution. As with the Poly X Series, no PC or external devices are required, the camera, microphone and speakers are all housed within the wall mounted video bar. This allows for easy plug and play installation and keeps cabling to a minimum. The Yealink A20 with its slightly wider 133˚ lens is perfect for smaller rooms, reducing the distance required between camera and participants. The Yealink A30 with dual cameras creates a depth of vision that it’s not possible to create with a single camera. Both models feature full-duplex audio with an 8 MEMS microphone array that provide effect cover for medium sized spaces of up to 6 meters.
Microsoft Teams Rooms on Android
Its AI powered view offers features such as auto framing and speaker tracking. You therefore have control over how your meeting looks and the picture-in-picture option lets you focus on the speaker while keeping all the other participants in view at the same time.
The control surface is provided by the CTP18 which lets you initiate meetings, control the camera and adjust the layout. Connection is either via a single cable, or by WiFi which is handy where cabling is an issue. Another useful option is the VCH51 that enables you to present your PC content to your video system. The VHC51 also enables BYOD mode, making easy to enjoy meetings on any other non Microsoft Teams platform. For extended coverage in larger spaces the Yealink VCM36 (coming soon) wireless microphones has a 3-microphone array with 360 degree coverage and a 6m range.
Our Verdict on All-In-One Microsoft Teams Room Systems
Both the Yealink A-Series and the Poly Studio X Series are built on the same Android operating system. The Yealink comes bundled with the CTP18 control panel where as with the Poly it is an option. However, most users choose the Poly X Series bundled with their TC8 control panel. The Yealink control panel does have the option of connecting to the video bar via WiFi whilst the Poly is by wired ethernet connection only. This may be of benefit where wiring is an issue.
One area where there is a significant difference between the two units is in terms of content sharing. If you want to share wirelessly from a laptop, then the Yealink, with an optional WPP20 dongle is the way to go. The WPP20 plugs into a USB Port on your computer and enables you to stream content into the meeting. For those that are familiar with the Barco Clickshare, the CPP20 works in much the same way. To share content on the Poly Studio X-Series you need to connect your laptop directly to the video bar, which you can do straight out of the box.
Simple To Set Up a Dedicated Room
With the Yealink if you choose to share wired content you will need the optional VCH51. This VCH51 is also required if you want to put your A-Series into BYOD mode. This is something else you can achieve with the Poly X-Series straight out of the box. By putting the video bar into ‘Device Mode’ you can easily host meetings on other platforms directly from your laptop.
Another notable difference is once you get to the mid-room systems, the Yealink A30 and the Poly X50. The Yealink benefits from a second onboard camera. This is of particular benefit for longer meeting rooms as the second camera improves depth perception. The soon to be launched Poly Studio X70 will feature dual cameras, but it is expected to be at a higher price point than the Yealink A30.
Windows Based Microsoft Teams Rooms
At the core of a Windows based Microsoft Teams rooms is a powerful dedicated room computer. The mini-PC forms the central hub of the system, handling and hosting the call. The user then chooses a camera and microphone to suit the size of the room. The principle difference from the all-in-one systems is that here you are running Microsoft Teams on a Windows PC rather than via an Android App.
Windows Teams Room systems are scaleable and lend themselves to deploying the same system throughout the entire workspace. You just match either a small, medium or large configuration, to match the size of the room. The technology and the user experience remains the same whichever room you are in. It has previously been the case that updates and new features such as dual screen support, were rolled out sooner on the Windows platform than on their Android counterparts.
The Logitech Tap takes its name from the sleek 10.1” touch controller that forms the centrepiece of the MTR setup. From the Tap controller you can start a call, control the settings and the camera and share content. It has a built in motion sensor for always on readiness. Every Logitech Tap system comes with the controller and a pre-configured Intel NUC room computer. These are small enough to be mounted on the wall or behind your display.
Deploy Room Solutions With Ease
There are three Logitech Tap Bundles for small room, medium room and large room. The smallest of the three, idea for small groups uses the Logitech Meetup video bar to provide the audio and video. A wide angle lens is optimised for small spaces, giving a wide angle without the ‘fisheye’ effect. An optional mount lets you position the video bar either above or below your screen with no drilling required. The built in microphones are optimised for up to 4m, but with an optional expansion mic that extends that range up to 5m.
Expandable for Even the Largest Rooms
Larger rooms are catered for by the Logitech Rally and the Rally Plus. Both feature an ultra-HD 4K camera with 90˚ field of vision, adaptive pan, tilt and 15 x optical zoom. The Rally comes with one speaker and one mic pod which we’d recommend for groups of 10. Rally Plus has two speakers and two mic pods. The recommended location for the speakers is at the front of the room near the screen. For larger groups you can add up to 7 mic pods and as a rule of thumb each additional mic pod will extend the audio coverage for another 6 people. By this metric you can extend the Logitech Tap system for up to 46 participants.
With the optional Logitech Swytch you can connect a laptop to the rooms AV system, creating a BYOD solution. This enables you to easily use meetings on any other conferencing platform.
Yealink MVC Windows Room Solutions
At the heart of every Windows Yealink Microsoft Teams Room solution is a powerful MCore Intel NUC Mini-PC. The Windows PC integrates power and data with a single connection and has flexible mounting options to suit any meeting room. Yealink’s MVC is completely scaleable from the smallest huddle rooms to the largest board rooms or classrooms.
As well as the Intel NUC mini-PC all of the MVC Microsoft Teams Room systems come with an MTouch II touch panel. The 8” touch screen certainly doesn’t look or feel of the same quality as the Logitech Tap. It does have a human motion sensor and with built in WiFI has support for wireless content sharing. Wireless content sharing is an area where the Yealink MVC series scores particularly highly. With the optional Yealink WPP20 Wireless Presentation Pod users can start sharing content immediately with a single click. You can connect up to eight WPP20’s and four streams can be shared simultaneously on the main screen.
Teams Meetings Made Simple
The entry level MVC MTR bundle is the Yealink MVC320. This includes a 120˚ wide angle Yealink UVC30 camera and a Yealink MSpeech speakerphone. The MSpeech has voice control via Cortana for Microsoft Teams. AI features include voice recognition and attributed live transcription. The MSpeech’s 10 MEMS microphone array give a pickup range of up to 6m, making it suitable for small and medium sized meeting spaces.
For users who prefer a video bar design for their smaller meeting spaces there is the Yealink MVC400. The MVC400 replaces the separate camera and audio conference unit with an integrated 20 megapixel 133˚ camera with an onboard 8 microphone array. Both the MVC320 and the MVC400 cater for similar sized rooms, with users having to decide if they prefer the integrated video bar mounted on the wall, or a separate audio unit on the meeting room table.
A Solution for Every Room
Yealink’s MVC640 caters for medium rooms and the audio is provided by the same MSpeech as in the MVC320. There is however a serious upgrade on the camera. The Yealink UVC84 included in this package is a dual-eye 4K PTZ camera with a range of features including auto framing, speaker tracking and presenter tracking.
The MVC840 which also includes the same UVC84 camera. Audio is provided by a Yealink Soundbar and 2 x VCM34 microphones which each have a 6m range. It also includes a WPP20 wireless presentation pod in the package. The modular nature of the MVC Teams Room systems mean that there is a great deal of flexibility and you can select the components to suit your room. Yealink’s MVC system supports up to six of the VCM34 microphones or you can choose the optional Yealink VCM38 Ceiling Microphones.
Poly Windows Microsoft Teams Rooms
The Logitech and the Yealink systems utilise an Intel NUC, Poly chose a different. They offer their Windows MTR’s with a choice of either a Dell Optiplex 7080XE or a Lenovo ThinkSmart Core room computer. Whatever the size of the room your are equipping, the Poly Microsoft Teams Rooms offer a simple, clutter free users experience, and are supplied the Poly GC8 touch controller. Poly DirectorAI uses intelligent framing to ensure all users are in shot. NoiseBlockAI and Acoustic Fence technology ensure that distracting noises inside and outside the room are intelligently blocked out.
For Every Meeting Space
For smaller rooms Poly MTR’s use an all-in-one video bar to handle both the audio and the video. A solution for the smallest spaces, just two or three people, they recommend the Poly Studio Focus Room Kit. This includes a Poly Studio P15 which has a 4K camera and microphone array optimised for rooms of approximately 3x3m. For meeting rooms of up to 6x5m you have Poly Studio Small/Medium Room Kit with the Poly Studio USB. The Poly Studio USB has a wider angle 120˚ 4K camera, ideal for ensuring all participants are in shot. It also adds support for speaker tracking. The microphone pickup increased to 4.5m and output is via stereo speakers as apposed to mono on the smaller Studio P15.
For larger rooms and bigger groups Poly bundles their Microsoft Teams Room with a Poly Studio E70 camera in the Poly Studio Large Room Kit. This is a significant upgrade from the Studio USB and the features both a 120˚ wide angle and a 70˚ lens with 10 x digital zoom. The E70 offers great depth of vision and can track a speaker as far as 8.5m from the camera. The Poly large room MTR bundle does not come with any provision for audio. You would have to specify and purchase separately a Teams certified speakerphone. Examples of these are the Poly Trio C60 or Trio 8500.
Our Verdict on Microsoft Windows Based Teams Rooms
Whilst the Yealink and the Logitech have an Intel NUC at the heart of their Microsoft Teams Room. The Poly has the option of a Lenovo or Dell mini-PC’s. All are very capable and unless you standardise on a particular manufacturer of PC across your business we wouldn’t expect this to influence your decision.
The Logitech Tap is definitely a firm favourite here at Handset Solutions. The Tap control unit itself has fantastic build quality and offers a premium user experience. It just looks and feels like a great bit of kit. It’s incredibly straightforward for participants to share content via the Tap unit when connected to the meeting.
On paper the Yealink offers great value for money and has some great options. We particularly liked the VCM Ceiling Microphones, but in our view it aesthetically lags behind the Logitech and the Poly. The WPP20 Wireless dongles are a great featuring for wirelessly sharing content and are included in some of the larger room bundles.
Poly are veterans of the video conferencing marketplace. In addition to the MTR’s have a range of Codec based video solutions including the Poly G7500. Although good for small meeting rooms we feel that for maybe there is space for a camera to bridge the gap between the Poly Studio USB and the range topping poly Studio E70 camera. The fact that the Poly Large Room Bundle doesn’t include provision for audio means that you do have to take into account the cost of a suitable Teams certified audio conference unit. The Poly Studio Microsoft Teams Room systems also don’t include the room PC. That is an additional cost that needs to be factored in, as are the various support options.
Finding The Perfect Solution for Every Space
The MTR’s from all three of the manufacturers we have looked at have an extensive range of options. They cover spaces from the smallest huddle rooms to the largest board rooms and everything in-between. We always recommend the starting point is to spec the video and audio to suit the meeting spaces your are equipping. Then you can can compare the MTR solutions in terms of price and features of the camera and mic and speakers. As always the staff at Handset Solutions are on hand to offer informed, independent, impartial advice. We look forward to discussing your Microsoft Teams Room requirements. You can sales@handset-solutions or give us a call and speak to one of the team on 01937 302302