Resources For Virtual Conference Meetings

Resources for Virtual Conference Meetings
It is clear that, increasingly, the key to your business’s success is your access to and ability to communicate with the global marketplace. Developments in technology over the past decade have made it possible for businesses to have virtual conference meetings with relative ease, reliability, and cost effectiveness. Although there are a variety of options, videoconferencing is the next best option to actually having your clients present in your conference room. Half of all businesses use videoconferencing as a means of collaborating with remote employees and distant offices, external customers, partners and suppliers, and reducing travel time and costs. Many businesses also utilize these systems for employee training and conducting job interviews.

Although in the past, these systems were costly and difficult to install and utilize, technology has advanced significantly, making videoconferencing systems more affordable and much easier to use. A variety of systems are available that will allow you to equip your conference room for virtual meetings with employees and clients anywhere in the world.

Telepresence Videoconferencing System
A telepresence video conferencing system makes participants feel as though they are actually present in a meeting together although they may be on the other side of the globe. This system generally consists of a high definition codec–that is, technology for compressing and decompressing data, several very large flat panel display devices, and integrated hi fidelity audio. These systems, which can be portable or room-based, are the most expensive video conferencing systems. They range in price from $60,000 to $300,000 each, depending on the type and capabilities of the equipment you purchase.

Integrated Videoconferencing System
This is the type of group conferencing system most frequently used in conference rooms. The codec and hardware generally are housed in a centralized, permanent location in the conference room. The main camera, displays and peripheral video sources are typically are mounted in the conference room and can be customized with a variety of features. As with the telepresence systems, they vary widely in price, depending upon the capabilities of the system you purchase. Most of these systems are between $10,000 and $100,000.

Set-top or Appliance Videoconferencing System
This type of video conferencing system is often, though not always, portable, and is designed to sit on a monitor. Set-top systems are more compact systems that work well in smaller conference rooms, and, because they often are situated upon a cart, they may be rolled to other rooms in the office space. The cost for this type of system is a more modest $3000 to $20,000, depending upon the features of the system you purchase.

Desktop Videoconferencing Systems
Desktop videoconferencing systems will work equally well in your conference room or your personal workspace. This type of system will provide full-motion videoconferencing from your PC. Desktop systems are available that meet the industry’s requirements for standards-based videoconferencing, H.323 voice and video, as well as applications sharing. Desktop systems generally are comprised of a software package and USB or FireWire camera. These systems can provide good quality at a low cost of $250 to $400, although they are not practical for group conferences.

About the author:
David Ching is a marketing strategist at EQA Office Furniture, a San Francisco-based office furniture company. Package pricing and free 3D virtual walkthroughs are available at his website.
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