How to Compare Business Class Video Conference Products

By Neil Zawacki
Updated: June 30, 2011

Business class video conferencing is a powerful tool that allows people to visually collaborate across long distances. It differentiates itself from standard video conferencing through its superior visual quality and the wide array of special features that are available.

You should consider the following factors when comparing business class video products:

Cost – The main hardware will generally cost several thousand dollars to purchase. Some systems may be cheaper, but they will probably have lower system specifications or not include as many special features.

Keep in mind that the cost of the system will not always be listed on the web page. You might have to request a price quote from the company if you want to know how much the video conferencing system is going to cost you. This will require a bit of extra work, but it’s a generally good idea to obtain this information before making your decision.

Quality – This is the video and audio quality of the video conferencing system. It tends to vary quite a bit between products – some video conferencing solutions can broadcast in high-definition, while others just support a limited version with a specific video resolution and speed.

You can determine the quality of the video feed by requesting a live demonstration of the system. Most vendors will travel to your office with a portable version of the video conferencing system and show you how it works. This will allow you to see how crisp the image quality is and whether there are occasional stutters or echoes due to bandwidth issues.

Features – Each business class video conferencing system tends to offer a different set of features. Some have voice-activated switching, while others have a collaborative white board or on-demand recording. If there’s a specific feature that you want, be sure to keep it in mind while perusing the different vendors.

You can generally locate this information on the ‘Features’ section of the company’s web page. This should also tell you which features automatically come up with the video conferencing system and which ones you have to pay extra for.

Capabilities – This is the overall power of the video conferencing solution – the CPU, the network data rates, how many endpoints the system can support, and so forth. If you’re planning on holding meetings between a large number of people at the same time, you’re going to need a system that can handle them without difficulty.

This information is generally provided in the system specifications of the video conferencing solution. You can find this in the user’s manual, which is usually available for download on the website. You can also find this information a lot of the time on a separate page dedicated to Frequently Asked Questions.

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