Logitech Group review
A classy and comprehensive videoconferencing kit that gives you the big picture at a sensible price
If you're looking for a large-scale videoconferencing solution, Logitech's Group is an all-in-one package that contains everything you need. It comprises a big 1080p camera with motorised pan and tilt and a 10x optical zoom; a large speakerphone base station, with internal omni-directional mics; and a powered central hub to link them all together.
It's right at home in big meeting rooms, covering up to 14 participants. The camera and speakerphone each have 5m mini-DIN cables, the supplied USB cable is 2m long, and the power supply has a 3m cable. Its range can be expanded yet further with two additional microphone stations, which connect directly to the speakerphone base. Costing around 175 exc VAT for two, these have their own mute buttons and include 2.4m cables.
Group improves on Logitech's older ConferenceCam cc3000e unit, as its speakerphone is of a more solid metal construction, which reduces vibration. It also doubles the number of internal microphones to four. The touch panel has been replaced with a set of rubberised buttons for controlling calls and setting the volume, Bluetooth pairing, camera position and zoom.
The speakerphone has three buttons for quickly moving the camera to preset locations and zoom settings, while the included remote-control handset offers five, so you can quickly switch focus between different speakers or areas of the room during a meeting. The presets are exceptionally easy to program: simply set your view, then hold down one of the preset buttons until the speakerphone beeps.
As well as Bluetooth, the speakerphone supports NFC, making it a cinch to pair your own smartphone with it. Bluetooth pairing is activated by holding down the control button until the blue LED status strip surrounding the speakerphone's button recess flashes blue. We tested this with a Microsoft Lumia 640 Windows Phone and found it paired flawlessly. We also paired it with an iPad and, in both cases, found audio output quality to be both clear and loud enough to fill a large meeting room.
Physical deployment is a breeze. The two mini-DIN cables that link the camera and speakerphone to the central hub are colour-coded, so it's obvious what goes where. We had everything working without having to refer to the setup guide at all.
Installation on a Windows 10 desktop was simple too. Since the Logitech Group is UVC-compliant, all the necessary drivers are already built into the OS, and we were ready to go seconds after plugging it in. You can use Windows' own tools for running diagnostics and tweaking camera settings; Logitech also provides a Skype plugin to enable the Call Accept and Call End buttons on the base unit and remote.
We found it all worked seamlessly. Skype picked up the camera as soon as it had been installed, and video calls worked without issue, as did inbound and outbound voice calls. The remote's Accept and End buttons worked perfectly. GoToMeeting was just as simple to use: the software spotted the camera automatically and offered us a range of controls for it, plus a choice of picture formats, including a 16:9 widescreen option.
WebEx worked fine, with the video placed in the meeting window where the host and participants could switch to full-screen mode and back again. Microsoft Lync and Cisco Jabber will work too, and Logitech is promoting a collaboration programme with software developers to allow their apps to take direct control of the camera.
One particular strength of Group is video quality. Our meeting feeds appeared in sharp focus, with good contrast and colour balance - although we did find the camera had problems compensating for brightly lit windows in the background.
It all adds up to a classy and comprehensive videoconferencing setup, at a fraction the price of typical enterprise solutions. It's easy to use and extremely versatile, with excellent video and audio quality to give your meetings that all-important professional touch.
This review originally appeared in PC Pro issue 264
A classy and comprehensive videoconferencing setup, at a fraction the price of typical enterprise solutions. It’s easy to use and extremely versatile, with excellent video and audio quality to give your meetings that all-important professional touch.
Motorized PTZ camera 1080p Carl Zeiss lens 30fps 10x optical zoom Speakerphone base with quad omni-directional mics H.264 NFC Bluetooth Hub with camera/base/USB 2/power ports External PSU with 3m cable 5m camera and base cables 2m USB cable Remote-control handset 2yr limited hardware warranty. Option: 2 x expansion mics, £174 exc VAT
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