AVer VC320 review
It’s not cheap, but AVer’s feature-rich VC320 makes on-demand video conferences a cinch to set up
Measuring just 30cm tall and weighing under a kilogram, this go-anywhere video conferencing solution is perfect for mobile workers. Despite its small size, it has everything you need to quickly set up voice and video conferences at client sites, huddle rooms and the like.
The VC320 feels very solidly built, although the glossy piano-black finish on the front is a magnet for grubby finger smudges. The f/2.0 lens at the top of the unit provides a 1080p video stream with a very wide 110 field of view. It features a 5x optical zoom with pan and tilt functions, and can also be manually angled up and down as required.
Below it you'll find an NFC sensor, omni-directional mic and four status indicators for video conference and HDMI presentation modes; usefully, these indicators double up as touch-sensitive buttons for changing modes and muting the mic. A single 5W speaker is mounted in the base, behind a forward-facing plastic grille.
At the rear sit a goodly range of ports, including micro-USB for PC and Mac connections and HDMI out for a TV or monitor. There's an HDMI input too, allowing you to connect a device such as a Chromecast 2 streamer; this can also link up to the 2.1A USB port for charging. You get around eight hours of voice calls, or two hours of video.
Finally, the remote control provides pan, tilt and zoom controls, plus buttons for changing the volume, making or ending voice calls, selecting the connection type and activating the digital privacy shutter. When not in use, it clips neatly into the magnetic recess at the back, covering up the ports.
Getting set up on both a Windows 10 PC and MacBook Pro running OS X 11.6 was simple. On both platforms there's no need to load external drivers; the VC320 was recognised the moment we connected the generous 5 metre USB cable. As Skype fans, however, we chose to install AVer's PTZApp, which loads two plug-ins that enable the call accept and end buttons on the remote control handset.
The app also has a firmware update feature, which automatically updated our camera, along with controls for tweaking video quality, controlling PTZ functions and running diagnostics for the camera, sound and Bluetooth/NFC pairings.
Those that can't find the remote control can also install AVer's EZHuddle iOS app. Loaded on our iPad and connected over Bluetooth, this provided a keypad that mirrored the handset controls.
Once we were all set up, the VC320 worked fine with Skype and Cisco's WebEx. The mic has a good range; participants said they could hear us clearly at up to 15 feet away. The speaker is lacking slightly in bass but we found it is easily loud enough for small meeting rooms.
Image quality is decent too, with good colour balance although the focus is a little too soft. The VC320's wide field of vision means there's no need for participants to crowd together. There's also an EZCrop feature which is great for getting meetings set up quickly: it uses facial recognition to crop the picture so that all participants are in view. After pressing the EZCrop button on the remote, it drew green boxes around everyone's faces and zoomed, panned and tilted to make sure we were all in shot.
AVer's main competition comes from Logitech's ConferenceCam Connect, which costs around 130 less. Its 90 view is quite a bit narrower, and the unit is heavier too -- but it offers superior audio and video quality, and its internal battery has greater longevity.
Still, the VC320 scores well for features, with its dual HDMI ports and extra software apps. It's just as user-friendly as the Logitech alternative, and the wide-angle lens and EZCrop feature ensure everyone is in the big picture.
This review originally appeared in PC Pro issue 271
The VC320 scores well for features, with its dual HDMI ports and extra software apps. It’s just as user-friendly as the Logitech alternative, and the wide-angle lens and EZCrop feature ensure everyone is in the big picture.
f/2.0 lens 1080p 30fps 110° FOV 5x optical zoom optical pan/tilt, manual tilt omni-directional microphone 5W speaker H.264 UVC NFC Bluetooth USB 2, micro-USB 2, HDMI 1.3 in/out USB internal battery remote-control handset 5m USB cable external PSU with 3m cable 0.9kg 65 x 100 x 300mm (WDH) 3yr RTB warranty
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