StarLeaf Huddle review: A star performer
A great videoconferencing package for small rooms that’s a doddle to use – but you’ll need speakers
UK-based StarLeaf has been in the collaboration game since 2008, offering meeting room solutions for companies of all sizes. Its entry-level Huddle system will appeal particularly to smaller organisations, as it includes everything you need to turn a small space or room into an instant videoconferencing suite.
The kit comprises StarLeaf’s 3320 10.1in touchscreen control panel, a 1080p camera unit, a USB microphone pod and a small powered cable dock. It also includes StarLeaf’s Pronto cable, which lets participants easily connect their laptop to the Huddle system and share screen contents over a USB connection.
One thing you don’t get is any loudspeakers. Indeed, the Huddle has no dedicated audio output: sound is relayed solely over the HDMI connection, the expectation being that you’ll connect the system to a monitor with its own speakers. For a small room that’s likely to be fine; if it’s not, however, make sure your monitor has its own audio outputs so you can connect external speakers.
StarLeaf also doesn’t give you a choice of providers: the company manages its own cloud services, and provides apps for Windows, Macs, iOS and Android, as well as web access for those without the app. While StarLeaf may not be the biggest conferencing provider on the block, it’s confident in its services, claiming to be the only vendor to offer a “five nines” uptime service level agreement.
It also plays nicely with a variety of other collaboration platforms, including Microsoft Teams. Once you’ve added the StarLeaf app to your channel and granted it access, you’ll be able to start or schedule meetings directly from the Teams app – and use the Pronto USB cable to connect directly to the room system.
The kit doesn’t take long to install. You start by positioning the cable dock as required, then connect it to the network and plug in the rest of the components, along with your big-screen monitor. Once the cable dock is connected to the power, the whole system springs to life, and the touchscreen requests a 12-digit code that you should have received in your introductory email from StarLeaf. It also sends an email to the registered account holder, inviting them to download the desktop app and enter an authorisation code.
This grants the user administrative privileges, allowing them to access the StarLeaf cloud portal by clicking on the account management option in the desktop app. From here they can register users, who will each receive an email inviting them to download the relevant desktop or mobile app.
Starting a call from the Huddle’s touchscreen is pleasingly simple. We were able to search our cloud contact directory, browse recent calls or tap in a user’s extension number directly. The client apps are easy to use too: we found we could swiftly make both audio and video calls, add recipients to live meetings, share our screen contents and so forth. Any user can schedule a meeting from their personal web portal, or enable the Spotlight feature for live streaming.
The Huddle camera has a wide 120° field of view, and while it lacks the 4K resolution of rival systems, our participants agreed that its image quality was suitably clear and sharp. The only slight irritation is that the camera’s digital PTZ functions are only accessible from the touchscreen, which can be awkward. The mic has a good range and had no trouble picking up everyone in our meeting room: if you need to cover a larger area you can add an optional second microphone unit to the cable dock.
StarLeaf’s Huddle kit provides everything you need for a modestly sized meeting room for a very reasonable price. While the camera has its limitations, the quality is more than adequate for small gatherings, while StarLeaf’s cloud services offer a great range of features and the touchscreen controller makes it all very accessible.
StarLeaf Huddle specifications
1080p resolution, 3x optical zoom, 120° field of view, USB 3
10.1in colour touchscreen, USB-C power, 255 x 163 x 113mm (WDH)
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