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The jump from pro AV to videoconferencing is easier than you think

February 19, 2018

The jump from pro AV to videoconferencing is easier than you think

When it comes to pro AV installs, you’re an expert. You have experience, confidence and know exactly how to address the needs of your customers. But lately your customers have started asking you about videoconferencing and you’re not sure if you have the means to get involved. The good news is, you probably do. Here’s a quick overview of what goes into a modern videoconferencing solution. As you’ll see, everything is well within your wheelhouse.

Camera(s)—When it comes to videoconferencing, cameras can be grouped into three tiers. On the low end (~$100) are Webcams. These are ideal for small applications where you have just a few people in a room and don’t need zoom or any advanced functionality. On the other end of the spectrum are cameras specifically for videoconferencing. Such devices offer better optics and can pan, tilt and zoom (PTZ), but can cost anywhere from $1,000 to more than $4,000.

A new tier of devices recently entered the market designed to fill the gap between the low end and high end. These devices ($500–$700) offer many of the benefits of high-end cameras but do so with digital processing and onboard software. For example, while there is no mechanical PTZ capability, the cameras can digitally pan, tilt and zoom.

Microphone(s)—Videoconferencing cameras don’t come with built-in microphones, so you’ll need something in the room to capture sound. There are many options, depending on the desired quality and size of the room. Some microphones double as dialing pads and rest on the conference room table as a box-like unit. Other mics can be placed in the ceiling. In fact, some manufacturers have mic panels sized for drop ceilings. Depending on your choice, you may need to add a DSP (digital signal processor) to process the incoming sound.

Speaker(s)—Options include desk speakers, wall-mount or ceiling mount. If you’re looking for an ultra-high-end solution, there are innovations taking place with surround sound that allow you to mimic the location of a person speaking on the other end of the conference to the same location in your conference room.

Codec—The biggest decision you’ll have with your videoconferencing solutions is how all the above technologies come together. Historically, hardware codecs (physical devices that process the video and audio) were used as the main hub of a videoconferencing solution. Today, software codecs (especially cloud-based) allow you to use any PC to host a videoconference call. While each type has its differences, a significant factor is cost. Soft codecs will often be much cheaper than hardware-based ones.

According to research from MarketsandMarkets, the enterprise video market is expected to grow from $16 billion in 2017 to nearly $41 billion by 2022 (at a CAGR of 20.1%). Getting your piece of that market growth isn’t difficult, but if you want some help, talk to your Ingram Micro rep for assistance.