We have a new device to review! It’s the RealPresence Trio 8800 from Polycom.
I will do this in two parts. Today’s post will talk about the RealPresence Trio’s capabilities. Next post will cover our experience testing it in the office.
“RealPresence”? What’s That?
The RealPresence Trio is a conferencing system built for “amazing sound quality.” But it doesn’t just provide audio – you can add video, share content and link up devices like tablets.
The “Trio” part refers to its 3 products:
- A meeting console, or “smart hub.”
- A Logitech Webcam C390e. (Right now, this is the only camera with which RealPresence works.)
- And the Visual+ accessory unit. The Visual+ expands the RealPresence hub with content sharing & videoconferencing functionality.
RealPresence works with Skype for Business and Lync Server 2013 at full capability. (RealPresence can work with a Lync 2010 server, but audio-only. Its video coding standard is too new for Lync 2010 to support.)
As you can see from the photo (credit to Polycom), the smart hub looks a lot like the “Three-legged Spider” (my own name for conference room speakers). The hub’s panels are touch-sensitive – not only for the LCD screen, but on each speaker “leg”. For instance, touch the mute corner on any of them (visible in green above), and the speaker is muted.
The webcam can operate standalone, or connected to a TV/monitor. We’ll test it using the Panasonic LCD TV in our conference room.
The Visual+ facilitates content sharing – presentations, spreadsheets, video.
What’s so Special?
Why should a business consider using the RealPresence though? They do have audio/video conferencing options.
Well, first off, the RealPresence Trio is very new. Which means latest-and-greatest tech.
1080p video at 30fps. Good clear video from the Logitech.
Built-in Power over Ethernet (PoE). Fewer cords is always helpful!
Exchange Calendar integration. The other day, a customer reported a little difficulty with their conference room. They had Skype for Business running in the conference room (but not on a RealPresence Trio device). Audio worked all right, and they could get video. But actually joining Skype Meetings proved problematic.
This is in fact one of the reasons we started looking at the RealPresence product. Its calendar integration for meeting joins should prove much simpler than the older device this customer used.
Audio. The big one. The RealPresence Trio shows some serious devotion to audio quality.
- USB and Bluetooth connectivity for audio. You can use it as a conferencing device, or a speakerphone. Not just with Skype for Business either.
- NoiseBlock – an audio technology “which identifies non-speech noise and mutes all microphones automatically.”
- From the FAQ: “RealPresence Trio also uses its own echo cancellation capabilities, regardless of its operating mode. Trio is recognized as a USB echo cancelling speakerphone.”
I’ll try as many tests of this as I can. But I admit a slight bias here – we’ve used PolyCom phones and conferencing devices for some years now. In terms of echo and noise, they generally work well.
I’ll know more after the testing. But right now, I’d say the RealPresence Trio is a good chance if you:
- Have workers out in the field, and need to hear from them regularly.
- Operate out of multiple offices.
- Have teams spread out geographically, who need to collaborate often.
- Are moving to Skype for Business Server and want an audio conferencing solution that ‘just works’ with it.
Elements to Test
These are the elements I plan to test on the RealPresence.
- Video quality. As high as the Panasonic TV will go.
- Audio quality. I’m honestly not sure how to test this, but one of our designers works with audio-visual, so I’ll ask him for input.
- Content sharing stream. I’ve done a lot of desktop/app/presentation sharing through Skype for Business. Bandwidth and device quality influence how smooth & clear the stream is. We have plenty of bandwidth in the office…let’s see how the device measures up.
- Ease of setup. I’m asking the rest of our Skype for Business team for their input too.
- Ease of use for meetings. How long does it take to set up a meeting using RealPresence? Is the meeting join really one-step?
- Integration with Skype for Business and Exchange. How complicated is this part to set up? Do we need to do anything not documented?
- Will it BLEND? (No, not really.)
Anything you’d like us to test on the Polycom RealPresence? If so, please comment or email the idea.
If you’re not already subscribed, don’t forget to sign up on the right. Otherwise you might miss Part 2 of this review, detailing our test results. Nobody wants to miss that!