“It makes audio conferencing a visual experience.”

That’s what my colleague Stephen had to say when I asked him about the RealPresence Trio. He, along with the rest of the Lync/Skype4B team, spent some time working with the Trio these past couple weeks.

We’ve gathered our experiences for this blog post. There were a few surprises and snags. But overall, we all came away with the same impression – the Trio 8800 is a powerful conferencing system that works with Skype for Business very well.

Trio 8800
The Trio 8800 Hub.

Audio/Video Quality: Awesome!

As I mentioned last week, we have plenty of bandwidth in the office to test the RealPresence Trio. And test we did – running several conferences internally, with remote participants, audio-only, video-only and audio/video.

The audio quality? “Phenomenal.” Careful not to tap on the table; the hub picks it up! No configuration is needed either.

Video Quality: In JB’s comment last week, he mentioned that he’d occasionally see remote meeting participants’ video freeze up. But only on the Trio – when viewing on a laptop, no freezes occurred. We tested this with two remote participants, but didn’t encounter any freezing.

Now, freezing could occur from any number of factors. I’m not discounting JB’s experience at all; we just didn’t see it ourselves. One remote participant did lose audio once. But their video just kept on going!

One final note here: I’ve written about Music on Hold in the past. With the RealPresence Trio, you can turn it off with a toggle! It’s under Features in the Settings menu. If you’d prefer changing the music, you can do that from the same menu.

Setup: Couple Hurdles, Easy Afterward

I will limit my descriptions here, out of respect for Polycom’s ongoing development. Suffice to say that initial setup was easy. “Straightforward and clean,” as another colleague described. The webcam didn’t even need configuration – we just stuck it to the top of the TV, plugged it into the Visual+, and done.

First off: Update the Trio 8800 to the latest firmware as soon as possible. As of this post, the latest update was released 1-29-16. Jeff Schertz has a blog post on how update the firmware: Updating Trio 8800 Firmware – Jeff Schertz’s Blog. You’ll use the USB ports on the hub to administer the update. CAB files are also listed for download on the post.

Secondly, it’s critical to change the Trio’s base profile to Lync Mode.

Why? The Trio 8800 is set to “Generic” by default. This works only by plugging in a phone. You must enable it for Lync/Skype. The best way to do this, we found, was to use the Trio’s setup webpage.

This is accessible by getting the hub’s IP from your network, and loading it in a web browser. Like you’d do to configure a wireless router.

(This step is NOT in the documentation right now, as far as we could tell. If it is in there and we missed it, please let us know!)

After we updated the setup webpage, we discovered that the Base Profile setting is also buried in the hub’s Settings menu. You’ll find it here:
Advanced Settings/Administration Settings/Network Configuration/Base Profile

The Base Profile has only two choices – “Generic” and “Lync.” You must select “Lync” to use the full Lync/Skype for Business conferencing feature set.

Advanced Settings: Now here’s something very interesting. The Trio 8800 has TWO levels of advanced settings. Which you get depends on the password you enter.

The “initial” level only gives options like Change User Password and Reboot Device. I thought this was a great way to enforce security – users have some control over the Trio’s functionality, in case they get locked out. But they’re prevented from accessing (or even seeing) the “deep” advanced settings, so they can’t break its configuration.

The Base Profile settings are only visible in the “deep” advanced settings.

Ease of Use: As Simple as Skype for Business

I’ll start here by talking about connectivity. The Trio 8800 has USB ports for sharing content, Ethernet for network audio/video, and Bluetooth for device pairing.

Trio 8800 Hub Screen in Icons Mode

I paired my phone to the hub with two taps on the LCD. One to Search Devices, the next to pair the phone. Then I played some music and heard it loud & clear through the hub speakers. The quality was just as good as expected.

Next, let’s talk about the hub itself.

The hub’s LCD screen defaults to a keypad, but you can change it to icons. We kept it on the icons menu; making choices takes less time. Starting a meeting & adding users only takes a couple icon taps.

At all times the hub LCD indicates the Skype user account on the icon menu. If you need the Trio’s conference number, it’s displays on the connected screen (as well as its IP and user account name).

JB from the last post was correct – the hub boots up in a couple minutes, and does maintain its settings. Meaning CypherBit’s desire to “keep it in a drawer and place it on the table a couple minutes before the meetings” is totally doable!

However, the hub does not support touch screens. You can connect a screen to the RealPresence Trio, but it won’t recognize touch. I found this out with my touchscreen laptop.

Privacy Screen: The Logitech cam has a fun little feature – a flip-down privacy screen.

Logitech Cam Privacy Screen
Behold, the privacy screen!

If you’re installing the Trio 8800, make sure all its users know about the screen! Someone who doesn’t know about it may think the cam’s not working when it’s down. Stephen had a good suggestion – put a colored sticker on each side of the screen. Instant recognition of open screen/closed screen.

(If you don’t need or want the privacy screen, you can remove it by unsnapping it from the bottom.)

Visual+ Unit: The Visual+ is basically an HDMI output. It operates separately from the hub, with its own IP. You must pair the hub with it to display on the screen, and connect the cam to it for the video. After setup, we stuffed it behind the TV and that was pretty much it.

Skype for Business/Exchange Integration: Acts Like Another Client (On Steroids)

The Trio’s integration works excellently! The Trio hubs acts as a virtual attendee for joining or managing a conference. You can even set it up as a resource you can book. I’d argue that this is the most efficient way of managing a large meeting.

The LCD has a Contacts list, just like the Skype for Business client. Contacts display their Presence status. Groups do too.

Content Sharing: You can share content a few ways – share from an attendee’s computer, or plug a USB drive directly into the hub. We found it’s best to use a PC for sharing. It’s easier to control the application shown.

Issues: Early-Version Snags

So far, we saw 3 snags with the device.

  1. Sparse documentation. Some data sheets, a FAQ, and some Knowledge Base articles are what’s available. Made setup a little time-consuming. But in fairness, this is a very new product. More documentation will come with time.
  2. Early-version software. Most of the issues we encountered appear like simple bugs. Things you’d expect from an initial software release. Minor frustrations, but that’s all.
  3. Video is limited to the Logitech C390e cam. I understand the limitation here–you’ve got to make sure the hub works with at least one cam, before you can make others work. I note it here just for everyone’s reference. It’s very likely Polycom will add compatibility for additional webcams in future firmware updates.

Verdict: Great Conferencing System with Lots of Usefulness

Our testing experience? Great! Polycom did a solid job with the RealPresence Trio. The audio quality alone makes it worth a look.

For the capabilities you get, the price point is very good too. (You can get pricing on request from Polycom here.) No, we weren’t paid for this post. But I do know some good folks at Polycom (hey Adam!) and appreciate their work.

It IS a new product. You expect a couple rough edges. We expect improvements to come soon – added functionality, support for more webcams, etc. That said, there’s no reason you couldn’t put this in your conference room right now.

I’ll end with an anecdote. We had the Trio 8800 hub on the conference room table yesterday, and another customer came in for a meeting. He asked about the device, so I told him what it did. 2-minute intro kind of deal. I wasn’t actually trying to sell it to him.

Afterward he asked where he could get one. Two minutes was all it took!

We hope this information helps anyone considering the Polycom RealPresence Trio 8800. If you have more questions about the device, or are interested in help configuring it, please comment or email me.

And don’t forget to join us next time!

 

Hardware Review: Polycom RealPresence Trio 8800 (Part 2)
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail

13 thoughts on “Hardware Review: Polycom RealPresence Trio 8800 (Part 2)

  • February 19, 2016 at 12:50 am
    Permalink

    Thank you for the great review! Two additional questions:

    – Do we have the ability to Zoom. As it is right now, our camera would be pretty far from our conferencing table.
    – how does content sharing work. I’m thinking (in our case) a new SIP would be created for the device itself (something like conferencing.dev01@domain.com) with a non expiring password. In that case everyone in the building would be able to use it without logging in and having to deal with the issues when their passwords expire. If that is the case how do you share content? Do you first call yourself (since I’m using the laptop) and then add the person we’re really trying to call? Will this work for content sharing?

    Thanks again, great stuff here.

    Reply
    • March 21, 2016 at 12:26 pm
      Permalink

      You’re welcome Adam! You guys keep doing great work over there.

      Reply
  • March 23, 2016 at 1:18 pm
    Permalink

    Great Review. I wanted to follow up and see if you had the issue with low resolution video resolution from the Visual + C930e webcam during AVMCU hosted multi-party meetings? P2P is excellent (HD), but meetings are very low resolution.

    Thanks!

    JB

    Reply
  • June 22, 2016 at 11:24 am
    Permalink

    Hi! We recently purchased the Real Presence Trio 8800, but we have been struggling to configure it. The system says to go to Advanced Settings > Network Devices but we only see the “initial” settings that you mentioned which only has things like Change User Password. Which password did you use to get to the “deep” Advanced settings? 🙁 (Our RealPresence Visual+ keeps flashing red. Help? 🙁 ).

    Reply
    • July 14, 2016 at 8:42 am
      Permalink

      Hi Eva,
      Thanks for the comment. Sorry to hear your Trio’s misbehaving! If the Visual+ is flashing red, it means it’s not paired with the Trio Hub. You’ll need to configure the settings like this:
      1. Access Advanced Settings
      2. Go to Network Devices
      3. Select Pair with Device
      4. To pair, hold the button on the Visual+ until it’s flashing
      5. The light will change to Green when paired.

      Hope this helps!

      In terms of seeing Settings, you should see four options when you tap Settings on the Trio Hub: Basic, Advanced, Features, and Status. If you don’t see Advanced, then your account permissions aren’t set for admin-level. Please contact me directly at chris.williams@planetmagpie.com for help.

      Reply
  • July 11, 2016 at 8:57 am
    Permalink

    Does anyone else have issues when sharing content from your SfB client to the Trio?
    It is very laggy for us, and we’ve tried installing the latest firmware.

    Reply
  • October 10, 2016 at 8:35 pm
    Permalink

    Hi,

    The organisation uses Polycom with SFB 2015. It works well with most functions.

    However is there a way to increase the time it takes before the meeting message disappears off the Polycom.
    Where it displays the Meeting name or organiser and gives you the option to click “Join”. This only lasts for about 5 minutes and then disappears. When it disappears, you are not able to join the meeting using the Polycom.

    Many thanks.

    Reply
  • March 3, 2017 at 10:15 pm
    Permalink

    Hi,

    Glad you found it ok. We’ve had a specialist polycom out 2 times in last 2 weeks and still not going…. He googles to try and see what to do… Then says all going and walks out ??
    HA!HA! Not going at all.
    Think NO ONE Should buy or at least pay until satisfied it works.
    They obviously don’t have experienced guys in Melbourne!
    Unless you want an expensive paperweight – I say – stay well away for now.

    Reply
    • March 8, 2017 at 8:14 am
      Permalink

      Tony,
      Sorry to hear about the bad experience. If you still have the Polycom hardware, I’m happy to have our IT Consulting team reach out to you. We’ll do whatever we can to get you up & running. Please send me an email at chris.williams@planetmagpie.com.

      Reply
  • November 27, 2017 at 11:56 pm
    Permalink

    Hi there! Apologies for what might sound like a naive question, but does this required a Skype4B/O365 setup to work, i.e. will it work with plain old Skype when paired to a PC?

    Reply
    • November 29, 2017 at 2:30 pm
      Permalink

      Hi Loannis,
      That’s actually a good question! The Trio 8800 is designed to work with VoIP systems like Skype for Business (both the Server and O365 versions). If you plugged it into a PC, I’m sure it would work as a speaker, if nothing else. Though I don’t think it would cooperate with plain old Skype. The Trio acts like a Skype for Business client on its own. Now, that does mean you can invite it to an online meeting. Try this out and let me know what happens…you’ve got me curious now!

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.