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Reshape Your Meeting Rooms with These 6 Video Bars

  • A meeting with coworkers
    Image: Andrey Popov -
    As more organizations look to dip their toes in the world of videoconferencing, video bar devices have emerged as a simple way to get started. Video bars are all-in-one, plug-and-play devices that include speakers, mics, cameras, and sometimes the compute power in a single device and come compatible out of the box with one or more of today’s popular videoconferencing services. Outside of providing a convenient way of getting started with videoconferencing, video bars allow organizations that already have some video-ready meeting rooms to add more video easily. For example, video bars are also particularly useful for huddle rooms and ad-hoc meeting spaces.
    While video bars have found a home in meeting rooms for many reasons, three stick out to Ira Weinstein, founder and managing partner of Recon Research, and chair of the Video Collaboration & A/V track at Enterprise Connect 2020. First, video bars “move the technology to the front of the room” and off the table, Weinstein said during a No Jitter briefing. While this might seem trivial, being able to do so prevents things like mic blocking and the mic picking up background noise like paper ruffling – creating a better listening experience for meeting participants, he said. Second, these devices often provide high-quality audio and performance from wherever they’re placed in the room, Weinstein went on to say. And lastly, video bars are “cheap, cheap, cheap,” allowing organizations to test videoconferencing out on a relatively low budget, he added.
    Video bars can be particularly effective, too, in helping companies nurture a collaborative culture… allowing video setups in the huddle spaces they are becoming characteristic of modern workspaces.
    In this slideshow, we look at six video bars -- four currently available and two on the way. Click through for product information, along with further insight from Weinstein on these solutions and strategies for picking the best solution for your organization.
    Flip through this slideshow of six all-in-one, plug-and-play devices that make setting up video meetings a breeze for any employee
  • A Poly device

    1. Poly Studio

    The Poly Studio (formerly Polycom Studio) video bar, launched last March at Enterprise Connect, works with a variety of cloud video services. Poly has received certification for this video bar’s use with Zoom and Microsoft Teams, and has verified compatibility with BlueJeans, GoToMeeting, Amazon Chime, Google Hangout, and Cisco Webex. The Studio video bar, which connects via USB cable to a Windows PC or Mac for processing, features Poly’s noise canceling technologies, which help to reduce distractions during meeting and keep employees focused on the conversation, according to Poly. Studio also features a smart camera that frames the room or person speaking, facilitating a more conversational style of meeting and heightening engagement.
    The device costs $950.
  • The Poly X devices

    2. Poly Studio X series

    In October, Poly expanded its video bar options with the introduction of the Studio X series, comprising the X30 and X50 models. Designed for small and medium-sized rooms, these devices support ultra-4K video and feature built-in wireless content-sharing and Poly’s MeetingAI capabilities, which can provide noise blocking capabilities, as noted in this No Jitter article.
    Unlike the earlier Studio model, the X30 and X50 video bars have embedded computing capabilities, which translates into “one less thing to connect, one less thing to install, [and] one less set of wires,” Weinstein said.
    A meeting host can launch a meeting from a touchpad, which features controls for running either a traditional video app from Poly itself or from the increasingly popular Zoom Video Communications. The device is also compatible with BlueJeans and GoToMeeting with special configurations, and Microsoft Team compatibility is coming later in 2020.
    The X30 and X50 are generally available in North America, Europe, and select other countries and cost $2,199 and $3,499, respectively, according to Poly.
  • A Cisco video bar device

    3. Cisco Webex Room USB

    Similar to the Poly video bars, Cisco Webex Room Kits combine cameras, codecs, speakers, and microphones into a single device. The line includes the Webex Room Kit Pro, Webex Room Kit Plus, Webex Room Kit, Webex Room Kit Mini, and the recently announced Cisco Webex Room USB. The Cisco Room Kit Pro is designed for boardrooms and large meeting rooms, while the Cisco Webex Room Kit is for rooms with up to 14 people and the Cisco Webex Room Kit for up to seven people. Outside of the Cisco Webex Room USB, these devices also only work with Cisco Webex videoconferencing, according to Cisco.
    Designed for huddle rooms of 2-5 people, the Cisco Webex Room USB allows organizations to bring their own laptop-based video conferencing software and includes some of Cisco’s “secret AI sauce,” with capabilities like auto-framing and auto- brightness/white balancing, Weinstein said. The device works with Zoom Video Communications, Cisco Webex, Google Hangout, and other videoconferencing solutions, according to Cisco. With a registered Webex service, organizations will gain access to more user experience and team workflow functions, according to Cisco specs.
    Cisco Room Kit Pro, Cisco Webex Room Kit Plus, Cisco Webex Room Kit, and Cisco Webex Room Kit Mini are available as a service for $699, $419, $279, and $139 per month, respectively.
  • A Neat bar

    4: Neat Bar

    Video bar startup Neat offers a device strictly for Zoom users. Designed for small meeting rooms, the Neat Bar is optimized for up to 16 feet and comes with five built-in microphones, a 4x digital zoom camera, and a separate Zoom Rooms controller (the Neat Pad), according to Neat’s FAQ page. Computing capabilities are built-in, and IT admins can manage and upgrade their Neat Bars through the Zoom Portal.
    The Neat bar is available for $2,500 and has an add-on scheduling display for $500, which allows employees the ability to schedule meetings without needing desktop calendar software, according to Neat.
  • A Bose video bar

    5. Bose VideoBar VB1

    As part of its Bose Work series, consumer audio giant Bose entered the video bar fray earlier this month. The Videobar VB1 is an all-in-one USB conferencing device with six microphones, a 4K ultra-HD camera, and proprietary Bose sound, according to Bose technical specs on the device. The device can connect to laptops and displays with a single cable and works with video meeting solutions like Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts Meet, and Zoom, and is configurable with existing Bose speakers and headsets via the Bose Works Management platform.
    Bose hasn’t yet released availability date or pricing.
  • A DTEN video device

    6. DTEN Go with DTEN Mate

    DTEN took the wraps off its video bar, the DTEN Go with DTEN Mate last month. Designed exclusively for use with Zoom’s video service, DTEN Go connects with existing displays and features two side cameras, two 4K center cameras, and a 12-element microphone array that dampers noises and echoes, according to DTEN technical specifications. The video bar comes with a separate wireless controller (DTEN Mate) and allows for interactive whiteboarding and full content annotation, DTEN said.
    The device is available for pre-order at a cost of $999.
  • People working in a huddle room
    Image: Andrey Popov -

    Deciding on a Video Bar

    This slideshow is in no way an exhaustive list of video bars, but more an overview of some of the options announced in the last year.
    With these devices and more on the way, enterprise professionals responsible for selecting video technology for their workspaces might be a bit overwhelmed with options. Not to worry, Weinstein said — there isn’t really a right or wrong decision. Many devices can get the job done, and well, he said.
    If your organization is stuck on deciding on a video bar, borrow a unit from the vendors for a trial period, Weinstein suggested. See how employees like it before deciding. And remember, if you buy something that doesn’t work for your enterprise, you aren’t tied as tightly to the solution as you would have been to the big videoconferencing systems of the past, since video bars are cheaper and easier to deploy, Weinstein said.
    For a deeper conversation on video bars and how to provision them in huddle rooms or other video meeting spaces, join Weinstein at Enterprise Connect 2020, the week of March 30 in Orlando, Fla., for the session, “Huddle Rooms – From Hype to Value.” In this session, he’ll discuss the technology that goes into huddle spaces and the role of such spaces in the open office.
    Weinstein also will be providing guidance on how to rethink your meeting room strategy during the one-day WorkSpace Connect Summit taking place coincident with Enterprise Connect, on Monday, March 30.

With the explosion of video bar devices on the market, we look at several devices that are making their mark in the meeting room.