Video for Smaller Rooms – Tely Labs HD Pro
I recently tested the Tely Labs HD Pro small room video system. For those of you who are not aware, Tely Labs is a newer entrant into the enterprise video market and is focused on a camera system that enables small conference rooms. The Tely Labs HD Pro is a relatively small complete video solution that plugs into a monitor/TV using HDMI. It is designed to deliver HD up to 720P (1280x720) for SIP and Skype and 704x586 for H.263. It has a relatively small camera that does not pan or tile, and includes a cover for privacy. The unit includes a nice mount system that allows it to be easily positioned on the top of a monitor and requires about three inches of clearance. It can also sit on shelf. The HD Pro includes a microphone and uses the TV speakers. For locations where there are no speakers, a USB-connected tabletop speaker unit is available. The HD Pro has both wired and Wi-Fi network connections, though wired is better if available. The unit comes with a simple small remote and also has IOS and Android apps to control the unit.
The target market for the Tely Labs HD Pro are the 90% of conference rooms that do not have video, only a speakerphone. With an HD Pro and a 50-inch monitor, even a small four-person conference room can have a full set of video capabilities. The HD Pro is $774, including the tabletop speaker and one year of telyCloud (more about this later). With reasonable 50-inch monitors as low as $500 and a mount for $50, this means a conference room can be installed for as little as $1,400. The payback for this investment can be huge. With a few avoided trips, or a few meetings with better outcomes, the value can be achieved. And the value of having small teams huddle for meetings versus staying at their desks is valuable as well. It is clear that this value is getting take-up as Tely Labs is close to equaling Polycom in the number of units shipped per quarter. The point is that having an integrated system versus using a PC with internal cameras or external connections makes this an easy use case.
To try the HD Pro, I connected it to my existing large monitor with HDMI. I used the tabletop speaker for all of my audio. When you open up the unit for the first time, it has a simple menu with rotating items. These include Skype, Blue Jeans, and other connections. When I first tried Skype, I found one of the limitations of the remote. As it has only a simple arrow interface, you have to use an on-screen keyboard for entry, really hard if your ID and password were chosen on a keyboard. This is easily remedied by plugging a USB keyboard into the unit, though. Once I had logged onto Skype I easily made a number of Skype calls. The resolution and performance was equivalent to what I get with my PC, admittedly, a pretty hot P7 with 12 GB of memory and a good graphics card. All of my contacts appeared and I was able to easily select and interact.
I tried the HD Pro with both the telyCloud and BlueJeans. The telyCloud is included with the unit for one year and is a purchase subscription per unit after that. It enables a cloud-based multi-party capability and adds multiple doc sharing, etc. One key point is that you can join a telyCloud conference directly from a non-HD Pro device through Skype, but you only get audio as Skype does not enable this function. With BlueJeans, an invite to a meeting was one click away from joining. You get a free month of BlueJeans to trial, and if you want interop with a variety of other end systems (Polycom, Cisco, etc.), that may be a good option. Overall the quality was very good, generally operating at the 720P level. One feature I liked was in the menu; the HD Pro shows you the resolution, frame rate, and bandwidth of both the sent and received video streams. The remote worked OK, but it is small and obviously built to a price point. If I had an HD Pro in a conference room, I would use the app on my device instead.
I came away from using the Tely Labs HD Pro with a conclusion that it accomplishes exactly what is intended. While I did not use the iPad app for long, I could log into the unit and control it and access all of my Skype contacts. This allows a user to walk into a room, log onto the HD Pro in the conference room and use it as if it were theirs. By including other rooms as invite locations, it is easy to set up and manage a video meeting. If you use the telyCloud, it is really easy to invite other participants to a video meeting. The menu has a simple layout control that allows you to manage what you see and control the overall layout and relative sizes of the participants. Finally, when using the telyShare app, users can share screen content through the HD Pro as a video stream.
My conclusion is that the Tely Labs HD Pro is a great answer for that small conference room where the cost and complexity of a typical $5-10K room system is not reasonable. It allows an organization to make video ubiquitous without the cost and complexity of the larger systems. As we all grow in our learning of the value of video and how it can impact our organization's performance and reduce cost, the Tely Labs HD Pro is another tool that can be used to optimize video value.