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Skype Business - Logitech Smart Dock and Surface Pro hands on review at PB Tech

Posted in Articles on 08/11/2017

Walk into a conference room and start your meeting with one-touch join. The Logitech SmartDock is an AV Control Console purpose-built to improve Skype for Business Collaboration. 

Many enterprises have made their own Skype for business meeting rooms using small NUC PC's paired with a keyboard and mouse, and while functional the whole system can be a little difficult to use if you're not the one that set it all up in the first place.

Logitech and Microsoft have teamed up to bring the Skype for business experience to the meeting room in a simple system that anyone can use, to make this happen MS have created this new application called the skype room system which has been designed to run on specific surface pro computers - this software brings all the features you need right to your fingertips.

You could buy a Microsoft Surface Pro and load this software on to use as is, but the surface on its own, while being great for personal use, isn't the perfect form factor for permanent installation in a shared space such as a meeting room. Also, the i/o on the surface doesn't offer some of the AV connections required in a meeting room environment, that’s where the Logitech Smart Dock comes in.

Basically, it's a mechanical docking station that transforms a Surface Pro into a meeting room touch panel making it more accessible for multiple users.

Starting off, you'll install your Surface into the dock, this is really easy to do and only requires a screwdriver. One important thing to note is that this software requires either a Surface Pro 4 core i5 model or new Surface Pro in either the core i5 or core i7 variants, plus the machine must be running windows 10 enterprise.

With this installed you have access to a host of ports on the back of the dock. You have up to 2x HDMI out's for your main meeting room displays and one HDMI in for connecting content you want to share to people in the meeting. there's also another 3x USB 3.0 ports and a 3.5mm audio jack so you are well setup for all the devices you could possibly want to connect.

There's a sensor on the front of the smart dock that detects when someone walks in the room and will wake both the docks display as well as the meeting room tv. The dock has a nice weight to the base to keep it securely in place on the table and the display can be rotated for accessibility. the smart dock will display all upcoming meetings on the left hand side and joining a meeting is as easy as a simple tap.

You also get a button to set up a new meeting, a toggle for sharing the HDMI input, and a button for sharing your room. Hitting the new meeting button will bring you to a page where you can type either the name of an employee to invite them to the meeting, or a dial pad for connecting someone who is on mobile. Once the meeting has started you have complete control right in front of you, you can add further participants, mute individual members, or even change the layout of connected members webcams and the content coming from your HDMI in.

You have a separate conversation tab for text-based messages or links you want to share and everything just works as you would expect. this whole system works great with something like Logitech’s meetup camera, which is an all in one 4k meeting room camera with 120 degrees field of view.

This means even in small meeting rooms you will be able to fit everyone in the shot so no one is cut from the meeting. this camera has 3 built-in beamforming microphones to pick up everyone clearly and it’s also got a decent loudspeaker that has been custom tuned for vocal clarity.

The camera comes with a remote for wireless control and gives you features like quick mute, volume, hang up call, and you can even zoom in quite far to get the camera positioned exactly where you need it. It has tilt and pan controls and even a couple of buttons to set up pre-sets to quickly return to previous configurations. The camera clarity is top notch, the microphones were clear and the audio was great too. 

Both the smart dock and camera come with Kensington locks to keep these devices securely fastened in the meeting rooms, there is even a handy Logitech Extender Box for increasing connectivity options.

The Logitech Smart Dock is available at PB Tech now along with all the accessories for a better business, keep your eyes on our Tips & News for more as we check out the latest and best in tech! 

 

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