Logitech GROUP review: Affordable HD video conferencing for up to 20 people

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  • Editors' rating
    8.5 Excellent
  • $999.99

Pros

  • Excellent image quality
  • Improved audio quality
  • Optional extension mics for greater audio range
  • Straightforward setup
  • Excellent value for money

Cons

  • Pan-tilt-zoom can be jerky in operation

Video conferencing is now a routine part of enterprise workflows: a 2015 survey by Wainhouse Research found that, in businesses with over 250 employees, the average respondent attended just over two meetings a day (9.3 a week), with over half (54%) of these involving remote participants via audio, video and/or web conferencing. The survey also found that the more meetings respondents attended, the more likely they were to include virtual attendees.

Over the last few years, Logitech's business unit has successfully exploited the growing market for HD audio/video conferencing with a series of increasingly capable USB-connected ConferenceCam endpoints: the BCC950 for small groups (1-4 people), the Connect for 'huddle rooms' (1-6 people), and the CC3000e for meeting rooms holding up 6-10 people.

Logitech doesn't supply video conferencing software, but all of these solutions are compatible with a range of platforms, including Skype for Business, Citrix GoToMeeting, Cisco WebEx, Google Hangouts, BlueJeans and others.

Logitech is now second only to Cisco in terms of unit market share for conference-room systems -- "and we expect we'll pass them this year," Scott Wharton, general manager of Logitech's video collaboration group, told ZDNet in February.

The latest addition to Logitech's ConferenceCam portfolio is GROUP, which resembles the CC3000e in its industrial design but adds improved audio, allowing it to cater for larger meeting rooms with up to 14 people -- or 20 with optional expansion microphones. Logitech GROUP costs £999 (inc. VAT, or £832.50 ex. VAT), with a pair of expansion mics costing £249 (inc. VAT, or £207.50 ex. VAT).

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Logitech GROUP: camera, connection hub, speakerphone, remote control.

Image: Logitech

Design & features

Like its predecessor, the GROUP system comprises a speakerphone, a dockable remote control, an HD camera and a connection hub, adding the aforementioned expansion mics.

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The full-duplex speakerphone has seen the most change, with the omnidirectional microphone count doubled, from two in the CC3000e to four in the GROUP product. This, in combination with echo and noise-cancelling technology, a metal case and isolation of the microphones and speaker, makes for much-improved audio performance.

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The speakerphone unit has the same dimensions as its CC3000e but features a metal case, four omnidirectional microphones, and a black speaker grille. It's also 413g heavier.

Image: Logitech

The basic design of the speakerphone is unchanged from the CC3000e, but it has a matte-black rather than silver speaker grille and is noticeably heavier thanks to the metal case -- 1,223g/43oz versus 810g/28.6oz. The control panel also now includes three user-defined camera preset buttons; the speakerphone's control buttons are replicated on the dockable remote, which includes two extra camera preset buttons.

If you need more than the basic system's 6m/20ft range, you'll need to invest in the optional disc-shaped expansion mics, which boost the range to 8.5m/28ft. These solid metal-bodied mics, which include a mute button, plug into the underside of the speakerphone, along with the hub connection, with all ports colour-coded and cables neatly routed.

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The optional extension microphones plug into the base of the speakerphone, extending the audio range to 8.5m/28ft -- enough to cater for up to 20 people.

Images: Logitech

The camera is a 585g/21oz motorised PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) unit, identical-looking to the CC3000e's, supporting full-HD resolution at 30fps, with autofocus, 10X lossless HD zoom and on-board video processing (H.264 with SVC and UVC 1.5). As with the CC3000e, the camera has a 90-degree field of view and supports 260-degree pan and 130-degree tilt. This allows it to capture everyone in a large meeting room, banishing the awkward around-laptop huddle that Logitech gently lampoons in its promotional video. You can define five preset camera shots -- of a whiteboard, for example, or certain positions around a conference table -- and summon them at the touch of a button (there are three on the speakerphone, and five on the remote).

The camera has a standard tripod thread on the bottom; you also get a wall-mount kit in the box, so, along with the 5m/16ft camera cable, you've got plenty of positional flexibility.

A neat camera trick is the ability to operate the pan, tilt and zoom functionality of a remote ConferenceCam camera: you just toggle the 'Far end camera control' button on the speakerphone or remote, and then use the pan/tilt and zoom buttons as you would for a local camera. This is useful, but can be somewhat jerky -- as indeed can the local PTZ function.

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You plug the camera, speakerphone and a PC or laptop into the GROUP's powered hub.

Images: Logitech

Everything plugs into the small powered hub, which has colour-coded connections for the camera and speakerphone, USB 2.0 for a laptop or desktop PC and a power input. The cables are generous in length: 5m/16ft for the camera and speakerphone, 2m/6.6ft for the PC (or Mac) and 3m/9.8ft for the AC adapter. An under-table mounting kit is supplied for the hub, so you can keep your conference room tidy with the cabling out of sight. You can also connect a mobile device directly to the speakerphone via Bluetooth for audio conferencing -- NFC is supported, making pairing simplicity itself with compatible smartphones.

In EMEA, Logitech has recently added a string to the GROUP bow in the shape of the Logitech GROUP Kit, a £1,799 (ex. VAT) bundle that combines the VC gear described above with an Intel NUC small-form-factor PC, Intel's Unite collaboration software, Illuminari's Quicklaunch SE configurable meeting-room software, plus a Logitech Wireless Touch Keyboard K400 Plus. With GROUP Kit, IT managers will be able to equip meeting rooms with a locked-down, kiosk-mode Windows 10 system featuring one-touch meeting starts, an approved set of app integrations and automated room resets.

Conclusions

Logitech has hit on a successful formula with its ConferenceCams, offering high-quality audio and HD video, plug-and-play USB connectivity and compatibility with a wide range of video conferencing platforms -- all for a fraction of the cost of comparable systems from the likes of Cisco and Polycom (although the latter do include software, which Logitech doesn't).

This run of success looks set to continue with the new GROUP product, which beefs up the audio quality and range, while the GROUP Kit bundle should appeal to enterprises wanting to fit out conference rooms with IT-approved kiosk-style video conferencing facilities.

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Specifications

General
Dimensions & Weight Details Speakerphone - Width 9.4 in Depth 9.4 in Height 2.6 in Weight 2.7 lbs
Camera - Width 5.1 in Depth 5.4 in Height 6.7 in Weight 20.6 oz
Hub - Width 3.7 in Depth 2.9 in Height 1.3 in Weight 2.9 oz
Remote - Width 2 in Depth 4.7 in Height 0.5 in Weight 1.8 oz
Video Input
Type Digital camera (color) - external
Digital Video Capture Resolution 1920 x 1080
Video
Form Factor external
Audio
Audio Output speaker(s)
Input Device
Type remote control
Networking
Type network adapter
Connectivity Technology wireless
Data Link Protocol Bluetooth, NFC
System Requirements
OS Required Apple MacOS X 10.7 or later, Microsoft Windows 7 / 8.1 / 10
Header
Brand Logitech
Product Line Logitech GROUP
Model HD Video and Audio Conferencing System
Packaged Quantity 1
Dimensions & Weight Details
Width 2 in, 3.7 in, 5.1 in, 9.4 in
Depth 2.9 in, 4.7 in, 5.4 in, 9.4 in
Height 0.5 in, 1.3 in, 2.6 in, 6.7 in
Weight 1.8 oz, 2.7 lbs, 2.9 oz, 20.6 oz
Service & Support
Type 2 years warranty
Service & Support Details
Type limited warranty
Full Contract Period 2 years
Headphones
Frequency Response 120 Hz
Battery / Power
Type power adapter

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Where To Buy

Logitech GROUP HD Video and Audio Conferencing System

Part Number: 960-001054
Price
$999.99