Meeting spaces in the modern office range from specialist video conferencing facilities and large boardrooms, through regular meeting rooms to so-called 'huddle rooms'. The latter are informal spaces -- perhaps even a minimally segregated corner of an open-plan office -- where impromptu meetings can be held. Analyst firm Wainhouse Research calls them "the watercooler for the next-generation worker."
In recent years Logitech's business group has steadily built a portfolio of PC-based video conferencing endpoints covering a range of meeting spaces. These start with the £249.99 BCC950, designed for groups of up to 4 people, topping out with GROUP, which services meeting rooms with up to 20 people and costs between £999 and £1,248. In the middle there's the cylindrical Connect, a portable unit designed for huddle rooms serving around 6 people that costs £449.99.
Logitech's latest product is MeetUp, an alternative to Connect for small meeting rooms and huddle rooms, offering a more conventional (but less portable) form factor, a higher spec -- and a higher £999 price. (All prices include UK VAT).
We've all endured meetings where time has been wasted hooking laptops up to recalcitrant video-conferencing gear, which then fails to work with the on-board collaboration software, or delivers sub-standard audio-visual performance and/or lacks the required flexibility and control. Let's see how Logitech's MeetUp shapes up.
MeetUp basically looks like an oversized webcam, with a central camera flanked by 'ears' containing microphones, a speaker and other components. It measures 400mm wide by 104mm high by 85m deep, weighs 1.04kg and is powered via an AC adapter. It connects to a PC or laptop via a lengthy (5m/16ft) USB-C to USB 2.0 cable. Also in the box is a slim, 83mm-square RF remote control, a wall mount kit and a printed setup guide.
You couldn't call MeetUp a 'portable' piece of kit given that it requires mains power, but it's certainly compact and light enough to be transportable between meeting spaces if your company isn't up for buying multiple £1,000 devices. Logitech's Connect is a more portable option as it's smaller and lighter, and will work on battery power -- although it also has a lower-resolution camera with a narrower field of view.
MeetUp can stand alone on its integrated tiltable stand, or you can hang it on the supplied wall mount. If you're prepared to fork out another £89.99, there's an optional mount that allows you to suspend the conference camera from a TV or monitor.
Setup is straightforward: just plug in the device and connect it to your PC (Windows 7 or higher), Mac (macOS 10.10 or higher) or Chromebook (Version 29.0.1547.70, Platform 4319.79.0) via the USB cable and you're good to go, once you've instructed your conferencing software to work with it. MeetUp has 'business-grade' certification for Skype for Business and Cisco Jabber, and boasts 'enhanced integration' with BlueJeans, Broadsoft, LifeSize Cloud, Vidyo and Zoom.
There's no control software installed by default, for adjusting things like brightness, contrast, colour intensity and white balance, but you can download this, and more, from Logitech's support website.
The remote control is a coaster-sized device powered by two CR2032 batteries that links to the MeetUp device via Bluetooth. There's a button on the back of the camera unit that puts it into pairing mode on a long press: do the same with the Bluetooth button on the remote itself and it's done. The remaining buttons on the remote are: microphone mute; call answer; call end; volume up/down; zoom in/out; camera pan/tilt; camera home; and two configurable preset buttons.
Should you mislay the remote, you can also control the MeetUp camera remotely via your iOS or Android smartphone if you download the Logitech ConferenceCam Soft Remote from the appropriate app store.
MeetUp's camera is a motorised pan-tilt-zoom unit supporting up to UltraHD 4K video (2160p) at 30 frames per second (fps) over a USB 3.0 cable (note that Logitech supplies a USB 2.0 cable, which only supports up to full HD 1080p video). The camera's Logitech-designed lens captures a wide-angle 120-degree field of view with minimal distortion, and pans an additional 25 degrees to the left and right, covering 170 degrees overall. It zooms to 5x, but note that this is digital zoom so there's some loss of image quality: if you want 'lossless' optical zoom (to 10x), you're looking at the more expensive Group product. Panning, zooming and tilting all work smoothly under remote control, both via the supplied unit and using the smartphone app.
Three beamforming, noise-isolating mics pick up audio within a range of 2.4 metres (8 feet) and will cater for up to six people. If you need more coverage, an optional extension mic will boost the range to 4.2m (14ft) and participants up to eight people, but it'll cost you a hefty £229 extra. The integrated speaker sits in an acoustically suspended enclosure and is 'voice optimised', using signal processing techniques like voice activity detection (VAD) and microphone background noise suppression.
We tested Logitech's MeetUp using Skype on Windows 10 and macOS, and Google Hangouts on Windows 10. In all test scenarios, setup and operation were trouble-free. Image quality is good, the camera's wide viewing angle really helps to avoid the need for meeting participants to huddle together to get in shot, and the full-duplex audio subsystem coped well with near- and far-end participants conversing simultaneously.
We'd prefer it if the control software installed automatically when the camera unit was plugged in, rather than having to go to Logitech's support website and download it, but that's a fairly minor gripe. Optical rather than digital zoom would be preferable too, although that would likely boost the cost, which is already on the steep side.
If meeting space is tight, and your IT budget somewhat less so, Logitech's £999 ($899 in the US) MeetUp conference camera fits the bill for meetings with 6-8 participants.