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Video Conferencing Parts Explained

all in one VTC solution from Polycom

So what equipment do you need to build a video communication system for video conferencing? We're going to break it down for you with a list of parts you'll need and some more information about piece we mention.

  • Camera or multiple cameras
  • Display device/s (i.e. monitor or projector)
  • Audio equipment (microphone and speaker)
  • Network connection (more bandwidth = better quality)
  • Codec device (separate box or part of complete system)

Here's a little more about each piece of equipment does for your video conference experience.

video conference camera

Camera (or multiple cameras)

In order to hold a video conference one or more cameras is needed to show images of people and objects or documents. Camera types range from a small USB camera that sits on top of a computer monitor on a desktop system, to high definition (HD) cameras that have remote control pan, tilt and zoom (PTZ) features in a small group or conference room-sized system. In addition to the primary conference camera, optional secondary, document, and specialized cameras are available. HD cameras are often preferred because they offer the largest images and highest resolutions.

Audio Equipment (Microphone/Speaker)

tabletop microphone from Polycom

Many computer based VTC applications use a USB or analog microphone that attaches to a personal computer. Most group and room video conferencing systems come with a microphone pod designed to work best with a small group of people. In larger venues separate audio echo-cancellation systems with numerous microphones can be connected to the system to help with larger group interaction.

Polycom HD desktop system monitor

Display Device

order to see what is being shown. Video conferencing systems can use multiple display options. Desktop systems show the video in a small window on the computer monitor. Intermediate and large venue video conferencing systems can have multiple display devices and present multiple endpoint locations and data simultaneously. High Definition display devices between 720p and 1080p are the preferred options and offer the best resolution.


Polycom QDX Codec

The codec (coder/decoder) is referred to as the "brain or heart" of a video conferencing system. This component takes the video and audio from the camera and microphone, and compresses it down, transmits it over the network, and expands (or DECompresses) the incoming video and audio signal so that it can be viewed on a display device. The codecs perform this on both sides of the call for all transmitted and received audio and video.

Network Connection

This is the connection that carries data between video systems communicating with one another. The size of the connection, and the ability to access it in a consistent manner, determines both video performance and quality of service. The network bandwidth used for video conferencing ranges from 128 Kbps to amounts over 20Mbps to perform Telepresence calls. Typically any quality broadband IP network connection can be used for successful video conferencing. Legacy ISDN networks are still in use in some areas, but limit the ability to transfer high end video effectively.

When making your video network connectivity selection, we urge you to get the highest available bandwidth available in your area. Often cable modems and DSL circuits are sufficient for small business and/or home office environments but use of the public Internet can at times be unreliable. Exploring dedicated network services from a provider gives you a QoS connection that usually comes with a guarantee of service and may be a better way to support your VTC calling needs.

Video Conferencing

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LifeSize Passport PTZ

LifeSize Passport MicPod with camera

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Polycom HDX 6000

Polycom HDX 6000

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Cisco C20

Cisco Quick Set C20

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