I’ve been telecommuting for over five years. Every day I video conference with teammates at Nexcess, and occasionally I produce instructional videos for WordPressers on YouTube. It’s important that I have home video conference equipment that produces a crystal clear image. It’s also important that the equipment can be used while sitting at my computer and while sitting in a conference-style room. I’ve spent a ton of time researching and testing great setups and there are options for every budget level. Hopefully this post inspires you to build a beautiful home conference setup.
Types of home video conference equipment
If you’re like most people, you probably have a camera built into your laptop or a webcam attached to your desktop computer. That’s not the type of conference equipment I’m going to tell you about. Instead, I’m going to help you collect the correct home video conference equipment that will help you reproduce the in-office conference room experience for a fraction of the price.
What components do you need?
A standard webcam is a collection of a few different components crammed into a simple-looking device. Each of these individual components are needed to create a high quality setup, and each of these devices can be upgraded or downgraded depending on needs and budget. I’ll give you options for economy, standard, and premium budgets. Before you see my recommendations, let me tell you about the different components of the system.
Photo device with lens
A photo device with a lens is the first thing you’ll need. This device can be a camera, camcorder, or GoPro. While these devices vary in terms of megapixels, quality, etc., the quality of lens is what will determine how crisp the image is. If you’re looking for that beautiful blurred background effect, go with a DSLR. If you’re trying to get a full-room shot, go with a DSLR (with zoom lens) or a GoPro. Here are the must-haves for the photo component of your home video conference equipment:
- Camera should be able to output video at full resolution in ‘standby’ mode.
- Camera should provide a ‘clean output’ (no text or watermarking) when in ‘standby’ mode.
- Camera must be able to output video to HDMI, mini-HDMI, or micro-HDMI.
Don’t forget the power
Most cameras are designed to record subjects while on the go, that’s why most cameras come with a battery or two. Because you’ll be using your camera for an extended period of time while video conferencing, you’ll need an external power source to be connected at all times. A dummy battery connects to your camera (so your camera thinks a battery is attached) and to an external power source to provide an ongoing source of power. This is an essential component for your home video conference equipment to make sure your camera never turns off in the middle of a call.
The signal coming from your camera is a digital video signal. There’s only one problem: most computers can only transmit video signals, they can’t receive them. A signal converter is a device that’s capable of converting a digital video signal into a signal that a computer can understand. These devices are essential for creating a home conferencing setup.
What home video conference equipment do I need?
Below are economy, standard, and premium choices for home video conference equipment. In each case, you can mix and match components of the same type (i.e. camera, signal converter, etc).
Premium Home Video Conference Equipment
Standard Home Video Conference Equipment
Economy Home Video Conference Equipment
GoPro provides instructions on their website for using your camera as a webcam!