It’s no surprise that video conference calls are more popular than ever these days. Many of us have been forced to work from home or take classes in a virtual school environment. Things are upside down, to be sure. And as we return to “normal”, video calls are sure to continue in homes and conference rooms across the globe.
One challenging aspect of conference room video calls is the ability to have everyone sitting around the table and visible during the calls. How to combat this?
You can have people shuffle around to be in view of the camera, rotating them in and out of frame. Or, you could force every single person to bring in a device to join the call. There is a much simpler way to handle this situation.
Devices such as the Coolpo Conference Camera are built for just such occasions as it features a fisheye lens and a smart tracking camera.
- 4K video resolution
- 360-degree view with smart focus
- Split-screen view
- Built-in microphone
- Works with Zoom, Skype, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, and more
The Coolpo Conference Camera stands at around eight inches tall and has some heft to it at a little over four pounds. Its plastic shell feels solid, and thanks to the weight, you shouldn’t have to worry about it tipping over easily during a meeting.
At the top, is the star of the show, the 360-degree fisheye camera that gives you a look at the entire room, while at the bottom of the unit is the speaker. The body of the Coolpo Conference Camera looks smooth and professional, it only features one physical button for power, and three touch-sensitive buttons to control volume.
The underside of the Coolpo Conference Camera is where all the ports are hidden, with a USB Micro 3.0 to connect to your computer and a power port.
The Coolpo Conference Camera is easy to set up. Simply plug in the power cable and connect it to your computer. The camera is automatically detected on Windows 10, and within a few minutes, the drivers are installed and it’s ready to go. My only real complaint, is both the power and USB cable are quite short. This really limits placement when you’re trying to connect it to both a power outlet and a computer.
After plugging it in, the Coolpo is detected by your computer as an external camera and this makes it easy to switch to it in any video conferencing software that you use.
During calls, the Coolpo will automatically provide the viewer with a split-screen view with a 360-degree look of the room in the bottom portion of the screen. It will then divide up the rest of the screen by focusing on people around the table as they speak. It’s not always 100% accurate but, overall, it does a great job tracking individuals and zooming in on them.
Just be aware that the split-screen view also means that the 4K resolution will also be split up. Don’t expect every person to be in 4K quality, especially when it starts to zoom in. Regardless, I still found the picture quality to be more than acceptable as well as the audio quality for calls.
While the Coolpo Video Conference Camera works fine as a plug-and-play device, installing the app supercharges it by adding a lot more customization and features. For example, without the app, the Coolpo constantly shows the 360-degree view at the bottom of the video window and will split the screen to track users. That’s really only ideal if you have a presentation where people are moving around.
Using the app, I was able to turn off the 360-degree view on the bottom, which I found didn’t suit my needs and gave more screen real estate for the other windows. There were also controls for blocking out certain areas of the frame you may want to keep hidden, which is a big plus.
Additionally, you’re able to lock certain views in place, which is perfect for a conference table and ensuring the camera doesn’t get confused or keep panning around needlessly. Last but not least, the app allows you fine control over the exposure, color, and more.
The only caveat is that you cannot make these adjustments on the fly or during the call. Instead, you are required to set this all up ahead of time in the Coolpo app and save the settings before exiting and opening your video conference app of choice.
There’s not many options on the market for an intelligent conference camera, let alone one that can give you a full view of the room along with each participant. The Coolpo Conference Camera fits a very particular niche, but it does it well.
Unfortunately, that also means it won’t come cheap, with a price of nearly $600 on Amazon. The good news is, there are often coupons to drop the price an additional $50-100.