Given what’s going on right now, the ability to do a video conference is quite important.
Whatever your favorite flavor: Skype, Zoom, Teams, GoToWebinar…or any of the others, being able to run these through your “smart” TV should be super simple.
I’m here to tell you…it is not.
Let me give a caveat: if you want to run one of these video conferences NOT through your computer…it is not as easy as you might think.
First, why would you NOT want to run a video conference through your computer?
It depends on your situation, but simply comes down to this:
If you want the video to include more than just you, it is best to use an external camera, which, in the end, will be easier through a different device.
What if there is only one person in your office with a laptop?
There can be a fair amount of fiddling to get this setup, so if your office has a need to run a video conference app, having a stand along device (not your laptop) run the meeting, well, that will just be easier.
Second, as referenced before, if you have a conference table and want to have all the people included in the video, an external camera will simplify this and be higher quality than what is built into your laptop.
Finally, for the best sound, get an external speaker.
You’ll quickly realize your smart TV likely does not run any of the video conference apps…or at least not the one you need.
Here’s what I’ve done
TV – whatever you have, but needs an HDMI input.
Camera – I think the best camera out there is the Jabra Panacast. It has 3 cameras and give a solid 180 view of the room. It rocks. It’s also about $500. So instead I used the Campark Webcam with Microphone for Desktop HD which give a very nice 120 view of the room for about $60. You will likely want a small tripod like the Ulanzi MT-08.
Speaker/Mic – Jabra comes through again with the best bang for the buck bluetooth conference room speaker/mic combo, the Jabra Speak 710 UC. The only cord is a USB cord to charge the unit. Lasts somewhere around 15 hours.
Using the above combo for a law office, this setup looked and sounded 10 times more professional that the others on the video conference that included another law firm and a judge.
Here’s what I tried
The camera & speaker/mix combo are a must.
What you use as the “device”, whether a spare computer or other such item, is up to you.
In the various installations I’ve done, none had a spare laptop to use for the device.
Next I decided to use an Android TV box. There are many of them, but I tried the Pendoo X5 Pro which is an Android 9 box. For simplicity sake, I also got a Logitech K400+ wireless keyboard/mouse combo. The Android interface is a bit clunky as Pendoo has locked the home screen. One office only uses Zoom, so I also installed MacroDroid which has a “power on” trigger that I set to launch Zoom.
Note: Zoom had to be “side loaded”. Not sure why, but I couldn’t get Zoom to install from the play store, so had to go to the Zoom website, download and install (this is considered a side load). The only real quirk with this is a security warning each time you start Zoom. No big deal.
This works great.
I also tried a Chromebook, as I thought that might be easier for the office to use vs. the keyboard/mousepad combo. To my dismay, I discovered that you cannot change the default camera on a Chromebook for apps. Yes, you can use an external camera/speaker/mic with the web version of Zoom, but for an App, it will only use the default camera on a Chromebook.
I have not tried a smart TV with Android TV built in.