March 3, 2011

Setting Up for Skype – HDTV in our Conference Room

One of the major benefits of using Skype as a free service (versus Google’s video chat) was the group calling function. This was especially important having four remote employees, whom with we could now see and talk to all at once. Having people working remotely was the driving force behind using Skype, as we needed a way for them to feel more connected to everyone at the main office.

During the beginning of the set-up process it became clear we needed to outfit our conference room to allow multiple people at the office to have Skype meetings. We bought a 55 inch, Insignia LCD HDTV and mounted it on the wall, facing one end of our conference room table.

HDTV for Skype

55" Insignia LCD HDTV

We connected the TV to a computer, which we placed on a small shelving unit nearby and out of the way. We have a wireless keyboard and mouse (Logitech MX3200) to use, so the computer can be operated from the conference room table. Some sort of wireless or Bluetooth device was necessary to eliminate dragging cords around the room and to allow us to keep the computer out of the way.

Here you can see the computer and HDTV

The keyboard and mouse posed some technical difficulties we were not expecting. The strength of wireless signal is better the closer you are to the computer; as the batteries die and if you sit further away the level of functioning goes down. We would recommend using a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, this will provide you with the largest range of motion.

We also noticed right from the start a difficulty in using the mouse. Navigating around the screen seemed sluggish and awkward. There was a definite difference in using the conference room computer – it was harder to get the precise and quick movements we were all accustomed to using at our desktops.

We began troubleshooting, and tried reconfiguring the settings for the mouse on the computer. We re-installed the drivers, tested new devices and nothing was working. Finally, almost five months past the initial set up, we researched the issue further and found reports of others having similar problems with HDTVs. They cited connecting to a HDMI source, post-processing due to a game mode slows down the mouse. While we were unable to find a “game mode” on our own television, we disabled the settings for “motion improvement” and “artifact removal.” This change immediately resolved the problem, the mouse now works with the same quality it would at a desktop. All this time we had been attributing the problem to the computer or wireless device, when the television settings were to blame.

We also bought wireless PC speakers to use for sound. We couldn’t have sound coming from the television speakers because we would get feedback, having the microphone on the webcam right there. We have the wireless speakers placed in the back of the room (opposite of where the computer and television are). If we have a full room we need everyone to hear and be heard. The speakers we bought are wireless Rocketfish PC speakers. We went with wireless because the room was already set up and we didn’t want to deal with wiring speakers around the room. 

 Stay tuned for more on how we perfected our set-up for Skype meetings in the conference room.

    1. We have the logitech c910 camera at every desktop, as well as in our conference room. For speakers in our conference room we use the microphone on the camera and have some basic Rocketfish wireless PC speakers. We placed the speakers in the back of the room because using the tv speakers would cause feedback since the microphone is right there. At our desktops everyone uses headsets (all logitech, various models) for their speakers/microphone.

  1. Hi there – I am just beginning to start up putting together a very similar set up for our conference room here at the office, the main difference being we are a Mac-based company. How do you find the microphone quality of the camera? I was looking at getting a separate mic in order to get the best quality sound in the boardroom. Thanks! Great article by the way!

    1. I think the microphone quality is great on that camera. We tested it from moving around the room and it picked up voices all the way to the back. We even had someone leave their call open at their desk and leave their office – with the door open the microphone picked up next closest voices which were about 5-10 feet outside of the room. Not sure how big your boardroom is, but as long as the computers settings are configured to default to that microphone you shouldn’t have any problems. Thanks for the comment! Feel free to check in more on Skype – we’d love to hear how your set-up works!

  2. This is a great post and great comments – thank you. We are doing a very similar set up. Our conference room seats 10-12, we are using a 55 inch tv operated by a mini mac and same webcam. We have a wireless keyboard and mouse as well. Did you try the set up without the wireless speakers? Also, will the webcam speaker pick up if we have up to 10 people around the table – did you research any wireless microphones that could sit on the conference table?

    Thank you.

    1. Thanks for reading! We used the wireless speakers because we were getting too much feedback using the speakers on the tv (which were too close the microphone). We are in the process of setting up a second conference room for web conferencing and are purchasing a microphone to sit on the table. It will hopefully provide much better sound quality, and is supposed to pick up on the voice of whoever is talking around the table and cancel out background noise. I’ll be posting our experiences with the new set up once we are up and running!

      The conference room featured in this post was a smaller one, but the room we are in the process of setting up is much bigger. Do you use Skype for your conferences? We mainly use Skype, but have been experimenting with GoToMeeting video chat and Google Plus hangouts too.

      1. “and are purchasing a microphone to sit on the table”… Which microphone are you purchasing? We have a similar layout and I’m not convinced the Logitech C910 will be powerful enough. Great article

        1. Hi, thanks for checking out the blog. I’m not sure of the exact model that has been ordered. I will be posting once our new set-up is in place.

          Our Logitech C910 worked pretty well in the smaller conference room. There was some difficulty as it would pick up background noise and forced us to use external speakers to avoid feedback issues.

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