Smartphones are life-changing devices that have revolutionized the way we communicate while on the move. When it’s time for business, however, you have to put down your mobile and get out your laptop.
Video conferencing from your laptop is an office-away-from-the-office experience. With the right webcam and internet connection, you can complete any business-related task without compromising on presentation, clarity, or tools.
You know that cliched image of telecommuting professionals typing away and taking meetings poolside (scroll back up for an example)? There’s a reason they’re working from a laptop and not a smartphone. Your smartphone is for checking the weather and your Twitter mentions. Video conferencing from your laptop is the best mobile experience. In this post, we’ll talk about how to make sure that video conferencing from your laptop provides the best possible experience for you and the others in your meeting.
Business Works Better on a Laptop
Bigger, faster, more powerful, and with a screen that can reasonably accommodate more than one talking head: that’s the edge a laptop offers over a smartphone video conversation. Yet while the size of the visuals is the most obvious difference between the two options, in the end, the laptop’s superiority truly comes down to processing power. Tablet video calling also offers an improvement in screen size over a smartphone, but again, the processing power difference means you might as well just shoulder a couple of extra pounds and upgrade to a laptop.
The one drawback to video conferencing from a laptop is the camera performance.
Any business-related app you use in your working life will transfer neatly to your laptop. The full-sized keyboard, mouse attachments, and superior graphics all allow you to run the full offering of any video conferencing platform, so you don’t have to compromise with low-end smartphone versions (even established video callers like ooVoo cut corners on mobile).
The one drawback to video conferencing from a laptop is the camera performance. The fixed nature of the built-in lens and the generally low performance of the hardware in comparison to the power of the overall device means you are better off outsourcing your camera needs to an external webcam.
Get the Webcam Advantage
Huawei’s MateBook 13 has been rated as one of the world’s best laptops. The camera built into this stylish and powerful device, however, functions at just 0.9 megapixels and 720p. In video conferencing terms, that’s last decade performance.
By comparison, Logitech’s C920s Pro HD–by no means even the newest or most high-tech product in Logitech’s stable of webcams–can live stream at full HD 1080p, has more than twice the megapixel capacity, and costs well under $100. In addition, the C920s comes with basic, but valuable, features such as a privacy shutter, autofocus, light correction, and a combined microphone and stereo speaker.
There are cameras able to stream in full 4k, perform facial recognition, and offer advanced light and color correction.
Not only do you get better image quality with a dedicated webcam, but you also get far greater flexibility. You can set up your portable camera in any position that suits your video calling style, mount it on a tripod, and even turn it to face something other than yourself, if you should need to add context to your video meeting.
Despite having all these features, as we mentioned, the C920s isn’t even at the top of the class for webcam performance. There are cameras able to stream in full 4k, perform facial recognition, and offer advanced light and color correction.
But all this webcam glory is for nothing if your laptop itself can’t perform to a professional standard. Before you buy your next office-on-the-go, consider a few key elements.
What to Look for in a Video Conferencing Laptop
The laptop that can give you the best video conferencing experience is strong in the areas of comfort, performance, and screen size. Those elements are the main ones separating the laptop experience from that of a tablet or smartphone, and the reason it’s worth the extra carry-on when traveling.
The secret to laptop success lies in the battery.
We recommend you find the largest screen you can handle to maximize your video viewing and to make group chat worthwhile, but here are a few other things to consider when selecting your next mobile office computer. Bear in mind that the overall performance of any video conference is as dependent on your internet connection as it is on the hardware inside your laptop.
Weight: This is the low-tech end of laptop considerations, but there’s a strong correlation between the size of your screen and the weight of your laptop. There’s also a correlation between the weight of your laptop and the convenience of carrying it around with you. The extra four inches of HD screen on a 15-inch Dell Inspiron 15 3000 series will add more than two pounds onto the weight of an Inspiron 11. So, while you’ll want a laptop with a decent screen size, you’ll also need to find the ideal compromise between size and weight.
Battery: The secret to laptop success lies in the battery. Video conferencing is a demanding task for your computer to perform and those HD visuals will drain your energy source more quickly than running, say, a small spreadsheet app. Built-in batteries can range from 5 to 14 hours in life and often need hours to recharge, so check how much power your device packs before making a commitment.
Seek out a high-quality external webcam.
Processor: The processor, or CPU, is the brain of your laptop and the element most responsible for its speed. Measured in gigahertz, today’s standard speeds begin at around 4.6GHz, and for a laptop you’ll be regularly video conferencing on, you should look for a quad-core, rather than dual-core processor–multi-core processors have additional units that carry out tasks simultaneously to increase performance.
Memory: Along with your processor speed, memory is one of the biggest factors determining your laptop’s performance. RAM is your device’s working memory that allows the processor to access live programs. A target of 4GB should suffice, with any more being a nice plus.
The bottom line? Make sure your laptop is up to the demanding task of video conferencing before you buy, but don’t worry about the webcam that comes built-in. Instead, seek out a relatively inexpensive, high-quality external webcam, and you’ll have the perfect mix of professionalism and portability.