To really compare brands of luxury cars, you have to forget about what you need and focus entirely on what you want.
It’s an exercise in excess, after all. If you’re concerned about fuel efficiency and the cost and frequency of servicing, you’re missing the point. A luxury sports car is built for thrills, first impressions, and living life on the edge of engineering.
The same applies when comparing digital whiteboards. They’re as close as you come to luxury in the video conferencing world. Of course, you can spend more money on a holographic video booth or on a fully immersive telepresence setup. Those, however, offer a dramatically different video conferencing experience than your average Skype conversation.
Digital whiteboards, on the other hand, are all about flash and presentation without straying too far from the standard flat-screen video experience. Keep that in mind as we undertake a quick comparison of two such luxury video vehicles: the Mondopad vs. Surface Hub. You ultimately don’t need this tech, but there’s a good chance you’ll end up wanting it…and we agree with you.
Mondopad Digital Whiteboarding
First, there’s a discrepancy we need to address. Setting up a comparison of the Mondopad and the Surface Hub is akin to comparing a Lamborghini Gallardo and an Arrinera Hussarya. The Lambo has an automatic advantage due to its name recognition, which tips you in its direction to begin with, no matter how good the Arrinera may be (and yes, the Arrinera Hussarya is a real car).
When it comes to name recognition though, in a field populated by names like Samsung, Panasonic, Cisco, Microsoft, and Google, the Mondopad may as well be an Arrinera. Built by Oregon-based InFocus, the Mondopad Ultra (there are other versions available as well) is a large, wall-mounted touch screen that handles like a tablet and mixes video conferencing with 4K Ultra HD presentation. It’s available in four sizes, from 55 to 86 inches, and includes a built-in camera plus a microphone and wireless keyboard.
You can see the official product video below, but the unit is designed to bring together video calling, web browsing, touch and stylus whiteboarding, Windows 10 OS, Microsoft Office functionality, and bring-your-own-device casting all on an enormous screen that will impress every new attendee to your conference room. It’s like a computer built into a screen, rather than the other way around.
If you’ve seen corporate videos for other, bigger name digital whiteboards though, you might not be as impressed. The Mondopad looks great, but it’s far from unique, and their competition has far more brand recognition.
The Surface Hub, Spark Board, Jamboard, and i3HUDDLE
Digital whiteboards have been with us for a while now, and they’ve always done a good job of bringing the freedom to intuitively write, draw, and play Pictionary on a traditional whiteboard to the online age. Recently though, the tech has enjoyed a renaissance as video hardware makers attempt to push down the usually prohibitive cost of the machines and sell them to mid-range and small businesses.
VC Daily has run recent posts discussing the Google Jamboard and the Cisco Spark Board (now known as the Cisco Webex Board thanks to a recent video reshuffle), which each closely resemble the Mondopad in design and functionality. We’ve also taken a good look at a similar offering from i3 called the i3HUDDLE.
Then, of course, there’s the most hyped of the lot, Microsoft’s Surface Hub. Each of these devices offers subtle points of difference–Cisco’s makes squeaky marker-on-board noises, Google’s offering is tied up with its GSuite office tools, and the i3 can recognize up to 20 simultaneous touch points–but it’s difficult to pinpoint any major critical advantages in one board over another. Even the pricing is similar (except for the Surface Hub, which outprices the most expensive of the other three boards by more than $3000).
As we said earlier, these are luxury items, and since they all keep the core digital whiteboard promises of 4K visuals, instant interactive screen sharing, and touch-launch video calling, your choice may very well come down to personal preference for the feel of one board over the others.
That’s why we’d suggest you hold off on your digital whiteboard purchase until Microsoft starts shipping its new Surface Hub 2.
Mondopad vs. Surface Hub 2
InFocus’ Mondopad holds up surprisingly well against the original Surface Hub; it’s significantly cheaper, for a start. They both operate Microsoft Office, which is a bonus for the lesser-known device. The Mondopad has an i7 CPU processor and comes with the freedom to video conference with whichever vendor offers you the best deal, while the Microsoft version naturally prefers to play with its own Skype/Teams toys. The Mondopad also supports all casting systems, whether HDMI, AirPlay, Chromecast, or other. InFocus prides itself on offering a flexible product, rather than one designed to keep users in a particular ecosystem (we’re looking at you, Google). It’s a great concept, and we’d have no trouble in recommending you give the Mondopad a test drive…but we wouldn’t dive in headfirst just yet.
The thing is, neither the Surface Hub nor the Mondopad look as flashy or flexible as the Surface Hub 2, which will ship in Q2 of next year. VC Daily previewed the Surface Hub 2 a few months ago, and on sheer wow-factor alone, it looks well worth waiting a few months for its 2019 release. The new screen can be rotated from landscape to portrait mode, and you can tile devices together for the ultimate in impressive displays.
And we’re totally right to be swayed by such superficialities.
These are the luxury cars of the video world, after all. You don’t really need to spend $5,000 on a video conferencing whiteboard for your small to medium business when the only point of difference between a traditional camera and microphone unit and a digital whiteboard is the touch screen. Logitech, for instance, just launched its most high-end (and expensive) group video conferencing system to date, Rally, and managed to deliver the whole thing–the basic package, anyway–for less than $2,000.
Digital whiteboards are about want. They’re about first impressions, glowing presentations, and living life on the video conferencing edge. And if that’s your mentality, too–and you can afford it–we recommend you wait and see what how the Surface Hub sequel handles before you commit to a digital whiteboard.