A new line-up of video conferencing solutions combines dedicated software and hardware tools that support professional conferencing with enhanced video options.
Kensington’s new Professional Video Conferencing suite can be worked into multiple workstation configurations, with dedicated gear for Apple and Google platforms and a choice of accessories to customize any work environment – home, office or road – and enhance any video presence.
The new suite of tools is compatible with most popular video conferencing applications (like Microsoft Teams, Zoom and other such packages), and flexible enough to be configured for almost any work space.
That’s good because the trends to work-from-home or hybrid work arrangements are not going away. Surveys indicate that most workers prefer – many now need – some flexibility their work schedules, and that WFH is one of the most popular options.
But communication and integration with other workmates and colleagues is also very important, and that means technology has a big role to play in keeping us connected.
So, it’s not that surprising that another recent workplace study showed that nearly half of us spend at least two hours a day in video conferences and meetings!
Spending that much time “on camera” accentuates the dynamics between productivity and “looking good” – at least in the sense of high-quality video imagery. Those folks who said they were on video calls for two hours a day? They also said that meetings are more productive when everyone has a professional video presence.
That’s where Kensington wants to be. The company is building on its 40-year history with the computing industry, having delivered a wide range of products that support security, productivity and ergonomic well-being (we recently had our hands on the Kensington Pro Fit Ergo Wireless Keyboard and Mouse).
Now, it is expanding its portfolio and addressing today’s changing workplace with its Professional Video Conferencing product line-up.
Kensington Konnect is a new video conferencing software tool that lets you create and save as many as four different webcam configurations, each adapting to different conditions and presenting a different look.
You can set up various scenarios to match different lighting conditions (day/night/artificial), so you and your surroundings look their best. Like setting up a smartphone or digital camera, you can choose from various video effects (such as black and white, cool/blue, warm/red), and adjust other video settings (brightness, contrast, saturation, lowlight, backlight, white balance, exposure, sharpness) for best effect.
The freely downloadable software acts as a gateway to features available in two video camera offerings.
Kensington has two compatible cameras in its line-up: both are high-quality 1080p devices, but with different features and functions. The W2000 Auto Focus Webcam (1080p at 30fps) delivers a narrow, 75-degree image field, suitable for one person on camera. An omnidirectional microphone with noise-reduction technology is built in.
The W2050 Pro 1080p Auto Focus Webcam uses glass lensing and auto focus for high-quality video imagery from a wider (93-degree) field of view, making it handy for team meetings or scenarios with more than one person on camera at a time.
It has two omnidirectional microphones with noise-reduction technology, and a larger image sensor for better low light performance.
Both webcams can be controlled through the Kensington Konnect software, with clickable electronic pan, tilt and 2 X zoom as well as those image effect choices; both cameras have sliding lens covers. The video image in both cases is good: highly defined with good clarity and resolution – my team saw the difference between the camera built into my computer and the Kensington 2000 immediately and commented on the high-quality image.
But as good as one might look on camera naturally, some added lighting with a professional touch can always help.
The L1000 Bicolor Ring Light provides just that. It puts out almost 1000 lumens (rated at 930) of controllable light to eliminate harsh shadows and provide even illumination across the video image. The USB-A powered light features adjustable colour temperatures (described as cool, neutral or warm) and brightness levels that are easily changed in ten percent increments with the touch of a button on the light cable.
Either Kensington webcam can be mounted in the centre of the ring (using supplied mounts and threaded posts) for nice, even lighting across the face. But be careful about placement: I was on a video call once with a woman using a ring light for even lighting, but the ring’s reflection in her glasses was disconcerting. The position of the illuminated circular reflection almost exactly matched the iris of her eyes, giving her a rather wild, almost inflamed look!
For a host of mounting options, for either the camera or the light or external accessories like added microphones, Kensington’s PVC line-up includes three different mounting solutions: the A1000 Telescoping C-Clamp, A1010 Telescoping Desk Stand, and A1020 Boom Arm.
The desk stand is the easiest and simplest solution for mounting, say, the camera and light immediately behind a computer screen. A simple twist lock lets you raise or lower the stand, and there are various threaded mounting options for camera, light or both. The desk stand base is some 18 cm. in diameter, so make sure you have room to place the stand on your physical desktop.
The C-clamp and boom arm allow for a wide range of creative mounting options to fit almost any work environment. Having a video conference camera point at your face straight on is usually best, but a nice side-mounted light can be a very complimentary addition to the look and feel of your video conference. The boom arm has a 360-degree swivel head for convenient placement and positioning; it clamps onto a desktop for stability and features a cable tie to clean things up once you are set up.
“Video conferencing has become the norm for business meetings, attending special events, and remote learning and the way that participants look on camera has a direct impact on how they are perceived,” explained Tim Hill, Global Product Manager at Kensington, of the company’s new direction. “The adoption of remote work, hybrid work, and work-from-home initiatives by companies and organizations of all sizes has fundamentally changed how and where people work.”
Whether in the office, at home, or on the road, Kensington’s products can help optimize the way we appear on camera.
The company says it has more products to come for the professional video conferencing market, so keep watching, as they say, and looking good.