Want to set up a wireless Conference Room?Try Now

Q: What’s the difference between a pizza delivery guy and a system admin?
A: Pizza delivery guys deliver pizza to houses, system admins deliver VGA adapters to conference rooms.
This classic IT joke, second only to the one about how CIO really stands for Career Is Over in the repertoire of IT humor, may at first glance seem like a bit of an exaggeration. Surely system admins spend more time on things that are part of their actual job description (like, say, system administration) than on delivering cables and adapters to end users who are having a hard time connecting to the conference room TV or projector?
A few years ago, this may have been the case. But now that everyone brings their own laptops to business meetings, connecting to the TV via cables and adapters isn’t so easy. Laptops come with a wide range of video outputs, smart TVs come with many different video inputs, but sometimes the inputs and outputs don’t match up. This presents a source of confusion for even the most tech-savvy end user. And whenever an end user gets confused by something tech-related, their first instinct is always to call IT.
It’s no wonder then that every system admin, at some point in their career, has toyed with the idea of setting up a tent in the conference room and just doing their work from there.
Here’s a quick overview of the cables and adapters that are responsible for wreaking the most havoc in the conference room, leaving IT departments with no choice but to use their system admin as cable connectivity troubleshooters.

1. HDMI to HDMI Cables

Kevin from Home Alone is horrified by the prospect of using HDMI cables in his conference room.
If your goal is to connect a computer to a TV screen or projector through a cable, HDMI cables can be pretty handy. All HDTV’s come with an HDMI input, as do virtually all projectors that were manufactured during the last five years. HDMI outputs are also fairly commonplace on higher-end laptops (although Apple seems to be phasing them out). So if you’re dealing with equipment younger than your average kindergarten student, an HDMI cable should do the trick.
A few things to consider though: Do you buy just one HDMI cable and have your end users share it from a connectivity box in the center of the table, or do you buy multiple HDMI cables and install a connectivity box at each seat? No matter which option you go with, things are bound to get messy, so you may want to look into getting a cable management box to handle the extra slack. And since HDMI cables have a well-known propensity to go missing, you may want to buy a few back-ups.
Is your cable collection starting to get a bit unwieldy? Better brace yourself: It’s about to get a whole lot unwieldier.

2. VGA to VGA Cables

VGA cables make Matthew McConaughey weep.
Although HDMI cables have been the standard for the last several years, not all projectors come equipped with an HDMI input. A surprising number of old war horses from the pre-HDMI era still work perfectly fine and are still in widespread use. Likewise, not all laptops come with HDMI outputs. There are still thousands of 2011/12 MacBooks kicking around that may not be able to handle El Capitan, but still run Leopard perfectly fine. Better get some VGA cables to send through that connectivity box (or boxes).

3. VGA to HDMI

From this day forth, Scarlett O'Hara swears she will never use VGA to HDMI cables again.
What if the projector you’re using only has an HDMI input but the laptop only has a VGA output (or vice versa)? Don’t worry: Buying a handful of VGA to HDMI cables should solve this problem.
You may want to buy a label maker too: VGA cables look almost identical to DVI cables (the next item on this list), which can cause endless confusion.

4. DVI to HDMI (plus 3.5mm male-to-male audio cable just to be safe)

Although DVI to HDMI cables were not around in Joan of Arc's day, experts speculate that she would've disliked them.
A world in which every single connectivity problem involving laptops, projectors, and TVs could be solved with just three cables would be an annoying one, but at least it would be tolerable. Unfortunately, that’s not the world in which we live. DVI cables also exist, and they can only handle resolutions of 1,920 x 1,200 with no audio, so if your presentation involves sound, a separate audio cable is required. Have fun with that.

5. Thunderbolt to Thunderbolt/HDMI or Mini DisplayPort to Mini DisplayPort/HDMI

Thunderbolt cables are amazing for transferring huge files quickly, but do they belong in the conference room? Laura Dern fromEnlightened seems to think not.
Thunderbolt 3 cables have a bandwidth of 5 GB/s and can drive two external 4K displays at 60 Hz. For this reason, they’re pretty much indispensable for people who work with video shot at extremely high resolutions. Will they be useful in the context of a business meeting? Having a couple on standby couldn’t hurt.
And don’t forget to invest in a few Thunderbolt to HDMI/VGA adapters while you’re at it. You never know when those will come in handy.

6. Lightning to HDMI and Lightning to VGA

"What's in the box?" Hopefully not cables, thinks Brad Pitt from Seven.
What if someone forgot their laptop at home and wants to give their presentation through their iPhone? Better stock up on some lightning cables in order to prepare for that contingency. (You may want to buy a few bottles of Tylenol also).
By now, the collection of cables you have in front of you is so big that you may require multiple wheelbarrows to carry them around. Is it any surprise that end users don’t find this web of cables intuitive and need to bring in a system admin to bail them out?
(Editor’s note: To avoid the cable pile-up described in this article, we recommend investing in a wireless presentation system which allows end users to connect their laptops to the conference room screen in 1 second without any hassle. As chance would have it, we offer a free 14 day trial of a wireless presentation system on this very website. Click here for more info).
 
ADDITIONAL READING
Top 10 Conference Room Cable Management Fails of 2017
Wireless Conference Rooms vs. Cabled Conference Rooms: Which Has the Better ROI?
Conference Room Cable Management Checklist
 

Want to set up a wireless Conference Room?Try Now

If a time traveler from the year 2005 were to set foot in your living room, they would have a hard time figuring out your home entertainment system. Apple TV? Netflix? How are you supposed to insert the DVD into the Apple TV box when the DVD is nearly twice the size of the box? And how come this remote control only has one button on it? Has the world gone crazy?

And yet if that same time traveler were to set foot in your conference room, they would be completely at home. Although business meetings rely on pretty much the exact same technology as home entertainment (TVs, projectors, media to play on said TVs and projectors), many meeting rooms are still stuck in the Blockbuster era, relying on HDMI, VGA, and countless other cables and adapters for their presentation solution.

Things don’t have to be this way. With a wireless presentation system such as the Ubiq Hive, you can bring your conference room into the Netflix/Apple TV-era and briefly confuse any time travelers that happen to wander in.

Here are just some of the benefits:

1. Easy Set-up.

dsc03613

Have you ever successfully plugged an electronic device into a wall socket such as a vacuum cleaner or hair dryer? Then you shouldn’t have any trouble setting up the Ubiq Hive. Once the device is powered on and connected to your conference room TV or projector, all you have to do is download the Ubiq app or go to present.goubiq.com and you can begin streaming right away.

2. Less Strain on IT.

internal-users-sept-9

Like E.R. doctors, IT people are always on-call in case of an emergency. If a project manager is having issues hooking up his 2008 MacBook to a projector, the first person to hear about it is usually the system admin, who is then expected to drop everything he’s doing and rush into the conference room and try to diagnose the problem.

With Ubiq, however, IT does not need to be physically present in the conference room. To monitor a presentation, all you have to do is log in to the Ubiq dashboard.

3. Increased Productivity.  Keep employees in the loop by sending notifications to your conference room displays.

Ubiq integrates with calendar tools (like Google Calendar) so teams can schedule meetings, reserve rooms, and request “hive” access. It also allows IT to post notifications and digital signage to meeting room displays in order to help teams stay organized.

4. Security.

Ubiq integrates with multiple networks so internal users stream over the corporate network and guest users stream over the guest network.

The Ubiq application ensures that internal users stream over the corporate network and guest users stream over the guest network. Since Ubiq integrates with your company’s Active Directory, internal users do not need to create their own accounts. Simply enter your Active Directory domain during installation and Ubiq will check credentials against the domain.

5. Better Looking Conference Rooms.

No conference room is complete without the Ubiq wireless presentation system.

Wires are ugly, and hiding them is difficult. Some people try to run them behind their baseboards or under their carpets, but few succeed. This is especially true if we’re dealing with multiple cables like HDMI, VGA, HDMI to VGA, DVI, and Thunderbolt (which is the bare minimum of what you’ll need to have on-hand in today’s BYOD era in lieu of a wireless solution). Hiding that many cables is like trying to hide 6% of the world’s aluminum in the Mexican desert; it’s only a matter of time before it shows up on Reddit.

Discover how Ubiq can work for your organization. Request a demo today!

Want to set up a wireless Conference Room?Try Now

You should never judge a book by its cover, but you should always judge a company by its conference room. If the first thing you see when you arrive at a business meeting is a standard definition TV that’s been strapped to a wobbly cart with velcro in order to prevent it from toppling over and crushing the AV guy whenever he wheels it around, you’ve learned something very valuable about the company’s approach to innovation. Likewise, if you walk into a meeting room and see a 4K TV that’s been mounted so that the screen is perfectly flush with the wall, your reaction will be, “If this company knows how to do that, they can do anything.”

Here are 5 AV products you need to buy in order to create that sort of impression.

1. 4K Television

Samsung KS9500 series

There are a lot of things you can justify not buying—paintings, book shelves, certain pieces of furniture—on the grounds that you are “going for a minimalist aesthetic.” Unfortunately, a good TV is not one of them. In order for videoconferencing and business presentations to work, a large shared screen is absolutely essential. And although they’re expensive and still have some issues that haven’t been adequately addressed yet (good luck finding media that you can play at full resolution), 4K TVs are noticeably better than their 1K counterparts. Even if you don’t actually use the TV to play full 4K video, it’s always better to have 4K resolution and not need it than to need 4K resolution and not have it.

If you have the money to buy a 4K TV, you probably also have the money to hire a carpenter to mount the TV to the inside of the wall. By doing so, you’ll restrict easy access to the HDMI ports at the back, but if you use a wireless presentation solution (like, say, Ubiq) having easy access to the HDMI ports will not be necessary.

Our recommendations:

Samsung KS9500 series
LG OLEDE6 series
Sony XBR-75X940D

2. Telephone

Polycom SoundStation 2

For decades, experts have been predicting that videoconferencing would render Alexander Graham Bell’s 1876 invention obsolete. And yet for some reason the telephone refuses to go away. Perhaps it’s because people are too self-conscious about their appearance, perhaps it’s because no one likes the idea of sending large amounts of data through their 4G network. Whatever the reason, the telephone is here to stay, and you’ll definitely be needing one for your conference room. More specifically, you’ll need one that can provide clear audio, connect multiple lines at once, and hands-free capabilities (speakerphone and microphone included).

Our recommendations:

Polycom SoundStation 2
Avaya B179 Conference VoIP phone

3. Projector

Sony VPL-VW365ES

If your meetings are usually attended by more than 20 people, a 4K TV—as glorious as it is—might not be enough. You may want to consider buying a projector and converting an entire wall into a movie screen. In addition to offering a bigger image, today’s conference room projectors provide greater brightness (lumens), operate clearly in both dark and lit rooms, and are small enough to be portable. High-end 4K projectors can cost as much as $10,000 or even $20,000, so unless your name is Tim Cook, be sure to seriously weigh the pros and cons before buying. (Or just buy a low-end version; few people have actually seen high-end 4K projectors in action, so they’ll be unlikely to notice that you’ve cheaped out).

Our recommendations:

Sony VPL-VW365ES
JVC – DLAX500R

4. Sound

JBL Basic Double-Zone, 70V Wall Mount Sound System

Investing in a 4K TV or projector can be counterproductive if you don’t also invest in a decent sound system. That stunning 4K resolution will be a lot less impressive if all you can hear coming out of people’s mouths is a muffled garble.

It’s also important to make sure that the people you’re videoconferencing with are able to hear you, so in addition to buying speakers, you may want to buy a few microphones and install them at various points along the conference room table.

Our recommendations:

JBL Basic Double-Zone, 70V Wall Mount Sound System
Atlas Sound 70V Ceiling Mounted Sound System for A/V and Conference Rooms (2 Speakers)

5. Wireless Presentation Solution 

Introducing the Ubiq Hive.

In today’s BYOD environment, a conference room that relies on cables and wires to connect laptops to the TV or projector is simply not feasible. In order to accommodate every laptop that enters the room, you would need to have an expensive and elaborate collection of cables and converters with various outputs on standby (HDMI, VGA, HDMI to VGA, Thunderbolt, Lightning, etc). If you were to attempt to use all of these wires and converters simultaneously, your conference room would resemble a mad scientist’s lair. Better to go wireless.

Our recommendation:

Ubiq Hive

We may not be the most objective people to ask, but we think the Ubiq Hive is pretty sweet. It allows you to present wirelessly from laptops and surface tablets regardless of their video outputs in less than 10 seconds. (For more information on the Ubiq Hive, click here or go to literally anywhere else on this site).

Want to set up a wireless Conference Room?Try Now

Ah, business meetings: The only phenomena in the known universe that make line-ups at the DMV look like models of efficiency in comparison. According to one estimate, the average professional loses 31 hours per month in unproductive meetings. To put things in perspective, the uncut Lord of the Rings trilogy is only 12 hours long. Think about that for a second: In the time it takes you and your colleagues to set up the projector and argue over who will record the minutes, Frodo can walk to Mount Doom and back two and a half times.

How do you remedy this? Like reaching absolute zero on the thermometer, there’s no known way to achieve a 100% efficient meeting. There are, however, certain steps you can take to make sure you don’t get horribly outpaced by Frodo productivity-wise.

1. Send Out the Agenda With the Same Frequency That Old Navy Sends Out Junk Mail

You can never send out the agenda too many times.

“Is there an agenda for today?” is the question that inevitably kicks off every business meeting. This is why it’s important to send out the agenda a week in advance, and then again four days later. Then, just for good measure, send the agenda out once again the day before the meeting.

This way, if anyone asks if there’s an agenda for the meeting, you can respond, “Yes, is your computer not capable of receiving e-mails?”

When compiling the agenda, always make sure that all deliverables are clearly marked and highlighted in bold. You may also want to consider using larger than normal font sizes. Don’t be afraid to go as high as 22pts.

2. Start On Time No Matter Who Shows Up Late (Unless It’s the President of the Organization or the President of the United States)

Waiting for latecomers is an exercise in futility. Always start on time.

The most common way business meetings chew up time is when someone shows up five minutes late and says, “Oh hey, sorry I’m late. What did I miss?” The next five minutes are then typically spent getting that person all caught up. Just when it looks like the meeting is finally set to move forward, another straggler inevitably wanders in, and the process repeats itself ad nauseam.

The best way to avoid this: Start on time no matter what and refuse to update any latecomers on what they missed. When someone shows up late for a movie, the projectionist doesn’t stop the show to give the late-comer a verbal synopsis. The same thing should apply to meetings.

3. Go Wireless

Although this photo was taken at dusk, the Ubiq Hive represents the dawn of the wireless era.

In today’s BYOD environment, non-wireless presentations can be tricky. In order to accommodate every laptop, the IT technician will have to bring a huge collection of wires and adapters to the conference room (HDMI, VGA, HDMI to VGA, DVI to HDMI, Thunderbolt to HDMI, Lightning to HDMI).

Figuring out which laptop requires which adapter can take longer than the meeting itself. Better to go wireless.

4. Don’t Be Afraid to Play Referee

Soccer games would be absolute chaos without referees, and the same thing applies to business meetings. The second someone goes off topic and mentions how crazy last night’s episode of Game of Thrones was, blow a whistle at them and give them a yellow card.

5. Keep Meetings Under 45 Minutes

A business meeting that goes over 45 minutes will test the limits of human endurance.

“The length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder,” Alfred Hitchcock famously stated. For business meetings, a slightly different rule applies: Their length should be directly related to the endurance of the bladder of a hamster or hyperactive rodent. Studies show that people begin to check out mentally after 30 minutes. If you go past 45 minutes, whoever is presenting may as well be talking to an empty room.

By implementing some of these steps, we are confident that you can reduce wasted meeting room time from 31 hours per month to 10 hours per month, which should leave you with just enough free time to watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy twice or endure a line-up at the DMV.

Additional Reading

Top Tips On Organising Great Meetings at Work
Raise Productivity by Enabling Your Most Important Asset: Your Employees
This Conference Room Equipment Checklist Will Keep Your Meetings On Track
Increasing Efficiency In the Conference Room

Want to set up a wireless Conference Room?Try Now

You should never judge a book by its cover, but you should always judge a company by its conference room. If the first thing you see when you arrive at a business meeting is a standard definition TV that’s been strapped to a wobbly cart with velcro, you’ve learned something very valuable about the company’s approach to innovation. Likewise, if you walk into a meeting room and see a 4K TV that’s been mounted perfectly flush with the wall, your reaction will be, “If this company knows how to do that, they can do anything.”

Here are 5 conference room AV products you need to buy in order to create that sort of impression.

1. 4K Television

A must-have AV product: Samsung KS9500 series.

There are a lot of things you can justify not buying—paintings, bookshelves, certain pieces of furniture—on the grounds that you are “going for a minimalist aesthetic.” Unfortunately, a good TV is not one of them. In order for video conferencing and business presentations to work, a large shared screen is absolutely essential. And although they’re expensive and still have some issues that haven’t been adequately addressed yet (good luck finding media that you can play at full resolution), 4K TVs are noticeably better than their 1K counterparts. Even if you don’t actually use the TV to play full 4K video, it’s always better to have 4K resolution and not need it than to need 4K resolution and not have it.

If you have the money to buy a 4K TV, you probably also have the money to hire a carpenter to mount the TV to the inside of the wall. By doing so, you’ll restrict easy access to the HDMI ports at the back, but if you use a wireless presentation solution (like, say, Ubiq) having easy access to the HDMI ports will not be necessary.

Our recommendations:
Samsung QM65F
LG 65UX340C
NEC 65″ X651UHD-2ED

2. Telephone

Polycom SoundStation 2

For decades, experts have been predicting that video conferencing would render Alexander Graham Bell’s 1876 invention obsolete. And yet for some reason, the telephone refuses to go away. Perhaps it’s because people are too self-conscious about their appearance, perhaps it’s because no one likes the idea of sending large amounts of data through their 4G network. Whatever the reason, the telephone is here to stay, and you’ll definitely be needing one for your conference room. More specifically, you’ll need one that can provide clear audio, connect multiple lines at once, and hands-free capabilities (speakerphone and microphone included).

Our recommendations:
Polycom SoundStation 2
Avaya B179 Conference VoIP phone

3. Projector

Sony VPL-VW365ES

If your meetings are usually attended by more than 20 people, a 4K TV—as glorious as it is—might not be enough. You may want to consider buying a projector and converting an entire wall into a movie screen. In addition to offering a bigger image, today’s conference room projectors provide greater brightness (lumens), operate clearly in both dark and lit rooms, and are small enough to be portable. High-end 4K projectors can cost as much as $10,000 or even $20,000, so unless your name is Tim Cook, be sure to seriously weigh the pros and cons before buying. (Or just buy a low-end version; few people have actually seen high-end 4K projectors in action, so they’ll be unlikely to notice that you’ve cheaped out).

Our recommendations:
BenQ SU931
Optoma EH500
NEC NP-P501X
Sony VPL-VW1100ES Native 4K 3D SXRD

4. Sound

JBL Basic Double-Zone, 70V Wall Mount Sound System

Investing in a 4K TV or projector can be counterproductive if you don’t also invest in a decent sound system. That stunning 4K resolution will be a lot less impressive if all you can hear coming out of people’s mouths is a muffled garble.

It’s also important to make sure that the people you’re video conferencing with are able to hear you, so in addition to buying speakers, you may want to buy a few microphones and install them at various points along the conference room table.

Our recommendations:
JBL Basic Double-Zone, 70V Wall Mount Sound System
Atlas Sound 70V Ceiling Mounted Sound System for A/V and Conference Rooms (2 Speakers)

5. Wireless Presentation Solution

No list of conference room AV products is complete without a wireless presentation solution.

In today’s BYOD environment, a conference room that relies on cables and wires to connect laptops to the TV or projector is simply not feasible. In order to accommodate every laptop that enters the room, you would need to have an expensive and elaborate collection of cables and converters with various outputs on standby (HDMI, VGA, HDMI to VGA, Thunderbolt, Lightning, etc). If you were to attempt to use all of these wires and converters simultaneously, your conference room would resemble a mad scientist’s lair. Better to go wireless.

Our recommendation:
Ubiq Hive

We may not be the most objective people to ask, but we think the Ubiq Hive is pretty sweet. It allows you to present wirelessly from laptops and Surface tablets regardless of their video outputs in less than 10 seconds. (For more information on the Ubiq Hive, click here or go to literally anywhere else on this site).

Additional Reading
Conference Room Technology: 5 Investments You Should Make
AV System Integrators: Are They Really Necessary?
Conference Room Design: 10 Examples Worth Studying