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Cloud Video Conferencing – a Review of Starleaf

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StarLeaf App Free Download

TecInteractive are offering a free video conferencing app to any individuals or businesses who want to utilise video communication to stay in touch during the coronavirus pandemic. As offices close and people are asked to work from home, workers are looking for a simple way to stay in touch and maintain their day to day working.

Just download it here.

Cloud Video Conferencing – a Review of Starleaf

Video calling provides the same rapport as being face to face whilst ensuring that meetings can still go ahead. Managers find its easy to ‘just say hi’ to members of their team, helping to maintain engagement at a time when people are feeling anxious and worried. And with inbuilt screen sharing, users find they are still able to collaborate and work together, even if they cannot work in the same room or office together.

When video conferencing landed in the executive boardroom 40 years ago, it was a revelation! Senior representatives of large or international organisations could have face to face meetings without the cost and time associated with traveling across country.  But then those senior people wanted to speak to other executives in different businesses, who happened to be on a different video conferencing system. Technology was used to bridge the gap but this slowed the system and added a new level of complexity for maintenance, repairs and ultimately usability.

Today, people have video communication tools on their personal smart phones but video conferencing still hasn’t truly taken off in the workplace mainstream. Why is this? We know it can alleviate the pressures and costs of business travel, we know it can help to improve collaboration and build relationships. Video conferencing is more widely available, reliable and cost effective than ever before but there is still a hesitation, or an assumption that video conferencing is an expensive solution suitable only for big business, or that it’s too technical or unreliable to be used as a preferred method of contact.In this blog, we review the UK based company taking the video conferencing market by storm – StarLeaf, and how their cloud-based video conferencing solution can overcome many of the concerns, frustrations or shortfalls of traditional video communications.

 

Meet StarLeaf Cloud-based Video Conferencing:

StarLeaf is a cloud-based video conferencing and calling system, offering hardware, software and a network through which you can make and receive video calls. Through careful research and development, StarLeaf have addressed some of the biggest problems business people face with existing video communication with a complete offering that any business could use. Here’s how:

Cloud Video Conferencing – a Review of Starleaf

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1. A Cost Effective, Simple Solution

StarLeaf offers a series of endpoint solutions, providing codec, camera, speakers and intuitive touch screen controllers that plug into a display screen – as soon as it’s set up, you’re ready to start conferencing! Because the network is cloud based there is no other expensive hardware or servers that can cost money and space, making it particularly cost effective. The control interface is as simple to use as dialing on a phone and you can call anyone – whether they have a video calling system themselves or not. All they need is a web browser and StarLeaf will do the rest.

Cloud Video Conferencing – a Review of Starleaf

2. One Meeting Room System = Desktop Video Calling For All

Any purchase of a Starleaf endpoint with a conference licence will provide you with a licence for business-wide desktop video calling and conferencing. Any person in that business can download the StarLeaf App to provide simple video calling from their PC, laptop or tablet to any other user at any time. They can even video call someone who doesn’t have the StarLeaf App using a click-to-call link.

Cloud Video Conferencing – a Review of Starleaf

Companies that have introduced company-wide video calling as the preferred method of communication have noted a significant improvement in collaboration across departments and a boost to productivity as email conversations decrease and people get answers quicker and more efficiently.

3. Click to Call

For video calling to work, it needs to be as straightforward as dialing a number or picking up a phone. Asking people to download software before calling is fine if you’re going to be in regular contact but for off-the-cuff calling you need something without barriers. So StarLeaf have introduced Click-to-call. It’s Web-RTC based and allows anyone with access to a web browser to call another StarLeaf end point – either on a meeting room system or using the app. Offering a one click solution for face-to-face communication can become a real point of difference to customers or clients or external associates. You can even include a link on your email signature so anyone can video call you at the touch of a button.

4. Interoperability between systems

Remember the first video conferencers of 40 years ago? They struggled to connect with people on different video systems but the same can still be said of video callers today. The problem is that many of the ‘legacy’ systems like Cisco and Polycom need additional bridging hardware to enable cross network calls. As we know, this slows things down, is very costly and it can create another level of complexity if there are operating issues. StarLeaf have addressed this issue by creating a ‘cloud’ that all calls go through. StarLeaf allows you to call any legacy system, Skype For Business or other systems by feeding all calls through the cloud. No time delay, no complexity, just straightforward, good quality video calling and conferencing. Watch this free webinar to find out how StarLeaf cloud-based video conferencing have created a solution for interoperability…

Cloud Video Conferencing – a Review of Starleaf

5. Skype For Business

If you’re already signed up to Skype For Business then StarLeaf Medley is a free tool that anyone can use – even if they don’t own a StarLeaf endpoint. Anyone who is scheduling a Skype meeting can use StarLeaf Medley to connect with anyone who is using a traditional video meeting room system like Cisco or Polycom or even a cloud based system like StarLeaf. If you want to use Skype For Business in a meeting room or huddle space then you can get a StarLeaf Teamline endpoint which allows you to connect with anyone, using the familiar Skype for Business / Teams interface that you are used to from your PC.

6. A Reliable Network

Of the eight years that StarLeaf has existed, the first five years were spent establishing a reliable, secure infrastructure that could facilitate global cloud-based video conferencing on a huge scale, and that is exactly what they’ve done. With end-to-end encryption to ensure a secure network at all times you can be sure your business is protected. They don’t rely on any third party to provide that infrastructure so they can be sure they and their customers are not beholden to anyone else. And unlike other video communication tools like Skype For Business, StarLeaf does not eat up your band width which will ultimately slow down the rest of your online activities.

Cloud Video Conferencing – a Review of Starleaf

7. Screen sharing

Video calling and conferencing is ultimately about collaboration. And if you’re working with someone who isn’t in the same room it helps if they can see what you’re working on. That’s when screen sharing is really beneficial. Instantly show someone who you are speaking with what you are looking at, at the touch of a button. It’s all available through your StarLeaf interface – a simple way to boost collaboration and to reduce the need to travel to all of your meetings.

Cloud Video Conferencing – a Review of Starleaf

At TecInteractive, we started using StarLeaf over five years ago and were quickly won over by this simple, practical, cost effective solution. That’s why when we were given the opportunity to be one of the few StarLeaf authorised partners in the UK, we jumped at the chance. If you like this StarLeaf review and want to see how the StarLeaf cloud works then contact us for a free demo, or sign up for a free trial of the StarLeaf App . You won’t be disappointed.

Simple Video Conferencing Technology For SME’s

Video Conferencing Systems fo any Organisation. Meeting Room, Telepresence, Desktop and Mobile.

Video conferencing has been around for decades. But what was once a low quality compromise, reserved for the company executives in the boardroom has now become the communication  of choice for millions of business people around the world. With FaceTime and Skype really taking off in people’s personal lives, and the increasing number of millennials and  Generation Z’s in the workforce, it is no wonder the average working person is becoming more comfortable with being ‘virtually’ face to face for meetings.

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A recent study by Polycom found that 96% of business decision makers believed video conferencing improves productivity , but despite this fact, many businesses are yet to provide comprehensive technology solutions that will improve video conferencing for those who want to use it. People are still using personal Skype or FaceTime, cramming round laptops or in some cases iPhones, to see their colleagues or clients in a meeting. With poor quality sound and fractured connections ,video conferencing is still not reaching its full potential for many businesses – especially SME’s. So here is a list of our favourite simple video conferencing technology for SME’s that can help you to improve collaboration and video communication.

Simple Video Conferencing Technology For SME’s

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1. Company-wide, Cloud-based Video Conferencing for SME’s

For many businesses there are two prohibiting factors when considering implementation of a company-wide video conferencing solution: cost and space. Establishing a complete video conferencing network with a provider like Cisco for example often requires a large financial investment and a space to host the physical servers, taking it off the agenda for many SME’s. But with the arrival of cloud-based video conferencing even small businesses with a modest budget can embrace company-wide video conferencing.

Simple Video Conferencing Technology For SME’s

In our business we have been using a system called StarLeaf. By purchasing a product from the range to equip your chosen meeting space, you are provided with business-wide access to the video conferencing network through the Starleaf Breeze software client. It can be downloaded to any employee’s PC or laptop, allowing everyone in the company to be contactable face-to-face at the touch of a button. And you can even use the Breeze app to connect with clients or suppliers outside the business. It’s simple and it just works. Businesses that have embraced this sort of company-wide video conferencing have reported improved efficiencies and collaboration across teams and departments plus considerable cost savings as the need for travel is negated by having frequent meetings face to face via video conferencing. Using secure encrypted connections gives peace of mind – especially for businesses where security of communications is paramount.

2. Perfect Audio and Sound

The problem with conference calling is that sound is often compromised. Open speakers will pick up any kind of background noise and inevitably the person nearest the speaker will sound the loudest whilst those further away are either muffled or have to shout to be heard. The result can be frustrating, occasionally embarrassing and often hugely inefficient as comments are lost or repeated. But this doesn’t have to be the case.

There are now many speakers on the market that can eliminate these challenges. We like the Konftel range of conferencing speakers as well as the Evoko Minto. Choose between wired or wireless, portable or not. Either way you are guaranteed to have crystal clear audio and speakers that pick up what they are supposed to – not the workmen drilling on the street. Contact us to arrange a demo to see how these technology solutions can improve video conferencing for your business.

Simple Video Conferencing Technology For SME’s

3. Camera, Action!

Relying on your laptop’s integrated camera might suffice for a one-on-one but bringing other people in will just start to get messy. Of course no-one wants to invest in hi-tech HD cameras for everyone if they are only needed on a few occasions. So we recommend having the flexibility of an easy-to-use plug and play mobile camera that offers the flexibility to turn any desk or meeting room into a video conferencing facility whenever it is required. We like the Logitech range of conference cameras which can integrate with the video conferencing apps that your business already uses.  They provide a very cost-effective hardware solution for small to medium sized rooms.

Simple Video Conferencing Technology For SME’s

4. More Than Just Video Conferencing Technology for SME’s

Video conferencing is a great way to bring people together but often it’s the work they are collaborating on that needs to take the focus. Products like Starleaf offer integrated screen-sharing and video conferencing but the best way to get the most out of a video meeting is to be able to collaborate on documents together at the same time. For this, nothing quite offers the same experience as an interactive display like a SMART kapp iQ Pro or a Microsoft Surface Hub. Use the display for video conferencing whilst sharing documents and collaborating, editing and annotating on them in real time. It’s like being in the same room as your colleagues, even if they’re in another country. Solutions like these can actually save you money as many businesses have to spend less on travel expenses to get to  meetings which quickly provides a return on investment.

Simple Video Conferencing Technology For SME’s

If you would like to trial or discuss any of these simple video conferencing solutions for SME’s, why not get in touch or arrange a video conference call and we can show you what we mean!

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Create the Ultimate Huddle Room: Our Top 7 Tips!

ultimate huddle room or space

For anyone who has had the need for an ‘on-the-fly’ meeting, a ‘quick catch up’ with colleagues or the chance to share what they are working on away from the hustle of the open plan, a huddle room is often the perfect solution. Whilst not a new arrival in the workplace, huddle rooms have been growing in popularity in the last few years, as businesses place greater emphasis on collaboration, the need to get together for a ‘quick meeting’ and workspaces now being designed with less private offices or ‘cubicles’.
Today there are an estimated 30 to 50 million huddle rooms world-wide*. Whilst definitions of what exactly constitutes a huddle room are a little hazy, the most basic answer is, any small meeting space that can only accommodate a small number of people. That sounds simple enough, but we don’t want to create any huddle room. We want to create the ultimate huddle room. And we have a few ideas on what that looks like, so here are our top tips:

Create The Ultimate Huddle Room: Tip 1

Huddle Furniture

The furniture you select for your huddle space will impact how the room is used and ultimately its success. Comfy chairs may look and feel nice but will they encourage quick, productive meetings? Do you need a big table or will a small workbench suffice? Should you consider a standing height table to encourage quicker standing meetings, with optional bar-height stools for comfort when required? Furniture that is flexible and moveable is helpful as the set-up can be adjusted for the meeting in hand. We like Workszone’s range of collaboration tables, these can be both height-adjustable to accommodate sit or stand meetings and are also moveable for added flexibility.

You may also want to consider soft fabric huddle chairs and sofas that can be used in an open plan office to create a huddle space. The acoustically chosen fabrics absorb sound so there’s no need for walls and doors – just grab a booth or a sofa for a no-hassle huddle.Save

Create the Ultimate Huddle Room: Our Top 7 Tips!

Create The Ultimate Huddle Room: Tip 2

Capture ideas

When heading into a huddle, you may not have time to grab a pen and paper. Perhaps more importantly, you might want to jot down ideas that everyone can see and share. Whiteboards are popular additions to many huddle spaces but we think to create the ultimate huddle room you need to go digital. For just a few hundred pounds you can furnish your huddle room with a SMART kapp digital whiteboard – it has the same simplicity and functionality of a standard whiteboard, but uses digital pens and allows you to capture and share the contents of your board at the touch of a button. As you can elect for others to see the contents of the board through their personal device in real time, you can also bring people into the meeting that aren’t physically there. Choose to have your SMART kapp wall-mounted or on a mobile trolley for additional flexibility.

Create the Ultimate Huddle Room: Our Top 7 Tips!

Create The Ultimate Huddle Room: Tip 3

Connectivity

Connectivity is key. So many huddle rooms (and other meeting rooms) fail where even the local coffee shop can succeed. When we move away from our desks, we need (and many now expect) the same level of connectivity as we do from our primary workspace. A huddle room without power or Internet is at best frustrating and at worst a detriment to our productivity. As a solution, try incorporating your technical integrations into your furniture. Some collaboration tables like the TopTec Synergy or Workszone Collaboration Table have integrated connectivity units which can be designed bespoke to suit the requirements of an individual business. By making our huddle rooms an extension of our personal workspace we can create environments where flexibility can flourish.

Create the Ultimate Huddle Room: Our Top 7 Tips!

Create The Ultimate Huddle Room: Tip 4

Displays and Video Conferencing

Whilst there is nothing to say having a flat screen display or monitor in your huddle room is a pre-requisite, if you want to create the ultimate huddle room, it is a necessity. By its very definition, the huddle room is designed for ‘huddles’. But having half a dozen people crammed round someone’s laptop may be a little too close for comfort for many people. Having a wall mounted screen that users can easily connect to will make presentations and discussions much simpler and more comfortable. Some huddle furniture can have flat screen displays built-in to them for a space-saving, technology efficient workspace.

If the space is to be used for video conferencing too, then Logitech’s Meet-Up conference cam, speaker and microphone is an all-in-one solution that works perfectly with any video app that you already use, such as Skype for Business, Zoom, Webex and many more.

Create the Ultimate Huddle Room: Our Top 7 Tips!

Create The Ultimate Huddle Room: Tip 5

Interactive Displays

Taking your display one step further, why not opt for an interactive display? These large touch-screens can offer various capabilities depending on the brand and model you choose. For example, an all-singing, all-dancing Microsoft Surface Hub, has integrated computer with full Microsoft suite, and can provide access to files, and the ability to annotate and draw over files using intuitive hand gestures and digital ink. Some also have video conferencing integrated so you can connect and collaborate with remote users. If you think an interactive display would be beneficial for your business, give us a call or arrange a demo so you can see what the different options are and how they work.

Create the Ultimate Huddle Room: Our Top 7 Tips!

Create The Ultimate Huddle Room: Tip 6

Wireless Presentation

If you have a flat screen TV and connectivity then you need to be able to connect quickly and easily to maximise your huddle time.  Wasting time with fiddly wires while you connect your device to the main display is counter-productive. In these situations, we recommend using a tool like Clickshare for ‘plug and play’ collaboration sessions. The TV display is connected to the Clickshare hardware so all you need to do is plug in a Clickshare button to your computer via the USB port and you have a wireless connection to the display. It’s as simple as that. For mobile or tablet users, you can download a Clickshare button onto your device for wireless connectivity at the touch of a button.

Create the Ultimate Huddle Room: Our Top 7 Tips!

Create The Ultimate Huddle Room: Tip 7

Accessibility

Our final tip on how to create the ultimate huddle room is about accessibility. Where are they? How many are there? There is no point in providing huddle rooms for a ‘quick meeting’ that you have to walk up three floors to get to, on the off-chance one may be free. The great thing about huddle rooms is they don’t take much space so make space for them and have enough of them. More often than not, a huddle room is not bookable, to suit on-the-fly meetings. But you might find having a room booking system like the Intevi Room Sync is beneficial, allowing you to book, unbook, and view availability from your desktop or personal device – as well as from the room itself.If you are looking to create a huddle space, then why not get in touch, so we can show you some of the great solutions available on the market. Our expertise lies in understanding the needs of your individual business and making recommendations from there, so get in touch today for a free, no obligation consultation.

Create the Ultimate Huddle Room: Our Top 7 Tips!

*References: http://www.raconteur.net/enterprise-mobility-and-collaboration

To find out more about any of the solutions listed above, why not get in touch?

Top ways to use an Interactive SMART Board in the corporate world

Top ways to use an Interactive SMART Board in the corporate world

Today’s corporate world is undergoing constant changes that force us to think in new ways, therefore maximising efficiency has to be top priority. Times are moving faster than ever and technology is at the forefront. TecInteractive understand this and so here are our top ways to use an interactive SMART Board in today’s corporate world.

Note taking and Brainstormingtechnology trade exhibition stand

Maximising efficiency is key, so why do we bring that extra person into meetings, just to take notes! Because that is the standard. Well it’s time for change… with an Interactive SMART Board there is no need for that extra person, no need for them to type the notes up after the meeting and no need for them to be emailed out hours/ days later.

With an Interactive SMART Board all this is done before leaving the meeting, simply touch the screen and click save. With Smart Meeting Pro and its unbound workspace (unlimited space to write) taking notes could not be easier and with 2 people able to write at the same time it makes meetings more engaging and collaborative. Simple pick up the pen and start writing, move around the screen with ease by using your fingers to pinch and zoom in and out. Different pen colours make it easy to differentiate between categories. Save the file in Meeting Pro’s own format, PDF or as PowerPoint, making it easy to open and work on your laptop or email out to share.

Using Everyday Programs

PowerPoint, Word, Excel or the World Wide Web; all can be accessed on your SMART Board enabling you to edit content during your meetings. You can either type with the keyboard or write with the board pen and then convert your writing into typed text. SMART Meeting Pro is also integrated with Adobe, SolidWorks, Autodesk and Tekla to bring your drawings, BIM plans and business into the 21st century.

Annotation and Capturing

Using the internet has become our daily routine, combining it with how we interact and hold our meetings could not be simpler with the SMART Board. Simply open up your browser and start searching, with the annotation tool you can write over the page and make notes. A simple click of the capture button saves the page and the notes into your unbound workspace (into your Meeting Pro file). Video can also be annotated over easily. Whilst watching the video, simply pick up the pen to draw and write over the video. Simply click the capture button and place the pen down and carry on watching the video. Click back to the whiteboard and you will see all your captured slides to either save or email to your team. This is an excellent tool for people to use when analysing technical data, ideas for products, designs etc.

Video Conferencing

With Bridgit conferencing software all participants, remote or local, can experience the same level of interaction by sharing video, webcams and screens. Simply click on the Bridgit toolbar and share screen button and invite your participant via their email address. The email gives them a link to the software and a passcode to access your meeting. Alternatively, you can invite people via Microsoft Outlook calendar. Once they have joined the meeting they can see your SMART Board and annotate over it, making remote users easy to connect with saving both time and money from travelling to the meeting.

At TecInteractive we understand it’s easier to see than read about a product, which is why we offer free online or in person demonstrations. Contact our friendly team today to book your demo on 0800 6122 803.

Top ways to use an Interactive SMART Board in the corporate world

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