Google's new Hangouts Meet hardware bundle, announced via a press release Tuesday, is an all-in-one kit that helps business users make any meeting room video conference-ready.
The hardware kit itself features a touchscreen controller, a 4K sensor camera, an ASUS Chromebox, and a new Google-designed two-in-one microphone called a speakermic. The goal of the kit is to make videoconferencing and video meetings more accessible and affordable, the release said.
The touchscreen controller looks like a tablet mounted to a base. From the controller, users can tap on a meeting to see additional details, or tap to join a meeting that's already scheduled, the release said. Meeting leaders can pin or mute certain attendees, control the camera, and add participants to the meeting through the controller. Also, the release said, if the user is a G Suite Enterprise edition customer, the meeting itself can be recorded and saved to Google Drive.
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The recording feature is a new addition to Hangouts Meet itself, so G Suite Enterprise edition customers can record their meetings even without the new hardware bundle.
"The enhancements greatly improve the user experience and simplify our meeting rooms. We have also seen it create new ways for our team to collaborate, like via the touch-to-record functionality which allows absent participants to catch up more effectively," Bradley Rhodes, IT analyst for EUC at Woolworths Australia, said in the release.
The 4K camera has a 120-degree field of view, making it easy to capture everyone in the meeting, even in a small room. "Built with machine learning, the camera can intelligently detect participants and automatically crop and zoom to frame them," the release said.
The ASUS Chromebox has options for remote device management, and it can push updates to the other pieces of hardware in the kit.
The speakermic is just what it sounds like, a combination speaker and microphone designed by Google. According to the release, it eliminates background noise, and five of these speakermics can be daisy-chained together to provide better coverage in large rooms.
The Hangouts Meet product, overall, has also been updated to better reflect the needs of users, the release said. It now supports meetings of up to 50 people, and a new dial-in feature will automatically update a meeting's dial-in listing to a local phone number to make global meetings easier to pull off.
The Hangouts Meet hardware kit costs $1,999, and is now available in select markets.
The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers
- Google has released a $2,000 Hangouts Meet hardware kit that bundles a touchscreen controller, a 4K camera, an ASUS Chromebox, and a speakermic.
- The hardware bundle will lower the barrier to high quality video meetings, allowing professionals to turn any room into a video conference room.
- Additional updates to Hangouts Meet include the ability to record meeting video to Google Drive, support for 50-person meetings, and dial-ins that reflect global phone numbers.
- How to help people become comfortable using Hangouts Meet (TechRepublic)
- Google announces Hangouts Meet hardware kit (ZDNet)
- Google Hangouts Chat: The smart person's guide (TechRepublic)
- Google Hangouts streamlined further for the enterprise (ZDNet)
- Project Management (PMP) Certification Training (TechRepublic Academy)
Conner Forrest has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.