Image: DTEN

In recent months, a number of organizations have transitioned from the traditional office to the virtual workplace due to the coronavirus. At first, many may have viewed this sudden switch to telecommuting as a short-term solution during the pandemic. However, in the last few weeks, a number of organizations have made commitments to increased remote work policies in the long term. Last week, one of the largest employers in Japan, Fujitsu, announced that it would be slashing its current office space in half by the end of the 2022 fiscal year. As more companies begin to warm to remote work, the future of work may be increasingly virtual moving forward.

SEE: Video teleconferencing do’s and don’ts (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Today, Zoom, announced a new product category designed to assist with collaboration in an increasingly virtual new normal. As part of today’s announcement, the company unveiled the first Zoom for Home product, the Zoom for Home DTEN ME, an all-in-one workstation. The device is designed to help streamline remote setups, enhance the standard Zoom meeting, and more.

“After experiencing remote work ourselves for the past several months, it was clear that we needed to innovate a new category dedicated to remote workers,” said Eric S. Yuan, Zoom CEO in a press release. “I’m so proud of the team for continuing to think outside the box and prove why Zoom is the best unified communications platform that can meet the needs of all types of users.”

Zoom for Home all-in-one

The all-in-one workstation is 24.25 inches long, 15.4-inches tall, and 4.1-inches thick along the base. The 27-inch 1080p LED touchscreen gives users ample room to work, and a wider base provides a firm foundation, reducing the risk of inadvertently toppling the device over; especially while using the touchscreen.

The device incorporates three wide-angle cameras and an eight-microphone array into the build for enhanced audio and visuals compared with a standard laptop or mobile Zoom meeting. The first offering for the all-in-one device is through DTEN, starting at $599.

This price point allows the unit to compete with a host of popular video conferencing hardware solutions from basic Chromebooks to popular 2-in-1 touchscreen models. More rudimentary hardware with basic audio and video capabilities and lacking touchscreen features require a bevy of aftermarket purchases to accommodate virtual collaboration on par with the new all-in-one workstation.

Remote work and IT challenges

The Head of Zoom Rooms, Jeff Smith, noted that a lot of IT teams, in particular, have faced many new logistical challenges due to the shift to remote work. While a standard high-end laptop will certainly suffice for casual Zoom meetings, lower quality microphones, cameras, and smaller screens aren’t overly conducive to virtual teamwork.

As a result, many remote teams have relied on a series of individual dedicated devices (microphones, webcams, external monitors, etc.) to enhance the experience. By creating an all-in-one remote work collaboration station, this reduces the risk of end-user error and further reduces challenges that may arise in the setup process.

“Here we have an all-in-one device that [a] user sets on their workstation, and they’re off and running,” Smith said.

SEE: Photos: The 20 best Zoom backgrounds for sci-fi fans, especially Trekkies (TechRepublic)

Transportable hardware for the home

At just under 14.5 pounds, the product is also somewhat lightweight considering its size. This allows people to easily reposition the product around the home for a host of professional and casual settings. After all, many people are using Zoom rooms for professional as well as social interactions during the pandemic.

“I can take it from my office, and then I can put it in my living room, if I’m having, you know, a virtual happy hour with my friends,” Smith said.

People can also integrate their personal devices to access their corporate contacts from the workstation as well as sync the device with their existing calendars to streamline communications and scheduling.

With access to an individual’s professional and social contacts a mere click away, access management is imperative. The workstation also has a lock feature to prevent other users in the household from using the device without your permission.

SEE: Top 10 iPad tips (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Interactive whiteboard gets a boost

Aside from business professionals, a number of schools and universities have also shifted from in-person learning to online education in recent months. The interactive whiteboard feature is a popular Zoom collaboration tool for telecommuters and educators.

The touchscreen-enabled Zoom for Home product allows teams to further use this feature. Smith believes the Zoom for Home product can upgrade the online learning experience for students and educators.

Image: DTEN

As, Smith pointed out, rather than a student focusing on taking notes of the presentation in the classroom, the student can sit back and watch with peace of mind from knowing they will have access to these whiteboard slides after the lesson.

“I can easily download the whiteboards, email them out to the remote students and those are, you know, really powerful tools to even exceed what could happen live in the classroom,” Smith said.

The Zoom for Home product is available with all existing Zoom Meeting licenses, allowing people to easily log into the Zoom for Home products using their new or existing Zoom user account information. The DTEN ME can be pre-ordered now with the first shipments to be delivered in August.