To help orient you with some hardware decisions, we have asked Distance Learning Support Specialist, Krista Neuner, to provide us with a summary of her recent hands-on experience with a few devices out there.
During a recent online broadcast of QU Online’s orientation for the Interactive Communications program, I had the pleasure of testing some new web conferencing technology. We were testing out a conference microphone called Voice Tracker II by Acoustic Magic, as well as a device called TrackerPod by Eagletron.
Voice Tracker II
Voice Tracker II is a conference microphone designed to pick up audio from up to twenty feet away, along with such features as echo cancellation.
Pros: The microphone is USB powered, allowing for increased mobility and less cord mess. All of the software is internal, allowing the microphone to work with both Macs and PCs.
Cons: It did not seem to be able to perform as advertised, it was unable to pick up sounds from twenty feet away.
Overall: The problem could have been caused by the acoustics of the room, but the Voice Tracker II had trouble picking up voices further than about five feet away and the audio quality didn’t seem to be as good as that of the internal microphone built into the MacBook Pro we were using as the host machine.
The TrackerPod is a remote-controlled pan/tilt unit designed for use with web cams. It has a motorized base that pans and tilts the camera, which can be done via remote control. It even has a ‘return to home position’ feature, allowing fast movement back to the center. The base additionally acts as a mini tripod, allowing better webcam positioning.
Pros: The TrackerPod was very easy to use and required almost no setup. It performed exactly the functions it was described to do.
Cons: The unit was quite loud whenever it moved, causing use of the unit to be a little distracting.
Overall: The TrackerPod was a very neat little toy. We found, however, that a traditional tripod was much better suited to our needs.
Is there web conferencing hardware that you would recommend? Or how about something we should stay away from? Do you have a lesson learned that you would like to share with us about your experience with web conferencing hardware? Please share with us in the comment section of this post!