With the right technology web conferencing can make working from home a much more social and productive experience, enabling some public sector employees to maintain important services, and provide the necessary admin or planning to support essential frontline workers.
A common problem on conference calls is echo, which is caused by the microphone picking up the sound from the PC’s speakers, creating an infinite loop. The easiest way to solve for echo are asking participants to mute when they are not speaking, and requesting all participants to use headphones.
Some PCs include technology to reduce echo... the Lenovo Vantage application provides access to advanced audio settings, including…
- Keyboard Noise Suppression: participants in web meetings don’t hear you typing notes
- Automatic Audio Optimization: boosts the volume of your voice as needed
- Acoustic Echo Cancellation: prevents echo caused by the PC’s mics picking up the sound of the integrated speakers
All PCs today have a built-in microphone, but there are huge differences in quality. Look for Dual Array Mics which indicates two mics that adjust to where the audio is coming from, maintaining the voice level even if the user briefly turns away while speaking.
Integrated speakers are also important, ideally with at least 2W power output. However, the best audio option is to use a headset, ideally with Active Noise-Canceling (ANC) technology that intelligently mutes ambient noise. Headsets like the wireless ThinkPad X1 ANC Headphones support dual-pairing, meaning that it can be connected to a phone and PC simultaneously, making it much faster to switch between them. When the laptop and headset are well-matched, voice call notifications are played on the laptop speakers to ensure they can be heard even if the user is not wearing the headset.
External cameras like the Lenovo 500 FHD Webcam are a great way to upgrade without investing in a new PC – they simply clip onto the PC screen. The Lenovo VoIP 360 Camera Speaker goes further with a hi-res 360° camera, multi-directional microphones, and 360° speakers for true immersion.
Even without a new webcam, there are ways to improve the video quality:
- Ensure the web camera is at eye level… if it’s built into the screen of the device this might involve adjusting the height of the PC or seating position.
- Users should position themselves so that a window is in front of them, not behind – ensuring they are well lit. Alternatively opening a blank document on the screen provides plenty of white light to improve lighting conditions for the camera.
If buying a new PC look out for an integrated 720p camera, which will have about twice the resolution of cameras typically found on entry-level laptops.