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ZoomPresence: DIY telepresence system is a struggle to set up

Christopher Null | Aug. 13, 2014
Zoom's low-cost telepresence tool has some nice features, but lack of documentation makes installation a hassle, and you have to gather all the hardware yourself.

While the Zoom ecosystem is stuffed with features, the company hasn't been so successful at making all of this easy to use. Setting up ZoomPresence in my home office involved an almost comical, multi-day troubleshooting session, driven in part by the fact that there's an incredible lack of documentation to date, making self-service difficult. Error messages are cryptic and rarely point you toward what's actually wrong.

share your ipad
Zoom's PC client-but not ZoomPresence-allows you to share your iPad screen.

On the whole, however, if you have even passing familiarity with videoconferencing mainstays like GoToMeeting or WebEx Meetings, you'll probably have little trouble mastering Zoom once you're up and running. Some features, like sharing an iPad screen, require some extra steps and lots of high-tech know-how. 

Note that Zoom does not sell the hardware to make ZoomPresence work. The company says it is updating its marketing materials to clarify this. (At press time the company's website implies the system costs $999 plus subscription fees, which is in error.) In other words, you'll need to bring your own hardware to the party. By my calculations, you can obtain a Mac Mini, speakerphone, and high-end webcam for about $730, which prices ZoomPresence attractively compared to other SMB solutions like Google's Chromebox for Meetings. And if you happen to have any of this equipment on hand already, well, all the better.


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