Editor’s Note: Tely Labs provided Let’s Do Video with two telyHD Pro units for testing. We set up one each at our Florida and Virginia home offices and used them for our normal workflow, as well as a unique and fun application. We have split up the review below to share the thoughts and opinions of the test teams at both locations. We start with LDV’s CTO, Ana Perez (AKA Video Ana), and wrap up with LDV Founder, David Maldow.
Video Ana’s Perspective
Do you remember the feeling you got on Christmas morning when you got that awesome new toy that you couldn’t seem to put down? That’s how I feel about this telyHD Pro appliance from Tely Labs. If you haven’t experienced what it’s like to use this hot little device, then you’ve been missing out. We got the chance to review the telyHD Pro and I have to say, a good portion of our afternoon meetings involved the use of this camera.
I chose to set up my telyHD Pro on my 55″ LED TV and it surely defines the meaning of a Plug and Play device. With one simple connection to my HDMI port, I had a full suite of videoconferencing capabilities right from my living room. There was no difficult instruction manual or multiple setup menus to configure the device. This makes it easy for anyone to connect and immediately start using some of the great services and features that are preloaded, such as Skype, Blue Jeans Network, Zoom, and of course the telyCloud, which provides six-party video conferencing and application sharing – all via the telyHD Pro.
Aesthetically, it is sleek and sexy. It comes with a universal mount which further simplifies the process of installation. The remote control has just a few buttons, taking out the guesswork. I did not have one of those “what happens if I push this button?” moments, all thanks to the intuitive design of the remote. Next, I got to play with some of the settings which allowed me to change the background. I had a choice of Autumn, Winter, Spring, Summer, Night, and Custom. I thought that was a very nice touch!
Now, we know how the telyHD Pro can serve as a powerful videoconferencing solution in the typical work environment, but what about remote workers and the like? Here at Let’s Do Video, we rely heavily on videoconferencing since we are working remotely and in doing so, we found another special use for the telyHD Pro. Being a Yoga practitioner for over 5 years, I have been able to share my Yoga knowledge with the Let’s Do Video team to help us achieve the mental balance needed to deal with all the hurdles of building a startup company.
Above are a few screenshots of myself and our CEO & Founder, David Maldow, showing off a pretty mean Tree Pose in our “Let’s Do Yoga” session.
PART 1: OUR TESTING EXPERIENCE
As you can see from the Yoga pictures, and the visit with the LDV mascot above, our testing went well beyond the typical use case. While the real market for this product is the business meeting room, our Yoga session highlights the trend of new and creative uses of videoconferencing, due to the technology’s current level of flexibility and affordability. It also is a great example of how room based videoconferencing can really empower a team. LDV has a master Yogi on board, which was interesting, but not very team empowering. However, with the help of the telyHD Pro, Ana is able to share the benefits of her expertise with the more adventurous members of the team. The point is that all of our collective talents, whether purely business, or alternative productivity enhancers such as exercise, music, etc., can be more effectively shared.
As far as the testing itself, there just isn’t much to report. As you can see from the pics above, there is nothing intimidating about the hardware. It clips cleanly to the monitor and looks professional. As far as being plug and play, you really don’t need IT support for this one. It is literally easier than connecting an X-Box. Speaking of easy, the UI could very well have been intended for the consumer space. Take a close look at the picture of the remote control, which follows the modern trend of removing confusing buttons from the remote, and instead making everything accessible from a bright, menu driven, UI. The quality of the video was the same as using any of these services on my laptop or desktop, great when the internet is solid and a little lower quality but still acceptable when the wireless is having a bad day (as in a few of our screenshots). The audio quality remained solid throughout, even when the bandwidth was weak.
PART 2: IMPLICATIONS FOR BUSINESS USES
While I think it is important to appreciate that our testing involved a novel use case, I am very interested in applying what I learned from the experience to the more typical expected business use case. From a hardware perspective, the benefits are pretty obvious from an affordability, managability, and capability perspective. You can put one of these in all your meeting rooms within budget, they are user friendly enough to not require IT support (just look at the remote), and it can leverage your choice of business video services for an professional quality experience. Also on the hardware side, it is notable that Tely Labs has always been about full room capture, and is not a desktop solution being reworked to get in on the affordable meeting room video trend.
While the device itself is appreciated, I am even more impressed with Tely Labs for their partnership strategies and integrations with various cloud services. Our demo units had Skype, BlueJeans, and Zoom not only available and usable, but fully and seemlessly integrated within the menus. They don’t feel like add-ins or gateways, they feel like a natural part of the product. Making calls on all the options (using our existing accounts for these services) worked flawlessly, as well as with the telyCloud service itself.
What really makes these partnerships interesting is the fact that it re-positions the product from a sales perspective. Instead of thinking of it as a discreet endpoint, it can be marketed as an office communication hub. In other words, the old way of thinking was to buy two telyHD Pro devices, one for each meeting room, and use them to call each other. Now the thinking is to perhaps only buy one device, with an interop cloud bundle. That device + service can function as your new communications hub, even if your company is so small that only has one meeting room. It becomes an instant and easy way for your remote workers to finally join the daily meetings on a face to face basis.
This could help potential clients of cloud interop services visualize what they are getting, and get on board quicker. It is one thing to try to explain the value of a cloud service to make a sale, its another to show them a telyHD Pro and explain it comes with a choice of services allowing remote workers to call it on their desktops and mobile devices. The device becomes a focal point for the sale in the mind of the customer. It also becomes a focal point for adoption, as users take the first easy step of using the services to call into the telyHD Pro, they will become comfortable with the services behind the offering. Pretty soon, they will be using video in general more broadly, going beyond the meeting room paradigm. Fostering adoption is a key element of empowering your team with video, and these bundles could be a great way to enable the general adoption of today’s cutting edge collaboration technologies.
At the end of the day, as a stand alone camera/codec solution, the telyHD Pro provides great quality and ease of use at its price point. When bundled with one of today’s cutting edge cloud video services (and we expect to see more partnerships in the future), the telyHD Pro becomes the key to turn your entire team on to the benefits of visual collaboration.