Cisco targets huddle rooms with Webex Room Kit Mini

Cisco has launched the Webex Room Kit Mini. The video conferencing kit is for rooms that seat as few as two people and competes with products from Logitech and Lifesize.

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. -- Cisco plans to release a video conferencing kit designed for small conference rooms, or huddle rooms, as businesses increasingly look for cheap ways to add collaboration technologies to those spaces.

The Webex Room Kit Mini includes a video codec and a camera and integrates with any 4K high-definition display. The camera has a 120-degree field of vision and uses AI to make sure everyone can be seen and is in focus.

The product will be cheaper than the Webex Room Kit, which is designed for rooms of up to seven people and was previously Cisco's smallest room kit. The new device is for places that seat as few as two people, or up to five people.

Cisco is facing pressure from the cloud web conferencing vendor Zoom, which makes room kit software that is compatible with the displays and cameras of a wide range of partners. Cisco is also competing with hardware vendors like Logitech and Lifesize, which also make relatively inexpensive devices for huddle rooms.

The Room Kit Mini "helps their customers who want to start to expand Cisco video into those small rooms," said Irwin Lazar, analyst at Nemertes Research, based in Mokena, Ill. "And it allows them to buttress themselves against Logitech and other providers."

The kit works with Cisco's on-premises and cloud video conferencing software. It is also compatible with the online meetings software of third-party vendors, such as Microsoft Skype for Business.

The Room Kit Mini will be available for purchase by early December, and the vendor plans to begin shipping units in January. Cisco announced the news this week at the BroadSoft Connections conference in Hollywood, Fla.

Cisco revamps other products

The new room kit is the second product unveiled by Cisco this year that targets smaller meeting rooms. In April, Cisco released Webex Share, a palm-sized device that lets users wirelessly share content from a computer to any monitor with a USB port. That product will also begin shipping early next year.

The launch of the Room Kit Mini comes a few months after Cisco revamped the upper end of its video endpoint portfolio with the release of the Webex Room Kit Pro for boardrooms and large conference rooms. That offering features six video inputs, three video outputs and eight microphones.

The rise of the cloud has led to a decline in hardware sales across many markets. However, shipments of video conferencing endpoints increased 12.4% last year, growth attributable in part to companies adding technology to huddle rooms, according to research by Frost & Sullivan.

Cisco also released this week an 85-inch version of the Webex Board, a touchscreen smartboard for video conferencing, whiteboarding and collaboration. Plus, it upgraded the 55-inch Webex Board, adding a web browser and integrating the device with more third-party business apps.

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