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Cisco Spark Room 70, Polycom Pano advance conference room tech

Conference room technology comes in all shapes and sizes. Some products are large, while others are more diminutive. But, these days, almost all conference room products aim to start meetings quicker to make meetings more productive.

The Cisco Spark Room 70 is the largest and latest video collaboration device in Cisco's Spark Room portfolio. Announced in November 2017, the Cisco Spark Room 70 is available in single and dual 70-inch 4K LED screen configurations. Built for larger meeting rooms that seat up to 14 people, the Cisco Spark Room 70 can accommodate local meetings and connect remote teams.

Despite the Cisco Spark Room 70 being a flashy hunk of hardware, the software really drives the meeting room experience, according to Marty Parker, principal consultant at UniComm Consulting, based in Loomis, Calif.

The video system, for example, features an automated camera that captures and counts everyone in the room and automatically frames people. The device can also track the active speaker and meeting room use. Additionally, Cisco plans to roll out facial recognition technology into the system and incorporate a virtual voice assistant that should ease meeting setup and help users launch meetings more quickly.

"[Cisco] put a lot of innovation into the Cisco Spark Room 70," Parker said. "There's a lot of intelligence being put into the room experience."

The dual-screen setup costs $79,900 upfront without a monthly subscription, while the single-screen model costs $55,900. Monthly subscription pricing is also available. The Cisco Spark Room 70 replaces another Cisco video system, the MX800.

Polycom Pano emphasizes content sharing

Another video conferencing provider, Polycom, introduced Polycom Pano in June 2017. Pano is a conference room service that lets meeting participants share up to four simultaneous content streams, including video. The wireless presentation system features annotation capabilities and touch control.

Users can share content via Miracast, iOS mirroring and the Polycom Pano app, which runs on PCs and Macs. The Polycom Pano hardware can also accommodate HDMI cables. The Pano app lets users save meeting information to a cloud drive or local drive.

"It's a pretty clever solution," Parker said. "In general, there's a lot going on in conferencing the last couple years with conference rooms, products and tools."

Both Cisco and Polycom products were Best of Enterprise Connect finalists this month at the UC conference in Orlando, Fla. In the video above, check out product demos from both vendors. Other Best of Enterprise Connect finalists included Microsoft, Oracle, Plantronics and TTEC.

The award finalists usually reflect UC trends, innovation and evolution. Microsoft Teams won the top award. Parker was a Best of Enterprise Connect judge.

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