Microsoft Teams videoconferencing room system

Compare Teams Room systems and choose the best

 

Read time: 12 minutes

 

The objective of this article is to describe and compare the different versions of Microsoft Teams Room systems :

  • Logitech Tap
  • Crestron Flex Series
  • HP Slice for Meeting Room G2
  • Lenovo ThinkSmart Hub 500
  • YeaLink MVC500 / MVC800
  • Poly (special Poly bundle with Lenovo and HP)

 

Many of our customers have expressed interest in comparing Kickle with Microsoft Teams Room systems. Although Kickle is “touch-screen oriented”, whereas Teams Room System is not (a key differentiator), let’s run through the exercise regardless.  

In this article, we’re not only going to compare Teams Room systems to each other, we’ll also try to find out what makes each of them unique. So, by the end of the exercise, according to your use case, you’ll be able to choose the one that best fits your needs.

 

Who are we? We are Kickle.


 

Kickle transforms any space into an innovative and productive meeting room. Wireless display, videoconferencing (connected to Microsoft Teams), room booking, whiteboard, easy-authentication and so much more. Kickle comes with everything needed to conduct your meetings with perfect peace of mind.

 

First, what is Microsoft Teams Room System?


 

As Microsoft says, Microsoft Teams Rooms is any room product that has been enabled for Microsoft Teams. It’s as simple as that. 

Concretely, Microsoft Teams Rooms systems (also called MTR) are a line of products that have been created and made available on the market by different vendors, e.g. Logitech and Lenovo. 

Microsoft asked hardware manufacturers to produce a specific meeting room system that respected a very strict specification sheet. According to these specifications, products must :

  • Run a specific version of Windows 
  • Offer a small touch panel for the user interface 
  • Provide a camera and a microphone 
  • Provide a display presentation system

 

This approach isn’t anything new for Microsoft. Before MTR was introduced, there was Skype Room System, and before that there was Lync Phone Edition. 

If you are wondering why the user interface for the different MTR systems all look the samethis is why: manufacturers were not given a choice. The user interface is provided by Microsoft. 

 

Compare Teams Room systems


 

As of today, six manufacturers have created products that meet Microsoft’s meeting room specifications: Logitech, Lenovo, Crestron, HP, Yealink and Polycom. This means each of these companies have created their own MTR system with their own branding: 

Logitech released their Logitech Tap in June 2019.

Crestron, the well-known audio-visual automation company, launched their Crestron Flex Series in June 2019 at InfoComm. 

HP (no introduction necessary) delivered their own MTR system called HP Slice for Meeting Room G2The first release was in early 2018 based on Skype. They moved to Teams in 2019. 

Lenovo, in turn, created the ThinkSmart Hub 500 in January 2018. They, too, started with a Skype Room Systems model before switching over to Microsoft Teams in 2019. 

YeaLinkthe Chinese outfit known primarily for their USB phones, released their MVC500 and MVC800 models in September 2018: first with the Skype for Business compatibility, followed by Teams compatibility in 2019. 

Poly (formerly known as Polycom, before acquiring Plantronics) did not exactly release a MTR system product;rather, they “simply” came up with a special Poly bundle with Lenovo and HP. On top of the Lenovo ThinkSmart Hub 500 or the HP Slice G2, they have added their own camera and sound devices. With that said, from a Microsoft perspective, they do effectively offer a Teams Rooms system. Poly simply calls it the Poly + HP bundle or Poly + Lenovo bundle.  

 

1. Logitech Tap + NUC, the user-frienfliest Microsoft Teams Room


 

Logitech Tap is not a tablet, rather a USB touch controller. The Logitech Tap bundle combines the tap touch panel with either the Logitech Meetup or the Rally system plus an Intel NUC. 

What bundles offers Logitech Tap?

So, you can choose between three different bundles, depending on the size of the room you need to equip: 

The Logitech Tap + Meetup (+NUC) 

Logitech Tap Teams Room System Meetup

The Logitech Tap + Rally (+NUC)

Logitech Teams Room System Tap Rally

The Logitech Tap + Rally plus (+NUC)

Logitech Teams Room System Tap Rally plus

Logitech also provides a 10m USB (shielded) cable, which is very useful in situations where the Tap is far away from the meeting room screen. A 25m USB cable is also available (even more useful). 

On top of that, Logitech Tap is PoE compatible, so you don’t need to connect any power adapter. All you need to do is connect the USB cable and the ethernet cable.  

In the end, there are three cables that connect to the Logitech Tap: the USB cable that connects the meeting room screen, the ethernet cable, and the HDMI. Yes, this last one is less than ideal: if you’d like to display your device to the screen, you’ll need to connect it with an HDMI cable. There is no wireless display solution unless you connect to a Teams meeting and then you start your Teams meeting via the Tap, which is not very convenient if you just want to display your PowerPoint presentation.  

Logitech Tap is also equiped with a motion sensor. Therefore, the system automatically wakes up when people enter the room. That’s definitely useful! 

What we think about Logitech Tap?

What we like: 

  • The design 
  • The name (Tap has a great ring to it!) 
  • The simplified user interface
  • The PoE compatibility 
  • The 25-meter USB cable extension 
  • The motion sensor 

  

What we don’t like: 

  • There’s no wireless display solution 

 

2. Crestron Flex Series, the MTR with the most advanced management capabilities


 

Crestron offers the most extensive product offering of all. There are four main configurations. Each of these configurations can be broken down into sub-products. So in total, that makes seven configurations! 

What bundles offers Crestron Flex Series?

Before we introduce the Crestron product line, you should get a handle on the lingo. 

Crestron’s MTR system relies on an Intel NUC. An Intel NUC does not offer an HDMI input. That’s why Crestron came up with a bundle that includes an NUC and an HDMItoUSB converter. They call it the UC Engine. So, when you see “UC Engine”, just think of it as an Intel NUC with an HDMItoUSB converter.  

There are two versions of the UC Engine: 

1.) The UC-BRKT-100-SD-ASSY (which includes a NUC8i5BEK): 

UC-BRKT-100-SD-ASSY

We can see the NUC on the left and the HDMI converter on the right.  

2.) The UC-BRKT-100-ASSY (which includes a NUC6i7KYK) 

UC-BRKT-100-ASSY 

Crestron offers four main configurations: 

The Crestron Flex P-Series is a sort of phone for Microsoft Teams. 

Crestron Teams Room System Flex P-Series 

This configuration is not included in our comparison, since it is not really a Room System.  

The Crestron Flex M-Series is a touch controller with integrated audio and microphone plus the UC engine (see above if you don’t know what that is). The UC engine is separate. You can add an additional webcam if you’d like. 

Crestron Teams Room System Flex M-Series 

There are three versions of the M-Series: 

  1. The UC-M100-T which is an audio-conference system only. You’re not supposed to connect it to a meeting room screen. It’s really just for audio.
  2. The UC-M130-T which is an audio-video room system (the typical Teams Room system).
  3. The UC-M150-T which is the same as the UC-M130-T, except you can connect it to two meeting room screens at the same time.

 

The Crestron Flex B-Series is a touch controller with the Crestron sound+video bar and the UC engine (the UC engine is also separate, meaning it’s not included in the sound bar or the touch controller). 

Crestron Teams Room System Flex B-Series

There are two versions of the B-Series: 

  1. The UC-B140-T which consists of an audio-video room system with the sound+video-bar (which includes the wonderful Huddly cam) and the UC engine.
  2. The UC-B160-T is the same as the UC-B140-T, except you can connect it to two screens. 

 

The Crestron Flex C-Series is the same as the B-Series just without the soundbar and with the touch controller (or not!). The idea of this series is to let you create your own bundle using third-party videoconferencing hardware. 

Crestron Teams Room System Flex C-Series

 

There are two versions of the C-Series: 

  1. The UC-160-T which is the touch controller plus the UC engine.
  2. The UC-BRKT-100-ASSY is “just” the UC engine (the NUC plus the USB to HDMI converter).  There’s no touch controller, so you cannot do anything with this configuration by itself. 

 

What makes this Microsoft Teams Room unique?   

As you have probably already come to understandjudging by those names or by trying to understand the product range, Crestron is a techy company. This is both their strength and their weakness.  

Crestron devices are fully IPconnected. That means you don’t even need to connect a USB cable. On top of that, they are very good at management, monitoring and deployment.  

As mentioned before, they use Huddly for the webcam. Huddly is an amazing webcam, as small as it is powerful. It can automatically zoom in on a participant or crop the scene. We’ll publish an article covering this webcam soon.  

As with others, Crestron doesn’t offer a wireless display solution. You will need to connect your laptop to the HDMI cable that feeds from the UC engine. This means the HDMI cable does not come from the touch-controller, rather, as we said, it comes from where the UC engine is located (usually behind the meeting room screen).   

What we think about Crestron Flex Series?

What we like: 

  • The IP management solution
  • The PoE compatibility

 

What we don’t like: 

  • No wireless display solution 
  • The HDMI cable comes from the UC engine (and not from the touch controller) 
  • No motion sensor (to automatically wake up the system) 
  • Weak design effort

 

3. Compare the Teams Room System HP Slice for Meeting Rooms G2


 

HP offers two models, not depending on the size of the room, rather according to the audio system you would like to use: either integrated audio speakers, or external third-party speakers.  

What bundles offers HP Slice for Meeting Rooms

The HP Slice G2 for Microsoft Teams Rooms is a touch controller + mini-computer (with an HDMI input module). 

HP Slice G2 for Microsoft Teams Rooms  

The HP Elite Slice G2 for Microsoft Teams Rooms comes with a bonus mic + speakers combo.. 

HP Slice G2 for Microsoft Teams Rooms bonus mic 

Have a look at this video: https://www8.hp.com/us/en/desktops/business/elite-slice.html 

(It still refers to Skype for Business. Now it’s Microsoft Teams compatible)   

The HP Slice is an original concept in which you stack together different modules to assemble your computer. For example, you could stack a computer + a speaker + an optical disk drive module + a VESA plate. To create a Teams Rooms system, HP stacked a computer module with an HDMI input module and threw in an optional speaker. 

HP Slice Vesa

What makes this MTR unique?  

So, the first difference between the HP Slice for Meeting Rooms and other products is…the NUC. Of course, HP (as Lenovo) does not use NUC. They use their own computer. 

Secondly, you can leave the computer on the meeting room table, especially if you chose the HP Elite Slice (with the speakers). That’s probably why HP Slice only offers a 1-meter cable.  

With that said, when it comes to videoconferencing, the ideal is for the sound to originate from the same location as where your eyes are pointed atTherefore, it’s advisable to not opt for the integrated speakers and to instead go with the meeting room screen speakers.  

As for  the design, whether it suits your taste or notyou can’t deny that they did put some effort into it.  

The HP Slice is quite tall (including the VESA plate, the Slice is almost 5cm or 2in tall). This makes it not so easy to mount behind a screen. Better to use a stand.  

If you choose to set up the HP Elite Slice on a meeting room table, you’ll have to run the USB to the camera (and mic and speakers) at the front of the room as well as the HDMI. Not very convenient.  

What we think about HP Slice for Meeting Rooms?

 

What we like 

  • The design 
  • The Bang & Olufsen sound quality 
  • The computer performance  

 

What we don’t like 

  • The 1-meter USB cable 
  • There’s no wireless display solution 
  • No motion sensor to automatically wake up the system 
  • No PoE for the touch controller  
  • The HDMI input cable comes from the computer (and not from the touch controller)  

 

Enough reading? 🙂


 

Need some action? 🙂 You can just test Kickle out yourself!

 

4. Compare the Teams Room System Lenovo ThinkSmart Hub 500


 

“You’ll want to schedule more meetings”. This is Lenovo ThinkSmart’s motto. Well, at Kickle, we don’t really think of that as a good thing. Anyway   

Lenovo offers one model for the Teams Rooms system: the Lenovo ThinkSmart Hub 500. As you can see above, how it differs from other Teams Rooms systems is that the touch-controller and the computer are all-in-one. That means the unit relies on the table surface, which has its pros and cons. 

Lenovo ThinkSmart Hub 500 Teams Room System  

One con is that all the cables need to run to the device (power, HDMI, USB, ethernet). With that said, Lenovo did a good job with their cabling system, as you can see below : 

Lenovo ThinkSmart Hub 500 cabling system  

The speakers and mics are included right in the device, which is actually quite large for a meeting room table. This means the sound comes from the unit and not from the screen. This is not ideal when you’re in a big meeting room. But for small meeting roomsit’s fine.  

Like other products (except Yealink; see below), the Lenovo ThinkSmart Hub 500 does not feature any wireless display presentation. 

What we think about Lenovo ThinkSmart?

 

What we like 

  • the all-in-one touch-controller and computer   

 

What we don’t like 

  • the all-in-one touch-controller and computer
  • There’s no wireless display solution
  • The sound coming from the unit   

 

5. YeaLink MVC devices, the MTR with wireless display included


 

YeaLink probably offers the most complete MTR system on the market today. But that doesn’t mean everything is perfect… 

The YeaLink MVC series includes a touch-controller, a contentsharing unit, audio and video peripherals, and a miniPC (Intel NUC, once again). YeaLink offers three different bundle options, depending on the size of the room you’d like to equip as well as the mic technology you wish to employ: either wired or wireless.  

What bundles offers YeaLink MVC devices ? 

The MVC300 for smaller rooms offers a wired mic. 

Yealink MVC300 Teams Room System 

The MVC500 for smaller rooms offers two wireless mics.

 Yealink MVC500 Teams Room System

The MVC800 for medium and large rooms offers two array mics and a 12x optical zoom camera. 

Yealink MVC800  

What makes this Microsoft Teams Room unique? 

The strongpoint is the wireless presentation device (WPP20).  It’s a simple dongle with a single button. You can pair up to eight WPP20s to a single WPP20 base unit, and you can stream four devices at the same time to a Teams meeting. 

Yealink WPP20  

The WPP20 is comparable to a Barco ClickShare. You can have a look at the following article if you’d like to know more about the Barco ClickShare CS200+.  

We also like the wired sharing device (MShare).  It connects to the miniPC via USB.  It has two ports: a Mini Display Port and HDMI. 

Yealink MShare

Not the best design but …

Even if the wireless mics (included in the MVC 500 package) is a great choice for rooms with cabling challenges,  you should certainly use wired to run the MTouch (touch controller) over a table in any case. Indeed, the risk to use a wireless mic is that you could run out of battery or that someone could walk away with it. 

The Mtouch is equipped with a motion sensor in the front so that the display lights up as soon as someone walks into the room.  

Both MVC units accept dual screens since the NUC in each bundle features two HDMI ports.  So, you can have content on one screen and video on the other.  

The MVC series has a ton of cables, which means you’ll really have to put some effort into how you will hide them all.  

While the camera, mic and soundbar quality are all excellent, Yealink did not put much effort into design. Compared to its competitors, the MTouch is a bit small (8 inches vs the Logitech Tap’s 10 inches, as one example).

What we think about this MTR?

 

What we like 

  • The wireless presentation device 
  • The wired sharing device 
  • The wireless mic (even if you should avoid using it) 
  • The motion sensor

 

What we don’t like 

  • The design 
  • The mess of cables 
  • The console size 

 

6. Polycom + HP Bundle or Polycom + Lenovo Bundle


 

We’ve decided not to include this bundle in our comparisonsAfter all, the Polycom + HP or the Polycom + Lenovo is “only” an additional hardware to an existing Teams Rooms system. We’re not saying it’s no good, just that it’s not fair to compare a Lenovo Teams Rooms system with a Polycom + HP Slice MTR system.

 

Compare Teams Room Systems’ specifications


 

  Logitech Tap  Crestron Flex Serie

HP Slice for Meeting Room G2 

Lenovo ThinkSmart Hub 500 

YeaLink MVC devices

The bundles 

  • Logitech Tap + Meetup (+NUC) 
  • Logitech Tap + Rally (+NUC) 
  • Logitech Tap + Rally Plus (+NUC)
  • Crestron Flex M-Series 
  • Crestron Flex B-Series 
  • Crestron Flex C-Series 
  • HP Slice G2 for Microsoft Teams Rooms is a touch controller + mini-computer 
  • HP Elite Slice G2 for Microsoft Teams Rooms comes with a bonus mic + speakers combo 
N/A
  • YeaLink MVC300 
  • YeaLink MVC500 
  • YeaLink MVC800 

 

The plus 

  • The design 
  • The name 
  • The simplified user interface 
  • The PoE compatibility 
  • The 25-meter USB cable extension 
  • The motion sensor
  • The IP management solution 
  • The PoE compatibility
  • The design 
  • The Bang & Olufsen sound quality 
  • The computer performance

 

  • the all-in-one touch-controller and computer
  • The wireless presentation device 
  • The wired sharing device 
  • The wireless mic (even if you should avoid using it) 
  • The motion sensor 

The cons 

  • No wireless display solution 

 

  • There’s no wireless display solution 
  • The HDMI cable comes from the UC engine (and not from the touch controller) 
  • No motion sensor (to automatically wake up the system) 
  • Weak design effort 
  • The 1-meter USB cable 
  • No wireless display solution 
  • No motion sensor to automatically wake up the system 
  • No PoE for the touch controller  
  • The HDMI input cable comes from the computer (and not from the touch controller) 
  • the all-in-one touch-controller and computer  
  • There’s no wireless display solution 
  • The sound coming from the unit 
• Design

• Mess of cables 

• Console size 

 

Choose the Teams Room System that fits your needs


 

Deciding which Teams Room System is the top dog is no easy taskEach one has its own pros and cons—which is probably why Microsoft selected them. 

Bearing that in mind, it’s not really about “Which is the best Microsoft Teams Room System”, but more “Which Teams Room System will fit my needs”. 

  • If you’re looking for the cheapest solution, then you’d better just go with an HP Slice Teams Room System. 
  • If you need advanced management capabilities, then Creston Teams Room System might be the right choice for you. 
  • If you absolutely need a wireless display solution, then the Yealink MVC 500 Teams Room System is your only option. 
  • If design is important to you, then you will probably appreciate the Logitech Tap. 
  • If cabling your meeting room is an issue, then the Logitech Tap is a hassle-free option for you. 
  • If your computer park is already Lenovoit may be that Lenovo is the most logical choice (same goes for HP).  

 

Finally, compare Teams Room Systems and Kickle !


In one hyphenated word: stand-up !  

As we said, the objective of a Teams Room System is to enable Microsoft Teams whenever you find yourself in a meeting room. When you use a Microsoft Teams Room, you’re conducting more of a traditional meeting than with Kickle. With a Teams Room System, you remain sitting down where you can control your meeting via the touchpad placed on the table.  

MTR adheres to the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) philosophy. At Kickle, we believe in the BNBY (Bring Nothing But Yourself) way of doing things 🙂  

The objective of Kickle is larger than Teams Room System: we want to make meetings more efficient and creative. “Make meetings make sense” is our motto, which has a nice ring to our ears. We are big proponents of short meetings, prepared meetings and stand-up meetings. 

That’s why we don’t provide any touchpad that you can leave behind on the table. You do everything via the touchscreen. Of course, if you must, you can always choose to remain sitting down. You can even put your head down and enjoy the little nap we’re sure you deserve 😉  

Spice your meetings with Kickle

With Kickle, you draw right on the screen, annotate on top of your presentations, create sticky notes with text recognition, get your files from Microsoft Teams, and authenticate in one click using a QR code. You can’t do all of that with a Teams Room System. Not because it’s technically complicated, but just because Teams Room System is an entirely different concept than Kickle.  

On top of that, we put a strong emphasis on user simplicity. Even if you’ve never seen a Kickle screen in your life, you’ll be able to immediately use one.  

To summarize: if you’re equipped with Microsoft Teams and are looking for a traditional meeting room solution, a Teams Room System is a good choice. But, if you’re looking to spice your meetings up with an emphasis on usability, you should definitely give Kickle a spin.

But you know what? You can always just test Kickle out yourself!

 

Laetitia Lahaye
laetitia.lahaye@kickle.com