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Choosing Videoconferencing Equipment

As more classes move online around, headsets with microphones, and Webcams stock may vary. Continue to check in stores and online for available options. Some local stores that have gaming headsets available that can meet your needs.

NOTE: If your computer has Bluetooth technology, your wireless earbuds or other wireless headsets with a built-in mic may work well. Make sure to test all headsets prior to meetings or classes.

Test audio using the "Setting Up Audio and Video" section of the Zoom Quick Start Tutorial

One of the keys to a good online course experience is quality sound. We recommend that both the instructor and students use a headset or dedicated microphone with noise cancelling. However, most laptops have built-in speakers, microphones, and cameras, which may be sufficient for online courses.

A noise cancelling microphone gives you the ability to talk and listen with less feedback from keyboard, electronics, air conditioning, and other background noise, as well as reducing interference. Others can hear you better.

Using the built-in speakers and microphone in your computer may pick up and transmit noise (electronics, air conditioning, others talking nearby, etc.) to the other participants, making you difficult to hear and understand.

Features to look for:

  • Active Noise Cancelling
  • Microphone and headphones in one unit

Decide if corded or cordless(Bluetooth) is right for you. Corded usually does not require charging, but keeps you within few feet of your desk.

Recommendations

Manufacturers of headsets with noise cancelling are constantly updating their products, so a comprehensive list of recommended headsets is impractical. While we are vendor neutral, we frequently use products from Logitech, Poly(Plantronics), Sennheiser, BlueParrott, and others. It is also worth testing the earbuds that pair naturally with your smartphone, although you may find headphone speakers amazing but the microphone lacking.

Wired or Wireless

It is up to you whether your headset is wireless or wired Wireless headsets, while convenient, often require more complex 'pairing' to your computer and you must assure the batteries are charged, sound quality may be slightly lower than wired headsets. On the other hand wired headsets tether you to a position near the computer and use up ports on the PC.

Most Laptops and portable computers come with built in Webcams. The quality of these components vary, but most are fine for the student in a course.

If you use a desktop computer, a laptop with no camera, or are unhappy with the quality of the built in camera, check out offerings by Logitech, Microsoft, Razer, and Other brands. 720P or 1080P resolution should work fine. 4K video is more than needed for most online communications software.

Features Notes:

  • 4k Video is unnecessary due to web compression and bandwidth, 1080p or 720p is fine.
  • At least 30 frames per second (FPS) recommended
  • Autofocus is a plus.

For further information in preparing for online courses, visit the links below: