Zoom, the videoconference company that has become synonymous with our new pandemic-oriented way of conducting meetings from home, has announced its first hardware and software products, known as Zoom for Home.
Created in collaboration with third-party device manufacturers, the first of these products is the $599 DTEN Me, a 27-inch touchscreen video panel that has three built-in wide-angle cameras and an eight-microphone array. It’s a fully self-contained videoconference device with its own Wi-Fi and Ethernet connections. Pre-orders for the DTEN Me are open now, and it is expected to ship in August 2020.
“After experiencing remote work ourselves for the past several months,” Zoom CEO Eric S. Yuan said in a press release, “it was clear that we needed to innovate a new category dedicated to remote workers.”
As the name suggests, Zoom for Home is intended to provide those who work from home with an affordable way to stay connected to their colleagues, without having to cram a Zoom meeting window into the limited screen real estate offered by the average laptop.
And though the DTEN Me might look like a 27-inch external computer monitor, with a limited resolution of 1080p, it’s clearly been designed as a video tool, not an extension of a user’s computer desktop, although with an HDMI input, it can certainly be used for this too.
The screen’s three cameras — which use a variety of angles — give it a huge 160-degree field of view, which DTEN claims is good for a room of up to 16 x 16 feet — which ought to be more than enough coverage for the average home office or even a living room.
As a touchscreen device, you can also take advantage of the Zoom software’s built-in whiteboarding feature.
The device is compatible with any level of Zoom account — even the free basic tier — and can connect to any existing video system that uses Zoom’s Zoom Rooms software, the company’s $50 per month, per room enterprise videoconference product.
It’s tempting to compare the DTEN Me to other video chat-capable devices like the 10-inch $230 Nest Hub Max, 10-inch $180 Facebook Portal, or the 10-inch, $180 Amazon Echo Show. However, as affordable as these camera-equipped smart displays are, they’re strictly intended for person-to-person two-way video calling and don’t possess the necessary screen size to do multi-participant meetings, which has become Zoom’s killer feature as people have struggled to make working from home workable.
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