Apple @ Work: COOLPO 360 degree camera is a perfect budget alternative for macOS plug and play video conferencing
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360-degree cameras may have been used a bit before COVID, but they are now a mainstay in every boardroom, classroom, etc. Owl encounter has been the gold standard here with its tight integration with macOS and Windows, but also easy management with the Meeting Owl iOS app. If you are looking for a budget option, the COOLPO 360 degree camera is about 2/3 the cost with a robust feature set, making it a great option if you’re looking to upgrade multiple rooms or even upgrade your home office.
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The COOLPO camera features 4K resolution, four microphones and a 360 degree camera that will make it a great addition to any conference room or classroom. After using Owl cameras for many months, the COOLPO is a viable alternative with solid hardware specs.
Setting up this camera on macOS is extremely easy. While there is Software you can install to add additional features, most of the magic of the camera is in the hardware. All you need to do is plug it into USB A, and it will show up as a camera and microphone option in Zoom, Google Hangouts, etc. The ability to use the camera without custom drivers in your preferred video conferencing solution comes in handy when new versions of macOS are released.
If you want to install the software, you will get access to additional settings, a whiteboard, etc. It brings great options, but it doesn’t have to be. However, if you are installing a permanent computer in a conference room, I recommend that you install it.
Starting with the pickups, I was blown away by the quality for the price here. It includes four microphones and is ideal for an area of around 15 feet from the device.
On the camera side, it’s a 4k resolution with a 360-degree look. When the microphones detect new noise, the camera rotates to show that person in view.
On the sound side, it is perfect for a conference room or a classroom. It’s not loud enough for a larger conference room, however. On the flip side, the speaker system is 360 degrees to match the camera lens, so everyone in a meeting room will hear it just fine.
Overall, it is materially comparable to the Meeting Owl (considered the gold standard) but at a lower price. My only complaint about the hardware is the custom cable type on the input of the camera. I would prefer to see a USB-C connector in future versions.
Integration of applications
As I mentioned before, it works great with Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype, Spike Video, etc. Plus, since it appears as a standard camera and microphone on macOS, it can be used with any software that supports camera and mic selection. One thing to keep in mind: it doesn’t work with FaceTime, and it doesn’t support custom video backgrounds in Zoom.
If you are looking for a 360 degree camera, the COOLPO model will be hard to beat. It’s easy to set up on macOS while having solid hardware. It’s an easy choice if you need to upgrade the AV setup in a classroom or boardroom to continue virtual learning or hybrid meetings where part of the people are in the meeting, but there is also people who connect remotely. With solid build quality, the COOLPO 360 degree camera ticks all the boxes for a solid choice for Mac users in need of a conference room camera.