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Hard or Soft Codec - Which Is Best For My Environment?

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Does My Office Need A Hard Or Soft Codec?

Video conferencing is a frontline solution for managing teams, and with the rapid rise of the remote worker, it’s become irreplaceable. Modern conferencing solutions are designed for ease of use and come packed with features, so the biggest challenge may be selecting the right one for your organization. Before narrowing your choice down to an exact solution, you’ll first need to consider whether a hard codec or soft codec makes sense for your conferencing needs.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

What Is The Difference Between Hard And Soft Codecs?

In every video conferencing system, a codec is responsible for encoding and decoding data before it is transmitted. This step is what makes conferencing possible, because without all that code work, the audiovisual data would be too massive to send. The codec is the heart of a conferencing system, and the codec can be separated into two primary categories - hard or soft. Here’s the difference:[/vc_column_text][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width="1/2"][vc_column_text]

Hard Codecs

Hard codecs are called such because they use hardware to do the encoding and decoding. In short, hard codec systems utilize a dedicated hardware device to drive the conference. Although hard codec solutions face tough competition from soft codecs, they still offer their own advantages. For example, because hard codec solutions run on a dedicated device, they offer maximum reliability and call stability. Modern hard codecs are also designed for usability, so anyone can make them work with minimal effort. If your conferencing needs including large meeting spaces, a hard codec may be the only practical option for delivering the experience you need.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width="1/2"][vc_column_text]

Soft Codecs

Soft codecs do their encoding and decoding through a software platform instead of hardware. They don’t need dedicated hardware to function and can run on a PC, laptop or mobile device. This feature has made soft codec solutions extremely popular in the last 10 years, because it means organizations can scale their conferencing resources without investing in a lot of hardware. Leading soft codecs like Zoom and Microsoft Teams are filled with productivity and collaborative features. They also represent the gold standard in usability, so soft codecs are here to stay, especially in huddle rooms and other small meeting rooms.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

What Conferencing Solutions Are Designed For A Home Or Small Office?

Remote work is rapidly growing in prevalence and for many it’s considered a major job perk. However, staying connected while working from home is a challenge. According to a 2021 survey published in Forbes, 74 percent of professionals expect remote work to become a permanent fixture, but about 70 percent feel their remote work leaves them more isolated. To combat this, companies are unifying their remote workers with video conferencing. That means a lot of remote professionals could use a quality conferencing solution to present themselves. Here’s a couple suggestions ideal for the home or small office:[/vc_column_text][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width="1/2"][vc_column_text]

Poly Studio P15

The Poly Studio P15 is an all-in-one USB video bar that’s designed with the home office in mind. It includes a face-tracking camera, a microphone array and a booming audio driver in a single package. Only a display is needed, so it pairs perfectly with a home workstation or laptop. Though the Studio P15 includes most of the hardware you’ll need for conferencing, it does not include the codec. A soft codec is needed, but that’s okay because the P15 is designed to run native Zoom, Microsoft Teams and GoToMeeting out of the box. Most remote professionals are working in a Zoom or Microsoft Teams environment, which means most professionals can easily transition to the Studio P15.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width="1/2"][vc_column_text]

Poly Studio P21

For those who want a dedicated conferencing device for their home or small office, the P21 is an intriguing option. It also runs on your favorite soft codec, but in the P21’s case, all of the hardware you’ll need to conference is included. That includes the display. The P21 looks like a standard desktop monitor, but it functions like a complete conferencing station. The enterprise-grade display comes with a built-in microphone, camera, speakers and even lighting. Everything is powered through a single USB connection to your computer, so no DisplayPort or HDMI is needed. When you’re not conferencing, the Studio P21 is a quality second monitor that will expand your workspace.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

What About Larger Conference Rooms?

Soft codec conferencing is typically sufficient for the at-home professional and for smaller meeting spaces like huddle rooms. If your meeting spaces are larger and require multiple cameras to cover, a hard codec will be needed. Hard codecs are designed for high complexity conferencing solutions, and some options include:[/vc_column_text][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width="1/2"][vc_column_text]

Poly G7500

The Poly G7500 is a hard codec solution that can run a native Zoom or Microsoft Teams meeting. It’s built for large meeting rooms and is designed with performance and flexibility in mind. With the G7500, organizations can choose the cameras and microphones for their space, optimizing audiovisual performance. Audio is run through the room’s speakers and audio quality is preserved through Poly’s NoiseBlockAI and Acoustic Fence features. Since this is a hard codec solution, no additional devices are needed to support the conference. Everything can be handled inside the system.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width="1/2"][vc_column_text]

Poly MediAlign

Poly’s MediAlign is the company’s ultimate conferencing solution, built on the G7500’s codec. It comes in a single, customizable system that includes everything needed for conferencing at a high level. Further, the MediAlign offers a seamless user experience from wherever it is accessed, so it is designed with global deployment in mind. Poly also supports all of its MediAlign solutions, so clients do not have to deal with multiple vendors to keep their solution maintained. Poly handles all of that.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

An AV Integrator Can Recommend The Right Conferencing System For Your Office

These are only some of the popular conferencing solutions available, and the decision may not be so obvious for your meeting space. To an experienced AV integrator, though, there’s a solution for every space. Whether you’re running an independent creative agency, a small professional team or a global enterprise, your av integrator partner can target the ideal conferencing solution for your needs.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]