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Owl Labs Meeting Owl Pro brings video conferencing closer and overcomes the feeling of distance between those around the conference table and those sitting in their home office. This is a must-have during hybrid meetings and an obvious choice for companies that want to be ready for the future with video meetings.
All-in-one solutions for handling audio and video in video conferencing have been on the market for a while, but have gotten a big boost with the corona pandemic. All home offices now need a good quality video conferencing solution, but as society opens up more and more, we see that hybrid solutions are becoming more common: Some employees attend video conferencing from home, some from the other side of the world and others in a conference room from the head office.
And this is where Owl Labs Meeting Owl comes into the picture. Instead of office workers sitting at separate computers or sitting together in front of a conventional webcam in the conference room, Owl Labs has a more elegant solution: Meeting Owl.
Meeting Owl has a 360-degree camera, microphone and speaker, as well as software that works with the usual video conferencing programs (such as Zoom and Teams). The image is always displayed in at least two screens: a 360-degree panorama of the entire room as well as one, two or three images with automatic zoom of the people talking, making the experience for those sitting at a distance much more personal.
Meeting Owl is available in two versions: the slightly simpler Meeting Owl and the fully-fledged Meeting Owl Pro, which we tested here. Meeting Owl Pro has a 360-degree camera with Full HD resolution (1080p), an audio coverage of over five meters, three speakers that transmit sound in 360 degrees, and no less than eight microphones. The slightly cheaper black model has slightly more modest specifications: a 720p camera and only one built-in speaker.
Owl Labs Meeting Owl Pro Design
Owl Labs Meeting Owl Pro looks, as you might guess from the name, an owl in a marvelous way. It is shaped like a cylinder, is a little over 27 cm high and approx. 11 cm wide. It is thickest around the abdomen, slightly tapered at the top and with the 360-degree camera placed in the middle of the head.
Meeting Owl Pro is gray-white in color (and our test specimen was immediately named Hedwig after Harry Potter’s owl), while the slightly simpler model (without the addition “Pro”) is black.
The device is both stylish and extremely discreet; the gray-white color means that it fills nothing and easily fits into a meeting room without being intrusive.
At the bottom of the owl there are buttons for volume and for turning off the microphones. A total of eight microphones work together to ensure a really good sound experience, and the software is tailored to optimize the voice sound and ensure that the camera focuses on the person or people speaking.
Owl Labs Meeting Owl Pro Connections
Owl Labs Meeting Owl Pro can be connected to an electrical outlet with the supplied power adapter and to your computer via a micro-USB to USB-A cable. The latter feels a bit outdated and would have been better as a USB-C cable. If you have a more modern computer that does not have USB-A, e.g. a MacBook Air (M1, 2020) , use a dongle. But otherwise, Meeting Owl Pro works with both Mac and Windows.
When we plug in the Owl Labs Meeting Owl Pro, it immediately starts up and a very clear and loud voice greets us and asks us to download the Meeting Owl app to our smartphone or tablet. So we do. And when we open the app, it immediately detects that we have a Meeting Owl nearby, and helps us set it up in English. Simple and smart.
In the app, you choose which video conferencing program you and your team need. All the usual options are listed, but for some reason you can only select one service. It does not matter because we can still switch between different programs on the computer later.
Once you have connected Meeting Owl to your computer, the software finds it immediately via plug and play. And in our video conferencing software (we tested with both Zoom and Teams), Meeting Owl appeared right away, and when the meeting starts, the distinctive eyes that make Meeting Owl look like an owl also light up.
So both setting up and connecting Meeting Owl is extremely easy. And every time Meeting Owl starts up, it emits a pleasant howling sound and sparkles with its owl eyes. It is a fine detail that signals that the device is ready.
Owl Labs Meeting Owl Pro Performance
As I said, the installation is very flexible, and the device works when we test it with both Microsoft Teams and Zoom, without us having to make special settings in the app or on the computer. We just select Meeting Owl Pro in the software settings when we start the meetings.
Meeting Owl is best placed in the middle of a conference table. If you are alone in front of the camera, only one image will appear below the panoramic image. But as soon as there are several participants talking in the meeting room, the picture splits in two, so if two people in the meeting room are talking to each other, the cameras in Meeting Owl also share the screen and focus on the two people. And if there are three people talking, the picture is divided into three. Wherever they sit.
It seems very impressive. Meeting Owl Pro responds extremely quickly to voices around the conference table. As soon as one of us starts talking, the camera switches to the speaker.
The app also allows you to enable manual camera control; you can lock the camera to a person or a position or let the camera actively follow a person presenting (even if he or she is moving around the room). Also it works perfectly.
The sound when we speak is well picked up by the eight microphones, and no matter where we sit around the table or whether we get up and walk around, we can reportedly be heard clearly and distinctly by the others in the video meeting.
And the speeches of the others are heard unusually clearly and distinctly from the three speakers. You can see that the speakers are meant for voices, because when we try to play music from them, the sound is somewhat ordinary and with a clear lack of bass, but you can not expect anything else, and we would not want it any other way. Meeting Owl Pro is designed to sound great in video conferencing, and it sounds great. Very good.
Owl Labs Meeting Owl Pro Dom
Meeting Owl Pro costs around DKK 8-9,000 and is not a cheap accessory. The slightly simpler Meeting Owl model has slightly poorer specifications, but the same features and is a few thousand kroner cheaper. But if you have a business where many of your employees sit in the office, and if you want regular video meetings in the future (and you will), Owl Labs Meeting Owl Pro is a really good investment.
We’re tired of seeing people sitting together during meetings on one webcam while sitting in the same conference room, and the feeling of actually being part of the gang on the spot, even if you attend from a distance, is phenomenal with this device. If you are still in the office, you owe it to remote workers to install and use a Meeting Owl Pro in the conference room.
And while the Meeting Owl Pro may seem pricey, the device is in the same price range as the competition. We will return with a comparative test, but until then we are more than happy with Meeting Owl Pro. It’s an obvious accessory in 2021’s meeting room.