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About the Gauntlet

Frost & Sullivan’s Analyst Gauntlet is a structured program wherein participating vendors and service providers give Frost & Sullivan Connected Work industry analysts deep dives and demonstrations of their collaboration solution. The analyst then uses the collaboration solution over a period of time and provides candid feedback based on his/her user experience with the specified tool.

About the Video Conferencing Device Market

The $2.75 billion global video conferencing devices market represents a considerable growth opportunity driven by the long-term, sustainable demand for video meetings to connect geographically distributed workers and teams. Growth in 2020 was primarily driven by adoption among remote workers in general, and new business models in healthcare, education, and other sectors.

The market is seeing an unprecedented pace of innovation with proliferating device form factors and functionality. Whereas users had limited choice of video conferencing devices until relatively recently, today a growing array of device types and flexible deployment models are allowing effective use of video conferencing at home, at the office, and on the go. The 5-year revenue compound annual growth rate (CAGR 2020-2025) is 22.9% with the total market reaching $7.71 billion in 2025. The unit CAGR is forecasted at 44.4% with steep adoption coming from a new generation of video devices that will power remote work and refreshed meeting rooms. Personal video communications devices in particular, including USB conference cams, are expected to experience a CAGR of 55.8% in revenues and 100.6% in unit shipments from 2020 to 2025.

About Cisco

Among the strongest enterprise communications and collaboration brands in the world, Cisco also owns the largest installed base of IP hardware and software communications endpoints in the communications industry with over 100 million IP endpoints shipped to more than 200,000 customers worldwide, including 95% penetration in Fortune 500 companies. Key tenets of the company’s successful implementation strategy include:

  • the delivery of high-quality, superior-design, and feature-rich endpoints
  • the continuous refresh of its entire IP hardware and software communications endpoints portfolio
  • the extension of IP endpoint offerings to different customer segments, technology environments and geographical regions
  • the execution of effective technology migration programs

About the Webex Desk Camera

This month, the Frost & Sullivan Connected Work research team has evaluated the Webex Desk Camera, the company’s premium USB webcam with 4K ultra-HD video and AI functionality to enable personal collaboration in modern work styles.

The Webex Desk Camera rating is specifically given in comparison to five other premium USB webcams positioned for professional use available in the market today that offer 4K video resolution.

We have tested the Webex Desk Camera on a large number of PC-based video calls and conferences. Our total score for the device is 4.50 out of 5.00 or 90% over 100%, which positions the device as one of the best products in its range. What follows is how Frost & Sullivan generated this score, taking into account the average rating on 10 different criteria.

WEBEX DESK CAMERA
Criteria Rating Analysis
Aesthetics 4.50 Webex Desk Camera is packaged in a sturdy, recyclable cardboard box that contains:

  • a printed quick guide with illustrative instructions for installation;
  • the 4K USB camera with pre-installed mounting clip that are protected by a plastic wrap and a cardboard insert;
  • warranty instructions; and
  • a 4.92’ USB 3.0/2.0 USB-C to USB-A cable and a 4.92’ USB 3.0/2.0 USB-C to USB-C cable.

The Webex Desk Camera carbon black finish showcases a modern, sophisticated product with graceful aesthetics. The hardware components on the device front (or face) include:

  • the RGB camera lens with a 13 megapixels (MP) image sensor (the highest MP in the market among 4K professional cameras);
  • a LED indicator that signals camera activity status;
  • an IR sensor for face and people detection and recognition;
  • an IR LED for IR camera status (in use or off);
  • two audio input channels for microphones; and
  • a built-in camera shutter to turn the video stream on or off.

Together, the assembled camera and adjustable mount have an appropriate weight balance (153g). In comparison to five other 4K professional webcam alternatives, Webex Desk Camera is one of the lightest models available today.

Installation 4.50 Webex Desk Camera supports multiple installation options using the adjustable camera clip for secure mounting on a laptop or external monitor bezel, mounting via a desk stand or standard-size screw-mount tripod.

The camera setup is quick and easy, with the camera mount clip adjusting to accommodate differing display sizes and the ability to angle the device upward/downward, as needed. The camera base and clip arm are fixed, not detachable, both of which distinguish the Cisco device from competitive products that use less robust rubbery plastic camera clips.

For computer connectivity Webex Desk Camera offers a convenient USB 3.0 type-C port on the device’s rear for USB 3.0/2.0 USB-C to USB-A or USB-C interfaces. Cisco is one of few companies offering two USB cable alternatives for installation, rather than one, to accommodate various computer connection interface configurations.

Webex Desk Camera has a built-in sliding privacy shutter that allows users to easily turn off the video stream and block the camera lens when it’s not in use. By comparison, most competitive devices offer attachable clips or covers that are easily lost or broken.

End-User Software 4.75 While the Webex Desk Camera is designed to work out of the box with the default settings, the device’s user app for Windows and Mac works allows users to record videos, take snapshots, customize camera settings, and upgrade the device firmware. Users can also opt to go to the Cisco Accessory Hub website for firmware updates. The ability to perform firmware upgrades and adjust camera settings on Webex Meetings, Webex Messaging, and Cisco Jabber clients will be available at a later phase via client software upgrade.

Webex Desk Camera app support is localized in English, English (UK), Dutch, French (Canada and France), German, Italian, Portuguese (Brazil and Portugal), Spanish (LATAM and Spain), Swedish, Chinese (China and Taiwan), Japanese, Korean, and Russian.

Frost & Sullivan found the Webex Desk Camera app easy to install and use, and also one of the most complete, feature-rich desktop user webcam applications in the market. Multiple pre-set options for resolution, frame rate, field of view (FoV); various auto and manual video filters; and various useful one-click functionalities such as collect and open camera logs, select firmware files, mute/unmute, record, and take snapshots make the app an ideal companion to the Webex Desk Camera. Pre-sets for camera focus are not yet available.

Video Features & Specifications 4.75 The Webex Desk Camera supports resolutions  from 256 up to 4k and frame-rate of 60fps up to 1080p. While by default the camera is set at 1280x720p at 30fps, the Basic tab of the Webex Desk Camera app allows users to choose from a wide variety of resolutions and frame rates. Available fps options vary with the resolution that users specify and the USB port characteristics on their computer. Fps options for USB 3.0 include 15, 30, and 60, while fps options for USB 2.0 include 5, 10, 15, and 30.

Webex Desk Camera has an 81-degree diagonal FoV that is adjustable from the Basic tab of Webex Desk Camera app. The higher degree the setting is, the wider the image. Options via the app include 65, 70, 75, and 81-degree FoV. While comparative 4K video cams in the market offer wider FoV (e.g. 90, 105, 110, and 120), the 81-degree Webex Desk Camera FoV is sufficient for personal conferencing in work-from-home or office settings.

Webex Desk Camera is the only professional 4K USB camera on the market offering as much as 10X digital zoom.

Individuals can use the 10X digital zoom and navigate images in the Webex Desk Camera app.

The Webex Desk Camera boasts impressive video quality in a diverse range of lighting conditions. It can also use facial detection to auto-adjust the exposure. Alternatively, users can manually adjust brightness settings from the app.

Other functionalities accessed via the Webex Desk Camera app include:

  •  recording and saving videos in the Media folder;
  •  a snapshot feature;
  •  apply video filters on the Advanced Tab, including auto and manual focus and white balance, as well as manual contrast,  sharpness, and anti-flicker; and
  •  the option to flip the video image at the top-right corner of the video frame.

Supported video formats include MJPEG for 4K and MJPEG or YUY2/NV12 raw data for other lower resolutions.

Frost & Sullivan used the Webex Desk Camera for video calls, streaming, and recording. We noted 4K ultra HD and full HD video resolution delivers sharp video quality, vivid colors, and outstanding low-light performance in adverse light conditions. To use 4K ultra HD streaming and recording, the user computer needs a USB 3.0 port, proper bandwidth, and compatible third-party software to achieve the 4K experience.

The 10X digital zoom works well without any video quality loss or degradation. Automatic video filters (auto focus, exposure, brightness, and white balance) cleverly enhance and adjust video quality for environmental circumstances. Manual filters in the Webex Desk Camera app are intuitive, allowing users to easily adjust the video image, as needed.

Audio Features & Specifications 4.65 Webex Desk Camera has two built-in omni-directional microphones for calls, meetings, and recordings. Microphones offer HD 48kHz audio and background noise reduction. Comparative solutions in the market do not consistently incorporate two embedded microphones for audio pick-up.

By default the camera microphones are turned on. Users can mute the mic or adjust input volume from the Webex Desk Camera app, as needed.

Upon testing, Webex Desk Camera voice pick-up range was up to 2 meters from the computer and offered sound quality notably above average with transmission of background noise notably reduced for far-end parties.

Value-Added Features 4.25 Webex Desk Camera has a built-in AI chipset and IR sensor capable of face recognition and human detection, making it one of few products in its class with biometric authentication functionality.

Webex Desk Camera is one of few web cameras certified with Microsoft Windows Hello face authentication in Windows 10, an enterprise-grade identity verification mechanism integrated into the Windows Biometric Framework (WBF) as a core Microsoft Windows component. Windows Hello face authentication utilizes cameras specially configured for near infrared (IR) imaging to authenticate and unlock Windows devices and is part of Microsoft Passport two factor authentication.

The IR camera system can also detect occupancy in a physical room, allowing IT administrators to view this information in Control Hub. While occupancy metrics will be available at a later phase from Cisco, the Webex Desk Camera is the only camera among the reviewed models that has announced this capability.

Currently lacking capabilities from the product proposition include an AI-powered ‘auto-framing’ option that allows the camera to quickly adjust to focus on the speaker; the possibility for whiteboard awareness; and the option for the end-user software to offer preset video positions, watermarks and text overlays. Cisco offers these capabilities in other devices, so we expect this support in Webex Desk Camera in the future.

System Requirements, Video Platform Support, & Warranty 3.85  Minimum computer system requirements for using Webex Desk Camera application include:

  • Operating System: Windows 10 with Universal C Runtime and above. Mac OS X 10.12 and above
  • CPU (Recommended): I5@2.4 GHz/i7@1.9 GHz Intel processor, or a processor with equivalent capabilities
  • RAM (Recommended): 8 GB or more
  • USB Port: USB-C port. USB-A port (USB 2.0 or USB 3.0, 4K video requires USB 3.0 port)

The above requirements are typical among all 4K USB cameras in the market. To address a wider addressable user base, Cisco should add support for Chrome OS and Android to Webex Desk Camera.

For video platform support, Webex Desk Camera natively works with all Cisco desktop applications on Windows and Mac OS, including Cisco:

  • Webex app and Webex Teams app; Webex Meetings app; Jabber; Jabber and Webex Meetings VDI on Windows; and Webex Teams VDI on Linux, Windows and MacOS.

Compatibility, but not certification, with third-party applications, includes:

  • Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business; Zoom Meetings; Google Meet and Google Hangouts; BlueJeans; Slack; FaceTime; and others.

Webex Desk Camera is sold with a one year limited liability warranty, which is below the industry average. Competitive solutions offer two or three year warranties.

Price 4.25 Webex Desk Camera pricing varies by country and region. Cisco’s general suggested retail price is USD199, which is on-par with other premium 4K personal  webcams in the market and is justified by the functionality and characteristics offered by the product.
IT Software Application for Management 4.75 With work from home and hybrid-work realities, administrative services that allow IT managers to collect data and gain communications insights into endpoints usage and performance via analytics have become paramount.

Control Hub, a web-based management portal, offers a single, consistent device management experience for all Cisco collaboration services and devices, including Webex Desk Camera. Control Hub is used to manage services and user apps; provision and manage devices; provide detailed analytics, reporting and actionable insights; and configure security and compliance policies.

When the camera is paired with the Webex apps the Cisco collaboration service detects the device connection and reports device inventory to Control Hub. IT administrators can view and sort individual cameras in Control Hub. Each camera page displays the camera model, serial number, firmware version, connection status, and how long the camera has been connected. Administrators can easily access product information, monitor usage, manage firmware upgrades, and conduct remote diagnosis, all through a single pane of glass.

Security & Safety 4.75 Webex Desk Camera security and privacy features include: a unique built-in physical video privacy shutter that completely turns off the video stream and physically blocks the camera lens; a built-in IR sensor allows for secure facial recognition login via Windows Hello; and image (software load) authentication.

Webex Desk Camera complies with a wide range of international equipment safety and regulatory standards that reduce various risks caused by manipulation of the device.

 

Conclusion

The global work-from-home trend spurred on by the pandemic has proved that people can indeed work effectively from homes and that digital communications and collaboration technologies will be in high demand to keep workers connected, engaged, and productive.

Remote and hybrid work is the new norm. Frost & Sullivan estimates that by 2025 approximately 30% of the global office workforce, or 174.6 million people worldwide, will work from home on a regular basis.

Various global Frost & Sullivan surveys of IT decision makers show the primary challenge for adopting remote work strategies is maintaining the responsiveness that businesses need to sustain workflow efficiency and provide effective customer support. Therefore, equipping individuals with robust communications, collaboration and customer experience software tools is crucial.

While the use of “good enough” webcams was acceptable in the past, this is no longer the case. Unprofessional, distracted experiences are less tolerated. More businesses, organizations, teams, and individuals require higher-quality solutions to present confident, professional appearances and to efficiently work and collaborate. New usage scenarios have also proliferated in various industry sectors, including healthcare, education, and government that require mission-critical communications and collaboration equipment for remote settings.

The Webex Desk Camera is among few professional USB webcams in the market with 4K ultra HD video, state of the art dual microphones, multiple USB connection options, intelligent AI-based features, and rock-solid IT device management. A balance between ergonomics, high video and audio quality, and ease of use makes the Webex Desk Camera stand out among other 4K cameras in the market.

It can be even better by using Webex Desk Camera with Cisco Headset 730.

Like many products in its class, Webex Desk Camera does not have integrated speakers for audio transmission. This makes the case for a companion endpoint, such as a professional headset for a comprehensive high -quality audio experience. Cisco offers a range of unified communications (UC) professional headsets for use with Webex Desk Camera, including the premium cordless Cisco Headset 730 Bluetooth headsets with advanced active noise canceling (ANC) and multi-connectivity options for deployment flexibility.

The combination of the Webex Desk Camera with Headset 730 is powerful. Whether the user has an executive home office, works from an active household or in a noisy office environment, the bundle of personal collaboration devices extends superior audio and video experiences that enhance focus, comfort and professionalism in today’s working dynamics.

The Cisco Headset 730 has been rigorously reviewed by the Frost & Sullivan Connected Work research team and earned a score of 4.48 out of 5.00 or 89.6% over 100%.

A true all-in-one communications and collaboration shop, as opposed to other endpoint manufacturers in the space, Cisco guarantees that companies and their employees are fully supported by extended portfolio of tightly integrated software and hardware solutions.

About Mohamed Alaa Saayed

Mohamed Alaa SaayedAlaa Saayed is ICT Industry Director - Digital Transformation, at Frost & Sullivan. He has 20 years of experience in the telecommunications industry in fields such as research, consulting, strategic planning, competitive intelligence, and marketing. He has extensive expertise in the enterprise communications, enterprise endpoint, and unified communications and collaboration markets.

Mohamed Alaa SaayedMohamed Alaa Saayed

Alaa Saayed is ICT Industry Director - Digital Transformation, at Frost & Sullivan. He has 20 years of experience in the telecommunications industry in fields such as research, consulting, strategic planning, competitive intelligence, and marketing. He has extensive expertise in the enterprise communications, enterprise endpoint, and unified communications and collaboration markets.

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