Middlebury

Pros and Cons: Polycom, Adobe Connect, Skype

This page attempts to summarize some key pros and cons between videoconferencing tools in use at Middlebury.

Polycom

See Polycom Software for a description of the solution, plus instructions on how to install it and use it.

Pros

  • Integrates directly with existing videoconference rooms. E.g. a class at Middlebury can easily bring a guest lecturer and be seen and heard easily during the call.
  • Uses your Middlebury account. No need for separate username/password.
  • Unlimited installations.
  • Up to 100 simultaneous users.
  • Up to 40 people in a single group call.
  • Simple interface.
  • Can record video calls.
  • Can share content (e.g. presentation) during a call.
  • Supports chat
  • Meeting controls (e.g. presenter can mute others) but they are harder to access compared to Adobe Connect
  • As much as possible, calls are done over a dedicated network, optimized for videoconferencing.

Cons

  • Without additional hardware, digital whiteboard and annotation are only available if using an iPad with Polycom.
  • No integrated survey / quiz tool, however a separate online survey or quiz tool can be used.
  • Meeting controls (e.g. presenter can mute others) are available but harder to access.
  • Currently, files cannot be uploaded to a polycom server for sharing with users. Sharing of videos may result in choppy play back. However, if videos or other files are uploaded on the web, users can open and view them without issues.

Adobe Connect

NOTE: Adobe Connect will be discontinued by the end of May, 2017 and we will be transitioning to Zoom and users have been notified of the change. If you need a web conferencing tool, please contact us through this ticket link and we will find a suitable option for you.

Pros

  • Up to 100 users in a single group call.
  • Content uploaded to the adobe connect server is optimized for low-bandwidth delivery and can look better to users with low bandwidth. Videos can be uploaded to the adobe connect server, resulting in smoother playback by all participants.
  • Supports chat
  • Has an integrated survey / quiz tool
  • Can share files during a call
  • Has a digital whiteboard
  • Supports annotation
  • Has meeting controls (presenter can mute others)
  • Can record calls (but audio/video sync is lost if exported to MP4)

Cons

  • Does not integrate directly with existing videoconference rooms – needs separate camera and mic. Selecting an external camera or mic can be unreliable. This makes it unsuitable for group calls with a more than 4-5 people in the same location. E.g. a class at Middlebury could bring a guest lecturer but ensuring everyone is heard and seen well during the call is challenging.
  • Current limit of 50 named licensed users ($120/additional user). No shared accounts allowed - one person per account.
  • Doesn’t integrate with your Middlebury account. Another password to remember…
  • Somewhat more complex interface, compared to Polycom and Skype.
  • Can record video calls, but exporting the recording to MP4 makes the audio and video out of sync.
  • Calls are done over the public internet. Your mileage may vary.

Skype

See our Skype page for more information on installation and use.

Pros

  • Large customer base (lots of people have used it).

Cons

  • Does not integrate directly with existing videoconference rooms – needs separate camera and mic. Selecting an external camera or mic can be unreliable. This makes it unsuitable for group calls with a more than 4-5 people in the same location. E.g. a class at Middlebury could bring a guest lecturer but ensuring everyone is heard and seen well during the call is challenging.
  • Group calls are free but you can only meet with up to 10 people.
  • No meeting controls (you can’t mute a noisy participant).
  • Doesn’t integrate with your Middlebury account. Another password to remember…
  • Calls are done over the public internet. Your mileage may vary. In addition, Skype relies on peer-to-peer connections to make calls. Your call may pass through other people’s computers to reach the other parties in a call.
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