Skype Room System Showdown

As co-owner and solution lead at Symity, where we specialise in Skype for Business telephony and video solutions and after a fair bit of involvement in Skype Room Systems I thought it worth putting my thoughts down on paper about the various SRS options out there.

The Skype Room System has now been around for 1-2 years and is getting a really good foot hold in the video meeting room market, but to date has been better suited to smaller meeting room spaces, courtesy of the USB audio peripherals generally being of lower specification. However, the SRS market is moving on and a greater range of SRS options and peripherals are becoming available every quarter, particularly from Logitech which seems to have grabbed the lion’s share of the market.

Here’s a quick overview of the key features that are common to all SRS:

  • Login based on Skype for Business Exchange room accounts
  • Simple optimised Skype for Business based touch screen experience that is easily understood by users
  • Device and associated room bookable from Outlook
  • Ad hoc meet now meetings from the console
  • Directory lookup
  • IM messaging within a call
  • Click to join meetings
  • Participant controls in a meeting (mute, remove user, lock spotlight)
  • HD audio and video calling
  • PSTN calling (meaning the conference phone can be replaced)
  • Multi person viewing based on the active speaker video stream (limit of 4 viewable participants)
  • Content share both from in room users and from remote Skype for Business participants
  • Viewing of PowerPoint uploaded content
  • Support for dual screens with video on one screen and content on the second screen
  • Fully supports MS Teams client and the above features
  • Sweet spot of small to medium sized meeting rooms (4 through 12 person)
  • Potential for large rooms through the availability of newer USB audio system
  • Potential for complex room support (lecture theatre, split rooms, training room etc) with ceiling speakers, ceiling mics, lapel mics through the addition of higher end integration equipment

Here’s a few key items that other VC systems support that the SRS codecs do not support:

  • H323 or standards based SIP calling
    • A video interop service like Pexip is required for this
  • Whiteboarding or polls
  • Front of room touch screen displays
  • Camera controls via the console
  • Wireless content sharing (unless you join a call via Skype for Business and share content)

At Symity, we’ve been rolling out Logitech SRS v2 for a while now and bar some early reliability issues, which have been actively worked by MS, the devices have been really popular due to the ease of use for end users. This is a very cost effective way to video enable huddle and small through large meeting spaces with Skype for Business video.

I’ve recently had the opportunity to put 3 SRS systems side by side to see how they fair against each other, courtesy of Tech Data Maverick. I’ve listed all of the features that I consider to be key differentiators on the SRS platforms in the table below, there’s plenty to consider when selecting the best system for your meeting room:

Lenovo ThinkSmart 500 HP Elite Slice Logitech SRS V2
Spec Core i5 7th Gen 8GB memory Core i5 7th Gen 8GB memory Surface Pro 5 spec (Core i5 7th Gen 8GB memory)
Sweet Spot Small rooms
Good in large rooms with extra audio peripherals
Small rooms
Good in large rooms with extra audio peripherals
Small through large (no built in  audio peripherals)
Control screen quality Very good Very good Very good
Touch screen responsiveness Very good Very good Very good
Touch screen ease of viewing 180 swivel base viewing

Heavy means it is not made to move much

Low viewing angle means it needs to be pulled closer to user

360 viewing due to screen being light and easily moved

A negative point is that the screens wobbles a little when touched in ‘upright mode’ as the base is not heavy enough, so really it neds to stay in ‘flatter mode’

180 swivel based viewing

Heavy means it is not made to move much

Table top cabling neatness 6 x discrete secured cables leads to a messy table top and poor manoeuvrability 1 x short flat umbilical cable leads to poor manoeuvrability, but the main codec/speaker unit does not need to be moved

There is potential to hide the codec/speaker and cabling away if using separate AV kit, touchscreen USB cable would need extending in this scenario but would lead to a very tidy solution

3 x discrete secured cables (power, network and cat 6 umbilical) leads to poor manoeuvrability but is easiest to move of all the devices. This approach is only available with the SmartDock Flex base unit at extra cost.

Standard SRS with no Flex unit uses 6 discrete cables leading to a messy table top

Robustness Very robust Robust but touch screen moves too easily on table top in upright mode, but fine in flat mode Fairly robust once all components put together
USB extension cabling options Requires USB extender for cable runs greater than 5m (Ikron extender for example) Requires USB extender for cable runs greater than 5m (Ikron extender for example) Optional SmartDock Flex extender solution carries USB within a Cat 6 cable up to 15m long
HDMI extension cabling options Requires HDMI extender for cable runs greater than 5m (WyreStorm HDMI extender for example)

Note that HDMI cable runs can run 10-20m if not running 4K resolution (SRS app does not drive 4K)

Include a wireless HDMI Tx/Rx unit that connects behind the screen for easy HDMI cabling, but as the camera is USB wired then a cable is still required from table top to screen area. However this does save on an HDMI extender kit which reduces cost for longer cable runs Optional SmartDock Flex extender solution carries HDM within a Cat 6 cable up to 15m long
Video camera options YES

Via any supported USB camera

YES

Via any supported USB camera

YES

Via any supported USB camera

Microphone quality Tested to 3m without issue Tested to 3m without issue

Pre-release version microphone wasn’t testable

Dependent on audio peripheral used, recommended with:

  • Logitech MeetUp
  • Logitech Group
  • Logitech Rally audio system (Q4 2018)
Microphone options YES

Via any standard USB peripheral but less likely to use as mic built in, unless it is a larger room requirement

YES

Via any standard USB peripheral but less likely to use as mic built in, unless it is a larger room requirement

YES

Via any standard USB peripheral, but typically:

  • Logitech MeetUp with extension mic
  • Logitech Group with extension mic
  • Logitech Rally audio system with extension mics (Q4 2018)
Speaker options YES

Via any standard USB peripheral but may not use in smaller rooms as the speaker is built in

YES

Via any standard USB peripheral but may not use in smaller rooms as the speaker is built in

YES

Via any standard USB peripheral, but best options:

  • Logitech MeetUp
  • Logitech Group
  • Logitech Rally audio system (Q4 2018)
Speaker quality Perfectly acceptable quality for smaller meeting room scenario

Slightly tinnier than Logitech and HP

Bang & Olufsen speaker with rich sound and good base but only suitable for smaller meeting rooms Dependent on speaker option chosen:

  • MeetUp has a deep base with good clarity, ideal for smaller meeting spaces
  • Logitech Rally anticipated to be high quality sound production for medium to larger meeting rooms
Dual screen support YES

2 x HDMI

YES

Support for dual screen via HDMI and DisplayPort

YES

2 x HDMI

Touch screen support NO

SRS does not support the main screen as a touch screen

NO

SRS does not support the main screen as a touch screen

NO

SRS does not support the main screen as a touch screen

SfB Presence YES YES YES
IM Capability YES YES YES
Content Sharing via HDMI Ingest YES YES

HDMI cable is not secured so likely to be removed by users

YES
Content Sharing via Wireless Ingest NO

 

NO

 

NO

SRS build does appear to have a wireless content share ingest application built in o the OS but this is not exposed to the SRS application, maybe one day !

Wireless Networking Supports wireless networking but not recommended for a VC meeting room experience Supports wireless networking but not recommended for a VC meeting room experience Supports wireless networking but not recommended for a VC meeting room experience
Power button YES

Slight concern users will find the power button easily and reboot to try and fix any “issues”!

YES

Accessible to users but fairly well hidden

YES

Accessible to users but fairly well hidden

Small Room Suitability YES

Good fit as all in one unit for huddle and small meeting spaces

Good fit as all in one unit for huddle and small meeting spaces YES

Good fit as modular with small room audio and video options

Medium Room Suitability POSSIBLE

Extra USB mic and speaker required for large rooms, but not as good a fit as the base unit has the all in one speaker that cannot be hidden

POSSIBLE
Extra USB mic and speaker required for large rooms, codec base unit can be hidden when adding extra AV kit to replace the speaker
YES

Good fit as modular with medium room audio and video options

Large Room Suitability POSSIBLE

Extra USB mic and speaker required for large rooms, but not a good fit as the base unit has the all in one speaker that cannot be hidden

POSSIBLE

Extra USB mic and speaker required for large rooms, codec base unit can be hidden when adding extra AV kit to replace the speaker

YES
Good fit as modular with large room audio and video options
Ease of Deployment Very easy to deploy as pre-built Fairly easy to deploy Takes time to put together

Fiddly to add the SmartDock Flex due to very tight cabling

Overall Reliability Not known as this is new to market but initial impressions are good Not known as this is new to market but initial impressions are good
  • Reliability of the Surface Pro has been questionable at times but this is the first device to market to use SRS software and is most probably the heaviest used, so issues more likely
  • Many issues appear to be Microsoft based with an element of unreliability being attributed to the Surface pro itself
  • Many bug fixes during 2018 have improved stability
Remote Management Standard Windows 10 OS options

  • Remote desktop
  • SCCM
  • OMS
  • Etc.
Standard Windows 10 OS options

  • Remote desktop
  • SCCM
  • OMS
  • Etc.
Standard Windows 10 OS options

  • Remote desktop
  • SCCM
  • OMS
  • Etc.
Warranty Not checked Standard: 2 yr

HP 3 yr 4 hr on site – £70

Complicated as Surface Pro is separate to the Logitech SRS base unit

Standard: 2yr for base uit, 1yr for Surface Pro

MS Business Care available for Surface Pro (approx. £90 3yr)

OneConnect available for the Logitech hardware and also to cover the whole SRS software package

Price Approx. £1600 Approx. £1400 Surface Pro & SRS base approx. – £1600
FlexDock additional cost – £600

Here are some useful web links to the devices:

Lenovo ThinkSmart 500 – https://www.lenovo.com/us/en/virtual-reality-and-smart-devices/smart-office/thinksmart/Hub-500/p/11SP1TSH500

HP Elite Slice – http://h20195.www2.hp.com/v2/getpdf.aspx/c05966671.pdf & https://store.hp.com/us/en/pdp/hp-elite-slice-p-3zh60ut-aba-1

Logitech SRS – https://www.logitech.com/assets/64799/16/smartdockdatasheetweb.ENG.pdf & https://www.logitech.com/en-gb/product/smartdock

Having looked at all the options, due to the use of the same SRS app on each system the end user experience is near enough identical on the devices, so the key differentiators really comes down to:

Room Size Suitability (small, medium and large)

All of the SRS devices work very well in a small room but for larger rooms you need to select the correct peripherals and this is where it is key to recognise that the choice of speakers, mics and camera are based on room size. Our approach is to work with either Logitech or Polycom devices to provide these solutions as they provide the market leading solutions in these spaces and here’s how we typically build the AV peripherals:

  • Huddle Room
    • Logitech MeetUp due to it’s all in one build, super wide angle camera perfect for small spaces, excellent mic and speaker
  • Medium room
    • Logitech Group with PTZ Pro for good audio and video (zoom camera) for a budget conscious room
    • Logitech Rally camera for excellent video, including auto participant framing, combined with the Polycom Trio for a really good audio experience
  • Large room
    • Logitech Rally camera for excellent video, including auto participant framing, combined with the Polycom Trio and extender mics for larger room mic pick up

It’s also well worth noting that Polycom also provide an SRS model under the MSR100 to MSR500 branding based on a range of packaged camera and audio options, full details below. We’ve packaged the Trio camera with other SRS systems on a number of occasions as it offers such good audio.

Here are a few pictures showing the key areas of interest of the three different solutions I tested:

Lenovo ThinkSmart 500 HP Elite Slice Logitech SRS V2
SRS Components Simple solution, one piece of kit!


Many components, but easy to slot together

  • Touch screen
  • Codec and audio
  • Wireless HDMI sender
  • Wireless HDMI receiver
  • Connector cable


SRS dock with extra options:

  • SmartDock Flex
  • MeetUp camera


SRS in Action


Cabling Solutions Robust but untidy cabling


Robust cabling, but not very elegant.

The outer dock does slide over the top of the actual connectors so it’s not quite as messy as my picture implies.


The simplest cabling solution with desktop HDM, desktop USB, cat 6 umbilical cable and network. The desktop USB is a special feature of the SmartDock Flex allowing the USB camera, audio and HDMI to be passed direct through to the connected PC so you can use your laptop with smart VC room peripherals if you want! Think guest PC with Zoom, WebEx, BlueJeans etc. requiring in room peripherals.


Cabling Solutions


Presence Status Neat touch showing in room participants whether they are in a call.


Table Screen Angles


If you want more info on SRS then Graham Walsh has written a good overview:

Skype Meeting Broadcast – Working with 3rd Party VTC to Present Content

Leave a Comment





Ready to place Skype for Business and O365 at the heart of your business?

Your Skype for Business Journey Starts Here

Share This