Bose Videobar VB1 review: Premium audio and video for small meeting spaces Review

Maria J. Danford

Bose is ideal recognised for its high-high-quality speakers and amplifiers, but the enterprise is also energetic in sign processing and networking, program, PA programs and conferencing methods. It really is the latter that concerns us below, in the condition of the Videobar VB1, an all-in-one USB device comprising a digital camera, microphones and speakers, aimed at huddle areas and little conference rooms accommodating up to about 10 persons. 

The Videobar VB1 integrates with the typical conferencing program suspects, such as Microsoft Teams, Google Meet and Zoom, and can make a wired or wireless connection to the enterprise network for IT administration obtain. It really is a high quality solution costing $1,199. But how great is it? 

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The $1,199 Videobar VB1 brings together a 4K PTZ digital camera, 6 beam-steering mics and a pair of stereo speakers.


Graphic: Bose

Design 

The Videobar VB1 is a modern matte-black cuboid with a digital camera entrance and centre, flanked by grilles covering the speakers and microphone array. It actions 686mm extensive by 96mm deep by 48mm high and weighs two.5kg — that’s 27in. by three.8in. by 1.9in. and five.6lbs for US visitors (and Brexit diehards in the British isles). 

The VB1 will come with a table stand (such as a Kensington lock slot) and a wall-mount bracket. Options involve a display mounting kit for attaching the videobar to a conference space display screen (42in. – 85in.) and a Mud ring. 

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You can use the Videobar VB1 with just electrical power and USB-C Laptop connections, though other ports, such as RJ-45 and HDMI-out, are also offered.


Graphic: Charles McLellan / ZDNet

Connections at the again, from remaining to ideal are: network (RJ-45), electrical power (round pin), audio in (three.5mm jack), CTRL Input (two-pin Euroblock), USB-C and HDMI out. The furnished USB-C cable is five metres (sixteen.5ft) in length if you require a lengthier connection to a Laptop, be certain to look at Bose’s list of recommended third-bash USB extenders. 

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Microphone mute and Bluetooth pairing buttons on the conclude of the VB1.


Graphic: Bose

There are a pair of buttons on the ideal facet of the video bar (as you search at the digital camera): one mutes the microphones and the other engages Bluetooth pairing mode (both of those of these functions, and far more, can be accessed by using the integrated remote command and the Bose Function mobile app, which is offered for iOS and Android). 

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In the box you get the Videobar VB1 alone, USB-C (5m/sixteen.5ft) and HDMI (1.5m/4.9ft) cables, an infrared remote with two AAA batteries, a wall-mount bracket and table stand, a electrical power adapter, a cable administration kit, a digital camera privacy go over, a USB-C to USB-A adapter, a two-pin Euroblock connector, furthermore a printed rapid-start off guidebook and other setup directions. 

Features 

The Videobar VB1 digital camera is an 8MP PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) unit with 115° horizontal, 81° vertical and 123° diagonal discipline of view, and up to 5x digital (not optical) zoom. Beneath it is an LED strip that glows various with colors and widths to deliver standing information and facts. Indicator lights for microphone mute and Bluetooth pairing also show below. For the stability-acutely aware, you will find a detachable privacy go over integrated in the box.  

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The VB1’s 4K PTZ digital camera has a 115° horizontal and 81° vertical discipline of view, and can use autoframing to retain conference contributors in view.


Graphic: Bose

The digital camera supports video resolutions up to 2160p (4K) at 30fps, which presents some headroom as most video conferencing services function at 1080p (FHD) — Lifesize being the exception. Autoframing, selectable by using a button on the infrared remote, adjusts the pan, tilt and zoom to retain all conference contributors in-frame — you will find no aid (yet) for tracking unique speakers. You can also specify PTZ settings for the remote’s household button and two presets, by using the desktop Bose Function Configuration app (offered for Windows and MacOS). 

There are 6 dynamic beam-steering microphones, a few on both facet of the digital camera, which hone in on voices and reject extraneous sound. If you will find a persistent resource of sound from one path (the hum of an air-con unit, for illustration), you can specify an ‘exclusion zone’ in the Function Configuration app, which will lead to mic beams pointing there to be suppressed.  

The stereo speakers deliver 20W per channel with a frequency reaction of 85-20,000Hz and a most seem tension degree (SPL) of 89dB at 1m distance. 

As nicely as the Bose Function mobile app and Function Configuration desktop app, which are consumer-oriented, you will find Bose Function Administration, a Windows app that IT admins can use to deploy and manage various network-related Videobar VB1s across an organisation.  

Functionality & consumer experience 

The Videobar VB1 is impressively straightforward to established up and configure, though I did not explore the network connection and Function Administration program facet of things. To put in a one unit, you mount it on a table or wall (we made use of the table mount), plug in electrical power and a USB-C Laptop connection at the again, attach your conference space screen by using the HDMI-out port if essential, find the Videobar VB1 as your digital camera, mic and speakers in your video conferencing program, and off you go.  

If you might be making use of a Laptop that’s mounted in a conference space (a Teams Space or Zoom Space set up, for illustration), you will never require the HDMI connection from the VB1, which needs DisplayLink drivers and desires to be turned on in the Function Configuration app. 

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The infrared remote control’s functions are replicated on the Bose Function app (Android or iOS).


Graphic: Charles McLellan / ZDNet

Controls over pan-tilt-zoom and presets, quantity and autoframing, furthermore mic muting and Bluetooth pairing, are all offered by using the useful infrared remote or the mobile Bose Function app. 

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Environment an audio ‘exclusion zone’ in the desktop Bose Function Configuration app, to block out an extraneous sound resource.


Graphic: Charles McLellan / ZDNet

The 4K-able digital camera provides a high-high-quality image, with controls offered in the Function Configuration app for reduced gentle and backlight compensation, anti-flicker/powerline frequency, brightness, contrast, saturation, sharpness and white equilibrium. Autoframing works effectively, zooming in and out to be certain that all conference contributors are in the picture. You can modify the autoframing pan-tilt-zoom velocity in the Function Configuration app far too. 

As you’d hope provided Bose’s heritage, audio high-quality is exceptional — in point, during testing I on a regular basis made use of the Videobar VB1 to engage in songs from Spotify on my smartphone over a Bluetooth connection. Back in video conferencing-land, you have great command over the conference room’s audio-scape. We have pointed out the ‘exclusion zone’ characteristic that lets you blank out extraneous sound from a distinct path. This is offered when the mic beams are in dynamic mode alternatively, you can situation the beams how you want them in static mode. Also in the Function Configuration app, you can toggle microphone mute obtain and acoustic echo cancellation, and modify the quantity of any enter moving into by using the three.5mm audio-in jack to match that from the host Laptop. 

Conclusions 

The Bose Videobar VB1 is a slender but durable digital camera/mic/speaker combo built to services conference rooms with place for up to about 10 persons. If you might be content with the high quality $1,199 price tag, you may get a extremely able and configurable solution.

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