As corporate videoconferencing systems get more affordable and customizable, Logitech leads the way with Tap, a low-profile, software-agnostic, touch-screen console.
By Michael Muchmore
Lead analyst for software and web applications – PC Magazine
February 4, 2019 10:49AM EST
Forget searching for remote controls or trying to decipher their various buttons. Logitech’s Tap, its new touch-screen control unit is always at the ready in the conference room.
More than any other vendor, Logitech is leading the transformation of corporate videoconferencing systems from massive five-figure installations with software lock-ins to more affordable BYOD setups that let companies choose service and software. Its Group, Meetup, and SmartDock were earlier videoconferencing entries, and the Logitech Tap, coming this spring, is a similar but refined device in the tradition of the SmartDock, but with some important, basic differences.
The Tap ($999 standalone), introduced today at the AV-focused ISE trade show, can be considered a refinement of the Logitech SmartDock $2,399.00 at Dell, which used a Microsoft Surface Pro to control Skype Room Systems conferencing. It was sturdy and locked down so it wouldn’t be swiped by coworkers who wanted to use it as a standard tablet. Feedback to Logitech, however, noted that the SmartDock was a bit bulky, taking up valuable tabletop space, and was tied to a single conferencing software system.
In contrast, the Tap is low-slung and compact, at 2.3 by 9.6 by 7.0 inches (HWD), and works with multiple conferencing service providers. The device doesn’t have its own brains; it must be connected to a small-form-factor computer like an Intel NUC ($499.99 at Amazon) that runs software from (to start with) Google, Microsoft, or Zoom. Load that up via USB.
The table-top (or wall-mounted) device itself has just a single connector and a power cable. Other A/V components—microphones, cameras, displays—will instead connect to the controlling computer. Wireless connection between the Tap and the computer unfortunately isn’t yet an option, despite this being the age of everything going wireless.
SmartDock users also informed Logitech that cabling needed to longer and sturdier, so the company offers a 25m Strong USB cable for $499, which doesn’t require an extender or repeater. The cable is rated for 300 pounds of pull force, and is reinforced with Aramid. You can pick up the Tap by the cables and shake it with no harmful effects, since it’s so well secured, Logitech’s head of marketing, Joan Vandermate, told PCMag.
The Tap will be available in several packages. For $999 you can get the device alone, but it’s more useful in a bundle that includes the computer ($1,999). For $4,999, you get a full system including Tap, Rally Plus (which includes a hi-res camera, two speaker bars, and two mic units), Rally mounts, the computer, and a PC mount. Initial distributors include include Ingram, Tech Data, and Synnex.