President Joe Biden tweeted his Zoom device on Friday, and it sounded so good that I suddenly needed to know all about it. The tweet wasn’t about his video equipment, of course; He was patting himself because of low gas prices. But I don’t want to talk about it. I also don’t want to talk about the graph next to the screen, which is clearly laid out there just for this picture and it’s very funny. I want to talk about the big stand-up Zoom device in front of Biden, as he sits at a desk in the White House headquarters.
It makes sense that politicians would have the best video chat equipment, right? Nobody has much to gain from looking good on video, nobody has more to lose because of call drops, low-resolution cameras, or that thing where you can only hear half of the words they say and you end up making Bitcoin the official currency of the United States. . Zoom Diplacy is the name of the game these days, and you have to bring your best game. In addition, high-ranking government officials have been conducting video calls around the world for many years. They know how this works.
Gas prices are dropping at one of the fastest rates we’ve seen in over a decade – and we’re working hard to drive costs even further. pic.twitter.com/suEKuKXyKP
– President Biden (POTUS) July 22 2022
I’m sure Biden is looking into the Neat Board, which is made by a Norwegian company that is only two years old. The panel is a dedicated video and collaboration tool with a 65-inch 4K display, integrated touchscreen and whiteboard widget, and a 12MP camera with 4x digital zoom. It’s a lot like Google’s Jamboard or Microsoft’s Surface Hub, and Neat’s gear works with both Teams and Zoom. (This is on Zoom, apparently, as the White House has been using Zoom for Government for a while.) The entire rig in front of Biden is about six feet tall and weighs about 125 pounds. It also costs $7,280 as configured – although it doesn’t seem to be using the $760 tab display or the $760 console, so it’s exercising some financial responsibility there.
The White House must have liked the device because it’s been in use in the Oval Office since right after Biden’s inauguration, rolling and spinning Either you face the couch in the office or Biden at the Resolute Desk. Neat confirmed at the time that it was in fact the Neat Board, although the company seemed surprised to see its product in the Oval Office. (The company did not respond to my request for comment.) The entire setup is impressive, with Biden looking comfortable in his office and away from the camera at the perfect distance so he looks engrossed but the participants aren’t staring at his nose.
I have a few notes, though, sir, if I may. For one thing, you really need a mic on your desk: You’re way too far from the mic, and I know Zoom and co. have gotten better at soundproofing, but you still sound like you’re screaming from the other side of a football field. Maybe replace one of these two desktop phones with a dedicated Zoom microphone? (Or just build one right in the office, and in the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office. I’m sure a Rutherford B. flat-looking wall is behind you. Maybe a plant or, I don’t know, those huge flags that are usually right behind you. And while I’m hard Satisfying, I might clean up the desk a bit.Or at least put your cup of coffee on a coaster.
There are video conferencing devices of all kinds throughout the White House these days. For the more formal and more serious moments, Biden appears to prefer setting up a high-end camera and shoving it into Zoom, just as if he were delivering standard television broadcasts. But in the Roosevelt room, a very ordinary camera sits atop a teleconference platform, and Biden always appears to be sitting at the head of the table facing you. (Also, there are microphones on the table!) The operating room has a custom setup, and there’s a camera and Sharp TV built into the wall at Camp David as well. If the whole “democracy” thing doesn’t work, the White House will make a great WeWork.
I tried to figure out how Biden’s setup compares to former President Donald Trump, but mostly to no avail. Before the pandemic, Trump held video conferences from a huge podium in Mar-a-Lago, but during the pandemic…I can’t find much. Trump has conducted a lot of video conferences, including from the Oval Office, but there is much less evidence of what he used. Looking at how he appears in various Zoom videos and networks, he definitely seems to prefer the cool camera approach. He seems to have preferred regular phone calls anyway.
For a more achievable presidential Zoom, I might recommend setting up former President Barack Obama: an iPad on a stand. In a recent video, you can watch Obama video chat from his office with an iPad Pro on an adjustable desk stand. I can’t say for sure, but I think it’s the Lisen Tablet Stand, which you can get for $24 on Amazon. It’s not quite as good a setup as Biden’s, and we’re here the edge You still have mixed feelings about the Center Stage on the iPad, but it’s definitely better than on your laptop.
Oh, and here’s the most important lesson you can learn from Zoom’s presidential behavior: Turn off your subjective view. In practically every video conference I could find, Biden’s private feed wasn’t on screen. It’s good for your mental health, it’s good for focus, and it’s better than staring at yourself all day. None of us need to see any more of our faces, even when we’re a boss.