As some of you may know, the company I work for is on a quest to define a new set of room standards for video conferencing. We have long been a Microsoft house and have run their communications suite going all the way back to LCS. Our standard for the past 6-ish years has been primarily been based around Polycom’s Group Series which has served us (very) well. Now that Microsoft’s strategy for room devices is centered around either ‘native’ solutions or ‘interop’ solutions, we don’t have much choice but to look into the array of ‘native’ devices supplied by Microsoft’s MTR partners.
One of the most promising products to be announced back in early 2019 was the Logitech Tap. Besides from being a pretty smart and compact touch panel, it features a multitude of mounting options as well as a proprietary (game-changing) 10m USB cable which solves a lot of installation problems the previous MTR systems experienced, which led to under the table mounting of the endpoint. Anyway, more on this later.
The Logitech Tap for Teams comes in several packages:
- Tap Base
Includes just the Tap, an Intel NUC and mounting plate with cable management
- Tap Small
Includes the Base package plus a Logitech Meetup
- Tap Medium
Includes the Base package with a Logitech Rally, single mic and single speaker
- Tap Large
Includes the Medium package plus an additional mic and speaker
The package I ordered was the base model. I already had a Logitech Meetup earmarked to pair with it. The Base package cost around £1800.
The Strong USB Cable
Perhaps the most impressive feat of the whole package is the included 10m USB cable, called the Strong USB cable. The maximum length of a standard USB 3.x cable is about 3m. This one is 10m and Logitech actually have a separate 25m version available if 10m isn’t enough for you. In my exprience 10m would cover most rooms though once you run it down the wall, under the floor and up to the middle of the table.
The USB cable is commercial-grade, aramid-reinforced, Plenum and Eca rated which means you can run it under floors, in walls or in ceilings without any regulatory issues. The cable feels extremely solid and rigid, in fact maybe too inflexible when plugging it into cable management is it pulls the ports around a bit where the end connector is quite beefy and long. Overall though, great work on this Logitech.
Logitech have chosen an Intel NUC for their compute engine. It’s a good choice as they’re pretty bombproof and well tested. My only criticism is the choice of using the taller unit. As far as I can see they’re just using the M.2 SSD slot and not the additional 2.5” drive. So, why use the larger unit?
Update (11.07.19): John Skeehan from Logitech commented in a response below that ”the NUC full height model was selected to ensure configuration flexibility (2.5 SSD or M.2 slot) over time” — Thanks John.
Using the smaller one would make it easier to hide behind a display, especially if you have quite a flush wall mount. I just don’t get it. As well as this, the ports on the back would be closer to the plate so it would actually make the cable management a bit better as the cables would be straighter without pulling the ports around. More on this below.
The Intel NUC comes with a VESA mount plate but Logitech also provide a separate PC mount with a cable management piece to prevent cables from falling, or more likely, being pulled out. This works pretty well, but as I said before the height of the NUC actually means the cables have to be angled down which can stress the angle of the port, especially the USB port holding the Strong USB cable as this USB plug is quite large. It seems to work pretty well though. The mounting plate also has a few holes in it so that you can screw it to the wall or cable tie it to the back of the display/mount etc.
The Tap itself has some fairly decent cable management built in. The various cables wrap around a couple of semicircle cable runs which prevent the cables from being disconnected if someone pulls the Tap on the table. You can also either route cables out of the back or through the bottom of the Tap (or both like I did). There is a plate that then screws over the bottom to hide all the cables and stops tampering.
A clear advantage of the Logitech Tap is the number of cables you need to run from the front of the room to the table. All you need to run is the Strong USB cable. The HDMI content sharing cable connects directly to the Tap. It’s actually quite an elegant and simple room solution.
This is the schematic for my room:
Tap Power Supply?
One of the only disadvantages right now is the necessity for an external power supply for the Tap touch panel. The plug on this power supply is pretty big so can’t be seated in a floor box.
The ultimate solution would for it to be powered via the USB cable but I’m not sure if this will ever be possible.
Another solution would be to be able to use PoE. Logitech tell me this will arrive in the form of a PoE adapter which should be available by the end of the year. You will be able to retrofit it to existing units also.
In my opinion, the Logitech Tap is one of the best MTR solutions out there (along with the Crestron Flex). It gets over one of the main issues we had with with MTR which was the installation trade-offs that had to be made when utilising a USB-based system. The new strong USB cable really does simplify things.
The base package means you can pair it with pretty much any other USB-based A/V solutions you can find. With all the mounting options it’s pretty versatile as to where you can place it too.
Once the minor issue with the size of the power supply issue is sorted, it will be a valuable solution for the SRS/MTR ecosystem.
Some more pictures….