Google is once again expanding its hardware offerings by getting into the webcam business — though, this bid screams more of Cisco than Logitech. The company is selling videoconferencing equipment bundles, titled Series One room kits, that revolve around the somewhat ubiquitous Google Meet conferencing service and what group meetings may look like in the near future.
The company's design intent looks not to the current environment where everyone is appearing at meetings in their pajamas, but one where parts of the workforce are cycled into the office and group meetings are held in large rooms with socially-distanced participants. Some governments are already pushing employers to adopt such a hybrid staffing model.
Google's Series One hardware comes in kits sized for small, medium, and large rooms. All sizes include a Meet AI-computing unit running Chrome OS — stocked with an Intel Core i7 processor and Google Edge TPUs — that automatically controls the image crop for a wide-angle camera provided by Huddly (1080p for small and medium, 4K for large), and a Smart Audio Bar with Tensor processors to deliver TrueVoice noise cancelation and clarity.
Series One medium room kit.
The small kit gets a remote control while medium and large ones are equipped with a 10.1" touchscreen unit from Mimo Monitors. Mic Pods — of which the medium kit gets one, the large two — for extended aural reach to individual participants. The large also receives an auxiliary audio bar. Meetings can be started or joined by calling upon Google Assistant. Everything except the computer can receive power over Ethernet, including through daisy-chaining.
Lenovo is handling sales for Series One in the following countries:
- New Zealand
- United Kingdom
- United States
Prices start at $2,699 for the small room kit, $2,999 for the medium, and $3,999 for the large. Availability is set to begin in November.
These kits join other Google Meet setups for sale from ASUS, Acer, and, yes, Logitech. Google's offering is priced competitively with ASUS up to the large kit, but it doesn't match the $5,098 Logitech asks for the comparably-sized Tap kit.