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We are looking at enhancing our conference/training room. We currently use a set of 10 laptops that are set up when training is in session. A portable projector is brought in and connected to a presenter laptop or a laptop that a trainer might bring with them.

We are considering mounting a projector in the back of the room and providing a system for presentations or training. This could be:

  • A desktop attached to projector with wireless keyboard/mouse
  • A laptop wirelessly connected to projector
  • Some combination of the two or something else entirely

What have you set up for your conferencing/training needs?

Our room only holds roughly ten people so an extensive configuration is not needed. I am looking for something flexible enough for training with outside people bringing their own equipment that is also easy to use for normal presentations where someone might just have a presentation on a thumb drive.

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Great question .. I have similar needs for a conference room. –  tomjedrz Jun 9 '09 at 21:26
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6 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

This is one of our room configurations, it could help you as an idea. We didn't do the install, but these were our specifications:

Projector in ceiling

(ability to handle multiple connections: VCR-DVD/Desktop/Laptop/Document-Camera. We've had good luck with Hitachi)

Presenter station

This is pretty close to what we have:

alt text

Inside presenter station:

  • 8-Port switch (one cable connects to desktop, another is just there in case someone brings their laptop and either can't connect to wireless or prefer a wired connection)
  • Desktop computer with dual-monitor capable video card (one will go to monitor, the other to projector)
  • DVD/VCR

On top of the presenter station:

  • 17" LCD Monitor
  • Document Camera (with VGA in for a possible Laptop connection). You would be suprised how many people still use those!
  • Audio/Video Switcher (this was installed by the AV company we hired**)

The *desktop computer is setup to auto-login. It is not part of our domain, nor is able to touch any of our agency networks due to being in it's own VLAN. It is also 'frozen' with DeepFreeze, so any changes (good or bad) will be gone whenever the computer reboots. We have most applications and browser plugins presenters will need.

**The A/V company that did the install took care of pulling all the video/audio cables to the projector. If you have the time and expertise with multimedia equipment you could do this yourself.

... Now, if you had asked me about our videoconferencing room, I would need WAY more time to share how we did that monster.

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If you want outside people bringing in their own equipment my best advice is to make sure the room is on its own "dirty" VLAN that only routes out to the internet. If required to access local LAN resources lock down VLAN ACLs to only allow access to the servers they need access to.

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Every conference room needs:

  • whiteboard with good markers, eraser and cleaning tools (you would not believe how may rooms are missing a simple washcloth)
  • good lighting and good blinds
  • projector
  • screen that can cover the whiteboard or roll up (optional)
  • computer with wireless keyboard and mouse
  • phone with conference ability
  • webcam (for virtual meetings)
  • network outlets on the table with
    • Internet access
    • enough ports for everyone at the table to connect a laptop
    • restricted LAN access available
  • power outlets on the table
  • AV switch between the projector and PC to allow laptop hookup without unplugging the PC

If the room is beg enough add:

  • podium with its own lcd screen keybaord and mouse connected to the PC
  • microphone and amp
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Also, make sure the PC is turned on at least one night a week so it gets updated regularly, not when I'm in the middle of using it. –  Chris Nava Jun 9 '09 at 22:25
    
I'm surpised that you want the screen to cover the whiteboard, i noticed atlot (although more on a education basis) that the presenters ocasionaly want to write something down/do a diagram and a having to open/close the screen all the time would be a pain. –  p858snake Jun 10 '09 at 9:52
    
As a developer, I find that it's often convenient to review code via a projector and whiteboard. Having the screen in front allows you to roll it up and annotate what's being projected. That said, I'm sure having the screen and whiteboard on different walls is also useful. IMHO, every surface in a conference room should be a whiteboard. We have been known to use conference room windows when the board was full. ;-) –  Chris Nava Jun 10 '09 at 20:19
    
I guess i ment lmore like having a larger whiteboard so that the pulldown screen over covers about half, that way you can still lift up the screen to write on the projection ans such. –  p858snake Jun 12 '09 at 0:48
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We use a domain desktop in a specially built cupboard (it was cheaper than the fancy tackle l0c0b0x has!!) from our local desk place. Domain PC means folk can just log in and run their ppt off their own desktop.

This is attached via a wallplate to the ceiling mount projector. Have someone else install this. It is a pain in the backside, and not over expensive to outsource to the experts. Wallplate lets us switch out for external users' laptops.

Network is via floorboxes, which all hit the same PoE switch. This can be patched to internal or "training" net depending on the room's use.

Final touches - a clock at the back (essential!) and cheap whiteboards on 2 walls (for smaller presentations looking "sideways").

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In the past we used a ceiling mounted projector with connectors in the front of the room. AN instructor could connect a laptop to it and get going fast. I would also dedicate a laptop to the room just to make sure you have something that an instructor can use if needed.

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  • Screen (recommend NOT using a whiteboard for this)
  • Ceiling projector (why have it on the table where it is in the way and can be bumped)
  • Multiple lighting configuration - dim, full, off, and everywhere in between
  • Conference call ability where all ten people in the room can both hear and be heard (i.e. additional microphones)
  • Enough power for everyone to have their laptops and phone chargers

If/when used for training, a direct link to the Internet is a must. Be sure to protect your own network as suggested by TheCleaner.

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