EMEET Meeting Capsule
EMEET Meeting Capsule Review
Collaboration devices, particularly video conferencing devices, boomed during the COVID pandemic. Working from home requires a camera. In the early days of the pandemic, add-on cameras to boost paltry 480p or 720p on laptops sold out for months as demand stripped shelves and disrupted supply chains ensured they stayed empty.
Cameras are now not only plentiful again, but engineers continue to up their game to deliver new solutions for home and work environments. One of those solutions is the EMEET Meeting Capsule, an all-in-one standalone camera and conferencing solution that looks great, but it still has a few bugs to work out based on my extensive testing during several conferences using a variety of conferencing tools.
What we like
- Good microphones
- Solid audio
- 360° view of conference spaces
The EMEET Capsule looks like a device from the future, with its sleek lines, rotating lens, and bright blue LEDs. It requires a power supply and a USB-C cable, but that’s it. The company does offer configuration software, but it is not required for the Meeting Capsule to work.
The EMEET Meeting Capsule is designed to support conference rooms with multiple people and individuals. For it to work for my personal video conferences, I mounted Meeting Capsule on a tripod behind my desk, as the camera isn’t tall enough to clear my laptop when sitting on the desk, and it doesn’t work on a credenza with a large monitor as I found myself looking in the wrong place during a conference call. The tripod mount works well and keeps the device in its own space. Of course, in a conference room situation, the Meeting Capsule would likely be in the center of a conference table, able to employ its AI to focus on individual participants.
And this is a camera made for conference rooms. A couple of clicks on the remote flips the lens so it points toward the ceiling. What it’s actually doing is capturing the horizontal view from around the camera, making all participants visible—a split screen places the participants on the bottom of the screen and the speaker in the center. This mode is also effective for creating a context for individual participants who would like to share their environment rather than the obligatory false background.
As the illustrations show, the EMEET Meeting Capsule brings some sophisticated options to a meeting room. Buyers will need to decide if the collaboration features outweigh the image issues covered in the What can be improved section below.
The Meeting Capsule is compatible with all popular video conferencing tools, including Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, and Apple Facetime.
The EMEET Meeting Capsule comes with a remote control that manages the camera view, muting for audio and video, and volume. After mastering the buttons, switching modes is pretty easy; however, as I point out below, poor software results in setting a view and then losing it when switching, for instance, into breakout sessions in Zoom.
EMEET touts the remote as an instant access method of control, along with the on-device buttons or its PC/Mac-based configuration software, but a good app would go a long way to making the camera a more welcoming experience.
Sound, which employs eight microphones and the company’s VoiceIA® DSP algorithm, works effectively, delivering clear sound during conference calls. The 10W/90dB speaker produces clear audio from conference sources or other audio sources, though it is light on bass for listening to music.
I do want to give a shout-out regarding its excellent paper-based packaging, including the interior protection for the Meeting Capsule, which are all recyclable.
While the EMEET Meeting Capsule looks great and offers good audio, its video and software management features are immature, leading to several notes in the What could be improved section.
What could be improved
- Software isn’t production ready
- Poor image quality
- Does not retain its latest “mode” when switching contexts
My first problem with the software was finding it. It didn’t live on the download page for the device, so I had to hunt around. The second issue was that the installation was clearly not intended for the English-speaking market, despite the UI eventually being delivered in English—the installation on the Mac, for instance, still contained the Mandarin version of the app name in the installer. The third problem with the software was its lack of polish. It clearly isn’t production ready.
The firmware section, for example, clearly says, update next to it, and I can click it. That implies that I need a firmware update. No, a dialog “notice” pops up that says “Now the latest version” with an “I know” below that is a button, even if it doesn’t look like a button. The settings section also includes a software update section for the app, with a more refined UI. The developers need to pick one approach to updates to create a cohesive experience that will propagate trust in the owners.
The user manual section seems to provide access to every user manual for EMEETs products except the Capsule, which to me, should be the only manual available unless I’m using some other EMEET product in conjunction with the Capsule.
I also experienced USB-C hub issues early in my evaluation. I hooked the device up to my Satechi Aluminum Stand and Hub, and during calls, the audio would turn to a loud fuzz on my end—an unrecoverable experience without unplugging the device. After a back-and-forth with the support team, I was told it was likely the hub. The Satechi hub clearly warns that it can only power a single device, and everything else connected must bring its own power. Well, the Capsule did bring its own power in adequate amounts, but an incompatibility remained (the only “unpowered” item on the hub was my Drop keyboard).
I was told by the support team to connect directly to my device, so I switched to my MacBook Pro and experienced no problems in that configuration. I eventually tested against the VisionTek VT4510 and have had no issues with that hub and its superior data speeds.
Regardless of the underlying issue, the EMEET Capsule ran for a time, then failed on a call, which will prove disconcerting to buyers who don’t regularly play with hardware and build up their level of tolerance for glitches. It would be great if a future version of the EMEET software would test for data speeds or whatever the issue is and make a recommendation to the owner to move the USB-C connection and test again.
One of the most annoying aspects of the Meeting Capsule comes from its lack of memory about how a call is set up. If, for instance, I zoom in on myself prior to a call to remove as much of my background distraction as possible, when I switch to a breakout room, the camera switches back to a default view, and I have to execute the zoom adjustment again.
Once in a call, the Meeting Capsule should stay with its last settings unless the operator changes them. I was on a multi-breakout session recently and had to keep going back to the remote to adjust the camera view as I left and joined the breakout rooms. The same thing happens when stopping the video and restarting it with Zoom or when switching camera inputs. The Meeting Capsule returns to a default view, tossing out all adjustments when the camera turns back on or gets reselected.
I would also like the EMEET Meeting Capsule to retain my preferred setup, much as the Poly Lens app does for their cameras. Poly Lens also supports multiple profiles that can be easily changed with a pop-up menu selection. EMEET would do well to emulate that experience so profiles, with all the parameters, including camera zoom position, white balance and other settings remain.
One of the “benefits” touted for the EMEET Meeting Capsule is the lack of need for Wi-Fi or a phone. Both of those claims are true. I would, however, prefer an app over the remote, as remotes tend to get lost, suffer from corroded batteries, and need to be passed around to participants to share features. An app would allow for both distributed and remote control of the Meeting Capsule and a much more explanatory user interface.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the video quality of the EMEET Meeting Capsule is inferior to other HD options. Even clicking “HD” in Zoom’s settings, for instance, results in a murkier, blurrier image than the one from my native MacBook Pro image—same light, same setting. The poor image quality is particularly bad on people, as they are the objects moving and therefore require the most processing. Background objects are clearer but not as clear as the Mac’s built-in camera. Further, increasing the light level in the room did not reduce the noise.
EMEET’s software team has some work to do. Should they improve these components, I’ll update this review with additional thoughts on their new software versions.
EMEET Meeting Capsule: The bottom line
The EMEET Meeting Capsule looks every bit the camera for conference rooms and individual feeds with superior results. In practice, the camera misses the mark on quality, and the software not only doesn’t help improve the image, but its less-than-finalized state makes the overall experience worse.
The EMEET Meeting Capsule is an expensive piece of hardware, one that I think requires some software revisions to make it worthy of its design goals. Just making a good-looking piece of hardware isn’t enough. It needs to work and fulfill its market promises.
At this point, I can’t determine if the image quality is a hardware or software issue. Hopefully, future firmware updates and configurations will improve the quality—if it’s the sensor and the lens or the onboard processing, then updated image quality will need to wait for the next generation of hardware.
Right now, I can’t recommend the EMEET Capsule as a good investment at $699 list or even with discounts available on the company’s website or on Amazon.
EMEET provided the Meeting Capsule for review. Images courtesy of EMEET unless otherwise noted.
Serious Insights is an Amazon Affiliate. Clicking on an Amazon link may result in a payment to Serious Insights.
For more serious insights on hardware and accessories, click here.