Hello Readers.  As always, I hope this finds you well.

I’ve done my fair share of product reviews, and I have several more coming.  It seems I’ve made an impression, hopefully a good one, with vendors.

This review is on a really cool product which raises an interesting question. 

When you choose your next UC enabled interactive panel for your meeting rooms, should you choose one that only works with a single platform or back end or one that works with any platform?

That is to say, do you buy a panel that can only log in to one vendor UC solution and only work with vendor proprietary peripherals and applications and only work in a way that the vendor wants you to work?

I’ve tried out headsets, webcams and conference speakerphones from several vendors.  Every device I have is qualified or certified to work with Lync or Skype for Business.  Given what I do, that makes sense.  While all of these vendors have taken the time and effort to make sure they work well with Skype for Business, that doesn’t mean that they ONLY work with Skype for Business.  A USB headset, for instance, will connect to virtually any device with a USB connection and work as a headset, supporting a multitude of platforms.  I use some of my headsets for everything from listening to music or watching a movie, to phone calls on my mobile (cell) phone or PC, using any number of apps, including Skype for Business, Skype for Consumer, Facebook Messenger, Google Talk and WhatsApp.  And they work fine in every case.  And because they are just USB headsets, they will work on pretty much any PBX and with some IP phones that support open USB.

The same can be said with webcams.  They are just USB devices and work with any USB PC and some phones to add webcam support.

The point is that all of these devices are multi-platform and sometimes multi-use.  The vendors sometimes work with platform vendors to optimize the experience and get certified for at least one, but more than likely multiple platforms from vendors such as Microsoft, Avaya and Cisco.  The device doesn’t care what it is used for, it just wants to do what it was designed to do.

Software vs Hardware

In this day and age, the clients/endpoint to access the platforms themselves are increasingly software based, not hardware based.  Although you can buy IP phones from all the vendors or 3rd parties to support all the platforms, most also have a soft phone/client.  For some, such as Skype for Business, the primary client is an application.

There are many advantages of delivering something as an application vs a hardware device.  The single biggest is that an application can continue to evolve beyond the hardware it was originally installed on.  For instance, if you started with an application running on Windows XP, on a PC with a Pentium processor and 200Mb RAM, you can continue to run that application on your i7 Windows 10 PC with 32GB of RAM, as long as the vendor evolves the application.  In that example, you can see just how much hardware can change over time, even a short amount of time.  The features of a hardware device can only be evolved to the point where the hardware limits are reached.  Then if you want to continue to use it, you’ll likely have to buy more hardware.

This is the same if you switch platforms.  If you start with an Avaya PBX and use Avaya digital phones and then (wisely) switch to Skype for Business, you’ll need new “endpoints” to use Skype for Business.  An endpoint is a device used to access the platform.  In the case of Skype for Business, the client running on your PC, Mac or smart phone isyour endpoint, or one possible endpoint.  The common thread here is that the client itself is software.

Endpoints are Subjective

This is a subject in itself, so I won’t get too far into it here.  The endpoint a user chooses is personal to the user and to the use case.  Some users prefer desk phones as much as some prefer headsets.  With headsets, some users need wireless and portable headsets and others are ok with wired.  Some environments mandate noise cancelling and others are quiet enough that it isn’t necessary.  The important thing here is that the endpoint enabled the user to talk and listen on calls.

Endpoints for meeting rooms are also subjective and depend greatly on the use case.  I’ve used this slide before, but it perfectly illustrates the types of meeting spaces and therefore use cases.

Each type of meeting space mandates different types of endpoints.  However, if you look, all but “on the go” have a large screen.  Of those remaining, all but “my stage” has someone standing at the screen.

What is the large screen for?

This is a good question and the answer is where I get to the point.  The screen is most commonly used for presenting.  Everyone has been into a meeting room with a large screen on a wall.  When you need to show a presentation from your laptop, you’re given a cable to plug in to connect you to the screen.  As you present the slide deck, the attendees can look at the screen as a visual representation of what you’re saying as you talk. 

This can work equally well if you want to bring in remote attendees.  Of course, this means that you would have scheduled or started an ad-hoc meeting on your platform (Skype for Business) and you and the remote attendees all “dial” into the meeting.  From the meeting, you can present the same content to in-room and remote attendees.

If you want to stand by the screen and address the room as well as present, you only need the ability to advance through the slide deck. 

Let’s get interactive.

When you move beyond presenting a pre-prepared deck, things start to get interesting.  I’ve been in rooms where there is a screen for the presentation and a whiteboard for, Er… whiteboarding.  This is fine for the in-room audience, but not for remote attendees.  In Skype for Business, you can present a whiteboard from within the app.  This is ok if you’re at your laptop but not when you’re standing by the screen.  I say it is ok, but have you tried to draw a diagram with a mouse or touchpad?  Even if you have a touch screen and a pen to draw on the screen, you’re still sitting at your laptop, while the audience is staring at the screen. 

What about collaboration?

Collaboration isn’t a new concept and nor is collaboration in a meeting space.  The only thing that’s changed is the way people collaborate.  Meeting room collaboration is where multiple users stand in a meeting room and work on the same thing.  Everyone in the meeting has a voice and something to contribute.  I’ve seen this in different forms, from post-it notes stuck on the wall, to flip charts or whiteboards and even an entire wall coated in special paint to turn it into a huge dry erase whiteboard.  Again, this is fine for people in the room, not for those that aren’t.

Meeting room collaboration technology

What if you need a solution that does all of this?  You won’t be surprised to hear that there are solutions for this.  As with phones, some vendors have put together some solutions that are designed to work with their platforms. 

If you look at platform specific solutions, Microsoft has the Surface Hub for Skype for Business, Cisco has the Spark Board for Spark and Google has the Jamboard for their G-Suite.  In addition to the Surface Hub, there is a 3rd party device for Skype for Business from Smart based on the Skype Room System technology.  This table shows the devices side by side for what they are, what they do and how much they cost.

Surface Hub
Spark Board
Smart Room System for Skype for Business
55″ and 84″
55″ and 70″
55″, 64″ and 84″
·    $8999 & $21999
·    Skype for Business license
·    $4990 & $9990
$199/month service contract
·    Separate Spark License
·    $4999
$50 per month service contract
·    Separate G-Suite license
·    $17999 to $29999
·    Separate Skype for Business license
·    1080p for 55″ and 4K for 84″
·    100-point touch
·    Input via stylus, finger or companion app on PC or mobile
·    4K
Two-point touch
Input via stylus, finger or Spark app on mobile or PC
·    4K
16-point touch
input via stylus, eraser, finger or companion app on mobile device
·    4K for whiteboarding
·    Two-point touch
·    16-point touch supported when connected to a PC or laptop
·    Input via stylus, eraser, finger or companion app on mobile device
·    2 x integrated 1080p30 cameras with 100° Field of View
·    Four-element microphone array
·    Integrated 4Kp60 camera with 86° Field of View
·    Integrated 12-mic array with beam forming technology
·    Integrated 1080p60 camera with 82° Field of View
·    Integrated Mic and speakers
·    Integrated 1080p60 camera with 109° Field of View
·    Integrated Mic and speakers
Video Service
·    Optimized for Skype for Business
·    Can run on other VC services via apps running on the in-built PC
·    Up to 25 participants per call with 5 active speakers on screen
·    Cisco Spark
·    Up to 25 participants per call with up to 4 most recently active speakers showing on screen
·    Participants can also join with any SIP based video platform with limited functionality
·    Google Hangouts
·    Up to 30 participants with one active speaker displayed at a time
·    Pair Jamboard with Chromebox for Meetings to display more participants at once
·    Skype for Business
·    Up to 25 participants per call with 5 active speakers on screen

Another way

I’ll take you back to that initial question I asked.

When you choose your next UC enabled interactive panel for your meeting rooms, should you choose one that only works with a single platform or back end or one that works with any platform?

The answer is, more than likely, it depends.  It depends on the experience, of course, and a few other things.  But, when it comes right down to it, the answer is yes, if possible.

The Solution

I recently got my hands on a 65-inch touch screen on a motorised stand.  I had it in my living room for about a month to put it through its paces.  From the first time I saw the device, I had this notion of multi-use in mind. 

The Review – Avocor “F Series” F-6510

What is it?

The Avocor F-6510 is a 65-inch touch screen display that you can use for meeting rooms and spaces where you need to share and collaborate.  The enclosure adds easy access to all of the ports you could ever want…



…as well as quick access to switching inputs and devices. 

Additionally, there is a basic internal PC (actually soldered to the main board) which turns this device into a touch screen PC.  Think of it is a really large Microsoft Surface device. 

The internal PC is really there as a courtesy.  It will run basic apps as well as the Avocor Note whiteboard app fine.  If you want to do anything more than that, I’d recommend installing an optional Open Pluggable Specification (OPS) PC.  These come in various specifications, but the point is that they enable greater audio visual and whiteboard touch performance and the ability to run 3rd party applications such as Skype for Business.

The OPS PC installs in a slot on the side and it gives you even more ports.

Why do you need one?

If you have a business and occupy a building, you’re sure to have at least one meeting room.  You need a device like this for a multitude of reasons from presenting to video conferencing. 

You could go out any buy a cheap screen from an electronics store and maybe a PC to leave in the room, but it won’t be touch screen.  You could buy a touch screen monitor and a PC, but you have to think about how it is set up and where to run cables.

The Avocor solution is all in one.  Hang it on a wall or put it on a motorised stand so the height is adjustable and it can be moved from room to room.  Use it to project your screen either wired or wirelessly, as you would a traditional in-room screen/tv or connect it to your AV solution and use it for video conferencing.  Having the built in PC’s means that you can run your favourite Unified Communications application just as you would use it on your laptop.  The addition of whiteboarding software and touch capability makes it perfect for collaborating.

Now you have it

Both the internal and OPS PC’s run full Windows 10 Professional which means that they can join to your domain and be managed like any other Windows device on your network.  

Because it runs full Windows 10, it can run any application and not just those from the Windows Store.

As for networking, both PCs can connect to the network using an ethernet cable or using built in wireless LAN.  I’d recommend a wired connection if it’s available unless your wireless is top notch and you can guaranty a steady connection.  Both PCs support Miracast, so you can use them to wirelessly project from a device in the room.  No special apps or dongles needed. 

Both PCs also have Avocor Note pre-loaded.  Avocor Note is a whiteboarding application that takes advantage of the touch technology and the features of Windows 10 to give you a superb writing and drawing experience.

The touch technology in the Avocor F series is called InGlass™ from FlatFrog.  InGlass™ is different to traditional P-CAP or Infrared (IR) based touch.  P-CAP uses a wire mesh which is sandwiched in between the layers of the cover glass and the LCD module. 

P-CAP was introduced with the first iPhone and is sometimes referred to as capacitive touch.  The wire mesh becomes a conductivity sensor grid which detects the touch action and location of the users’ finger.  P-CAP is apparently meant for smaller screens such as on smart phones and tablets.  This is because it is easier to hide a small mesh.  A larger screen means a larger grid.  I have seen some large displays that use P-CAP and I must admit, I did see the wire mesh.  The last thing you want to see in your large format 4K room display is a wire mesh.  P-CAP handles multi-touch relatively well since all you need is to track the conductivity points on the mesh, but the problem is the scale.  Another problem of using a conductive touch is that you need to touch it using a conductive material.  The finger is conductive, so that works fine.  Ever try to use your smart phone on a cold day with gloves on?  I know you can get special “E-tip” gloves, but what about use in the medical profession?  Those sterile surgical gloves are certainly not conductive.

IR Touch, by contrast uses infrared light which is projected in from the top and one side of the screen to form, you guessed it, a grid.  On the opposite side and the bottom are the detectors.  All of this is placed in the bezel of the screen and on top of the LCD panel.  When a user touches the screen, it breaks the beam at a point on the grid and then figures out where they’re touching it.  The biggest problem with IR touch is that it’s design limits the number of simultaneous touch points. 

InGlass™ from FlatFrog is different to both.  An emitter injects light waves into the glass of the display.  A sensor picks up the tough points as disturbances (in the Force) and an algorithm figures out where it was touched.  Because the light waves are essentially flowing freely through the core of the glass, it can detect many more touch points than traditional technologies.  InGlass™ from FlatFrog can detect as many as 80 simultaneous touch points.  This number of touch points can be used to enable things such as palm detection and rejection, multi-touch gestures such as scroll, pinch and pull to zoom or resize, multi finger erasers and the ability to move objects.  Additionally, InGlass™ from FlatFrog has more than 1000 pressure sensors which detect the pressure of the stylus in addition to the point.  The pressure sensors help with determining the type of device that is being used to touch the screen.  For instance, it can tell the difference between a passive pen, a naked finger, a glove or a palm.  In addition, the pressure sensors enable variable line thickness when writing or drawing using a passive pen.  If you want a thin line, press lightly, thick line, press harder.  By contrast, the Surface line of tablets and the iPad Pro use an active pen which places the pressure sensor in the pen instead of the screen.  The result, a really expensive pen/pencil that only works on the device, runs on batteries and could easily be lost. 

What you end up with is a superb writing and drawing experience.  I tried all sorts of things while I had it.  I wrote in web pages, documents, including presentations, I wrote and drew in OneNote and, of course, I used the Avocor Note application for everything from writing to drawing diagrams using simple shapes and even used it for some fairly detailed drawings. 

The Avocor screen uses this InGlass touch which takes advantage of standard features in Windows 10 such as profile detection for the pointing device and Inking support. 

For profile detection, it can tell the difference between a passive pen and a finger and adjust the output.  In fact, it supports mouse, finger and passive pen profiles and fist (back of the fingers) erase.  The F Series I tested supports 10 points of touch and 1 passive pen.  Newer designs from Avocor will support more.  The P Series supports 4 passive pens and 40 points of touch.  The X Series will support 4 passive pens and 2 active pens as well as 40 points of touch.

The Inking support is all over Windows 10.  In the Edge Browser, you can use the Inking capability to mark up a web page.

You can also use it across the Office Suite to mark-up documents as you present.
The Avocor screen is capable of 4K resolution at 60Hz depending on the PC you use.  If you use the OPS PC, you should be able to present at least HD, but probably UHD video with ease.

What you get is an excellent screen for sharing content such as PowerPoint and video, either using the internal or OPS PC or by presenting from another source, wired or wirelessly using Miracast.  And you get a truly amazing touch screen experience that transforms your drawings.

How I used it

I connected it wirelessly to my home router.  For video and audio devices I connected my Logitech Group.  This is a USB speakerphone and an HD camera with 260° of Pan, 130° of Tilt and 10x lossless Zoom and a 90° Field of View.  

I signed into a Skype for Business account remotely over an internet connection.  I tried it with a user account as well as a room account.

I used it to attend scheduled meetings and start ad-hoc meetings in Skype for Business with audio, video and sharing.  I shared my desktop, a single app and a PowerPoint with embedded video as well as a separate UHD video file and all worked flawlessly when using the OPS PC.  The internal PC struggled with the UHD file, but that was really to be expected.  I also presented the built-in whiteboard app in Skype for Business.  I’ll stop there, this really needs an overhaul.  Especially when you compare it to the Avocor Note application and other similar apps I’ve used.  I also shared OneNote and used the built-in whiteboard as well as the Avocor Note application.  The advantage of using the built-in Skype for Business Whiteboard app is its interactivity.  Meaning that you and other participants can draw on the same space at the same time.  By contrast, the external whiteboarding apps are really only meant for one way presenting, although you can “give control” to a participant and let them draw.

I only tested it with Skype for Business, but I could have used it with the Cisco Spark App in just the same way.  Sadly, I can’t say the same about Google’s Jamboard software, which only runs on Android and Chrome OS.  However, one solution would be to dual boot one of the PCs to Chrome OS and install the Jamboard application from the Google Play store.

I tested it with Miracast to present my Surface to the screen.  This worked well.  I tested connecting a laptop to the screen for displaying contact over HDMI and VGA (old school).  And I also tested connecting my Surface using HDMI and USB to present my screen and extend touch support from my Surface.

What can it do?

You can use it along with the built in PCs as a meeting room screen for wired and wireless presenting, watching content from the hard drive, USB or the internet, access your company’s UC platform of choice to start and attend meetings which include audio, video and sharing.  And you can use it as an interactive whiteboard using the built-in app or with Windows Inking support in the Edge Browser and in Microsoft Office. 
Because the screen is so large, you can easily “snap” applications to halves or quarters of the screen to use them side by side.

Add your favourite audio and video device and it becomes a room system that you can use with your favourite UC or collaboration app.

What else can it do?

Add a TV tuner or use a streaming service and you can watch that big sporting event in your meeting room, after hours of course.  Be sure to get your boss’ permission of course.

My kids loved it for family Pictionary.  

And my daughter loved watching Youtube.

Is it any good?

Yes, definitely.  The screen resolution is as good as a high-end TV.  The Touch experience is superb.  Smooth and lag free.  The build quality is also very good.  It is big, heavy and expensive looking.  There are plenty of ports along the side for wired connections and also quick access ports on the front so you don’t have to go hunting around the back to plug anything in, or worse yet, risk someone moving all of the cables.  There are also quick access buttons on the front to switch between sources and PCs as well as the volume and a few other things.

What would I change?

Really the only thing I would change is the internal PC.  I’d spec it to a reasonable level so you didn’t necessarily need to buy the optional OPS PC.  That said, I would probably want both so you could quickly switch between the two or have a spare if one went wrong.  Also, if the internal PC goes wrong, it isn’t just a quick swap like it is with the OPS PC.  The whole think would have to go back for repair.  Perhaps ditch the PC which is built onto the main board and give it two OPS PC slots.


As you can probably tell, I really liked the Avocor screen.  I can definitely see this as a useful addition to meeting rooms and classrooms.  If you also use UC and collaboration apps such as Microsoft Skype for Business and Teams and Cisco Spark or Webex along with audio and video devices, you also get a room system.

Best of all, you can use it with more than one UC or collaboration tool. 

Let’s be clear.  This isn’t a Surface Hub, a Spark Board or a Jamboard.  There will be features on each of these that will make them unique and compelling.  What it is, is a multi-use, multi-platform meetings and collaboration solution that makes for a compelling alternative.


That question again. 

When you choose your next UC enabled interactive panel for your meeting rooms, should you choose one that only works with a single platform or back end or one that works with any platform?

I would definitely recommend these as an alternative to the vendor proprietary solutions as a multi-use tool for meeting spaces, auditoriums and classrooms. 

I’ve already seen some of these in place and in use with Skype for Business.  This particular customer had tried the Smart solution and the Surface Hub but decided on the Avocor solution because it represented the best value for money.  They said that they could use it for more than just Skype for Business (my point) and at the price, they were able to get more than one for the price of the others.

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Don’t just take my word for it.  

Last week I noticed this posting and it shows that even Polycom is using InGlass™ on the new Pano product.


More Information  

Avocor create interactive display solutions designed specifically to enhance collaboration in meeting and learning environments. Watch their video to find out why their flagship range, the F series is different by design.  The F Series Avocor panels are available in 65, 75 and 84 inch sizes.  For more information, please visit http://www.avocor.com.

For my test, I used the Avocor F-6510 display (MSRP £4,549), the Avocor Soundbar (MSRP £149), Motorised Height Adjustable trolley (MSRP £781) and the OPS PC i3 (MSRP £685).  I also used the Logitech Group (MSRP £999)

FlatFrog patented InGlass™ portfolio includes 42, 55, 65, 75, 84, 85, 86” multi-touch products. The technology supports touch, glove, passive or active pen on Windows, Android and Linux. The superior clarity combined with precision multitouch touch or pen is perfectly suitable for Interactive TV, Video Wall, Digital Signage, Control Centers, Gaming, Hospitality Displays, AIO PCs, Education and Corporate Collaboration. For more information, please visit http://www.flatfrog.com.


Thanks for reading.

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