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Full Featured, Ultralight Video Conferencing Kit

I’ve been experimenting with lightweight mobile presentation equipment for years. A conventional solution of a laptop, projector and speakerphone is pretty standard. But to get usable video conferencing you have to use a webcam or position the laptop facing the audience.

The setup below gives the audience a relatively large projected image, a lightweight video conference camera on the iPad that can be moved around the room, and a portable speakerphone for voice conferencing.

(My iPhone isn’t shown in the image above, since I used it to take the picture.)

Here are the key components:

1. Any iPad 2 or newer ($400 and up, depending on features, from apple.com)
2. Dell m110 projector ($500 from dell.com)
3. Apple TV ($100 from apple.com)
4. HDMI cable ($10 or less from monoprice.com)
5. Monster Clarity portable Bluetooth speaker ($80 from amazon.com)
6. Verizon 4510L MiFi (around $50 for the device with contract, $50 per month for data, from verizonwireless.com)
7. FuzeMeeting.com Pro account ($70/month from fuzemeeting.com) and iPad app (free)
8. Cell phone that supports Hands-Free Audio and Headset Profiles (I use an iPhone, but any phone that supports these Bluetooth profiles should work)
9. Stump iPad Stand ($25 from stumpstand.com)
10. Optional: Apple Wireless Bluetooth keyboard ($70 from apple.com)
11. Optional: Tripod for projector ($10-25 from dell.com or elsewhere)
12. Optional: Extension cord / surge protector (less than $20)

Here’s how it works.

Connect the Apple TV to the Dell m110 projector with the HDMI cable.

Then, connect the iPad WiFi and Apple TV WiFi to the Verizon MiFi.  This ensures that the iPad and Apple TV are on the same WiFi network.

Turn on Airplay mirroring on the iPad, choosing the Apple TV as the destination device. Everything on the iPad screen will now be projected.

Connect your phone and Monster Clarity speakerphone and then start your FuzeMeeting.

Choose to have FuzeMeeting call your phone, instead of trying to use VoIP. This means the voice portion of the call is going over the cell network, lightening the load on the iPad and MiFi just a bit. This setup works best in areas with 4G coverage. (It may be possible to use Verizon’s Wireless Hotspot feature on the new iPad to share the Internet connection to the Apple TV. However, I’d want to test the performance before recommending this.)

There you have it — a fully portable video meeting kit you can easily carry in a backpack!

I’d be very curious to know if other people have created similar lightweight, portable systems. Let me know in the comments below!

(One thing on my wish list… It would be nice if there were projectors with integrated AirPlay mirroring support.)

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