President Joe Biden’s Zoom setup starts with a $7,000 rollable touchscreen

President Joe Biden tweeted his Zoom rig on Friday and it looked so good I suddenly had to know all about it. The tweet wasn’t about his video equipment, of course; it was to pat themselves on the back for falling gas prices. But I don’t want to talk about that. I also don’t want to talk about the chart next to the screen, which is obviously just put there for this photo and is very hilarious. I want to talk about the large, easel-like Zoom installation for Biden as he sits at a desk in the White House residence.

It makes sense that politicians have the best video chat equipment, right? No one has more to gain from looking good on video, and no one has more to lose from a dropped call, low resolution cameras or that thing where you can only hear half the words they say and eventually you make Bitcoin is the official currency of the United States. Zoom diplomacy is the name of the game these days, and you need to bring your best game. In addition, senior government officials have been making video calls around the world for many years. They know how this works.

Gas prices are falling at one of the fastest rates we’ve seen in more than a decade – we’re not giving up on cutting costs even further. pic.twitter.com/suEKuKXyKP

— President Biden (@POTUS) July 22, 2022

I’m pretty sure Biden is watching a neat plate, which is made by a Norwegian company that is only a few years old. The board is a dedicated video and collaboration gadget with a 65-inch 4K display, an integrated touchscreen and whiteboard tool, and a 12-megapixel camera with 4x digital zoom. It’s a lot like Google’s Jamboard or Microsoft’s Surface Hub, and Neat’s gear works with both Teams and Zoom. (This one is on Zoom, it seems, just like the White House) Using Zoom for Government for a while.) The whole rig for Biden is about six feet long and weighs about 125 pounds. It also costs $7,280 as he has it configured – although he doesn’t appear to be using the $760 Scheduling Display or the $760 Controller, so he exercises some tax responsibility there.

The White House must like the device because it has been in use in the Oval Office since just after Biden’s inauguration, roll and swivel to either face the couch at the office or Biden at the Resolute Desk. Neat confirmed at the time that it was, in fact, a Neat Board, although the company seemed surprised to see his product in the Oval Office. (The company has not responded to my request for comment.) The whole setup is impressive, with Biden sitting comfortably at his desk and the camera ideally positioned so he looks engaged, but the participants aren’t staring into his nose.

I have a few notes, however, Mr. President, if I may. For starters, you really need a mic on your desk: you’re a long way from the mic, and I know Zoom and its partners have gotten better at isolating audio, but you’re still going to sound like your yelling from the other. side of a football field. Maybe replace one of those two desk phones with a dedicated Zoom microphone? (Or just build one in the desk and in the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office. I’m sure Rutherford B. Hayes wouldn’t mind.) Bring a few more things to your background, too, so it’s not just a flat looking wall behind you. Maybe a plant or, I don’t know, those huge flags that usually sit right behind you. And while I’m being picky, maybe I’ll clean up the desk a bit. Or at least put your coffee cup on a coaster.

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There are all kinds of video conferencing platforms around the White House these days. For the most official and highest stakes, Biden seems to prefer to set up a high-end camera and feed it into Zoom, just as he does a standard TV broadcast. But in the Roosevelt Room, a fairly standard camera hangs over a TV conference platform, and Biden always seems to be at the head of the table facing it. (There are also microphones on the table!) The Situation Room has a special setup and there is also a camera and Sharp TV built into the wall of Camp David. If this whole “democracy” thing doesn’t work, the White House would be a great WeWork.

I tried to figure out how Biden’s stance compares to former President Donald Trump’s, mostly to no avail. Before the pandemic, Trump was videoconferencing from a colossal platform in Mar-a-Lago, but during the pandemic… I can’t find much. Trump did a lot of video conferencing, including from the Oval Office, but there is much less evidence of what he used. However, looking at how he looks in various videos and Zoom grids, it certainly seems that he prefers the nice camera approach. And it seems he preferred regular phone calls anyway.

For a more viable presidential Zoom setup, I might recommend former President Barack Obama’s setup: an iPad on a stand. In a recent video, you can video chat Obama from his desk with an iPad Pro on an adjustable desk stand. I can’t say for sure, but I think so the Lisen tablet stand, which you can get on Amazon for $24. It’s not quite as nice a setup as Biden’s, and we here at Custom Hour still have mixed feelings about Center Stage on the iPad, but it’s still definitely better than your laptop.

Oh, and here’s the most important lesson you can learn from Presidential Zoom behavior: turn off your self-image. In practically every video conference I could find, Biden’s own feed was not on the screen. It’s good for your mental health, it’s good for your focus and it’s just better than staring at yourself all day. None of us need to see our own face anymore, not even when we’re president.

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