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360-degree cameras might have been used a bit before COVID, but now they are a mainstay in every conference room, classroom, etc. Meeting Owl has been the gold standard here with its tight integration with macOS and Windows, but also easy management with the Meeting Owl iOS app. If you’re looking for a budget option, the COOLPO 360 degree camera is rough 2/3rds the cost with a robust feature set, making it a great option if you’re looking to upgrade multiple rooms or even upgrade your home office.

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The COOLPO camera boasts a 4K resolution, four microphones, and a 360-degree camera that will make it an excellent addition to any conference room or classroom. After using the Owl cameras for many months, the COOLPO is a workable alternative with solid hardware specs.

macOS setup

Getting this camera configured on macOS is dead simple. While there is software you can install to add some additional features, most of the magic of the camera is in the hardware. All you need to do is plug it into USB A, and it’ll appear as a camera and a microphone option in Zoom, Google Hangouts, etc. The ability to use the camera without custom drivers in your favorite video conference solution comes in handy when new macOS versions are released.

If you want to install the software, you’ll access some additional settings, a whiteboard, etc. It brings some excellent options, but it’s not required. Though If you’re setting up a permanent computer in a conference room I would recommend installing it.

Hardware

Starting with the microphones, I was blown away by the quality for the price here. It includes four microphones and is ideal for an area around 15 feet from the device.

Camera-wise, it’s 4k resolution with a 360 degree looks around. When the microphones detect new noise, the camera rotates around to show that person in the view.

Sound-wise, it’s perfect for a conference room or a school classroom. It’s not loud enough for a larger lecture hall, though. On the other hand, the speaker system is 360 degrees to match the camera lens, so everyone in a meeting room will hear it just fine.

Overall, it’s comparable hardware-wise to the Meeting Owl (considered the gold standard) but at a lower price point. My only complaint about the hardware is the custom cable type on the camera input. I would prefer to see a USB-C connector in future versions.

App integration

As I mentioned before, it works excellently with Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype, Spike Video, etc. In addition, because it appears as a standard camera and microphone to macOS, it can be used with any software that supports camera and mic selection. One thing to keep in mind: it doesn’t work with FaceTime, nor does it support custom video backgrounds in Zoom.

Overall thoughts

If you’re in the market for a 360-degree camera, the COOLPO model is going to be hard to beat. It’s easy to configure on macOS while having solid hardware. It’s an easy choice if you need to upgrade the AV setup in a classroom or a conference room to continue with virtual learning or hybrid meetings where a portion of the people are in the meeting, but there are also people dialing in remotely. With a solid build quality, the COOLPO 360 degree camera checks all the boxes for a solid choice for Mac users needing a conference room camera.

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Apple @ Work: COOLPO 360 degree camera is a perfect low-cost alternative for plug and play macOS video conferencing
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