Avaya CU360 Collaboration Unit Delivers on Promises but Should You Buy One?

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Avaya CU360 home
Home screen for Avaya CU360

Freelancers, startups, MSMEs and some modern offices are facing a weirdly simillar issue. They all have these new age offices, modern technology – hardware and software and mostly an eclectic mix of individuals raring to go. But one thing they are all missing (or are short in availibity of) is the good old meeting room.

people in a meeting room
Photo by Jopwell from Pexels

Whatever your company’s jargon for such rooms, ultimately it’s purpose is for teams to come together and collaborate. And I don’t just mean the team in office. Sometimes your teammates are travelling, working from home or simply located in other locations and you need to come together and brainstorm, present or finalise projects. Small offices may have one of these and they are always overbooked and not that big offices have vacant meeting rooms either. Companies worked around this by having one person/2 persons/5 people rooms alongside big rooms but larger the company more the people and meetings. Als these rooms need to have proper video and voice conferencing equipment that are neither cheap, nor modular or easy to move around (portable) and god forbid anyone could figure out which cable went where and numerous operational hooplas.

For freelancers or people working from home, using their webcams for video conferencing and collaboration is great but it does not necessarily give much options for collaboration. Also what if you’re a small freelance team or a remote team which wants to be on system? This means the need for a portable ‘huddle room’ (Avaya speak for a 5-person meeting room) is a real one and CU360 is actually working on that.

avaya CU360 all-in-one video collaboration unit
avaya CU360 all-in-one video collaboration unit

Avaya, while launching the CU360 in July, had promised a 360-degree complete solution to all our collaboration related needs. And now, after spending two weeks with the device the ReviewStreet team thinks they have delivered on the promise.

The device came to us in a need little package which once opened gave us the main device unit along with power connector (with multiple switchable ends for multiple kind of sockets). Below that rests the hdmi and other cables along with the super-functional remote.

CU360 in use
Just place CU360 on top of your TV and you are all set.

I took the CU360 main unit and placed it on top of our LED TV, connected the HDMI and power cables and as promised I was ready for a meeting within 5 minutes- as promised. I was really delighted by the quality of video along with the level of control available for camera.

CU 360 interface
CU 360 interface for AEMO calls

I launched directly into Avaya’s CU360 ecosystem from where I could set up meetings with Avaya users. But in today’s world, you may need to call someone on Skype or Hangouts or Zoom and that’s why I exited to the android main interface to install and use some of these popular apps. In fact, that’s one of the reasons why this device interested us in the first place.

Avaya CU360 home
Home screen for Avaya CU360

And that’s where I hit the first hurdle, I was unable to install any apps as the ‘Apps and tool’ app – Avaya’s version of an appstore – didn’t work for us. When contacted Avaya’s tech team told us that the issue has been fixed for new devices and also told us a way to sideload the apps – which all took just a couple of minutes. Yes! support works better than promise.

CU 360 apps interface
Apps screen for CU360

From there on, working and setting up meetings on the CU360 was a breeze. There’s the need to point out that the camera controls, pan and zoom options only work inside the native app and you may have to make do with basic camera input on third party apps but I was able to make and take calls on Skype and host or join meetings on Zoom without any major issues. I even tried moving the camera and focussing it using the native app before switching to Skype but it didn’t work and the camera went to default input.

the amazing CU360 remote
CU360 remote has an amazing qwerty keyboard on backside

I need to give a special nod to the CU360’s remote. The two sided remote is one the handiest input devices I have ever used. The front side had all basic operations chalked out including pointer input and it worked well while the backside had the neat qwerty keyboard which was very responsive and east to use. Both worked well and added the CU360 experience vastly. Kudos to the team on this one.

The fact that the CU360’s android experience was similar to a phone or a tab also played a great role in making us feel at home with the device. There was no need to be confused or worried.

The quick technical support was also a plus. The engineer on the other end explained the issue to me on phone and gave me a solution. He also told me how Avaya is fixing it for all other customers which showed a great level of attention and support. Also Avaya is bundling free minutes of its AEMO service along with the device, though not sure how many young startups or freelancers may take to it.

Overall, I had a great experience with the device and think it delivers on all the promises it has made. But I still am not sure if investing Rs 70,000+ on this device is for everyone. For a solo freelancer it may not be a worthwhile investment but it may work for those startups or MSMEs which work out of new offices where conference rooms are yet to be built. A simple 32-40 inch LED coupled with the CU360 may be a great solution for your meeting room needs. Our resident SME Guru Faiz Askari had great suggestions for where Avaya should target these devices at and I still think those are great options.

So if you want a portable meeting room for your home or one that accompanies you on travels or are simply looking for a simple video-conferencing setup for your office, you should check the CU360 out for sure; it will deliver the goods.

 

 

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