ZDNet recently featured the Ohmni telepresence robot among the best telepresence robots in 2020.
Best telepresence robots for business in 2020: Double Robotics, OhmniLabs, Meeting Owl, and more
The best telepresence hardware to go beyond video conferencing and make remote work truly collaborative.
How can remote workers make their presence known in their organization? How can enterprises overcome the limitations of video conferencing and enable a level of communication and collaboration that approaches on-site interaction?
Telepresence robots have been on the scene for the better part of a decade, though as global upheavals reshape work and reorient attitudes toward remote participation, the technology may finally be primed to break out of its niche user base and go mainstream. The timing is fortuitous: The market is now mature enough that consumers have choices when it comes to feature set and price point. As companies downsize physical locations and revamp their policies toward distributed workforces, telepresence offers both technological benefits and collaboration advantages that will appeal to some employers and workers alike.
The current telepresence lineup reflects the range of use cases and intended end-users out there, including a handful of models designed for specific fields and workflows, as well as others that fit organizations of any size.
These are our picks for the best telepresence robots out there right now.
Disclosure: ZDNet may earn an affiliate commission from some of the products featured on this page. ZDNet and the author were not compensated for this independent review.
Double Robotics has been one among a few telepresence robotics companies offering lower-priced models focused on core functionality: Mobile video conferencing that’s drop-dead simple to use. Affectionately called a Segue with an iPad mount, the Double 2 did something very important for the technology by giving consumers a palatable entry point to the world of telepresence that required neither a massive capital outlay or a master’s degree in robotics.
Though now superseded by its predecessor (see below), the Double 2 is still a tremendous value, particularly if your organization uses iPads already or the IT department has one lying around.
A wide-angle lens, motorized height control to meet your coworkers at eye level, and automatic stabilization and parking make this bare-bones telepresence model drop-dead simple to use.
Double is still selling the Double 2 through Amazon and third-party suppliers for $2,749.
In the battle for low-cost, truly robotic telepresence, OhmniLabs has been giving rival Double a major run for its money.
At under $2200, the Ohmni Robot weighs just 20 pounds and folds up, meaning you can take it anywhere, but still manages all the functionality you need in a telepresence robot. It features wide-angle, low-latency streaming at HD+ resolution and real-time full-resolution zoom to read whiteboards or see fine details at full UHD 4K detail.
A secondary dedicated wide-angle navigation camera lets you see around the base of Ohmni while you’re driving, which you can do remotely from just about any standard device. The unit features a bright 10.1-inch screen and integrated Jabra speakerphone for great audio. It doesn’t have automatic rising and lowering like Double, but the robot can move its head side to side for natural interactions.
OhmniLabs is also thoughtful about who might use the device, which has dual-band Wi-Fi radio with full 2.4GHz + 5GHz support and optimized background scanning and roaming for large spaces. Full 802.1x support means it should be simple to run on business or school networks.