Google Jamboard Digital Whiteboard Trial Meeting can also be fun
Working in a modern office is a rather strange experience. You may not speak to your colleagues for hours at a time, but you've been communicating through chat software. Even meetings are held on monitors, not face-to-face.
Over the years, Google has been using tools like Google Documents and Cloud Hard Disks to improve our office experience. Now, their attempts have touched on physical space. Jamboard is a digital networking whiteboard similar to Microsoft Surface Hub, whose function is to help colleagues communicate and collaborate.
Google Jamboard sells for nearly $5,000, which is not cheap at all, but at least a lot lower than Surface Hub. The device contains relatively basic functions, but from the initial trial experience, it has been able to make you collaborate with colleagues who cannot share your room in an interesting and practical way.
Jamboard's basic usage principle is similar to that of ordinary whiteboard. You walk up to it, pick up a pen, and start writing. But the similarities between the two are just that. Jamboard is equipped with a 55-inch 4K screen, and the content you write on a Jamboard will be synchronized to other connected Jamboard, computer and tablet screens.
Jamboard's use is fairly simple and surprisingly interesting. As long as you write something on it, it will appear on other connected devices. It provides tools to help you draw graphics/sketches of different sizes and colors, and handwriting recognition is quite accurate.
If you want to brainstorm with colleagues who are not there, it is obviously not possible to use ordinary whiteboards. But with Jamboard, it all becomes very simple. Employees in different offices can write their ideas on the screen, and others can immediately see them and add their own opinions.
Jamboard also has many more digital features, such as adding photos, screenshots, emoticons and stickers, or taking pictures or videoconferencing via a built-in camera. We are quite skilled in using these functions. At the same time, we can clearly see that Jamboard is not used to present the final stage of presentation, such as documents or PPTs.
Google has already begun to consider allowing Jamboard to integrate other office tools. This may mean that Jamboard will switch to Trello, a professional application, or add new tools and widgets to the existing experience.
Jamboard's simplicity is also different from Microsoft Surface Hub. How does Jamboard stand out from the competition of the latter? To this question, Jonathan Rochelle, director of product management at Google, responded that they did not intend to make Jamboard a computer.
Surface Hub is much more expensive than Jamboard. Its 55-inch 1080p model sells for $8999 (about 62,000 yuan), while the 84-inch 4K version costs as much as $21,999 (about 151,000 yuan). The biggest difference between Surface Hub and Jamboard is that it's basically a giant Windows integrated PC that can run applications or perform complex operations that can only be performed on Windows PCs. Google's product runs only one application -- it's like buying a notebook that only runs Google documents
"Jamboard is not going to be a computer on the wall. It's an absolute collaborative whiteboard. Surface Hub is more like a Windows device hanging on the wall. Rochelle explains, "If you hang Jamboard and Surface Hub on the wall at the same time, people can walk up to Jamboard and start using it immediately. But in the face of a wall-mounted computer like Surface Hub, the situation is obviously different.
You can see this as a major limitation on Jamboard, but these limitations are also one of the reasons why it can be so concise and easy. Even so, I hope it will become more complex, especially in video conferencing.
Despite the built-in camera, using Jamboard for video chat is a bit strange. In video conferencing, Jamboard offers only two modes to choose from: displaying the picture taken by the camera or the content on the screen. That is to say, it can't display the content of the other party and what they write on the screen at the same time. TJ Varghese, Jamboard's head of development, explains that it's a bit strange to photograph everyone's headspace. So the user should put another camera in the other part of the room to observe each other.
To test this function, I contacted Lauren Goode, a colleague in San Francisco. During a video call, she appears in a small video chat dialog box above the screen. But most of the time, she couldn't see the author's face, because Jamboard was set to the mode of the content of the display screen.
"It's strange that I can't see you at all when I switch to that mode," Lauren said. "I hope it provides a way to show both at the same time."
If you can see pictures of colleagues writing on whiteboards, the whole experience will become more personal and collaborative, and you will also see important conversational clues, such as whether your colleagues are about to write something or are waiting for you to write something. Even without video footage, the whole interaction can go on, but it still feels a little strange.
Jamboard's camera quality is not particularly good, and the volume is very small. But Varghese points out that the audio problem is a software bug that will be fixed before the product goes on sale.