We recently need to replace some Crestron hardware and servers for one of our clients and so we investigated quite a few products to make sure we were going down the least cost TOTAL Cost of Ownership road.
What to Look For In a Room Reservation System:
There are three things you need to figure out when looking at room booking systems:
- JUST BOOKINGS vs ROOM MANAGEMENT: Do you just want to have a screen displaying the status of a room and allow staff to book the room on-the-fly OR do you want something to control projectors, lights, blinds and reservations?
- HARDWARE vs HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE: Do you want to buy an end to end software and hardware solution, or just buy the software and hardware (tablets/screens) separately.
- ADD ONS: Do you care about add-on’s like beacons, a cell phone app or an Outlook plug in?
- just wanted a panel out in front of each boardroom, meeting room, huddle room and focus room that tied into their Exchange backend to show and allow users to make bookings.
- wanted a single hardware/software solution and did not want the complexity of sourcing screen separately.
- We looked at both options anyway and found that after 3 years (system should last 7+ years) the total cost of ownership was the same so why not get it all from one source.
- did not want clutter so add-ons were actually evaluated a negative
- Unfortunately many of these companies have tried to differentiate themselves by offering cell phone apps, web consoles and other perceived goodies that, from 25 years of experience, usually just don’t get used by staff and add needless complexity.
To make things more difficult, many of these companies only work with dealers with makes pricing and features even more difficult to ascertain.
What Room Reservation System We Sourced:
In the end we settled on CRESTRON TSS-7’s (NOT the 752’s) because they are a standalone solution. They only require an email account on either GMail, Exchange or Hosted Exchange (like Office365) so staff can reserve rooms using Outlook Calendar or whatever Calendar they use on the cell phones, without an add-in. All we had to do was:
- power them up (in our case with PoE) and flash them to the most current firmware
- configure them to look at the appropriate mail box
- mount them in front of each room
We know Crestron makes solid, attractive hardware. What we did not know was that they make TSS-7’s that do NOT require Crestron’s very expensive Fusion management software. The TSS-7 let us eliminate the cost and complexity of having a management server like we used to have with Crestron RoomView.
Take note that:
- the TSS-752 is physically nearly identical product to the TSS-7 but is older and REQUIRES the very expensive Crestron Fusion server to work
- the TSW-7 is physically nearly identical product to the TSS-7 but the TSW’s can do much more than just reserve the room so they also need the very expensive Crestron Fusion server to function
Room Booking System Options:
These two tables show the prices and information for a series of popular office reservation systems:
|Room Reservation Complete Systems||Notes||Per Room Cost||Server Cost||Direct Connect To Mail Server||Medium (6″ to 8″) Panel Cost||Large (10″ to 13″) Panel Cost|
|Arrive||Server Required & includes 5 Rooms||$2,000||No|
|Condeco Touch Screen Tablet||To Hard To Get Pricing||$42/month||–|
|Crestron TPMC-4SM||Needs Fusion Server – Many units on eBay||–||$13,000||No||$750||n/a|
|Crestron TSS-7||Will connect directly to Gmail or O365 Mail Servers||–||–||Yes||$1,600||$1,800|
|Crestron TSS-752||Needs Fusion Server – Many units on eBay||–||$13,000||No||$1,300||$1,500|
|Extron||No subscriptions or fees – Need too much info to get detailed pricing so we gave up in frustration||no charge||no charge||Yes||$2,000||$2,600|
|Joan Manager||Black & White – Wireless Only||$12/month||–||?||$500||$1,200|
|Reserva Room Signs||7″ panels are not PoE||no charge||no charge||No||$1,100||$1,200|
|VISION VFS2||Simple – No Contracts||–||–||–||–||$900|
|SOFTWARE Product (You source your own screens)||Notes||Per Room Cost||Server Cost|
|AskCody||App for many different types of screens inc. iPad, Samsung Tab, Qbic TD||$20/month||–|
|Meeting Room App||App for many different types of screens inc. iPad, Samsung Tab, Qbic TD||$200/year||–|
|ResourceExpress||Pricing Requested but No Response|
|Robin||App for iPad, Samsung Tab A or Kindle Fire||$20/month||–|
|Teem – Alternative to Crestron Fusion Server||Just Software – No Hardware – Will Work with Crestron TSS-752 & More||$150/year||$250|