Understanding Neat and Zoom Pairing on Neat devices
Last updated on December 8, 2021
If you have setup a Neat device in your environment, you would have been asked to ‘pair’ it with another device or enter a Zoom ‘pairing code’ during the installation phase. This article aims to answer some of the basic questions around pairing and more.
What is pairing?
In simple terms, pairing is a process that allows two devices to be aware of each other’s existence and perform a set of tasks.
When it comes to Neat devices, we have two types or ‘levels’ of pairing. But before that, we need to understand a bit more about the software that runs on Neat devices.
Neat has a unique partnership with Zoom and our devices run special software packages that are developed by both Neat and Zoom teams. When Neat software packages are created, it contains both Neat and Zoom software parts and it is not possible to only upgrade the ‘Neat’ firmware or ‘Zoom software’ separately on a Neat device.
Broadly speaking, there are two parts to the software package:
- The Neat firmware, developed by the Neat team, controls all Neat specific features, settings and hardware elements of the device. Neat Bar, Neat Bar Pro Neat Pad and Neat Board each runs its own type of Neat firmware (e.g. prefixed as ‘NFB1’ (Bar), ‘NFD1’ (Bar Pro), ‘NFA1’ (Pad) and ‘NFC1’ (Board)).
- The Zoom Room software, developed by the Zoom team, controls all Zoom Room specific features. Both Bar and Board run the same Zoom Room Appliance software, while Neat Pad runs either the Zoom Room Controller or Zoom Room Scheduling Display software.
The two levels of pairing therefore are:
- Neat level pairing: This occurs between two Neat devices’ Neat firmware. This is currently only done between a Neat Bar and a Neat Pad or a Neat Bar Pro and a Neat Pad.
- Zoom level pairing: This occurs between two Neat devices’ Zoom Room software, i.e. between a Zoom Room Appliance (running on Bar/Board) and Zoom Room Controller (running on Pad) OR between Zoom Room Appliance (on Bar/Board) and Zoom Room Scheduling Display (on Pad).
Neat Bar/Bar Pro and Neat Pad
Neat level pairing: Neat Pad and Neat Bar or Neat Bar Pro
The Neat level pairing only happens between a Neat Bar and a Neat Pad OR a Neat Bar Pro and a Neat Pad.
When you first setup a Neat Bar or Bar Pro, you need to drive the installation from a Neat Pad (e.g. ‘Choose setup’ -> Setup Neat Bar with a Controller). During this process, the Neat Pad will ask you to select and pair with your Neat Bar or Bar Pro. This is known as ‘Neat level pairing’ between the Bar or Bar Pro and the corresponding Pad. This allows you to control all Neat-level settings of the Bar/Bar Pro through your Neat Pad (e.g. network, video options, audio options, reset/restart etc.).
Successful Neat level pairing between Bar/Bar Pro and Pad will mean the following:
- Pad and Bar/Bar Pro are able to discover each other (and maintain pairing) using mDNS protocol (also known as multicast DNS). These multicast packets need to travel between the two devices at all times. Usually multicast packets are allowed within the same subnet but blocked between different subnets. This is why the Pad and Bar must be on the same subnet. You will need to make sure mDNS is enabled on your subnet. See: Network and Firewall requirements for Neat devices.
- During initial discovery/setup, Pad and Bar can also communicate over IP address on TCP ports 46000 and 46001. Once setup is complete, the Neat firmware will send encrypted communication over TCP port 8443.
- For proper operation, Pad and Bar/Bar Pro need to maintain Neat level pairing at all times. You can find the Pairing status in Neat’s System Settings and it should always say ‘Paired with Neat Bar’.
- For more information about Neat’s network and firewall requirements, please see this article: https://support.neat.no/article/network-and-firewall-requirements-for-neat/
Zoom level pairing: Neat Pad and Neat Bar/Bar Pro
Once you have successfully paired the Neat Bar/Bar Pro with a Neat Pad, the Bar/Bar Pro and Pad will launch their respective Zoom Room software. The Bar/Bar Pro will launch the Zoom Room Appliance software and the Pad will launch the Zoom Room Controller software. In order to operate as a single Zoom room, these two will now need to pair at the Zoom level.
Successful Zoom level pairing between a Bar/Bar Pro and Pad will mean the following:
- The Zoom software running on Pad and Bar/Bar Pro are able to communicate over IP address on TCP port 9090.
- The Zoom Room Application software (running on Bar or Bar Pro) will display a ‘pair with controller’ message with a code. The Zoom Room Controller application (running on Pad), will need to enter this pairing code and pair with the Zoom Room Appliance. This is Zoom level pairing. When setting up your Neat Bar/Bar Pro and Neat Pad, this process should happen seamlessly (Neat devices can ‘autofill’ this information without user intervention).
- Next you will need to ‘sign-in’ to your Zoom Room by either using a pairing code (for Personal Zoom Room setup) or an Activation Key (for Shared or Licensed Zoom Room).
- For proper operation, Pad and Bar need to maintain Zoom level pairing at all times. If the Zoom level pairing breaks, you will see an appropriate warning message on your Neat Pad.
- For more information on Zoom Room’s firewall requirements, please see this article: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/203680389-Firewall-Configuration-for-Zoom-Rooms
Note: Additional Neat Pad(s) as Controller or Scheduling Display
You can add additional Neat Pad(s) as an extra Controller (or Scheduling Display) to your existing Neat Bar/Bar Pro and Pad combo. You will need to choose the ‘Add controller’ (or ‘Add a scheduling display’) option when setting up this extra Pad and manually enter the pairing code/activation code.
This additional Neat Pad will ONLY pair at the Zoom level with your Neat Bar/Bar Pro (until the first Neat Pad, which will need to have pairing intact at both Neat-level and Zoom-level). This additional Neat Pad will therefore be able to control ONLY the Zoom Room options of your Neat Bar/Bar Pro (e.g. join/start meeting, mute/unmute etc.). However, because it will not be paired at the Neat level with your Neat Bar/Bar Pro, it will have no knowledge of the Neat firmware settings of the Bar/Bar Pro. As a result, you will not be able to change any Neat firmware level options for the Bar/Bar Pro using this additional Neat Pad (e.g. auto-framing, remote access etc.); you will need to use the first Neat Pad (which is paired at both Neat and Zoom levels).
Please see the following articles for more information:
Neat Board and Neat Pad
Neat level pairing: Neat Pad and Neat Board
No Neat level pairing happens between a Neat Board and a Neat Pad.
The Neat Board is a self-sufficient Zoom Room device with touch screen and does not require a Neat Pad to configure or operate it. As a result, no Neat level pairing needs to occur between a Neat Pad and Neat Board.
Zoom level pairing: Neat Pad and Neat Board
As described above, you don’t need to use a Neat Pad with your Neat Board. However, there are considerable benefits of having a Neat Pad as an additional Zoom Room Controller for the Neat Board. For example, you may have a large meeting room and do not want to walk to the Neat Board every time you want to join/leave/mute the meeting and instead would like to have a Neat Pad on a desk closer to your participants. So you may choose to buy a Neat Pad for your Neat Board and use it as either a Zoom Room Controller or Zoom Room Scheduling Display.
If you setup a Neat Pad with your Neat Board, you are ONLY pairing it at a Zoom level. This means, you will need to either choose the ‘Add controller’ (or ‘Add a scheduling display’) option when setting up this Pad and manually enter the pairing code/activation code. This Neat Pad will therefore be able to control ONLY the Zoom Room options of your Neat Board (e.g. join/start meeting, mute/unmute etc.). However, because it will not be paired at the Neat firmware level, it will have no knowledge of the Neat-level settings of your Neat Board. As a result, you will not be able to setup any Neat firmware level options using this Neat Pad (e.g. remote access, music mode etc.); you will need to do that directly on your Neat Board.
Please see the following articles for more information:
Common Pairing Related Issues
- Often Neat Bar or Board may be on wired/Ethernet network and Pad on Wi-Fi network. If both of these networks advertise the same subnet allowing mDNS and unrestricted IP routing, all should work fine. But often the wired and Wi-Fi network may be on different subnets or mDNS may be blocked (even for same subnet). This can lead to unsuccessful pairing at Neat and/or Zoom levels.
- If Neat-level pairing is lost between Neat Bar/Bar Pro and Neat Pad (but Zoom-level pairing is intact), you will not get any error notification on the Zoom app running on your Neat Pad. However, if you enter Neat’s System Settings on your Pad, you will see an error message saying ‘Neat Bar: not connected’. In addition, you will notice some options (e.g. Audio/Video, Remote access) are either missing or not possible to turn on. The common solution is to simply reboot both devices. However, if this doesn’t restore Neat-level pairing, you may need to factory reset both Bar/Bar Pro and Pad.
- If Zoom-level pairing is broken, you will get an error on your Neat Pad. It is wise to check the Neat-level pairing status by going into Neat’s System settings. If Neat-level pairing is intact, then usually a reboot should be sufficient to resolve the Zoom pairing issues.
If you are unable to resolve your pairing issues, please reach out to Neat’s technical support team over email at email@example.com.