Polycom Broadens High-End Videoconferencing

By Paula Musich  |  Posted 2007-10-15

Polycom Broadens High-End Videoconferencing


Polycom Broadens High

-End Videoconferencing ">

Changing market forces and the emergence of telepresence systems have breathed new life into the videoconferencing market.

Polycom on Oct. 15 will try to capitalize on that by broadening both its telepresence and high-definition videoconferencing product lines.

The Pleasanton, Calif., company will show off more choices for customers at its user conference in Los Angeles when it introduces a less costly version of its telepresence system along with two new high-definition videoconferencing end points aimed at executive desktops and most existing conference rooms.

The new Polycom Telepresence Experience High Definition (TPX HD 306M) system is a step down in cost and build-out requirements from its high-end cousin, the Polycom RealPresence Experience (RPX) system. It is intended for a smaller group of participants conducting shorter and more frequent meetings.

Like its cousin, the TPX HD 306M projects life-size images of conference participants, provides a similar in-person experience along with high-quality audio and video, is based on the same video codec standards, provides a consistent look and feel, and uses the same user interface on the touch control panel embedded in the conferencing table.

Read here about Ciscos Telepresence system.

It differs, however, in that it can seat six people instead of four to 28 people in the RPX, it uses three 60-inch plasma screens instead of rear projection with tall and wide displays, and it does not require the construction of a special room built to detailed specifications.

"The RPX is immersive telepresence that includes acoustic ceiling tiles, large video walls, studio-quality lighting—a room installed within a room like a cocoon," said Michelle Damerau, Polycoms worldwide product marketing manager for telepresence solutions in Austin, Texas. "The TPX is for small groups to get together and feel as if they were in the same room. They get plasma [screens] with high-definition video and stereo audio, and everything they need for the experience without the immersive room."

The system uses eagle-eye high-definition cameras that are hidden from view, microphone arrays installed in the ceiling, and a conference table with a small touch-point panel used to control volume, set up point-to-point calls or call the help desk. The conference table can also be used for in-person meetings.

"Were the only [vendor] to provide an environment where people can sit around the table and use it as a conference room when youre not on video. Thats attractive to organizations with high rents such as London, New York, San Francisco, Tokyo [and] Hong Kong," Damerau said.

The new TPX can be used with other Polycom telepresence systems as well as the companys traditional videoconferencing systems and other standards-based video codecs.

The first telepresence systems—Hewlett-Packards Halo and Cisco Systems Telepresence System—have helped to shed a new light on what was a moribund videoconferencing market.

"Cisco had the biggest voice in promoting telepresence. Its helped all of us out. They have done a great job in evangelizing this new technology and [boost] awareness," said Damerau.

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Emphasis Is on


"I think everybody is racing in this market to capture higher-quality videoconferencing. Most companies wont want to get a building permit to build out a special room [like those required by HPs Halo and Ciscos Telepresence]," said Claire Schooley, senior analyst at Forrester Research, in Foster City, Calif. "The main thing is the quality: People have been burned in the past with videoconferencing. The quality hasnt been good, and its been hard to use. Now the emphasis is on ease of use and quality. It wont ever replace face to face, but it can do pretty well."

Polycom also broadened the range of its high-definition end points with the new HDX 4000 Executive Desktop and HDX 8000 Room System.

Both employ Polycoms Ultimate HD, which includes not only a high-definition image resolution, but higher-quality audio and real-time content sharing.

The HDX 4000 display, which can be used as an individuals PC display, includes four embedded speakers that can be used for the PC as well as videoconferences and for phone calls. It includes a network connection as well as a POTS connection for an analog phone line. A camera is built into the display, and a touch-pad to dial phone numbers is built into the base of the display.

Polycom and IBM have teamed up on videoconferencing. Read more here.

It allows a user to participate in a videoconference while continuing to work on his or her PC in the background. Content from the PC can be shared with participants.

"Its the only system where you can work on your PC and sit in on a video call simultaneously," said Laura Shay, Polycoms director of product marketing for video solutions.

Both it and the new HDX 8000 room system employ Polycoms patented Lost Packet Recovery technology, which allows the systems to tolerate greater packet loss than conventional videoconferencing without dropping calls or significantly degrading audio and video quality.

While other systems will drop a video call with 6 percent packet loss, the LPR technology can support up to 10 percent packet loss, Shay said.

The HDX 8000 is a turnkey system designed for typical conference rooms. It includes a high-definition camera with 12 times zoom capability, the videoconferencing system, microphone and remote control. Up to three cameras can be connected to the system, including a high-definition document camera as well as a PC.

Polycom customers at commercial real estate company CoStar, who are already using the HDX 9000, are hoping to deploy both new offerings to more locations across the geographically distributed company, according to Sergio Soto, A/V supervisor in Bethesda, Md. "We were waiting for the new ones. Our CEO wants all our offices to be high definition," he said.

The new TPX system is due in the fourth quarter and starts at $199,999. The new HDX 4000 and HDX 8000 end points are due at the end of October for $7,999 and $9,999, respectively.

Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on voice over IP and telephony.

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