Video conferencing technology has come a long way in the last half decade. Gone are the days of pixilated picture quality and scratched-record audio. However, in an economic climate where most midmarket companies are tightening their belts, is now the time to invest in this technology? Polycom, a video and voice solutions company, says it is.
The company announced the launch of the QDX 6000 video conferencing system, which delivers high quality DVD resolution video and CD quality audio, even at very low bandwidth. With a list price of $3,999, the cost of investment might give some small to medium-size business (SMB) owners pause, but Polycom product marketing manager Bob Knauf said the QDX 6000 is specifically designed for SMBs worried about increasing costs.
"It can be installed in an SMB to eliminate some hard costs, like travel expenses," he said. "That is a lot of money to a small business, but if they look at it from an ROI perspective, it will provide a quick return. If you eliminate one or two business trips then it pays for itself."
Knauf said SMBs are trying hard to develop relationships with their customers, and video conferencing can help forge new connections and shore up existing customer relationships. "They can offer a video system as part of doing business," he said. "If they're looking to expand, video conferencing is a great way to start building that relationship with customers."
With high-resolution video calls starting at bandwidths as low as 256 kbps, SMBs don't need large or expensive IP networks, he said. The QDX 6000 offers multimedia content-sharing capabilities and AES encryption for security-concerned small businesses, as well as a high resolution full-motion pan/tilt/zoom camera that features 12x zoom capabilities, and offers 99 presets that make it simple to instantly zoom in and out for various applications.
It also includes content sharing as a standard capability, allowing users to share multimedia content during a video call using their wired or wireless broadband connection. The included high-fidelity microphones support high-definition stereo audio and are immune to disruptive interference from mobile phones and other wireless devices. The QDX 6000 supports widescreen format natively, but also works with standard televisions. It supports dual monitors and can take input from up to five video sources (cameras, PC, document camera, DVD player), providing flexibility for content collaboration.
"If you're trying to have a business meeting, a video conferencing system can make any company more productive by being able to share documents, 3-D objects, even being able to see someone's face when you show them the marketing plan," Knauf said. "Everyone had the same needs of just being able to share data of some sort."
From a services perspective, Polycom has a new level of service targeted to the QDX product line. The company offers telephone support for installation, as well as different types of support plans SMBs can purchase. "We have plans that turn Polycom into your IT team for video," he said. Polycom also offers a video on its Web site that guides customers through the set-up process, which Knauf said takes about five minutes from getting it out of the box to making your first call. "We focused on simplicity of use," he said. "We realize that a company of 15 to 20 people, there may be one guy who knows computers, but may no nothing about video."