Polycom QDX 6000 Is Good Videoconferencing Choice for Small Businesses

REVIEW: Polycom's QDX 6000 video conferencing units are not HD-capable, but they are easy to set up and configure, and offer many options for adding content. At $3,999, the QDX 6000--which leverages H.323--is a compelling choice for smaller offices or businesses.

Polycom's QDX 6000 video conferencing units are easy to set up and configure, allowing customers to get up and running quickly. Although not HD-capable, the units provide adequate video in well-lit rooms and excellent audio, as well as a plethora of options for adding content to the conference from peripheral devices.

With a list price of $3,999, the QDX 6000 is positioned as a low-cost video conferencing solution for smaller offices or businesses that is easy to set up and use. Leveraging H.323 for call signaling, the QDX 6000 delivers 4CIF (Common Intermediate Format) format video from the included camera of up to 704-by-576 resolution, or content resolution of up 1,024 by 768.

I found the QDX 6000 quite easy to configure. The box included all the cables needed to connect the included camera and microphone pods, as well as cables to connect the videoconferencing system to a TV. The one missing cable seemed to be a VGA cable to attach a PC for input or a monitor for display.

Although the QDX 6000 is not HD-capable, I found that the units provided an adequate picture in tests, especially when displayed on an older tube TV or smaller HD panels. However, pictures were a little darker than I would prefer in the fluorescent lighting present in the office where I conducted the tests.

The QDX 6000 supports video calls at a variety of bandwidth levels, ranging from 256K bps up to 4,096K bps (at 30 frames per second). On larger panels, especially at lower bandwidth usage, the picture became noticeably pixelated with movement on screen. For larger screens, I'd recommend using at least the 1M-bps connection rate, assuming the network supports it.

The QDX 6000 has outputs to simultaneously show video on two screens: a primary output via component, RCA or S-Video cables, and the secondary via VGA , RCA or S-Video. Both outputs can be configured for 16-by-9 or 4-by-3 aspect ratios. Users should be aware that the on-screen menus and controls will display only on the primary screen.

On the primary output, the QDX 6000 offers several picture-in-picture modes. On the primary screen, users can select to show either the local or remote side of the call, show both side by side, or show remote connections in smaller boxes on the right. The secondary monitor typically shows the local video source.

The QDX 6000 also includes a variety of input ports, allowing users to switch the source from the primary camera to an external camera, a DVD or VHS player, or a connected PC (for H.239-enabled presentation sharing). Users can connect a PC directly to the QDX using the VGA input port, or they can connect over the network using Polycom's Windows-based People + Content IP application.

The QDX 6000 comes with two microphone pods, and it supports Polycom's StereoSurround feature (which can be toggled off if necessary) to capture and process both audio streams separately. The QDX offers HD-quality sound, with support for several wideband audio codecs, including Polycom's Siren 22 and Siren 14 or G.722.1. Narrowband codecs like G.711, G.728, and G.722 are also supported.

QDX systems are meant to be managed individually. Aside from the on-screen controls, the QDX 6000 has a built-in, Java-powered Web management page. From the Web console, administrators can populate the local directory, tweak settings, view call detail reports or manually place calls (although the QDX does not offer the ability to schedule calls).

Firmware updates are done via another tool that runs on a Windows PC. When triggered, the tool searches the network for QDX units available for upgrade.

Although I was not able to test the feature in time for this review, the QDX 6000 also comes with Polycom's Lost Packet Recovery-a predictive algorithm that company officials say will allow the QDX to offer smooth and consistent video in congested networks with packet loss as great as 5 to 10 percent.

Senior Analyst Andrew Garcia can be reached at [email protected].