Duo Enhance Videoconferencing Offerings

Vendors promise more ease of use and better video quality.

Polycom Ltd. and Tandberg ASA are rolling out upgrades to their respective videoconferencing offerings that the vendors say will improve ease of use and boost video quality.

Polycom, best known for its videoconferencing technologies, next week will unveil an entry-level group videoconferencing system with a user interface that borrows ease-of-use features from the cell phone.

The interface of Polycoms VSX 7000 includes a quick call list of up to 99 recent calls for simplified dialing, and it can be configured with business-specific icons and other customized options.

Polycom champions the VSX 7000 as delivering TV-like video and near-CD-quality audio. The Pleasanton, Calif., company incorporated the H.264 video compression standard, which it first introduced on its iPower products unveiled early this year. To achieve maximum audio quality, Polycom embedded a high-fidelity speaker directly into the VSX 7000 conferencing unit and included a stand-alone subwoofer.

New on this product is the ability to display video side-by-side on a monitor so that viewers can see data (from slides, for example) and video (of a meeting) simultaneously. Also new is AES encryption, which enables secure video calls on IP or ISDN links.

The VSX 7000, which includes a built-in speaker, subwoofer, 360-degree microphone and remote control, is priced at $5,999 in the United States.

Separately, Tandberg this week said it is adding support for the H.264 video communications standard across its videoconferencing product line.

Tandberg has supported H.264 in its video endpoints since July. By the end of October, the company, which has headquarters in New York and Oslo, Norway, will add support for the video quality standard in its Gateway and MCU, or multipoint control unit, offerings.

H.264 support provides much better video quality through a better compression scheme, Tandberg officials said. As a result, users connecting multiple video calls through Tandbergs MCU get video quality equal to that of a point-to-point call, they said.

Discuss this in the eWEEK forum.