Cisco plans free TelePresence videoconferencing client

PC and Mac users will be able to join a meeting with an email invitation and a download

Cisco Systems is taking several steps to extend its TelePresence videoconferencing technology beyond enterprise meeting rooms, introducing two endpoints and a free client application for ad hoc participants to download.

To mark the fifth anniversary of its introduction of TelePresence, Cisco previewed several new offerings during a press event held Tuesday at its TelePresence proving ground in San Jose, Calif. The products are due to be announced formally today. At the event, Cisco emphasized that its videoconferencing technology is becoming more accessible, five years after the company unveiled the three-screen TelePresence 3000 room system then priced at nearly $300,000 per room.

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At the event, the company unveiled Cisco Jabber Video for TelePresence, a free application designed to let just about anyone with a PC or Mac join a TelePresence session. (Users cannot conference directly with each other, but can only join a videoconference hosted by the full TelePeesence product.) An enterprise or small business with an in-house or hosted TelePresence capability can go to a globally accessible website and create an invitation that goes out to participants via email and includes a link to download the Jabber Video software and join the meeting.

Jabber Video for TelePresence will go into beta testing soon and is expected to become generally available early next year, said Gina Clark, general manager of the TelePresence Cloud business unit. It will be an English-language product, but people all over the world will be able to download it, she said.

Cisco also introduced the MX300, a new model in its line of TelePresence endpoints for small and medium-sized businesses. The MX300 is a step up from the MX200 introduced earlier this year, featuring a 55-inch display, compared to the MX200's 42 inches. The new unit can deliver videoconferences at 1080p resolution and 30 frames per second, and it's suitable for as many as nine people in a room, Cisco said. It is scheduled to hit the market in January for a list price of $27,600.

Also on Tuesday, the company announced the Cisco TelePresence VX Clinical Assistant. This endpoint is designed for use in medical applications, including remote patient consultations and medical education. The VX is set to go on sale in the first quarter of next year in the United States and Europe, starting at $29,500.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for the IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's email address is