The InfoWorld Test Center gets its hands on Cisco's most affordable suite-oriented telepresence system
Besides calling, other conferencing features are also accessed from the IP phone -- and they go beyond the low-cost products. For example, CiscoTelepresence Recording Studio lets you record high-quality video messages that can be played back on other Cisco endpoints or standard Web browser players.
Though I didn't have the opportunity to test, Cisco Telepresence Systems can interoperate with standards-based H.264 videoconferencing systems and other HD endpoints.
As a pure telepresence solution, Cisco has done a fine job of building a simple-to-use, all-in-one unit that combines lifelike HD video, quality audio, security, and compatibility with other conferencing systems. Then there are extra features, such as video recording, not standard with the low-end videoconferencing products I tested.
I was a little surprised that Telepresence System 500 doesn't accept the multiple video and audio sources of the Polycom QDX 6000, nor the camera panning and zooming that both Polycom and LifeSize offer. Yet I can appreciate that these features, when put in the hands of the wrong end-user, can diminish the picture quality and ruin the telepresence experience.
For larger enterprises, I understand the value Cisco TelePresence System 500 brings. With a street price of about $24,000, it would be a good fit for regional offices, since it works seamlessly with larger Cisco systems while providing the same rich telepresence experience. I also see it fitting right in to specialized markets, such as telemedicine. That said, I imagine it's too costly for the majority of telecommuting applications (even though Cisco has about 500 workers doing exactly that).
For those smaller offices and individuals, Polycom and LifeSize Express perform admirably.
Cisco Telepresence System 500
|$33,900||Includes 37-inch display, camera, microphone, speakers, and lighting in a small-footprint system. Available in free-standing pedestal, wall-mount, or tabletop configurations. Supports high-definition video (720p or 1080p) based on the H.264 video standard, and interoperates with H.323 videoconferencing systems.||Cisco TelePresence System 500, installed in the private office, is designed for remote one-on-one meetings or for joining larger meetings. It features lifelike, high-definition video from a camera positioned for excellent eye contact. The all-in-one unit contains special lighting and is designed for optimal audio quality. System 500 includes extras such as video recording, and functions are easily controlled from an IP phone.|
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