Midrange telepresence systems marry high quality with affordability
The Polycom QDX 6000 and the LifeSize Express 200 deliver a high-quality face-to-face experience at a price any company will find appealingFollow @infoworld
The Polycom StereoSurround microphones produced CD-quality audio with very good spatial separation. There's automatic gain control and noise suppression, which eliminates the need to play with any settings.
My Comcast network speed is pretty bad (typically about 384Kbps to 512Kbps), so I didn't have to do anything special to test Lost Packet Recovery. With LifeSize and 5 percent packet loss, I saw broken video and artifacts. However, Polycom's QoS maintained clear video at the same 5 percent packet loss. LPR is especially beneficial for home workers or employees connected through wireless networks. Yet this feature could also prove essential for critical medical applications, such as where medical specialists would share X-rays or patient images.
Overall, with high-quality video and audio, multiple video inputs and outputs, and compatibility with other systems, the Polycom QDX 6000 delivered smooth and uninterrupted videoconferences. Sure, video on this model is standard-definition wide screen. But that's hardly a negative considering the low price, simplified installation, and performance at low bandwidths.
LifeSize: Express lane to telepresence
LifeSize offers four conferencing solutions, but all meet the company's criteria for telepresence: People need to appear life-size, in high-definition, full 30-fps video, but without a high price.
The product line starts with LifeSize Express 200 ($5,999 or $6,999), which I tested. The codec (main unit) is about the size of an 8.5-by-11-inch sheet of paper and a little over 1 inch thick. LifeSize Team ($10,000) lets you add an additional HD camera. LifeSize Room ($17,000) ups video to 1080p quality. And the Conference solutions ($39,000 to $49,900), with four monitors, compete favorable with the HP, Cisco, and Teliris products -- but at one-tenth the cost.
Common across all LifeSize products is superb audio and video performance. Video starts at high-definition 1,280-by-720-pixel resolution over the open Internet (as long as you have between 1Mbps and 2Mbps bandwidth). Therefore, there's no incremental networking cost. Full-duplex, high definition audio (with echo cancellation) lets participants have natural conversations. Dual streaming permits sharing of a computer screen or other digital video source.
Unlike high-end solutions, which are sometimes too heavy to be installed in standard conference rooms, all LifeSize systems can be placed inside of any office space, with no special lights or other physical requirements.
Moreover, standards are extensive (H.261, H.263, H.263+, H.264, and H.239), so LifeSize systems can interoperate with most other standards-compliance conferencing systems, without a gateway.