Calling all the shots

With more pressure on companies to executive cut travel budgets and reduce environmentally damaging air travel, video conferencing looks to be emerging as a real alternative to face-to-face meetings. Adrian Bridgwater looks at some of the vendors that are leading this growing sector.

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By  Adrian Bridgwater Published  January 25, 2009

Tandberg

Tandberg continues to hedge its bets in the video conferencing market based upon a strategy to provide as wide a range of solutions as possible. This Norwegian company claims to have one of the longest track records in telepresence and is closely positioned to Polycom in terms of its full room ‘full size' communication products.

Now branded as Telepresence T3 and Telepresence T1, both Tandberg's T1 and T3 products are built with high-definition 65-inch screens, the T1 with a single viewing surface and the T3 with a three-screen arrangement for wider conference rooms.

The company describes its products as ‘highly immersive' with cameras positioned just above the screen in order to engage eye contact in the most natural manner.

Tandberg's somewhat overly creative product literature explains the blue back-walls used at either end of a call made in a T3 room as being ‘Nordic-sky inspired'. Whatever its source, when combined with Tandberg's specialised lighting the company suggests that the colour scheme will create a feeling of ‘openness' and make participants appear almost in 3-D.

The T1 product does not come with its own dedicated wood-paneled communications room like the T3 and so is said to be more suited for executive offices or locations where space is limited.

Tandberg says simplicity with its latest products comes from a single button call up option that can engage not only the video-conference call itself, but also presentations on personal touch collaboration screens.

Tandberg's Telepresence Server intelligently recognises the type of system joining the meeting and gives each participant the best possible view. High-definition screen users and standard endpoint users are thereby able to interact inside the same conference.

Like Polycom, the company aims to position its products as flexible enough to work effectively with systems from other vendors.

Verdict and key benefits

This is a highly sophisticated system that surely questions the value of corporate expenditure at this level. If not brought in as a ‘company profiling' exercise to impress prospective clients, then the true profitability value of this product versus air travel or even telephone and Internet-based communication must come into question.

Product highlights

• Maximum bandwidth: 18 Mbps (1080p).

• CD-Quality 20KHz mono and stereo directional audio available.

• Connectivity: TCP/IP, DHCP, Telnet, HTTP, HTTPS, SOAP and XML.

Video Standards: H.263, H.263+, H.264


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