June 2016 - The Birth of a New Category in the World of Video Conferencing

There is one thing in the world of video conferencing that no one disagrees about, in order to have a video conference you need two basic things – a camera and the ability to process video.
In a “classic” video conference the conference is held between two end points. Each end point has a video system manufactured by Polycom, Cisco, Avaya or others, and includes a high-quality pan-tilt-zoom camera and a codec that can compress and process video. Of course there are also microphones, speakers and projectors at each end.
So why do we sometimes avoid buying the necessary system? And why does the birth of a new intermediate category enable more and more companies to make the jump to the world of professional video conferencing?
Over the past few years software based video services have been developed.  With these systems the video processing is done through software or a server, and not through a specific codec, but there is still a physical camera. Even the various cloud services, that provide a virtual video conference room with video collaboration capabilities (using an end point, a PC, tablet or a smartphone), connect between the world of high-end video conferencing systems and the world of PCs with a USB webcam at best, or at the very least a built-in camera. In this kind of video collaboration we mix video end points with professional video processing capabilities and simple systems that exist on almost every device that has a camera, a screen, microphone and speakers. And of course an internet connection.
The price is also a factor, obviously, in making a decision about buying a video conferencing system for a professional video conference. End point systems can cost thousands of dollars or more, depending on the configuration. At the other end of the spectrum are simple webcams that connect via USB and cost up to a couple of hundred dollars, though they are usually lacking in optical zoom and PTZ capabilities. Of course we aren’t talking about the same product at the same quality. A simple webcam usually serves a single user or two, and when you need to connect a larger conference room, you need a video conferencing system. And the quality gets much better as well.
Recently a new category of cameras and video conferencing was created to fill the gap between the two existing solutions. This new category has two key features. The first is to accommodate smaller conference rooms (huddle rooms) and the second is the price.  The systems cost only a few thousand dollars – a quarter of the price of a traditional video conferencing system. Within this category there are cameras/USB systems for the computer, such as Logitech’s Group system (replacing the CC3000E) and H323 Protocol EndPoint systems such as the Polycom  Debut.
The Polycom RealPresence Debut is a compact H323 and SIP Protocol system that combines the camera and the codec in one unit.
The Logitech Group system is meant for small rooms and connects via USB to the computer.
This intermediate category allows more and more companies make the jump to the world of professional video conferencing, but with significantly lower prices than the traditional systems that have existed until now. There is no doubt that this intermediate category gives customers flexibility with the price and with minimal compromise on the quality.
See you next time,