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HD Changes the Face of Telepresence Today

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Recent innovations in HD video conferencing make it possible to sit across the table from someone across the globe.

The new benchmark for collaborative communications has arrived: HD (high definition) video conferencing. HD uses a higher number of pixels (720p) at 30 frames per second (30 fps), resulting in a more realistic conferencing experience.

HD video conferencing delivers greater clarity, sharper images, richer colors, and smoother motion. This breakthrough in quality has contributed to enhancements in a groundbreaking telecommunications offering called telepresence which is setting new standards for virtual meetings.

Wainhouse Research, an independent market research firm specializing in unified communications and rich media conferencing, defines telepresence as "a video conferencing experience that creates the illusion that the remote participants are in the same room with you." Wainhouse further describes the result as an extremely life-like virtual meeting made possible by the careful arrangement and integration of furniture, appointments, and HD conferencing technologies.

An ultra high-end conferencing solution designed for executives who want to cut down on travel while still enjoying the benefits of productive face-to-face meetings, telepresence allows users to simply walk into an operational video conference without having to interact with the technology.

The telepresence market is now exploding with new offerings. We would like to compare the notable and key features, as well as the prices of the leading telepresence solutions available on the market today. Each telepresence offering discussed here offers a seamless, surprisingly realistic video conferencing experience utilizing technology that is transparent to the user.

Telepresence Offerings

Polycom RPX HD

Notable features:The participants feel as if they are in the same room due to high definition video displays available in 8 and 16 foot wide configurations. Several users can speak simultaneously without interruption of the high definition audio. Polycom RPX telepresence suites are completely interoperable with all standards-based video conferencing systems. This allows end users to utilize their existing video conferencing systems without having to replace or upgrade their initial investment.

The technology is effectively hidden from view, so that participants do not see the cameras, microphones or speakers, and there are no remote controls. The product ships complete with everything required for the conference, so no additional furniture or equipment needs to be installed. The modular room-within-a-room design can be disassembled and reassembled again at a new location. This design has six unique floor plans as well as choices of finishing treatments. Multiple rooms may utilize the same design across the organization.

Key feature: Room need not be dedicated exclusively to Telepresence and may be utilized for training or as an audio visual conference room.

Includes: Complete room: furniture, appointments, wall and floor treatments, lighting and technology.

Seats: 4-36 depending on model and configuration.

Built-in multipoint capability: No

Interoperable with standards-based systems: Yes

Bandwidth required: 10-20 MB

Price: Starts at $299,000 per room

TANDBERG Experia

Notable features: Interoperable, flexible, and scalable standards-based H.323 system. This solution makes the participants feel as if they are in the same room with the use of four 50 inch HD wide screen plasma monitors, HD cameras, and CD quality audio. This solution also includes a pre-wired executive table and wireless touch-panel control. It connects up to four sites and allows participants to share content. Calls are connected automatically. According to the manufacturer, it is simple and intuitive to use.

Key feature: An executive's conference room can be transformed into a telepresence studio. This is an adaptive solution that is designed to deliver telepresence into existing room environments.

Includes: Technology, table and docking stations for control panel

Display: Four 50” HD Plasmas

Seats: 6

Built-in multipoint capability: 4 sites

Interoperable with standards-based systems: Yes

Bandwidth required: 8 MB

Price: Starts at $199,000 per room

HP Halo

Notable features: 50 inch (127cm) collaboration screen. A VGA connection provides the ability to share documents and other information across Halo locations. The HVEN, or Halo Video Exchange Network, is a highly secure, dedicated fiber-optic network. Several people can talk at once without canceling out other voices.

Key feature: Halo is not standards based, but TANDBERG has recently teamed up with HP to make their respective telepresence and video conferencing portfolios interoperable. TANDBERG solutions will be added to Halo's HVEN network, extending the Halo customer's options for video conferencing and collaboration solutions.

Includes: Complete room: furniture, appointments, wall and floor treatments, lighting and technology.

Display: Four 50” HD Plasmas

Seats: 6

Built-in multipoint capability: 4 sites (HP Halo only)

Interoperable with standards-based systems: No

Bandwidth required: 45 MB

Price: Starts at $425,000 per room

Cisco TelePresence 3000

Notable features: This solution includes three 65-inch plasma screens, multi-channel discrete spatial audio with echo cancellation per channel, microphones, lighting, Ethernet and power ports in the table legs, and a professional-quality table that seats six on each side and includes a built in projector for graphics. It also includes multiple ultra high-definition codecs and cameras, as well as CD-quality audio. The Cisco TelePresence Manager software schedules and launches calls.

Key feature: Although not interoperable, this solution is ideal for group meetings, comfortably seating up to 12 participants (6 at each location) around a virtual table.

Includes: Technology, table and lighting array

Display: Three 65” HD Plasmas

Seats: 6

Built-in multipoint capability: Not presently

Interoperable with standards-based systems: No

Bandwidth required: 9-12 MB

Price: Starts at $300,000 per room

Analysis

Although telepresence has been on the market for some time, recent innovations in HD have greatly improved the product's capabilities. The telepresence offerings we have outlined offer senior level executives an excellent option for productive, face-to-face meetings. However, the entire organization could greatly benefit from the developments in HD technology.

Therefore, telepresence should be considered one component of a company's total visual communications solution. HD video conferencing can increase collaboration among employees, increase productivity and efficiency, and reduce travel. Therefore, it should be implemented throughout the entire organization so as to yield the greatest benefits.

Our recommendation is to implement a sufficient number of HD video conferencing systems throughout the company in customized audio visual rooms. This strategy ensures an organization's employees get the maximum value from this critical communications tool.

Additional Telepresence Information

Polycom RPX HD Telepresence Solutions >

TANDBERG Experia Telepresence Solutions >

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