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HD Video Conferencing Solutions
Transcript of HD Video Conferencing Solutions
Westley B Kline
What Is Video Conferencing?
While the actual definition/mediums of video conferencing (VC) and collaboration can vary - all types of Video Conferencing allow for some form of face-to-face communication to take place from remote locations through use of virtual collaboration software and/or physical hardware.
Different Kinds of Conferencing
Not all types of Video Conferencing require the purchase or leasing of special equipment
ALL types however require a reliable Webcam, Microphone, and Internet Connection.
Many hardware solutions also come with their own proprietery software - although these systems can still be used in conjuction with other software solutions (such as a GtM session where an Media Control Unit is still used to increase overall quality.)
Hardware vs Software Based VC
The most reliable solutions require a mix of the two but let's look at some differences:
Hardware: Allows for video transcoding (converting for sharing,) offer Gateway Features (their own VPN, firewall, FTP,) FAR SUPERIOR video resolution/audio quality (720p/1080p), Continuous Presence (CP)
Software: Most Collaboration Software (even ones that offer video) runs on voice switching software - making the quality far less reliable and often creating choppy video and are generally only suitable for one user
Although many software companies offer Virtual Video Collaboration solutions, many require you to purchase either a software package (i.e. Lync,) purchase a subscription (i.e. GtM/Cisco,) or may be free but lack in the allowed number of connections, feature, and relibility departments (i.e. TeamViewer)
Leasing vs Purchasing Hardware/Software Solutions
A worthwhile hardware system setup can cost anywhere from a few thousand to tens of thousands of dollars so many companies such as LifeSize and PolyCom also offer options to lease their systems and services (generally on a yearly basis.) This makes conferencing hardware more affordable, but by leasing, the company eliminates any chance of recovering a portion of the original cost(s) when it's time for a system upgrade/overhaul since the equipment is not owned flat out.
Why Use Software and Hardware Solutions Together?
In general, even most paid subscription collaboration software such as GtM is designed to allow a single person on a computer with a webcam to have a face-to-face communications with another remote user or small group of users. One of the biggest advantages Hardware Solutions offer that Software Solutions lack is that they allow for Continous Presence (CP) which simply means everyone in the meeting room can be seen/heard on the same HIgh Definition Camera/Microphone at a much higher resolution (better picture)
The most important piece of a hardware solution is the Media Control Unit or MCU. Other pieces of equipment that come standard include a 4-10x Optical Zoom PTZ HD Camera, Full Fledged Conference-Style Phone/Advanced Microphone Pod, Multiple HD Outputs, and a remote for the Camera and System itself.
The most important piece of any hardware solution, the MCU, acts similarly to a router, connecting to the Internet Connection and serving as a remote endpoint allowing for video streaming across the intenet from one unit to multiple users
(many also have the ability to setup their own VPN)
Media Codec/Control Unit (MCU)
4x-10x Optical Zoom PTZ 720p/1080p Camera
Voice Module/Phone Unit
Conference Style Phones such as the one pictured above (from the LifeSize 220) provide loseless audio and allow for the individual voices of an entire group on one end to be distinguished with crystal clarity by the remote collaborator(s)
Unlike an everyday webcam, Video Collaboration Hardware Solutions utilize High Definition Point-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ) Cameras that capture the view of an entire conference space, allowing for Continous Presensce.
Disadvantages of Exclusive Software Based Solutions
Software based solutions are generally designed to work with consumer level equipment. Unfortunately alone, they can often prove extremely unreliable, especially on slower internet connections or if connecting wirelessly to a network. These tools can prove very useful for sharing desktops and idea collaboration, but are not generally soley dedicated to video collaboration and lack valuable features and can greatly restrict the number of users able to colloborate at one time
HD Video Conferencing Solutions