Polycom expands video conferencing product line

Polycom is to expand its line of video conferencing technology with the addition of several new products, including rack-mounted...

Polycom is to expand its line of video conferencing technology with the addition of several new products, including rack-mounted hardware for use in high-end settings such as conference rooms.

In addition to its new VSX 8000 device the company plans to introduce updated software to support stereo audio for conference room video conferencing applications.

The VSX 7.0 software also supports the Session Initiation Protocol for group video conferencing and integration between phone and video systems to allow simple dialing to set up video conferencing calls.

Entergy has already tested the VSX 8000 in a lab and plans to deploy it if funding becomes available, said Dave Horn, conferencing services manager at the power utility. Entergy has 72 video conferencing systems, several of which could use conference room integration, he said.

Horn noted that the VSX 8000 will support a variety of interfaces such as IP-only, Serial and ISDN. "All the ports in the back [of the device] matter," he said.

He said the support for stereo audio will make it easier for users to listen in on a group videoconferencing meeting, since stereo will make it easier to keep track of off-screen participants.

Horn estimated that about 60% of the 13,000 workers at Entergy use some form of video conferencing, with 20 to 30 conferences conducted each week.

But despite the cost savings that video conferencing can produce some Entergy executives still prefer to travel so the purchase of new equipment is not guaranteed.

Andrew Davis, an analyst at Wainhouse Research, said the VSX 8000 is a "dream product for systems integrators" because of the many port connections it includes. More significant, he said, is that the VSX 8000 and several related low-end and midrange products all use a single-chip design, which makes it possible to develop software for a variety of hardware platforms.

Overall, Polycom is the largest supplier of group video conferencing products, accounting for about half of the units sold in 2003, Davis said.

Matt Hamblen writes for Computerworld

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