Cisco, Polycom think smaller in telepresence

Cisco and Polycom each are unveiling smaller video systems and more interoperability

By , IDG News Service |  Unified Communications

Cisco Systems and Polycom both will highlight downsized telepresence systems at the InfoComm trade show this week, along with updated software designed for easier management of videoconferencing.

Large, multi-screen telepresence rooms made a splash when they came out in the middle of the past decade, but the market for such systems is limited and not growing quickly, according to some vendors and analysts. A broader opportunity for videoconferencing lies in small and branch offices and in mobile devices such as tablets, they said.

"Fundamentally, this market is going to shift downward," said Andrew Davis, an analyst at Wainhouse Research. After strong growth in the early years of high-definition systems, the videoconferencing equipment market only grew 6 percent in units and 7.5 percent in revenue annually between 2008 and 2010, he said.

On Tuesday at InfoComm in Orlando, the two big-name telepresence rivals reached out to smaller sites and offered them less expensive products.

Cisco was set to introduce the MX200 telepresence endpoint, an all-in-one system designed for small groups and private offices. The MX200 has high-definition 1080p resolution just like Cisco's bigger telepresence platforms, though it lacks some features of room systems, such as directional sound, said Thomas Wyatt, vice president and general manager of Cisco's TelePresence Infrastructure business.

Staff at a remote location can set up the MX200 and start holding meetings on it within as little as 15 minutes, without a technical specialist, according to Cisco. The unit will go on sale worldwide next month at a list price of US$21,600, with volume and other discounts available.

Polycom is also using InfoComm to unveil a smaller telepresence system, the OTX 100. Unlike Cisco's MX200, it comes with an integrated table with built-in monitors for content sharing. The company described the OTX 100 as an expansion of its OTX line, offering immersive telepresence experience in a smaller package, with a lower price. The new system also uses half the bandwidth required by competing products, the company claimed in a news release. It will go on sale in October, starting at $99,999. A version without the integrated table and monitors, the OTX 100 Compact, will cost $79,999.

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