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Polycom Steps on the High Definition Gas

October 17, 2007 | John Serrao

polycom_hdx_245x230px.jpgRallying round the PUG flagpole, Polycom has raised the banner for high definition videoconferencing with multiple product announcements under the company's UltimateHD moniker. In our own humble opinion, the star of the show is the new HDX 8000, a second generation version of the one-year old HDX 9000 that features a price 1/3 less, and a smaller form factor with fewer I/O options, but with the same shattering AV performance other than an embedded MCU that does not support HD.

The system is available in two models, the 8002 and 8004 that are identical in hardware and vary only in software - in fact an 8002 can be upgraded to become an 8004 at a later date. Polycom will be shipping the exact same box worldwide, with software support in 3 zillion languages.

wainhouse_chart_560x327px.jpgThe HDX 8002 takes the Polycom line down near the $10,000 barrier and smashes through any Polycom customer objections that HD is too expensive. The HDX8000 is also now available with some new very sleek "media center" furniture supporting single and dual monitor configurations.

polycom_hdx_460x227px.jpgA second part of Polycom's announcement is HDX software version 2.0. While we usually find software updates and new revisions to be of marginal interest, the new Polycom software features something that we think is very significant. Loss Packet Recovery (LPR) is a new algorithm that significantly improves video performance when there is packet loss on the IP network. We saw a demo of this not too long ago and have to admit that the demo is VERY impressive. Ver 2.0 software also upgrades the performance of the HDX 9000 series embedded multipoint unit to deliver HD continuous presence for up to four sites or non-HD continuous presence for up to eight sites. Support for stereo audio in a multipoint call is also added.

A third part of the Polycom story is a new telepresence system dubbed TPX. While the RPX series is really a "room replacement" telepresence solution, the TPX fits into the same category where we would put Tandberg's Experia and Cisco's Telepresence Meeting Solution - a room enhancement system. If the door to your conference room were wide enough, you could roll one of these babies right in. In the case of the Polycom TPX, the door better be pretty wide and the room nice and spacious.

The system features three 60 inch plasma displays and three HDX 900 codecs with Eagle Eye cameras and some custom software to turn the whole lot into a fully functioning telepresence system that understands how to connect to multiple remote systems (TPX, RPX, or standard H.232 systems) and how to display images properly. As shown in the photo, the TPX 306 (3 screens and 6 seats), with MSRP of $200K, including telepresence table and ceiling mics, has three cameras all mounted over the center display, providing a very satisfactory horizontal gaze angle in our demo session. For data collaboration, customers can opt for a separate screen on the side or an in-table implementation similar to that of the RPX. Polycom offers implementation, maintenance, and managed services for its telepresence solutions through its channel partners.

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