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Telepresence Options Brief - LifeSize Connections Has a Lot to Smile About

October 4, 2011 | David S. Maldow, Esq.
Telepresence Options Brief is a new series of articles from Human Productivity Lab analyst and Telepresence Options associate editor David Maldow. To keep up with latest technologies and companies in telepresence and visual collaboration, David is constantly researching and interviewing market participants and will be sharing some of his conversations in this on-going series.

This Telepresence Options Brief was with LifeSize (a division of Logitech). LifeSize, founded in 2003 by industry veterans, was the first company to develop and deliver high definition video communications products. 

We previously covered the pending LifeSize Connections offering and have been hoping for a hands on demonstration ever since. Jacey Overton (Corporate Communications Manager - above left) and Mary J. Miller (Director of Product Marketing - above right) at LifeSize were kind enough to give us a quick test drive of the beta solution.

As we previously described, LifeSize Connections is a cloud based videoconferencing platform providing business class (encrypted, multiparty, etc.) communications to both LifeSize endpoints in conference rooms and desktop users on their computers. This type of solution is of obvious interest to organizations that are aware of the benefits of business class videoconferencing, but aren't willing or able to bear the burden of buying and maintaining an expensive and complicated videoconferencing infrastructure.

Jacey sent me (via email) a guest login number 
and a link to download the desktop client. The client was quick and easy to install (click the exe, refill my coffee, come back to see that the installation is complete). Once installed, the desktop client offers a familiar, clean, and intuitive contact list interface. There are very few buttons and it is clear (via both the icon design and mouseover text) exactly what each button was for. My UI resembles the image to the right, except my only contact is Jacey as I am a guest to her account. The ability for any LifeSize Connections account to invite guests to video meetings at no extra cost really opens up the solution to a large number of applications involving externals (e.g. sales, B2B, training, etc.).

Starting a meeting is literally a one click affair and the meeting experience itself was very impressive. I must disclose that this was a somewhat unfair test. The product is still in beta, I was using a test PC that was slightly underspeced, and the call was over a relatively low bandwidth connection. Even so, I have no complaints about my user experience. Audio was clear and free from any distortions or hiccups over the course of a lengthy discussion. I also appreciated the full duplex audio, which allows for a more natural conversation. The resolution did not appear to be a full 720p (due to the limitations of my PC), but it was certainly a "high-ish" resolution. The first image in this article is an unaltered screenshot that I captured during the meeting (that's me in the PiP), so you can judge for yourself. But whatever the actual resolution was, it was well above my personal threshold for a business class videoconference. Motion handling was smooth and the frame rate appeared to be a full 30 fps. Error correction seemed to be in place and functioning well, as I noticed no smearing, pixelization, or other video artifacts during the entire meeting even though it was conducted over the "lossy" public internet.

LifeSize Connections offers a full set of business class features such as:

  • LifeSize_Connections_Multipoint.jpg9 way 720p30 video bridging
  • Fully encrypted media and signaling
  • Integrated firewall traversal
  • "Plug and Play" environment (auto configuration of LifeSize Endpoints and thin clients)
  • Directory based dialing
  • Presence
  • Web based management tools (Bandwidth control, reporting, etc.)

Although I have not formally tested every feature possible, I believe that the foundation of any videoconferencing solution is a solid user experience and LifeSize Connections certainly has that covered. In addition, the solution gets high marks for ease of use and intuitive UI design. Finally, allowing account holders to easily invite guests to video meetings expands the reach of this cloud based solution to any desktop PC or Mac. As a result, LifeSize Connections may succeed in making "anyone, anywhere" business class videoconferencing a more accessible option for SMBs.

To see more of the UI in action, please check out this video walkthrough we found on YouTube.

About the Analyst - David Maldow - Human Productivity Lab Consulting Practice


David Maldow is a visual collaboration technologist with the Human Productivity Lab with extensive expertise in testing, evaluating, and explaining telepresence and other visual collaboration technologies.  David is focused on providing third-party independent testing of telepresence and visual collaboration endpoints and infrastructure and helping industry participants explain complicated subjects through white papers and other end-user facing publications.  David will be a contributor to the Lab's publications:
Telepresence Options, the monthly newsletter: Telepresence Options' Telegraph and the bi-annual Telepresence Options Magazine.

Prior to joining the team at HPL and Telepresence Options, David worked at industry analyst firm Wainhouse Research (WR) as a member of their video collaboration coverage team. While at WR, he supported a variety of videoconferencing, streaming, and end-user consulting projects. David managed WR's videoconferencing test lab where he oversaw and conducted evaluations of rich media products and solutions. David wrote, or co-wrote, numerous evaluations and other reports for WR publications.

To Schedule a Briefing, Please Contact David at [email protected]

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