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LifeSize's Unity Solutions: High-Quality Plug and Play Videoconferencing

May 15, 2012 | David S. Maldow, Esq.
lifesize_unity_50_and_500.pngToday, LifeSize has announced the release of their new Unity Series of products. This currently includes the Unity 50 (above left) and the Unity 500 (above right). LifeSize plans to add additional products to this line later this year. With these systems, LifeSize is offering plug-and-play videoconferencing. In the past, installing a VC system could involve separately purchasing customized furniture, integrating the technology with the furniture, running cables everywhere, supplying power to each element, etc. With the Unity systems you just run two cords (power and IP) and you are up and running. Not only does this make the initial setup a snap, it creates flexibility as it is a simple matter to unplug the system and move it to a different location.

lifesize_unity_50_2.pngThe Unity 50 is designed to be wall mounted, or used on a desktop. The dual purpose monitor can function in lieu of your PC's monitor when not hosting a videocall. The Unity 50 supports 720p30 videoconferencing, and the 24" display can provide 1080p for other uses. lifesize_unity_500_2.png
  
The Unity 500 can be put together in under 10 minutes, without the use of any tools. Not only is it easy to set up, the end result looks a lot nicer than the standard meeting room cart-based design. The Unity 500 has a 40" display which supports 1080p30 resolution, and the more compelling (in my opinion) 720p60 resolution. For a better look at these solutions, check out the YouTube video below.



There has been a lot of recent discussion within the industry about the future of videoconferencing hardware. There is no real consensus about the overall future; but everyone agrees that the hardware vendors will have to adjust one way or another to stay in the game. If hardware is going to survive, it will have to be easier to set up, easier to use, and more flexible. For the typical meeting room in particular (as opposed to the high profile boardroom) a hardware solution must provide higher quality than commercial video solutions, without requiring a massive 6-figure complete room makeover. LifeSize appears to be saying, "Hey, we get it!" with this latest round of solutions. Check out yesterday's blog entry from Micheal Helmbrecht (VP & GM Video Solutions), to see how LifeSize really feels about 6-figure solutions.

We asked LifeSize what this means for existing integrators of LifeSize codecs and peripherals. We learned that the Unity solutions are not intended to be a replacement for existing LifeSize products. LifeSize has always catered to the fact that there are endless ways to configure a videoconferencing solution, depending upon client needs, room shape and sizes, and other factors. The Unity 500 will be a perfect fit for many (or even most) environments, but others will appreciate the ability to customize using other LifeSize solutions.

LifeSize believes the simplicity of the Unity series will result in cost savings for users, while creating new opportunities for channel partners. As Micheal Helmbrecht explains, "The Unity systems were designed to be installed by anyone, which will provide a little relief to today's typically overburdened IT staff.  Additionally, the fact that anyone can set up a Unity system allows VARs to service a global market, without the need for a global deployment of IT support staff."

Both Unity solutions are available today. The Unity 50 is priced at approximately $3,999 while the Unity 500 goes for approximately $19,999. If your organization is budgeting for standard room systems, but is looking for something with more flexibility, ease of use, and telepresence quality, then the Unity offerings should be high on your list of options.

 





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