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Back to the Future: Huawei TE30
TE30 back connectors and side view
Andrew W. Davis, firstname.lastname@example.org
One of our secret agents in Europe recently attended a briefing in which Huawei revealed its latest videoconferencing system -- the TE30. Back to the Future 1: For those of you who can remember PictureTel's SwiftSite and Polycom's ViewStation, the TE30 brings back the 1997-era set-top box configuration in a 21st century version. It's smaller, sleeker, feature-rich, and 100x more powerful. According to Huawei's preliminary spec sheet, the TE30: Supports the latest ITU video standards, including H.264 baseline profile, high profile, and scalable video coding. Communications protocols include IETF SIP, H.323, and even H.320.
- Supports up to 1080p resolution, dual streams at 720p30, and stereo AAC-LD audio.
- Includes an embedded 12x zoom camera and omnidirectional microphone array.
- Has a USB port that allows channel partners to preload all configuration data on a flash drive that will install system data automatically when inserted by an end user. Back to the Future 2 -- this is similar to a capability Sony introduced on its own proprietary memory sticks years ago. For Huawei, however, this capability jives well with the company's strength with wired and wireless carriers. These channel partners, as well as typical distributors, can leverage the TE30's easy, do-it-yourself installation capabilities.
- Sports advanced speech recognition capabilities that enable voice dialing. Back to the Future 3 -- we wrote about such a feature in the Bulletin on April 1, 2005. Huawei's system supports both English and Chinese out of the box, but users can "train" the system to recognize any language (for placing calls only).
Other features include support for both wired and wireless network connectivity and an entirely new and improved UI. The unit can be wall-mounted, ceilingmounted, or placed on top of the monitor, and will have an MSRP of $4700 USD.
What Andrew Thinks:
Let's start with the set-top box concept. With the right mounting hardware, the settop design makes installation simple and, assuming the embedded microphones do their job right, eliminates lots of messy cable problems. Wi-Fi video also eliminates
the network cable, another plus. The TE30 really brings a new dimension to the "all-in-one" concept.
Preliminary scuttlebutt we hear suggests lots of interesting and unique features like face recognition and motion enhancement -- things on which we would be more comfortable reporting after we have evaluated the system in person. And the details on the SVC support are missing, but the guess is that it will be "standards-compliant."
However, it is worth mentioning voice recognition for dialing. Is this Siri for videoconferencing? I'm not sure why Huawei added this capability; it seems to me it will only frustrate users when it fails or dials the wrong endpoint and it doesn't seem to be much of an advance over picking an address in an address book. You will still need the device's hand held remote or wireless control panel for camera control and other typical functions.
On the other hand, a $4,700 list price for a 1080p system is very aggressive. Huawei has a long history of price leadership (and discounting). Since 1995, a steady succession of product advances combined with more recent channel development programs and active support for industry standards and interoperability organizations have begun to reap rewards
About the Author:
Andrew W. Davis is a researcher, analyst, and opinion leader in the field of collaboration and conferencing. He is a co-founder of Wainhouse Research and an active enthusiast for video conferencing and collaboration applications. Prior to Wainhouse Research, he held senior marketing positions with several large and small high-technology companies. Andrew has published over 250 trade journal articles and opinion columns on multimedia communications, videoconferencing, and corporate strategies as well as numerous market research reports and is a frequent contributor to the Wainhouse Research Bulletin.
A well-known industry guest speaker, Mr. Davis holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in engineering from Cornell University and a Masters of Business Administration from Harvard University.
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