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What's New With Plug 'n' Play Conferencing

July 11, 2016 | Telepresence Options

Skype_for_Business1.jpg

Story and images by Mike Brandes / AVNetwork

Soft Codec Lowdown Revisited: What's New With Some Plug'n'Play Conferencing Capabilities

In case you've been living under a rock, computer-based videoconferencing is quickly on its way to overtaking traditional appliance-based telepresence solutions. For a number of reasons--mainly cost and flexibility, enterprise customers are finding a better value in using desktop videoconferencing programs and deploying them en masse

Manufacturers in the industry are catching up on the technologies necessary to make computer-based UCC applications feasible as a complete replacement for traditional VTC technologies. Vaddio has a line of high-quality USB cameras. Biamp recently released Devio, a platform built for small rooms. Extron has its MediaPort 200, a half-rack unit that converts video and audio signals into a USB connection. QSC recently announced an upcoming update to its Q-SYS platform, integrating PTZ-IP cameras with its existing software-based AEC processing and packaging it into a USB stream, which can be accessed from ports found on its new I/O-USB bridge or touchscreens. USB connectivity of AV solutions has gone from being a niche market or a "nice-to-have" feature to a requirement for many companies.

Hardware is only one side of the equation. The most important side is selecting a UCC application, or soft-codec, to use as your platform for computer-based conferencing. In a previous iteration of this piece, I focused on applications from low-end consumer to high-end enterprise; for the sake of this article, I'll narrow my scope to applications that are scalable and offer value to those in corporate AV, whether on the small (team-sized) end or on the large (company-wide) end. These solutions are listed in no particular order:

Skype: Still the de facto choice for people that want to "try" video. "Let's Skype someone in," they might say. Skype is a great entry-level solution for companies and teams wanting to kick the tires on videoconferencing, or to connect with a remote employee internationally to avoid costly telephone plans. Not designed for, nor intended to be used as, an enterprise solution.

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