High-end video-conferencing apps vs. quick and dirty web-collaboration apps

I’m in the middle of a video-conferencing feature looking at companies like Tandberg, Polycom, Cisco and LifeSize. I’m hearing that the applications that these guys have built (which typically sit on their own dedicated server) are so inherently flexible that they’re capable of HD quality video supporting anything from 200 to 5000 end points.

I’m in the middle of a video-conferencing feature looking at companies like Tandberg, Polycom, Cisco and LifeSize. I’m hearing that the applications that these guys have built (which typically sit on their own dedicated server) are so inherently flexible that they’re capable of HD quality video supporting anything from 200 to 5000 end points.

These apps drive full ‘human size’ size video walls that are known popularly as telepresence.

To me, these systems look just about as impressive as they look awful. The last time I had a video-conference it wasn’t a particularly enjoyable experience and the formal time scheduling of the whole affair made it all the more stifled, in my humble opinion.

The interesting thing with this topic though is this – although I am paying appropriate lip service to the makers of these video behemoths (as that’s what the feature demands)… the responses I got from my Twitter pals and industry contacts told a totally different message. Emails and Tweets said things like:

It’s just crazy to spend US$500,000 on something like that!

No way – we just get on a plane, flights are cheap and nothing beats personal face-to-face meetings.

Web cams are great these days, Microsoft's LiveMeeting is good and the open source www.dimdim.com is argued to be very practical.

Adobe Acrobat Connect / Connect Pro works well. Other than that, I use a web cam and IM software.

So who buys these units? Some of them come as a complete dedicated room with wood panels and blue backgrounds (Tandberg – you know who you are) that claim to provide a consistent and immersive experience for all participants.

Is it just corporate ‘showboating’ to have one of these units in place?

Have web developers and designers built such useable software now that we can get a good web chat with video completed without spending half a million dollars? Let’s hope so and let’s hope that social networking platforms are helping to integrate geographically distributed workers in a new and more productive and yet professional way than ever before.

My vote goes out to the developers who created IM and everything connected to it. Long may it continue to develop in terms of sophistication and let’s hope for more video interchange in our daily existence in cyberspace.

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