Videoconferencing specialist LifeSize, which was acquired late last year by Logitech, has unveiled a 16-port video MCU (Multipoint Control Unit) for handling multi-party HD video calling. The LifeSize Bridge 2200 costs an impressive £54,299, but according to the company its cost per port of £3,394 is about a third of what competitors like PolyCom and Tandberg charge for similar equipment, without compromising on performance.
LifeSize also claims that the Bridge 2200 is simpler to manage and more scalable, thanks to its flexible modular architecture. According to LifeSize, the return on investment is such that, despite its price tag, the Bridge 2200 will prove attractive not just to enterprises and service providers, but also to SMEs, particularly those whose staff regularly work remotely or who find the cost of business travel increasingly prohibitive.
A 2U rack-mountable unit, the Bridge 2200 supports up to 16 audio/video participants at resolutions and frame rates up to 1,920 by 1,080 at 30fps (1080p30, consuming 1.7Mbps of bandwidth) or 1,280 by 720 at 60fps (720p60, consuming 1.1Mbps). Thanks to a 'flat capacity' architecture that provides an encoder per participant, each participant gets the quality of service that their endpoint can handle, be it a notebook-and-webcam setup or a hardware codec such as LifeSize's Passport or Express. Over 200 resolutions are supported, allowing the bridge to handle a wide range of independent connection speeds, resolutions and conference layouts.
The Bridge 2200 supports 12 different continuous presence layouts, and participants can select from these independently. The system can be set up to automatically place the 'dominant' speaker into a prominent window, with individuals able to override this and promote any participant to prominence if required.
Videoconferencing is common at the desktop point-to-point level and in vastly expensive corporate suites, but there's an increasingly receptive middle ground waiting to be served by the right products. LifeSize's Bridge 2200, which will be available by the end of October, could be one of those products.