LifeSize rocks the HD conferencing world with affordable 720p solutions

Summary:LifeSize Communications was the first company to release an HD conferencing solution which I covered at Interop Las Vegas spring 2005.  Now at Interop fall 2007 in New York, it appears that LifeSize has again rocked the video conferencing world by releasing 720p HD products at half the price of competing 720p solutions.

LifeSize Communications was the first company to release an HD conferencing solution which I covered at Interop Las Vegas spring 2005.  Now at Interop fall 2007 in New York, it appears that LifeSize has again rocked the video conferencing world by releasing 720p HD products at half the price of competing 720p solutions.  The LifeSize Express sells for less than $6K and is cheaper than many standard definition video conferencing solutions.  The new LifeSize Telepresence solution can be built for a quarter of the cost of competing Video Telepresence solutions.  [Update - See gallery here]

Pictured to the left is the newest low-cost LifeSize Express 720p HD video conferencing solution.  It will ship tomorrow on 10/23/2007 and it has an MSRP of $5,999 which is nearly half the price of competing 720p HD conferencing solutions on the market.  The LifeSize Express has dual-input capability and it has HDMI input and output which carries audio.  The 720p codec in this model is limited to 1.5 mbps.  The $5,999 price comes with microphone, remote, and camera.

Pictured above is the back of the LifeSize Express.  At this time the HDMI ports which carry digital audio and video capability don't have HDCP compatibility which means you won't be able to input commercial HD DVD or Blu-ray video in to the system since they require HDCP copy protection.  At this point in time that wasn't really a priority and no other product on the market has HDCP protection either nor do they have the convenience of HDMI ports.

Pictured left is the new LifeSize Team MP product which ships tomorrow on 10/23/2007.  It has an MSRP of $8,999 and it adds 4-way continuous presence multipoint capability and supports up to 2.5 mbps.  At under $9000 the Team MP is about the same price as some competing standard definition video conferencing solutions.  Like the Express system it also supports a single camera and single display.

Pictured left is the LifeSize Room system which has been the flagship product for LifeSize for a year.  It supports up to 6-way continuous presence multipoint, VAS (Voice Activated Switching), and up to 5 mbps.  This model supports dual camera and dual screen.  Seen in the picture is a LifeSize IP phone which is powered by standard RJ45 802.3af POE (Power Over Ethernet) port.  The smaller microphones shown with the LifeSize Express and Team MP are analog microphones that go in to the microphone jack.

Pictured above is the new LifeSize Conference solution which is essentially a "Telepresence" solution without the display and furniture.  The solution is essentially two LifeSize Team MPs and one LifeSize Room system bound together by a controller.  It is extremely disruptive to the Telepresence market space because it sells for an MSRP of $39,999 when competing Telepresence solutions sell for $200K which includes the furniture and displays.

Since you can buy three 52" flat panel LCD displays for $6K and some pretty nice custom furniture and video studio lighting for $14K, you can build a LifeSize Telepresence solution for about $60K.  As LifeSize CEO Craig Malloy explained it to me in a telephone conference today, you can build a house in Texas with the remaining $140K.  In the picture above you're probably looking at $2000 of furniture and wall mounts and I can't see why you would need anything more than this other than a brightly lit room which produces a much better picture quality.  This gets you the same video Telepresence quality of systems costing 4 times more money.

Topics: Tech Industry

About

George Ou, a former ZDNet blogger, is an IT consultant specializing in Servers, Microsoft, Cisco, Switches, Routers, Firewalls, IDS, VPN, Wireless LAN, Security, and IT infrastructure and architecture.

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