- Delivers a 'telepresence' experience at a relatively affordable price
- Standards-based system
- Straightforward to set up and use
- Single screen, point-to-point system (more expensive solutions deliver multi-screen, multi-point functionality)
Videoconferencing used to be a relatively low-resolution 4:3 aspect-ratio affair, but in recent years it has been transformed by high-definition (HD) 16:9 video, displayed on large screens in custom-built suites. To reflect this enhanced, immersive, experience, the term 'telepresence' has been adopted. The exemplar of telepresence is Cisco's eponymous product, which is notoriously expensive — it'll set you back around £150,000 for a dedicated suite, with serious service/bandwidth charges on top of that. HP also plays in this high-end market with its Halo product, along with the likes of Tandberg, Teliris and Polycom.
Clearly there is a vacant niche in the videoconferencing ecosystem for something more capable than do-it-yourself 'Skype and a webcam' solutions, yet cheaper than feature-rich but exorbitant Cisco/HP-style installations (despite recent moves to cut prices in this market). This is where Austin, Texas-based LifeSize comes in — most particularly with its entry-level £3,499 LifeSize Express product.
LifeSize Express is a single-screen, point-to-point telepresence system comprising an HD codec, an HD pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) camera, a high-definition MicPod microphone and a wireless remote control. Any display with an HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) port can be used. Note that this is a standalone system — no PC is required.
The codec, which handles the audio/video streams in real time, is a slim, roughly A4-footprint, unit measuring 28.8cm wide by 18.7cm deep by 4.13cm high and weighing 1.29kg. Bar a couple of status LEDs at the front, all the action is on the backplane, where the I/O connections reside.
The LifeSize Express codec.
From left to right, there's a reset button, a 4-pin power connector (from the bulky 19V AC adapter), a VGA input for displaying PC output, a FireWire port for the camera, HD video-in and video-out ports, RJ-45 connectors for the LAN and the optional LifeSize Phone plus microphone, line-out and line-in jacks.
The camera is a solid pan-tilt-zoom unit that can deliver 1,280-by-720 (720p or WXGA) video at 30 frames per second (fps), although the resolution you actually get at the remote end of a two-way link will depend on the bandwidth available (>1Mbps is required for 720p). It connects to the codec via a 7.5m FireWire cable, giving you reasonable placement flexibility (a 15m cable is also an option).
The LifeSize Express HD pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) camera.
The camera's wide-angle lens has a 70-degree field of view and a 4x optical zoom that's operated via the supplied infrared remote control.
The remaining components are the aforementioned MicPod microphone and the remote control. The MicPod is a disc-shaped omni-directional mic with a 7.5m combined audio/power cable, adorned by a mute button and call status/mute indication LEDs.
The LifeSize Express MicPod microphone and infrared remote control.
The remote control lets you navigate LifeSize Express's on-screen menu system, control the local or remote PTZ cameras, mute the microphone and adjust speaker volume.
There are currently no specifications for this product.
There are currently no prices available for this product.