Tandberg plugs HD telepresence into desktop

The EX90 is designed to allow a remote worker to use a single desktop monitor both as a PC display and for high-definition video conferencing
Written by Richard Thurston, Contributor

Tandberg has introduced a desktop monitor that doubles as a telepresence system, to enable executives and home workers to communicate using high-definition video without having to move to a video-conferencing room.

Tandberg's EX90 product, which interoperates with most standards-based telepresence systems, was introduced on Thursday. It is a 1,080-pixel device that also works as a monitor, eliminating the need for two displays. The company is targeting the device at corporate workers who do not have ready access to a meeting room-based telepresence system.

"Today's executives...must be able to connect face-to-face with anyone at any time, at a moment's notice, to accelerate decisions and drive business in real-time," said Fredrik Halvorsen, chief executive of Tandberg, in a statement. "The EX90 enables executives to engage with customers, experts and employees as if they were sitting across the desk."

The announcement marks Tandberg's latest foray into what it is calling 'personal telepresence'. The company already produces T1 and T3 room-based telepresence products, as well as standard and high-definition desktop video endpoints. The company is in the process of being bought by Cisco, largely because of its technology and its efforts at introducing interoperability with other vendors' products.

Most video-conferencing vendors, including Cisco and Polycom, have launched personal telepresence systems, but they vary according to the user interface and the quality of the hardware.

The EX90 comes with an eight-inch interface pad that people use to dial in and manage their calls, meaning a remote control is not needed. The pad can also be used as a sketchpad, for collaboration using drawings. A handset is available for people who dislike headsets, and echo cancelling is built in to improve call quality.

The desktop video system has a 24-inch widescreen with a 2.7-megapixel camera, which can tilt 90 degrees to aid the sharing of documents. A second monitor can be added to the same connection if desired, which could be used for document sharing instead of tilting the camera.

The EX90 can be managed remotely by the IT department using Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) and Secure Shell (SSH) technologies. Communications are encrypted using H.235 and AES standards.

Doron Youngerwood, marketing manager of London-based Tandberg reseller MVision, said he thought the EX90 would help drive the adoption of telepresence at the desktop.

"Desktop video conferencing is still very new, but this will have a huge impact," he said. "People won't use video conferencing if they have to go to a meeting room — it's a hassle for a half-hour meeting. Having the ability to have a conversation without getting off your butt means utilisation [of the system] will increase dramatically."

Youngerwood said that businesses had previously been put off by the cost of telepresence systems and that having a high-quality system like the EX90, if was priced at a lower cost, could help change that. The EX90 is available immediately, Tandberg said, but did not reveal pricing.

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