Wanted: A Telepresence system that SMB companies can afford

Bigger is not always better and this is especially true when it comes to Telepresence systems for the SMB markets. As is always the case, major companies like Cisco and Polycom always look at the big companies first. Case in point -- you did not see Cisco come out with the small 500 system until the last few months and it is way over priced for the market.

First I want to take a look at a few different systems made for the SMB market or personal use. The Cisco Telepresence 500 system retails for $33,900. It either comes on a stand or can be a desktop unit. It does, however, include a built-in monitor, which is 37 inches. All the other products mentioned in this blog post need a monitor purchased seperately. Cisco Telepresence 500

The Polycom HDX 7000 Series system retails for around $14,000, according to the information we could find, and this did not include a monitor. But you can add one in a package from the company on a stand or wall mount if needed. Polycom HDX 7000

The closest system we could find that would work for an SMB customer is the LifeSize Express system that run around $4,995. This company only does HD video conferencing for customers. This system does not come with a monitor but is small enough for someone to put into a computer bag and take on the road. LifeSize Express

As you can see we have come down in price each time but we are still a ways away from a price that will really make this mainstream. I would imagine that we will need a system around $1,000 without a monitor for this to be mainstream with SMB customer, travelers and remote workers.

(Here's a link on the latest news with regards to Telepresense, Nortel is getting a very big customer by reselling Polycom.)

With many customers looking at the economy and current travel prices, videoconferencing and/or Telepresence is going to be the way people will do business in the future and that future will be here sooner than you think. But we come back to the main question, who will make a HD Telepresence System the SMB user can afford?

We would like to hear your opinion on this, what are you using, how does it work, what would you recommend? Rumors are running around the chat sessions that Skype or MSN might support HD video conference calls soon. Not the hacked high resolution video, true HD 720 or 1080.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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