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New entry-level appliance from Polycom

Oct 07, 20032 mins
Data Center

Polycom is adding a new “entry level” group videoconferencing appliance to its product line with this week’s release of the VSX 7000. The term entry level should be used loosely, because this device is packed with features, including H.264 support – the first Polycom unit to ship with the recently ratified video standard. For those unfamiliar with H.264, it allows the same picture quality to be delivered at half the bandwidth. So the picture quality you see using H.263 at 768K bit/sec would only require 384K bit/sec when using H.264 – a nice benefit for cost and bandwidth conscious network administrators. (On a competitive note, Tandberg is already shipping all of its endpoints with H.264 support.)

I also like the built-in speaker and detached sub-woofer, which should provide better sound than what comes out of a standard television that most group video units are hooked to. Also, Polycom gives VSX 7000 users the option of using its Siren14 audio compression technology that delivers 14KHz of sound, double the range of other codecs. For the administrator, the ability to customize the main user screen and the new remote that includes some “duh-why-didn’t-we-think-of-that-before” buttons (like a “dot” for entering IP addresses and a “back” button) should make tech support life a little easier. To wit, the VSX can be setup in a kiosk mode, so when a user approaches, the screen says, “Pick up the remote, press ‘1’ to reach ‘Site X’ or ‘2’ to reach ‘Site Y'”. The user doesn’t need to know if they’re on an IP or ISDN network or even how to dial. Finally, the VSX 7000 ships with support for 11 languages and the ability to present the user display in one language and the Web-based management interface in another. Great for an English-speaking tech support person dealing with a machine in Germany, for instance.

The base level VSX costs about $6,000, is IP only and does not include support for multi-point calling. The multi-point option is $3,000 but does not have continuous presence capabilities. With the release of the VSX 7000, Polycom will effectively stop marketing the ViewStation MP, SP and 512 lines, but will continue to manufacture and support them.