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Last year, Cisco promised during its Enterprise Connect keynote speech to simplify video conferencing for all customers, and now it claims it’s fulfilled that promise. A revamped Cisco video-conferencing line was unveiled ahead of this year's Enterprise Connect, featuring four new video systems for deployments in everything from small businesses to large boardroom environments. Cisco claims customers won’t need an IT pro to deploy these new systems.
Video has historically been very difficult for many organizations to adopt. Video conferencing and telepresence systems are notoriously complicated to deploy and can also be difficult for employees to use, said Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst at ZK Research.
This Cisco video conferencing portfolio refresh finally fully integrates technology from Cisco's Tandburg acquisition, starting with the new TelePresence SX10 Quick Set system for small to medium-sized businesses. The system allows businesses to turn any existing flat screen TV into a collaboration system, and can be set up in ten minutes or less without the need for IT expertise, said Snorre Kjesbu, vice president and general manager for Cisco’s collaboration endpoint technology group.
“We are addressing the meeting-room end of the portfolio [and] making it easier … with new technology innovations, new design. And we are working on affordability," he said.
The company introduced the second generation of its Cisco TelePresence MX200, a system for smaller conference rooms that will come with a floor-standing 42-inch display and embedded four-way multiparty conferencing. Cisco announced two new TelePresence systems -- the MX700 and MX800 for medium-size and large board rooms, which will come with 55-inch displays and support the H.265 standard for bandwidth efficiencies without affecting image quality, according to the company.
Cisco is also introducing a standalone video codec box -- the SX80 -- that supports the H.265 standard for integrators looking to equip larger spaces with video functionality. The appliance can work with a variety of cameras, supports up to three screens and can be paired with the MX700 and MX800, Kjesbu said.
Cisco videoconferencing technology: New cameras, speakers, and mobility features
To round out the conferencing experience, Cisco introduced two new cameras that are interoperable with most of its new video units.
The Precision 60 can capture video at 1080p resolution, can adapt to varying light conditions and has a large zoom range. The SpeakerTrack 60 is a dual-camera system that can identify and zoom in on active speakers in larger boardroom setting. Its facial recognition and voice triangulation technology allows the camera to follow speakers from the conference table to the collaboration display, Cisco said. "You don’t really get an immersive experience in a large room," said Kjesbu. "We wanted to solve a problem that has plagued large room conferences -- tiny little faces [and] … not being able to see everyone."
Cisco is also featuring its Intelligent Proximity technology within its MX product lines -- a capability that allows a Cisco videoconferencing system to identify smartphones or tablets entering the meeting and asks the user if the device should be integrated for content sharing.
Cisco video conferencing falling in line with market trends
Vendors believe simplicity, along with attractive prices, will boost video adoption. Cisco's updated video portfolio fits in with the market's overall trend toward video offerings that lower the barriers of entry for smaller businesses -- such as Google's Chromebox video conferencing offering currently on the market for $1,000.
"In the past, Cisco has innovated in the video market for innovation's sake, sometimes at the expense of ease of use. Some of the features in this launch show that [Cisco] is trying to focus on making things easier,” ZK Research’s Kerravala said.
Cisco said that the smallest unit -- the SX10 -- will "cost less than a PC." Cisco is also expected to release additional details during a keynote address to be delivered by Rowan Trollope, senior vice president of Cisco's collaboration technology group, at this year's Enterprise Connect conference.