A VoIP Supply Q&A Batting .500!

Phoenix-Audio-Quattro3-USB.jpg

Phoenix Audio Quattro3 USBEarlier this weeks a new blog post over at VoIP Supply caught my attention. It’s a Q&A item that addresses the Phoenix Audio Quattro 3  USB conference phone and the Polycom RealPresence Group 300 video conference end-point.

The first question posed was in reference to using the conference phone with a computer to access online services like Skype. In his reply VoIP Supply blogger Nathan Miloszewski is right on the money, the Quattro3 USB attaches to a host computer as a generic audio device. That means that any software-based client application can make use of it, from Windows Media Player to Counterpath’s Bria , Skype, Hangouts…whatever.

Kudos to Nathan for a straightforward, helpful answer to a question about a device probably isn’t that common. If you’ve not laid eyes on one in your wanderings then it’s tough to know specifically how & when it could be used.

Polycom RealPresence Group 300(1)

He then turns his attention to a question about the Polycom RealPresense Group 300;

Q: Is it possible to use the Polycom RealPresence Group 300 with online services such as Skype or GoToMeeting?

Here his response is less than inspiring;

The beauty of the RealPresence Group 300 is that it is fully standards-based meaning, you can connect to “millions of other standards-based video systems in use today,” says Polycom.

Skype and GoToMeeting are certainly at the top of those “millions” of video systems and with the RealPresence Group 300′s 1080p60 video resolution and its Polycom SmartPairing™ technologythat allows you to use your Apple iPad to start and manage video calls, you’ll be the envy of your fellow video callers.

It also works with leading Unified Communications (UC) platforms (like Microsoft Lync) so you don’t have to add any additional hardware, like expensive gateways.

IMHO, that’s a bunch of inference and some reworking of marketecture. It’s just not a good answer.

The short answer is simply, “No. The RealPresense Group 300 cannot be used with GotoMeeting or Skype.”

When Polycom uses the term “standards based” they mean their product relies upon H.323 and SIP, the two most common standard protocols for VoIP and video conferencing equipment. I don’t believe that such a device can be used to join a Skype or GotoMeeting call. Neither of those services support interop with hardware end-points like the Group 300.

That said, there are many commercial services built upon those standards. There are even some services like Blue Jeans Network that are built to allow interop between those protocols. Using such a service a Polycom Group Series device can be on a call with a Cisco device, a LifeSize device, a Microsoft Lync client and Skype. Room systems, desktop clients, tablets and cell phones….anything-to-anything connectivity is their promise.

There’s a big difference between a freestanding hardware-end point, like the Polycom Group Series, and devices that are merely I/O for a computer. For example, the Logitech CC3000e Conference Cam is an integrated webcam and conference phone. It connects to a computer via a USB port. It can work with any program (soft client) that you might want to run, including Skype, Hangouts, GotoMeeting, etc.

However, the Conference Cam absolutely requires the computer. It’s not a freestanding video conference appliance like a Polycom Group or HDX series.

VoIP Supply has long been the 600 pound gorilla in online sales of VoIP stuff. Their strong and often informative online presence has driven a lot of consumer confidence in equipment that can’t be found at local retailers.

Normally I’d have offered a comment on the blog post as a way to seek or offer clarification. In fact, I tried to do just that…twice, but the comments never appeared.

Puzzled by this, I initially thought that perhaps the comments  were held for moderation. Then I realized that past comments that I had left have somehow disappeared. In fact, there seems a dearth of comments since the last redesign of the site, which was apparently in February of this year.

A blog devoid of comments strikes me as just so much talking to one’s self. I’ve been known to do that on occasion.