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David, Goliath and WebRTC

Lenovo X-1-Carbon Frontal-GotoMeetingFreeThe WebRTC movement is certainly gathering steam. World+Dog are now running along side that train, hoping to jump on and play with all the cool kids. It’s a fast moving train. Late comers may have a tough time getting on-board. When they do get aboard they may find that the best seats are already taken.

This opinion arises from a stream of chatter surrounding larger companies that are starting to play in WebRTC space. While it’s nice to see larger players starting to engage, I have a difficulty getting enthused about what they’ve actually done.

For example, Citrix having launched into beta a free video chat application under its GotoMeeting brand. I was a GotoMeeting user from their earliest days. I argued with my employer about the value that was to be found in the $49/mo they asked for the service. He initially balked at $600/yr, but eventually succumb when it became evident that I could save considerable travel expense by leveraging remote access for ad hoc customer support. Some years later that company actually adopted GotoAssist, which is an outstanding service.

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A Question About Chromebox-For-Meetings and USB Conference Phones

Not long a reader posed this question about USB speakerphone devices;

“Hi Michael – I read your blog article about chromebox for meetings. I’m in the UK and I think there will be good takeup when its launched here but I’m concerned about sound quality mic and speakers in untreated rooms. Have you found any USB table top devices  matrix mics with high quality speaker that could be integrated at proportionate cost? – Thanks, John”

It’s an interesting question. As I was answering him via IM it occurred to me that the answer might be worth sharing.

There are a lot of USB attached speakerphones available. I’ve tried quite a number over the years. Some are good. Some are cheap. As you can imagine, rarely are the good ones cheap. The major difference to be considered is whether the device undre consideration is intended for use by an individual or a small group.

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Telepresence For the 1%

Telepresence is something beyond any kind of desktop video calling/conferencing. I get that. A recent update to a post at Telepresence Options details Polycom’s band new Immersive Studio. Reading through the post I must say that I am intrigued and even impressed. However, the $426K starting price suggests that I never actually see one of these installations in person. These sorts of environments are clearly for the 1%.

That said, there are some notable things about the Immersive Studio, things that may be transferable to the rest of us. For example, they use 84” 4K LCD displays. They don’t intend to pass 4K video between sites, at least not yet. They still have 1080p cameras, up-scaling the video for display.

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Jeff Rodman on Getting Great Audio in a Video Call

Jeff-Rodman-Wired-Ning-on-HDX-4500 copyLast week it came to my attention that Jeff Rodman, co-founder and currently Chief Evangelist of Polycom, has penned a blog post/article for Wired Innovation Insights. It’s called, “Getting Great Audio in a Video Call” and it’s well worth your time. Jeff certainly knows a thing or two about great audio.

There’s very little point to a video call with bad audio. Audio is the foundation of the entire exercise. Jeff offers seven points that highlight the major considerations. The list reads like a market requirements document for some of the fine Polycom gear that I’ve had the pleasure of using in recent years.

6. Use Spatial Sound Only When it Makes Sense

His point number six is the first time that I’ve ever seen him offer commentary about the “spatial” aspect of conference audio. Most video conference schemes support stereo audio, but I’ve yet to experience any specific spatial tricks used in video calls.

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