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Inflexibility: TelyHD, Biscotti & Microphones

This is a semi-rant on a somewhat common theme for me, getting the best audio quality. In pondering these two new video calling devices from Tely Labs and Biscotti one thing stands out as unfortunate…they both rely exclusively upon an array of microphones built into their respective device. I find this to be short-sighted and unnecessarily inflexible.

Consider of you will the sample video that Jim Courtney recorded speaking with a gentleman from Tely Labs. The video quality is good. The audio quality is good…but it could be a lot better.

At both ends of the call there’s considerable room tone. In particular you can clearly hear that the conference room at Tely Labs is a simple drywall box. It sounds boomy and reverberant.

As I have described elsewhere, I find that the use of a speakerphone is always a last resort. It’s really only appropriate when you have a group of people collected for a call. To use a speakerphone when the call is just on-to-one is to permit the ambient noise and nature of the room to have undue influence in the audio quality.

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Video Calling On Your Home HDTV: Take 2–TelyHD And Biscotti

biscotti & tv-250 It seems that there’s a new wave of devices emerging that aim to provide high-quality video calling by way of the family TV.

This is not unfamiliar territory as both Cisco and Google have been in the space for some time. Cisco had their UMI device and associated service. Google had with the video calling capabilities built into Google TV, as exemplified by Logitech’s Revue.

It very clear that none of these prior efforts have made the kind of inroads that had been expected. Umi is no more. Logitech admitted that they took a bath on the Google TV and killed off Revue. Google seems to be continuing the Google TV effort, but it’s unclear where it’s heading.

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Revisiting The Plantronics Voyager Pro UC

Plantronics-Voyager-Pro-UC-MDA-300px I’d like to thank William for pointing out the relatively new Plantronics MDA200 interface device. Introduced in October of this year the MDA200
is a device intended to “UC enable” existing USB connected Plantronics headsets.

In the case of a wired headset, like the .Audio or Blackwire series, it allows a headset to be easily switched between use with a desk phone and a soft phone on a computer.

In the case of a Bluetooth headset with a USB interface it allows three-way connectivity between a desk phone, computer and cell phone. That’s very interesting indeed.

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CounterPath’s Bria For iPad: Obsoletes Desk Phones & Conference Phones?

Bria-iPad-Edition-beauty-200In the course of announcing it’s new Bria iPad Edition CounterPath recently made some very bold claims. They claim that within their own company Bria iPad Edition has essentially replaced desktop phones. They further claim it has overtaken their use of dedicated conference phones in meeting rooms. Citing their own internal experience they have brashly declared that the death of the desk phone is upon us.

One would expect a leading maker of soft phones to be less than enthusiastic about the future of hard phones. There is a very clear uptick in the use of soft phones, inspired by Skype at first, but then accelerated by UC clients from companies like Avaya, Mitel and even Microsoft.

Be that as it may, there remain tens of millions of IP phones on desktops around the globe. Clearly, the death of the category has not been universally observed. I hear no weeping from the various Polycom devices that litter my working life.

However, it has been said that the future is already here, just not yet evenly distributed. Perhaps I simply hold a position later on the curve of this trend?

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Citrix GotoMeeting Trialing HD, But Not Where It Counts

GotoMeeting-Hates-HDVoice I’ve been a customer of GotoMeeting for many years. I’ve used the service largely as a means to gain remote access to customers systems for the purpose of remote maintenance and diagnostics. I was driven to its use by the ABC group of stations, whose corporate network is seriously locked down. Since then my employer has become an avid user of their GotoAssist product, which is actually better suited to our activities.

We have also used GotoMeeting for its more traditional purpose of making online presentations.  Since our staff are distributed around the US and UK it’s been a handy platform for giving presentations. At $50/mo the cost/benefit balance of the service is very good. It lets use do more while travelling less, which is a win/win combination.

Early in our use of GotoMeeting we tried to use the voice conferencing facet of the service. However, at that time we found it wanting. Call quality was extremely variable, never very good. Thus we adopted the habit of using GotoMeeting for the presentation/desktop sharing, but a separate conference bridge to handle voice calls.

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Blue Jeans Network: H.323 & Skype Video Conferencing

A couple of weeks ago I started to play with a new service called Blue Jeans Network. This startup offers a cloud-based video conferencing service, effectively a cloud-based MCU. The service is presently free as it’s in a limited beta program. The beta program, originally set to expire this month, was just extended until June 15th.

At present their service supports connectivity via H.323, Skype and the PSTN. Of course,the PSTN dial-up means voice conferencing only…and thus only G.711. Clients connected via Skype get VGA resolution video and nice SILK-encoded audio.

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