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Gigaset Pro Introduces Maxwell 10 Android Tablet & Phone

Gigaset Pro MaxwellEarlier this week Gigaset extended their Gigaset Pro line by adding a new 10” Android tablet they call Maxwell. I must say that at first glance the device looks VERY nice.

As just an Android tablet Maxwell is a little unremarkable. The display is 1280 x 800 pixels. It runs Android 4.2.2, aka Jelly Bean, which is a little old on the eve of widespread Lollipop rollout.

What makes Maxwell stand out from the crowded tablet marketplace are the customizations intended to make it a communication centerpiece. These include;

  • Ethernet interface with POE support
  • Ethernet pass-through
  • Wired handset (RJ9)
  • EHS & DHSG connectivity
  • Bluetooth & wired headset connectivity (RJ9)
  • Audio augmented by a large speaker in its back
  • Built-in DECT base radio
  • Optional DECT handset
  • Desk stand
  • Wall mount capability
  • Gigaset Pro telephone app
  • Micro-HDMI output for a larger monitor
  • 2x USB host ports (supports external camera, keyboard, mouse, etc)

Color me curious about this tablet. I’d simply love to lay hands on one. I suspect that won’t happen since their Gigaset Pro line has not been offered in North America. The only thing that made it to these shores was the Gigaset DX800A. Lacking for a well-developed retail channel I don’t think that it did very well.

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Webcams 7: VDO360 Serious Webcams For Business

It was around a year ago that went on the hunt for a USB 3.0 webcam, only to find that they were essentially nonexistent. In my quest what I discovered was a range of products beyond the familiar consumer webcams. These are serious webcams for business, offered by companies like VDO360.

That companies’ initial product, the VPTZH-01 HD USB PTZ Video Camera, was novel for its VISCA compatible pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) capability. It was introduced at around $1399, a price that was heralded as a breakthrough at the time. Award-winning in fact. The current street price, as exemplified by Amazon, seems to be $999.

The VPTZH-01 HD USB PTZ Video Camera is a USB 2.0 connected device, with all that entails. The sensor is capable of delivering images up to 1920 x 1080 pixels (1080p.) Most applications will only manage to access a 1280 x 720 pixel (720p) stream since they are taking uncompressed frames from the camera.

Applications that are sophisticated enough to setup the camera to deliver a stream of MJPEG compressed images will be able to get full 1080p quality for the effort. The MJPEG compression overcomes the bandwidth constraint of the USB 2.0 connection to the host computer.

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A Dead Ringer For DoorBot

DoorBot-Looking-Left.jpgThis week has seen the team behind the DoorBot pseudo-smart doorbell announce their second generation product. In so doing they’ve renamed themselves Ring.

Honestly, my experience with Doorbot and its creators was so bad that I can’t help but harbor some animosity toward their operation. Yet, I want to be fair. Design is an iterative process. Perhaps they just need a few iterations on the theme to get to more generally usable product.

On the other hand, the description of the new product seems to be an incremental improvement from DootBot. Jump from 802.11B type Wifi to the more recent 802.11N type. Jump from VGA resolution video to 720p video, the baseline for HD. Abandon push-to-talk audio, ala Nextel of old, for something more akin to telephony. It’s basically a reversal of some of the bad design decisions embodied in the first generation product.

On the other hand, they still seem completely wed to their own “cloud service.” My experience with that was expect massive latency on call setup. Expect video only on occasion. I rarely even had continuous audio. On this basis alone you probably won’t receive that Fedex Express package you’re expecting on the first delivery attempt.

I’ve come to understand that my mistake with respect to DoorBot was expecting the kind of performance that I could more reasonably expect from any standards compliant IP phone. The DoorBot team clearly doesn’t have that sort of experience or appreciate that kind of performance. Even if that’s what separates the tools from the toys. DoorBot is a toy. Nothing more.

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New Gear: Grandstream GXV3275

Grandstream-gxv3275-right-300pxGrandstream recently released a new model of desk phone, the GXV3275 Multimedia IP Phone for Android. A logical successor to their GXV3175 model, it’s been updated in a variety of ways. Most interestingly, it runs Android 4.2, aka Jelly Bean. This is most recent release of Android that I’ve encountered running on a dedicated desk phone.

My enthusiasm for smart desk phones arises at least in part from a desire to see telephones play a larger role in home automation. This desire I have expressed at various times over the years, although Dave Michels perhaps has gone further with respect to acting upon a similar desire.

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Our DoorBot has Been Decommissioned: Part 3

DoorBot-Looking-Left.jpgFor the several weeks we’ve had the new “Extended Range” Doorbot installed in place of the original device. The only apparent difference between the two is the addition of a short external antenna to enhance the Wifi connectivity.

Happily, the new unit does seem to stay better connected to our WLAN. In the past I was not comfortable evaluating the behavior of the Doorbot+client application given the questionable connectivity. At present the network connection seems sufficient to examine the behavior of the system as a whole.

I have the DoorBot client application installed on a variety of devices:

  • Nexus 4 Android mobile phone (Me)
  • Nexus 5 Android mobile phone  (Mrs)
  • Nexus 7 Tablet (2013)
  • 4th generation iPod Touch
  • iPad with Retina display

The fact that I’m using so many devices may be a little unusual, but I would expect that many families will use 2-3 devices, most likely a couple of cell phones (his & hers) and a tablet. Although a family with kids may well have more than this.

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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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