Videoconferencing Systems and Cameras
Nov 25, 2013 2:25 PM, By Bennett Liles
It wasn’t all that long ago that a videoconference was the visual equivalent of a 1960s Transatlantic phone call. How times have changed. Special high-speed data lines and teams of technicians have morphed into a tabletop box or a wall-mounted flatpanel display with an integrated camera, taking its place among the framed photographs or paintings in the room. Data sharing, multi-preset PTZ cameras, and increasingly sophisticated echo cancellation have made communication quick and easy with only a button push or two needed to make the connection. The systems surveyed here are examples of the simplicity and affordability that have brought videoconferencing to the masses.
Aver’s answer to quick and easy videoconferencing, especially where multiple conference rooms require a larger scale deployment at low cost, is the EVC100. Comprised of the camera, codec, microphone, and IR remote, the EVC100 has VGA and HDMI outputs to support dual monitors, and with H.323 and SIP, it integrates with other videoconferencing systems. The HD fixed focus camera is a 2-megapixel, low-lux unit with 4X digital zoom and an 88-degree field of view. The codec has VGA and HDMI inputs for camera and data sharing. Calls can be made through speed dialing with hotkeys, and the system can be remotely managed, including firmware updates, on its Ethernet port with password protection. Audio inputs include the EVC microphone array and a line-in on 3.5mm mini. The sound transmission features auto gain control, noise reduction, and echo cancellation while the line outs include audio on HDMI and 3.5mm mini port. Control settings are also password protected.
As a part of the EVERCAM XU series of HD PTZ cameras from Canon, the XU-81 PTZ HD is an indoor/outdoor 1/3in. single-CMOS 1.2-megapixel camera that is used in a wide range of applications including videoconferencing systems. With its 20X HD zoom lens, it can cover a large room and provide detailed close-ups using its 128 presets. Control can be toggled between RS-232 and RS-422 while the video resolution can be switched between 1080i and 720p to fit and add to any existing videoconferencing setup. The normal mode noise rating of NC<30 will allow microphones to be installed in close proximity and its HD-SDI output enables the codec to be mounted a considerable distance from the camera when necessary. Other features include auto/manual video gain, auto/manual focus, switchable ND filter, variable shutter speed, and 12X digital zoom. The XU-81 can be mounted upright or inverted.
Cisco’s MX300 is an all-in-one videoconferencing solution consisting of a 55in. LCD display with an integrated Cisco PrecisionHD 4X zoom camera and two front-facing full-range speakers for medium-sized conference rooms with four to eight participants. Two tabletop PrecisionHD microphones complete the system, which works on a Cisco Callway Premium subscription, Cisco Unified Communications Manager (UCM), and Cisco Telepresence Video Communication Server (VCS). When using this premise-based infrastructure, an installation wizard self-configures for easy setup and expedited use. The 8in. Cisco Touch 8 interface allows simple control including one button-push calling, integration with common calendaring applications, PC content sharing, and support for H.323 and Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) with bandwidth up to 6Mbps point-to-point. The system provides video resolutions of 1080p30 and 720p60, and the monitor can be fitted with table stand, floor stand, or wall-mount options.
The Collaborate Room PHD system from ClearOne is designed to allow participants to look their best while providing a professional, broadcast-grade videoconferencing experience. The codec has very good echo/noise cancellation, and the HDConference microphone array can be daisy-chained with up to six microphones for 360-degree sound pickup in the room. There is also recording capability on internal and external HDD for playback and archiving of important meetings. For webinars and remote training, up to 20 participants can view a session. The software-based videoconferencing solution allows flexibility, easy upgrades, future-proof scalability, and total cost of ownership along with team collaboration and HD data sharing. The system, with wireless remote control, is upgradeable to a nine-way MCU. PC files can be shared via USB during the videoconferencing session, and the system is interoperable for communication with all standard (SIP/H.323) videoconferencing devices. Video inputs are DVI and outputs are DVI and HDMI.
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