Review: LifeSize Brings High-Definition Enterprise Videoconferencing to a Meeting Room Near You

The LifeSize Room is an affordable, simple-to-set-up videoconferencing system with HD video resolution and super wideband audio. In our test drive, its video and sound quality were outstanding, but minor issues hindered the overall experience.

Videoconferencing isn't new. Simple analog videoconferencing was used in the early days of television, and NASA used radio frequency links to videoconference with astronauts during the first manned space flights. But widespread adoption of videoconferencing has been hindered by the same setbacks that plagued early efforts, including audio/video (AV) quality, reliability and the steep equipment price.

In the past few years, a handful of firms have begun to address the issues that have kept videoconferencing grounded. Companies offering high-definition (HD) videoconferencing promise reliable, easy-to-use and -deploy systems suitable for serious business use. The new level of technology offers 1280 pixels by 720 lines video, improved audio quality and cutting-edge hardware and software. "Codecs" code and decode compressed AV streams in real-time.

The LifeSize Room codec, LifeSize Phone and remote control
LifeSize Room

However, most of these systems are meant to be installed in a customized room used specifically for videoconferencing—an often costly expense. You may be hesitant to dole out as much as $500,000 for a cutting-edge videoconferencing environment, unless you know it's a mission-critical need.

With its LifeSize Room HD videoconferencing system, Austin, Texas-based LifeSize caters to firms with thinner pocketbooks or that prefer more mobile options. LifeSize Room consists of a codec that looks like a long, skinny stereo component; an HD pan, tilt and zoom (PTZ) camera; a disc-shaped LifeSize Phone; a remote control; and cables to connect it all to your display. Up to four remote sites can connect via LifeSize; an optional external bridge can connect as many as 24 parties.

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Overall, I'm a big fan of LifeSize Room. Its mostly consistent video quality surprised me each time I placed a call. Its price tag is the system's true value point, as the system's affordability makes videoconferencing far more achievable for smaller enterprises.

However, if you're looking for the best possible videoconferencing experience, and you have a room that can be remodeled and dedicated to videoconferencing, as well as the cash to make it all happen, you may want to consider a higher-end alternative.

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