New Android-powered videoconferencing endpoints set up fast, can also be used for office work

As the use of video communications continues to slowly broaden in the enterprise,  Cisco Systems is expanding the number of end points it offers to make sure it covers everyone from individual users to groups in boardrooms.

In its latest series of announcements, the company said Monday from its Cisco Live conference in San Francisco that it will release two Android-powered desktop systems for workers who need less than a full suite of productivity applications but want a reasonably-sized monitor.

It also announced an upcoming WebEx service making it easier for groups to join video meetings.

“Our mission is to complete the integration of video so its no longer a separate experience, and that it is pervasively available in very room, on every desk and in every pocket, ” Ian Gallagher, Cisco Canada’s general manager of collaboration, said in an interview.

“We’re trying to  eliminate that ‘first guy with a fax machine syndrome,’ that video only gets used to call out someone else that’s enabled, and therefore it is the exception and not the default (communications).”

If successful not only will video conferencing be used internally, he said, but organizations will use it to communicate with partners and their partners’ partners.

The main new products are the DX80, with a 23-inch touch screen, and the DX70, with a 14-in. screen, which are designed to help IT departments by being able be set up in less than five minutes.

They include some Cisco productivity apps, and are aimed at staff who mainly use email and browser-based applications. Because they use a hardened Android operating system, they are secure enough for downloading productivity apps from the Google Play store,  Gallagher said.

The US$3,900 DX80 (which with partner discounts on the street will be less than CDN$2,000) includes Intelligent Audio with built in speakerphone so it can be used in noisy environment like a call centre because its microphone array can block audio from anyone not in view of the camera. (The capability can be turned off  for users alone in a room who like to walk around when they talk.).

It also includes Intelligent Proximity, which pairs the unit to smart phones so can transfer a call from a mobile device to a DX80. The capability allows users to save copies of slides, rewind presentations and synchronize calendars and contacts.

“This one device replaces phone for audio calls,, personal  telepresence for video, the desktop monitor for use with external  laptops. In some cases this is an application platform,” Gallagher said.

The smaller DX70 has Intelligent Proximity, but not Intelligent Audio It has a list price of US$2,750, but is expected to have a street under CDN$1,500.

Cisco Systems' DX70
Cisco Systems’ DX70

Both the DX70 and DX80 can be set up for shared environments, with users logging in and receiving customized desktops.

For organizations that want staff to have separate deskphones and PCs, Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO) also announced Monday the successor to IP Phone 8800  with five inch color or monochrome screens.  The successor to the 7900 line, it has USB ports on the side, includes Bluetooth pairing, of devices , synchronizes with contacts on smart phones, call history syncing, and call handoff.

Cisco's IP Phone 8800 has USB ports, syncs to smart phones
Cisco’s IP Phone 8800 has USB ports, syncs to smart phones

Cisco’s Collaboration Systems Release, a suite of applications including Cisco Call Control, voice messaging, and Expressway, has moved to version 10.5.

Improving include allowing users to use SIP URI dialing on Web sites to soft clients instead of having to dial a phone number. All new generation Cisco end points will register to Unified Communications Manager as the call control engine. Mobile security through the Cisco Jabbe client has also been improved.

Finally, Cisco said in the fall its WebEx service will offer Collaboration Meeting Rooms, which will have always-on video, audio and data sharing. It will be S=simple to set up a bridge in the cloud without knowing who will connect ahead of time, Gallagher said, or with what kind of device. It will supports any standards-based software and Microsoft Lync.

To log in all a user will have to do is click on a link and sign in with a name and address.

CMR will be able to support up to 25 HD video endpoints and 2,500 WebEx users with video in a single meeting, Gallagher said. There will also be on-premise and hybrid versions.

Details of those versions as well as pricing have yet to be announced.

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