Cisco announces new teleconferencing products

San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco Systems Inc. has announced, among a host of updates, two new products for teleconferencing, the Cisco TelePresence MX200 and the Cisco TelePresence Conductor.

The announcement is part of Cisco’s new “Telepresence Everywhere” campaign, and, according to James McCloskey, senior research analyst at Toronto-based Info-Tech Research Group Ltd., these two new products are worth paying attention to.

The MX200 is a conferencing endpoint, essentially an integrated teleconferencing screen. It’s a 42”, high definition LCD monitor, capable of displaying up to 1080p video signal. It can be mounted on a mobile stand, to a desk or onto a wall. McCloskey says its value is in being deployable out of the box and that it “gives more capability for broader deployment of Cisco telephony.”

According to Ian Gallagher, director of collaboration engineering at Cisco, the difference between the MX200 and other competitors is that “it’s absurdly easy to install.” Whether it’s hooking it up, which takes about 15 minutes after some back-end work, or setting it up in a conference room, the focus is on simplicity. Gallagher says the MX200 can be installed with “nothing more than a password in the hands of the installer to make it happen.”
And, thanks to Cisco’s acquisition of Tandberg, which made the MX200’s closest descendant, the CTS1100, the camera on the unit is much more forgiving in terms of placement.

Gallagher also says the MX200 is valuable because it supports native calling in a Cisco environment, meaning setting up a video call can be done with just one button.

In a Cisco environment, McCloskey said, users really get to take advantage of the MX200’s features. The Telepresence Conductor adds a lot of subtle features to the backend of Cisco products, the MX200 included, that can greatly improve call quality, even in low bandwidth or uneven bandwidth settings, says McCloskey.

Gallagher used the example of an international call involving five people across the ocean. Telepresence Conductor will, behind the scenes, organize the stream so that, instead of sending five streams, it will “intelligently optimize” the call. He says that with the Conductor, calls will also be instantly diverted from units that have lost power to a working one without the need for tech support.
Another part of the Telepresence Everywhere campaign, says Gallagher, is enhanced interoperability with Cisco endpoints and third-party units. He says that even mobile devices, video phones, browsers and tablets can now be easily brought into conferences, regardless of their manufacturers, due, in part, to new features being rolled out in the campaign.

Both the MX200 and the Telepresence Conductor will be available in December from Cisco.

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