LifeSize Room 200 review

Think serious video conferencing kit has to cost a fortune? LifeSize looks to bring down the cost of high quality video conferencing to more attainable levels.

We did notice some artefacts when finely detailed objects moved, but static objects were very finely detailed and clearly HD quality. The circular microphone array picks up audio all round the room, too, and therefore isn't particularly phased by objects interfering with the direct path to speakers. So everyone in the conference room can speak freely, as they would when talking to people who are actually there.

But the system comes into its own even further when you add participants. Bandwidth permitting, the Room 200 can deal with up to six video streams simultaneously, all at 1080p. Since only one video feed will be passed upstream, and available downstream bandwidth is usually many times faster, this is even feasible over fast broadband.

Thanks to the high resolution, you can easily hook up conference rooms full of people at each end. Further adding to the possibilities, there's a PSTN socket on the codec box. This can be plugged into a regular phone line hosting an audio-only teleconference, so your whole company can join in.

Since the Room 200 relies on the H.323 teleconferencing standard, it will talk to non-1080p LifeSize systems such as the keenly priced Express 200, plus devices from other manufacturers and even webcam users. It integrates with both Cisco Call Manager and Microsoft OCS, as well as SIP. The codec box can transcode lower quality streams for lower quality participants at the same time as handling 1080p, so someone on a webcam using MSN doesn't pull everyone down to their quality level.

The LifeSize Room 200 is still a relatively expensive system. But with everything included in the box, it brings fully featured 1080p videoconferencing down to a more affordable level. For medium-to-large companies which need boardroom video facilities, but were unwilling to pay the 50K+ price previously associated with this, it could be just what you're looking for

Verdict

Great HD video quality is the next best thing to really being there, every capability is included as standard, and the cross-compatibility makes for a very flexible system. The price is still relatively high, but you get a lot of videoconferencing capabilities for your money.

Resolution: up to 1080p30 video Compression: MPEG-4 H.264 AVC video (H.261, H.263, H.263+ and H.239 compliant), AAC LC audio (G.711, G.722, G722.1C, G.728, G.729 compliant) Data rates: 128Kbits/sec – 6Mbits/sec (point-to-point) or 2Mbits/sec (multipoint) Videoconferencing standards: H.323, SIP, Microsoft OCS, Cisco Call Manager Video input: 2 x HDMI, DVI-I, analog component, S-video, composite Audio input: 2 x stereo line, microphone minijacks Video output: DVI-I, HDMI (up to 2 simultaneous displays) Audio output: stereo line minijack Other: PSTN, USB, 2 x Ethernet, RS232, PTZ camera

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