Lifesize Icon 450 and Phone HD review

It’s expensive but this complete Lifesize solution makes professional video conferencing a walk in the park

IT Pro Recommended
Price
£3,635
  • Provides everything you'll need for video conferencing; Easy setup; Great picture and audio quality
  • Doesn't support Microsoft Edge

Lifesize aims to give it all to you, as its Icon 450 HD camera and Phone HD speakerphone link up seamlessly with its Cloud video conferencing service. You can use your own provider but this solution is designed to deliver everything a business needs to get up and running in minutes rather than days.

Hardware setup is simple: we connected the Icon camera and Phone HD unit together using the 9 metre proprietary link cable. The Phone HD has an Ethernet port supporting PoE, but it isn't needed in this scenario as the camera powers it over the cable.

We connected an HD monitor to the camera's HDMI port, linked it to the network and applied power. After 15 minutes, both units had booted, linked together, run an automatic firmware upgrade and were ready to go.

Linking them to our Lifesize Cloud account was easy as the camera displayed a unique code on the monitor which we assigned to our admin user in the portal. Both units appeared in the Video Systems page and we could remotely connect to the camera's web interface for further configuration.

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The only thing we needed do was change the audio source, as the camera had defaulted to the HD monitor. One annoyance is the Cloud portal doesn't currently support Microsoft Edge (sigh) but worked fine with Chrome and IE11.

To add new users to our Cloud account, we sent them an email from the portal with a download link to the relevant app. Our clients were running Windows 10 and macOS Sierra plus iPads with iOS 10.3 and they had no problems loading the app and signing up to the Lifesize Cloud service.

The Phone HD provides a 5in colour touchscreen with easy access to all call functions. It links up with the Cloud account so to start a one-on-one conference, we browsed the directory of registered users, chose one and selected a video or audio call.

Over at the client, the Lifesize app popped up and they accepted the call -- simple. Their video is shown on the camera's monitor while they get a screen-in-screen showing the Icon camera as the main view with a small pane showing their own view.

Meetings are just as easy to conduct; you set them up in the cloud and when users join, they see all screens in a split-level view on their desktop, which is also shown on the camera's monitor. The portal provides a wealth of information including total calls, minutes and average call times over the selected period, along with calls by device/OS and pie charts showing overall call quality.

The camera can also be accessed from the Phone HD screen with a PTZ control pad and options to create up to 10 position presets. The Icon 450 delivers 1080p HD video and we found quality was very good with a sharp focus plus good colour balance, while the 5X optical zoom maintained image quality right up to the max.

The chunky 27cm diameter Phone HD unit won't be faulted for sound quality either and we never needed to go above a 50 percent volume level in our 6.5 metre meeting room. It incorporates four internal mics and participants all said they could hear us clearly, even when we moved down to the far end of the room.

During testing, we were impressed with how easy this Lifesize solution was to deploy and use. The complete package is pricey and you'll need to factor in the Cloud subscription fees, but it provides everything a business needs to start global video conferencing straight out of the box.

This review originally appeared in PC Pro issue 275

Verdict

During testing, we were impressed with how easy this Lifesize solution was to deploy and use. The complete package is pricey and you’ll need to factor in the Cloud subscription fees, but it provides everything a business needs to start global video conferencing straight out of the box.

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Icon 450 camera: 1080p 30fps PTZ 5X digital zoom 10/100 2 x HDMI Link port 2 x USB 2 remote handset external PSU

Phone HD: 5in. colour touchscreen 4 x internal mics speaker 10/100 Icon link port 9 metre link cable 1yr RTB warranty Lifesize App starts from £22 ex VAT per user

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