New Technologies in Video Conferencing

VC: Now More than Ever

How Much Does It Cost?

Deploying Video Conferencing

Ever wished to set up a video conferencing system to connect your branch offices, but the high price has always been the barrier? Then you need to check out this product from D-Link, a standalone unit at only Rs 14k. You just have to hook it on to a TV with its AV connector to do live video conferencing.

It can connect either to a DSL or cable broadband connection, with a standard Ethernet cable.You can use a remote control to manage it from a distance. While video conferencing between two locations, you can configure it to give a picture-in-picture view, to see both yourself and the person at the other end. 

The device is very easy to set up and has a step-by-step configuration wizard available. It asks you the type of ISP connection (cable, DSL, T1) you are using, and accordingly configures the unit. It can also be set to automatically detect the public IP address you're using, which is then used for video conferencing. The device provides an on-screen keyboard to enter words and alphanumeric characters during the set-up. Being H.323 multimedia standard compliant, it can be used with PC-based video conferencing software like MS NetMeeting at the other end. Though it has a built-in unit, you can also connect an external microphone for better reception. The device automatically checks for the latest firmware updates from the Internet and asks you to update it. 

The unit can automatically record IP addresses of other units it needs to communicate with. It also has a RJ-11 jack for connecting a regular phone that works as a dialing pad for the videophone (to key in a VoIP number) instead of using the remote control and for you to make private conversations.

It has a picture quality resolution of 352x288 and claims 30 frames per sec. We connected two similar units to two different broadband connections-one was 512 kbps while the other was a 128 kbps bandwidth connection. The unit managed frame rates of 25 to 28 fps over this link, and the quality was acceptable. We also tested the videophone for MS NetMeeting, and found the video quality to be very good, though we faced slight mis-synchronization between the audio and the video.

The bottom line: A good choice for small offices which can't afford a high-end video conferencing system. 

Sanjay Majumder

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