For most companies, videoconferencing sounds like a great way to cut travel costs while staying in touch with remote customers, suppliers, and partners. But somehow, the crappy quality of the cheap systems and the intimidating prices and complexity of high-end solutions keep them from actually doing it.That's why every videoconferencing vendor is scrambling to find that elusive sweet spot that delivers an acceptable experience at an affordable price.
Polycom's latest attempt is the $4,000 QDX 6000, aimed squarely at small and midsize companies -- especially professional service firms such as a mid-size law firm with offices in two to three different cities. Other possibilities include small contract engineering and manufacturing firms, says Joan Vandermate, vice president of marketing for Polycom's video solutions group.
"Skype For Business is awesome, to a certain point," adds Bob Knauf, Polycom's product marketing manager for video endpoints. "But you end uip spending time mailing stuff back and forth and doing screen captures. It's not like being face to face."
The QDX 6000 "is not a little Webcam sitting on top of your PC trying to capture a group of people," Knauf says. It offers DVD-quality 480p resolution, with the included camera and stereo microphones. All you need to add is a screen, and Knauf says that for small offices, a 32-inch monitor is often large enough, while he recommends 42-inchers for conference rooms. You can share detailed work by attaching high-resolution peripherals such as PCs, DVD players and document cameras.
Video quality alone isn't enough, though. The idea is to make the product cheap enough and simple enough so even smaller companies can use them. Of course, you need more than one video conferencing device for it to be of any use, so Knauf said that the goal was to make the QDX 6000 so affordable that buyers might be able to give units to important-but-remote customers and partners to improve communications. (Knauf says that the QDX 6000 will work with most standards-based video conferencing solutions, so buying more than one may not be necessary.)
Putting the units in multiple places is easier to do because the QDX 6000 works over standard Internet connections, even as slow as 256Kbps using Polycom's proprietary Lost Packet Recovery. AES encryption provides security when using public Internet connections.
According to a recent IDC study, 23% of SMBs are using some sort of video conferencing, and 11% planned to install it. And Polycom is also targeting the QDX 6000 at K-12 education, medical uses, and emerging markets such as India, China, Latin America, Southeast Asia, and Eastern Europe. Knauf says that adding video to audio conferences "helps tremendously with language and dialect barriers."