Comparing Video Conferencing Systems

By Sheila Shanker
Updated: June 20, 2011

If you think videoconferencing is only for big business, think again. Equipment and video service costs have decreased over the years, while quality has improved dramatically. Instead of clunky equipment and complicated issues, videoconferencing these days is simpler; it uses the Internet to carry video packets along with voice and data. To use modern videoconferencing effectively, you need a high speed, broadband Internet connection -- that's a must.

Many businesses choose to keep videoconferencing equipment and services in-house, especially when their own technical staff is knowledgeable about Internet video, digital compression and the overal tech-aspects of the system. Basic equipment for video conferencing includes:

  • Video input (camera) and output, such as a projector--HD has become a standard in videoconferencing.
  • Audio input (microphone) and output (loudspeaker)
  • Data decoder (codec) and data transfer medium, such as the Internet
  • Echo cancellation, a primary feature of professional videoconferencing, which controls audio signals for quality control.

Budget

As you’re going through this process, consider not only the purchase, but also costs for technical staff and ongoing maintenance. Take into consideration travel savings after the system is up and running. Executive trips-not-taken can save a company substantial amounts and should be considered in the decision to acquire a videoconferencing system.

Quality

Purchase the best system you can afford and go with reputable brand names, such as Cisco and Polycom. You want to purchase from a company that will be around throughout the years. The same goes for vendors and service providers – you want to deal with reputable firms, not a corner business that may fold in a year or two.

Scalability

It’s one thing to conduct a videoconference between two locations. It’s something else when your meeting involves many places. Be sure that your system can adapt, is flexible and can be added to. Many business owners don’t think long term and buy a small system that is fine for now, but cannot be used in a more complex environment.

Security

Videoconferencing employs the Internet, a medium that is prone to virus and hackers. To protect your meeting and your computerized system against these problems, use anti-virus software, firewalls and other tech-protections. Be sure that your videoconferencing system allows for password protection so that only invitees are allowed in the system and in the conference.

Videoconferencing is an affordable option for many businesses that want to save money in travel costs and take advantage of the latest technology. It’s a step above phone conferences and can be very effective in meetings, training and dealing with clients from afar. If you have a small business and conduct professional quality videoconferencing, it can impress many current clients and future clients, who may feel they are dealing with a well-established, forward-thinking firm.

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