Product summary: Pleasanton, Calif.-based Polycom plans to announce the VSX 3000 Monday. The device is a high-end desktop videoconferencing system that combines a camera, microphone, speakers, required software and other components with a 17-in. display that can double as a PC monitor. Polycom said the system supports H.264 video compression, which produces much sharper images than products based on the older H.263 standard while utilizing half the bandwidth.
User experience: Beta tester Dave Christensen, senior videoconferencing specialist at the headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, described the VSX 3000's video and sound quality as "exceptional" and comparable to that of a room-size videoconferencing system. But at a price of nearly US$5,000, the VSX 3000 also costs about as much as a room-size unit, Christensen said. The church hasn't decided whether it will buy any, he added.
Analyst assessment: The VSX 3000 fills a hole in Polycom's product line, said Andrew Davis, an analyst at Wainhouse Research LLC in Brookline, Mass. Polycom made earlier attempts to crack the market for executive-class desktop systems, but none were successful, he said. "This is for the status-conscious end of the market," Davis added, predicting that the ability to use a single monitor for both PC and videoconferencing purposes will help sales of the VSX 3000.
Other vendors in the market: Tandberg ASA and Sony Corp.; Cisco Systems Inc. plans to ship a desktop videoconferencing system by midyear.
Price: The VSX 3000 starts at $4,999.
Availability: Now. In the fourth quarter, Polycom plans to add an optional feature that will support data sharing during videoconferencing calls.