Polycom tackles high-end videoconferencing

Polycom Inc., known for its group videoconferencing systems, is making a pitch to system integrators and high-end room system customers with this week's release of the iPower 9000 Series.

The iPower 9000 series expands upon work done by the PictureTel Corp., which was acquired by Polycom last year, and its iPower 900 series, a line of group videoconferencing units that come with a PC for sharing data and other resources with conference participants. The new 9000 series comes in two form factors: a standard PC implementation (officially the iPower 9800) and a rack-mount unit available to system integrators building custom room systems.

Customers purchasing the iPower 9800 over the smaller 900 series get a better quality camera and a new keyboard and remote combination designed to make the systems a little more user friendly, says Ned Semonite, vice president of product management at Polycom. The 9800 also comes with a built-in DVD drive and ImageShare for sharing data off of a laptop.

For system integrators, the rack-mounted iPower 9000 Codec provides all the software technology for conferencing with multiple video and audio inputs, as well as connectivity to both ISDN and IP networks.

"Some customers want the packaging of a PC tower, and others prefer that sleeker package that's more in tune with telecom," Semonite says.

The improved wireless keyboard, which also will be available to iPower 900 and 600 users in January, features special keys for videoconferencing-specific functions, while the remote comes with a mouse that can be used to manipulate any PC application, such as a PowerPoint presentation.

Also this week, Polycom announced it will be offering an optional software upgrade that will allow the iPower line to support up to 12 videoconference participants at a time, up from the current limit of four or five. The 12-port MCU optional upgrade will available at the end of November for US$7,000.

The iPower 9800 system is priced at $18,000 fully configured, while the iPower 9000 Codec for system integrators is priced at $14,000.

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