by Steve Bennett
When it comes to judging videoconferencing technology, seeing is truly believing. Polycom’s “communications appliance,” ViaVideo, is built from the ground up for excellent video communications.
ViaVideo does one thing well: Bring outstanding image and sound quality to any desktop over LAN/WAN, DSL, and cable networks. It costs more than entry-level video cams, but the performance is worth the higher price.
The secret to ViaVideo’s performance is a multimedia processor that generates stunning, full-motion video. The integrated audio uses noise suppression and echo-cancellation technology for crisp sound reproduction. The all-in-one camera/microphone sits above the monitor, taking up minimal space.
Setup couldn’t be simpler — just plug the unit into a USB port, connect the power, and install the drivers and ViaVideo software. A minimum 350MHz Pentium-class processor is all it takes to run the ViaVideo software. Be aware that Windows 98 is a requirement, as Windows 95 and NT are not currently supported.
Assuming the chosen broadband-service provider supports IP-based H.323 communication, users can videoconference within minutes of installation. The imaging takes place within an attractive frame and provides a “virtual remote control” for adjusting volume. Click the mouse to dial a videoconferencing partner’s IP address, or select a partner from the easy-to-set-up address book.
If there’s any shortcoming to the ViaVideo package, it’s the thin online documentation, although the navigation is intuitive and setup should go without a hitch. That aside, ViaVideo represents a breakthrough in personal videoconferencing.