Hewlett-Packard today announced videoconferencing for desktops, laptops and conference rooms to complement its high-end, studio-based Halo videoconferencing line.
HP unveiled what it calls "visual collaboration" software in the form of a desktop client for deployment on laptops and desktops. The company also announced that an existing 23-inch executive desktop computer with a touchscreen display is now being bundled with the special software, and it introduced two room-size videoconferencing endpoints running the software.
For five years, HP has sold monitors, cameras and other gear to equip special studios for its high-end Halo videoconferencing system, but the company has managed all of the videoconferencing sessions that use that equipment. HP will not manage any of the sessions with its newest offering, turning over many of those controls to end users and IT shops through special servers.
HP's entry into desktop videoconferencing will further energize the market for videoconferencing, even as many newer mobile devices like the iPhone 4 have begun supporting real-time video chat. HP's newest desktop client will not initially support videoconferencing on devices smaller than a typical laptop.
The software being deployed starting today uses Scalable Video Coding (SVC) technology that HP obtained from Vidyo earlier this year. SVC reduces latency and eliminates the need to purchase a multipoint control unit commonly used in videoconferencing systems to control inputs.
Marcio Macedo, director of product management for HP Visual Collaboration, said the software also stabilizes videoconferencing data streams to keep the picture from freezing, which sometimes happens on some video calls.
He said a laptop user deploying the software can connect in a typical hotel room and receive "acceptable" videoconferencing quality at 15 frames per second with 360 lines of resolution. That's about half of what many experts refer to as high definition video.
The software adapts to the resolution and bandwidth of each end user so it can scale to a variety of networks without the need for a costly network upgrade, Macedo added.
The system supports up to 100 users in a single video call, meaning each person could be in a different location. A single screen shows the last eight people to talk.
The cost of a basic software license is $5 per endpoint (which means anything from a laptop to a room-size device); HP estimates the cost of server infrastructure to support the videoconferencing system will be about $100 per endpoint.