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LifeSize unveils all-in-one HD videconferencing units

Logitech unit pushes easy set-up of units for home and executive offices and meeting rooms

May 15, 2012 01:30 PM ET

Computerworld - LifeSize on Tuesday unveiled two portable, all-in-one videoconferencing units for various work spaces, including home offices, meeting rooms and executive offices.

The Unity 50 is a tabletop or wall-mounted unit with a 24-in. LED display with 720p HD resolution combined with camera, microphone, speakers and endpoint technology.

The Unity 50 is priced at $3,999.

The larger Unity 500, priced at $19,999, stands on a pedestal and provides a 40-in. LED display with 1080p HD resolution and other camera, codec and sound components.

Unity 50 videoconferencing unit
The Unity 500 videoconferencing unit from LifeSize can be used in executive offices and conference rooms. (Photo courtesy of LifeSize)

A LifeSize touch-panel IP desktop phone is included with the Unity 500 to help users set up videoconference calls and to provide audio calling.

Competitors Cisco and Polycom also offer all-in-one units, but Michael Helmbrecht GM of video at LifeSize, a division of Logitech, contended that Unity products are less expensive and easier to set up and move.

He called the new Unity products a move up in quality from older LifeSize products.

He said the portable design makes videoconferencing far more practical and affordable than the typical installation of a telepresence studio for more than $200,000 in a corporate conference room.

"These are fast to deploy an easy to use," Helmbrecht said. "If a customer needs to re-deploy a unit when an office is no longer used, you just move it."

The LifeSize products interoperate with videoconferencing products, including call management software, from competitors.

The new Unity series will provide other model sizes and variations in future releases, Helmbrecht said.

Austin-based LifeSize has 500 employees, 3,000 resellers and serves customers in 80 countries, he added.

The Unity series is an example of a trend that has videoconferencing vendors "shooting for ease of use and ease of installation," said Henry Dewing at Forrester Research.

"These vendors will set these up at trade shows and have a race to see who can set up the fastest," Dewing said. "A sub-10 minute set-up is not unusual."

The Unity series is a move in the "right direction" for LifeSize, he added, noting that the smaller Unity 50 is a convenient desktop unit that can serve as a second monitor on person's desk when not used for videoconferencing.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at Twitter@matthamblen, or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed Hamblen RSS. His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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