The chances are most small business owners don't give much thought to videoconferencing, let alone telepresence (high-definition videoconferencing), considering it to be out—way out—of their price range.
It's true that until quite recently, corporate telepresence systems had price tags in the multiple $100,000 range, and required a dedicated conference room to function.
All that's changed now, as developments in open-standards IP communications have allowed new approaches, and clever developers have broken through other barriers such as size and throughput requirements.
The four products discussed below should meet the needs—and fit the budget—of just about any business
Vu is the first premise-based telepresence system (we heard of) to break the $10,000 threshold. Developed by Vu Technologies, an Indian subsidiary of Zenith IT group, the technology provides PC screen sharing, archiving, and 720p conferencing for up to five participants. Systems sell for between $1,500 and $3,300 and can be leased for between $50 and $110 a month.
Read more about Vu Telepresence here.
Kalisto from Damaka
Damaka's Kalisto telepresence solution not only takes videoconferencing out of the dedicated conference room, it takes it all the way to the mobile smartphone and other portable devices, automatically adjusting video resolution to match available bandwidth and processor power. This lets all comers participate in collaboration sessions regardless of what resolution their device supports.
Read a full-length article about Kalisto here.
A subscription-based telepresence system that—for the moment—runs on the Skype platform (other version to come). For the truly bargain price of $10 per month subscribers can hold HD videoconferences with as many as eight participants on demand. VuRoom developers built this product with simplicity and ease of use as primary design goals.
Read an in-depth discussion of VuRoom here.
XVD Technology's Espresso HD videoconferencing system takes yet a different approach. The central system unit, which consumes very little electricity, is battery powered, allowing it to be ported to the classroom, surgical theater, or shop floor—wherever a highly detailed (full 1080p) image is required. The unit also powers up in seconds, unlike traditional room systems, which take many minutes. Pricing (according to a company spokesperson) is "a few thousand dollars." The units can also be leased on a monthly basis.
Here is a closer look at Espresso HD.