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October 19, 2010

LifeSize shows off ‘disruptive’ bridging product

16-port device offers lowest price on market, firm says

By Steve Evans

UC firm LifeSize has unveiled Bridge 2200, a multipoint control unit (MCU) that is said to offer each user their own encoded connection, enabling companies to converge multiple video streams into a single HD feed.

The 16-port LifeSize Bridge 2200 enables companies to pull streams from a variety of sources such as meeting rooms or individual desktops and convert it to an appropriate HD output that all participants can see.

Customers can pick and choose the appropriate number of ports for their current needs and add capacity when needed by adding another Bridge, taking capacity from 16 ports to 32. LifeSize says this removes the possibility of unused capacity in the video conferencing platform and reduces upfront investment costs.

It works over both centralised and distributed networks and supports 30 and 60 frames per second and throughput of between 128Kbps and 4Mbps. It also supports over 200 resolutions, which means it can cope with changes in the available bandwidth without end users noticing any change, said Jonathan Tracey, LifeSize EMEA sales director. A flat capacity system means that someone using a lower quality connection to the video conference will not impact any other users.

Bridge 2200 uses a modular approach, which LifeSize says means it can support any codec, speed, resolution, layout and port without affecting the quality or performance. The system is designed to be used with minimal input from IT staff. "The system can be set up to automatically make the screen bigger when a person starts speaking or the user can pick and choose the set up, such as always having one person on the main screen if it’s in a training meeting for example," said Tracey.

LifeSize says the product offers the lowest price per port on the market at $64,999 (about £55,000), which compares favourably to similar offerings from Polycom ($108,000), Tandberg ($159,000) and Radvision ($85,000). Part of the cost saving is delivered through LifeSize designing and building its own chips, Tracey said.

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Ray Kenny, LifeSize UK country manager, said that the price point will help the firm become a disruptive player in the market. "Bridging is one of the fastest growing segments of the video industry and Frost and Sullivan reckon it makes up about 70% of the $440m market," he said. "There’s great potential there."

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