Desktop Video Conferencing Standards are Important for Good Quality

by Alexandra Xubersnak

Desktop video calls are here and work well. High Quality and High Definition video calls from person to person with the ease of a phone call are now possible. Video calls can be made to other people outside or inside the company without concern, and video calls are made by either dialing a 10 digit number or choosing an email address. There are a few different features and capabilities, and the Cisco desktop video devices provide a good way to illustrate.

By knowing the options and making an good choice, using HD video calls in place of some person to person meetings can give many people much more time in a day. The device has to be able to use different standards, which allows for calls between different types of equipment. The standards are not that complicated, but it is important the the devices support H.323, SIP, H.264, H.263, and H.261. The image size is important also, because although right now most devices support 720p, as time goes on more video calls will be at 1080p. One thing to look out for is the actual screen resolution size and quantity of frames per second that are supported by the device. The four most common are:

w448p – 768 x 448 at 30 frames per second.

720p30 – 1280 x 720 at 30 frames per second.

720p60 – 1280×720 at 60 frames per second.

1080p30 – 1920 x 1080 at 30 frames per second.

The higher the resolution and the higher the quantity of frames per second, the better the pictures will look. As long as the devices have compatible modes, they will negotiate to the best resolution. The negative of a higher resolution video call is that it takes up more network bandwidth, so in some cases system are limited to lower resolutions when they make calls over the Internet or wide area network to remote offices. As an example, the Cisco E20 video phone is an inexpensively priced video phone, and it’s highest resolution is w448p. The call looks good, but it is not near the quality of the higher end desktop video devices like the Cisco EX-60 or Cisco EX-90. The EX devices normally come with the option to conference at 720p30, and require an additional capabilities license to use the higher definition 720p60 and 1080p30 video resolutions. Other manufacturers have similar limitations and licensing options.

There is an important difference between video calls and video conferences. Video calls involve two endpoints and are point to point calls. Video conferences involve the mixing of video and audio streams using a Multipoint Conferencing Unit, which gets more complicated. The location that has the codec ends up having two way video streams from each of the other endpoints. There has to be enough capability to mix the streams and enough network bandwidth for a good quality video conference at the negotiated resolution. Some video devices have a built in codec. For example, the Cisco EX-90 can be licensed to conduct four party video conferences at High Definition with its built in codec. The Cisco EX-60 does not have this capability. External codecs can be used either from a hosted service like Cisco Callway or a video infrastructure system like the Cisco Video Infrastructure.

In addition to dedicated desktop devices, a PC or Mac can be used as a High Definition video device. The video quality of a call using the Cisco Jabber Video Client at 720p30 is completely different than the jerky, low resolution calls made with Skype of Google Talk. The Cisco Jabber Video client is a great client, and it does not operate independently, so it has to part of a larger system that the user logs into. Most of the workstation clients are like this, so the systems should either be deployed as part of a hosted system like Cisco Callway or as part of a video infrastructure deployment.

The desktop HD video conference devices that are making their way into companies are fully capable of having calls with room size High Definition and Standard Definition systems as well. Many organizations have video conference rooms built out with larger cameras and screens, and now that High Definition video calls are more common these rooms may be used more often. To ensure the video calls and conferences both outside or inside the organization work well, part of the budget planning may involve buying more network bandwidth.

Desktop High Definition Video calls and conferences are becoming more important as many more of these systems are installed. When budgeting and planning the use of these systems, work with an expert that has experience and knows the details of desktop video conferencing so your organization can achieve the full potential of these new systems.

The Cisco EX60 desktop video device works especially well with the inexpensive Cisco Callway hosted High Definition video conferencing service.
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