MS (Microsoft) Roundtable tip

image The name Microsoft (MS) is usually not automatically connected to computer hardware. If it is, most people will think of mice and keyboards or Xbox devices. A recent addition to Microsoft's ever growing portfolio of products is however a video communications device labeled "RoundTable". This (video)conferencing device has been released around the same time as Office Communications Server 2007. This server software adds a lot of communication options to your Microsoft Office/Exchange setup and works together with your company's PBX phone system. VOIP calling, instant messaging, user "away" status and much more, all directly available from within Outlook.

To be honest, I am not the biggest fan of Microsoft. From a business perspective I am always wary of being too dependent upon one supplier (vendor lock-in). Thus having Microsoft also conquer the (phone) communication part of a company, is not what I would quickly recommend. The RoundTable is however a very impressive new product. It works best with the Microsoft software but is not limited to it. In due time, other software developers might build proper support for it. It actually holds two camera devices and can already be used with for example Skype, then simply utilizing just one camera.

The RoundTable is being advertised as a full 360 degree camera. The panoramic style of video conferencing is gaining in popularity. Compared to the more traditional video conference devices the RoundTable is a big step forward. The price is also attractive: around $ 3000 or about EUR 2100 in the Netherlands. Polycom, the company that specializes in (video) conferencing equipment asks already much more for a much simpler device. You could, of course, wait for Cisco's Holographic Video Conferencing to become available. In the meantime, I recommend you take a closer look at Microsoft's RoundTable. You might find it a good tip.

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Bram Braakman • 3 June 2008
Archived under: Reviews

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