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Cisco Unveils New Video Collaboration and Communication Tools

Cisco has debuted an array of new and enhanced video collaboration and communication tools to help organizations capture and share lectures, training sessions, meetings, and other events online. They include the Cisco TelePresence Content Server 5.0, TelePresence System 1300 Series, MXE 3500 Media Experience Engine, and Unified IP Phones 8941 and 8945.

The Cisco TelePresence Content Server is a network device that lets users build multimedia presentations for on-demand access. "It allows you to capture up to five concurrent video calls, including presentations, from any Cisco TelePresence system," said Kim Nguyen, marketing manager for Cisco, in an online presentation. "The content server does the rest by transforming the content into a rich multimedia experience, which can then be streamed live or made available for on-demand access." It supports Windows Media, MPEG-4, and Flash formats, which can be posted to a Web site, attached to e-mail, or integrated into third-party applications.

The Cisco TelePresence System 1300 Series endpoint is a video-conferencing tool consisting of one 1080p screen (65- or 47-inch) and three cameras, microphones, and speakers. It can support meetings with up to six people in a single conference room. All meeting participants appear life-size on the screen, the system includes built-in lighting to eliminate facial shadows, and it features automatic voice-activated switching.

The College of Pharmacy at the University of Georgia uses the Cisco TelePresence Content Server and Cisco video-conferencing endpoints to capture and record lectures and learning modules that students can then access through the university's Learning Management System. "Our students and faculty have rapidly adopted this form of content capture, which has resulted in hundreds of hours of recorded educational content," said Sarah Wardlaw Jones, IT manager of instructional technology at U Georgia, in a prepared statement. "Our integration of the Cisco TelePresence Content Server with our existing video conferencing network has become a critical service that our department provides to the College of Pharmacy and is serving as a model on the University of Georgia's campus as one method of what can be done with content capture in higher education."

The Cisco Unified IP Phones 8941 and 8945 include a built-in video camera and a five-inch high-resolution display. Both phones are equipped with Bluetooth for hands-free wireless communications and also support a variety of headsets.

Griffith University in Australia is a large research and education institution with five regional campuses. "Communication between our students, faculty and staff is vitally important to us to enhance our learning and teaching, research, and administration," said Bruce Callow, director of information and communication technology services at Griffith U, in a prepared statement. "We are looking for Cisco's new IP Phone 8941 and 8945 endpoints to enable us to affordably deliver high-quality video communications on every desk. Our faculty and staff can benefit by receiving visual cues and body language that is integral to personalized learning and research collaboration. We will also enjoy the energy-saving features, Bluetooth capabilities for hands-free conversation, and interoperability with our previously deployed Cisco room-based video endpoints."

The Cisco MXE 3500 Media Experience Engine is a network appliance that allows users to share file-based and live video across the network to ensure that any media can be viewed on any device at any time. "The use of the MXE in higher education and K-12 allows professors and teachers to easily disseminate lectures via video to students at different campuses across the globe using a broad array of video endpoints," said Mun Hossain, senior product manager at Cisco, in a prepared statement.

Key features of the Cisco TelePresence Content Server include:

  • One rack unit (1U) rack-mountable chassis;
  • Built-in Web-based management interface and content library;
  • Interoperability with a range of multivendor products;
  • Live and on-demand video streaming (unicast and multicast);
  • Scheduled and impromptu call support with dial-in and -out capabilities;
  • Ability to record and stream video and H.239 dual-stream presentations from any H.323 or Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) video conferencing unit;
  • Support for major distribution servers and corporate Web portals;
  • Support for five concurrent calls, up to two of which can be streamed live;
  • Internal and external storage capabilities;
  • Ability to cluster up to 10 content servers; and
  • Support for SQL Server 2008 with Content Server clusters.

Key features of the Cisco TelePresence System 1300 Series endpoint include:

  • Triple-camera cluster and voice-activated switching;
  • Resolution of 1080p/30 on a 47- or 65-inch screen;
  • "One-button-to-push" calling integration with common calendaring programs;
  • Presentation-in-picture with available connector for adding a dedicated auxiliary display;
  • Optional audio-conferencing capability;
  • Laptop sharing or digital signage when not in a TelePresence call;
  • Multipoint conferencing with up to 48 locations;
  • Integrated lighting assembly to eliminate facial shadows; and
  • Any-to-any interoperability with standard- and high-definition video endpoints.

Key features of the Cisco Unified IP Phones 8941 and 8945 include:

  • Built-in video camera and five-inch resolution display;
  • Power cycling by time of day and day of week;
  • Full duplex speakerphone with high-definition voice support for handset, headset, and speaker;
  • Bluetooth (8945 only) and RJ-9 (8941 and 8945) headset interfaces;
  • LLP-MED, Cisco Discovery Protocol, and IEEE 802.1p/q tagging and switching network features; and
  • Two RJ-45 10/100/1000Base-T Ethernet ports, one for a LAN connection and another for connecting a downstream Ethernet device such as a PC.

Key features of the Cisco MXE 3500 Media Experience Engine include:

  • One rack unit (1U) rack-mountable chassis;
  • Media transcoding and transrating for file-based and live multimedia for any-to-any capture and playback on the network and end devices;
  • Workflow automation for processing source multimedia streams and files;
  • Video and audio enhancement options including studio-quality editing, graphic overlays, and watermarking;
  • Browser-based interface for managing content;
  • Clustering option for high scalability and transcoding redundancy; and
  • Support for live streaming formats including Windows Media and live MPEG-2 Transport Stream (MPEG-2 TS) so users can deliver live streams content to Cisco Digital Signs for communications, training, events or other applications.

The Cisco TelePresence Content Server 5.0 will be available in March. The Cisco TelePresence System 1300-47 will be available in summer 2011. The new interface, additional live-streaming capabilities, and Cisco Pulse analytics option for the Cisco MXE 3500 Media Experience Engine will be available in phases, scheduled to start in the second calendar quarter of 2011. Further information about Cisco TelePresence products can be found here.

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