Help me create a video portal between two offices
September 30, 2010 7:31 AM   Subscribe

What is the easiest, most hassle free, and moderately priced way to create a link video link between two offices which are on different continents?

We have an office in Helsinki and one in Boston and would like there to be a large-ish screen in each office that displays a live feed of the other office.

I'm looking for something that is self contained, with simple setup, and little to no maintenance.

The ideal scenario is some kind of ready-made product built for this purpose that could connect to our wireless networks, but I'm also willing to assemble this from parts (e.g. get a pair of iMacs and write some applescript to auto-launch ichat).

It must work on existing wifi/ethernet networks and cannot require a new line such as an ISDN connection.

This is for an ambient video feed (like a weather webcam) and not for active collaboration such as video conferencing. It's OK to be video only, or to have audio as an option.

I've already seen this.

Thanks, mefi!
posted by bryanboyer to Technology (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Would a couple of webcams set up with Skype work? That would make it free other than the cost of the machines/monitors. (meaning, no continuing costs like phone bills and whatnot)
posted by Grither at 7:56 AM on September 30, 2010

A quick review of the equipment vendors indicates that unless your idea of "moderately priced" is tens of thousands of dollars, the Skype/webcam/dedicated pc solution probably is your best option. Get HDMI capable video cards and plug them into a couple of $500 flat screens and you'll have a serviceable solution for a couple of grand (excluding bandwidth).

The el cheapo Cisco Telepresence runs like 30 grand. I'm sure the other so-called executive systems are comparably priced. Vidyo might be more reasonably priced, but I'm not sure it's what you're looking for.
posted by ob1quixote at 8:12 AM on September 30, 2010

When I think of streaming video that I've watched, ustream comes to mind. They have their freebie model but also pricing options for 500 hours/month allowing more control [do you need this just business hours, or 24/7?]. I know you're just looking for office-to-office and not one to many but for ease of use this can just run off of one of the machines in the office on each side and allows occasional chatting and other stuff, audio on or off.
posted by jessamyn at 8:13 AM on September 30, 2010

posted by patrad at 9:03 AM on September 30, 2010

You don't need Skype to do video over IP. There are open source applications, like Ekiga and Linphone that work just as well and don't require using someone else's services.
If you're concerned at all about network security, it's easy to set up OpenVPN to connect the two systems with encryption.
posted by leapfrog at 11:22 AM on September 30, 2010

Setup a private stream for each office. Have a computer with a web cam attached to a big-screen tv. You can chose who is allowed to view the stream. And it's free.

Bonus: you can access the stream from other computers.
posted by blue_beetle at 1:57 PM on September 30, 2010

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