What would make a better videoconference solution?
December 27, 2010 11:48 AM   Subscribe

What are the major differences between an entry-level videoconference solution offered by Polycom and a solution offered by Webex?

For a company that holds videoconferences about 2-3 times a month with 4 people on either end which would make a better solution?
posted by jacobean to Technology (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I use webex all the time but have never used polycom.
Webex is really great for multiple users but if you are trying to broadcast a webex and simultaneously use another program that employs screen capture, webex slows things down. Webex is also slow when you are trying to load video and broadcast that on your screen. If you aren't doing those things, then webex is good.
If you are just 2 locations, why don't you use skype?

It would help if you added what you would like to do at your sessions other than see and talk to each other (I am assuming those).
Do you want to record?
Chat online?
Show screens?
Show video/webpages/other programs on your screen?
posted by rmless at 12:59 PM on December 27, 2010

We need more information here. Polycom sell (mostly) hardware products, while WebEx is a hosted service. Any direct comparison between the two is going to be (at best) apples-to-oranges.

Will the other end be purchasing the same solution? Can the other end do a h.320/h.323/SIP conference? What's your bandwidth like? Do you want to share screens, video, etc? If you go the Webex route and want video, know that you'll likely need to purchase some hardware anyway.

I'd strongly urge against Skype for anything serious or business-critical.

Oh, and never underestimate the value/need for good microphones/speakers in group meetings. Polycom can supply/recommend those, while Webex probably won't.

If you're considering Polycom, you might as well consider Tandberg too. They recently got bought by Cisco.
posted by schmod at 6:17 PM on December 27, 2010

Response by poster: thanks for the replies so far. I really just need to know the main points of
difference between the two and in general what are the motivations for choosing one or the other?
posted by jacobean at 4:34 AM on December 28, 2010

Polycom DVC systems and WebEx are not really directly comparable solutions, so choosing a "better" option is dependent on what kind of meeting experience you want, along with your existing infrastructure, budget, etc.

Polycom is a hardware-based solution that specifically connects to other DVC hardware while WebEx is software-based and can be used on basically any internet-enabled computer.

With Polycom DVC (or other hardware-based DVC platforms), you're investing in a system of communications that is hardware-dependent but can be isolated from the rest of your network and deliver high-quality video and audio relatively easily. Buying an entry-level Polycom videoconferencing system (e.g. HDX 6000), you're getting a high-quality camera, hardware codec, and a table microphone; you hook it up to the network and a display and you're ready to make calls to other similarly equipped sites.

Polycom DVC systems are really designed to be a replacement for in-person meetings by connecting a two or more meeting sites with video. It uses communication protocols such as h323 and SIP, and you can't arbitrarily add sites to a meeting unless each site has hardware capable of communicating with those protocols and you have sufficient bridging to join all the sites.

With WebEx, you pay a monthly fee per host (an account that can create new meetings), and you're have for the ability to create a virtual meeting that can be accessed by up to 25 individuals with a web browser. You supply your own hardware, and people often use telephone for audio, and the quality depends on the particular hardware you're using in addition to the speed of the network connection.

WebEx is designed to deliver meeting content to a widely distributed audience, more typically a bunch of individuals sitting at their desks than a group in a meeting room, though there's no reason you can't do that with WebEx if you want. WebEx is also more oriented toward adding content such as screen sharing and visual presentations (though this can be done with Polycom, it's less flexible and less of a principal feature).

There are a variety of reasons for choosing one platform over the other (and they are not mutually exclusive) but a big one is cost -- if it's just raw dollars, then WebEx is by far the cheaper option. Even if you had to buy a computer, web cam, microphones, etc., you can still get in for a lot less.

If you have more specific questions, or responses to the questions above, it would be easier to give you a more directed answer.
posted by camcgee at 12:01 PM on December 28, 2010

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