Lifesize Desktop Review

Rating:  4 WaterTowers  (for leading the SIP only charge)

UPDATE August 24, 2011: Read all about the latest LifeSize products, services, here.

If only everything I have tried in the past 20 years were this easy, I’d be a millionaire several times over!  🙂

Lifesize has entered the desktop market with a SIP only (yes…SIP only) application that is:

  • Easy to Install
  • Easy to Use
  • Has a slick user interface
  • Connects with SIP endpoints / infrastructure with ease
  • Works well on Windows Vista

Geee, what more could anyone ask for?

This review is easy….scarcely 5 minutes after I downloaded the application, I made a call to a Codian MCU and it worked!  A few minutes later I realized….DUH…that this was a SIP only application, so I enabled SIP on my Polycom PVX and connected the Lifesize Desktop to it.  Easy as 3.14.

What do I think?

Super product. I’m a bit concerned about full interoperability with products that are not Lifesize, but, the PVX worked fine. But then again, SIP has been on the roadmap for a looooonnnnngggg time, it is about time someone pushed the state-of-the-art a bit, and Lifesize has been known to do that. Bravo!

To keep this really short….

Installation was a breeze (even on Vista which I love….sic).

When the start screen came up, I entered the IP address of the Codian MCU and connected.  See the next three pics.

Lifesize Start ScreenLifesize Start Screen
codian initial screenCodian Welcome Screen

NOTE:  I could not find the Far End Camera Control…so everything is not super intuitive.  I was told to read the FAQ (see the email exchange below) but I suspect the responder did not understand my question.  The Codian is already in DTMF mode (i.e. the Lifesize keypad controlled it just fine), I just want to move into the meeting using the right arrow.

Maybe I’m wrong (not the first time)…I’ll go read the FAQ….ouch!   ;-)

Video to and from the CodianVideo to and from the Codian

Click the big red X to hang-up the call.

Some Features

This pic of the Management Center pretty much says it all.

Management CenterManagement Center

There is / are:

  • An address book
  • A Global Directory
  • General Options (like setting call bit rates, etc)
  • Audio and Video Settings (auto worked and found all the equipment perfectly)
  • Communications, Admin, and Environment

Video

The Lifesize Desktop app can operate at 720p at 30 fps.   Very cool!

The required computer is as follows:

CPU Pentium 4 2 GHz (minimum)
Pentium M 1.8 GHz (minimum)
Core Duo 2 GHz (minimum)
Core 2 Duo 2 GHz (minimum)
RAM 1 GB (minimum)
Hard Disk Space 100 MB (available)
Operating Systems Windows Vista 32 bit
Windows Vista 64 bit
Windows XP 32 bit (with SP2, SP3)
SW DirectX 9.0 or higher
Microsoft .NET 3.5 SP1

The following are suggested for optimum video and audio quality:

Webcams Logitech Quickcam Pro 9000
Logitech Quickcam Pro for Notebook
Logitech Quickcam Orbit
Headsets Plantronics
USB Speakerphones ClearOne Chat 50, 100

I have it set up on a computer that meets the requirements and have a Logitech 9000 and Chat 50.  The TracyVirtualOffice Comcast Business Internet connection gives me 2.5 Mbps upstream, so, in the next 25 days I have the trial,  if anyone wants to test HD from me, comment below with your email or phone number.  🙂

Data Collaboration

This is easy….none.

No H.239, no chat, no file sharing.  The email exchange below states that they are looking at adding “SIP Dual Video” in a “follow on release”.

OK, cool.  BUT….a desktop system (or any system for that matter) really needs data collaboration….that said.

Connect to a Polycom PVX

With limited resources, I enabled SIP on my Laptop’s (my trusty old Toshiba running Windows XP) Polycom PVX and called it from the Lifesize.  Instant connection…very nice.

Connected to Polycom PVX via SIPConnected to Polycom PVX via SIP

Forgive the blurry video, the camera connected to my laptop is less than wonderful, it is not the Lifesize or PVX.

Email Exchange with Lifesize

Once I figured things out….I asked some questions (now you can see how much knowledge I lack wrt SIP…still learning, how cool is that ???!!!!  🙂

1. I could not find H.239?  Is that not available?  Or is it well hidden?  If there, can you guide me on how to fire it up?

This is a SIP product, the SIP equivalent of H.239 is SIP Dual Video.  This is not available in the current release but is something we are looking at adding to the product in a follow on release.

2. No Chat capability?

There is no chat capability.

3. No file transfer?

There is no file transfer capability.

4. Are you planning on implementing any of the above in this product? If so, when?  If not, why?

There are no plans for chat of file transfer capability. LifeSize Desktop is a video communications client.

5. This is, apparently, a SIP only product….is there no H.323 at all? If there is, I did not find it.

SIP Only.

6. If there is H.323 can you guide me on how to turn it on?

SIP Only.

7. If it is SIP only….does Lifesize think that there are enough SIP products out there (and that SIP to SIP interoperability is sufficiently good) to not isolate the Lifesize Desktop user from the rest of the VC world?

Yes, all of our endpoints and bridges are SIP capable.

8. Does Lifesize have a SIP to H.323 GW in the works or working?

All of our endpoints can bridge H.323 and SIP calls.

9. I connected to a Codian MCU but could not find Far End Camera Controls (up / down / left / right).. does that exist?  If so, where is it?  If not, why?

This is covered in the FAQ. Codian bridges can be switched to DTMF mode by pressing ##.

Summary

SIP has been a long time coming (understatement).  I am impressed….I had just about given up on SIP even though most EP’s and infrasructure have supported it for a while now.

I emailed several industry friends and they told me that there can be SIP interoperability issues which may lead to some isolation, that a GW between SIP and H.323 would be more robust, and that people using H.323 may not want to shift into SIP mode just for me.  Hmmmm, you mean I’m not the center of the universe?  😦

Lifesize Desktop is a really nice application.   It is definately something that anyone needing a desktop application should look at as part of their evaluations.

Did I mention that it needs data collaboration?


Advertisements

About Mike Pihlman

I am the Director of ForCarol.com a 501c3 non-profit that awards college scholarships to Tracy, CA scholars in honor of my daughter's best friend, and our part-time daughter, Carol Phan who we lost on Sept 18, 2010. I am a: Book Review (TracyReaderDad.com), Technology (TechyMike.com), and Movie Review (ForCarol.com) blogger.

Posted on August 11, 2009, in Product Reviews, VideoConferencing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: