Lifesize Icon 700 and Phone HD review: The peak of quality
Lifesize makes 4K videoconferencing a reality for SMBs, and combines it with classy cloud management services
Lifesize has always had a sharp focus - if you'll pardon the pun - on cloud-based videoconferencing. Its Icon 700 camera and Phone HD speakerphone pack takes this to the next level: it's a true 4K solution, yet its encoding software has bandwidth requirements as low as 3Mbits/sec. Combine this hardware bundle with Lifesize's cloud portal and client apps and you've got a total package that can cover an entire meeting room, while also connecting people at their desks and on the go. Even those who don't have the software can join in using Lifesize's web app for Chrome.
The Lifesize system is a cinch to set up. The web-based administration portal is very informative, with a dashboard showing all call details in easy-to-read graph form. From here you can add users by sending them a link, allowing them to download apps for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android. There's an Outlook plugin and a Chrome extension for creating meeting schedules, too.
The client apps all support live video at a smooth 60fps, with AES 128-bit encryption to protect against snoopers. Neatly, far-end control facilities are included, so users can take over room-system cameras from their mobile devices, control the Icon 700's massive 20x optical zoom and share their screen contents with other participants. The only limitation is that app-based connections are limited to 1080p resolution: for true 4K meetings, you'll need a direct connection between rooms equipped with Icon 300, 500 or 700 cameras.
The camera and speakerphone components are connected together by a 9m link cable, which also powers the Phone HD unit. The camera base has a Gigabit Ethernet port for direct connection to the internet, plus dual HDMI ports for connecting 1080p or 4K monitors.
On the front of the Phone HD, a 5in colour touchscreen provides easy access to all call functions; once you've connected your Lifesize cloud account you can initiate and join meetings with consummate ease. You can also customise the Phone HD via the web portal, calling up a virtual image of its screen to set up time zones, choose a wallpaper graphic and change the soft button layout.
Starting a one-on-one conference from the Phone HD is a simple matter of browsing the cloud directory and tapping the user you want to contact. It takes moments to set up a connection, and joining an ongoing meeting is as easy as browsing a list of available meetings from the client app and selecting the one you want to join.
Once you're in, the app presents screen-in-screen views of all participants; with a click you can mute your microphone or temporarily blank your camera, and participants can also share their entire screen or only the foremost app. If permitted, participants can record meetings to the cloud too, and review them directly from their app.
Through all of this the Icon 700 camera delivers stunning video quality, with pin-sharp focus, excellent detail and great colour balance - all maintained right up to the maximum 20x optical zoom. The Phone HD also delivers the audio goods, with four internal mics and a big, clear speaker. For larger rooms it's possible to add up to two more extension mic pods.
Admittedly, the Lifesize kit is a very expensive system, but the price does include full access to the cloud portal. Subscription plans determine the number of users supported: a "Small" account starts at 15 per user, while larger teams pay less per head.
In all, the Icon 700 and Phone HD make a superbly easy-to-deploy videoconferencing system with great management features. Businesses that want 4K videoconferencing without complex configuration or bandwidth worries will find it an excellent solution.
For businesses with deep enough pockets, this Lifesize system is one of the most well-polished and comprehensive videoconferencing systems out there, with heaps of management features and outstanding quality
|Icon 700 Camera||4K resolution, PTZ, 20X optical zoom, Gigabit Ethernet, 2 x HDMI-out, RJ-45 link port with PoE, 2 x USB 2, external PSU|
|Phone HD||5in colour touchscreen, 4 x internal mics, speaker, 9m link cable|
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