capsule review

Microsoft RoundTable

At a Glance
  • Microsoft RoundTable

    PCWorld Rating

    Provides an unprecedented view of meetings for remote attendees, but microphones could be more sensitive.

Give your next videoconference a sci-fi look with the RoundTable, Microsoft's 360-degree video camera. The device is designed to work with Office Communications Server 2007, as well as with the new version of the Office Live Meeting conferencing software (currently in beta). Situated around the RoundTable's circular dome are five video cameras that cover every inch of a meeting room. Tied to the cameras are six microphones in the unit's base; the device switches automatically to show remote users whoever is currently talking.

The device's 360-degree view presents meetings in a 3000-by-480-resolution panorama, and the meeting-space screen in Office Live Meeting can accommodate video streamed from the Webcams of remote meeting participants. Remote attendees without Webcams can dial in to the conference audio using the Live Meeting client application, the Java version of Live Meeting that runs in a browser, or a standard telephone line.

Microsoft says it expects the RoundTable to cost less than $3000--that's much cheaper than a standard videoconferencing system such as Polycom's VSX series. If the RoundTable saves you a couple of business trips, it has paid for itself.

Dennis O'Reilly

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Provides an unprecedented view of meetings for remote attendees, but microphones could be more sensitive.

    Pros

    • Straightforward hardware installation
    • Relatively compact size

    Cons

    • Built-in speaker could be difficult to hear
    • Microphones need to be more powerful
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