Advantages of videoconferencing have long been trumpeted by their manufacturers.Products can save time and money on business travel by providing a audio-visual link between meeting rooms and are more personal than e-mail or fax.
But the cost of systems, incompatibility and technical glitches have always held back widespread use by smaller businesses.
With the introduction of affordable and user-friendly technology, however, the benefits of conducting meetings across high-speed ISDN lines are now available to smaller firms who previously could not have justified the cost.
One product targeted at this sector is Sony’s recently-launched Sony Contact, which sits neatly on top of a television set and features a small adjustable camera and microphone.
The split screen created by the system allows conferencing between four different locations at any one. The intuitive camera can also follow an individual around the room upon request.
Videoconferencing hardware manufacturers believe that the market for their systems will grow by as much as 50% per year because of the improvements to prices and so-called plug-and-play operability.
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