When it comes to judging videoconferencing technology, seeing is truly believing. Polycom's "communications appliance," ViaVideo, is built from the ground up for excellent video communications.
ViaVideo does one thing well: Bring outstanding image and sound quality to any desktop over LAN/WAN, DSL, and cable networks. It costs more than entry-level video cams, but the performance is worth the higher price.
The secret to ViaVideo's performance is a multimedia processor that generates stunning, full-motion video. The integrated audio uses noise suppression and echo-cancellation technology for crisp sound reproduction. The all-in-one camera/microphone sits above the monitor, taking up minimal space.
Setup couldn't be simpler -- just plug the unit into a USB port, connect the power, and install the drivers and ViaVideo software. A minimum 350MHz Pentium-class processor is all it takes to run the ViaVideo software. Be aware that Windows 98 is a requirement, as Windows 95 and NT are not currently supported.
Assuming the chosen broadband-service provider supports IP-based H.323 communication, users can videoconference within minutes of installation. The imaging takes place within an attractive frame and provides a "virtual remote control" for adjusting volume. Click the mouse to dial a videoconferencing partner's IP address, or select a partner from the easy-to-set-up address book.
If there's any shortcoming to the ViaVideo package, it's the thin online documentation, although the navigation is intuitive and setup should go without a hitch. That aside, ViaVideo represents a breakthrough in personal videoconferencing.