Tandberg Adds To Desktop Telepresence Portfolio With EX90

According to Tandberg, the EX90 unit offers 1080p30 resolution with any standards-based video or telepresence system using Tandberg inTouch, the company's proprietary touch-screen interface.

The unit itself sports a 24-inch HD screen, which also doubles as a PC monitor, and a PrecisionHD Camera which tilts 90 degrees to allow users to highlight items on their desk, or on the wall, or anywhere nearby. Add-ons include second monitors, cameras and other multimedia items.

"This is true personal telepresence, and to me it solidifies our lead in this segment," said Julie Swenson, senior global product marketing manager at Tandberg. "We talk to a lot of customers about telepresence and what they believe telepresence is for them, and it always goes back to the experience."

Tandberg is a strong believer in the touch-screen aspect, suggested Mike Baird, Tandberg's senior director of business value and positioning, because it's convenient and familiar. Many telepresence systems rely on remote controls, he explained, but being able to glide a finger across the screen better approximates the experience users have with smartphones and other personal devices.

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"You're at home with the interface. You can scroll through long lists of people and do everything you want on your screen instead of having to find one button on a crowded remote," Baird said. "All of the functions on a touch screen device are context-sensitive, so you get exactly what you need."

The EX90 will be available through Tandberg channel partners by the end of Q2, according to Tandberg. The basic package for a base unit is $9,900.

Tandberg, which is currently in the process of being acquired by Cisco, has been a leader in personal videoconferencing systems, but is challenged by traditional videoconferencing stalwarts like Polycom, as well as upstarts like Logitech-owned LifeSize Communications and the Web-based video systems of companies like Vidyo.

All of these companies, most of which have robust channel programs, are fighting for a rapidly consolidating market as telepresence systems enter the mainstream and become more affordable -- and useful -- investments for smaller businesses.

Many large networking vendors without proprietary video system products of their own have also sought to acquire or partner with smaller vendors who do. Cisco is buying Tandberg to broaden its own video portfolio, for example, and earlier this week, Avaya said that it would partner with LifeSize to add better video conferencing capabilities to Aura, its virtualized UC platform.

Tandberg has been focusing many of its more recent product announcements, including December's customizable T3, on getting enterprises to look at telepresence as moving beyond the boardroom.

"It's not just about price," Baird said. "We want to make sure the user gets a lot of value. Having the ability to provide absolute quality with standards-based video is what keeps us ahead of the conversation. This touch screen, it's all right there. I don't need to be a very technical guy to make this work for me."

Tandberg plans to exhibit the EX90 at VoiceCon in Orlando next week.