Comparing room telepresence from an AV Engineer perspective


Last Updated on February 20, 2012 by GrahamWalsh

I was reading some of the groups on Linked In and came across this independent review of the various room telepresence vendors, so thought I would post it here in my blog.


Okay, here comes the bad engineer with the actual tech/performance specs to dispel the marketing nonsense yet again. Since Lifesize is VTC only, will focus on that and leave TP out of it.


In my diverse clients sites: there are a combination of end points and infrastructure. Familiar with Sony, Lifesize, Tandberg and Polycom. Each has advantages and disadvantages. Based on specifications, performance and features I rate them Polycom, Tandberg, Lifesize and Sony in that order.


Here is a comparison not meant to bash Lifesize but rather to highlight the differences so that we can be completely honest about what is the “best” and what is marketing hype/nonsense.


Video Camera:

Lifesize ships with 4x optical zoom compared to Polycom Eagle Eye (HDX series camera) 12x and Tandberg Precision HD 10x. Now that Lifesize has an optional 10x (they still ship with a 4x) they are near parity to Tandberg on camera, but come with 4x.

Winner: Polycom, second place: Tandberg, third place: Lifesize



Polycom’s Siren 22 is a nearly lossless 22Khz audio protocol with 40ms delay. Tandberg’s AAC-LD is a lossy 20Khz with only 20ms delay and Lifesize has lossy 16Khz AAC with 40ms delay. In addition, Polycom has true LR stereo, Tandberg MXP is mono, (C Series is LR Stereo) and Lifesize is LR Mono.

Winner: Polycom, second: Tandberg, third place: Lifesize


Table Microphones:

Note: on Table Mic Pods both Polycom and Lifesize offer a mute button and mute status feedback. The Polycom offers both green and red LED, Lifesize Blue only, Tandberg none.

Winner: Polycom, second: Lifesize, third: Tandberg


Ceiling Mics:

Polycom and Tandberg mics are both powerful and sensitive: tie for winner. Lifesize has none, did not even show up to play.


Display modes:

Lifesize has a single swap feature that applies to both content and camera modes. Meaning that as content is sent or terminated, one must re-adjust the mode each time. HDX has separate modes, as does MXP, (a serious plus) but the C series has a really cool feature allowing dynamic placement and sizing of each window up to 5 sources per display. ONLY Polycom stores last used settings in NVRAM which is retained, even without power, (such as mobile units).

Winner: Tandberg C Series, Second: Polycom HDX, Third: Tandberg MXP, Fourth place: Lifesize


Remote Controls:

HDX remote is IR and RF with fantastic range, the Lifesize and Tandberg have IR only and both with fairly limited range. (Actually Tandberg’s maddeningly limited range is their Achilles Heel).

Winner: Polycom, Second Place: Lifesize, Third Place: Tandberg.


Error Correction:

Polycom’s HDX series SVC will retain a call until the network drops very low. Tandberg and Lifesize will drop a call far sooner. Only winner: Polycom. ‘



Lifesize can connect 6 sites on multipoint, Polycom and Tandberg only 4. In a world with unlimited bandwidth this might be a real advantage, but in the real world where network congestion exists: the one-time expense of a centralized bridge/MCU actually costs a lot less than the never ending Monthly Costs for a pipe that can carry this amount of traffic to each and every end point. In real world the second call results in standard def quality and note that the Lifesize codec error correction is anorexic at best. No winner here, because though the spec looks better, error correction evens this out.


User friendly:

The HDX, MXP and Lifesize are all user-friendly compared to the Tandberg C series but the C series video switching does offer capabilities that make it a very useful end point for special events with an engineer running the equipment in real time.


Bottom line: winner depends upon specs that apply to situation. Polycom will win most of the time with highest number of wins in the areas that matter most, hence my overall rating of each: 1.Polycom, 2.Tandberg and 3.Lifesize in that order

Ronnie Anne Spang, AV Engineer, Designer, Programmer, Integrator



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