Polycom's (News - Alert) new VVX 600 business phone with an optional video camera may be one of the better near-term solutions available for enterprise customers looking for IP phones with the ability to upgrade to video. But it also should trigger a larger discussion on the role of desktop phones in a more mobile world.
Note I say "more mobile." It is not, contrary to some assertions, "exclusively mobile." The desktop phone provides the advantage of a true "hands-free" speakerphone experience, better sound quality via corded handset or Bluetooth headset and a bunch of programmable buttons for easy, one-touch access to functions and other phone numbers. You also don't have to worry about recharging a corded phone -- a big advantage compared to a number of smartphones.
The VVX 600 takes a half-step forward in adding a 4.3 inch LCD multitouch screen. It also includes a built-in Web browser for accessing and managing calendars, receiving meeting reminders and searching the corporate directory.
Bluetooth is included in the VVX 600 and is quickly becoming a standard feature. An integrated USB port on the top of the phone is available for the optional Polycom VVX Camera, a 720p HD video camera for the VVX 600 and VVX 500 phones. The phones are preconfigured to automatically recognize the camera, so simply plugging it in means users get a videoconferencing device in short order. Video features include a privacy shutter, adjustable tilt, multiple video screen modes, side-by-side and PIP (picture-in-picture) window modes and adjustable frame rates.
At a $479 list price, with an additional $129 list for the USB camera, the Polycom VVX 600 provides an intermediate solution to providing tablets to every desktop for videoconferencing. Companies can roll out new phones and "backfill" or share videoconferencing with a pool of USB cameras rather than taking an upfront hit on more expensive tablets for every individual. Managers, executives and mobile workers will no doubt end up with a tablet and/or laptop combination, depending on what they do.
Needless to say, desktop phones and tables help to point out the weaknesses of the, "We'll do everything with BYOD smartphone" policy. Smartphones are dependent upon two resources -- cellular bandwidth and power. Doing fancier things with them, such as video, typically uses more bandwidth and power. Desktop phones are always plugged in -- hence always "charged" and provide a better speakerphone experience, while tablets provide an optimum portable videoconferencing experience with a larger screen and a bigger battery.
Edited by Rachel Ramsey