test

Microsoft Lync in One Appliance With PSTN Connectivity: NetBorder Lync Express

Lync_Express

Smaller and smaller companies want to enjoy all the benefits of Microsoft Lync. The Sangoma NetBorder Lync Express appliance is an attempt to make an all-in-one appliance to meet the needs of very small Lync implementations.

Below are some notes about the NetBorder Lync Express appliance from Sangoma:

  • Has Hyper-V Virtualization to Run Lync Front End and AD Server
    • The documentation does not say it, but with 3 Ethernet ports you may be able to have the Edge server on a that extra virtualmachine
  • Includes PSTN inside the appliance
    • 1 T1/E1/J1 span
    • 4 FXS ports
  • Designed for 100 or less users
  • 3 RJ-45 Ethernet ports
  • 1U rack mount device
  • No server hardware specs mentioned that I could see.
  • Fax Relay support
  • MSRP 6,995USD (Source: http://www.voipsupply.com/sangoma-lync-express)
    • This does not include Lync Licensing
  • What are the hardware specifications? we are mostly left to guess. This is what we know
    • 4 USB ports
    • 1U Rackmount
    • 250W Universal AC Power
    • 1 DVI Video output
    • 3 RJ-45/Ethernet ports

diagram

This looks like an interesting device. For some reason hardware specifications are never mentioned, which leads me to some suspicions about that area.

Julien Nephtali is the product manager for Lync Express.

Sangoma Site:
http://sangoma.com/products/microsoft_unified_communications/lync_express/purchase.html
http://www.sangoma.com/assets/docs/datasheets/en/netborder_lync_express.pdf

Press Releases/Etc:
http://www.telecomreseller.com/2012/06/25/sangoma-releases-lync-express-appliance/
http://www.telecomreseller.com/2012/06/25/sangoma-launches-lync-express/

Microsoft #Lync Mobility Solution Feature by Feature Comparison

lync-mobile-compared

The list of mobility solutions for Microsoft Lync and OCS is growing. To keep my head on straight I made this Excel spreadsheet to compare some of the available Lync mobile solutions:

  • Lync Mobile for iPhone, iPad, WindowsPhone and Android
  • Damaka Xavy
  • 3rd Party Server Based Solutions Like AltiGen, Audiocodes and Shoretel

Note: Our attempt is to be accurate but this is provided on a best effort basis. Also, we are not trying to favor any vendor and if you see a vendor missed or misrepresented or see some other error, please comment below.

Please Click Here or click on the graphic below to see the entire comparison:

lync-mobile-comparison

Is the Next Big Thing in Communications: Unified Social Communications? (USC)

 

usc

Is the Next Big Thing in Communications Unified Social Communications? The marriage of Unified Communication and Social Networking? With the “Facebook generation” bringing their habits to work this is likely inevitable, but Microsoft’s purchase of Yammer has put the spotlight on Social joining hands with collaboration and Unified Communication in the enterprise. It seems Microsoft may be building out what could be called “Unified Social Communication” offering by it’s purchase of Yammer making Microsoft’s USC platform consist of:

  • Communication/Collaboration
    • Microsoft Lync
    • Skype / Live Messenger
  • Collaboration/Social
    • Sharepoint
    • Yammer
  • Mobility
    • Lync for WindowsPhone, iPhone, iPad, Android, etc
  • CEBP/Integration
    • Client SDK’s/Lync UCMA Server Side SDK’s
    • Allows mashups of communication, collaboration, social and business process

The Microsoft’s Unified Communication solution has continued to evolved into a continuously more social experience. It has become more social in Lync 2010 with people Pictures, Status, and Activity Feeds (much like a Facebook timeline).  This direction can be expected to continue and likely at a faster pace.

But Microsoft is not the only one building out Unified Social Communication. The king of social, Facebook, has been working on this for a while with:

rumored-facebook-phone

And, of course, Google has what looks an awful lot like USC as well:

  • Instant Message/Presence
  • Video (Google Hangouts)
  • Google Talk (PSTN Calling)
  • Google+ (Social)
  • Android (mobile)

UPDATE 6/28/2012: Looks like Google is merging Hangouts, Talk and Messenger: http://gigaom.com/2012/06/27/google-to-merge-hangouts-talk-messenger/?utm_source=%23frankguillen&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=FrankGuillen+Buzz

I think we’re taking another interesting step in the long evolution of business communication. I’d be glad to hear you thoughts.

Links

OpenScape Contact Center Talking About Integration with Twitter/Google Latitude in 2010:

Microsoft Lync Far Side Camera Control: Budget Solution Brainstorming

 

Currently Microsoft Lync does not have Far side camera control built into the Lync Server 2010. With the advent of low cost Pan-Tilt-Zoom USB devices for Microsoft Lync, like the Logitech BCC950 ConferenceCAM more people will be interested in allowing remote participants in a Lync video call control the camera. (aka far side camera control) You can click here to see this feature request in the Ideascale forum for Lync.

Some vendors (like Polycom/Avtex below) have been creative in coming up with their own solutions as shown in the video below.

This is a far side camera control by Avtex for Lync

The above solution looks interesting, especially if you have control of the far side Lync client. If you don’t, (For example: if the far side is outside your company) what might a very simple solution look like?

So what could be a solution? Here Is a Quick Solution Concept

One possible solution (perhaps a little hacky) could be to have a small tray application on the near side (on pc with the ptz camera installed on it), Using Lync 2010 Client SDK, on new Video call send an introduction IM to the remote party, something like this:

The remote video camera you are in a session with can be controlled with with: 4=Pan Left; 6=Pan Right; 8=Pan Up; 2=Pan down; +/-=Zoom; or press a,b,c,d for preset.

Now when the far side user presses (say) 4, the tray app catches that and passes the command to the PTZ camera to pan left X degrees.

Now the far end users can (for example) press 4 [enter] in IM window to pan left.

Another Possible Solution

AvtexFarSideCameraControl

A more elegant would be to have a nice UI to control the far side camera. So in this scenario there could once again be a tray app, but this would also have a small web server that has nice GUI PTZ camera controls. Once again a intro IM would be sent, this time an URL like:

To control remote camera, click here: http:/someurl/random-url-for-this-session

When this Lync conversation ends, the randomurl/token would expire. (Port forwarding on near side would be a simple/cheap way to get to the PTZ control webpage. If not possible, I think there are some API/WebServices to make the connection between the two internet devices.)

Welcome Your Feedback

These are just some quick ideas on how this could be accomplished on a budget. Do you have better idea? Let’s hear it.

#Lync User QuickTip #24: Make Outlook Signature Phone Numbers and Lync Addresses Clickable

 

lync-click-to-dial

This is one of those “smack on my forehead why didn’t I think of it before” tips that @tommyclark has been using in his emails for some time and @patrichard’s mention of it prompted me to right this little tip.

Want to make your Outlook signature phones and and Lync addresses clickable? Just prefix a phone number with TEL: and SIP URI/Lync Address with SIP: and it will become click to dial for phone numbers and click to IM for Lync Addresses!

using-sip-tel-to make phone hotlink

This little trick works any where there is HTML content in Windows.

Credit Where Credit is Due:
@tommyclarke’s Lync Blog Ultimate Communications
@patrichard Exchange and Lync Blog Ehlo World!

More Lync User QuickTips: http://windowspbx.blogspot.com/search/label/LyncUserTip

#Lync User QuickTip #23: Optimizing Blind Call Transfer To One or Two Clicks in Microsoft Lync 2010

 

transfer

We talked in a previous QuickTip post about how to create one button shortcuts to call or instant message a Lync contact. In this post we’ll talk about making call transfer less steps in Lync 2010.

If you are a fan of desk phones with a multitude of buttons or you subscribe to the three click philosophy* and you have to transfer quite a few calls to a handful of common contacts, you may take issue with the Microsoft Lync call transfer experience. (Please note that the Lync Attendant is extremely efficient and does indeed allow a call transfer in 2 clicks and is very efficient! We are aiming this article at those who cannot use Attendant because they need some Lync 2010 feature like desk sharing, video or meeting join) But what if you are a common Lync user that needs to commonly transfer calls, what is the experience for you?

Lync Phone Edition (“Aries”) Blind Transfer Steps:

The first step to transfer during a live call is to press Menu | Down Arrow (3times) | Select…

WP_000553

Now we are at 5 key presses and we are ready to select a Contact. From here we can either type what will be a 3/4 digit extension (and not know the users status before we transfer) or start type the first, say, 3 letters we now of their name. So lets say it’s a good day and we could type 2 letters and press Transfer. Done! (If you are a believer in the three click philosophy* you were counting and noted that was approximately 8 or more clicks)

WP_000555

snom, in one of there marketing videos for the snom UC Edition perhaps are the most eloquent in outlining the challenge, saying it this way: “Try this with a Lync Phone Edition…”

Microsoft Lync 2010 Blind Transfer Steps

On the Lync 2010 client you click on Call Transfer | Another Person or Number |  and then you will see an alphabetical list of your contacts. (Or you can press CTRL+SHiFT+T to jump right to the next screen.)

call transfer1

Now we will be presented with the “Transfer Call” contact list. This list is your contacts presented in alphabetical order. In most cases you will need to start typing the name, when the match is found you can press enter to complete transfer. (5 clicks/keys)

transfer contact list

Is There Any Ingenious Way To Streamline Transfer?

There are several solutions to help with this that involve buying a product:

  • Get button phone like snom 370 or snom 821 with Vision (see this video)
  • FoneComfort client side tray app removes a click or so for transfer (video demo)

Here is a way using a simple AutoHotkey script.

  • Download, Install and run AutoHotKey: http://www.autohotkey.com/
  • Modify one of the below AutoHotKey scripts to include your important “Transfer To” contacts".
  • Run the below AutoHotKey script by clicking on it.
One HotKey Script
  • Script Below: (cut and pasted into file with .ahk extension)

;document first hot key
;#F3 = pressing WindowsKey plus F3 will fire this line
;^+T = will send the keystrokes ctrl+shift+T to the select window
;lyncuser03@domain.com = uri to be transferred to
#F3::Send ^+Tlyncuser03@domain.com{Enter}{enter}
#F4::Send ^+Tlyncuser04@domain.com{Enter}{enter}
#F5::Send ^+Tlyncuser05@domain.com{Enter}{enter}
#s::Send ^+Tlyncuser06@domain.com{Enter}{enter}

  • next edit the above script by insert the contacts user needs to transfer to and assign hotkey
  • Now when you want to transfer a call, just press the shortcut you assigned to the commonly transfered contact.
    • for example, in the sample script above, if you are on a call with someone, you can press Windows+F3 to transfer to lyncuser03@domain.com
Two Click/Press Menu Script
  • Download the Quick Transfer script on Technet: Click Here
  • Open the script with Notepad and Edit the menu to include your Lync URI’s, save and close.
  • Click on script to run
  • Press F9 to transfer using an efficient menu

 

quick demo of quick transfer script.

NOTE: You can compile your script so you don’t even need to install AutoHotKey on the PC running the script. See AutoHotKey help.

More Lync User QuickTips: http://windowspbx.blogspot.com/search/label/LyncUserTip

* This is the belief that anything done regularly needs to be 3 clicks or less. Since I can’t find who came up with this I’ll just take responsibility for it.

Update to Lync for iPad Brings Meeting PowerPoint Visuals to iPad

 

Lync for iPad is getting an interesting update: You can now view the PowerPoint portion of a Lync meeting.

untitled

Some things to note about the update

  • iPad will be available to view the PowerPoint portion of a Lync Meeting only. (not desksharing or video)
  • Basic-will follow the presenter and not allow going forward and backward.
  • Only iPad, not WindowsPhone, Android, iPhone
  • Requires June 2012 Server side updates before it will work

NOTE: I’m very glad that my Lync User QuickTip #11 is no longer needed for iPad devices! (Lync User QuickTip #11: Want Mobile Devices to Attend the Visual Part of Your Next Lync Meeting? Here’s How) This tip might still be useful for WindowsPhone, iPhone and other devices.

Microsoft Lync 2010 for iPad:
http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/microsoft-lync-2010-for-ipad/id484222449?mt=8


http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=30136&WT.mc_id=rss_office_allproducts&ocid=aff-n-we-loc--ITPRO40890&WT.mc_id=aff-n-we-loc—ITPRO40890

Sources:
http://voipnorm.blogspot.com/2012/06/powerpoint-viewing-with-lync-for-ipad.html

More Details on Lync-to-phone Features of Office365 Jajah Service for #Lync

 

365 and jajah

Some quick things I notice:

  • Appears you need Office 365 E3 Plan at $20/user/month to get voicemail (or Lync Online Plan 3)
  • Jajah plans range from $13.99 to $29.99 for unlimited
  • Voice features supported (source)
    • click to call
    • Call Via Work
    • Forward call to mobile devices
    • Exchange Online Voicemail preview/transcription
    • Drag and drop Conference Calling
    • Auto Attendant through Exchange Online voicemail
    • Delegate
    • Team Call

Some Features NOT in Lync-to-Phone

  • Call Admission Control
  • Interop with PBX
  • Response Groups
  • Branch office resiliency
  • Lync IP phones
  • Exchange Auto Attendants

Office365/Jajah FAQ:
http://jajah-en.custhelp.com/

Jajah SignUp:
https://voice4lync-us.jajah.com/registration/reg-plan-and-account-info

Office 365 Plans:
http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/office365/all-plans.aspx#fbid=Om7h2H0L3gM
http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/office365/compare-plans.aspx#fbid=Om7h2H0L3gM

More Sources:
http://blogs.technet.com/b/lystavlen/archive/2012/07/05/lync-to-phone.aspx

Patton Smartnode Line of Gateways Become Microsoft #Lync Certified

 

patton

Just was notified that Patton Smartnode line of gateways has become Microsoft Lync Certified. In March 2011 I Patton released Lync configuration guide and I wondered when Patton would achieve Lync Certification, and it looks like they have now. This is interesting because there quite an array of port configurations in Smartnode line of gateways:

  • Smartnode 4114 – 2-8 FXO/FXS ports
  • Smartnode 4300 – 12-32 FXS Ports (Our Photo/Video Review of 4300)
  • Smartnode 4660 – BRI/FXO/FXS
  • Smartnode 4960 – T1/E1/PRI
  • more

Firmware Release 6.T and newer fall under the Lync Certified status.

Press Release:
http://www.patton.com/company/newsrelease.asp?id=2264

How to configure Patton Smartnode with Microsoft Lync:
http://www.patton.com/voip/appnotes/Microsoft_Lync_and_SmartNode.pdf

Microsoft Lync Certified Gateway Page:
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/lync/gg131938.aspx

New snom Videos Mince No Words: Notes Ways snom UC Edition Lync Devices Best Lync Phone Edition

 

The snom UC Edition videos below mince no words on how they best other Lync phones.

Episode 2 mentions ability to change presence right on the phone. Lync Phone Edition has since added this feature, but snom UC Edition truly was before “Aries” devices.

Branding.

Music on Hold.
My article on music on hold:
http://windowspbx.blogspot.com/2011/07/questions-about-microsoft-lync-server.html

2 Touch call transfer.

Windows Phone 8 to Get More UC Enabled: Integrated Internet Calling

 

windowsphone8

Just today Microsoft announced a lot of new things coming in Windows Phone 8. One that definitely affects UC on the device is “Integrated Internet Calling” noted under developers,developer,developer” section of Joe Belfiore’s blog on Windows 8

Integrated Internet calling: In Windows Phone 8, developers can create VoIP apps that plug into our existing calling feature so Internet calls can be answered like traditional phone calls, using the same calling interface.

This will make it possible to have a very integrated “softphone” experience, as is noted by this slide from Endgadget. which outlines in more detail what “Integrated Internet Calling” is:

    • Incoming VoIP calls feel like any other call
    • Integrates with built-in phone features
    • Voip apps continue to run in the back ground
    • Available to all developers

 


Source:
http://windowsteamblog.com/windows_phone/b/windowsphone/

First Impression of XavyMeeting: Lync Guest Meeting Join Client for iPad

 

Xavy is the new branding what was formerly known as Xync. I just noticed that XavyMeeting v6.50.x was released June 1, 2012 and the cost is currently at a promotional price of $1.99.

What I noticed in my quick testing on WIFI:

  • Instant Message worked
  • Participating in Audio Call worked
  • Viewing PowerPoint worked
  • Participating in Whiteboard worked
  • Graphics/UI somewhat improved from Xync
  • You do not get “current speaker” indication that I could see
  • Saving a meeting the save button got hidden by keyboard,use on screen keyboard button to get it out of the way

What did not work for me

  • Joining the video stream: garbled noise display; crashed XavyMeeting
  • Joining a desktop sharing stream: white displayed; crashed XavyMeeting on stop sharing
  • When I went outside our network it would crash (when Lync Mobile and Lync 2010 worked fine)

WP_000563

Version 6.50.051612

Lync Server 2010 Cumulative Update June 2012(aka CU6) Update Is Here

Lync Updates

Looks like Lync Server 2010 CU6 is here. Check it out.

Here are some items of interest I noticed (not complete):

For Complete June 2012 / CU6 KB Update, Click Here:
http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=2493736

Updates for Lync Server 2010 Resource Page:
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/lync/gg131945.aspx

Lync Select Dial App: Lync Dialing Enabled from Any Application

UPDATE: Lync Select Dial now works with Windows 8. The app uses F8 which does not conflict with Windows 8 hotkeys.

image

The premise of the Lync Select Dial app is simple: You should be able to dial from any application. Lync Select Dial is a very simple tray app will dial anything you can select. Just select and press F8 and that’s it!

Video Demo of Lync Select Dial
Users Feedback on Lync Select Dial
  • “...its so simple. I love it. I’ve been using it all day ––@legendarytechy 
  • “Works perfect! Thanks for the udpate. ––@paulisLync
  • “Clever...nice work  --@tomarbuthnot, Lync MVP
  • “…check it out, cool!  --@ivcrieki
  • “Lync Select Dial is awesome..and works perfectly… –@xhunter9x
  • “An excellent addition to any Lync heavy user - a feature that should make it in a [Lync] future version. –Alessio Giombini
  • “Lync Select Dial is awesome. I use it many times every day. -- @djtentman, Lync Admin


Compatibility

  • Works with Windows 7 and Windows 8
  • Works with Lync 2010 or Lync 2013 (but NOT Lync Windows Store App)

Go Get Lync Select Dial: It’s Free.

http://gallery.technet.microsoft.com/Lync-Copy-Dial-Just-Select-3c426244
http://bit.ly/selectdial

How Can You Help Lync Select Dial?

First, we are looking for no donations! :-) Here are 2 ways you can help though:

#Lync User QuickTip #22: Lync Select Dial: Bringing “Click-To-Dial” To Every Windows App

 

I don’t have much to say about this tip: Just go out to TechNet Gallery and get the Lync Select Dial app. This nifty tool will dial any number or SIP URI you select. Just make a selection and press F8. That’ it!

Lync Select Dial is a small tray app that dials whatever you select.

lcd-tray

This means your can quickly dial from all browsers, CRM, ERP, Spreadsheets, Line of business apps and any app you can select a phone number from.

Hey, I just “select and dialed” from DOS! (right click | Edit | Mark | select with mouse | {ENTER} | F8)

lsd-dos

Using Lync Select Dial in Chrome!

lsd-chrome

Lync Select Dialing from Excel.. (I found doing ctrl+c selects a cell in Excel)

lsd-excel

You get the idea, one key press to dial from anywhere.

Get the app here:
http://gallery.technet.microsoft.com/Lync-Copy-Dial-Just-Select-3c426244

More Lync User QuickTips: http://windowspbx.blogspot.com/search/label/LyncUserTip

Lync User QuickTip #21: One Button Shortcut to IM or Voice Call a Contact

Have you ever found yourself wishing for the “good ole’ days” when a button press on a desk phone could dial a specific contact? There are a couple aspects of “legacy” buttons that hard to improve on:

  • There is no need to determine context: pressing the button always dials the contact
  • They have a physical location, and things don’t (usually) get on top of them
  • One press does the job

There are a couple downsides to buttons like: there are never enough, it can be hard to find the desired contact in rows and rows of buttons…and more I’m sure, but today we will give the steps to bring back 1 Click (or 1 button press) shortcuts for dialing or IM'ing common contacts or phone numbers.

la-sl1100-ip-handset

The overview of what we are going to do is: Create a simple Windows desktop shortcut that points to TEL: or SIP: url to start a conversation with a specific contact with one shortcut keypress.

First, right click anywhere on your desktop and then click New | Shortcut.

new-shortcut

Type in SIP: or TEL: followed by the contact you want to initiate a conversation with.

  • SIP: Will start a conversation with a SIP URI
  • TEL: Will dial a telephone number

NOTE: Unfortunately to start a voice call with a SIP URI you will need to click “Call”.

2-url

Next you can give your shortcut a Name/Description. I suggest prefixing it with the Keyboard hotkey shortcut you are planning to use. (this will be configured in a later step)

3-name-shortcut

Now you have a shortcut. Click on it will start a conversation with this contact. SIP: will start an IM and TEL: will start a voice call.

shortcut

Now we can further enhance our shortcut by adding a Shortcut Key and unique Icon.

Hotkey-icon-change

Now you have a shortcut that will start and IM or initiate a Voice call using the assigned Shortcut key any where in Windows. Of course you can drag this shortcut onto the taskbar so it is visible and any other tricks you can think of that Windows shortcuts can do.

 

Another Way to make 1 Key Shortcuts:


Lync HotKey Contact Dialer App on TechNet: Click Here
(Note: One benefit of the Hotkey Contact Dialer is that you can have true 1 button to start a voice call)

More Lync User QuickTips: http://windowspbx.blogspot.com/search/label/LyncUserTip

Lync Who Can Federate Tool Gets Who Can Federate Live! Feature in New Version 1.4 [Video Demo]

 

Who Can Federate Live! now lets you run WCF Tool scan automatically every day.
See the new Who Can Federate Live! Feature in below video:

Please get the new Version 1.4 Here:
http://gallery.technet.microsoft.com/office/Who-Can-Federate-Tool-a9e00d23

PS - If you like it, a 5 Star rating is always appreciated!
Smile

Lync Phone Edition With Better Together: When Does Audio Flow Through Deskphone?

 

cx600

(here are the different paths the audio can take: to keep it simple: if its an audio call, it travels via IP from deskphone)

If you  make an audio call via the Lync Phone Edition device dial pad, it makes the call directly from the desk phone via tcpip.

If you initiate an audio call from lync client with Lync Phone Edition as audio device, it is controlling  the Lync Phone Edition and the call is going via tcpIP from Desk phone as well.

If you make a video call, the Lync 2010 client handles the audio/video and uses the Lync Phone Edition as a usb audio device.

If you make an audio call with the Lync Phone Edition, then bump the call up to a video call, it switches on the fly from IP to USB with no notice by the user.

If you make an audio call with the Lync Phone Edition, then bump the call up to a screen sharing session, the audio continues to flow from the desk phone via IP.

If the user in the phone and the lync client are different, the Lync Phone Edition is used as an audio device for the Lync Client. (if you unplug the usb, the call goes on hold)

Quick Look at FonComfort: Simple Tray App That Brings Call Pickup to Lync

 

Just noticed this little tray app that brings Call Pickup (and some other features) to Microsoft Lync. It seems to work just as billed.

Some Notes:

  • It will pickup Response Group and calls directly to a Lync user (if a lync user is ringing, it seems it can Call Pick it)
  • Person doing the call pickup cannot have DND set
  • The FonComfort trayapp must be running on both parties PC
  • You must initiate the call pickup from Lync 2010, but you can answer the resulting call to yourself from Lync 2010 or an IP phone
  • By default Lync does not have a “Ringing” presence state indicated, but FonComfort includes instructions to add this so you can pickup calls even without physically hearing the ring
  • Restart Lync 2010 and FonComfort before trying to use

 

quick look at FonComfort Call Pickup feature

There is a time limited demo you can try out immediately, check the URL below.

FonComfort Website:
http://www.bressner.de/detail/telecom_it/unifiedcommunication/lync-software/lync-fon-comfort/BT+FonComfort+Basic_17689.html

You may also want to look at some other vendors bringing Call Pickup to Lync:
http://windowspbx.blogspot.com/2012/04/lync-call-pickup-feature-provided-by.html

Source: Thanks for heads up Jurgen De Greyt.

First Impression Video Review of Logitech BCC950 Conference CAM (Lync Optimized)

 

Logitech has introduced a USB video conference unit that has a quite interesting design: A tilt/pan/zoom camera with a remote control combined with a conference speaker phone. The device is one of only 4 Microsoft Lync Optimized meeting room devices and is priced to be affordable for the smallest office.

I need to admit it is hard not to think “friendly robot” after you assemble this USB speakerphone with the 9” Cam extender stem. (Logitech does little to dispel this with there own video: http://youtu.be/PsX6tIHo8no)

wall-e2

Video First Impression Review
Looking at The Logitech BCC950 ConferenceCam

The BCC950 has a distinctive look by any standards. It can be powered by a USB cable plugged into a powered USB port on your laptop or pc or a power cord into the wall—both are included. The unit assembled quickly with no fuss. The unit’s base houses a 360 degrees speakerphone that has Call answer and hangup buttons, a mute and volume controls. There is also an LED that is blue with live conversation and red on mute. There are direction and zoom controls for that camera on the base as well as the remote that comes complete with batteries already installed (just pull the battery saver slip out) The base also includes a headset jack on the left side. I was surprised there was no volume indication on the device itself (but on Windows7 you can click on speakers icon in system tray to see volume level)

baseup

base with cam on stem

cameradown

base with cam in base

baseside

side view of base with headset jack.

The camera is a 1080p Carl Zeiss camera with tilt/pan/zoom. The camera can be plugged directly into the base or on a 9 inch extender stem. I think the view with the stem is optimal when setting on a desk/conference table. When I first plugged the camera into the base I wasn’t quite sure I plugged it in right, but it was. The stem assembly feels like something you want to be a little careful with and not bang around too much. There is a blue LED in the beside the camera lens to let you know the camera is live. For me the whole unit, speakerphone and camera just worked in Microsoft Lync after plugging it in. Setup is a breeze.

cam

Using the Positioning

The build in tilt/pan/zoom camera is probably the most unique part of this unit. After plugging in the device you can immediately start using the remote or controls on the base to position the camera. (There are no drivers or software required for Microsoft Lync---nice design Logitech) The camera moves quite fast and I had some trouble centering on my subject on the first try, likely a newbie issue. You do hear the mechanicals that move the camera through the speaker phone and, while the camera was on the “stem”, moving from side to side did cause it sway just a bit, but not very noticeable on the video for the other party.

playing with camera positioning

The unit is designed to be controlled by someone near the BCC950 and does note have far end control. (this is a limitation of Lync, not BCC950).

Video Quality

I’ve been getting questions about video quality so I’ll do my best to comment on what I see. (I want to preface this that I am no video expert) I have been comparing the video to Microsoft LifeCam Cinema HD in the Lync preview window to get raw video look and nothing else. (using default setup on both) The LifeCam immediately appears more vibrant with TrueColor feature turned on, but more comparable without it. I also noticed the BCC950 has more “fog/haze/halo” effect looking at the same view?  It interesting that the LifeCam preview put my QuadCore HP Z210 CPU at approximately 10%, while the BCC950 preview drops to 5% or below. (the LifeCam has the TrueColor feature turned off. But perhaps LifeCam app/driver takes CPU?)

comparelighting

I’ve been doing some tests sending HD (720p) stream and it appears that the LifeCam take about an avg of 25% cpu to send the stream whereas the BCC950 takes an avg of 18% cpu. (very unofficial tests—if anyone has better way to test or more accurate results, let me know!)

UPDATE 3/2014 Logitech Brings Far End Control to BCC950. See complete blog and video here:
http://windowspbx.blogspot.com/2014/01/logitech-brings-far-side-video-control.html

Features
  • Mute LED (red when muted/blue with hot)
  • headset plug
  • High or low camera mount
  • Carl Zeiss lens, 1080p HD camera
  • Requires no drivers

Pros:

  • definitely a new form factor for the small meeting, affordable cam option.
  • The handheld remote does answer, hang-up, volume, mute, and tilt/pan/zoom. Quite nice.
  • Quick, no drivers required installation
  • Nice long USB cables included.
  • The lowest priced Lync Optimized Meeting Room device available at $249.99 Retail price.

Cons:

  • No volume indication on the unit, an no popup volume indicator on the PC screen (tried it on a Thinkpad laptop and HP Z210 Workstation)
  • You do hear the camera movement on the speaker phone, although not loud

Observations

  • This design takes care of the problem of setting a webcam on top of a screen in the conference room.
  • This unit is very distinctive, but would really be creating buzz if it would/could automatically track  active speaker
  • Barring active speaker tracking, it would be nice to have preset positions (perhaps 4?) for the Tilt/Pan/Zoom for 1 touch move to another speaker.
  • The remote needs to be within 10ft or so and (I think) be able to “see” the front of the base unit.  Pointing at the side of the unit does not seem to always work.
  • When panning, I found my self panning past the person of interest. If I went slow enough then unit seemed to go in “notches”
  • Because its size/assembly it likely will stay in the conference room? may not be a laptop bag unit.

Logitech certainly has broken out of the tried something different with this Lync Optimized, meeting room device.

Official Logitech Site: http://www.logitech.com/en-us/for-business/products/webcams/conferencecam

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/lync/gg278175

Note:
http://www.logitech.com/en-us/webcam-communications/webcams/3480

What Specifically is Better About Lync Phone Edition With "Better Together” USB?

 

better together usb

Better Together features:

  • Makes Lync 2010 and Deskphone act as one single unit
  • Visual Voicemail
  • Calendar
  • Join Conference
  • Locking/Unlocking of PC can Lock/Unlock Phone
  • Deskphone can act as PC's default playback speaker
  • Click To Dial from Outlook/InternetExplorer
  • Provision deskphone by type user credentials on PC

snom Releases Windows UC Client That Does Presence, Instant Message and Visual Voicemail

 

snom has released a UC Client for the snom ONE IP PBX to add Unified Communication features. Below is a look and video review of some of the features.

snom uc-1

Some features on this first iteration

  • Presence (or perhaps more accurately extension state?)
  • Instant Message
  • Complete VoIP Client (Softphone)
  • Visual Voicemail
  • Contact List
  • Unified Call History
  • Set your user picture and note
  • Debugging: SIP logging and view

Missing Features (at the moment)

  • Click to transfer
  • Click to call VoiceMail or transfer to Voicemail
  • No tone/sound on incoming IM
  • No incoming call to the softphone/client

Bugs noticed

  • If you change users you need to close and reopen program
  • DTMF pad didn’t seem to work for me?
  • clicking on a missed call crashes the client

Review Notes

  • snom has noted this product is BETA: So bugs are to be reported, not complained about. ;-)
  • Very snappy UI that responds nicely
  • Right clicking on a Contact gives an extra, unnecessary “jump/flicker” but it works.
  • This client does not automate/control the desk phone, but is a complete SIP softphone
    • But in some ways feels unified: missed/dialed calls from any endpoint show up in client
  • Missed versus Dialed  calls not very clearly marked
  • Very definitely a BETA (perhaps Alpha?) release

See the Video First Impression Review Here:

 

Get it here:
http://wiki.snomone.com/index.php?title=Installing_the_Attendant_Console
http://wiki.snomone.com/index.php?title=The_snom_Attendant_Console

Could a Device Like This Leap Frog Lync Optimized & Qualified Devices?

ucm_stg_cnt_053699

Note: This article falls in the class of “crazy Friday future brain-storming”.

Just saw this Panasonic KX-UT670 and thought: Could this device, or something like it, leapfrog all of snom and Polycom’s hard efforts to produce Lync Qualified devices?

Why It Might

  • This device could conceivably leverage any Android Lync Wave 15 Voip client that arrives (later this year?) or other 3rd party Android clients.
  • It already has a 720p HD Video Cam built in
  • Whopping 7” color touch display (compared to CX600 3.5” non-touch)
  • Could be as easy to deploy as a Android BYOD device

Why It Might Not

  • It will be too pricey for entry level desk sets (retail price of approximately $400USD)
  • If Cisco Cius couldn’t make it in a tablet with docking station, why could this desk only unit make it?
  • Lync Mobile clients are not really designed for “desk phone” senario so UI may not fit
  • Perhaps the softphone “revolution” is too far progress for such a device to gain serious traction?
  • The BYOD wave just makes any enterprise grade device unacceptable?
  • Do we need a desk phone anymore?

Below is a video review of the unit by TheDroidGuy that got my attention.

As an alternative, perhaps an enterprise grade, Lync Optimized base station with handset (think of Cisco Cius docking station) that works as a USB handset when no iPad or Android tablet (or Windows 8 Tablet, to fend of life threats ;-) is in the docking station might have a shot at the future.

cius docking station

Above: Cius Docking (front)

cius dock back

BTW-Hey Cisco, maybe this is an idea to recoup some Cius R&D? Okay, sorry for that lame joke.

Cius Docking Station:
http://www.cisco.com/en/US/docs/voice_ip_comm/ccmcd/user/9_2_1/english/accessories.html