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Video conferencing on tablets
MNN checks out some of the latest offerings for using video conferencing on mobile devices.
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Image: Polycom

In today’s business world, there is no such thing as being inaccessible. Video conferencing is a prime example of that concept: even if you are not physically in the same room as your coworkers, you can still experience the presentation or vote on a new stock option or wow a potential client. Now, with video conferencing available on tablets and smartphones, employees do not even have to be in a room. Fire up your device, log in to the meeting, pop in your earplugs and participate on the subway, in a park and anywhere else you take your mobile device (i.e. everywhere).
 
Several companies recently have created programs specifically for video conferencing on tablets, with many of the same features as video conferencing on a desktop, such as high-definition video, high-quality audio and firewalls for security.
 
Polycom’s RealPresence Mobile
How it works: Earlier this month, the California-based telecommunications company launched a version of its desktop-based, high-definition, enterprise-grade video conferencing software for on-the-go use.
Availability: Currently only on Apple iPad 2, Motorola XOOM and Samsung Galaxy Tab tablet PCs; others to come, according to the company’s website.
Cost: Software is free to download.
Pros: Ability to video conference with a group, unlike single-view calling on services such as Skype on smartphones.
Cons: Too early to tell.
 
PGi's iMeet
How it works: The Atlanta-based company has put out a tablet version of its web-based video conferencing tool iMeet.
Availability: Compatible with iPad. Requires iOS 4.2 or later. There's an HTML5 version of iMeet for use on other devices.
Cost: App is free but requires iMeet subscription, which starts at $39 a month.
Pros: Accomodates video meetings with up to 15 people, anywhere in the world. HD quality picture.
Cons: No native Android support.
 
Cisco Cius
How it works: Rather than software, the Cius is an “ultra-portable, mobile collaboration enterprise tablet.” It includes wi-fi, HD video with Cisco TelePresence systems and a full-color screen.  
Availability: As the Cius is its own device, it incorporates other Cisco TelePresence video conferencing technology and runs on Google’s Android system.
Cost: $750
Pros: Small and light (7-inch screen and weighs a little over 1 pound); two cameras for video conferencing; can be docked in an “HD audio station,” which offers USB ports, a wired Ethernet connection, telephone handset and speakerphone, therefore can almost replace a traditional PC
Cons: Cisco-only focus
 
FuzeBox Fuze Meeting
How it works: According to its website, Fuze works within the Internet “cloud” to allow up to 10 users to collaborate across any mobile device anywhere in the world. With high-definition video content, Fuze Meeting “is browser, operating system, and device agnostic and resolution independent,” meaning users are not confined to one type of device or program.
Availability: Android smartphones and tablets, including Motorola Atrix, HTC Thunderbolt and the Motorola Xoom
Cost: Price points range from $10 for meetings by the day, to Fuze Meeting Pro, which costs $69 per month or $828 annually.
Pros: High-definition mobile app; price points; storage ability
Cons: Though some price points of Fuze Meeting include high-definition video, recent trials of this and other video conferencing sites by the industry magazine PC World found that other video conferencing companies had better video quality.
 
Though video conferencing on tablets and smartphones is an option, many workers believe it is taking the idea of nonstop availability too far. Complains high-tech writer Dan Blacharski on the blog onestopclick.com, “It’s already annoying to be standing in line at the grocer’s behind some loud-mouthed bloke yammering on into his phone about tomorrow’s soccer match... Imagine the same scenario, only this time he’s holding his smartphone in front of his face so his mates can see him in action.”
 
Editor's note: PGi is a Mother Nature Network sponsor.
 
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