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[July 31, 2000]

PictureTel Releases New Line Of Videoconferencing Solutions

PictureTel Corporation announced the PictureTel 900 Series, a revolutionary line of videoconferencing solutions that solves the problems with traditional videoconferencing and delivers a host of new functionality. The net result is that, for the first time, remote interaction can feel like face-to-face interaction. Jumpy video, unintelligible audio, awkward communication delays, as well as technical complexity and reliability issues are things of the past with the PictureTel 900 Series. In addition, the PictureTel 900 Series allows users to easily include computer files, traditional documents, and common peripherals into a remote meeting. Industry analysts note that the PictureTel 900 Series solves many of the key challenges that have kept videoconferencing from mass adoption in the corporate mainstream.

The new PictureTel systems are the first built on the iPower software and hardware architecture, developed collaboratively by PictureTel and Intel. The iPower architecture combines Intel's hardware and chip expertise with PictureTel's videoconferencing capabilities. PictureTel will announce a suite of iPower-based announcements in the coming months.

"The PictureTel 900 Series delivers a quantum advance in remote interaction," said Dr. Norman Gaut, chairman and CEO, PictureTel Corporation. "The natural interaction capabilities will eliminate distance as a reason for lost productivity. As we have re-invented the user experience, we have taken direct aim at all of the major technology barriers of the past. The PictureTel 900 Series shatters complexity, reliability, and management obstacles that have compromised total productivity."

The PictureTel 900 Series is comprised of the PictureTel 970, a full-featured solution offering, targeted at organizations that require state-of-the-art integrated collaboration capabilities; and the PictureTel 960, an entry-point configuration targeting organizations that require high-performance integrated collaboration capabilities that can scale as their requirements evolve. Both systems are multi-purpose computing and interaction solutions built on a combination of an Intel Pentium III Processor and real-time conferencing processors optimized for interactive collaboration.

The PictureTel 900 Series provides the first real-life, content-rich remote interaction capability.

The PictureTel 900 Series combines the most important business communication tools: videoconferencing, the PC, and the Internet, to enable real-life, content rich integrated collaboration. Simple to use, and highly reliable, the PictureTel 900 Series removes geographic and technical barriers to productivity. Best available resources - human resources as well as informational resources - can easily be pulled into a meeting to provide the benefit of this expertise and information to meeting participants as they make decisions.

Traditional videoconferencing systems are proprietary, one-purpose appliances. As such, they stand idle when not used for a videoconference. Built on a standard PC platform, the PictureTel 900 Series can be utilized as a standalone conference room PC to support Web browsing, project planning, presentations, product development, sales forecasting, etc. - even when not deployed on a videoconference. As such, organizations can leverage their investment in the conferencing system, when holding traditional one-location, face-to-face meetings.

SThe PictureTel 900 Series allows users to leverage PC functionality into a videoconference for the first time, and, with a single click, share any network-based application and any conference room peripheral, enriching the quality of meetings. Meeting participants may easily share Web files and office documents. Shipped standard, the new PictureTel ImageShare enables participants to plug in multiple peripherals - laptops, PCs, and projectors - at the conference table. Importantly, the system features a new user interface that highlights all attached peripherals on a menu bar - enabling users to point, click, and share content at native resolution, as they would in a face-to-face meeting. The system automatically synchronizes views from multiple sites to ensure that all participants are looking at the same content.

Designed to work like the human mind, the PictureTel 900 Series recognizes the difference between people and content, optimizing the transmission for each as appropriate. The systems leverage PictureTel's patent-pending People+Content technology to handle people and content, such as paper documents, Web files, word processing, presentations, and spreadsheet files, etc., differently. Under this approach, when users are addressing one another, the systems transmit at the highest frame rate to optimize motion video quality. When a user elects to share content, the systems intelligently switch to a much higher-resolution transmission that allows documents to be shared, without requiring special preparations, such as font enlargement, color compatibility, and animation reduction.

The systems feature radically increased audio and video quality, as well as greatly enhanced compression/decompression algorithms that transform integrated collaboration sessions into true synonyms for face-to-face meetings. Addressing "audio fatigue," the PictureTel 900 Series leverages PictureTel Siren 14 technology to deliver the first 14kHz range, low-delay and high-fidelity capability - twice the audio fidelity of any videoconferencing systems currently on the market.

Addressing video quality, the systems deliver the first sustained 30-frames-per-second video quality at 256 kbps and above, in videoconferences involving locations with many participants - virtually eliminating stilted video. Addressing "interaction fatigue," the PictureTel 900 Series leverages greatly enhanced compression/decompression algorithms that radically improve video quality, while virtually eliminating delays experienced by other systems.

The systems leverage PictureTel's Sure Connect and Network Optimizer patent-pending technologies to deliver unprecedented conferencing reliability. Sure Connect works in ISDN environments to connect the call the first time and ensure that the call stays up by adapting to the limitations of the network and remote sites.

PictureTel's Network Optimizer technology works with ISDN- and IP-based communication protocols to maintain high quality video despite network errors, even in conditions where video would traditionally become interrupted or even unusable. The net impact is that users can focus on the meeting rather than on managing the technology.

"The PictureTel 900 Series is a breakthrough product for the videoconferencing industry. It sets a new standard for conference room computer systems," said Andrew W. Davis, managing partner, Wainhouse Research, LLC. "The new user interface pushes the envelope to provide an intuitive end-user interface for both conferencing and collaboration functions. The superb audio and video quality demonstrate extremely low delay, which makes visual communications much more natural than anything before."

"Organizations today must struggle with the myriad demands of customer relationship management, supply chain management, globalization, and mergers and acquisitions," said Lewis Jaffe, president and chief operating office at PictureTel. "The increasing complexity of the business environment, factored with time to market pressures and the resource shortages common across all industries, points to a critical requirement to interact as intelligently as possible across distances."

The PictureTel 900 Series is available today from PictureTel and PictureTel's resellers and partners around the world. Pricing is configurable based upon components selected and quantity. The PictureTel 900 Series is available starting at less than $10,000 (U.S. list price). Customers also have the choice of selecting bundled feature packages including a range of display devices, furniture, and content-input devices.

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