Tandberg Movi Review

Testing with Tom

Tandberg Movi Review

By Tom Keating, Chief Technology Officer and Executive Editor  |  September 01, 2010

This article originally appeared in the Sept. 2010 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY

Multi-party HD videoconferencing is often thought of as an expensive proposition that is restricted to special boardrooms with expensive video equipment and large monitor displays. One of the major driving forces behind videoconferencing is its ability to enable collaborative meetings across distances with multiple participants, so having multiple high-tech videoconferencing boardrooms can be cost prohibitive. Further, many employees work from home all or part of the week or travel, which would make attendance at a fixed videoconferencing boardroom impossible.

Tandberg, now part of Cisco (News - Alert), aims to solve this problem by combining mobility and video, hence the name Movi, a new offering that enables high-definition 720p, 30fps video when used in conjunction with Cisco's Tandberg (News - Alert) PrecisionHD USB camera.Tandberg sent me the PrecisionHD USB camera to test along with Movi for the best experience, though any HD USB camera would work as well. Movi is much more than simply a videoconferencing system – it's also a video collaboration tool allowing you to share applications, whiteboard, etc. Movi really gives you a true, full-fledged telepresence experience without the need for huge TV screens and expensive video equipment.

Movi is standards compliant and is interoperable with H.323 and SIP endpoints enabling connectivity with other Movi users, personal desktop video, conference rooms and telepresence systems. When utilizing standards-compliant multipoint control units, Movi allows you to connect simultaneously with multiple users on different devices. To use Movi you need Cisco's Tandberg Management Suite (v12.1 or later) and Cisco's Tandberg Video Communication Server (VCS v.4.1) (MCU) or later. Rather than deploying and setting these up, for my testing purposes, my Movi client was configured to log on to Tandberg's VCS MCU located across the Internet.I launched the Movi application, and it told me I needed Open GL 1.2 video drivers. I won't get into a DirectX vs. OpenGL debate here, except to point out that Open GL has better performance and is cross-platform, unlike DirectX. The downside is that not all graphic card vendors update or include the latest Open GL drivers.Fortunately, my nVidia GeForce 7300 LE card had Open GL 1.2 drivers available.

After installing the driver, I relaunched Movi and then clicked the local video icon to see myself. This wasn't quite full-screen mode, since when I went full-screen and then used my screen capture utility, all I got was a white background. This is due to the way Open GL optimizes the video output by bypassing certain elements of the operating system to improve performance. Thus, I had to keep it in windowed mode and make the window as large as I could to capture the image.I'd like to see a snapshot utility built into Movi for doing screen grabs in windowed or full-screen mode without relying on a third-party app. Similarly, I'd like to see a way of kicking off a recording for future playback.Now the fun part: making a video call. After logging in I made a call to Tandberg's (now Cisco's) Jeannie McPherson. The video quality was superb and supports up to 8mbps throughput.

During the video call, I was using the PrecisionHD camera's built-in microphone along with my desktop speakers, so I wasn't wearing a headset and yet there was no echo or speaker feedback. This is important, since most users prefer the freedom to move around without being tethered to a wired headset. Even if you have a wireless headset connected to your PC, that doesn't help if you have multiple people you want to participate in the video conference, since obviously headset mics are designed to only pick up audio from less than 5 inches away. I was amazed that I was in a HD videoconference using just my PC and a USB-based camera with no fancy echo cancellation microphone pod with DSPs – yet the audio quality was crystal clear. The platform supports several key audio codecs, including some wideband ones. Audio codecs supported include MPEG4 AAC-LD 48 kHz, G.722.1 24kbps, G.722.1 32kbps, G.711 A-law, and G.711 μ-law.For my next test, Jeannie and I participated in a multi-party (three-way) videoconference with another Tandberg employee, Mike Roussey. I was using Movi, while Jeannie was using a Tandberg 1700 and Mike was using Movi from his home office. Once again, the audio and the video quality were superb. In this videoconference session, which I really should call a telepresence session, Mike shared a PowerPoint presentation, which I was able to see in addition to the two video feeds of Jeannie and Mike.

We had about a 45 minute telepresence session, and the video and audio quality were top-notch throughout. Within Movi I could change my view from seeing the presentation and the video participants to justCisco recently announced, also plays a big role in maintaining high quality.Importantly, the new Multiway technology enables Movi users to initiate ad hoc multiparty telepresence calls with other standards-compliant devices. What's cool about this technology is that you can start with a two-party telepresence call using direct peer-to-peer communication with no MCU required and then convert to a multi-party (>=3 people) telepresence session with a MCU. Since MCU resources are limited, this ensures the MCU isn't used for two-party calls, but seamlessly converts to an MCU call on the fly (using VCS) if needed.Depending on the quantity purchased, Movi licenses range from $30 per license to $120. The $30 per license cost includes a pack of 2,000 licenses, the $120 per license option is a 25 pack of licenses.viewing the presentation in a larger mode. The larger mode is useful if I wanted to focus on just the presentation or if it was easier to read. I liked that I could easily toggle between the main screen and the picture-in-picture with a simple double click. Also, the PiP is movable, which came in handy when I wanted to move one of the video windows out of the way of the presentation, but still see the other person.Movi allows you to select and share content and presentations with any standards-compliant video device, so it isn't strictly other Movi clients or the various Tandberg video telepresence solutions. It's worth mentioning that the new version of Movi adds far-end camera control. There is also a DTMF keypad for sending touch tones.You can dial an IP address of a H.323/SIP system simply by pre-pending '@', i.e. @

Of course dialing by URI works, i.e. [email protected] The Movi client feature color-coded presence so you know when users are available. Currently, there is no chat built-in, since in many cases you are participating with users on other video telepresence systems that don't have a keyboard or mouse. However, Tandberg told me it is considering addressing this in a future release so at least Movi users can chat.Cisco claims this solution is scalable to thousands of users. To achieve excellent audio and video quality, the company has some tricks up its sleeve. It utilizes adaptive echo cancellation on the Movi client, endpoints, and on its MCU appliance, which explains why the audio quality was so good. Further, it has intelligent bandwidth distribution and dynamic bandwidth adaptation.

ClearPath packet loss concealment technology, which

Tandberg has done an excellent job of sticking to industry standards, which isn't exactly the reputation of its owner, Cisco. Fortunately, Tandberg's Movi, when used in conjunction with Tandberg's Video Communications Server, ensures interoperability with other telepresence systems. The Tandberg PrecisionHD camera has a super-fast auto-focus. I could move my hand to an inch away from the camera and see my fingerprints, then move my hand away and the camera would re-focus on my face very quickly, making it a perfect complement to the Movi client. The cross-platform client support (Mac, Windows, Linux) is really key, especially in larger enterprises. I really liked the high-definition multi-party conferencing with full collaboration capabilities all rolled in one.The key factor is as the Movi name itself suggests: It enables mobile video for an increasingly mobile workforce. Tandberg's Movi leverages the power of the PC and the Internet to bring powerful HD video and telepresence capabilities to the mobile workforce. The ability to participate in a HD video telepresence session wherever you go will be a huge selling point for the Movi product. As the founder of TMC (News - Alert) Labs I've tested many products in telecom/datacom over the years, and I can say unequivocally this is one of the finest products I've tested.

Tom Keating is Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at Technology Marketing Corporation, and Executive Technology Editor/SEO Director for TMCnet.com. To read more of Tom’s articles, please visit his columnist page. He also blogs for TMCnet here.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi