Microsoft HD LifeCam Provides HD Video Conferencing for Budget-Conscious Business

By Leah Gabriel Nurik  |  Print this article Print

Microsoft's LifeCam with HD Sensor will provide an affordable alternative for value-oriented business looking for video conferencing. The camera will integrate with Windows Live Messenger 2011, due this fall, to support HD video calling.

Microsoft has unveiled its new LifeCam with an HD Sensor, providing an affordable alternative to businesses looking for video conferencing solutions. The camera comes with high-definition video capabilities and a 1080p sensor and will integrate with Windows Live Messenger 2011 which will be available this fall and will support HD video calling.

The video communications market is heating up, with many lower-end alternatives to high-priced end-to-end systems from companies such as Cisco, Polycom and HP whose telepresence rooms are being sold for upwards of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

This week, Avaya launched a new dedicated video conferencing device that looks like a tablet, but is not made to replace laptops or PCs. The device is officially called a "desktop video device," but is being touted as the Flare Tablet, and is being compared to Cisco’s upcoming Cius tablet and the iPad. The Avaya device is priced around $2,000 and the Cius is expected to come in at a little over $1,000.

Skype, as well, is getting into the act of providing more cost-effective alternatives for business. Skype recently launched a channel program designed to bring VARs and integrators into the fold. The company said it already had 20 systems integrators and VARs signed up in its September 7 announcement.

Skype also recently launched Skype Connect which allows business users to make domestic and international calls using regular office telephones instead of relying on a computer for VoIP calls by using a SIP-enabled PBX systems.  Skype says that approximately 37 percent of Skype users reported that they use Skype for business-related activities and the company believes Skype Connect could equate to significant enterprise revenue.

"We believe that small, medium and large businesses are looking for cost-effective, integrated real-time communications and collaboration solutions," said David Gurlé, VP and general manager of Skype for Business in a press release from the company.

The new LifeCam from Microsoft is another proof point to the market demand for affordable integrated video calling and conference solutions, which could eat away at Cisco, HP and Polycom’s share and high-end offerings.  The camera is priced at $99.95 and can be purchased exclusively at BestBuy.com now and in-store later this month.

Beyond the high-quality HD picture, LifeCam provides a sleek industrial design, fitting it for work or at-home use. It also provides a 360-degree view range, and an elongated hood that is designed to shut out stray light and avoid washed-out colors to which most laptop-embedded webcam users have become accustomed.