NEW TECHNOLOGY An Executive Guide to Presentation Technology

Nothing spoils presentation more than yesterday’s technology. Dull, blurred, grainy pictures from elderly projectors; poorly typed, twink-splattered overhead transparencies. Not only does it show the presenter in bad light, it also reflects dimly on the company image.
It’s time to pension-off the OHP and step into the world of 21st century presentation technology. Here’s taste of what’s on offer:

Videoconferencing
We’ll begin with videoconferencing because this technology is having the greatest impact on where and when presentations are conducted, and their frequency.
Videoconferencing is helping to speed up decision-making, involving more people in the decision-making process and cutting back on travel expenses.
Hayden Lockie, sales executive with Sony’s business solutions group, uses the Natural Gas Corporation (NGC) as an example of cost savings.
“For years NGC flew two to three executives from Melbourne to Wellington for fortnightly meetings. Essential face-to-face sessions now happen monthly,” says Lockie. “The result is better use of executive resources and significantly reduced travel costs. In three months the solution has paid for itself on financial savings alone, which is fantastic return on the investment.”
Videoconferencing take-up is on the rise as systems and ISDN connections fall in price, IP (Internet Protocol) connection gets more reliable, equipment becomes more user-friendly, the H.264 ITU standard is universally adopted and, perhaps most importantly, executives focus more on work/life balance. New Zealand’s geographical isolation also makes us more reliant on videoconferencing.
Many companies opt to lease VC systems – it is affordable with rentals around $500 month. Also, as SwiftLink’s David Thompson points out, VC systems by day can double as security surveillance system by night – making even better use of the investment.
In terms of equipment, it’s basically three-horse race in New Zealand, with Tandberg, Polycom and Sony the major players.

* Tandberg
These systems have an excellent reputation in the marketplace. Tandberg builds range of systems, from desktop models like the Tandberg 1000, through set-tops, to dual 50-inch plasma screen machines such as the Tandberg 8000 for group or boardroom application.
Graham Tingey, southern region VC specialist for Tandberg agent Cogent Communications, says the majority of systems are wireless capable and all models can stream video. “This means, for example, users in branch offices could use their internet browser to dial into the managing director’s presentation being videoed from head office in Auckland or Wellington.”
Encryption takes on greater importance with the advent of the IP platform, especially if sensitive information is being discussed. Tandberg’s Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) is available across the range, providing peace of mind for organisations running different Tandberg systems in their branches.
Tandberg’s Natural Presenter Package is another point of difference – technology that allows presenters to simply plug their laptop into the VC codec to share data or documents with all participants, without having to download software.
Wellington-based Tingey believes that videoconferencing is poised for dramatic growth, with many central government agencies realising its potential as way to work smarter. With telephony integration on systems such as the Tandberg 1000, he’s also predicting video calls in the near future.
Tingey suggests buyers choose VC system that is simple to install, maintain, and service; one that is reliable (so the dial-up works every time); provides value for money and is up-gradable and, last but not least, comes with customer service and nationwide back-up.

* Polycom
These are exciting times for Polycom. It has just released its new VSX 3000, an all-in-one VC system with built-in 17-inch LCD flat screen that acts as PC display when not in video-call mode. Asnet Technologies’ general manager Chris Stewart says it sits in very interesting space in the market – “not just because it’s feature-rich product, but because it integrates with existing technology on the desktop”.
It’s just one more step towards making desktop videoconferencing and video calls ubiquitous.
The Polycom VSX 3000 also features AES encryption, as does the other new arrival in the Polycom camp – the V500.
The V500 is brand-new suite from Polycom with the same architecture as its bigger VSX cousins. It’s ideal for SMEs that can’t spend thousands on system. The V500 eliminates the need to add computer to video-call over the internet – just plug it into your TV and high speed connection (it works over JetStream), and in seconds you’re talking face to face.
“The V500 is third the price of Polycom’s VSX 7000, but operates in the same small meeting space,” says Stewart. “Also, you don’t lose any of the smart features available on the higher priced systems.”

• Sony
This well-known Japanese manufacturer is big player in the global VC industry, marketing full range of systems. Its PCS-TL50 desk-top system is recent addition to the personal communication and/or small meeting space market. It’s an all-in-one videoconferencing system complete with pan-tilt-zoom camera, and embedded in 20-inch LCD display that doubles as PC monitor. Like all Sony systems it is H.264 and MPEG4 capable.
In the set-top market Sony offers the PCS-1P and PCS-11P with both ISDN and IP high-speed connection. There is the PCS-G70 for larger enterprises.
Sony’s USP’s are combination of proprietary capabilities and support for industry standard communication protocols, says Hayden Lockie. This allows benefits such as the sharing of presentation documents in XGA resolution; dual streaming transmission (video and data in XGA); and digital whiteboard function support. And Sony’s QoS (Quality of Service) Enhancement Function is designed to maintain picture quality under fluctuating network conditions.

Projectors
A projector is vital component for any PowerPoint or video-based presentation. But this market is crowded with players. It’s rapidly growing market, driven by lower prices, greater portability, and the trend to DVD home theatre.
3M visuals consultant Roger Brentnall suggests buyers focus on the resolution – the higher the resolution the better the image quality (and the higher the price).
“Most home theatre users would be happy with an SVGA [800x600dpi] resolution unit,” he says. “Higher quality XGA [1024x768dpi] units are generally the choice of business or commercial users who present fine detail data in computer presentations.”
Brightness (ANSI lumens) is another consideration.
“One thousand lumens may be fine in darkened room,” says Brentnall, “but in bright or sunny office environment, at least 2000 lumens would be required.”
Other checkpoints include the display technology (LCD or mirror-based DLP) – there are arguments for both but, as Brentnall says, the distinction is “very much in the eye of the beholder”. Generally speaking DLP (Digital Light Processing) technology is more suited to ultra- and micro-portable projectors due to its compact size.
Lamp life, fan cooling noise, and weight/portability also come into the equation.
Here’s quick review of the projector market:

• Sanyo
Japan’s largest manufacturer of LCD projectors also has one of the largest model line-ups, ranging from 1100 ANSI lumens micro-portables, through to ultra-portables up to 2500 lumens, business-use portables up to 4500 lumens, and fixed models up to 10,000 lumens. Projector prices have come down substantially in the past 18 months – Sanyo’s PLC-SW30 is good example, retailing for less than $2000. Sanyo has handy lens calculator on its website (www.sanyo.co.nz) to help buyers choose the lens that best matches the screen and room size.

• Epson
A world leader in colour production, Epson produces large range of projectors, ranging from the EMP-S1H – an entry-level multi

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