Give your next video-conference a sci-fi look with the Microsoft RoundTable, Microsoft's 360-degree video camera.

The Microsoft RoundTable is designed to work with Office Communications Server 2007, as well as with the new version of the Office Live Meeting conferencing software (currently in beta).

See also: How to set up a website using Microsoft Office Live

Situated around the Microsoft RoundTable's circular dome are five video cameras that cover every inch of a meeting room. Tied to the cameras are six microphones in the unit's base; the device switches automatically to show remote users whoever is currently talking.

The Microsoft RoundTable's 360-degree view presents meetings in a 3,000x480-resolution panorama, and the meeting-space screen in Office Live Meeting can accommodate video streamed from the Webcams of remote meeting participants. Remote attendees without webcams can dial in to the conference audio using the Live Meeting client application, the Java version of Live Meeting that runs in a browser, or a standard telephone line.

Microsoft says it expects the Microsoft RoundTable to cost less than £2,000 - that's much cheaper than a standard videoconferencing system such as Polycom's VSX series. If the RoundTable saves you a couple of business trips, it has paid for itself.

Microsoft RoundTable: Specs

  • Five mirrors reflect light into cameras
  • five small cameras
  • six buttons control speaker volume, mute, phone on/off hook, flash, and information
  • LCD touchscreen
  • loudspeaker
  • six microphones - System requirements: Windows XP/Vista
  • 2GHz or higher processor
  • 2GB RAM
  • 1.5GB hard disk space
  • video card with 128 MB of RAM or higher
  • super VGA (1280x1024) or higher-resolution video adaptor and monitor
  • ethernet network adaptor
  • Five mirrors reflect light into cameras
  • five small cameras
  • six buttons control speaker volume, mute, phone on/off hook, flash, and information
  • LCD touchscreen
  • loudspeaker
  • six microphones - System requirements: Windows XP/Vista
  • 2GHz or higher processor
  • 2GB RAM
  • 1.5GB hard disk space
  • video card with 128 MB of RAM or higher
  • super VGA (1280x1024) or higher-resolution video adaptor and monitor
  • ethernet network adaptor

OUR VERDICT

With its straightforward hardware installation, relatively compact size and decent value for money, the Microsoft RoundTable may be just what your business needs. But the built-in speaker can be difficult to hear and the microphones need to be more powerful.

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