The lowdown on videoconferencing

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What is it? The videoconferencing systems in this guide include PC-based desktop units, many of which have small speaker towers and camera platforms; set-top units with cameras built in that sit atop the video screen, typically a TV monitor, and all-in-one integrated systems in meeting-room units on rolling carts, recessed into walls, or, in some cases, in a flat-panel LCD.

What's new? Use of IP, along with widespread adherence to industry standards, has improved the quality and ease of videoconferencing. Agencies also have improved their prospects with bandwidth upgrades. Most of these systems also include encryption.

What's next? With IP and Ethernet for transmission, videoconferencing apps are likely to show up in more varied, and smaller, formats.

Must-know info? Before buying a videoconferencing system, make a realistic assessment of who in your organization will truly benefit from it, and who can do without. Then, make sure your network bandwidth and routers can support multimedia.

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