Galaxy 755: One step up from entry-level videoconferencing

Once you get out of the $10,000 price range for videoconferencing products, you begin to find systems that offer richer conferencing capabilities and more powerful tools for managing the system. One product that belongs in this category is a PC-based system from VTEL Corp., the Galaxy 755.

The unit we tested arrived complete with its own cart and included two options: a 32-inch monitor (a 27-inch monitor comes standard) and advanced audio. The audio system's subwoofer made the system sound impressive indeed — the familiar Microsoft Corp. Windows startup tune sounded nearly worthy of its own CD!

The Galaxy 755 comes standard with a space-age-looking remote-control unit that moves the camera and navigates the software. All VTEL systems come with the same Vtouch software interface.

The wireless keyboard features a pull-out tray and stylus for annotating slides — a very nice feature. However, we found the keyboard's touchpad difficult to use. You can also order the system with a keyboard that features a trackball and does not have an annotation tray.

The PC runs Windows 98 and contains a 433 MHz Celeron processor and 128M of memory. The line rate is a very speedy 512 kilobits/sec, and video transmits at 30 frames per second. The system includes a modem and a copy of Symantec Corp.'s PC Anywhere software so VTEL technicians can access the computer remotely in case of trouble. An Ethernet network adapter is included as well.

The unit does not have full T.120 capability for document sharing, but it does offer what's called a T.120 "pass-through," which means users can send snapshots and files but they do not have whiteboard or slide-show capabilities.

We especially liked the full-duplex audio feature. This allows conference participants to hear both internal system sounds, such as a video playing on a connected VCR, and sounds picked up by the microphone. Therefore, someone can talk about a presentation as it's being shown.

As with all VTEL systems, the Galaxy 755 can be upgraded in many ways. For example, you can easily upgrade the system to dual cameras and dual monitors. And, if your shop uses a network management product, you can purchase VTEL's Smart VideoNet Manager, which supports the Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) that those enterprise management products use.

The base price of the Galaxy 755 configured for IP is $16,995. The ISDN-ready version costs $17,995. The 32-inch monitor costs $500 extra, and the advanced audio costs $1,000 extra.

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Products Tested

Intel TeamStation System From PictureTel

Polycom ViewStation SP

VTEL Galaxy 725 MT

Related Stories

IP videoconferencing arrives [Federal Computer Week, April 3, 2000]

Videoconferencing buying tips [Federal Computer Week, April 3, 2000]


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