Polycom ViewStation SP

The ViewStation SP was the simplest and, at $4,000, the least expensive

of the systems we reviewed. Its line rate of 245 kilobits/sec and video

rate of 15 frames per second are roughly half those of the Intel system.

However, our testing showed audio and video quality to be acceptable for

business calls.

Even though the Polycom was the most basic system, it was the most difficult

to set up because of inadequate documentation. The quick start booklet features

full-color diagrams of cables and ports, but otherwise there are no instructions.

Labeling the cable diagrams and/or the cables themselves would have helped

a great deal.

Also, the setup diagram shows an ISDN setup, not IP. Some additional labeling

in the diagram would have helped. We consulted the online user's manual

hoping to find more details but found the same unlabeled diagram, with instructions

to consult the quick-start booklet for more information.

Once we got the system up and running, it was very easy to use. Instead

of a keyboard, you must use a remote control to navigate the software. This

is only cumbersome when entering names into the address book, but after

that it takes just a few button pushes to place a call.

The ViewStation software includes a nice System Information module that

allows you to look up network statistics, check call status, look up video

and audio settings, and run system diagnostics.

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