In the early days of video conferencing, simplicity was a distant dream. The hardware required to add multi-user video communication to a meeting room was expensive and complicated. It would take engineers from the vendor to come in to install and configure it. Before meetings, it would often fall to IT technicians to set up the equipment and make sure it was working properly.
All in all, video conferencing systems were hardly very agile. As cloud-based video apps arrived which allow people to make one-to-one video calls from their mobile at the push of a button, this only stuck out more and more.
Teams looking for a quick impromptu huddle don’t want to spend 15 minutes setting up the room system so they can connect to a remote colleague. They want their video conferencing system ready and waiting to operate on demand.
For more than a decade, Texas-based outfit Lifesize has been at the forefront of efforts to simplify and streamline video conferencing and collaboration technology to fit with the demands of a modern, agile and mobile workforce. Developing in-room video and audio hardware solutions alongside its own cloud-based software platform, Lifesize aims to deliver integrated solutions that can be used the moment you need them and adapted to all use scenarios.
Key to its vision has been developing meeting room video hardware which does not require a technician to set it up and which meets the demands of modern teams. Its Icon range is a suite of HD cameras which offer plug-and-play compatibility with the Lifesize cloud conferencing platform and are shipped with an HD conference phone.
In this review, we will take a look at the Icon 450, a small room solution designed for huddle spaces which prioritises flexibility and simplicity without compromising on quality.
What can it do?
The Lifesize Icon 450 is an HD PTZ camera which ships with a separate Lifesize Phone HD conference phone unit. Between them, these two pieces of kit are designed to deliver no-fuss video collaboration capabilities to teams who want to get started the moment they get into the room.
A key feature of the Icon 450 is smart framing. It boasts a wide-angled lens specially designed for smaller meeting spaces which delivers 1080p30 HD picture quality for a crystal clear image. The smart framing function gives automatic pan, tilt and zoom adjustments to ensure everyone remains in the field of vision – no need to waste time at the start of the meeting fiddling with the camera position. It also focuses and centres the picture automatically. There are 10 pre-set options for different sized rooms to get you started.
The Lifesize Phone HD delivers high-quality audio to match the video stream, with inbuilt HD microphones and speakers. It has a 15 ft audio pick-up range and is powered directly by the Icon 450. It is a full duplex system so more than one person can speak simultaneously, and includes advanced audio features such as automatic gain control, noise cancellation and acoustic echo cancellation.
It also provides touchscreen control for the whole system. The touchscreen is programmable so you can add the functions you want for easy one-touch call management. These might include options to start a call, add participants, share files or view calendar. The Phone HD supports one-to-one as well as group calls, with easy escalation from one to another. It also operates as a fully functional conference phone without video in operation.
The Icon 450 can connect to one external screen via an HDMI connection and is shipped with a remote control. For video output, it supports more than 200 resolutions, with a maximum of 1920×1080 at a 16:9 aspect ratio.
Standards-wise, the Icon 450 is SIP and H.323 compliant for communications, and also supports WebRTC NetEQ packet loss concealment for audio. It supports a wide range of video standards, with H.323, H.323+ and H324 recommended.
What do we like?
From its size, you would not imagine the Icon 450 and its accompanying conference phone could deliver such excellent quality audio and video. A sign of just how far video conferencing technology has come, the Icon 450 packs the functionality of an enterprise-grade video system into something ideal for a small meeting space or huddle room.
Simple to set up and small enough to be portable between spaces, all you need is an external screen and you have a quality conferencing solution which will bring your remote colleagues and partners into the room. The smart framing, combined with the programmable touchscreen, means you are only ever a button press away from launching a crystal clear stream of everyone in the room, with HD audio to match.
Who is it for?
Due to its size, the Icon 450 is ideal for any organisation that is embracing huddle spaces as part of its working culture. For small businesses with smaller meeting spaces, it offers an exceptionally high-quality conference room solution, while larger companies can take advantage of its size and simplicity to use across multiple spaces.
What is it compatible with?
The Lifesize Icon 450 supplies the hardware required to turn a meeting space into a video conferencing space. To get up and running making calls and collaborating, it has to be paired with a subscription to Lifesize’s cloud-based conferencing service.
With three subscription tiers, Lifesize offers a combination of one-to-one and group calls, with seamless escalation between the two. It links directly to mobile so colleagues out and about can join in, and is compatible with a range of third-party video and voice platforms such as Skype for Business, Cisco, Polycom, Avaya, Shoretel and Mitel. It also provides easy auto-provisioning of your hardware, video network management and admin account management. It includes a range of analytics tools and on the two higher tier plans can be extended to include live streaming and call recording.
Where can I buy it?
Lifesize products are available exclusively in the UK through Nuvias. Nuvias purchased Zycko, the largest Lifesize distributor in the EMEA region, in 2016. Zycko had previously worked with Lifesize since 2008, and was a multiple winner of Lifesize’s distributor of the year award. For more information about Lifesize products available through Nuvias, click here.
Complexity is out of vogue in business. When it comes to technology, the now well-worn catchphrase is that people don’t even want to see it – the tools should take second place to the work they help us achieve. This is something Lifesize understands very well and is a philosophy it has brought very successfully to the video conferencing market, a sector notorious for technological complexity.
Small, discreet, easy to use and flexible, the Icon 450 is ideal for today’s huddle room team collaboration culture. It makes video conferencing as accessible as possible, without compromising for a second on quality. Indeed, one of the most impressive things about the Icon 450 is the HD quality video and audio it delivers, providing immersive conferencing experiences that help people work better together.
Looks & Feel
A simple option for bringing video conferencing into your huddle rooms.