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VTEL brings high-quality video to desktop with SmartStation debut

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VTEL brings high-quality videoto desktop with SmartStation debutNew system has enough horsepower for telemedicine useVideoconferencing vendor VTEL believes that desktop telemedicine should get a boost thanks to SmartStation, an affordable

VTEL brings high-quality video
to desktop with SmartStation debut

New system has enough horsepower for telemedicine use

Videoconferencing vendor VTEL believes that desktop telemedicine should get a boost thanks to SmartStation, an affordable desktop videoconferencing system that supports the high-quality video preferred for telemedicine applications.

Poor video quality has dogged inexpensive desktop systems. While many desktops released in the past year rely on data rates of 128 Kbps, an increasing number of vendors are upgrading desktop products to the room-size video standard of 384 Kbps. But that higher quality comes at a price-between $10,000 and $12,000 per system, according to Gordon Daugherty, director of product marketing at Austin, TX-based VTEL.

SmartStation offers 384-Kbps video at the desktop for under $6000, Daugherty said, which includes the camera, microphone, speakers, video processing board, and software. SmartStation users must supply a Pentium-based PC running Windows 95. A 128-Kbps version of SmartStation is also available.

In addition to 384-Kbps video, SmartStation also features data collaboration capabilities that will support telemedicine applications, Daugherty said. The system supports the T.120 standard for data collaboration, and VTEL has integrated Microsoft's NetMeeting data collaboration application software into the system.

SmartStation offers more bandwidth than VTEL's previous desktop offering, Enterprise Personal Collaborator, which has a top data rate of 128 Kbps. While VTEL has made some sales of that system to hospitals, it is generally too slow for most healthcare uses.

"When you get into specialized usage, and telemedicine is a perfect example, 128 Kbps just doesn't cut it," Daugherty said. "With (SmartStation), not only have we brought (384 Kbps) in under $6000, but we've offered very rich data collaboration capabilities as well."

SmartStation shares the same user interface as VTEL's room-based videoconferencing systems, as well as its FRED rollabout telemedicine system, which should make it easier for users to get up to speed on the system, Daugherty said.

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