Review: Radvision SCOPIA desktop
Product reviewed: Radvision Scopia Desktop
SCOPIA Desktop is available either bundled with one of their XT-1000 “room-systems’ or as a feature of their MCUs. Once the central ‘infrastucture’ system is up and running it’s very straightforward to provide remote users with the opportunity to be included in calls using the SCOPIA Desktop application direct from their own computer. All they need is a suitable computer either Windows or Mac with a decent internet connection, a webcam and appropriate audio input and output – headset or speakers & microphone.Installing the software is very straightforward. Users receive a weblink and then just follow the on-screen instructions to download and install the application. It should all be done in a couple of minutes. What further sets SCOPIA Desktop apart from other “standards-based” video conferencing applications is not having to input any network settings or make any firewall changes. This makes it really accessible to even the most technophobic callers!However it is an installation that has some requirement for IT knowledge and network access, as the installation needs to be on a physical server so it falls to an IT person who has an understanding of the network. The SCOPIA server usually sits in the DMZ and there are also a number of ports that need opening on the network depending on inbound/outbound traffic, however the documentation is very clear as to what and why they need action and this isn’t a hard task.As an element of the server install a license key is generated to enable the codec for desktop and recording server and/or streaming server and this is easy to input on to the codec itself to activate the requirements. All in all it is not a difficult install especially if you have network knowledge.Score 8/10Compatibility issues
RADVISION are the go to guys for compatibility, its how they have got to where they are now. SCOPIA Desktop is very easy to use to call any IP, phone number, SIP address or E.164 address which makes it compatible with leading vendor systems providing they can accept an incoming invite. It is also compatible with both Windows and Mac, though not Linux at this time (January 2012). It works with the most popular internet browsers including Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari and Google Chrome, so you can connect from the public Internet, wherever you are.
SCOPIA Desktop is ‘standards based’ with H.323 and SIP interoperability. This means that users can connect with the widest range of room-based video conferencing systems and can have a Tandberg, Cisco, Polycom and Lifesize end point in their Scopia Desktop meeting if needed, offering excellent compatibility
SCOPIA Desktop has already been around for a number of years. Radvision have continuously developed the product to make sure it offers good user functionality and, most importantly, to make it available as widely as possible. As long as this continues it should be around for quite a while yet.
This product leads the way in de-coupling VC from the board room and taking it out to the road warriors and their laptops; it is a smart move that really points the way forward. It is constantly updated and without doubt the most feature rich application available at this time. As SCOPIA Desktop is a computer application it has to stay up-to-date with the latest technology
De-coupling SCOPIA Desktop from the MCU and making it available with their XT1000 room system was a smart move as it can now be deployed with smaller installations. To ensure it continues to be relevant Radvision must ensure this product can be provided as a stand-alone – maybe through a hosted service provider model.
Resilience in use
With a strong internet connection SCOPIA Desktop delivers a first-rate video calling experience. However if there are issues with bandwidth call quality can be quickly compromised.
In real-life trials call quality is patchy where internet connection speeds are below 500kbs. This can notably reduce it’s usefulness as many remote users will be calling from home, and most domestic broadband has great download speeds but few have good upload speeds. In particular we noticed that audio quality dropped off just as quickly as video images. This makes communication particularly difficult and we’d much prefer the software to behave more intelligently and maintain acceptable audio for as long as possible.
One reviewer comments that “SCOPIA Desktop can be very resilient and this is partly down to its use of SVC. I can hold a call at low bandwidth rates from a cafe and SVC helps keep the call connected, though as is often the case, the quality of bandwidth really determines how good the call is. Establishing the connection is really easy as everything needed is embedded into SCOPIA Desktop, so much so that any network concerns practically vanish to the user and solid HD calls from a shared hotel connection become simple.”
Score: 7 /10
Ease of use
In operation SCOPIA Desktop is very easy to use. If you can use a PC you can use SCOPIA Desktop – the technology manages everything for you. There’s a pull-down menu option to set your preferences so you can swap from say an in-built webcam to a dedicated one. Layouts, participants, volume, etc are clear and simple to see and use, as is the available chat box. For new users installation of the client itself is very simple and can have you in a meeting in no time and without any additional costs or the need for IT to install it
Once engaged in a call the interface is very intuitive and there are several great features such as the instant messaging “chat” functionality and meeting administration functions.
Where SCOPIA Desktop falls down is a lack of clear user documentation, particularly regarding installation of the SMB version bundled with the XT1000, and advice on who you can and cannot call. For example it’s possible to have Desktop to Desktop calls without the ‘host’ XT1000 initiating the call; it’s confusing how these calls are managed and privacy maintained.
Score: 8.5 /10
SCOPIA Desktop seems to be held up proudly by RADVISION and rightly so. They continue to push it forward to make VC as accessible as possible. We see many comments and update release notes on the SCOPIA family as RADVISION continue to move it.
Documentation for users and administration is readily available and although very clear can sometimes be rather technical for the layman. However the supply channel offers good knowledge and support for users, and the company has recently added to its distribution channel, boosting the technical competence of the support available to resellers.
As a product that is perhaps “peripheral” to their comprehensive range of MCUs and codecs SCOPIA Desktop is probably not Radvision’s top priority. This means that both marketing and technical support, while of high quality, could be put under pressure if many more installations are added.
Value for money
SCOPIA Desktop provides a cost-effective solution for bringing high-quality desktop video conferencing to colleagues, clients and other associates. The cost comprises the initial MCU hardware or server software and an annual maintenance charge.
SCOPIA Desktop certainly represents value for money when compared to other vendors’ options. The good point when talking value is that SCOPIA Desktop doesn’t have to be purchased when you purchase say, the codec. As is the case with much of the RADVISION portfolio, it is simply enabled via license key so can be done months down the line if required, without the need to invest in new kit.
Across the board, due to its many features and simplicity, this product can drive adoption of VC in a business. The ROI should be realised very quickly when you look at how many meetings you can now do from a laptop at home as opposed to driving to an office to book space in a meeting room. The additional costs for SCOPIA desktop are easily covered in saving time and increasing productivity.
Given the flexibility it offers and the ability to install the application on so many devices it is considered reasonable value for money.
Score: 7.5 /10
How does it rate against main competitors?
Radvision’s SCOPIA Desktop stands extremely strongly against the main vendors’ desktop solutions due to its interoperability, scalability and cost. It’s great when you want to give video conferencing capability to remote offices, employees and clients where you are confident they will have robust internet connectivity. It’s also worth considering if you intend to make a number of calls that include other ‘standards-based’ video systems.
Its closest rival is probably Vidyo which (one reviewer comments) in overall video quality stands above SCOPIA Desktop although it lacks some of its features.
Products that might be considered alongside SCOPIA Desktop are:
LifeSize Mirial Clearsea
RADVISION SCOPIA DESKTOP – OVERALL SCORE 8/10
About the TP&VC Insight Technical Panel
The Telepresence and Video Conferencing Insight Technical Panel consists of a group of experienced technicians and users. For each review a sub-set of panelists give their subjective views of a product – in other words we provide you with some practical insight that should cut through the supplier’s marketing puff.
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Technical Panel for Radvision SCOPIA Desktop
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