I need more than 140 characters

For context, read this first:


1. Netflix has streaming quality equal to or better than Blockbuster or my dedicated hardware cable box. No software codec can make the claim that their quality is better than any hardware codec currently on the market. None. Hell, Netflix can stream at 1080p, I can't get 720p out of any software codec. It's not an apples to oranges comparison. A DVD collection to streaming Pandora may be a better one.

2. Lifesize is already changing their model. They literally HID their codecs in their booth at Infocomm. I had to ask someone in their booth if they were still selling codecs.

3. In talking to end corporate users (Fortune 500 types), none of them that I know of are switching to soft codecs. Some of them are opting for a hybrid deployment but refreshes always involve the latest codec from Polycom or Cisco. Every now and then someone brings up that they 'use' Lync, but nearly everyone hates the experience.

4. "The quality and security gaps are being closed at a fraction of the cost, so the niche for hard codecs is shrinking." While I can't speak to security, the thought that the quality gap is closing is simply not true. Nearly 10 out of every 10 software calls I am on has an issue with audio, usually from someone not using a headset which are never used with a hardware codec. Half of the calls have video problems or audio to video sync problems. I've been testing software codecs for years now and the experience is about the same now as it was back then. The problems are the same as well.

That being said, I've not had the opportunity to experience a software codec over a private network, so I am obviously skewed in my opinion. But the fact that these products are marketed to be used in the 'cloud' - ahem - internet makes me think my experience and opinion is valid.


  1. Bryan,

    I love your feedback here.

    I have to admit I didn't go to Polycom's booth at InfoComm. This was my first year at InfoComm as an exhibitor, so I was tied to a booth most of the time.

    I have to say that if Polycom was hiding codecs, that may be a good thing. The black box market is shrinking rapidly in many applications. My question is that if Polycom is hiding the codecs, shouldn't that tell us something?

    Netflix quality still leaves a lot to be desired, (I have 5MB broadband and Netflix still streams as low as 376p at some points...turn on that ticker and watch the video adjust resolutions, its scary).

    Even with that, Netflix quality was worse when they introduced it but still gained subscribers. It was the convenience and access that drove the initial adoption, not the quality.

    Lync is problematic for sure, and of course corporations with a legacy Polycom or Cisco environment will continue to invest in hard codecs in larger rooms. They do it because they already have the infrastructure in place. There is also some psychology involved in that it is hard to let go of that initial decision and why it was made, even in the face of new technology and data.

    My comment on the quality gap was more toward 3rd party systems like Vaddio's Huddlestation, etc that make it easy to step up audio and video quality from the onboard laptop camera and mic via a simple USB connection. This was harder to do before as you had to find the right combination of Video capture software and a high res camera.

    Again, I love your points and they are all valid. It sounds like you are able to articulate the differences in soft and hard codec based systems to your clients, which should serve your business well, as long as you're willing to help them with the former even if they say no to the latter.

    Best of luck to you sir.

    Mark Coxon

  2. Mark,

    Polycom did proudly display their group series codecs in what was probably their highest visibility location. It was Lifesize that hid theirs, only showing a PTZ and a display, leaving their codec behind the booth's walls. The fact they hid theirs is pretty sad, as I've always like their products but I think they want to transition out of hardware fast. At least that's the feeling I had.