Cisco Spark Board

Cisco introduced the Spark Board today and here are some random thoughts about it.

Unlike most things in video conferencing, I like it. While it reminds me of a giant iPad, I think it's pretty cool. Revolutionary? Maybe not so much. A step forward and in the right direction? Sure.

The only thing I really don't like is the camera, or more exactly, its location. A whiteboard is used for stand up work and putting the camera up top will create a much worse video capture for seated participants than a typical PTZ in its typical location (which is already horrible). This is why I'm adamant about dual screen use - at least there is somewhere intelligent to put the damn camera.

You won't be mounting a touch screen at anything other than what would be considered appropriate for writing on it while standing. That's much higher than a display that's used traditionally in video conferencing at the end of your board room or huddle space. The 55" is going to be bad enough, but I think the 70" version will put the camera so high that the experience will be quite poor.

With any camera that sits that high, your visual experience is better the farther away the remote participants sit from it. However, since the idea is to touch the screen it throws that theory out the window.

Everything else is cool and useful.

Pricing is $4990 for the 55" and $9990 for the 70" each with a $199 monthly service fee. Not something for the small businesses out there.

It was highlighted during the product introduction about ease of use of the product and of Spark itself. What needs to be said again, is that ease of use does not necessarily mean a better user experience. Read my blog HERE for more on that.

I won't comment on Rowan's remark about his camera engineers forgetting more about video conferencing cameras than what anyone else knows.

As a side note, I hope the MX series follows suit with at the very least smaller cameras.

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