I’ve been fortunate enough to have a Polycom CX7000 available to me for a while and I thought I’d give a quick run-down of the device now that it’s getting close to release. Please note that since the product is not yet released some of the capabilities and/or UI elements may change in the release version. The official CX7000 product page can be found here.
The CX7000 is a dedicated room system that is designed to be used in a very similar manner to a traditional video conferencing system, but instead of being based on the traditional H.323 protocol it is designed to interoperate specifically with Lync. That means that in addition to regular video calling to other Lync users/rooms (and anything else that you can dial via the Lync infrastructure) you also get a full Lync collaboration experience in the room. Here’s a walkthrough of all the screens…
Below is the home screen that will appear when the system starts up. As you can see it defaults to that day’s calendar, and the view of the calendar automatically stays in alignment with the current time. You can use the scroll bar and/or date selector to view other times. Note the two different icons in the scheduled meetings below. Those are designed to indicate whether a meeting is a Lync meeting or simply a meeting that is on the room’s calendar.
Hovering over the meeting will show you some additional information, such as who scheduled the meeting.
The CX7000 can be used with either one or two displays (connectivity is one HDMI and one DVI). The experience is better with two displays because you can have the collaboration on one side and the video on the other (more on this later). I’m using a remote tool to connect to the CX7000 so in the screenshot below both displays are right next to each other. As you can see, I have the camera pointed at a clock. Since the system is not currently in a call it will just show a video preview of what the camera is showing. The system can be configured to swap the left and right displays if you prefer the video on the left instead of the right.
Using the “Find a Contact” option I can search the Lync address book, select a contact, and choose to start an IM, audio, or video session with that contact.
Once I start the call I’ll have the standard Lync call experience on one monitor and full screen video on the other. If I had only one monitor then the video window would be docked into the Lync call window.
Now the Lync user has started sharing an application with me. Just like Lync I see the sharing session on the stage, and in my two screen setup the video stays on the second monitor. The CX7000 can receive and interact with any type of Lync content.
Did you notice that little icon on the left side of the call window that looks like a monitor with a heartbeat? That’s a diagnostic menu. Clicking on it gives you some system statistics and gives you a ping option.
Back on the home screen there is an Options menu which shows what you see below. Most of it is pretty self-explanatory with the possible exception of the “PC Content Preview” option. If you’ve used traditional video conferencing systems then you may be familiar with the way content is sent, which is generally through a VGA cable. Your PC treats that VGA connection like it would a projector or external monitor and sends your screen to it. The video system then displays that on the screen and, if you are in a call at the same time, sends it as a special video stream to the other participants in the call (usually using a protocol called H.239). Because there would be a lot of security and usability complexity if the system had the ability to share all the different ways that Lync can the CX7000 is only able to initiate a VGA share or a Whiteboard share (as mentioned previously, it can participate in all types of Lync sharing/collaboration). The PC Content Preview allows you to show the VGA input data to the local room outside of a call.
Next, onto the Configuration options. When you click on Options > Configuration you will get the System Information screen you see below.
System Status shows you information about the hardware which is connected to the CX7000 and some of the system statistics.
Next is the Display information, which gives screen saver and monitor configuration options. This is the first configuration screen that I need an administrative password to access. Every screen after this also needs the same administrative access, which can be either a local password or a domain administrator account. You only have to enter the credentials once until the next time you enter the configuration.
Audio can be connected either using the HDMI cable, the audio output connection, or a USB device that does not require external drivers to operate. In my case I have connected some generic speakers to the audio output connector. The CX7000 will ship with a microphone either as a separate pod or built into the camera, depending on which model you purchase. I have the model with the Eagle Eye III camera, which includes the external mic pod.
The system will also ship with a camera, either Polycom’s Eagle Eye View or Eagle Eye III camera. The Eagle Eye View has pan and tilt capabilities with a digital zoom whereas the Eagle Eye III has an optical zoom. The EE View is fine for pretty small rooms that sit maybe 4 or 5 people but the EE III will be better for conference rooms with larger tables. I had “repurposed” my EE III when I took these screenshots so I just have a regular USB camera plugged in, which would normally be a waste since the optics and capabilities of the included cameras are far superior.
Some organizations like to auto-answer calls in their video rooms, so this is an option.
Now we enter the Admin Settings area, where we have more detailed system settings. The Location options are pretty self-explanatory, as are the network settings below that.
The System settings are configured during the initial system setup, and not all of them can be changed after that. The Domain Name and Domain Account are the credentials which the CX7000 will use for Lync and Exchange. The Meeting Room Name is what will show on the home screen by the presence indicator in the bottom left and is also used as the computer account name in Active Directory. The Admin Password below that is the local password that can be used when entering the Configuration options to which regular users do not have access.
There are a few system update options, as you can see below. In addition to the folder and FTP options you can also update using a USB stick, but obviously the easiest method is to configure the systems to automatically update from a location you specify.
The CX7000 is a full Lync client and therefore its call information will be stored in the Monitoring server, but there is also an option to see some call information on the local system.
Lastly, you can clear out the settings or reset the entire system to an “out of box” state.
All-in-all the CX7000 a great option for room-based video conferencing with Lync. It’s nice to see the video ecosystem continue to mature around Lync – 2012 will certainly be an interesting year in the video space.
Feel free to post any detailed questions you have.