Companies like Cisco, Lifesize and Polycom have been playing the video conferencing game for a while. They’re the old pros at the poker table, and they invented all of the tricks of the trade.
A new player is throwing its chips at the table. Yealink is taking them on with its new VCS series video conferencing systems. Words like “innovative” and “revolutionary” have been used to describe this series. Is Yealink bluffing or holding all the aces?
Deal them in and see what happens.
Yealink is new to the video conferencing market, but they are the number two SIP phone provider in the world. What they do, they do well. They do not build phone systems or ATAs, only VoIP phones. So the video conferencing systems should showcase that same attention to quality and detail.
Lifesize has been around almost as long as Yealink; Lifesize was founded in 2003, and Yealink arrived two years earlier in 2001. Unlike Cisco and Polycom, Lifesize only builds video conferencing systems and services. Perfect matchup for Yealink!
Comparing Yealink VCS and Lifesize Icon 600
Yealink first introduced us to the VC120 and VC400 video conferencing systems earlier this year. Lifesize Icon, arguably the company’s flagship series, has been around since 2013. I put the Yealink VCS series and Icon series head-to-head, comparing their hardware and software.
How did the newcomer fair against the veteran?
The tables are a basic overview of the two companies’ solutions.
At first glance, there are a lot of similarities. Both the Yealink VCS and Lifesize Icon 600 give you HD 1080p video at 30 frames per second (fps). Both Yealink and Lifesize include content sharing and dual display support with their video conferencing solutions. Both systems support H.264 High Profile and other standard protocols for video compression. This means that both systems are going to give you quality video.
However, there are some key differences.
The Yealink VCS video conferencing systems require less bandwidth than the Lifesize Icon 600, which is an important feature for something that is very resource intensive. For 1080p30 video, the Yealink VCS requires 1Mb of bandwidth, while the Lifesize Icon 600 needs at least 1.2Mb. At 720p30, the Lifesize Icon 600 still needs more bandwidth, 600Kb compared to the Yealink VCS’s 512Kb.
Another important difference is call recording, which is included with the Yealink VCS. All you need to do is plug a USB hard drive in FAT32 format into the codec’s USB port, and you’re able to record HD 720p video. A separate call recording device is required for the Lifesize Icon 600—the feature is not built in. Recording on the Yealink VCS is as simple as pressing the included remote control’s “Record” button.
Call recording is an essential feature. Video conferencing is becoming more and more popular as its benefits are better known, benefits like drastically reduced travel budgets and increased connection with clients. When you have an important conference, you’ll want to have a record of it. You’ll also be able to give a copy to employees who, for whatever reason, couldn’t be at the conference, so they’ll be up to speed. This is why Yealink doesn’t charge you for essential features like call recording.
The included peripherals, like the camera, are different. The Yealink VCS’s camera offers an amazing 18x optical zoom, while the Lifesize Icon 600’s camera is rated at 10x optical zoom. Frankly, I’m not sure how often you’ll need to zoom much more than 10x, but why not go with the superior zoom?
Great features, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. I recommend you take a close look at both systems to make sure they include everything you want. This article is merely for comparison purposes, but maybe you’ll see a feature that you didn’t know you needed!
Multipoint control unit
One feature you’ll almost definitely want to have is multipoint capability. For that, you need a multipoint control unit or MCU.
An MCU hosts three or more parties in the same video conference. A standard video conferencing system only connects to one other endpoint or party, called a point-to-point connection. Multipoint creates multiple connections, easy to remember.
The Yealink VC400 includes an embedded multipoint control unit. In other words, the MCU is built into the system’s codec, so you can, for example, host a conference with four parties. The four parties would include yourself, using the VC400, and three other connected parties, using any standards-based video conferencing system. Provided you have enough bandwidth, every party will be in full HD 1080p video. And Yealink doesn’t charge you a cent for multipoint capacity for up to four parties.
Lifesize offers a solution called UVC, which is an external multipoint control unit. It requires an additional cost and does not offer support at 1080p for as many parties as the MCU built into the VC400’s codec. In other words, you pay more and get lower quality video.
When you compare what Yealink and Lifesize offer when it comes to multipoint conferences, Yealink definitely has the edge.
More to consider
There are other differences between Yealink and Lifesize’s video conferencing systems to consider than just hardware. How do Yealink and Lifesize compare in terms of their software features?
The Yealink VCS offers easy installation with intelligent firewall transversal, which lets you start a call without configuring network settings, though it may interfere with the system’s ability to receive calls. This means you’ll be able to get up and going right away with Yealink’s system without compromising your security at all. The Lifesize Icon 600 doesn’t include intelligent firewall transversal.
Yealink also gives you a smoother video conferencing experience. With the Yealink VCS you get 8% packet loss recovery. Audio and video data packets are sometimes naturally lost during transmission. It’s built into the protocols so data doesn’t get completely jammed. Packet loss recovery tools reduce pixelization and other effects. The Lifesize Icon 600 only includes 5% packet loss recovery, nearly half of what Yealink gives you.
Similar to packet loss recovery, Yealink has added automatic priority for audio and content sharing, which Lifesize doesn’t include. This means that as your network fluctuates, as resources are more or less available, the Yealink VCS adjusts how it uses bandwidth dynamically. It prioritizes voice quality over video, so even if you might not be able to see someone for a second or two, your conversation will keep on being smooth.
I would also add, in terms of usability, that Yealink’s user interface is more intuitive. Why? Both systems include a remote control for interacting with the interface, that’s true. But the Yealink VCS includes an “Intelligent Search Method” that presents names and numbers dynamically as you enter them. In other words, you retrieve and call contacts as efficiently as you would on your smartphone. The Lifesize Icon 600, however, requires full input of names and numbers.
With the Yealink VCS, you get to choose which conference party you see on your second display. The Lifesize Icon 600 will only show local video or shared content. This might sound like a relatively minor thing, but you never know when you’re going to wish that you could put your client on your second screen.
Yealink gets the nod for including software details that add to your positive video conferencing experience.
One more stat to reveal
Of course, the most important stat of all is how much each system costs. And it’s here that Yealink really shines.
The Lifesize Icon 600 with Camera 10x and second generation Phone has a list price of $9,399. The Yealink VC120 with VCC18 Camera and VCP40 Phone has a list price of $6,999.
In other words, the Yealink VC120 costs 25% less than Lifesize’s closest equivalent. That’s a lot of savings!
And the savings get even more impressive when you compare the multipoint units.
Again, the Lifesize Icon 600 comes with a list price of $9,399. However, as said before, if you want multipoint control you need to pay for the Lifesize UVC platform as well. The list price for that is $8,999. Put the two together and you’re paying $18,398. The Yealink VC400 with VCC18 Camera and VCP40 Phone, which includes at no extra charge 4-party control with 1080p30 video, has a list price of $10,999.
40% less. That’s how much Yealink will save you compared with the closest equivalent video conferencing system from Lifesize.
You might be able to tell that I’m pretty high on the Yealink VCS video conferencing systems. When you objectively compare Yealink’s offerings to what other major manufacturers offer, like I just did, it’s hard not to be impressed by Yealink. Write up a table of comparisons, and the better choice will pop out at you.
Yealink gives you high-quality video conferencing equipment that’s intuitive to set up and use. Yealink gives you premium features with no additional charges and no additional equipment to buy.
The other players at the table are looking nervous. They should be.
Yealink’s holding aces.