Cisco cuts costs of Umi home videoconferencing

The service price is now $US99 per year and a new 720p unit costs $399

Cisco Systems acted to make its Umi home videoconferencing platform more affordable on Monday, slashing the service cost to $US99 per year and announcing a $399 product for slower Internet connections as well as free Mac and PC clients.

Umi, an extension of Cisco's high-end TelePresence line for enterprises, debuted last October for $599, with a service fee of $24.99 per month. Many industry observers said the market for such an expensive consumer product would be limited. Though Cisco said Monday that it has been pleased with sales of Umi so far, its first major extension of the line clearly targets price.

The new $399 Umi system delivers resolution as high as 720p and is designed to work on a home broadband connection with 1.5M bps (bit-per-second) downstream and upstream speed. By comparison, the original unit offers 1080p resolution and is intended for 3.5M bps symmetric broadband, a service that relatively few U.S. consumers have in their homes. Both can adapt to slower speeds, Cisco says. Cisco also cut the price of the 1080p product on Monday, to $499. The new service price, available in a $9.95-per-month option as well as the annual fee, is the same for both hardware platforms.

Demand for the less expensive offerings came from current Umi customers who want to be able to enjoy videoconferences with friends and family who may not be able to afford the original product or don't have the high-speed Internet access it uses, said Gina Clark, vice president and general manager of Cisco's Consumer TelePresence Business Unit.

"It certainly helps to grow those consumer calling circles," Clark said.

Cisco also sees the free Cisco Umi Connect software for Macs and PCs primarily as an expansion option for users of the home systems, even though anyone can download the software free. Some features of the full TV-based Umi experience may not be included in the software, but a user's full Umi contact list will be available, Clark said. Umi Connect could be used by friends or family members who are traveling or living in a college dorm, Clark said. The software is in beta trials and scheduled to become available this summer, according to Cisco.

Also on Monday, Cisco announced it is making Umi interoperate with its enterprise TelePresence systems. The main purpose of this is not teleworking, Clark said. For that, Cisco still recommends enterprise offerings such as its desktop TelePresence product for about $300, which has more features for sharing information, she said. Instead, enterprises in areas such as education and health care wanted this compatibility so they could conduct immersive communication sessions with consumers. Health-care applications are in trials now, Clark said.

The Cisco Umi 720, which will include an HD camera, a console and a remote, is scheduled to go on sale early in the summer.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags internetvideoconsumer electronicsCisco SystemsInternet-based applications and services

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Stephen Lawson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Bang and Olufsen Beosound Stage - Dolby Atmos Soundbar

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Nakamichi Delta 100 3-Way Hi Fi Speaker System

Learn more >

ASUS ROG, ACRONYM partner for Special Edition Zephyrus G14

Learn more >

Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit for Nintendo Switch

Learn more >

Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean 9000 Toothbrush

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

SunnyBunny Snowflakes 20 LED Solar Powered Fairy String

Learn more >

Teac 7 inch Swivel Screen Portable DVD Player

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?