We're big fans of Cisco's Flip digital video cameras. They're great for taking spontaneous HD videos on-the-go and quick uploading to your favorite social networking portals. Sadly, it looks as though Cisco is conceding the ultra-portable HD camera market to the growing number of capable smartphones and will cease producing Flip cameras. That's only part of the story.
With 4G broadband rolling out into more territories and front-facing cameras found on an increasing number of mobile devices, the smart money might be on streaming video. Perhaps recognizing the writing that's on the wall, Cisco announced its intent to acquire privately-held Inlet Technologies, a provider of Adaptive Bit Rate (ABR) digital media processing platforms. Cisco's intent here is to strengthen the capabilities of its Videoscape TV platform.
Just in time for the holiday season, Cisco is pre-loading all Flip Video cameras with the latest FlipShare software that makes it easy to record a personal message and load it into one of several holiday greeting card templates. Cisco says there are dozens of templates to choose from, covering everything from Christmas and Hanukkah, to birthdays, anniversaries, and more.
"Flip Video has literally changed the way the world captures and shares video. Flip users have shared tens of millions videos since Flip was introduced 3 years ago," said Jodi Lipe, director of marketing, Cisco Consumer Products. "With our exciting new greeting cards and sharing advancements, we are creating more ways for Flip users to share memories and express themselves through video during the holidays and beyond."
All a user has to do is select a design and type in a personal message to go along with their video. Once finished, the greeting can then be sent via email to a single recipient or an entire group.
Cisco announced a new HD video chat service named Umi Telepresence that will allow friends and family to connect with each other from the comfort and privacy of their living room in full 1080p HD.
In an event held in downtown San Francisco, Cisco invited press and analysts to get some hands-on experience with the home videoconferencing system. Here are the basic details and our initial thoughts on the product:
The Umi Telepresence system consists of a HD camera with a multi-microphone array, a set-top box that connects to a home network via a wired or wireless connection, and a small remote control. A high-speed connection of at least 1.5 megabits per second will be required to send and receive an HD stream. The service automatically downscales to 720p or 480p based on your connection speed.
The camera itself is about 16 inches long by about 4 inches deep. A mounting bracket allows you to easily attach the camera to a flat-screen HDTV. HDMI is supported. The set-top box is about the size of a DirectTV box. Cisco declined to state specifically what kind of hardware is in the box, but the company did say that it uses four independent processors, and that these processors are dedicated to specific tasks such as video, audio, and networking.
The interface consists of a small clover-sized module that sits in the top right-hand corner of the screen. One nice touch is that the Umi set-top box is a pass-through device, so you can answer and make video calls while watching TV. To address concerns around privacy, Umi will have a lens shutter and a parental lock. Users can also choose to receive calls only from their contacts, and can also block callers.
Cisco is pretty jazzed about its all-new line of affordable Ultra HD and Mino HD video cameras, the newest entries to the company's popular Flip family.
"This is without question the best line of Flip Video cameras we've ever created," said Jonathan Kaplan, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco Consumer Products. "The new line combines Flip simplicity, affordability, and fun with truly breakthrough video quality, image stabilization, and unlimited personalization options."
Sporting slimmer designs and personalization through the Flip Online Store (TheFlip.com), both the Mino HD and Ultra HD come in 4GB (1 hour) and 8GB (2 hour) capacities and offer 60FPS at 1280x720.
The new Flip cameras are available now for $150 (Ultra HD 4GB), $180 (Mino HD 4GB), $200 (Ultra HD 8GB), and $230 (Mino HD 8GB).
It looks as if those Cisco commercials featuring Juno star Ellen Page are paying off. John Chambers, Cisco's Chief Executive, raked in $18.9 million in fiscal 2010, more than double the $9.2 million he collected in fiscal 2009.
Chambers' doubling of salary was due to a combination of stock and option awards and his cash bonuses. The stock and options alone were valued at $13.9 million, compared to $6.7 million in fiscal 2009. His actual salary, before bonuses, rose 1.9 percent from last year to $382,212.
"The core of Cisco's executive compensations philosophy continues to be to pay for performance," a Cisco representative said.
Chambers collected around $4.6 million in bonuses as part of Cisco's cash incentive plan.
Last week, a joint experiment of the RIPE NCC (Reseaux IP Europeens Network Coordination Centre) and Duke University researchers had to be stopped abruptly after nearly 1 percent of the internet went out of kilter in its wake. As part of their experiment, the researchers used RIPE NCC's systems to distribute experimental BGP (Border Gateway Protocol) data – routers use it to make efficient data routing decisions.
Although the experimental BGP data relayed by RIPE NCC's Routing Information Service (RIS) was “correct and complied to all standards,” it nonetheless destabilized 3,500 prefixes, or announced blocks of Internet Protocol addresses – the Internet has around 333,000 prefixes in all, causing a partial internet blackout that affected many networks in more than 60 countries. RIPE NCC blamed certain router types for “incorrectly modifying the experimental attribute and then further announcing the malformed route to their peers.”
TV makers have a vested interest in promoting the 3D revolution, but they're not the only ones. Companies like Cisco are just as stoked.
"There is no question in my mind that 3D is the next thing to happen in video," said John Chambers, CEO of Cisco. "It's the next logical evolution of the technology."
According to Chambers, video is becoming the next must-have app of all IP networks, a trend which feeds right into Cisco's business. Even cooler, Chambers says we're not far off from when telepresence video conferencing will go 3D as well.
"3D will make things more lifelike," Chamber said. "But I think in 10 years we'll be seeing holograms used. Not only can this be used to enhance business communications, but imagine the implications for certain vertical businesses like medicine."
Let's hope in 10 years time companies are able to find a better way to implement holograms than CNN's lame display in late 2008.
Flip’s SlideHD reminds us of Rocky Balboa. Unfortunately, not the Rocky Balboa of the original Rocky or even Rocky II. Instead, we’re thinking of Rocky III, where The Champ comes in out of shape and loses to, of all people, Mr. T.
What else would you think after picking up Cisco’s Flip SlideHD? Unlike the Flip MinoHD 8GB, which is truly svelte, the SlideHD feels chunky.
You can thank the camera’s “slide” feature for much of the chunk. Unlike previous Flips that have a tiny two-inch screen integrated in the back, the back of the Flip SlideHD sports a much larger three-inch touch screen that flips open and sits at a 45-degree angle to the rest of the unit for video playback.
Cisco surprised a good many people earlier this week when it announced plans to release a tablet of its own, but contrary to what you might think, the company's upcoming Cius tablet isn't just an iPad in Cisco trim.
"It's complementary to the iPad," said John Chambers, CEO, Cisco. "We do want to have an architectural play in consumer (but a tablet or netbook for the home) is where a number of our peers will lead."
According to Chambers, the Cius isn't a lame attempt at cashing in on the sudden rabid demand for tablets, but a product that has been in the making for the past 18 months.
Whereas the iPad is primarily an entertainment tool for the home user, Cisco says its Cius will target markets in technologically transitional stages, like education and healthcare. The Cius could, for example, foster collaboration between healthcare providers, patient, and insurance company and family to talk about different treatment options, Cisco says.