Home Office Products from Panasonic and BDI That I Want
A cable-friendly desk from BDI and a high-def videoconferencing system from Panasonic enhance a home office.
September 28, 2010 by Lisa Montgomery

I’ve worked at home for years, and have loved every minute of it.

Well, almost every minute of it.

One of my biggest issues stems from my office communications system. Or, should I say the lack of one. My weekly meetings with the editorial staff happen via teleconference. It works, but after I saw Panasonic’s new HD Visual Communication System (KX-VC500) recently at the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association (CEDIA) Expo, in Atlanta, I realized how outdated and out of touch my current mode of communications really is

A video conferencing system is definitely the way to go, these days. I know, they’ve been around for years, so why don’t I already use one in my home office? The truth is I’ve never been all that impressed with the systems I’ve seen. Panasonic’s KX-VC500 completely changed my mind, however.  For starters, it’s in high-def, which means the video that’s displays on the screen is crystal clear. And although I wouldn’t need the omnidirectional microphone that comes with the system, the Electronic House team in the Framingham, Mass., office would. It picks up voices from anywhere in the room, so everyone can be in on the videoconference—and be heard clearly.

Bill Taylor, president of Panasonic System Networks Company of America, describes the experience as “immersive communication,” the kind that sucks you in and keeps you entirely engaged. I have to agree. The communication was fast, the video spot on, and the audio quality amazing.

The one drawback? The system costs $25,000, which includes the main system unit (the codec), a Panasonic 50-inch Full HD Viera Plasma TV, two HD video cameras, a 360-degree HD audio microphone, a VPN router and a remote control.

I’m sure my boss won’t spring for something this salty, but maybe he will for the slick piece of office furniture I saw at BDI’s CEDIA exhibit. The Sequel is BDI’s first stab at the home office furnishings market, having concentrated for years on contemporary furniture designs for entertainment equipment.

The company took much of what it learned from the A/V business and applied it to the design of the desk. For example, magnetically attached easy access panels at the back of the desk conceal power cords and cables, yet flip down for quick access to the connections.

The multifunction system drawer in the front is pretty clever, too. It’s deep enough to hold a keyboard as well as your cell phone, camera and other portables. You can run the cords out the back side of the drawer to keep everything charged and ready to go. Just slide the drawer shut, and all the technology disappears.

According to BDI marketing and brand manager Sarah Perry, the Sequel fills a void in office furniture offerings. “Up until now, the only choices have been inexpensive desks at office stores that you build yourself or high-end desks at furniture stores. The Sequel is expected to be priced somewhere in between.”

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Lisa Montgomery - Contributing Writer
Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.

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