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What is desktop video conferencing?

Desktop video conferencing uses software on your personal computer along with a webcam, microphone and speakers or a headset to participate in a video conferencing call with hardware-based conferencing systems. While there are several desktop video conferencing software applications available on the market today, the TeleHealth Program has chosen Cisco JABBER Video as its standard desktop video conferencing client.

What is JABBER?

JABBER is the officially supported desktop video conferencing client for UCSF TeleHealth and has also been made available for general use by UCSF Faculty and Staff. Because JABBER is centrally provisioned, JABBER users have access to the same shared address books that are used by other TeleHealth conference rooms and hardware systems.

JABBER usage:

  • Use JABBER phonebook to search for other JABBER users 
  • Use JABBER phonebook to dial UCSF conference rooms that have been registered on the UCSF TeleHealth Videoconferencing Network. 
  • Make point-to-point (2-way) video calls with other users of JABBER or host a 4-way video call with other JABBER users. 
  • Call into a larger video conference meeting hosted on a multi-point control unit (MCU). This is also sometimes referred to dialing into a "video bridge"

Is JABBER the same as Skype, Google Talk, or iChat?

No, it is not.

Skype, Google Talk, and iChat are video chat programs that use non-standard protocols which are not able to connect to standards-based hardware video conferencing systems.

Does JABBER work with WebEx, GoToMeeting, Adobe Connect, or other webconferencing software?

No, it does not. Videoconferencing and Webconferenceing are separate applications with slightly different use cases.

JABBER is a software application that extends telepresence videoconferencing to your desktop computer. JABBER and room based video conferencing are best suited for meeting across distance where each site or participant is expected to interact during the meeting. It is possible to share a presentation over video, but the other participants will not be able to mark up the presentation or save a copy to their computer. Also the quality of images shared over a videoconference will not be as good as viewing the document on a computer or via webconferencing application.

Should I install JABBER as my conference room solution?

Using JABBER as a conference room solution is not supported by the UCSF Video Solutions Group. JABBER is not a replacement for a conference room system. JABBER is a personal videoconferencing software application designed for one person to connect into a videoconference from their desktop or laptop computer. It is not well suited for multiple participants in front of a single computer.

What are the costs, benefits, and limitations of desktop video conferencing?

The TeleHealth Program provides JABBER licenses via Proposition 1D to specific TeleHealth Programs, and UCSF Faculty and Staff at no cost. There are no licensing or usage charges for using the JABBER service, but non TeleHealth departments and schools wishing to utilize JABBER will need to purchase any required equipment such as webcams and headsets/microphones.

Using JABBER on a laptop provides the ability to connect to videoconferences from anywhere provided you have a good Internet connection. It even works over wireless connections! JABBER can be used as a personal communications tool with other JABBER users. JABBER also works with other standards based video conferencing systems. JABBER users will also be provided with a unique address, similar to an email address, which other people can use to call you from both inside and outside UCSF. For many departments at UCSF with staff at different locations, JABBER can help bring you together for important meetings without the hassle of shuttles or parking.

Desktop video conferencing using JABBER does have a few limitations. JABBER is best suited for a single user in front of the webcam. This is due to the limited range and focus of most webcams, and the inherent weakness of most internal microphones on laptop computers. In fact, it is strongly recommended that users invest in a headset with microphone for optimal audio quality during a call. Headphones also provide you with some privacy if you work in an open workspace or cubicle.

How can I use JABBER software and get support?

JABBER accounts are administered by the UCSF Service Desk and the TeleHealth program. However, support for the installation and troubleshooting of the software client should be performed by your local computer support coordinator or support desk. Please also see the JABBER FAQ for a list of frequently asked questions and troubleshooting information.

What type of computer and network do I need?

JABBER is supported on Macintosh or Windows PCs. Cisco has announced a new version of JABBER to be released by Summer 2012, which will include support for iPads and Android devices - stay tuned!

Macintosh System Requirements & User Guide

  • Hardware: Minimum Intel 2 GHz Core 2 Duo with 1GB of RAM running 
  • OS: OSX 10.6 or later (with all security updates) is recommended 

Windows System Requirements & User Guide

  • Hardware: 
    • Minimum: SSE3 (such as Pentium 4 Prescott) or better with 512MB RAM or better
    • Recommended: 2 GHz Core 2 Duo processor or better with 1GB of RAM or better o 
  • Graphics Card: OpenGL version 1.2 or higher. Hardware support for DirectX 8 or higher
  • Sound card: Any standard sound card (full-duplex, 16-bit or better) should work with JABBER. 
  • OS: Windows XP SP2 (or later), and Windows 7 are supported

Network Requirements 

  • Although JABBER's requirements say a 128 kbps sustained (upload/download) is the minimum required, we recommend a 512 kbps minimum sustained (upload/download) for best performance. 
  • To check your speed, visit the website. Note: This is an external site.
  • Wireless networking may work, but when possible, a wired network connection may provide a better experience 
  • Note that calls under 1 Mbps are not HD (but can still be high quality!)
  • 2 Mbps is required for full HD (1080p) – along with an HD capable camera.
  • Setting the connection speed to 24kbps (the lowest setting) will enable an audio-only connection.

What types of webcams, microphones and speakers should I use?

Webcams: In general JABBER works well with the built-in webcams on most modern systems. For best results, we recommend purchasing an external USB webcam and headset. Our current favorite USB webcam is the Logitech HD Webcam C910.

Headsets: On the other hand, the built-in microphone and speakers on most computers are not the best choice for video conferencing. Using a USB wired headset is the best choice as it prevents echo and feedback from your computer to other participants. Our recommended choice is the Logitech ClearChat Pro USB Headset.

Note: Regardless of whether you use internal or external cameras, microphones and speakers, you should spend some time practicing with JABBER and adjusting your audio/video settings before participating in large meetings.