Although the company introduced a preliminary version of the product in April, the final edition of VDOPhone has been expanded to support better picture quality and size, to allow interoperability with other Net phones, and to permit connections over standard phone lines, as well as the Internet.
Like Net voice telephones, video telephones such as VDOPhone and White Pine's Enhanced CU-SeeMe have captured an enthusiastic following on the Internet, but they have yet to break through to wider acceptance because of poor transmission quality. Net telephone programs face another significant barrier that has prevented a mainstream market from developing: products from different companies not working together.
With the new release of its program, VDONet has tried to deal with the problem of quality by refining the compression algorithms in its product, the company said. The product also allows users to make direct connections to other VDOPhone users over standard phone lines, which can improve picture quality by reducing the maddening delays that plague Internet transmissions.
The final release of VDOPhone will also support an international standard, called H.324, that permits videoconferencing products from different companies to work together over regular phone lines, though not over the Internet.
In addition, VDOPhone callers can use the product in tandem with Microsoft's NetMeeting for data conferencing and application sharing. NetMeeting supports the T.120 data conferencing standard so that it can work with other products too.
VDOPhone is priced at $99 for the Internet-only version. The H.324 edition of the product, which allows communications over regular phone lines, costs $149. VDOPhone will not be packaged with NetMeeting until November. However, users can download Microsoft's product separately from that company's Web site.