Volume 14, Issue 23 — December 15, 2017
|Wiring Then And Now|
By Lee Distad
It feels like a million years ago that pulling wire in residential installations almost exclusively meant speaker wire. AV pros who’ve been around long enough have seen a lot of changes since then. And at the risk of sentimentality or applying too much nostalgia to the past, the changes that have come and gone in system wiring even just in my time have been a roller coaster ride.
For awhile there, we saw an explosive proliferation of cabling that I liken to the Cambrian Explosion, when new life forms bloomed in increasingly greater variety 541 million years ago. Suddenly, instead of just speaker wire, RG-59 cables and maybe two-conductor wire for security or relays, AV pros were running all of that plus numerous coaxial cables for video. And that’s not counting the number of specialized multi-cables that some brands (Crestron comes to mind) were offering. And just like biodiversity, with technological advances there were a few wrong turns along the way.
To those few clients for whom I specified S-video cables in-wall in your house: I’m sorry.
And to those few clients for whom I specified and charged way too much money for a really ridiculously long HDMI cable to the projector: I’m so sorry.
It’s scenarios like the above that make me raise my eyebrow when we talk about future-proofing client’s projects.
All of us — you, me and AV pros you know — have completed projects in the past that, at the time, we thought were future-proof, but hindsight leaves us shaking our heads.
Realistically, the only truly future-proof pre-wire specification is to run conduit all through the house, like some sort of giant hamster habitat. That at least would allow semi-annual visits to yank out obsolete cables and replace them with whatever the client needs next.
The good news is that technological progress has allowed AV pros to do more with less.
What do I mean by that? Fewer cables, overall.
Remember in the early days of video distribution over Cat5e? There were competing brands of video extenders that punted Y/Pb/Pr over two or even three Cat5e cables. Not long after, HDMI extenders appeared on the scene, again, sending the signals over two or three cables.
And eventually, it was possible to get HDMI down to a single network cable. That was a relief.
While the march of progress has meant changes to the details of how you wire, what you wire and why, some practices still remain.
The first is choosing the right wire for the job, which seems like a topic that can run away to become its own article, or even a series of articles. The too long/didn’t read version would probably sum up as “the best rated network cable you can get your hands on.” I’ll leave it to readers to argue over that in the comments.
Just as you shouldn’t scrimp on the Ethernet cable, at the same time don’t cheap out on any of the network hardware, routers, switches, etc. that your system requires. The devil is always in the details and more AV Pros than not recognize the upfront cost of enterprise-grade hardware is offset by fewer service issues down the road.
My favorite tip and one that is alarming to consider anyone overlooking: Label every cable at each end with its function and its location. A label maker trumps a sharpie marker, although even that is better than nothing. Affix the labels far enough from the wire ends so that they don’t get removed when the wires are stripped and terminated.
“What about the future?”, you ask. Well, what about it? None of us have a crystal ball, although we try to get it right. And there’s an excellent chance that this editorial won’t hold up to the test of time and I’ll be cringing at it ten years from now. In the meantime, we do the best we can.Leave a Comment
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|The Truth and Nothing But the Truth?|
By Dr. Frederick Ampel
President & Principal, Technology Visions Analytics
The title of this column is a phrase that is the basis of a legal oath that has been part of English Law since at least medieval times and has essentially become embedded in our shared societal structure. The beliefs that have come to encompass our laws and governance concepts remain at their core based on the codices of Roman law, probably the versions from around 200 or so BCE. In the Roman treatises from that time the focus was on one major idea: precision of language.
Also of considerable concern within that focus were two basic social principles: fairness (aequitas) and practicality (utilitas). That fixation on precise and exact legal terminology to avoid ambiguity or even misinterpretation of ideas and rules has remained as a convention through the millennia.
Why? Because these ideas have also framed our fundamental cultural concepts of fairness and practicality and helped delineate the definitions trustworthiness and honesty. These are important to our whole social fabric because time has proven, repeatedly that the truth can be distorted by only including some of the facts; and/or by giving misleading indications about how to interpret these facts. Sometimes the partial use of truth can be used to give legitimacy to deception.
And that short introductory essay brings us to our main discussion.
How far from the truth are we willing to allow the information we rely on to migrate?
If what I see and hear every day both in the information about products and services and in the promises made by software developers and suppliers is to be used as the data point — way, way too far!
The Minefield of Software
Let’s look at the software side first, since it has become inescapable in systems deployed today. To an exponentially increasing extent, critical systems that were once controlled mechanically, or by people, are coming to depend on code as was recently discussed in an article authored by James Somers entitled “The Coming Software Apocalypse,” published by The Atlantic in September 2017.
That article notes, ominously, that this problem “was perhaps never clearer than in the summer of 2015, when on a single day, United Airlines grounded its fleet because of a problem with its departure-management system; trading was suspended on the New York Stock Exchange after an upgrade; the front page of The Wall Street Journal’s website crashed; and Seattle’s 911 system went down because a remotely located router failed. The simultaneous breakdown of so many software systems smelled at first of a coordinated cyber attack. Almost more frightening was the realization, later that same day, that it was just a coincidence.”
Nancy Leveson, a professor of aeronautics and astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who has been studying software safety for 35 years commented in that same article that, “When we had electromechanical systems, we used to be able to test them exhaustively, we used to be able to think through all the things it could do, all the states it could get into. For example, the electromechanical interlocking that controlled train movements at railroad crossings only had so many configurations; a few sheets of paper could describe the whole system, and you could run physical trains against each configuration to see how it would behave. Once you’d built and tested it, you knew exactly what you were dealing with.” (Leveson became widely know for her report on the Therac-25, a radiation-therapy machine that killed six patients because of a software error.)
But as industry in general and our world in particular is rapidly discovering, software is different. Just by editing a text file (which could be stored in a “cloud” server anywhere on the planet), the same chipset can become the core of an autopilot or the server responsible for an inventory-control system. It doesn’t know and it doesn’t care about the functionality it is assigned.
This flexibility is software’s miracle and its curse. Because it can be changed inexpensively, software is constantly changed and because it’s unmoored from anything physical — a program that is a thousand times more complex than another takes up the same actual space — it tends to grow without bound. Witness the bloatware install size of any word processing program of your choice today, against the size of that same program even five years ago — the growth is by orders of magnitude at least — and to what end? How much of the additional functionality is ever actually used even by so-called ‘power users’? I’d wager not much more than a small double-digit percentage!
Professor Leveson went on to pointedly say, “the problem is that we are attempting to build systems that are beyond our ability to intellectually manage and for the most part software engineers don’t understand the problem they’re trying to solve, and don’t care to… because they’re too wrapped up in getting their code to simply work at all.”
The landmine waiting to be stepped on here is this scenario: The software did exactly what it was told to do. The reason it failed is that it was told to do the wrong thing.
The Plan vs. The Unexpected
I don’t know about you, but my computer is always doing what I tell it to instead of what I wanted it to, but… I don’t always know what I should tell it to do, especially when it presents one of those “unexpected error” messages. In that same vein, it seems from conversations with numerous consultants and integrators over the last year or so that the consensus is that the biggest issue with AV systems is that with even a moderately complex control design, it is virtually impossible to test every possible operating state or condition to see what happens with unplanned button pushes or function calls. You diligently conduct reasonable proof of performance tests to ensure that it does what you expect by using expected button pushes in expected sequences and look for dead ends or lockups. There’s no amount of time you could devote to even getting close to being able to test what happens when people push buttons in more random or inappropriate sequences or what happens when a frustrated client is impatient and pushes buttons in too fast a sequence. The undeniable fact is that our species is extraordinarily unpredictable and is prone to taking the unexpected (or at from a programming standpoint the “Well, we never considered that option,” path only intensified this quandary.
Been there? Anyone have a viable answer to this dilemma? If you do please help the rest of us.
Close Loop, Closed Minds
And all of those keep you awake at night problems, don’t even consider the two other gigantic problems surging through the software world:
- The promises about functionality and compatibility made by overly optimistic vendors which of course all of our clients have read, seen, or even worse actually believed and…
- The continuing practice by far to many vendors of designing deliberately incompatible products, and deploying un-announced software revisions, that force us to solve the “how do we make all this connect and talk to itself issues on the job, in the field, with the client tapping his/her foot impatiently as we spend time (and money) fixing something that should NEVER have occurred in the first place?” problem. I’ve lost count of the number of times I or my colleagues have been in contact with a vendor’s tech support and heard that whistling death phrase, “We’ve never heard of that happening before.” Or its even more fatal companion: “That’s simply not possible.” Sound all too familiar?
Don’t think the un-announced software or firmware deployments or the can’t happen guarantee could affect you? You are wrong! Let’s look briefly at a recent apparently simple but disastrous example.
Around 3 a.m. one night not too long ago, a major TV manufacturer pushed out a firmware/software update from its offshore headquarters to every one of its 55 inches and larger, newly introduced multi-thousand dollar 4K UHD TVs. The number of units being “targeted” by this improvement was in the six-figure range globally. The update was sent in at least 10 languages and automatically downloaded by the units, which then installed the new code upon power up.
So far so good you might think. NOT SO! There was an untested, unresolved and unfixable bug in the code. It rendered every hand-held remote inoperable. No longer could anyone make any changes using the remote. And… the update ‘locked’ the turn-on volume for the sets audio systems at maximum, regardless of any previous setting. The new firmware/software totally overwrote everything that had been in place including any custom settings and all calibrations.
Imagine the surprise of the set owners the next day when they pushed on and discovered nothing would happen. If they manually turned the set on at the panel they were immediately deafened by the volume setting. And the off button no longer worked. The only way to turn things off was to unplug the set. The only solution to the software issue was to force the set to restore its factory defaults (an option only available in the non-user accessible service menu).
The company’s customer service number exploded and all you could get was a busy signal (for days) and their consumer website crashed! The North American offices had had no idea what had happened.
It took a day and a half to trace it down to the unannounced update, and then at least four more days to get the information out to owners/dealers/retailers, etc. Overall it was a two-week long nightmare caused by a simple failure to bother to check the update BEFORE spewing it worldwide. What was wrong? A simple, easily-caught (if anyone had bothered to look) reversed numeral sequence in the update to the sets’ remote control recognition software made all non-service menu related commands useless.
Sure it was an annoying and painful episode, but it never had to happen, if common sense and any sort of quality control mindset had been in place in the software/firmware department’s operations.
So the next time you hear “that can’t happen” or any similar phrase, be apprehensive and — more importantly — check to see if the statement is actually true.
Hardware Myths and Fantasies
Look at any hardware data sheet or brochure and what do you find? A lot of technical details, probably a good dose of marketing fluff and blather, and some very carefully worded content about functionality, warranty and a half-dozen, brutally dense legalese disclaimers in tiny text about everything and anything that might conceivably be an issue down the road.
What is clearly missing from all of this is a functionality and reliability discussion or, better yet, warranty of serviceability for the task intended, the one they claim it can do in the marketing fluff.
Globally we have a ton of standards and specifications to tell us the most mundane details about any technical parameter or engineering figure of merit. Just a quick list includes those published and maintained by AES, AVIXA and IEC.
Various countries or other governmental entities (cities, states, provinces, etc.) may have additional specific standards or requirements — these should be verified and conformance assured either by the manufacturer or its distribution structure.
So there’s no shortage of data and details on the pure specification side of the fence. In fact, there are immense documents describing in microscopic detail how this information is to be formatted, presented and collated.
For example in the U.S. and Canada, we have the CSI/CSC structure and the Technical Specification Format, Master Format and multiple Division formats, rules, regulations and requirements for any building project, construction job or… you name it, there’s a rulebook for it. The level of detail required could easily require employing someone full time just to manage the paperwork.
A portion of that massive set of formats and rules requires inclusion of a section in the project documentation that describes equipment and systems requirements. Each major piece of equipment required for the project should have a paragraph that describes concisely and in detail, the minimum acceptable specifications for the item.
Unless it is a public project, there are usually two or three pre-accepted makes and models listed for each item. That section also has this little-hidden gem: “This information gives the bidders a very clear idea of the expected quality.”
Please take careful note of that wording — expected quality — not actual quality, promised quality, guaranteed quality, tested for quality or any other kind of quality assurance, only “expected.” Well golly gee, I expected to get a million dollars from Publishers Clearing House, but…
Is expected the best we can hope for? Is the truth what someone decides it is or is it based on incontrovertible and verifiable facts and data?
The Real World
Out there, where the customers are, published specifications performance is beside the point. In fact, it is totally, utterly, completely, absolutely and unequivocally irrelevant!
Other than within the tour-sound universe, where equipment rider(s) may call for specific brands or models to satisfy a perceived or possibly actual artistic requirement, brand identity is not front-of-mind with the majority of end-users/buyers.
Certainly, there may be name recognition, word of mouth created opinion on need or desire (the “well, our major competitor’s facility uses xyz so shouldn’t we?” statement). But putting those essentially artificial needs aside, what logo is on a power amplifier is not really a make-or-break issue for clients (with of course the caveat that there is always one to whom it really does matter for a reason you will never really know).
Twenty-first century automated manufacturing processes, globally sourced component supply chains and a host of other factors make it very, very, very hard to separate any one of the 40 or so 1 kilowatt-per-channel amplifiers costing $500 to $999 you can easily find on any major gear website, based on pure numerical data or rated (expected) performance information. In fact, it is essentially impossible using simply the numbers if you remove the marketing/brand identity from the data — I know. I’ve tested this many times with “knowledgeable” professionals asking them to pick out their favorite brand simply based on stated generic technical data.
But these sets of data, which amount to a performance promise, are not the information we need or should be using to decide what to specify, what to install or who to support product-wise.
New Rules for a New World
It’s time for a new constitution (as The Who said), wherein we have a “BILL OF THE TRUTH” requirement for all hardware and software we are expected to recommend, buy, specify, install or otherwise have involvement (and thus responsibility) for.
Herewith are the provisions of the “BILL OF THE TRUTH”:
- No product shall be made available for sale or use until it has been thoroughly and completely tested in real-world conditions under normal operating parameters by non-manufacturer third-party verification.
- No updates or changes to existing software or firmware may be automatically installed.
- No software shall be sold until it has been tested “in the real world” under normal end-user conditions, by a neutral third party verification process using actual hardware upon which the software is ‘expected’ to function.
- A new parameter for hardware shall be implemented stating the MTBF [mean time before/between failure] conditions and how that data was derived and verified.
- All core or kernel code for software shall be tested and verified as to its suitability and functionality on the actual platform and with the accompanying hardware and software that would typically be deployed to ensure that it actually works.
- Specifiers/buyers/installers and related professionals shall be indemnified by a hold-harmless clause in which the costs associated with making a system or device functional shall be born by its manufacturer or developer in the case of software.
- No assumed or expected functionality shall be allowed in a product specification/sales sheet until and unless that performance or functionality has been third party verified to actually exist.
- Software or firmware source code written in a language other than English shall be tested and verified to function in English and any other language in which it is expected to be sold /used/operate. No un-tested code shall be permitted with a product in any language.
- Control systems shall be tested not only for expected functionality but for non-expected conditions or operation to ensure that no harm or failure can be induced by such operation.
- Your ideas here!
It is time we got more than we expected and less ‘it can’t possibly do that’ from our supply chain.
Help write the new BILL OF TRUTH for equipment and software. We shall no longer be asked to tolerate being used as beta test platforms for unfinished hardware or software. It’s time for the truth to be simply that and not some highly manipulated carefully couched, legal CYA verbiage.Leave a Comment
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|The HDMI Forum Finally Releases the HDMI 2.1 SpecificationThe HDMI Forum today announced the release of Version 2.1 of the HDMI Specification which is now available to all HDMI 2.0 adopters. This latest HDMI Specification supports a range of higher video resolutions and refresh rates including 8K60 and 4K120 and resolutions up to 10K. Dynamic HDR formats are also supported and bandwidth capability is increased up to 48 Gbps.|
Supporting the 48Gbps bandwidth is the new Ultra High Speed HDMI Cable. The cable ensures high-bandwidth dependent features are delivered including uncompressed 8K video with HDR. It features exceptionally low EMI (electro-magnetic interference) which reduces interference with nearby wireless devices. The cable is backwards compatible and can be used with the existing installed base of HDMI devices.
Version 2.1 of the HDMI Specification is backward compatible with earlier versions of the specification, and was developed by the HDMI Forum’s Technical Working Group whose members represent some of the world’s leading manufacturers of consumer electronics, personal computers, mobile devices, cables and components.
HDMI Specification 2.1 Features Include:
- Higher video resolutions support a range of high resolutions and faster refresh rates including 8K60Hz and 4K120Hz for immersive viewing and smooth fast-action detail. Resolutions up to 10K are also supported for commercial AV, and industrial and specialty usages.
- Dynamic HDR support ensures every moment of a video is displayed at its ideal values for depth, detail, brightness, contrast and wider color gamuts — on a scene-by-scene or even a frame-by-frame basis.
- The Ultra High Speed HDMI Cable supports the 48G bandwidth for uncompressed HDMI 2.1 feature support. The cable also features very low EMI emission and is backwards compatible with earlier versions of the HDMI Specification and can be used with existing HDMI devices.
- eARC simplifies connectivity, provides greater ease of use, and supports the most advanced audio formats and highest audio quality. It ensures full compatibility between audio devices and upcoming HDMI 2.1 products.
- Enhanced refresh rate features ensure an added level of smooth and seamless
- motion and transitions for gaming, movies and video. They include:
- Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) reduces or eliminates lag, stutter and frame tearing for more fluid and better detailed gameplay.
- Quick Media Switching (QMS) for movies and video eliminates the delay that can result in blank screens before content is displayed.
- Quick Frame Transport (QFT) reduces latency for smoother no-lag gaming, and real-time interactive virtual reality.
- Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) allows the ideal latency setting to automatically be set allowing for smooth, lag-free and uninterrupted viewing and interactivity.
The HDMI 2.1 Compliance Test Specification (CTS) is here.Leave a Comment
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|D-Tools Introduces Mobile Quote 2.0 iPad AppD-Tools today announced the release of Mobile Quote 2.0, a native iPad companion app for the D-Tools System Integrator (SI) platform. Mobile Quote 2.0 says it can make it easy for industry salespeople to seamlessly generate a project scope and pricing estimate for client review and approval during the initial client meeting. The data collected is then instantaneously transferred into D-Tools SI for further design development and project management, eliminating the need to transfer handwritten notes into instructions for system designers just to have that same data re-entered into a D-Tools proposal.
The flexibility of Mobile Quote 2.0 enables industry salespeople to be as general or specific as they desire. If the objective is to quickly capture what device types are required in which rooms and get a ballpark price, the iPad app can simply pull a price allowance from the list of items in the appropriate sub-category in the D-Tools product catalog based on a global or item-specific good/better/best selection. On the other hand, if a more precise design and pricing is required, Mobile Quote 2.0 leverages project templates and packages from the D-Tools’ product catalog to complete an accurate system design and price by room and by system in minutes. If details regarding item placement, product preferences, owner furnished equipment and the like are desired, the app enables the entry of room notes, system notes, item notes and images taken from the iPad camera. Users can also make pricing and labor adjustments on the fly.
For system integrators that collect a design retainer, Mobile Quote 2.0 has a built-in design retainer calculator based on a percentage of the estimated contract total, a dollar amount per square foot, or a designated fixed amount. Not only that, the app requests client approval via e-signature and allows D-Tools customers to collect the design retainer, or even contract deposit, on the spot using their preferred mobile payments solution (e.g., Square). Collecting a design retainer up front locks out the competition and compensates system integrators for their design efforts during the sales process, a cost often borne by the system integrator as a sales expense.
Mobile Quote 2.0 is available for download via the Apple app store here and can be installed for free. However, every customer must purchase Mobile Quote 2.0 licenses in order to fully use Mobile Quote. Device licenses are priced at $25.00 per iPad device per month and available exclusively via the SI 2017 application. For more information on purchasing Mobile Quote 2.0, please click here.
Click here for a brief video introduction to Mobile Quote 2.0, or for a more in-depth video demonstration, click here.
Here are the details on D-Tools’ site.Leave a Comment
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|SMPTE Publishes ST 2110 Standards for Professional Media Over Managed IP NetworksSMPTE today announced the publication of the first standards within SMPTE ST 2110, Professional Media Over Managed IP Networks.|
SMPTE ST 2110 is a new standards suite that specifies the carriage, synchronization, and description of separate elementary essence streams over professional internet protocol (IP) networks in real-time for the purposes of live production, playout, and other professional media applications. The following documents are now available in the SMPTE digital library here:
- SMPTE ST 2110-10/-20/-30 — addressing system concerns and uncompressed video and audio streams
- SMPTE ST 2110-21 — specifying traffic shaping and delivery timing of uncompressed video
“Professional media is a uniquely challenging field because of its real-time nature and high quality-of-service requirements, both of which consumers may take for granted,” said SMPTE President Matthew Goldman, senior vice president of technology, TV and media at Ericsson. “The standardization of SMPTE ST 2110 documents provides broadcasters, producers and media technology suppliers with the tools they need to meet these requirements while working in the IP realm.”Leave a Comment
With SMPTE ST 2110 standards, intrafacility traffic now can be all-IP, which means that organizations can rely on one common data center infrastructure rather than two separate facilities for SDI and IP switching/routing. The foundation for the first SMPTE ST 2110 standards came from the Video Services Forum (VSF) Technical Recommendation for Transport of Uncompressed Elementary Stream Media Over IP (TR-03), which VSF agreed to make available to SMPTE as a contribution toward the new suite of standards.
SMPTE ST 2110 standards make it possible to separately route and break away the essence streams — audio, video, and ancillary data. This advance simplifies, for example, the addition of captions, subtitles, and teletext, as well as tasks such as the processing of multiple audio languages and types. Each essence flow may be routed separately and brought together again at the endpoint. Each of the component flows — audio, video and ancillary data (there may be multiple streams of each type) — is synchronized, so the essence streams are co-timed to one another while remaining independent.
The new SMPTE ST 2110 standard suite was a primary focus of the IP Showcase in the Centennial Exhibit Hall at SMPTE 2017, where SMPTE joined with the Audio Engineering Society (AES), Alliance for IP Media Solutions (AIMS), Advanced Media Workflow Association (AMWA), European Broadcasting Union (EBU), IABM, Media Networking Alliance (MNA), and Video Services Forum (VSF) to support the event. The IP Showcase featured the latest advances in IP technology for the professional media industries and demonstrated how the SMPTE ST 2110 standard suite adds value. Numerous interoperability demonstrations assisted broadcast/IT engineers, CEOs, producers, and others in understanding how they can leverage the benefits of SMPTE ST 2110 standards.
SMPTE is currently developing a dedicated course on ST 2110 for its Virtual Classroom which will be offered beginning in February 2018. Currently SMPTE’s Internetworking, Routing & Switching Programs courses, as well as the Essentials of IP Media Transport for Broadcasters, help to provide a solid foundation in networking. SMPTE Virtual Classroom course descriptions and registration are available here.
More information about SMPTE ST 2110 standards is available here. Further information about SMPTE and its standards work is available here.
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|SDVoE Partner Consultant Program Announced — Kickoff Meeting to be Held at ISE 2018The SDVoE Alliance today announced its SDVoE Partner Consultant Program for recognized leaders in the field of AV-over-IP and experts in the design and architecture of SDVoE systems. The goal of the program is to provide guidance to integrators, installers and end users in leveraging the SDVoE standard for high performance AV network deployments in education, healthcare, enterprise, entertainment, hospitality, retail, houses of worship, government, military, industry and security.
HyperSphere Limited is the lead consultant participating in the alliance program. Frank Sheehan, CEO of HyperSphere, is the lead participant in the program along with Lee Payne, director of technology at HyperSphere. They have over 30 years’ experience within the field of AV-over-IP and will help define the role of consultants in the SDVoE ecosystem. SDVoE partner consultants will generate materials such as case studies, design specifications and best practices guidelines.
“The SDVoE Partner Consultant Program is the next step in ensuring integrators and end users can take full advantage of the flexibility and scalability of Ethernet to deliver 4K video without compromise – and for the first time, to deliver AV and data on a converged infrastructure,” said Justin Kennington, president of the SDVoE Alliance. “Working with registered SDVoE partner consultants will give them the confidence to take advantage of all that SDVoE technology and AV-over-IP have to offer over traditional approaches such as point-to-point extension and circuit-based AV matrix switching.”
The first meeting of the SDVoE Partner Consultant Program will be held at ISE 2018 in Amsterdam on Feb. 7, 13:00-14:00 in room G109. All interested parties are invited to attend the meeting to learn how they can join the program and benefit from participation. More information about the program and registration for the ISE meeting here.Leave a Comment
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|VESA Defines New Standard to Help Speed PC Industry Adoption of HDR in Laptop and Desktop MonitorsThe Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) today announced it has defined the display industry’s first fully open standard specifying high dynamic range (HDR) quality, including luminance, color gamut, bit depth and rise time, through the release of a test specification. The new VESA High-Performance Monitor and Display Compliance Test Specification (DisplayHDR) initially addresses the needs of laptop displays and PC desktop monitors that use liquid crystal display (LCD) panels. The first release of the specification, DisplayHDR version 1.0, establishes three distinct levels of HDR system performance to facilitate adoption of HDR throughout the PC market. HDR provides better contrast and color accuracy as well as more vibrant colors compared to Standard Dynamic Range (SDR) displays, and is gaining interest for a wide range of applications, including movie viewing, gaming and creation of photo and video content.
VESA Certified DisplayHDR brand logos representing three distinct levels of HDR system performance.
VESA developed the DisplayHDR specification with the input of more than two dozen active member companies. These members include major OEMs that make displays, graphic cards, CPUs, panels, display drivers and other components, as well as color calibration providers. A list of participating companies is available here.
DisplayHDR v1.0 focuses on LCDs, which represent more than 99 percent of displays in the PC market. VESA anticipates future releases to address organic light emitting diode (OLED) and other display technologies as they become more common, as well as the addition of higher levels of HDR performance. While development of DisplayHDR was driven by the needs of the PC market, it can serve to drive new levels of HDR performance in other markets as well.
The specification establishes three HDR performance levels for PC displays: baseline (DisplayHDR 400), mid-range (DisplayHDR 600) and high-end (DisplayHDR 1000). These levels are established and certified using eight specific parameter requirements and associated tests, which include:
- Three peak luminance tests involving different scenarios — small spot/high luminance, brief period full-screen flash luminance and optimized use in bright environments (e.g., outside daylight or bright office lighting);
- Two contrast measurement tests — one for native panel contrast and one for local dimming;
- Color testing of both the BT.709 and DCI-P3 color gamuts;
- Bit-depth requirement tests — these stipulate a minimum bit depth and include a simple visual test for end users to confirm results;
- HDR response performance test — sets performance criteria for backlight responsiveness ideal for gaming and rapid action in movies by analyzing the speed at which the backlight can respond to changes in luminance levels.
For more information on the open DisplayHDR specification and test tool, go here.Leave a Comment
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|Klipsch Upgrades Reference Line of SpeakersKlipsch today announces the debut of its next generation flagship Reference speakers — the RF-7 III floorstanding speaker and the RC-64 III center channel. The speakers are enhanced versions of the company’s Reference II series.
Klipsch says it was meticulous in selecting an ideal tweeter for the speakers before landing on the new 1¾” titanium compression driver with an enhanced phase plug geometry design that improves sound pressure linearity at high frequencies. A new Tractrix horn further improves high-frequency response and extension, while enhancing imaging and dynamics. Proprietary Cerametallic woofers minimize distortion and when paired with the Tractrix horn, provides ultra-high sensitivity and high efficiency.
The modern design enhancements and upgraded materials used to build the Reference RF-7 III and RC-64 III speakers reinforce their solid performance. Both speakers feature heavy-duty cast aluminum frame woofers that eliminate resonance. Cabinets are made from furniture-grade wood veneers and come in black ash, cherry or walnut with magnetic grilles.
The Reference RF-7 III floorstanding speaker is equipped with a dual-chambered enclosure design that allows two 10” drivers and ports to work independently of each other. This improves linearity, minimizes anomalies in the critical midrange frequencies, generating what Klipsch says is an articulate soundstage.
The Reference RC-64 III center channel features four 6.5” woofers, while the design of the two-and-a-half way network crossover maintains wide and even sound distribution.
The Klipsch Reference RF-7 III ($1,799) and RC-64 III ($1,499) speakers are shipping now. Here are all the specs.Leave a Comment
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|James Loudspeaker Unveils Shallow Architectural Speaker|
James Loudspeaker has added a new product to its lineup of Small Aperture (SA) architectural speakers with the introduction of the 42SA-4 in-ceiling/in-wall two-way loudspeaker. The 42SA-4 is the most compact Small Aperture model, fitting easily into shallow wall or ceiling environments such as a 2×4 stud bay.
The James Loudspeaker 42SA-4 utilizes proprietary drivers including an aluminum 4-inch woofer and a 2-inch midrange/high-frequency module that combine to deliver outstanding room-filling full-range musical playback including defined low frequencies all through a small 3-inch opening. Custom integrators will appreciate the speaker protection circuitry built in to all SA models, ensuring the highest degree of reliability and performance for any application.
There are now five available models of the Small Aperture loudspeaker featuring multiple enclosure sizes as well as 3-inch or 4-inch round or square grilles. Custom versions are also available to suit unconventional applications. The lineup includes two Small Aperture subwoofers and five models of James Loudspeaker’s PowerPipe subwoofer that in many cases can be mated to SA-style grille solutions. When required, James Loudspeaker will custom engineer and manufacture a speaker to match a specific lighting fixture, wood grain or vast array of standard and custom finishes.
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|Extron Introduces Architecturally Discreet Pendant Speaker|
Extron has entered the pendant speaker market with their new SF 3PT, a pendant loudspeaker with a 3” full-range driver for speech reinforcement and music playback in high-ceiling and open-ceiling applications. The SF 3PT is available in black or white and is paintable to fit in with any décor. Included with the SF 3PT is Extron’s exclusive PendantConnect speaker cable that combines the speaker wires and a steel safety cable within a single outer jacket, providing for a finished installation that is clean and secure. The UL listed SF 3PT offers both direct 8 ohm and 70/100 volt operation and is voiced similarly to the Extron SF 3CT LP for sonic consistency in mixed ceiling environments.
The SF 3PT pendant speaker comes with everything needed for a finished installation, including 20 feet (6.1 meter) of PendantConnect speaker cable, an Extron exclusive hybrid design incorporating the speaker wires and a steel safety cable into a single outer jacket, allowing for a secure and seamless integration using only a single cable.
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|Somfy Adds Voice Control for Motorized Window Coverings with Amazon Alexa|
Somfy Systems has introduced voice control of motorized window coverings. Now that the myLink is Alexa-enabled you can control your connected products with voice commands. Raise or lower your shades, exterior screens, or rolling shutters, open or close your blinds or draperies and extend or retract your awnings anytime with simple, natural phrases.
Somfy’s new Amazon Alexa skill allows for voice control of all Radio Technology Somfy (RTS) motorized products controlled by the myLink app, as well as scenes and schedules. A wide range of natural language commands makes controlling your motorized products intuitive. For example, open your living room shades by saying, “Alexa, tell myLink to raise living room shades.”
Scenes and schedules set up in your myLink app are also easy to control with natural, easy-to-recall phrases. If you create a morning scene simply say, “Alexa, tell myLink to play Good Morning scene,” and your shades will let in the morning sun. Or say, “Alexa, ask myLink to enable Goodnight schedule,” and enjoy worry-free automation.
In addition, Somfy has enhanced the myLink hub with firmware updates, a sleek new design, and improved performance. The Amazon Alexa skill will work with both current and legacy myLink hardware.
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|Luxul Debuts New PDU Series of Network Power Distribution Products|
Luxul today announced an extended product line with a new series of intelligent network power distribution units (PDU). The PDUs allow for the local monitoring and rebooting of unresponsive devices, while their self-healing function performs reboots automatically to avoid costly truck rolls and service calls. When used with third-party remote management platforms, like Domotz and Ihiji, the units’ capabilities expand to include remote access and control. This allows integrators to receive port status notifications, power-cycle unresponsive devices from anywhere and deliver a better overall customer experience.
Power management features for the PDU series include MOV surge and spike protection for connected equipment in addition to remote sequencing for controlled startup and shutdown. Luxul offers a lifetime limited warranty for connected equipment, while the PDUs are backed by a three-year limited warranty and lifetime remote support.
Luxul’s PDU series consists of the PDU 2, with two individual IP-controllable outlets; the rack-mountable PDU 8, with eight controllable outlets and one additional convenience outlet; and the PDU 16, with eight controllable outlets and eight additional convenience outlets.
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|SAVANT Updates Multiple Product Lines|
Savant just announced the addition of new products and features included in the 8.7 software and hardware update.
TrueImage for Savant Pro: Savant has released a new Savant Pro 8 App on the iOS App Store that includes support for TrueImage. TrueImage leverages Savant’s patented virtual lighting concepts allowing users to experience virtual lights in any room on their mobile devices. Users can easily change dimming levels and RGB colors simply by tapping the virtual light. Savant claims TrueImage greatly reduces lighting complexity and takes the home automation user experience to the highest level. The intuitiveness and cool factor of Savant TrueImage will help integrators generate excitement during the sales process and deliver an experience their clients will adore. Users and/or integrators can use a mobile device to photograph the light, press the button and TrueImage software takes care of the rest.
Color Smart Bulbs and LED Strips: Savant is also introducing a new line of colored smart bulbs and LED light strips. These products are controlled with TrueImage in the Savant 8 App for iOS, are available from Savant Authorized Integrators and are far less costly than the colored lighting solutions currently available in the custom technology market.
Savant IP Video: Savant has begun shipping their new IP Video products, including a 4K video over IP switching platform. The new switching platform is spec’d to deliver 4K/60 4:4:4 HDR video (8-bit color) distribution over IP.
Savant IP Audio: Savant’s IP Audio lineup is expanding to become the ultimate home entertainment product family, including the Savant IP Audio 50 (simply a renamed version of Savant’s highly successful Pro Audio 4), the company’s first scalable, wired, all-in-one music solution. Brand new to the lineup is the Savant IP Audio 125, a higher wattage amplifier/audio distribution system. The IP Audio 125 delivers all the functionality of the IP Audio 50, but with 125 watts per channel for dynamic audio reproduction; ample power to drive clear sound into large spaces such as outdoor entertainment. The IP Audio 125 also includes additional control ports for added installation flexibility in nearly any imaginable application.
Savant Pro Remote Multi-Room: The Savant Pro Remote is now available with multi-zone control. The new Savant Multi-Room remote is free to roam and allows switching from room to room for true whole home control from a single remote. Connecting directly to Wi-Fi, this remote does not use Bluetooth and is not tethered to a single remote base, any base can be used for charging.
Savant Architectural Speakers: Available in options for traditional stereo pairs as well as single stereo twin-tweeter solutions, these new 6.5-inch and 8-inch architectural speakers bring Artison sound quality to music listening areas either in-wall or in-ceiling.
Savant Touch 8 Tabletop: Savant has introduced aluminum table top stands for the Savant Touch 8 control screen. This stand securely holds the Savant Touch 8 for use with the same POE connection used for in-wall applications.
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For all you REGULAR readers of rAVe HomeAV Edition out there, hopefully you enjoyed another opinion-packed issue!
For those of you NEW to rAVe, you just read how we are — we are 100% opinionated. We not only report the news and new product stories of the high-end HomeAV industry, but we stuff the articles full of our opinions. That may include (but is not limited to) whether or not the product is even worth looking at, challenging the manufacturers on their specifications, calling a marketing-spec bluff and suggesting ways integrators market their products better. But, one thing is for sure, we are NOT a trade publication that gets paid for running editorial or product stories. Traditional trade publications get paid to run product stories — that’s why you see what you see in most of the pubs out there. We are different: we run what we want to run and NO ONE is going to pay us to write anything good (or bad).
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A little about me: I graduated from Journalism School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (where I am adjunct faculty). I’ve been in the AV-industry since 1987 where I started with Extron and eventually moved to AMX. So, I guess I am an industry veteran (although I don’t think I am that old). I have been an opinionated columnist for a number of industry publications and in the late 1990s I started the widely read KNews eNewsletter (the first in the AV market) and also created the model for and was co-founder of AV Avenue – which is now known as InfoComm IQ. rAVe Publications has been around since 2003, when we launched our original newsletter, rAVe ProAV Edition.
rAVe HomeAV Edition, co-published with CEDIA, launched in February, 2004.
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