First up, regrettably, I didn't make InfoComm this year. So considering this disqualifies me from commenting on the "latest and greatest" in Pro AV, I'm going to side step by writing about a consumer AV product that's caught my fancy recently. Don't read into this too far as some implied suggestion that consumer and Pro AV are (or should be) one and the same; they're not (and aren't likely to be). Anyway, on to the coolest thing I didn't see at InfoComm (or, perhaps, the coolest thing you didn't see at InfoComm)!
A fond memory, as a kid, was the occasional family movie night. Sometimes this meant gathering around the tube, and watching the network re-broadcast of a classic. Occasionally we ventured way back into the musty hall closet to drag out stacks of 35mm slides or 8mm movies. On very rare occasions family movie night actually consisted of piling the kids into the car and driving to the movie theater. Almost all these experiences included a level of "techie" fiddling (or observation); feeding my developing fascination with AV.
So what does this have to do with the coolest AV thing I've seen recently? Well, that'd be the PS3 (Sony PlayStation III), we bought as a family gift at Christmas time. Not being a gamer, the blitz of advertising for latest generation of Xboxes, Nitendo Wii's and PS3s has just been continuous white noise. Somewhat to my surprise, an exploration into which high definition DVD format I wanted/needed to purchase for home (occurring prior to the HD DVD implosion) led to a closer look at the next gen gaming systems. Discovering that, via the PS3, I could get a Blu-ray player and game system for only a hundred or so more bucks than a stand alone player fueled my interest. However, the bonus of getting a media server (which I had previously considered stand alone products) to store and view the amassing collection of family digital photos and MPEG movies put me over the top for getting a PS3.
In hind sight, it now makes perfect technical sense that the clever folks at Sony used some of the souped up hardware performance next gen games require to add very useable features to the functionality (like faster Blu-ray disk loading or MPEG movie file viewer thumbnails that are actually playing as you scroll through the file list). Considering my 720p Sharp Aquos only has one HDMI input, and no analog 15pin XGA, this nifty device provides a very convenient single high quality source/connection to get the multifunction I wanted. So … Friday nights at my place, we're likely to be reliving last year's cross country trip via MPEG videos, watching a Netflix on Blu-ray, or family bonding our way through Motorstorm virtual off-road racing chaos. No musty closet odor to deal with, but still plenty of techie fiddling.
Performance of such consumer grade products is impressive. This is not to say that I foresee just taking one of these boxes and dropping it in/on a large screen for a classroom and calling it good. However, such products do continue to move the boundary of user expectations, in terms of rich feature sets, user-friendly interfaces, and high quality audio and video. Expectations of a standard ProAV system have been, and continue to be, on par with advanced consumer grade products. Advanced ProAV systems need to continue to deliver an even higher level experience.
So, whether you justify it as personal enjoyment, professional edification or perhaps both, I'd highly recommend checking these next generation systems out in earnest. You may just find some insight on drivers of user expectations and improve your hand/eye coordination to boot!
The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of the authors' employer(s), past or present.
Greg Bronson, CTS-D, applies AV technologies in the development of innovative learning spaces for higher education. Greg spent the first 10 years of his career as AV technician and service manager, with the past 12 years as an AV system designer and project manager. Bronson currently works for Cornell University and has also worked for two SUNY (State University of New York) campuses as well as a regional secondary education service depot. Bronson is the originator of concept for InfoComm's Dashboard for Controls and has had completed projects featured in industry publications. You can reach Greg at firstname.lastname@example.org
SANYO not only announced a new projector, but the company did so while announcing the new 4LCD optical engine. The technology is giving the new LP-XP200L a spec of 7000 lumens and 2200:1 contrast ratio. The 4LCD is explained as adding a Color Control Device to conventional 3LCD (red, green, blue) that automatically controls the amount of yellow light in the image, thereby producing a brighter image, says the company.
Other specs include 1024 x 768 resolution with 4:3 aspect ratio (bummer, we hope their next ones give us widescreen like everyone else is providing these days).
Plans are to ship to the Japanese market in September, and SANYO says more 4LCD projectors are on the way.
This projector uses SANYO's Active Maintenance Filter (AMF) single filter cartridge that SANYO says contains ten lengths of filtering material plus an airflow sensor to detect when airflow is obstructed by dust. The AMF system automatically advances a clean section of filter when needed. When the last section of filter material becomes obstructed an on-screen graphic appears telling the user to change the cartridge. And each filter lasts approximately 10,000 hours with a cartridge lifecycle of about 2 years.
This projector can be connected to the network wired or wirelessly using the SANYO PJ-NET ORGANIZER. It has motor-driven vertical and horizontal lens shift, and a special mechanical shutter is also placed behind the lens and activated by the remote control, allowing the presenter to close the lens and temporarily darken the screen.
For more information, go to http://www.sanyo.com/news/2008/06/18-1en.html
I like the idea that there is continued R&D going on with LCD. I've favored LCD for a while. So, I'd love to see in an A/B comparison against 3 LCD and then ponder the cost/benefit.
Extron Electronics announced at InfoComm more than 20 new products for integrating DVI and HDMI sources and displays, including DVI and HDMI matrix switcher boards for the SMX System MultiMatrix, and the first products from Extron for dual link DVI applications including an Extender and an Equalizer. Extron also introduced two Fiber Optic Extenders for long distance DVI transmission, four DVI distribution amplifiers, and two scalers for converting analog RGB signals to DVI and HDMI. The day Extron ships this line, they will likely be the industry's largest manufacturer of powered HDMI and DVI products — a huge emerging market!
Extron has four new DVI DAs with up to eight outputs, and the SMX DVI Pro Series and SMX HDMI Series matrix switcher boards for the SMX System MultiMatrix Modular Multi-Plane Matrix Switchers. The boards are available in 4×4, 4×8, 8×4, and 8×8 sizes, and are HDCP compliant.
For dual link DVI applications, Extron offers the DVI DL 101, a dual link DVI equalizer that attaches to the end of a long DVI cable run, and automatically provides the necessary active equalization to ensure optimal image quality. The DVI DL 201 is a transmitter and receiver set for sending dual link DVI signals over three economical and integration-friendly CAT 5-type cables. Both products extend DVI signals significantly beyond the 5 meter (15 foot) limitation for DVI cables.
For long-haul transmission, Extron says the company offers the DVI 104 as an effective, economical solution for extending DVI signals up to 500 meters (1,640 feet) over four fiber optic cables, while the FOXBOX 4G DVI fiber optic transmitter and receiver set sends DVI, audio, and RS-232 signals over a single fiber up to 30 km (18.75 miles). Finally, the RGB-DVI 300 and RGB-HDMI 300 are scalers that convert incoming analog component video or RGB signals to DVI and HDMI, respectively, with selectable output rates up to 1920×1200, including HDTV 1080p/60.
For more information, go to http://www.extron.com/company/article.aspx?id=dvi_hdmi_prodline_pr
No doubt a fully digital AV transport (method of sending signals between devices in a system) is in all of our futures. However, in the short term, a little thing called HDCP (digital copy protection) is causing a good bit of angst. If you look at the more detailed specs at the link above, you'll see these are HDCP compliant — a good thing! Buyers, make sure to cross your "t's and dot your "I's if you want to spell DIGITAL transport now.
Sharp's New TL Series of LCD Monitors — Best Ever?
Sharp's new TL LCD monitors, which debuted at InfoComm, are no doubt considered some of the best on the market but, we'll go even further to say that without any hesitation, the best LCDs we've ever seen! This is a line of 1920 x 1080, two-megapixel HD monitors that includes 52- and 46-inch models with 2000:1 and 1500:1 contrast ratio, respectively. Target markets include teleconferencing, CAD/simulation, digital signage, corporate, educational, training, hospitality, sports arenas, entertainment and house-of-worship, says the company.
The TL series features a new thin, lightweight cabinet design for easy installation as well as RJ-45 LAN control. It is also designed with fanless cooling.
BUT, they NEED small sizes!!!!! Sharp, BUILD a 37" version! Come on!
MSRPs are $4,995 for the 52-inch TL-M5200 and $3,995 for the 46-inch TL-M4600.
For more information, go to http://www.sharpusa.com/products/FunctionPressReleaseSingle/0,1080,769-8,00.html
From my Sharp LCD at home, to the ones I've seen in ProAV systems, I like the features, performance and price. These look to continue to deliver.
Hitachi Brings Short-Lens Projector to InfoComm
While it's not a new projector, the new short-lens CP-A100/ED-A100/ED-A110 from Hitachi was new to InfoComm and it was pretty cool, with a great aesthetic form factor and the ability to project a 60-inch image from about 16 inches away. Once a market completely dominated for years by NEC, Hitachi has the best short throw follow-up to NEC's line we've seen so far.
This is specified at 2500 lumens, 400:1 contrast ratio, XGA resolution and it is networkable. It uses LCD technology.
You can get a 360-degree view here: http://www.hitachidigitalmedia.com/products/cpa100/360.html
With a considerable built infrastructure around typical (longer) throw distances, I’m not sure there is as much of a demand in Higher Education for such a short-throw projector. But there is absolutely a market for it in K-12 where space is at a premium and just about every classroom is a retrofit application.
Epson Demos 3LCD WXGA Projector at InfoComm
Epson's PowerLite Pro G5200WNL Projector is one of those presentation projectors that looks like it was designed with a wish list — widescreen 16:10 aspect ratio, 4200 lumens, WXGA resolution and networkability, and a price tag of around $3,400.
This is a 3LCD design specified at 800:1 contrast ratio with horizontal and vertical lens shift, instant off and on and 30 degree tilt. It also has closed captioning, an increasingly popular trend and a good trend, too!
This was the best small/install projector we saw at the show. We were thoroughly impressed by this projector. It's not the level of a Christie or DPI for staging ort big installs, but it squarely hits 70% of the install market.
For more information, go to http://www.epson.com/cgi-bin/Store/consumer/consDetail.jsp?BV_UseBVCookie=yes&oid=63075424
Yes, yes and yes to the listed specs … now I need to see one (ouch; didn't make InfoComm this year)!
Just after Canon announced the company will produce its own LCoS technology (as well as continuing to source from JVC), Canon not only brought the new LCoS production to InfoComm, they already put it into a projector.
At a press conference at InfoComm, Canon showed the new REALiS WUX10. They announced the usual "better than DLP because" and "better than LCD because" and the image did look nice, but for some reason they chose to project the image on a relatively small screen. But, Canon officials tell rAVe it can project up to 300 inches.
This is specified at 1920 x 1200 resolution supporting 1080 and 16:10 with 1000:1 contrast ratio. It weighs 10.8 pounds.
Canon says they will ship in October with MSRP of $12,999.
For more information, go to http://www.usa.canon.com/templatedata/pressrelease/20080603_realis.html
Wide screen is a good thing! I'd like to know the brightness on this and if this unit has optional lenses to support various throw distances.
Casio Launches New Super Slim Pro-Series Projectors
Casio, which always brings some cool super slim projectors to InfoComm, did so again with four new Super Slim projectors. These are DLP models.
Casio says the XJ-SC210 and XJ-SC215 are designed for color accuracy and are specified at 2500 lumens. These two models provide 10 percent expansion of the chromaticity region.
The XJ-S57 and XJ-S52, on the other hand, deliver more brightness, specified at 3000 ANSI lumens.
Some models include a 2X power zoom lens, a RS-232 port and a USB port for PC-free presenting.
You can't tell from the picture, but these are seriously small, weighing under 4 pounds and measuring 11 x 8 x 1.5ish.
Planned pricing will start from $1,299 – $1,599 MSRP.
For more information, go to http://www.casio.com/news/content/E8B0B888-6BB8-4C2D-9D04-46921B69747B/
Looks to have most (all?) of what the traveling presenter is looking for in projector features, however, guess I've missed Casio at past InfoComms and haven't seen these units myself..
Well, that's it for this edition of rAVe! Thank you for spending time with us as we muse the industry's happenings. To continue getting my newsletter, or to sign up a friend, click the link below. To send feedback, don't reply to this newsletter – instead, write to Contributing Editor Greg Bronson at email@example.com, Publisher Gary Kayye at firstname.lastname@example.org or Editor-in-Chief Denise Harrison at email@example.com
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