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Back to School Special
By Greg Bronson, CTS-D
A universal experience we all share is the one of impending change, in anticipation of the transition from summer “vacation” to fall, and “back to school.” One need not be a student, parent or teacher to be impacted by this annual ritual. But in a maddening sort of way, the timeframe and/or content of “specials” promoted to recognize the event seem, increasingly, to have an inverse relationship to actually re-engaging in academics. Nonetheless, the transition is a significant one for many, and perhaps all the nagging really does help the masses be prepared for impending activity change.
OK, I can concede that a line can be drawn between a “back to school” automotive tune-up special, and the preparations to send a college student off to school far away. But while an enterprising auto shop manager may say “why not?” — I’m more inclined to pass on the hype and just look at the value the “special” represents (i.e., the fine print). But in the end, it could be argued that while I don’t have a college age dependent myself, the marketing ploy did remind me to be prepared for another rotten winter in the northeast (even if I end up doing the maintenance myself).
But, it seems curious we don’t really see “back to school” AV Integrator specials offered. Certainly optimizing classroom AV is more directly associated with back to school than rotating tires. Of course any of this is just giving a fun advertising spin to what most seasoned AV Club member’s spend their entire time doing anyway.
So just for fun (which is, after all, one of the AV Club tenants), let’s play out the metaphor. What kinds of things should we all be thinking of when we send our kids (AV systems, that is) back to school, whether we, as Technology Managers, address them in house or look to vendors who offer targeted services for the education vertical market?
School Supplies: After freshening the consumables in each space, the back room inventory of lamps and batteries need to be rotated and filled in. Being cost-conscious and environment-aware, consider rebuilt lamps (from a trusted supplier of genuine lamps), and rechargeable ones. And dare not start the first day without the “crash kit” being updated — with signal generators, assorted cables, adapters, and the like.
Annual Physicals: Preventative maintenance checks on installed systems serve to contain small issues before they blow up into big problems. And just as important, a well visit helps to keep you familiarized with technical support for the normal variance of nuances each space and system possesses. For more on the topic, see the April 2009 AV Club article on AV assessment titled What’s Old is New Again.
New Clothes: Even in these lean times, room renovations, or at a minimum, updated AV components are requisite support activity. It helps if the upgrades are aesthetically appealing but more importantly, they need to perform as required. This means function over form via bullet proof specs that meet the performance criteria and minimal flashing lights or fancy logo etchings.
Summer Camp: When systems are in heavy use during the school year the opportunities for problems are many. While a seasonal break with the trial-by-fire mode of operation is appealing, it is also important to use some of this lower pressure time frame for training. This takes the form of basics for (real) end users and specific technical skills for support staff
All in all, with Murphy’s Law applied, the size and complexity of a typical campus’s AV system makes it ripe with potential problems once school starts up again. These problems can lead to lost productivity in the classroom (or conference room). While the items cited here do require resources to address, conventional wisdom says being proactive can lead to less interrupted uses and/or frustrated users.
Now, wouldn’t that be special?
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
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Do You Want to Teach?
Teaching to your industry peers is the ultimate high. It’s a great opportunity to help grow the industry through better-educated AV techs, sales people, systems designers and installers. Great instruction is one of the hallmarks of InfoComm seminars and workshops. InfoComm's Call for Presenters for InfoComm 2010 (June 5-11, Education, June 9-11, Exhibition) will end September 18, and they need great industry experts like you to share your knowledge.
To submit a class you’d like to teach, go to: http://www.infocomm.org/cps/rde/xchg/infocomm/hs.xsl/11524.htm
Yes, please do consider contributing your expertise, folks. Or, if not yourself, encourage a peer to do so (don’t assume they know of the opportunity).
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InFocus Launches New Wireless Projection Format
Last month, InFocus Corporation unveiled its new wireless technology to be embedded into some future projectors. Partnering with a company called Wisair, a company known for single-chip wireless USB solutions, the InFocus DisplayLink Wireless system allows for wireless projection (from laptop to projector) with all DisplayLink-enabled projectors and includes both data and video – wirelessly.
With what InFocus calls “little initial set-up required” the DisplayLink Wireless system uses the computer’s USB port – you connect a DisplayLink USB adapter (from InFocus) and instantly connect with an InFocus projector from distances of up to 30 feet.
To see a list of DisplayLink InFocus projectors, go to: http://www.infocus.com/Brilliant/DisplayLink.aspx?
To read more about Wisair, go to: http://www.wisair.com/
This seems to be targeted to traveling presenters that want/need to be self contained. Presumably, as with most wireless, “actual mileage (performance) may vary…” –GB
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Hitachi Launches New 3000 Lumen 3LCD Projector
In a bid to enter the high-end classroom market, Hitachi launched a new $3400 CP-X301ON – a native XGA resolution (1024×768) LCD projector that the company says outputs 3000 ANSI lumens with a 2000:1 contrast ratio. Weighing in at 9 pounds, the 3000-hour lamp uses a hybrid filter, and Hitachi has integrated it with Ethernet control.
To learn more, go to: http://www.hitachi-homeelectronics.us/digitalmedia/lcd_projectors/guide/lineup/details/cp-x3010n.html
And I noticed another spec that may well come in handy for certain applications: audio pass through that allows audio to play while the projector is in standby.
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Extron Ships TouchLink
Extron Electronics has announced the immediate availability of the first two Extron TouchLink touchpanel models — the TLP 700MV 7" Wall Mount Touchpanel and TLP 700TV 7" Tabletop Touchpanel. The IPL 250, a new control processor designed for use in TouchLink systems, is also now shipping. TouchLink is the first fully configuration-based control system with the power to handle the control needs of single display rooms, dual display rooms, divisible rooms, multi-image systems, and videoconferencing suites.
"Building on the success of our MediaLink line of configurable controllers, Extron's introduction of TouchLink takes A/V system control to the next level," says Casey Hall, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Extron.
In addition to the new touchpanels and control processor, Global Configurator 3.0 and GUI Configurator software are now available for immediate download by registered users of the Extron.com Web site. These two free software applications enable the design and configuration of TouchLink systems. Anyone familiar with configuring MediaLink or IP Link Systems using Extron Global Configurator software will be comfortable deploying a TouchLink system.
For more information on TouchLink, go to: http://www.extron.com/product/prodtype35.aspx
Sometimes the flexibility of a touch panel is needed over the simplicity of a button panel. This looks to be a sensible alternative to the already large button panel selection.
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Extron Annotator Now Shipping
Extron Electronics’ previously announced Annotator, a high-performance, hardware-based annotation processor for video and computer-video sources, is now shipping. It features an intuitive graphical user interface that allows the presenter to draw, point, or add text to electronic presentation materials using a touch screen and/or a keyboard and mouse. An integrated, seven input multi-format presentation switcher supports all common analog and digital A/V signal types. Three standard outputs are provided, including RGB, VGA, and Extron MTP – Mini Twisted Pair, with high performance scaling up to 1920×1200 and HDTV 1080p. For ease of integration, a configurable fourth output is provided for use with optional DVI, HD-SDI, or scan converter output boards. The Annotator is meant for use in any A/V presentation application that requires the overlay of graphic and text elements for emphasis.
For enhanced integration flexibility, the outputs of the Annotator can be configured as Preview and Program outputs, so that the presenter has full access to the annotation GUI on a local preview monitor, while at the same time the audience sees just the annotated presentation.
The Annotator can be used with popular touch screen displays. Two USB ports are provided to support multiple touch screens simultaneously. Up to 20 additional devices can be connected via USB hubs.
For more information, go to http://www.extron.com/product/product.aspx?id=annotator&s=2
Lots of interesting features packed into this product. While not yet had a chance to give it a closer look, the wheels have certainly started turning on possible applications!
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Premier Mounts Shows Automated Projector Lift
Last week, Premier Mounts’ announced two new motorized projector mounts (the PWR-MDP1 and PWR-MDP3) that they say will enable homeowners and businesses to hide projectors out of sight and make them appear at the touch of a button. Part of Premier Mounts’ Power Series, the projector mount is being promoted as a way to provide integrators with a simple system that meets their client’s needs.
The Motorized Projector Mounts include integrated universal mounting points and are available in two sizes to accommodate projectors up to 110 pounds. Additional features such as remote-controlled operation drops the projector up to 28 inches from the ceiling and allows the installer to achieve the perfect viewing height.
To read about them now, go to: http://www.premiermounts.com/product.asp?PartId=1790
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Wanna Splurge? Leon Speakers Debuts a 1.5-inch Deep Soundbar at CEDIA
You know all those TVs across campus in the dorm great rooms, cafeterias and other public spaces? We can all hear them, but we can never totally understand the audio coming from them. Why? Well, the 2-watt speakers built-in to TVs is one reason, and the other is ambient noise. Well, Leon Speakers, last week, announced that it has extended its Horizon Series with the addition of the new Horizon 212 Ultra-Thin Soundbar. At only 1.5 inches deep, the Horizon 212-UT is, according to Leon, the only high-fidelity soundbar available that matches the extremely shallow depth of the increasingly popular ultra-thin LCD displays – it’s definitely the shallowest soundbar rAVe has ever seen.
At only 3.25 inches tall, the Leon Horizon 212-UT can be custom-built to the exact width and finish of any slim TV, and is a unique alternative to the soundbar after-thought-ish stuff put out by companies like Sony for systems integrators and interior designers alike. It combines left, center, and right channels in one ultra-thin cabinet, and has been engineered to mount directly to any TV on a fixed, tilt, or articulating mounting bracket.
They aren’t cheap, but they will turn a TV into a theater-like experience that for primetime TV watching and Saturday football games, the students will love! You can order it in center-only, LRC and LR configurations ranging in price from $1295 to $1695. Go see it at: http://www.leonspeakers.com/hz212.html
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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 Sara Abrons at email@example.com
A little about Gary Kayye, CTS, founder of rAVe and Kayye Consulting. Gary Kayye, an audiovisual veteran and columnist, began the widely-read KNews, a premier industry newsletter, in the late 1990s, and created the model for and was co-founder of AV Avenue – which later became InfoComm IQ. Kayye Consulting is a company that is committed to furthering the interests and success of dealers, manufacturers, and other companies within the professional audiovisual industry.
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