Spring AV Ahead!
By Greg Bronson, CTS-D
The first part of the old daylight savings adage, Spring Ahead, serves as a reminder we’ll move clocks ahead this time of the year. And it also has dual meaning since Spring is just around the corner. It’s in this spirit that this month’s column title sets up its own dual meaning catch phrase. Leave a Comment
For AV in education, summer is the most active time of year for maintenance and upgrades (not to mention construction). As such, depending on the size of the initiative your organization will be taking on, the planning work needs to spin up in full earnest in early spring. Thankfully for the winter weary, that’s just ahead!
Maintenance projects, being more repetitive by nature, tend to have only a few critical early lead-time planning milestones. First being, identify the full list of equipment to be addressed. Generally this is equipment in all rooms with dedicated gear and less so those that are newly installed or those that are planned for upgrades. Add to that list: heavily used portable equipment. At this point, equipment that will need maintenance parts (projectors, wireless mics, connection cables, etc.) is tallied by make/model to determine supplies (lamps, filters, cables, etc.) needed. Doing this early will help in determination of which fiscal year summer maintenance parts will be purchased during. It can also help with volume pricing.
As the end of the semester draws closer, another planning task is to formulate a schedule for the maintenance work. Any known special events or circumstances, rooms/equipment with tight availability may need to get looked at in advance of summer session. In addition, schedule planning will need to allow for some open “float” blocks through the summer session to address unexpected (typically unreported) equipment failures encountered.
In addition to maintenance initiatives, the upgrade project planning includes finalizing budget allocations. Next, you look at the “known upgrades wish list” and a first cut is made on how many rooms might get addressed – and don’t feel alone if the “wish list” is longer than the budget allocations list! Taking this initial draft list, it’s often wise to make a few inquiries (with the real end users) to make sure needs of final functional requirements will be met. With these criteria established, the design work begins in earnest, overlaying campus and/or national best practices/standards to the upgrades planned.
And what about the second implied meaning of Spring AV Ahead? Well that’s the part of this when you look beyond status quo into what kinds of enhancements might be done at the same time that will improve overall systems performance or capabilities. Of course, doing this at all is also dependent on budget… you did hold back some contingency money didn’t you?
At any rate, the enhancement items may include evaluating new brands or even new technologies that might get folded into upgrades (in addition to the newest construction projects). This might be adding remote management capabilities, or something even more extensive like going to a full digital signal flow. While not a call to be on the bleeding edge per se, you might determine one room/system could be a pilot space to try a new piece of gear and/or tech method.
To be clear, these two meanings of “Spring AV Ahead” are related in not only the catch phrase, but also in implementation — the real synergy is gained when the large seasonal projects get completed with the latest and greatest technologies. If only it was as easy as giving up an hour of weekend free time to get the planning work done!
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 technology 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 email@example.com
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Apple Kills the Interactive Whiteboard With iPad 2
By Matt House
rAVe Guest Columnist
…Or at least wounds it pretty grievously.
Last week Apple introduced the follow up to its uber-successful tablet. The iPad 2 was released with the generally accepted (though no less impressive) table of spec updates: faster dual-core CPU, improved graphics performance, dual cameras, and tweaked system software all wrapped in a thinner and lighter package.
Those improvements are all fine and dandy but the real piece de resistance, from an educator’s point-of-view, is the system-wide HDMI and VGA video mirroring.
In short, anything you can display on an iPad 2 can be funneled to a digital projector or a big screen television via an accessory cable. The first iteration of the iPad could connect to an external source but was severely limited, offering only slideshows and some video out. The iPad 2 will mirror anything on the display, including the library of 65,000 iPad applications.
This new feature is a rather large deal for several reasons. The iPad can now reasonably replace a laptop as a teacher’s primary teaching tool. You still won’t be able to access websites that utilize Adobe’s Flash software. Apple would claim that is a feature as opposed to a liability, though, and I’m inclined to agree.
In addition, the iPad 2 can also do a reasonable impersonation of a video camera, document camera, telephone, and, intriguingly, an interactive whiteboard.
After all, what are the things that make an interactive whiteboard a valuable tool? I would argue that there are two big ones: the ability to project the activity to a large group, and the ability for students to manipulate objects in a more direct manner. The iPad 2, along with a projector or large screen television, now duplicates these key functions at a fraction of the cost.
An iPad 2 and a decent projector will cost in the neighborhood of a thousand bucks. Even the least expensive interactive whiteboards are typically double that amount. Also, the massive, rich library of cheap Apps available for the iPad will make the rather limited custom software for interactive whiteboards look rather anemic by comparison. A student can come to a desk or table and manipulate the iPad 2 while the class watches. A teacher can deliver an App- or website-based lesson while the class watches.
There are some shortcomings on the iPad/projector side of the ledger. The large workspace that an interactive board allows is probably beneficial for some activities. Also, some teachers have simply invested a great deal of time and training in particular styles of interactive board software and will be reluctant to adopt a new way of presenting. Lastly, some school districts have adopted software that requires the use of Adobe’s Flash, and utilizing those tools on an iPad will not be possible anytime soon (if ever).
Those caveats aside, I think it is very clear that the iPad 2 is an important device for classrooms. In the press event announcing the iPad 2, Apple founder Steve Jobs specifically mentioned video mirroring as a feature added to please teachers. A video presentation then focused heavily on the use of iPads on classrooms. It’s clear Apple thinks its new device will be a hit with educators.
I couldn’t agree more.
Matt House is an technology facilitator in Durham, NC. He's been an Apple fanatic since 1984 and educator for 15 years. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org Leave a Comment
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ClearOne Debuts Collaborate
Last week, ClearOne unveiled Collaborate, an all-in-one voice, video, and data collaboration console for organizations using unified communications software or web services to handle voice, video and data communications. Delivering so-called “plug-n-play simplicity in a business solution for video collaboration,” the new ClearOne Collaborate allows small groups in an executive office or conference room to converse and see each other while simultaneously viewing data from applications, websites, or other local or network sources. Leave a Comment
Collaborate basically looks like a 46” LCD TV with a camera mounted inside it. It features an integrated ClearOne HDConference audio conferencing system, an HD USB video camera, and a built-in quad core PC with Windows pre-installed.
The Collaborate solution includes a ClearOne Soundbar speaker, which mounts to the bottom edge of the video screen; a ClearOne microphone pod; and a wireless keyboard and mouse. Additional microphone pods can be added so that larger groups can participate in conferences.
You can read all the specs here: http://www.clearone.com/data_collaboration_console.html
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Vaddio's Squiggle Video Makes Regular Whiteboards Interactive
Vaddio just launched a cool new product called Squiggle Video, that’s basically a whiteboard kit that’s capable of being installed alongside almost any existing whiteboard and turning it into an interactive one. The Squiggle converts whiteboard notes into and an HD or SD video signal and, because no dedicated PC is required, the video signal can then be connected to any videoconferencing, telepresence, distance education or video media distribution system. In addition to HD/SD outputs, data can be captured and stored as a JPEG image onto any USB flash drive. Leave a Comment
The portable EZTub, with Digital Control Panel, attaches to the wall on the left side of the whiteboard. Based on the same concept as the Vaddio Video Whiteboard system, the Squiggle uses the same technology to run power and USB data over a single Cat5 cable up to 100 feet (30.5m) from the whiteboard to the Video Whiteboard Quick-Connect Interface. The Quick-Connect is located at the head-end for plugging into your video device. Outputs include high definition DVI-D or HDMI (HDMI with cable adapter) digital video and high definition YPbPr analog component video at resolutions of 720p/59.94Hz and 720p/50Hz, or standard definition video at 480i/NTSC and 576i/PAL.
You’ve gotta check this out — it’s very creative and simple to use. Click here: http://www.vaddio.com/product-detail.php?p=370
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Hitachi's "Ultimate" Interactive LCD Projector
Hitachi’s Digital Media Group recently launched the iPJ-AW250NM, which integrates Hitachi Starboard software to deliver an interactive experience (aka interactive whiteboard) on any flat surface. The network-ready, 2500 ANSI lumen, WXGA (1280×800) iPJ-AW250NM LCD projector incorporates a built-in sensor that uses infrared and ultrasonic waves together with Hitachi Starboard software (which can be bundled in, or replaced with a customer’s own interactive package). Once the iPJ-AW250NM is installed on the network, Hitachi projector management software manages multi-unit installations and also provides usage reports to ease occasional maintenance scheduling. Leave a Comment
The iPJ-AW250NM will ship next month and you can see all the specs here: http://www.hitachidigitalmedia.com/product.do?actionName=showProductAction&pt=6&pg=86&proid=746&language=en&country=UK
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Epson Launches Two Projectors Aimed at ED Market
Epson announced two so-called ultra-bright projectors in the form of the PowerLite 905 and 915W – with the most interesting new feature being a 16-watt speaker and microphone input for teachers to use to help raise their voice in classrooms.It’s an interesting concept, although if you really want a true voice-lift system, companies like Extron and Dukane do this the right way. Leave a Comment
The XGA (1024×768) PowerLite 905 ($999) is specified at 3000 lumens, while the PowerLite 915W ($1,099) is specified at 3200 lumens and is WXGA (1280×800) resolution. We’d recommend the WXGA version as putting in a 4:3 aspect ratio projector when most things are 16:9 is not future proofing.
To see all the specs and details, click here: http://www.epson.com/cgi-bin/Store/jsp/BrighterFutures/Home.do
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NEC Intros Commercial LED-Backlit Displays
NEC introduced its brand new 46” and 55” LED-backlit 24/7 commercial displays, one of the first truly commercial displays with LED-backlighting (as opposed to consumer-grade displays). NEC told us that the displays are shipping in about a month and a half. Leave a Comment
Not much other information is available at this time since these are brand new, but you can see a video we shot of the display at ISE 2011 by clicking here: http://www.ravepubs.com/rave2011/index.php?option=com_ravevideo&ravevideo_id=3514&view=ravevideo&Itemid=304
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Extron Announces HDCP-Compliant HDMI Fiber Optic Extender
Extron announced its new FOXBOX HDMI, a fiber optic transmitter and receiver set for long-run transmission of HDCP compliant HDMI video, audio, and RS-232 over fiber optic cabling. The device delivers images up to WUXGA (1920×1200) or HDTV 1080p/60. Available in multi-mode or single-mode models, the FOXBOX HDMI includes Key Minder, EDID Minder, Auto Input Memory, RS-232 control from multiple locations, internal test patterns, and real-time monitoring. EDID Minder manages EDID communication while Key Minder supports continuous authentication of HDCP compliance. The box is low profile for installation behind a flat panel display. The extender is also compatible with FOX Series VGA and DVI extenders when transmitting non-HDCP content.
To see the video we shot of the FOXBOX HDMI at ISE 2011, click here: http://www.ravepubs.com/rave2011/index.php?option=com_ravevideo&ravevideo_id=3593&view=ravevideo
For more information, go to: http://www.extron.com/company/article.aspx?id=foxhdmiad&s=0 Leave a Comment
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InfoComm Opens Registration for 2011 Show
InfoComm 2011, to be held June 15-17, 2011, at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., is now open for registration. With more than 950 exhibitors, InfoComm 2011 will be visited by more than 32,000 ProAV professionals, technology managers, CIOs and procurement personnel from 90 countries. More than 300 education sessions will offer the essential training that AV professionals rely on to stay current with a constantly changing industry. Leave a Comment
To register for the 2011 show, go to: http://www.infocommshow.org/
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rAVe Shoots Over 230 Videos at Digital Signage Expo
We just returned from the Digital Signage industry’s premier trade show and not only did we Tweet out about everything we saw at the show, but we shot over 230 videos on new digital signage products and technology. Thanks to our sponsors NEC Display, ALMO Pro A/V and CQ Media, rAVe NOW covered every corner of the DSE 201 expo in Las Vegas last week. To simplify your ability to track all the new gear, as well as to guide you in an experience that’s the next-best thing to being at the show yourself, we’ve put everything online in a custom DSE show portal website that includes all the Tweets, blogs and videos we shot in one place. Leave a Comment
To see the DSE rAVe NOW portal, go here: http://www.ravenowdse.com/
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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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