Is the Extron IN1608 the Perfect Classroom Box?

in1608_60-1238-0613Without much fan fare, Extron just started shipping a product that may well be the best classroom system switcher ever. Yes, ever. Before you think this is a paid-for plug, read on (since it’s not):

The IN1608 is an eight-input (plenty for ANY classroom application) HDCP-compliant switcher that includes:

  • Four HDMI inputs
  • Two DTP inputs (thus, any signal as Extron DTP system sends HDMI or DVI signals as well as audio via Cat5x cable)
  • Two VGA ports (that also handle component video, RGB and even video and s-video)
  • Eight line audio inputs (balanced or unbalanced)
  • Two mic inputs (with phantom power)

And, all of this can be processed natively (resolution-wise) or scaled to output to the exact resolution of the connected projector (up to WUXGA — 1920×1200).

Seriously, this is the perfect classroom system.

If you’re in education, sell to education or design systems for educational facilities, do your own evaluation — this box eliminates at least three products in EVERY classroom on the UNC Chapel Hill campus (and we have well over 200 connected classrooms) and in most rooms, eliminates four or five.

Let’s start with the stupid/mundane first: mics. Not every classroom needs a mic, but for the ones that do, you won’t have to put in a separate system to handle it — the IN1608 handles two separate mics simultaneously. Think you don’t need mics in most rooms? Well think again, as the ADA is working on requiring them in every classroom, and for voice-lift applications in K-12, they’re essential. And, by the way, the mic inputs include ducking and 48-volt phantom power.

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Next, on to the video inputs — I only count three classrooms all across the UNC campus that have more than eight inputs. And, two of the three have two document cameras in the rooms — and one is barely even used so I haven’t a clue why there are two. In any case, the IN1608 could replace the 500+ boxes on campus as it combines an audio processor (with mixing, ducking and tone adjustments ), video switching and since it has three outputs, it eliminates the need for VGA splitters for confidence monitors.

Finally, the scaling — the best feature Extron seems to have thrown in is the scaling. It can process both the analog and the digital video signals and convert and scale them out to a frequency that exactly matches the connected projector or monitor. And, remember, there are three outputs — so you can also have a monitor on the podium too.

Oh, did I not mention the audio outputs? Well, this is where the IN1608 outshines ANY other switcher/scaler on the market. In addition to having two 50-watt, 4-ohm outputs (or two 25-watt @ 8 ohms), the IN1608 also has one 100-watt output at 70-volts — so, yes, that means it can drive a 70-volt distributed audio system!

Agree? Don’t agree? Let me know…