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United Visual A/V Insider - April 2005

Table of Contents:
1. An Invitation to Infocomm '05
2. Da-Lite Incorporates Surround Sound Into Projection Screens
3. D-Link Wireless Drivers Embedded in Crestron Products
4. Mitsubishi Announces PocketProjector
5. Samsung Advancing OLED Technology
6. Crestron Introduces Educational System in a Box
7. Akira Announces 42" Plasma With ½" Seamline, 3" Depth
8. Creating Spaces: The Mega Meeting
9. Video Walls: The Big Picture
10. Room to Zoom

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1.  An Invitation to Infocomm

Obtain a Free Pass to InfoComm 05!

Join us as our guest at InfoComm 05, the world’s largest AV and information communications tradeshow! This special invitation provides you with a Free Pass to the InfoComm Exhibition Floor, featuring over 700 exhibitors and 10,000 emerging technologies, including:

  • Audio
  • Display
  • Projection
  • Video
  • Lighting
  • Digital Signage
  • Videoconferencing
  • Streaming Media
  • Control Systems
  • Networked Systems
  • Wireless
  • Security
  • Presentations Software
  • Racks, Cases, Furniture
To obtain your free pass to the Show Floor, simply click HERE to Register and begin your registration process. When asked to provide a code, enter the word FREE, then select United Visual, Inc. and complete your registration selections.  You may also download our InfoComm Brochure with printable registration form.

Act quickly to book your flights and travel arrangements, as fares to Las Vegas will rise the closer it gets to June!

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2. Da-Lite Incorporates Surround Sound Into Projection Screens

Da-Lite introduced a rather logical, very competitive new product for both the commercial and home markets.  The Acoustical Imager is surround sound built right into the fixed frame screen line and provides 5.1 surround sound (upgradeable to 6.1 or 7.1) by integrating the left, center and right channel speakers into the frame.

The audio is from the JBL Surround Sound speaker system, capable of pushing 88 dB through five 100-watt speakers, says the company.  The Acoustical Imager is standard with a ten-inch 150-watt JBL subwoofer.

You can get the Acoustical Imager with video (4:3) or HDTV (16:9) on eight different projection surfaces.  Da-Lite will also craft a custom screen.

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3. D-Link Wireless Drivers Embedded in Crestron Products

D-Link and Crestron announced a partnership in which D-Link's drivers will be embedded in the firmware of Crestron's UPX2 Universal Presentation Solution and Isys i/O touchpanels to communicate seamlessly via 802.11g. Users do not need to download drivers, and hardware does not need to be configured - connection is automatic.

Crestron says that many of the company's dealers use D-Link for wireless communications already, so this helps setup and configuration during installs.

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4. Mitsubishi Announces PocketProjector

The rumor has been around a while, but now the projector is official.  Mitsubishi is showing a prototype of a new product they call PocketProjector - so small it fits in the palm of your hand.

Not all specs are finalized yet - including the amount of lumens and the contrast ratio.  But what we do know is it will weigh around 14 ounces, produce a 20-inch wide image from about a foot away or a 40-inch one from less than a yard, and it's going to carry an MSRP of $699.

As if that weren't cool enough, Mitsubishi plans to offer an optional battery base for $149 as well as what they call Convenience Packs, with application-specific cables, other accessories and small screens designed for both consumer and commercial markets.  The screen is a nice touch.

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5. Samsung Advancing OLED Technology

Samsung announced the company has developed a 21-inch OLED display, the largest OLED TV yet.  The display is specified at 6.22 million pixels, or WUXGA resolution.  Samsung says the specs are 400 nit brightness, 5000:1 contrast ratio

The OLED should be simple for Samsung to produce.  It uses Amorphous Silicon (a-Si) technology, so they can be mass-produced within Samsung's existing TFT-LCD lines.  But, OLED holds the promise that it can be made with higher yields than current LCD technology, it can be made to be flexible - offering designs and shapes to displays - and it can be made at costs that are 50 percent that of plasma in the same size categories.  There is no question that OLED is the next, likely, mass-produced flat-panel display technology and by this time next year, we are promised by Samsung insiders to have a 40" and maybe even a 50" design.

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6. Crestron Introduces Educational System in a Box

Crestron introduced the new UPX2 Universal Presentation Processor, a self-contained package that includes a seamless video switcher, a multi-window processor, a multi-channel video scaler, a line doubler and deinterlacer, a wireless pen-based annotator and a touch screen controller on an embedded PC platform.  The UPX2 provides a single, multi-window display, integrating, and simultaneously displaying, control interfaces for room control and AV equipment, and preview displays for multiple video sources and computer applications.

The UPX2 provides control by both touch panel and wireless pen on a single screen, switching between the two automatically without any external software.  A presenter controls the room devices and AV components, and selects sources with the touch of a finger; then, with the wireless pen, the presenter instantaneously annotates over the live video, still image or graphic display - all from a single GUI.

Cresnet and high-speed Ethernet connectivity are both standard, enabling seamless communication with Crestron control systems, computers, digital media servers and other IP-based devices.  Full system expansion such as adding cameras, CD ROM drives and memory devices is easy via a wide range of ports including PS/2, USB, RS232/422/485, PCMCIA, IEEE 1394 and PC card slots.

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7. Akira Announces 42-Inch Plasma With Half-Inch Seamline, 3-Inch Depth

Akira announced a 42-inch plasma display for single or multiple panels, although its 3-inch depth and half-inch seam make it well-suited for video walls. The PK4201M is specified at 3000:1 contrast ratio and 1000 cd/m2, and includes RS-232C and optional external TCP/IP network control. It has a built-in video wall matrix processor, so the PK42-1M can display separate computers, composite-video, S-video (Y/C), a component-video or HDTV signals.

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8. Creating Spaces: The Mega Meeting

The old way of conducting large meetings seemed to work.  The presenters took the stage and spoke in turn into a microphone.  A Q & A session followed, with people raising their hands, standing to shout out their question, (which only half the attendees hear so the presenter would repeat the question into the microphone). Or when they got a little fancier, some poor schmuck had to dash through the audience carrying the microphone to whomever had the next question.  Or better yet, a microphone was set up in the aisle and audience members awkwardly waited in a queue until they had a turn at the microphone.

Need to take a vote?  Plan on counting hands, several times, to double check the tally.  Need different people to answer different questions?  Prepare to wait while each one makes their way to the stage.  Have attendees who don't understand English?  Sorry!

Many of today's global corporations have far more efficient meetings these days, thanks to some fantastic new digital technology specifically for large meetings.  The new systems help the presenters, meeting participants and non-participatory audience members enjoy a more smoothly-run, professional-level meeting that leaves everyone with a positive impression when it's over.

Here are some of the new technologies designed for large meetings.

Furniture

For organizations that frequently hold large meetings, new boardroom tables can accommodate all participants in any configuration, audience, roundtable or any setup that meets your most common needs.  We can also add a separate galley for those who want to attend but aren't part of the meeting.  In addition, we can build interpreter booths to accommodate non English-speaking attendees.

AV Equipment

Among the seats, there is typically a chairman's station separate from the other stations. We can now build microphones at each seating area so all participants have access to a mic, and the chairman's station might include additional controls, such as "allow mic" or "mute." (We can also place these functions at a control station, so that one person handles mic permissions, and runs the control system for dimming lights, switching AV equipment, etc.)

Each delegate station can include functions such as login, so that attendee lists and seating charts are automatically created (for record-keeping and for letting know who everyone is at just a glance). Other functions might include "request to speak," which would send a queue of attendees who want to speak to whomever is running the show, and logout, for records of when people leave the meetings.

Loudspeakers are strategically placed around the room and each station has a jack for headphones, in case they need to listen to an interpreter.

We can build an AV station for setting up PCs, DVD players, and other audio and video sources, and we can also include network connections at each station if you wish.

Comfort

We also recommend having the exit at the back of the room as well as restrooms and a break room nearby. Audio from the meeting can be piped into these rooms, if they are dedicated and accessible only to the meeting space (many meetings are not for all ears!). This way, a participant who might have flown the red-eye from Paris can grab a cup of coffee and keep up with the presentations.

Not everyone needs this sophisticated of an installation. But if you find your meetings are awkward, disorganized and running less smoothly than you'd like, give us a call. We can help find the right configuration for you.

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9. Video Walls: The Big Picture

An exciting video wall can broaden your business image, improve customer satisfaction or streamline company operations in ways that might be hard to imagine.

Because the term "video wall" is used in many contexts to refer to a variety of hardware installations with an enormous range of applications, this article is intended to serve as a priimer for your appreciation of the technology - in all its simple or complex glory.

Terms of Employment

A "traditional" video wall is an array of TV monitors, displaying pictures across many screens that can be viewed by many people from greater distances.  It can be used as a giant movie screen, or fragmented into a mosaic to display multiple images that convey rhythm, impressions, and information.  Everything can be "re-ordered" in less than a second.

A second type of video wall is referred to as a "tiled display."  These are small, high-resolution walls, meant to be viewed at close range by small groups of people.  They can serve, for example, as a large computer monitor, receiving video from multiple outputs, so that each projector gets a very high-resolution piece of a total image.

Far more complex are data walls, allowing large groups of people to share constantly changing information in mission critical command centers, control rooms, or network operations centers.

Core Concepts

The three main components of any video or data wall system are:

1) A number of displays arranged in a symmetrical, or more creative shape. 2) A wall controller to generate the images. 3) Software to control the display content.

Video walls, whether used to educate or entertain, are described by the number of monitors (or cubes, or screens) it uses.  For example, a 2 (high) x 2(wide) display means that four monitors are involved, two side-by-side with two more placed on top.  The configurations can grow from there.  The total dimension of your wall will obviously depend on the number and size of the screens.  And since video walls can employ any number of display technologies (from plasma or LCD panels to overhead projectors to rear projection cubes), the final product must involve a careful analysis of the purpose, space, audience and budget.

Benefits of video wall technology are, even as the wall increases in size, the resolution and brightness per square foot remains constant.  Many can be operated either on-site or from remote locations.  Depending on your needs, video walls are available in affordable packages that operate on a modest scale yet accept multiple computer and video inputs, as well as sophisticated, custom installations that are highly expandable for future growth and capability.

Scaling the Wall

Determining if a video wall is advantageous to you can, perhaps, best be answered by listing the types of industries in which they're currently used and giving examples of what they achieve.  In a big nutshell, video and data walls are at work in financial centers, military, air control, broadcast studios, retail establishments, corporate headquarters, security companies, utility companies, museums, theme parks, hospitals, churches, nightclubs, and on ships at sea.  For example:

At a major airport in South America, a video wall made of nine, 42" plasma screens updates flight arrivals, displays almanac facts, weather forecasts and current news events.  Sound and music are often included.  In Millennium Park in Chicago, Crown Fountain is a stunning work of public art features a 24' x 49' LED video wall, plus water-spurting glass block towers and a reflecting pool.  The wall, made of 12.5" square LED tiles, displays changing digital images of the city and its residents, synchronized to the water flow and colored lights.

At the headquarters of a large American insurance company, a DLP rear-projection wall affords 200-square-feet of data with 24 cubes (resolution nearly 20 million pixels) supporting the information needs of more than 40,000 employees in 250 locations.  It displays any number of applications running on the company's LAN/WAN, along with broadcast and other video sources.

In the world of retail, video wall systems are available for delivering advertising-as-entertainment, to influence customers' purchase behavior at malls, in-store and at cash points.  As you might expect, versatility is key, offering a composite image over the entire wall, separate images to each cube, or some combination of both.

A major financial cable television network installed a video data display wall to be used as an ever-changing backdrop for live broadcast news reports.  A museum in Australia installed four 120" screens with four direct throw video projectors to create a virtually seamless great video wall, three stories high, where the public can stand above, below and sideways and still see a bright and uniform picture.  And a children's hospital in Georgia uses video walls to create a natural, colorful, quiet environment providing "Land, Sea, Sky, and Space," for kids who can't go outside.

What Can You Do?

Regardless of function, you'll need to evaluate the audience, information and potential "splash" a video wall could make in your professional arena.  You'll want a system that can handle the appropriate amount of information sources, deliver consistency, and will suit the location and number of people you want to reach.

Need a big image? Let us meld your imagination with the latest technology, and recommend a design with the hardware and software, programming and training, that elevates your organization and its message well above the rest.

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10. Room to Zoom

Projector selection generally involves debate and comparison of features like brightness, resolution, LCD versus DLP, weight.  What often is missing from this picture is a discussion of lenses and their importance based on the environment in which they'll be used.  How and where is a zoom function important?  Does your projector allow for interchangeable lenses?  What do you "trade off" in order to enjoy some flexibility of use?

Just as the best optics in the world are pointless if you have a poor light source, neither will the finest Ultra High Efficiency lamp "improve" an image projected by a low-end lens. Learning about lenses can help you make a fully-informed projector selection for your needs, or perhaps just better utilize the capabilities of your current equipment.

Optical Solutions

There are two basic types of lenses, fixed (or prime) and zoom. Fixed lenses are typically used in settings where the projector can remain the same distance from the screen in order to display a specific image size. With a fixed lens, the projector must be moved to change the image size. A zoom lens, whether manual or powered, allows varying amounts of adjustability without moving the unit. Getting acquainted with some basic lens terminology and characteristics will let you evaluate your present - or future - projector options. Some terms and concepts to know include:

  • Throw Ratio: The distance from the screen that a projector needs to be to create a specific image size.  A general rule is one foot of screen for every two feet of distance (Example: For a five-foot wide image, the projector would be 10 feet away)
  • Short Throw Lens: Creates larger images in shorter distances. Commonly used in tight spaces, such as trade show booths, small classrooms or conference rooms
  • Long Throw Lens: Creates clear, viewable images from a greater distance. Good in large venue, fixed installations, such as a church or concert hall
  • Zoom Lens: A feature of some lenses that allows creation of larger or smaller images from the same distance; helpful if projector is used in locations with various sized rooms and screens
  • F-Number: Refers to the aperture or surface area (f2.5, f3.5) through which light passes, determining brightness levels. Lower f-numbers allow more light to come through
Zooming In

Since different manufacturers equip their models with lenses of differing specifications, you can certainly understand why having the right lens for your needs can save hassle and improve your presentation.  Although many of today's projectors - whether a standard, short or long throw - "arrive" with a zoom feature, there is a common misconception that this means the projector can then deliver large minimum and maximum throw ratios.

Not true.

Factory zoom lenses may only allow for small adjustments, expressed in zoom ratios.  For example, a unit with a zoom factor of 1.2:1 only lets you adjust picture size by 20 percent.  While this may permit convenient fine-tuning in a limited number of familiar venues, it may not be sufficient for a projector that's on the move to audiences of wildly different sizes in a range of locations.  Depending on your needs, you may want to seek a higher zoom ratio, such as 1.5:1.  This would mean you could alter your image size up to 50 percent.

But knowing the limits of your zoom isn't enough.  It's also critical to know how much your lens' f-number (aperture size) will change at different settings, since light output from a zoom lens decreases or increases as you reduce or enlarge the image.  This explains why starting out with a low f-number lens is often recommended.  When the f-number changes are minimal as you zoom in and out, the images will likely remain acceptably bright throughout your presentation.

Achieving Clarity

It could be worth your time to re-examine the owner's manual on your present projector to revisit the settings available and find out what you might be missing.  Unless you already know the answers, ask these questions:

- What is the throw ratio on this projector?
- Does it have a zoom, and if so, what is the ratio?
- Is that really enough?
- What is the lens' f-number?
- How much does it change when the zoom is operated?
- Does this model accept an external lens?
- If I add one, do I void the manufacturer's warranty?
- Is the lens glass or plastic? (Plastic is lighter in weight, but glass delivers crisper images)

If you're not sure whether your unit is really suited to its present usage, let us get involved in identifying the product and options that present a logical balance of features, benefits and budget.  We'll focus on making your life easier.

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The A/V Insider is brought to you by:

United Visual, Inc
1050 Spring Lake Drive
Itasca, IL 60143
[email protected]
www.unitedvisual.com

For information on any solution or product presented in the A/V Insider please call 800-985-9375 and ask to speak to your account representative.

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