3. Sharp Introduces Corporate/Education DLP Projector
Sharp has a new XGA-resolution DLP projector designed for corporate and education users. The XG-MB50X is specified at 2000 ANSI lumens, 1024 x 768 resolution and 2000:1 contrast ratio.
It also includes theft prevention with an optional security cable kit as well as "key code activation" designed to prevent unauthorized operation.
4. NEC's New DLP Projectors Designed for Easier Setup and Use
This announcement may seem insignificant, but it isn't. As projectors seem more and more identical as time marches on, features like these end up selling and allowing one manufacturer to stand out from another. It's marketing.
NEC has two new DLP projectors the company says are fully automatic. That is, they offer auto focus, auto keystone correction, automatic image optimization and automatic startup and shutdown.
The LT30 and LT35 use a distance sensor on the front of the projectors for automatic focus, says NEC, and the automatic keystone senses steep angles. NEC's AutoSense technology syncs the projector with computer signals and uses one-touch image optimization for improved clarity and detail. They also have built-in wall color correction for projecting on different color surfaces.
5. Sony Introduces Updated LCDs, Plasmas Aimed at ProAV Market
Sony is offering new flat-panel displays for commercial use, including two LCD and one plasma model.
The FWD-32LX1R and FWD-40LX1 LCD panels are 32 and 40 inches and are specified at 1000:1 contrast ratio. Both models also incorporate S-LCD panels for improved black level reproduction. They can be controlled remotely with Sony's current BKM-FW32 Network Management Card or the recently introduced BKM-FW50 Network Media Card via Ethernet. Both cards fit into Sony's FWD series and the BKM-FW50 includes a CompactFlash memory slot. The BKM-FW50 networking card also has the ability to remotely control multiple displays, as well as transmit movies or still images.
The FWD-50PX2 is a 50-inch plasma display specified at 10,000:1 contrast ratio and, says Sony, will provide more than 60,000 hours of life. The display has both DVI-HDCP and dual option slots, has PIP, and video wall and optional network connectivity. It also has a built-in digital amplifier and optional speakers.
The LCD models come in bezel or flat designs in pearl white, crystal silver and frosted black. The FWD50PX2 plasma has a new flat finish available in silver or black.
6. AMX, Extron Develop Enterprise Equipment Management System
AMX and Extron announced the companies jointly developed a central control and management system for equipment used in enterprises, such as educational institutions, government entities and corporations. The system uses the RMS IP Link Interface from AMX to allow AMX's Resource Management Suite software to communicate with rooms using Extron's IP Link.
The Extron IP Link lets the user access and monitor AV equipment using a browser, and the AMX RMS software automates day-to-day duties involved with device management, such as security alerting. Basically, enterprises that currently use both systems can now get the benefits of central management using the right equipment. That would be: RMS IP Link Interface module; NI Series controller with Duet firmware v3.21; RMS software (MeetingManager, ClassroomManager or AssetManager); IP Link Controller with supporting firmware and Global Configurator 2 version 220.127.116.11.
7. Da-Lite Unveils Mobile Plasma Stand
This is a great design and should be a hit. The new Mobile Plasma Stand from Da-Lite fits universally with most flat panel monitors and offers a rail mounting system for easier installation and better security with a key operated lock. The five-inch casters are designed to help maintain stability even over uneven surfaces. It also comes with an accessory shelf for stacking multiple components.
The Mobile Plasma Stand is available in 60", 72" and 84" heights and standard with a black powder coat finish.
8. ClearOne Introduces Converge Audio Conferencing
ClearOne Communications has a new audio conferencing system positioned between the company's RAV and XAP product lines. The Converge 560 and 590 audio conferencing systems are especially designed to allow system integrators to add value to a customer solution - the integrator can connect up to nine microphones of their choice (wireless, tabletop, button and podium) using the Converge microphone distribution boxes.
The Converge systems are mid-range systems and still include the company's full duplex audio, distributed echo cancellation, natural-sounding dynamic noise cancellation, automatic level control, advanced automatic microphone gating management and ClearOne's ClearEffect for providing what ClearOne calls richer sound.
The distribution boxes convert analog microphone signals to digital data for transport on a single Cat5e cable back to the audio mixer (reducing on-site wiring and installation time) and users can connect the mics to the distribution boxes at the table, then run the Cat5 cable connection from the table to the equipment rack.
The Converge includes a dedicated controller available in both wired and wireless versions. The difference between the two models is that the Converge 560 includes two microphone distribution boxes with three XLR connectors per box, the audio mixer, and a wired or wireless controller. Converge 590 comes with the same but adds a third distribution box.
9. ProMounts Announces Articulating Mount for LCD Screens
ProMounts has a small size articulating mount designed for LCD screens 24" or smaller weighing 30 pounds or less. It has a polished chrome finish and provides full wire management along with full flat, tilt, pivot and landscape/portrait adjustability with a single touch.
The mount is designed for both commercial use, such as the office, manufacturing facilities, medical suites, and consumer, such as kitchens, bathrooms, and dorm rooms.
10. SMART Launches New Generation of Interactive Whiteboards
SMART Technologies is offering an entirely new series of interactive whiteboards, the new series 600, which replaces former lines with larger sizes and wish list features, but at the same prices as the series 500 line.
The new screen sizes are larger than before -- 77" (195.6 cm), 64" (162.6 cm) and 48" (121.9 cm). The tray below the screen now has a help button which, when pushed, offers help on whatever function is being attempted at the time. The tray also has an expansion slot for future upgrades such as adding peripherals. The 600 series comes with an excellent module called SystemOn that, when pushed, starts the computer, projector and SMART Board all at once.
SMART also now offers a pair of 15-watt speakers that can be mounted on the sides of the board or to the wall and connects via one USB cable. Volume control and a two-port USB hub are integrated in the speakers.
The wireless module now includes Bluetooth and integrates with AirLiner wireless slates.
And a very simple, but significant improvement is the floor stand. Rather than feet that jut out to the front of the whiteboard (easy to trip over when walking back and forth), the stand now uses locking casters and safety guards that fold down to the sides for stability, or up for when users need to wheel it around. There are also new ergonomic pens and eraser, standard with the systems.
11. Showing More With 'Less'
Cords, cables, plugs, pins, attachments, accessories.
Whether you're part of a network or a lone ranger when it comes to presentations, sometimes just getting connected and delivering content in a new, or unexpected environment can require the logistical skills of a battleground general.
Reinforcements, however, are out there - in the form of merging technologies and emerging standards that are making wireless projectors a more affordable and efficient option for a variety of applications.
If you'd like to be free of bulky cables, could benefit from multiple presenters in a single room (or even a remote location!), and still believe in the security of your system, then it may be time to examine what's going on in the wonderful world of wireless - and whether now's the time to jump in.
All Solutions Are Not Created Equal
Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi) arrived in the projector market about four years ago and made a splash at InfoComm when a demonstration of prototypes projected a PowerPoint presentation from a notebook computer - and then a PDA - all without wires. One measure of content delivery is in "megabits per second" (Mbps), and the projection distance is also a factor.
In the recent past, and still today, the most popular wireless projector solution uses the protocol of 802.11b, which allows a range of roughly 150 feet and delivers data at about 11 Mbps. When partnered with computers with compatible wireless cards, the two can communicate without wires. While excellent for many types of content, it is not broad enough to handle streaming video applications.
So, currently on the market (and horizon) from several manufacturers are projectors that handle high-speed wireless (802.11g), which offers a transfer rate that is three times faster and can accommodate full-frame video transmission without glitches or stutter-stops. It's an advance that only matters if your needs demand it. Virtually all wireless projectors permit sending information from one computer to one projector, allow broadcast from one computer to several projectors, and instant "switching" from one presenter to another. They permit presenters to make notes and edits from anywhere in the room, creating a more dynamic and interactive learning experience.
But if you need to support high-bandwidth content from the PC to the display, then hold out for an 802.11g model that's right for you.
Your wireless projector must be secure, both internally and externally. There are a number of features that you'll want to inquire about in order to be confident that access to your presentations are safe from unauthorized people or out-and-out piracy. Different models offer a variety of mechanisms that include any combination of password protection, PC cards/USB drives as security keys, cabinet control locks, logo locks, and wired equivalency privacy (WEP) encryption. Some projectors also have an integrated lock slot, allowing you to attach a security cable to physically lock down the unit.
And, being on the network allows your administrator to monitor the projectors to see their status, be sure they're in their proper places and receive email notification if anything goes wrong.
Some projector manufacturers have developed wireless adaptors for upgrading their own line of products (and usable with a limited number of others) that connect easily and give instant wireless convenience with cable-like security. These relatively low-cost "attachments" let you maximize your investment in equipment you already own.
Whether your needs are serious mobility with "pocket presentations" possible from your PDA, or administering multiple presentations to multiple audiences, there are wireless answers available to you right now. Image quality (as calculated by ANSI lumens, contrast ratio and resolution) varies widely. Higher quality often brings added physical weight and added cost to any given selection.
Let's talk about where your organization is going, and what "wires" it might be dragging behind. We can assist with presentation liberation.
12. It's a Steal
AV equipment is popular, so popular that an unsavory population is earning quite a living off it. It's thieves who know that items such as projectors are easy to lift, easy to transport (just put it in a file box or portable cooler and walk out the door!) and log on to eBay to sell. And LCD and plasma panels, especially large ones, have dollar signs written all over them.
Other than the obvious financial loss, theft of AV equipment also causes downtime both immediately and loss of productive time with any future learning curves on new models.
The problem of AV theft isn't just theory, it's happening everywhere. Earlier this year, the University of Wisconsin lost, in just one semester, $55,000 in projectors to thief.
Ceiling-mounted projectors are a bit easier to secure. Obviously getting to them often requires a ladder or some something to climb to access the projector so that alone makes it difficult (don't place a desk or table right under it!). But still, those mounted on the ceiling are often more expensive so they're all the more desirable. So they often come with Kensington locks, or at least come with the option. Just as any type of lock, it makes it much harder to steal the item - it would take quite a bit of time and would require the thief to bring specialized tools and in theory, only the administrator has those tools.
Taking theft prevention a bit further, we can also provide you with special theft-deterrent enclosures for a ceiling mounted projector, enclosures that are heavy, hard to open and can even be equipped with an alarm. But don't go to the drug store and buy any old alarm. The last thing you want is an alarm going off ten times a day for no reason. Specialized alarms made for just such use are sensitive enough to go off when a theft is in progress, but are programmed to resist false alarms. Then, add to that setup a few heavy security cables that secure the projector and that projector is likely going nowhere without your permission. (A word of caution: installing only the cables, only the enclosures or only the alarms isn't likely good enough. At the University of Wisconsin, for example, the ceiling projectors were secured by very heavy cables but the thieves brought the proper equipment. Using all these solutions together is highly recommended.)
Projectors that sit on the desk or that are transported to different rooms are quite a bit harder to protect. They can be mounted to a surface if they stay in one room, but that defeats the purpose of a mobile projector. You might as well mount it to the ceiling. No, either lock it in a closet after each use or think about making a small investment in a new piece of furniture.
A popular choice these days is the mobile podium or cart. Since they have doors that lock, they provide security. But they provide so much more. A cart, typically the more simple of the two solutions, can house the projector, a PC, DVD player and any other accessories you might want to roll from room to room. You want to be sure they have lockable wheels so that they don't move during your lecture.
A podium, even a mobile one, can house all of the above but can also accommodate a control panel, which can be programmed to dim lights, shut curtains, turn on and off equipment (even turn it all on or off with the touch of one button) and lower and raise a projection screen. It can also allow you to change content sources, such as switch from the DVD player to a VCR or to the computer hard drive without having to go into the hardware inside the podium.
Another popular item a podium can hold is a monitor that lets you view what is playing on the screen without having to crane your neck backwards. You can remain facing your audience, continuing to maintain eye contact.
Of course, these days, if you have an enterprise network at your organization, you'll want to connect each piece of your AV equipment to it. It not only allows the administrator to monitor use (such as shutting them all off from one central location at the end of the business day), networked projectors also keep in touch with the administrator by sending an email when the bulb needs changing or, and back to our subject, paging or emailing if someone is trying to tamper with the projector, podium or mount.
Thievery (and vandalism) of AV equipment cost way too much. We can help you keep your projectors, and perhaps even nail ther perps! Give us a call to do a risk assessment - we'll find and fix the vulnerabilities.