2. Room Control - FREE!: Crestron Announces Newest Version of RoomVi.
Crestron's new RoomView 4.0 software is offered free for controlling up to 25 rooms. With RoomView users can perform in real time all kinds of functions remotely, such as shutting off lights, turning off projectors, troubleshooting equipment, scheduling room use and tracking equipment. It also lets the user monitor temperature and lighting CODEC status, and it serves as a local help desk. It has a fully customizable user interface and built-in administrative and user rights as well as user-configurable scripting. It has a direct link to the LAN.
You can get the free version for up to 25 rooms, or buy the Enterprise Edition, which includes client/server functions and lets you control and monitor up to 250 rooms.
A nice feature of RoomView is the style of Help Desk. It provides a real-time pop-up dialog box with the room name, help request, and time stamp, can send e-mail alerts to whoever is in charge of the room, and provides 2-way messaging. RoomView is part of Crestron's MediaManager product line for controlling, switching, mixing and amplifying.
3. Sharp's new 37-inch LC-M3700 LCD video monitor offers high image quality and low cost of ownership.
This sleek, black 37-inch wide screen Liquid Crystal Display monitor is ideal for digital signage and public information applications, particularly in the hospitality, corporate, retail, transportation and government sectors.
The LC-M3700 features wide screen high-definition resolution, true 16 x 9 aspect ratio and 1366 x 768 matrix resolution. The monitor delivers an 800:1 contrast ratio on its non-glare screen, making it bright and clear enough for any professional application. The LC-M3700 offers unprecedented 170-degree viewing angles for a clear, crisp picture that can be seen from virtually every angle. Potential applications for the slim, lightweight LC-M3700 include videoconferencing and television broadcast and production, as well as hotel, retail, tradeshow, museum, casino/sports-book and stadium installation.
Sharp's LC-M3700 addresses customer needs left unfulfilled by plasma models. One primary difference can be found in product lifespan: the LC-M3700 boasts a 60,000-hour replaceable backlight, nearly double the life of similarly sized plasma models. Sharp's LC-M3700 consumes less power than plasma, and features lower reflectivity, heightening the perceived image contrast when viewed in a well-lit space. Higher contrast lets viewers discern details they might otherwise miss, particularly in dark scenes. All of this without the burn-in problems experienced with plasma and CRT technology.
4. The Mitsubishi HC3 ColorViewTM Projector
The Mitsubishi HC3 ColorView is the first wide-screen 1/4HD projector offered by Mitsubishi. Powered by 1,300 ANSI lumens and 500:1 contrast ratio, the HC3 is a projector that targets the home user for movies and entertainment while tempting road warriors with advance computer screens to travel with it. Supporting a native resolution of 960x544, it can accept HDTV input signals and display it proportionally at a quarter size compression without losing any image aspect fidelity.
5. The Buzz on Audio Conferencing
There are times a speaker phone will get the job done. But those times are few, and the sound quality can drastically impair communications and even irritate people on both ends of the phone. That's why businesses increasingly invest in audio conferencing equipment.
First, let's look at the two kinds of audio conferences: third-party moderated, and owner operated.
The third-party moderated is for when a number of people in different locations need to conference together. It might be a collaborative meeting of 12 or an earnings conference call involving thousands. These systems are operated by telephone and other companies and assist you by providing a toll-free phone number for participants to dial. A pass code is provided so that only invitees can join the conference, and the call can be moderated. Without moderation, anyone participating in the call can speak at any time. With moderation, you can choose only one person to speak, and all others are on mute (this would be used in the case where information needs to be disseminated but not discussed at that time). You can also choose for certain other people to speak at designated times. A typical use for this is after a moderated announcement, the operator might open the call to questions and answers. After those desiring to ask a question punch in the appropriate code, the operator decides whom to ”un-mute” so that all participants hear the question. When that speaker is finished and the question is answered, the operator then chooses who can ask the next question, and so on.
These systems are highly efficient for the above scenarios. But if you have five or so people sitting around a table needing to conference in with another site or two, you’re going to want a speaker phone paradigm without the speaker phone headaches.
The most common of these audio conferencing systems are table-top units. Sometimes they sit alone on the table and sometimes they have microphones attached by cords that can be placed strategically around the table. You’ll want to consult us before a purchase so that we can be sure you’re getting the quality and versatility you’ll need, but here are a few of the considerations in deciding on an audio conferencing system.
Noise and echo cancellation
One of the biggest drawbacks of the traditional speakerphone is the sound quality. Often, those on the speakerphone sound like they are talking from an empty warehouse, the echo is so profound. Sometimes, too, the quality is so bad that the voices are garbled, or background noises are amplified and drown out the speakers. Also, sometimes words get cut off, making it hard to understand what the speaker is saying.
A good audio conferencing system will include noise and echo cancellation technologies designed to make the voices clear, complete and close.
You’ll want to check the convergence time on the system. The convergence time is how long it takes the system to pick out the particulars of the room and make those noise and echo cancellation adjustments.
One of the huge complaints about speaker phones is when two people talk at once. No doubt you’ve been involved in a "No, you go ahead" conversation when you and the other person accidentally try to speak at the same time and cancel each other out.
Duplex technology allows both voices to be heard at the same time, so conversation is much more natural and life like, and not distracted by people inadvertently cutting each other off.
Room size accommodation
In a small room with a small conference table, you’ll likely be fine with a system that has a 360-degree microphone/speaker system. But in a larger room, especially one in which you desire the speaker to walk around, perhaps even working at the head of the room on projected screen or SMART Board, you’ll need full room coverage. There are systems that accommodate up to 50 feet away. Just be sure that whatever system you decide can not only accommodate your current room needs but any potential expansions.
You’ll also want to test the volume, both on the speaker end and on the listener’s end. Read the specs to see the dB levels, and test it yourself.
Control panel connectivity
If your room’s audiovisual, lighting and other room features are controlled by a control panel (or if you hope it is in the future), be sure that you get an audio conferencing system that can hook up to the control panel. That keeps your control panel maintaining its investment and puts the control of the audio conferencing system in the hands of whoever has to deal with the other AV functions.
There are new audio conferencing systems today that are completely wireless. They act a bit like your cordless phone at home, but with the audio conferencing technologies that make for the better sound quality of traditional audio conferencing systems. One of the great things about these new systems is that because they can be picked up and moved from room to room, it saves you the cost of installing systems in each of those rooms if they are within a couple of hundred feet of each other.
If you’re tired of audio conferences that leave your staff more exhausted than inspired, call us to help identify the best solution for your needs.
6. Creating Spaces . Part 3 -- Prescriptions for the Personal Office
While the luxury of a private office has always been, and continues to remain, a sign of status, the amount of space, the equipment, and the care you take in its layout and furnishings can have an enormous impact on your own efficiency, energy, professional image, and success.
Are you maximizing your personal space?
Keep a 30-day log of how much time you actually spend in your office, and what tasks you actually perform within its four walls. How much time are you on the phone, working at the computer, researching or taking notes, digging out or putting away files, discussing or making decisions with colleagues, meeting with clients or customers. Determine what percentage of your time there is spent on these different functions.
Now look at your office as if you’re seeing it for the first time. Is there a logical relationship or harmony between the amount of space and equipment, assigned to these tasks and the percentage of your time they consume? Do you have dedicated surfaces for performing each task? Do co-workers have enough room to sit comfortably and the technology to help them share their information? Does the equipment and traffic pattern of your office make sense for what goes on there?
The goal for your office should be to allow you to move swiftly and smoothly from one task to another, both physically and psychologically.
As the nature and methods of work have changed with technology, the personal office deserves more attention as a way of increasing productivity, promoting creativity and problem-solving, and communicating positive messages to employees and clients alike. Regardless of whether personal office space is utilized by the owner of a small business or manager in a larger corporate setting, adaptable and fluid seem to be the keywords for today’s executive environment. Consider how the following capabilities might maximize your hours in the office:
-- Interactive Whiteboard. Bring group dynamics to life as you share, discuss, highlight and notate data for on-going projects with these touch-sensitive surfaces that permit access to any computer application, the Internet and CD-ROMs. Use your finger to write in electronic ink, then edit, save, print or post your notes online for future reference or absent co-workers. A 47" diagonal board can be purchased for under $1,000.
-- Audio conferencing system. The greatly improved, affordable table-top systems that exist today break through the irritating speaker phone barrier with its echoes and cut-off words, allowing for impromptu conversations with several project players on the spur of the moment. A personal office can be easily equipped with a modest, wireless system that allows for individual movement around the room, promoting clarity, consensus and comfort. Not a bad investment for under $500.
-- Video conferencing system. Need to save money on business travel? Need to keep engineers, managers, consultants, auditors or key suppliers on-site to complete your giant contract on time and in-budget? Video conferencing for small groups has been simplified, requiring only several easily-integrated room (set-top) components; even briefcase-sized systems exist for in-field experts who need to stay in constant touch. Videoconferencing makes good sense when documents need to be shared, and face-to-face interaction from a distance is also important. With some high quality systems, work can be performed on applications in real time during a video call. One major construction company saved $100,000 in travel and collaboration alone over the first four months of installation.
-- Projectors and Screens for personal space. A handy, ultralight projector and appropriately-sized screen can turn your office into a mini or ad hoc conference room, allowing regular updates, reports and demos to co-workers and superiors. Show off proposed solutions, and let others present their individual contributions to group projects. Instant learning and critical data can become integrated quickly into the minds of relevant, involved personnel. Also, modest-sized screens using DLP, plasma or LCD technology are available at prices that can fit both your office square footage and budget, under $5,000 for a complete package.
If some of your meetings could be improved by upgrading your offices, give us a call for the most creative affordable solutions.