3. SMART Makes Five New Product Announcements
SMART Technologies announced two new interactive whiteboards, new interactive pen displays, an upgrade to Bridgit conferencing software and GoWire, an auto-launch cable.
The new interactive whiteboards are the SMART Board 600i and 690. The 600i combines the SMART whiteboard with a new Unifi projector with built-in audio. The projector mounts on the wall above the whiteboard so it stays out of the way of the presenter. It has Vikuiti Super Close Projection technology with XGA resolution so it gives a nice short throw distance. The 690 is the largest screen size available from SMART, with a 94-inch surface and 16:9 aspect ratio.
The Sympodium UD350 and ID370 interactive pen displays lets a presenter touch the battery-free tethered pen to the LCD screen to launch and control applications on a SMART interactive whiteboard. The new models have a bezel-less writing surface, two high-speed USB hubs and the latest SMART Board software. The ID350 has a 15-inch display and the ID370 a 17-inch displays.
SMART's Bridgit 3.1 conferencing software now lets Mac users participate in web conferences, and the GoWire auto-launch cable lets users get full access to SMART Board software without having to install the software on the computer. The GoWire is a software-enabled, USB cable that automatically launches the software upon connection to a computer.
4. Biamp Introduces Two New Conferencing Products at Infocomm
The perfect solution for small and medium sized projects that require audio and/or videoconferencing. The Biamp NEXIA TC is a digital signal processor intended for a variety of teleconferencing applications. It includes 8 wide-band AEC mic/line inputs, 2 standard mic/line inputs, 4 mic/line outputs, and a telephone interface.
The Biamp NEXIA VC is a digital signal processor intended for videoconferencing applications. It includes 8 wide-band AEC mic/line inputs, 2 standard mic/line inputs, 4 mic/line outputs, and a codec interface.
Both the NEXIA TC and NEXIA VC have a broad selection of audio components, routing options, and signal processing. The internal system design is completely programmer definable and can be controlled via dedicated software screens, RS-232 control systems and a variety of optional remote controls. Multi-unit NEXIA systems can be created utilizing Ethernet and NexLink digital audio linking.
5. Mitsubishi Announces Commercial LCD Monitors
The new LDT321V and LDT371V (32" and 37" diagonal) LCD monitors from Mitsubishi are designed specifically for video display in the digital signage market. Interestingly, these monitors come with their own scheduling controls for easy planning for on/off, presentation timing, image changeovers and more. Accessing menus and controlling information is done through the RS232 connector.
The LDT321V and LDT371V will be available in August and June respectively.
6. Westinghouse Digital and Almo Target ProAV Market
Westinghouse Digital Electronics and Almo Corp. announced an expansion of their strategic distribution agreement to include the Pro AV market, targeting the system integrator and digital signage channels.
The limited Westinghouse rollout at Almo in Q3 includes 27-, 32- and 42-inch Professional LCD monitors. The RS232 connector will be built into the displays' boards, along with additional hardware and software, letting system integrators and content providers deliver and control specific content.
7. New WiFi Handheld From Crestron
Crestron introduced a cool new WiFi handheld control system, the Isys i/O TPMC-4X handheld WiFi touchpanel. Crestron says this latest addition to the Isys i/O Touchpanel Media Center line of products is the first handheld touchpanel controller that delivers complete 2-way WiFi communication for seamless system integration in modern facilities. The TPMC-4X offers direct high-speed wireless communication with any Ethernet Crestron control system, providing complete control of AV, lighting, HVAC, shades and screens from anywhere in the building. True 2-way communications allows dynamic graphics and complete system status feedback, providing an enhanced user experience.
The Crestron TPMC-4X uses Windows CE.NET 4.2 Operating Systems providing 802.11b WiFi communication throughout a facility on its wireless network. The TPMC-4X is designed to offer touchpanel flexibility and tactile control, with a 3.5-inch touchscreen and 17 programmable, backlit pushbuttons. The 320x240 touchscreen displays 16-bit color graphics, dynamic text, dynamic graphics, translucency and streaming video capabilities.
Full 2-way WiFi communication allows users to view and set temperature in any room; confirm and adjust lighting levels and monitor lobby entrances from this lightweight handheld controller. Users can also control an audio server or an Apple iPod remotely; network communications enable dynamic graphics such as the display of cover art.
The TPMC-4X also features embedded functionality for viewing streaming video from security cameras or other video sources. The handheld Isys i/O touchpanel can display any MJPEG format source signal - perfect for monitoring the lobby, service entrance or boardroom door.
8. New Panasonic Plasmas
Panasonic introduced the 9 Series plasmas at InfoComm. Performance improvements include higher video capabilities, greater flexibility and a thin, 15-percent lighter design. The new series includes three high definition panels - 50" TH-50PH9UK, 42" TH-42PH9UK, and 37" TH-37PH9UK and the standard definition 42" TH-42PS9UK.
The 9-Series uses 16-bit processing and is specified at 10,000:1 contrast level.
One really nice design feature is that they are customizable in terms of inputs so you can just order what you need rather than pay for a bunch of inputs you don't need. The 50" and 42" 9-Series panels offer three multi-function input slots concealed at the back so users can add different combinations of optional terminal boards. The 37" model comes with two interchangeable slots.
9. ClearOne Introduces Two New Audio Conferencing Products
ClearOne introduced the Chat 150 and the Converge Pro. The Chat 150 is a speaker phone designed for individual or small group use that connects to enterprise phones, PCs, and video conferencing systems. The Converge Pro series includes professional-grade conferencing systems and it is expected to eventually replace the current XAP series. Upgrades include better acoustical echo cancellation, noise cancellation, duplex performance and enhanced management capabilities, as well as simplified configuration utilities.
10. Replacing the Flip Chart
The old flip charts were pretty handy. They were large enough for everyone in the room to see and they allowed freehand writing to make notes during meetings. But they were ackward and cumbersome when going back and forth between different pages. You had to flip the pages until you found the one you wanted and every flip of the page risked tearing the sheets.
The electronic age has brought us electronic ways to replace those old paper flip charts. Interactive white boards give you all the advantages of the large flip charts without the clumsy pages, and they give you so much more.
Today's interactive white boards are highly flexible. They let you present a prepared presentation, including video, text, images, or any combination. Or they let you write in freehand (even write over the video or image) and save the notes to a file. They let you use all the computer software programs you're accustomed to using, too, and often they offer additional software to further empower your presentations and meetings.
They also let you pull up files on the fly. If at a point during a meeting, you realize viewing a video, audio or text file would be helpful, you can navigate to find the file on the on-screen menu and retrieve that file from a computer on the network. And you can do this without leaving the screen you're on at the moment! The video or whatever file you pull up can be viewed in a separate window, so you don't even have to re-navigate to get back to where you were.
One of the newest developments in interactive whiteboards is the ability actually use them as you would a flip chart - with side by side projected visuals that behave just as if you pulled off the pages of the flip chart and taped them side by side around the room. But, the new ones are electronic so you can easily flip images, change visuals, add or subtract from the "pages" around the room.
And within the displays, you can not only access files on the server, you can also navigate to websites and do anything you would want to do on an internet-connected computer.
These network-enabled whiteboards also allow others to participate in the meeting and contribute contents to the displays, whether these participants are in the next building or across the world.
Still using old paper flip charts? Let us make your presentations and meetings more flexible, powerful and user-friendly. Call us today to arrange for a full demonstration of an electronic interactive whiteboard.
11. Keeping Your System Running: The Service Contract
The real value of an expert technical staff is they keep up on the latest trends, they have more technical knowledge than anyone else in the company about how your equipment works, and they generally are the only members of your staff that know what technologies your organization will need to install over the next few years. The best technical staff is a forward-thinking staff, but that is hard to do when a majority of their time is spent running around the facility putting out fires.
One of the most important services we offer our customers is a service contract. Our system design and installation departments are vital to our success but our maintenance and service contracts are vital to your success.
Our service department can conduct routine checks of your equipment on a regular basis to assure everything is running optimally. We monitor the different warrantee expiration dates so you don't have to. Our scheduled preventive maintenance visits will identify potential problems and circumvent product or system failures before they happen. We make sure that things like power conditioning is keeping your images clear and crisp, keeping operation costs down and keeping equipment safe. We check to be sure the latest versions of software are on your systems and running properly.
Service contracts also provide a way to regularly consult our technicians about new technologies and when you hire new employees, we can even provide system training so your people can spend their time doing what they do best.
Most importantly we save the embarrassment of equipment failures and malfunctions when the equipment is needed most. Our service contracts are a great example of how small investments can pay large dividends in time and money saved. Please consult our service department for the service options that will best meet your organization's needs.
12. LCD, DLP, CRT, 3LCD or Plasma?
Just a few years ago, the debate raged on about which display technologies are the best for commercial monitors. Different companies got behind different technologies and touted the ones they sold while bashing the ones they didn't sell.
Now that the market has settled a bit, it is clear that most technologies are viable and each has its place in the market. But how do you choose?
Where you want to place the display is probably the first and foremost decision. If you want a very flat panel to hang flat against the wall, or if you just like the look of those very thin 4-inch deep displays, then you're going to want LCD or plasma. CRT is around 26 inches deep; DLP around 18 deep; and 3LCD 16 or so inches deep, so they won't totally hang flat. But the CRTs and DLPs can fit fine in corners, or stand in places where the space isn't as critical. And a popular installation technique is to insert a large screen DLP or CRT into a cutout in the wall, giving the same flat screen effect without the cost of a huge plasma panel.
Many people decide they want the sleek and modern look of an LCD or plasma monitor hanging almost flush against the wall. Many times what they don't consider is cable management. The power cord, video and audio cables still have to be connected. So that nice flat panel on the wall now has cords hanging from it, distracting from the aesthetics of their very expensive new flat panel. That monitor on the wall only looks sleek and modern if all the cables are totally hidden from site. So, whether you want a panel that sits flush on the wall or one that has some depth to it cable management will be an important factor during your purchasing decision.
LCD vs. Plasma
Both LCDs and plasma panels have proven to be good solutions for commercial display applications. LCDs typically are brighter, so if your installation has high ambient light, LCD may be the technology you prefer. But LCDs are limited in available sizes, while soon; plasmas will be available in up to 103 inch diagonal. Plasma technology used to be criticized because some believed a static image would burn in and leave ghosted artifacts if an image is left on screen too long. Plasma manufacturers have since developed new technologies to ward off burn in.
Basically, both LCD and plasma panels are highly successful technologies and your choice between these two will be based on what size you need and your ambient lighting conditions. We highly recommend you call us first, however, so that we can determine the best way to install your flat panel to get that sleek and modern look without the clutter cable and most importantly, so we can be sure you get precisely the types of source connections you'll need.
Next issue, we'll discuss CRT, DLP and 3LCD.