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United Visual AV Insider - June 2006

Table of Contents:
1. Free Seminar - Innovations in Visual Communications
2. Sharp Shows 65-Inch LCD at InfoComm
3. TEi Releases New Additions to AxisTV
4. Polycom Announces Interactive Meeting System
5. Xantech Commercial Introduces CRC Room Control Kits
6. Peerless Introduces 42-Inch Flat Panel Ceiling Mount
7. SMART Introduces 32-Inch Interactive Overlay
8. Bretford Designs New Mounts & Carts for Flat Panel Displays
9. Sanyo Epson Develops Small High-Resolution LCDs
10. Digital Signage Update - Part 2
11. Buyer Beware
12. InfoComm 2006


1. Free Videoconferencing Seminar - Innovations in Visual Communications

The Innovations in Visual Communications Seminar is the latest addition to United Visual University's educational seminar series. Innovations in Visual Communication is a 3 hour seminar covering the latest in videoconferencing technologies and how these technologies have enabled organizations to overcome the challenges inherent in past videoconferencing applications.

Technical innovations in videoconferencing have helped greatly overcome the barriers that previously limited widespread adoption of video communications throughout an organization.  In the TANDBERG approach, the key has been to view video as part of an integrated solution that mirrors the workflow of an organization and evolves with it.  What used to be a stand-alone application focused on video end point units has become an end-to-end solution that is central to a company's communication strategy.

Visit our website for more information, seminar itinerary and registration form.

   Registration and lunch is free!

PLUS two lucky attendees to the seminar will receive a free IPod Shuffle.


2. Sharp Shows 65-Inch LCD at InfoComm

Sharp, which introduced a new 65-inch LCD monitor to the Japanese market in February, brought it to the U.S. with an introduction at InfoComm.  The PN-655 is specified at 1920 x 1080 HD resolution and uses a "dual fine engine" for allowing it to display both PC digital data and AV images in HD.  It has picture-in-picture and picture-by-picture and has a fanless design for easier maintenance and more reliable 24/7 operation.  Impressive display!

For more information on the PN-655 contact your United Visual representative.


3. TEi Releases Eight New Additions to the AxisTV Signage Product Line

Tech Electronics announced eight new product additions to its AxisTV line of visual messaging and digital signage applications.

The eight new products include a completely redesigned GUI interface (v.6.1.1), native support for Flash media, AxisTV Enterprise Edition (v.1.1.1), RSS data publisher, AxisTV Text Messenger, AxisTV Desktop.

Flash native files can now be importe../../2news/d_and_included_with_other_flat_image__media_and_audio_files.__nbsp.css;Enterprise Edition (v.1.1.1) includes a number of features designed specifically for large digital signage or visual messaging deployments, including support for Microsoft Active Directory, the ability to create and manage groups of players, crawl lists and or play lists, data management through delayed and "smart" delivery and proxy server awareness.

The new RSS publisher enables users to repurpose their digital signage content in a format that can be delivered to any number of non-traditional endpoints.  The Text messaging lets users select cell phones as another endpoint display for delivering content and communications.  Also, individual PCs connected to the LAN/WAN can now receive the most recent digital signage messages on the desktop through the new Desktop Messenger product.  Users can click on pop-up thumbnails to view individual messages full screen or can play through all bulletins.


4. Polycom Announces Polycom RPX Immersive, Interactive Meeting System

Polycom introduced the RPX, a new videoconferencing system using Polycom RPX RealPresence Experience, symmetrically designed modular rooms featuring a sensory surround experience resulting from standards-based, TV-like video and near CD voice quality, says the company.  Using EyeConnect technology and other techniques, the system allows participants to communicate eye-to-eye, full size and in proportion.

The "same room" meeting experience is made possible through symmetrically designed, fully equipped rooms in each location.  The rooms feature professionally designed lighting and sound systems with furniture and decor all designed to enable an immersive experience where everyone can always be seen and heard.  Built-in large rear-projection displays deliver a life-like appearance, including virtually all of a participant's peripheral vision, enabling them to become "immersed" and fully engaged in the experience says the company.

Polycom says RPX allows connection of a virtually limitless number of sites and people in other Polycom RPX suites, in standards-based video conference rooms, and in video-enabled IP telephony, and presence-based desktop systems.


5. Xantech Commercial Introduces CRC Room Control Kits at InfoComm

Xantech Commercial introduced four new room control kits designed to combine everything needed for room control in one package.  These are specially priced kits that are based on Xantech SmartPad3 docking and key modules, and include a button pack customized for classroom control as well as a control kit.

There are four versions of the room control kit: two with IR control, and two with both IR and RS232 control, and each of these is available in both single-gang and dual-gang J box versions.  The single-gang versions have four source selector buttons and eight function buttons; dual-gang versions add another 12 function buttons.  Because these kits are based on the Xantech SmartPad3 docking and key modules, programming is done through Universal Dragon Drop-IR software.

All of the kits, as well as the classroom control button kit, will be available in the third quarter of 2006.


6. Peerless Introduces 42-Inch Flat Panel Ceiling Mount

Peerless Industries has a new 42-inch flat panel TV ceiling mount for retail digital signage.  The company says this mount is designed for digital content such as product promotion or video demonstrations.

Peerless says it reduced the number of independent parts to make it quicker to install, and the 'Quick-Connect' pins snap into place.  It comes with a decorative cover that surrounds the back of the installation for a clean look that conceals and secures the components and cables.


7. SMART Introduces 32-Inch Interactive Overlay

SMART Technologies introduced a new overlay in its Actalyst interactive digital signage product line (the line has sizes up to 65 inches).  The new 32-inch overlay lets you add interactive functionality to flat panels and can be used in portrait or landscape, and SMART says it supports panels from NEC, Samsung, LG, Panasonic and Toshiba, with others to follow.

The Actalyst interactive digital signage line used with a flat-panel display is most often used as a way for people to find information in public places.  They walk up to the product and use a finger to navigate multimedia content.  SMART targets retail stores, office buildings, real-estate developments, museums, hotels and shopping malls.  They use SMART's DViT technology which uses cameras embedded in the overlay rather than pressure technology.


8. Bretford Designs Seven Mounts & Two Carts for Flat Panel Displays

Furniture company Bretford announced the company has seven new mounts and two carts for LCD and plasma displays in both commercial and home entertainment environments.  Two of the mounts hold up to six small-format monitors that can be attached to a wall or a desk.  The multiple display mounts have cable management and tilt and height adjustments.  The two large-display mounts have one-hand pitch adjustment.


9. Sanyo Epson Develops Small High-Resolution LCDs With Wider Viewing Angle

Sanyo Epson announced a series of new high-resolution LCD panels viewable from 90 degrees from the top, bottom, left or right.  While these new panels are small (ranging from 2.4 to 10.1 inches) it might be an indication of better viewing angles in the future with larger LCD displays.  For now, the market is more likely to be mobile devices, automobile DVD players, digital cameras and possibly airlines and retail with 10.1-inch panel.

Volume production of displays featuring this new technology, which are available in five sizes (2.4-inch, 2.5-inch, 2.8-inch, 7.0-inch, and 10.1-inch), will begin in the fall.

The panels use the company's newly developed Photo Fine Vistarich wide viewing angle technology.


10. Digital Signage Update - Part 2

Last issue, we looked at some of the ways organizations are using digital signage.  Movie theaters are using electronic flat-panel monitors to replace printed movie posters, for example, and companies are using it for communicating with employees in different satellite offices.

Digital signage technology has become highly flexible -- thousands of electronic displays spread out through the world can be controlled individually or in groups from one central location.  They can display video or text, or a combination of the two.  And the prices of flat-panel displays keep plummeting.  Because digital signage is now so powerful and more affordable than ever, organizations are finding more and more ways to use it. This issue, we continue to look at the many ways organizations are using digital signage to reach key audiences.

Retail Stores

One of the most prevalent uses of digital signage is in retail stores.  Both as window displays and in-store advertisements, a retail store can use the signage to draw people into the store, and to promote sales and new or featured items.  In addition, many retail stores are strategically placing digital signs at key locations within the store.  A sign in an electronic games section of a store may show video of a new game being played.  Another in the women's clothing area may show a fall collection, and a jewelry counter flat-panel display may show a diamond bracelet on display.

The videos or slide shows, or even still images, can provide a service to the customers by providing ideas for Mother's, Father's, or Valentine's Day gifts.  A video can show how a new tool actually works or how to apply makeup.  And the signs can be changed on the fly according to holiday or season or any occasion, from one central location.

For retail chains, it gets even better.  The signage in all the different locations can be controlled from the corporate headquarters and each sign can be programmed to send a store-wide message, such as a sale, or they can be controlled in groups to appeal to the local communities, such as the differences in clothing preferences in New Hampshire versus California.


Individual restaurants can use digital signage to display the menu as well as beauty shots of different dishes.  The panel can be programmed to automatically change from a lunch to a dinner menu, and the panels can be used for fun as well.  If the restaurant employees sing "Happy birthday" to patrons, the sign can also display the birthday message.

Digital signage offers a powerful way to send video or other messages to one panel or groups of panels.  For example, menu changes can be programmed according to time zone so that the menu changes from breakfast, lunch or dinner at the appropriate time for that region.  The different regions may also offer different sorts of foods - shellfish in New England and southwest specials in Arizona.  These specials can be programmed from headquarters and often, these systems let the contents of the signage be controlled locally as well via computer or memory stick.


Many organizations are using digital signs in the lobbies.  They are so easy to program that it's simple to add a "welcome" to an expected visitor, announce a date for a company event or even tune to a channel that shows traffic patterns and weather to help with commutes.

Any organization with the need to communicate to audiences large and small can likely appreciate the value of digital signage.  Can yours?  Call us and we'll put digital signage to work for you.


11. Buyer Beware

We see you eyeing that $900 large flat-panel TV at your local electronics or warehouse store.  They're huge, they look great in the store and the price even looks better.

The average flat-panel display for your home is near perfect.  They truly do look good when hooked up to your digital cable box, your satellite, or your DVD player.  They're easy to install, and the prices were never better.

But, if you are pondering using these panels for professional/commercial uses, we advise you to make sure that the consumer panel you may be considering will truly meet all your organization's professional display needs.  Not all panels are created equal.  There is a reason, well a lot of them, that commercial displays are designed differently from those you find in retail stores.  Let's take a look at some of the considerations.


Your commercial displays will come with a much greater variety of connection combinations to accommodate a wider variety of sources and, specifically, to make sure you get the highest quality out of each of those sources.  Some of these have a modular design that lets us pick and choose which connections we need for your application.  In one room, you may need a DVI connection and in another, S-Video.  Two years from now, we may want to replace those panels with new ones and move your existing ones to another room for entirely different applications.  With an off-the-shelf panel, this isn't possible and your investment, only two years old, could be lost.  Do you want to use a PC as a source?  You may or may not be able to hook a PC up to a consumer television.


Commercial panels are built with special components to help keep your panel up and running longer.  Whereas televisions in the home operate an average of 3 hours a day, commercial displays operate much longer then that and sometimes 24/7.  These technologies help prevent screen burn-in, help prevent pixel loss and help keep the image and colors vibrant over time.  For a slightly larger initial investment, you'll delay the costs and hassles of having to replace the panel.


Want to build a video wall out of the four panels you just bought?  You'll be out of luck with store-bought TVs.  A number of commercial displays are designed to not only work alone, but to join together to create a much larger image by stacking the panels vertically and horizontally.

Application specificity

Manufacturers of commercial displays have gotten downright smart about designing the displays specifically for the intended applications.  Digital signage, houses of worship, supermarket check-out lines and lobbies all have different needs.  These application-specific panels may have speakers built in, and built with exactly the right amount of out put for the situation.  They may allow us to create a marquee of text that scrolls across the bottom of the image while keeping your video or data intact on the rest of the screen.  Or they may let you position the panel vertically instead of horizontally to best show your source content.


One of the most basic, yet most important, features included in commercial flat-panel displays is the ability to put in on a network.  The panel will have an IP address just as other devices on your network.  This not only lets you control the on/off as well as what content is on screen, it helps you monitor the panel to be sure it doesn't sprout legs and walk off on its own (i.e. stolen).

So, before those retail prices tempt you into a bad investment, call us to see what sort of deal we can get you on a display that will truly meet your needs.  We stay on top of all the different features offered by commercial display manufacturers.  Let us do the penny-pinching to make sure your investment stays exactly that -- an investment.


12. InfoComm 2006

The biggest trade show and conference for the Pro AV industry just ended, and today we bring you some of the developments that will impact your purchasing decisions over the coming year.  The real news is that this has become a mature industry, which is good news for you, since what we have now are tried-and-true technologies that have withstood the test of time.


While new technologies are still around the corner, LCD, plasma and DLP displays continue to dominate the display market.  While you've no doubt noticed that flat-panels are dropping in price, at the same time, manufacturers are addressing more features needed to address the demands of professional displays.  So, cost is definitely not the only criterion for deciding which flat panels are for you.  We are constantly assessing the display offerings from different manufacturers, especially in light of their intended purposes, and unlike last year, we can now definitely say not all flat panel displays are made alike.


The price-performance ratio for projectors has never been better!  Projectors are brighter and smaller, with sharper images and excellent video processing technologies.  Some include features that let you stack two or more together for twice the brightness and redundancy for failure protection.  And nearly all are networkable now so that your AV or IT manager can monitor the performance and security of all your projectors from one central location.

Many projectors are now available in a 16:9 aspect ratio, meaning you can show more data on screen than with the 4:3 aspect ratio.  The 16:9 also lets you easily play native wide-screen content without having to worry about cutting off the tops and bottoms of the image, or stretching the image and thereby distorting it, to make it fit your screen.

In addition, we are seeing more high definition projectors on the market.  While these new HD projectors are idea for graphic and detail-oriented applications, such as post production, broadcast, graphics and CAD, these HD projectors will soon find their ways into almost any venue in order to accommodate the increasing amount of content that is originated in high definition.  In many cases, "standard" definition will no longer be the standard as high definition becomes more prevalent and affordable.


There may be no other advancement in technology that excites us this much as the new developments in collaboration. Not long ago, conferencing was confined to bulky, expensive systems that were difficult to use and not always all very easy to install and configure.  Today's collaboration systems have addressed so many of the past issues. And, importantly, today's collaboration technologies offer tremendous scale.  Two people a town apart can video conference for one to give the other a bill of materials for a bid.  Or six offices spread out through the world can conference in 60 people for a worldwide sales meeting, budget planning or meetings during situations where crisis communications are required.

In the first case, the ability to video conference and collaborate on documents keeps communications more free from misunderstandings.  In the second case, look how much they save in travel costs!  And these new conferencing and collaboration technologies can accommodate any size, in between the two examples and even larger.

Also significant to developments in collaboration is the improved ability to share data (and that's usually the point, isn't it?).  Whereas not long ago, one person from one laptop would put up a data image on the screen and if someone else wanted to share relevant data, the first image would have to be removed so the second image could be displayed to meeting participants.  Well, not any more.  There are methods now for projecting as many as 16 or so images at the same time, basically emulating a flip-chart but without having to flip pages back and forth.  So, now, workgroups can review all pages of a new brochure in succession (and annotate them as desired, save the notations and use them as any other digital document by emailing them, printing them, etc).  They can work in a non-linear fashion as well, say, if eight different departments want to show their annual budgets or sales projections on screen at once.  Conferencing and collaboration used to be limited to what the technology could accommodate but now, these applications are limited only to imagination - one of the best developments we've seen to date.

There are many developments in all Pro AV technologies - too many to list in one article.  But a number of them directly apply to your current and future audiovisual needs.  Please let us know if you would like to get together to discuss what these technologies can do to improve your business.



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