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United Visual AV Insider - March 2006

Table of Contents:
1. Mitsubishi Introduces Widescreen Projector for ProAV
2. Crestron Program Puts Every Room on Same Platform
3. RGB Spectrum Upgrades MediaWall 2000
4. Liberty Wire & Cable Introduces Coax Termination Solution
5. Panasonic Introduces 2.9-Pound LCD Projector
6. New Mitsubishi Projector Smaller Than a Laptop
7. Chief Introduces No-Profile Swing Arm Accessory
8. Mitsubishi Developing Laser TV
9. Panasonic Creates New Projector Company
10. Creating Spaces: The Branch Office
11. Making Connections
12. In The Beginning...


1. Mitsubishi Introduces Widescreen Projector for ProAV

ProAV is finally getting a good selection of 16:9 projectors.  Mitsubishi's new HD4000U is the latest.  It's a 16:9 projector using DLP, and it's specified at WXGA (1280x768) resolution, 2000 ANSI lumens and 2500:1 contrast ratio.  It has vertical lens shift, and weighs 6.5 pounds.


2. Crestron Program Puts Every Room on Same Platform

Crestron's "Every Room Connected" program lets you design and install all rooms in a facility on a single platform. With Crestron's recent iMedia product introduction, along with advanced control systems and MediaManager solutions (QuickMedia and iMedia), the company says it has a solution for every room.

All Crestron products are designed with the company's e-Control communications platform so every room is seamlessly connected and completely integrated.  Using any PC on the LAN or WAN, Crestron's RoomView software provides real-time remote control and management of all rooms, devices and subsystems such as AV, lighting and HVAC.  To expand the system, you just add a device as another node on the network locally or anywhere in the world.


3. RGB Spectrum Upgrades MediaWall 2000

RGB Spectrum announced a number of upgrades to its MediaWall 2000 displays.  Those upgrades include screen mullion, compensation, overlap for seamless edge blending, clock on-screen display and downloadable logos and graphics.

With the mullion compensation, when a single image is displayed across multiple screens in a wall array, the viewer can see a noticeable shift in the image between screens caused by the width of the display's mullions.  The MediaWall's advanced mullion compensation feature compensates for this to provide a contiguous image.

The overlap supports overlapping images from multiple projectors on a single screen.  The digital clock on-screen display is a digital clock tht can be displayed in the foreground anywhere on the wall array, giving users time-keeping capabilities, and the downloadable logos and graphics give foreground images that continuously display no matter what is in the background.


4. Liberty Wire & Cable Introduces ConnecTec All-in-One Coax Termination Solution

Liberty Wire & Cable introduced the ConnecTec Termination System at ISE.  The new line is composed of advanced, engineered BNC, F and RCA coaxial connectors in more than 60 styles, a new ergonomically designed crimp tool, and a pair of coaxial strippers. They are housed in a compact casing specially designed for durability.

The new 360-degree ConnecTec BNC, F and RCA radial-crimp connectors fit RG59, RG6 and RG6 Quad cables, as well as BNC and RCA cables for 25- and 26-gauge RGB mini coaxials.

ConnecTec connectors feature all-metal construction for maximum durability, an inspection "window" to assure good termination, color banding for instant application identification, and color O-rings to simplify matching.

The crimp tool, engineered specifically for Liberty's new ConnecTec coaxial connectors, is milled from a solid piece of NASA-grade aluminum and anodized in a bright red finish.  The tool terminates BNC, F and RCA connectors without using any adaptors or dies.

Liberty's new ConnecTec strip tools include one that accurately strips RG59, RG6 and RG6 Quad cables, and another that strips 25- and 26-gauge RGB mini coaxial cables.  Both tools provide an industry standard quarter-inch strip, and all the connectors work with Liberty's CoaxMaster system, so there's no need to retool.


5. Panasonic Introduces 2.9-Pound LCD Projector

The newly-formed Panasonic Projector Systems Company introduced its first projector - the 2.9-pound PT-P1SDU, an LCD unit specified at 1500 ANSI lumens, 400:1 contrast ratio, and SVGA 800 x 600 resolution, a little low for today's standards but the 2.9-pound weight is definitely nice for hauling around. It's also easy to fit into any bag, measuring 9-3/16" W x 2-17/32" H x 7-3/8".


6. New Mitsubishi Projector Smaller Than a Laptop for Mobile and Home Use.

The MiniMits XD80U is a small (1.8" H x 7.3" W x 6.9" L) DLP projector that weighs less than three pounds.  Amazingly with that small form factor, it packs in a specified 1500 ANSI lumens, XGA (1024 x 768) resolution and 2000:1 contrast ratio.

This projector lets the user use either a four- or six-segment color wheel to get better color when playing video.  It also lets the user adjust white balance, color temperature and gamma.


7. Chief Introduces No-Profile Swing Arm Accessory

This looks great and it's exactly what customers, both ProAV and HomeAV, have wanted.  Chief has a new accessory for 37- to 65-inch flat panel displays and TVs that hides the mount arm into the wall, making a no-profile, flat-against-the-wall mount.  The PAC-500 uses fingertip tilt adjustments and has the same range of motion as other Chief swing arms.

The PAC-500 In-Wall accessory is designed to hide Chief's PNR or PWR Swing Arm Mounts in the home position.  It gives integrated lateral shift and post-installation height adjustment and it's a one-man install job, says Chief, because it's installed by hanging the mount on two lag bolts.  And, it can also be used with medium displays.


8. Mitsubishi Developing Laser TV

At Mitsubishi's recent press conference in Japan, President Tamotsu Nomakuchi said the company is developing a laser-based TV.

According to Insight Media, the laser that will be used as the light source is likely a diode-based technology.  They project availability to be roughly two years from now.

"That's realistic", says Matt Brennesholtz, a Sr. Analyst at Insight Media and the principle author of the 2006 Laser Projection Report.  "The gating factor is the cost of the lasers, and in two years it will be possible to make a 52-inch rear-projection laser TV for only a couple of hundred dollars more than one based on UHP lamps (today's standard) or LEDs."

Insight Media also reported that in a company suite at CES 2006, laser maker Novalux showed rear-projection laser-TV demonstrators based on 3LCD and DLP technologies, and the company has also made an LCOS-based demo.  Novalux apparently had three customers showing TVs based on their laser technology.


9. Panasonic Creates New Projector Company

The "new kid" in town isn't new.  It is Panasonic Projector Systems Company, a newly-formed unit specifically aimed squarely at the U.S. projector market.  The new company is located in Secaucus, N.J. and will be headed by its president, Thomas Zitelli, formerly Director of the Information Systems Group of Panasonic Systems Solutions Company.

The company intends to focus on delivering tailored solutions to vertical markets, and mentioned business and industry, government and higher education as among those markets with mobile to large venue sizes.  They will also market to the home theater segment.

Some might question why any company would invest more into the projector markets, with prices projected to fall a good 20 percent this year.  No doubt Panasonic is trading on its formidable brand name and, with all the "me too" projectors out there, any innovative solutions that truly ARE tailored to applications could be well accepted.


10. Creating Spaces: The Branch Office

As time passed, the business you run, the school you administer, the retail establishment you manage or the governmental office you oversee grew and expanded.  Additional locations were found to meet the demands of clients and customers.

You opened a sales office for a new territory, a satellite campus, an off-site service center, a smaller outpost of your successful restaurant.  And most likely, the AV and IT equipment was supplied and installed by a local vendor.

More time has passed.  The satellite location has become an integral part of your operation.  The need for seamless communication in both directions has never been more important, and you want to maximize the functions and value of that branch office for best return on investment.

Fortunately, there's a lot that can be done to bring you all closer together.

Content and Delivery

First you'll need a true picture of what goes on - followed by a discussion of what could go on - at the branch location.  If it has traditionally served as a "step-child" to the home office, what opportunities might you be missing?  Is there a comfortable room equipped for audio and videoconferencing where the staff can be updated in real time on product or policy changes?  Or where customers can readily absorb your best corporate DVD on the benefits of doing business with you?  Or where staff can receive their own interactive training at the same time as the "larger" organization and conduct their own customized presentations for potential clients?

The next step is an equipment audit.  Do the people in your satellite offices have the capability to manage and create meetings or presentations on their own, and to access and display your company's key messages anytime/anywhere?  If not, then they aren't being afforded the chance to realize their potential.

Take a cue from a leading career instructional institute, which maintains a network of classrooms at various locations, each one capable of calling up presentations for different audiences from a network server using a PDA or notebook PC. Smart, interactive whiteboards and document cameras permit facilitators to operate in their own style and highlight details they want to emphasize.

Are your remote sites able to display integrated video, voice, images and text information via broadband?  Think about connectivity by adding large-scale plasma or LCD displays and/or monitors.  Visual messaging, appealing brand advertising, or "corporate TV" are just a few applications that can tie together the headquarters operation with branch locations.  What's more, various sites within the company can optionally add or edit their own content.

Since AV equipment and software go hand in hand, ask us how to best use what you already own - and what purchases would be make sense so as to take advantage of available solutions.  For example, slide management software permits creating a database for presentations accessible through either a network or via the Web.  Users can search by individual image, template, updates and other categories.  A great way to keep a constant supply of fresh material, you may want to be sure satellite locations have an optimum screen to show off the latest images generated from throughout the organization.

Employing a little imagination, some companies have turned portions of their branch offices into mini "learning centers," where meeting rooms and workstations equipped with high resolution projection systems, microphones and speakers allow in-house (or even outside) trainers to control all technologies with a touch panel.


Depending upon the size of your organization and the application, part of your answer might be investigating the use of virtual office or branch office software that permits data, file and document sharing that can save time, money and increase productivity. But be sure your locations have the hardware to support what the central office can supply.

One popular nightclub chain offering food, beverages and social interaction in a nonstop, multimedia environment, was plagued by AV problems at multiple locations due to inconsistent, non-integrated systems that varied from site to site.  By partnering with a single integrator who relied on equipment from a short list of manufacturers, the various locations were standardized with not only central control, but front-end layouts and interfaces that could be easily operated by managers who often transferred from club to club.  The overriding principle at work? Big, but simple.

And if you're concerned that the satellite office might be too small to handle an infusion of new equipment, today's advanced technology incorporates excellent quality in both speakers and projectors with a footprint that is diminutive by any standards.  There's even a new product that can be described as a "personal pod" - a stand-alone, ergonomic unit for one person - that is equipped with a computer, surround sound and special lighting.  It can deliver a multimedia message or content-specific training.

Let us diagnose the AV health of the branch locations on your business tree.  There's a good chance that a unified message and morale can grow, while travel costs can be trimmed.


11. Making Connections

Until a couple of years ago, component video cabling was the best way to connect a video source to the display.  It offered higher quality than composite and we all felt pretty comfortable using it.  Then, along came two new technologies - DVI and HDMI - and most users just felt confused.

Component Video, used for a number of years now, was considered an advancement over previous technologies.  This is an analog format (rather than digital) that delivers video from the source (any player) to the display (monitor, projector, etc.).  Component Video basically considers the red, green and blue of a picture individually and sends them via voltage through the cable.  Component Video is considered to deliver higher quality than S-Video or Composite Video.

DVI and HDMI, the newest technologies in connecting sources to displays, are digital technologies, and many believe that because so much content is now presented on digital media (and sometimes created digitally), these are the better connections in ProAV applications.  What this means is that the red, green and blue content is sent with bits and bytes, just as those that comprise a computer file, so in theory, DVI and HDMI deliver a more pure signal and therefore, more pure AV.

DVI (digital visual interface) came first to market.  As the name implies, it delivers visual images from the source to the display, and it delivers them uncompressed, so quality is maintained.  The main difference between DVI and HDMI (high definition multimedia interface) is that HDMI delivers both video and multi-channel audio via the same cable, whereas with DVI, you will need a separate audio cable.

Now that we've explored the differences, you'll still want to call us to decide which connection is best for your application.  For example, HDMI is backwards compatible with DVI but the reverse isn't true.  And where this all gets interesting (or more confusing) is that none of these solutions is ALWAYS better than the other.  In some cases, the picture on the display is actually better with component than with DVI/HDMI.  That's why we carry around signal testers and test pattern software to be sure we can determine the absolute best technology for your particular application.

Our job is to learn all about the new technologies so that you don't have to.  But we know that some fundamental explanation is a huge help to you as we consult you about your systems.  Now that you have an understanding of the different signal delivery options, give us a call so we can audit your existing systems to be sure you're getting the best quality possible.


12. In The Beginning...

...there was ambient light.  ANSI lumens, digital light processing, screen reflection issues and dimmer switches all came later. While your AV system may be top-notch for its various applications, you might be neglecting a key element in delivering even more effective presentations and making better use of on-site or off-site venues - by factoring in the question of light.

It's no surprise that conference centers, major hotels and broadcast studios take light - natural and artificial - very seriously.  A large-scale renovation at a major Las Vegas facility modified the entire theater lighting system in order to accommodate everything from corporate presentations to live concerts.

Other establishments, such as restaurants, take advantage of remote-controlled, programmable units that are capable of multiple pre-sets for lights in multiple rooms, depending on the time of day and the function taking place in the room.

Clearly, no one who stands up in the front of room for any purpose should be left in the dark when it comes to light.

Illuminating Facts

A recent survey of how the physical environment affects participants in meetings and training courses revealed that the number two factor that helped people focus and concentrate was - natural daylight.  Anyone who has sat in a dark, stuffy, windowless room can, perhaps, appreciate these results.

Technology can only go so far to make up for poor lighting, whether built-in or emanating from architectural features, such as windows, doors or skylights.  In a perfect world, automatic black-out shades, variable lighting configurations, and flexible seating arrangements would be available in every conference, training or classroom.  The board room of the past, with discreet overhead lighting and heavy table in the center symbolizing stability, would become physically and psychologically "lighter," for the informality and dynamism of brainstorming, collaboration and easy use of installed AV and portable technologies.

Also in a perfect world, lighting design would facilitate screen viewing in terms of brightness and contrast, and controls would be placed at the entrance of the room as well as near the presenter/instructor's station - or even better, on a remote or touchscreen panel.

But always, light must be considered based on the application and the audience.  For example, rays filtered through stained glass windows in a church (where AV is usually an enhancement to the message, not the focus) may add to the intended mood. In an informational or educational setting, the speaker needs to be able to see and interact with the audience, gauge their reaction, and encourage feedback.

Illuminating Ideas

The basic logistical step is to examine the lighting system you have, and how it works.  If your presentation involves more than one person, prepare your lighting "choreography" ahead of time for each individual.  Nothing is more distracting, or counter-productive, than the confusion of turning lights up or down during what should be a seamless experience.

Be aware that rooms can be configured for zoned lighting systems that are controlled via wireless remotes and touch panels.  There are even intelligent interfaces that will analyze room acoustics and lighting conditions and automatically adjust the operating parameters.

Advanced lighting control automation is equally adaptable for retrofits or new construction, with efficient programming capability that can be easily integrated with other manufacturers' equipment.

And To Shed Even More

The very best presentation rooms are about communication - and may even have an attractive view out the widows when the draperies are drawn open.  However, a pre-set lighting system to accommodate video, distance learning or other applications is an optimal goal when reviewing your lighting requirements.

A final light-bulb moment:  When creating content or staging a live event, don't neglect the importance of proper lighting.  It's a basic of AV production, and your press conference, product launch, shareholder meeting, or employee training will benefit from the glow that a professional touch can bring.

Talk to us about the ways we can help bring all your messages out of the shadows.



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