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United Visual AV Insider - May 2006

Table of Contents:
1. 3M Introduces a New Digital Easel
2. Da-Lite Adds Stationary Flat Panel Stand
3. NEC Ships Two New LCD Install Projectors
4. SMART Upgrades SMART Board Software
5. New 802.11n Wireless Products Shipping
6. Polycom Announce Video Telephony Collaboration
7. Crestron Adds Video to iMedia Control System
8. NEC Taking Trade-ups
9. New SANYO Projector Delivers up to 12000 Lumens
10. Digital Signage Update
11. Podcasting - Get Your Message Out

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1. 3M Introduces a New Digital Easel

Introducing a new digital annotation product for the classroom, meeting room or training room.  The 3M Digital Easel combines a traditional easel with simple technology to electronically capture notes as they are being written.

  • Electronically capture meeting notes.
  • Focus on brainstorming rather than note taking.
  • Meeting does not stop if you run out of paper.
  • Dry erase surface allows notes to be captured without paper.
  • Space saving design
  • Its portable - take it with you!

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2. Da-Lite Adds Stationary Flat Panel Stand

Da-Lite Screen Company introduced they have added the Advance Fixed Plasma Stand for flat panel displays up to 50 inches diagonally and up to 100 lbs. to their line of carts and stands.  Square tubing uprights support the mount, which offers 30-degrees of tilt. The Fixed Plasma Stand comes in a black powder coated finish in heights of 60, 72 and 84 inches.



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3. NEC Ships Two New LCD Install Projectors

NEC has two new LCD projectors specified at XGA resolution with 3500 ANSI lumens (NP1000) and 4000 ANSI lumens (NP2000).  Both have bayonet type lenses that make it easy to change out the lense on the fly.  There are five optional bayonet lenses for NP1000 and NP2000 projectors.

They have vertical and horizontal lens shift and built-in RJ45 as well as 802/11b/g.  Security is provided with logo lock, password protection and cabinet control lock which lets users deactivate buttons on the cabinet to prevent unwanted changes to projector settings.

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4. SMART Upgrades SMART Board Software

SMART announced a major upgrade to the company's SMART Board software.  Version 9.5 takes what is good about the SMART software and just makes it easier.  It also catches the Mac version up with the Windows version making files interchangeable.

The Gallery feature within the Notebook software has a nice, familiar tree structure for storing and retrieving content.  Users can arrange and store their own content and can use the more than 6,000 pre-loaded images, backgrounds, audio, Flash and video files.  More than 500 new learning objects were also added from companies such as Intel Skoool, Espresso Education, Froguts and Daydream Education.  One great addition is the Gallery keyword search.

Another great addition is the multimedia integration.  Users don't have to leave the current presentation to call up a multimedia file - the presentation or lesson remains on screen while the video or other multimedia file plays in another window.  And the video files can be resized, written over and stored in the Gallery just as any other type of file.  Audio files can be attached to objects or can be objects themselves.

Users can also now present nonlinear presentations or lessons using object linking.  Users can embed inks to webpages or any document or file on your hard drive.

Other new features include object lock, PowerPoint import and export, subscript, super script, scientific symbols, and freehand screen capture allowing users to trace an object to isolate it, then save it.

Version 9.5 is a free upgrade.

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5. New 802.11n Wireless Products Shipping

With speeds of up to 600 Mbps, the emerging 802.11n standard is the next generation of wireless networking, delivering the speed, range, and reliability to support the most bandwidth intensive applications.  802.11n incorporates multiple technologies including Spatial Multiplexing MIMO (Multi-In, Multi-Out), 20 and 40 MHz channels, and dual bands (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz) to generate the high speeds and at the same time communicate with legacy 802.11b/g devices.

NETGEAR is delivering the world's first available family of next-generation 802.11n solutions.  NETGEAR Announces the immediate availability of the RangeMax NEXT product family based on Broadcom InteNsi-fi Draft-11n Compliant Chipsets.  Designed to support the growing variety of advanced, bandwidth-intensive applications such as high-definition video streaming and IP telephony, the newest members of NETGEAR's RangeMax NEXT family of draft 802.11n-compliant wireless networking products utilize Broadcom's InteNsi-fi technology to deliver superior performance and robust wireless connectivity.

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6. Polycom, Avaya Develop Announce Video Telephony Collaboration

Video conferencing company Polycom and IP telephony company Avaya joined forces to create a video telephony solution.  The companies say their new solution is standards-based, allowing it to integrate into existing communications platforms.  They are using the instant messaging capabilities of Avaya IP Softphones to communicate to and from Polycom video endpoints.

As an example, users can place a voice call using an Avaya IP Softphone and add video - with TV-quality images appearing on each user's PC - with the click of a button.  Or, for a remote user with a desktop that wants to connect to a conference room meeting, the off-site party can launch a group video call using an Avaya IP Softphone with video and a desktop, while the meeting-room participants connect with a Polycom VSX series system.  And for multiple remote parties wanting to connect via video telephony, users in all the various locations can use either an Avaya IP Softphone or a Polycom VSX series system and leverage a Polycom MGC Multipoint Control Unit (MCU) for, says Polycom, seamless multipoint video conference calls.

Avaya and Polycom say the system allows multiple media streams, secure and reliable IP telephony and Windows-based interfaces.

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7. Crestron Adds Video to iMedia Control System

Crestron added composite video signal management to its iMedia family of products.  IM is a one-wire solution, transmitting power, control data, computer signals, high-quality audio and now composite video - all over a single CAT5e type cable.  For a boardroom, conference room, or classroom that requires basic projector control and source selection, for example, iMedia offers a simple solution at an affordable price point, says the company.

The new IM receivers all feature composite video outputs to the projector or plasma in addition to the computer, audio and control connectors.  Each of the IM transmitters, including wall mount, lectern mount and flush mount FlipTop boxes, is available in a choice of either computer only or computer with composite video inputs.  The output signal from the transmitter to the receiver is the exclusive Crestron iMedia one-wire solution.  All signals are transmitted on the single IM CAT5e type wire.

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8. NEC Taking Trade-ups

NEC announced a new trade-up program called the PowerUp Program.  PowerUp lets projector owners trade their current models in for a discount on a new NEC projector.

You can get quotes on trade-up projector values at http://necsam.tradeups.com.  Enter a description of the old projector (manufacturer, model, quantity) and NEC will give you an instant quote on the used projector.  NEC will then provide you a shipping label so you can send in your old projector.

The PowerUp program run until the end of September 2006.  The customer will receive a minimum of $100 or the Fair Market Value, whichever is greater, for each qualifying trade-in projector.  The projector must be in working condition, and there are no limits on the year or shape of the projector.  Customers will receive this promotion when trading-in any Epson, Hitachi, InFocus, Mitsubishi or NEC projector.  If you are looking to purchase a new NEC projector signup for the trade-up program today and then contact your United Visual account representative.

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9. New SANYO Projector Delivers up to 12000 Lumens.

SANYO introduced the PLC-XF46, a new front projector specified at up to 12000 lumens, 1200:1 contrast ratio and using three three large 1.8 inch, 1024 by 768 pixel XGA LCDs. SANYO says you can stack two of these "Tabletop" units to achieve 24,000 lumens on screens up to 600 inches in diagonal size.

If the XF46 is operated in the two-lamp mode (it comes with four), a single projector can still produce 6000 lumens with an overall lamp life of more than 4000 hours (single lamp life of 2,000 hours in normal mode or 2500 hours in a lower power "Eco mode"). With four lamps, you get a redundancy that keep the projector going even if some lamps need replacing. Also, the XF46 can automatically switch to a long-life, low power, "Failsafe" mode whenever a single lamp defect is detected.

SANYO also says the projector is designed with new long-life "Biena 4" LCDs 1.8 inches in diagonal size -- without microlenses. Where other systems need microlenses to make large amounts of light, the SANYO XF46 does not. Plus not using mircolenses helps to avoid any light damage on the LCD panels by eliminating any chance of dangerous hot spots -- or focused concentrations of light from the microlens.

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10. Digital Signage Update

Digital signage is one of those terms that doesn't mean a lot to most people by itself.  To the actual users, it might be a controllable network of display for nationwide retail stores, or a network of electronic employee bulletin boards managed by human resources, or electronic menu systems that automatically change menus and advertisements based on time zones, current promotions and regional preferences.

Digital signage has come a long way in the past few years, partly because many more companies are providing solutions.  That has made the technology far more accessible (in both price and ease of use) to the average organization.  Here, we take a look at some of the uses.

An international movie theater chain was interested in replacing the still movie posters with electronic signage for movie previews of upcoming films.  The challenge is that different parts of the world offer vastly varied films as well as different film distribution schedules.

Now, from one central location, the electronic signage manager can send video feeds to the electronic posters all around the world.  If a specific film is upcoming in one theater or hundreds, that can be programmed.  The content can be sent to as many or as few theaters as needed, and there is no limit to the amount of different content.  So, if 500 theaters are advertising 900 different movies, all the content and scheduling can be done from one central location.

A chemical plant with five different facilities around the country wanted a way to communicate with employees, especially in cases of emergency.  When there is a problem at one plant, the rumor mill runs fast and often, inaccurately, through all the other plants.  People panic, phone lines become jammed and managers at all plants end up trying to calm everyone even when he or she has no information updates.  So the managers wanted to take charge of disseminating information during a crisis.

During normal operations, the employee information system announces employee anniversaries, upcoming company events, any changes in corporate policies and any other information HR wants to share with employees.  The content is tailored to each location.  Near the ends of shifts, the displays change to inform the employees of current local weather and traffic to help them plan their drives home.

In case of a crisis at one of the plants, the system will inform employees at the local plant of what actions they should take, such as evacuation routes through the building.  At the other plants, the electronic bulletin board tells the employees what has occurred and the severity or lack of, and then informs them when the crisis is over.

Most organizations would benefit from digital signage systems, whether they want to communicate within one building or hundreds.

In our next issue, we'll explore other recent uses for digital signage.

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11. Podcasting - Get Your Message Out

Podcasting is the method of distributing multimedia files, such as audio or video files over the Internet or network for playback on mobile devices and personal computers.  "Podcasting" is a compound word coined in 2004 that combines two words: "iPod" and "broadcasting."  MP3 players like the iPod have become enormously popular over that last few years.  It is estimated that 22 million adults currently own an iPod.  That number could easily double over the next two years.

Savvy organizations know that these little genius inventions aren't just for entertainment - they're a great way to get messages to people eager to keep those little buds in their ears while lounging, exercising, and even while working.

Up until recently, a live presentation was lost in the air once it was over.  In just the last few years, organizations have learned that live presentations can be saved as rich media files and shared with those who attended and also shared with anyone in the future who needed the information presented.

Organizations are increasingly recording presentations as MP3 audio messages for their audiences.  The messages can remain available as MP3 files or "Podcasts" indefinitely.  Podcasting is great for those wanting to get their messages out to their audiences via computer networks quickly.  Users can download the audio files and listen to them whenever it's convenient.  Organizations can also push the content out to those that subscribe to the "Podcasts" so the new Podcast files automatically download when they become available.

MP3 players and Podcasting may not be completely changing the way organizations communicate but this trend is a great way to enhance communications programs.  Let's look at how some organizations are taking advantage of this trend.

Employee Fireside Chats

President Franklin D. Roosevelt was renowned for his Fireside Chats radio program.  In the 1930s and '40s, he communicated with American citizens via a radio program, discussing everything from the New Deal to the state of World War II.  He was a master at using technology to keep his constituents informed of what the U.S. was doing, why we were doing it and he answered whatever questions were on the minds of his audience.

Heads of organizations in today's world are using Podcasting in a similar way.  Whereas employee communications reverted to stiff and impersonal memos over the past few decades, today's Podcasting technology allows CEOs to go back to a more personal style of communicating.  They can discuss the state of the company, dispel any rumors, share the goals and successes with employees by just talking for anywhere from five to 30 minutes on a regular schedule.

Podcasting is also a great way of introducing new key employees, those high level employees that most wouldn't get the opportunity to meet.  Podcasts are also a very affordable way to conduct trainings and to share meetings and conferences.

And as with all Podcasts, employees can subscribe to them, so there is no effort required on the part of the employee to find and download the file.  The Podcast is automatically downloaded, making it a very easy way for employers to communicate and employees to get the messages.

Investor Calls

Publicly traded companies traditionally hold investor audio conferences to verbally communicate big news to their investors, whether it is to announce earnings or acquisitions or other milestones.  Now, the audio conferences can be saved as MP3 files and anyone researching the company can access the Podcasts to learn more about the company.  Podcasting is a far more valuable way of reaching potential investors because the investors get a better sense of who is leading the company than they would by just reading a prospectus.

Student Updates

School principals, deans and presidents use Podcasting these days to keep in touch with students.  Podcasts to students cover everything from sports events and pep rallies to SAT test schedules and announcing individual achievements.  Especially in large schools, Podcasting is a great way for those running the schools to create a sense of community and familiarity.

Godcasting

Houses of worship are increasingly turning to Podcasting to keep their sermons and services on file.  "Godcasting" is extremely popular these days among clergy, who are delighted to reach wider audiences than those attending their sermons.  Those subscribing to Godcasts can listen to their own local clergy and also listen to others they find inspirational but are not geographically available to them.

More Ways to Use Podcasting

Just about any audience can be reached with Podcasting - customers, the media, suppliers - you name it.  And the beauty of it is that Podcasting is one of the most affordable methods of communicating available today.  The software to create the Podcast is either inexpensive or free, depending on which software you choose.  The only thing Podcasting takes is time and a bit of knowledge, really -- time to record your Podcast and time and knowledge for someone to do the appropriate HTML programming to make the Podcast available.

Podcasting is an entertaining way of getting your messages across to your audiences.  Podcasting also impresses people, who view organizations using this new technology as cutting edge.

How can we help?  United Visual can help you guarantee your audio is audible.  When capturing any type of audio you will want it to be of the highest quality possible.  Before your next conference, training, or any form of audio communications, or if you want to start Podcasting as part of a regular communications program, be sure to contact us so we can use the best audio equipment for the job.

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