3. Da-Lite Acoustic Imager
Da-Lite has a very handy product for a variety of installations. The Acoustic Imager is a screen with built-in left, center and right speakers that make it easier to use a projection screen in a room without having to worry about where to place those three speakers. It sounds very good, and looks great.
4. LG Electronics Exhibits 71-Inch LCoS
LCoS (liquid crystal on silicon) is the newest display technology to hit the market and it seems to compete well with DLP and CRT rear projection. LG recently unveiled a 71-inch model with up to 1920 x 1080 resolution and 3500:1 contrast ratio. It measures less than 22 inches deep.
5. Epson Marketing 3LCD XGA Projector
Epson's new PowerLite 76c is specified at 2000 ANSI lumens and XGA (1024 x 768) resolution. This 3LCD 5.7-pound model is designed with a new lamp technology, Epson Twin Optimized Reflection Lamp (E-TORL) that the company says allows them to get a high brightness out of a smaller box. It is also designed to reduce light leakage and diffraction.
PowerLite 76c takes just four seconds from power on to projection and has instant off. It also has a "Source Search" button which automatically identifies and displays the connected inputs and changes instantly between sources.
6. Toshiba Develops 30GB Dual Layer HD DVD-R
Toshiba got a step ahead in the DVD format race with the demonstration of a dual-layer HD DVD-R recordable disc that holds 30 gigabytes. The new disc was approved as Version 1.9 at the September meeting of the DVD Forum's Steering Committee and its technical information will be made available as the Version 1.9 specifications. Toshiba targets completion of Version 2.0 of the specifications book by the DVD Forum within this year, and plans to have an HD DVD recorder to support the disc by the end of the year.
The DVD Forum approved a 15GB single-layer HD DVD-R discs as Version 1.0 of a write-once HD DVD disc in February 2005.
The dual-layer HD DVD-R disc is based on the same disc structure as current DVD discs, HD DVD-ROM discs (read-only), and HD DVD-RW discs (rewritable): back-to-back bonding of two 0.6 millimeter-thick substrates. The new disc also shares key manufacturing processes with DVD-R: use of an organic dye as the data storage medium; and a spin-coating process for depositing the dye. As a result, say those behind this technology, disc manufacturers can minimize their investment in disc production equipment for dual-layer HD DVD-R by using already installed DVD-R manufacturing lines for mass production.
7. Wired Version of New Epson Projector
Epson's announcement also includes the PowerLite 750c, the same as the Epson 755c without the wireless capability. Both projectors are specified at native-XGA resolution (1,024 x 768), 2,000 ANSI lumens and a compact size (7.6"D x 10.9"W x 2.7"H) under four pounds. They both have fast start-ups and Epson's Instant Off.
8. 1080p Front Projectors to Hit the Market
Texas Instruments' DLP 1080p will soon be on the market. Front projectors using this new high definition technology will soon be available in both single-chip and three-chip models from companies such as Barco, Mitsubishi, Panasonic, and Sharp.
These will be fantastic in graphic-intensive applications such as engineering and medicine, and will make for eye-catching keynotes and other presentations.
9. Panasonic Develops Eighth Generation Plasmas
Slim bezels, up to 4000:1 contrast ratio and models with hidden touch controls are some of the features in Panasonic's newly designed professional plasma displays. The line ranges from 37 to 65 inches and includes both standard and high definition displays. They all have 16:9 aspect ratio and incorporate a new Real Black Drive System for dark area contrast, a Deep Black Filter for greater contrast ratio in bright rooms, Advanced Real Gamma System, high-precision Motion Picture Disturbance (MPD) Noise Reduction, Active I/P (Interlace/Progressive) Conversion 3D Color Management system, and Adaptive Automatic Gain Control (AGC).
The panels also have an advanced Dual Picture mode, which combines any two AV signals and displays them in three different modes (two picture-in-picture and one picture-out-picture modes). And a Picture-in-Picture mode displays a full-screen PC image with a video overlay, and there are a 4X Digital Zoom and built-in video wall processor for a configuration up to 16-panel (4x4).
10. BenQ Announces Three New Professional Projectors, Including 1.7-Pound Palm Projector
BenQ has three new projectors ranging from 300 (Palm Projector) to 2000 lumens.
The MP610, designed for home and business, is specified at 2000 ANSI lumens, 2000:1 contrast ratio and SVGA (800 x 600) resolution. This is positioned as mid-range among the company's projector offerings.
Some of the features of the MP610 include sRGB color reproduction, auto-off at 5, 10, 15, or 20 minutes, and BenQ's Golden Ratio Color Wheel designed to produce more natural flesh tones.
The new CP120 is a wireless projector, compatible with 802.11a/b/g and weighing just 2.9 pounds. The CP120 is specified at XGA (1024 x 768), 1500 ANSI lumens and 2000:1 contrast ratio - a lot for such a lightweight! This projector also includes the Golden Ratio Color Wheel.
The new P1 Palm Projector weighs 1.7 pounds and, as the name suggests, is about the size of your palm. It is specified at 300 lumens, 2000:1 contrast ratio and VGA (640 x 480). BenQ says it can project a 100-inch display from 40 inches away, but at that resolution, it's hard to say how it will look. OK for data but really a novelty more than anything.
11. Maximizing the Value of Your AV Investment
In our last issue we discussed how to explain the return on investment that AV equipment provides. AV equipment may be fun gadgets, but it is renowned for improving information retention, maximizing resources by freeing people to be more productive, improving job satisfaction as well as the image of the organization.
Once you convince the CFO to write that check, a bit more effort and, yes, money, are needed to protect the investment.
One of the greatest risks to your AV investment is security. Stolen and damaged equipment is quite common, whether due to outright theft or pranksters' antics. The replacement and repair costs can be substantial.
Most equipment can, at minimum, be affixed to walls, desks or mounts with devices such as Kensington locks, which make it very difficult to remove a device without taking a lot of time and special tools. Projector mounts often have optional security devices as well.
Now that audiovisual and information technologies are actually integrated over the organizational network, security can be even tighter. Many device manufacturers now make their devices network-ready, and some of those manufacturers, as well as third parties, offer software that periodically poll all AV devices on the network to check their status. In addition, most of those software programs will send an email, a page, or an IM to your cell phone to alert you if any device is physically moved from its position. That way you, or a colleague nearer to the device, can stop any tampering while it's in progress.
Connecting devices over the network also allows for better maintenance of the equipment. Not only will the software alert you if a device is malfunctioning, it will also keep maintenance schedules for tasks such as replacing projector bulbs before they burn out. At a large organization, this is vital because any equipment sitting idle is a disruption for the presenter or professor and if it sits idle long enough, the user will look for other means to deliver their messages, probably by duplicating equipment.
Protection From the Elements
As everyone knows, storms often blow out anything connected to the electrical wiring. Surge protectors aren't nearly enough - they simply don't cut it.
There are two general categories of devices that will keep your current flowing safely and extend the life of your AV system. The first category is known as power conditioners - units that filter and clean incoming AC power and reduce wear and tear to power supplies and internal circuits. The second category includes devices that exclusively divert or suppress power surges and spikes. They are known as either SPDs (Surge Protective Devices) or TVSSs (Transient Voltage Surge Suppressors).
These are obviously good investments for protecting your equipment and we will usually integrate them into your system integration proposal.
Training is one of the factors most overlooked when people think of protecting their AV investments. But it's actually often a cause for under-use of equipment. AV devices will sit idle when someone doesn't know how to use them.
And initial training is obviously not enough. There needs to be a program in place to be sure new additions to the staff are trained as well. They need to feel efficient when using the equipment - they don't want to waste valuable time trying to get up and running. And they don't want the frustration of complicated interfaces.
A vital part of the training is making sure the users understand why use of AV is important. The ability to deliver good content in creative, entertaining ways makes the presenter feel good about his or her abilities and performance, and entertaining, multimedia presentations keep the audience interested and increases information retention
There is also a selfish motive to good trainings. The better you train your staff, the less often you'll get SOS calls for help setting up or using equipment.
Integration of Equipment
Once all equipment is on the network, there are ways to make them further work together. Control systems are commonly used to help integrate tasks. For example, if a particular professor often uses a projector to show video, a control system can be programmed to dim or turn off the lights, close the blinds and turn on the projector all with the touch of one button.
A trend that is growing and will likely become standard is the media server. Files of all sorts - data, video, music, etc. - can be put in a central location so that they can be retrieved over the network. That way, the presenter doesn't need to lug a laptop or disk into the room and, also, files that are used by more than one person are easily accessible.
Integrating equipment maximizes peoples' time and also simply makes it easier to use.
Finally, securing a service contract with us will prevent a lot of the headaches associated with maintaining audiovisual equipment. With a service contract, we keep the equipment up and running, interrupt theft or tampering with equipment and replace parts before, or as, needed.
Your System Integrator
United Visual can provide all these services -- training, service contracts, monitoring, equipment maintenance, security and protection from the elements. The most important thing for us is to ensure you get the absolute maximum return on your AV investment and that everyone enjoys the experience.
12. Aspects to Consider
For as long as we've done presentations, we've been accustomed to using 4:3 aspect ratio. Our TV sets, our computer monitors and our projection screens were almost square - slightly wider than it was tall.
The first to break this rule was the movie industry. Back in the 1950s, when television was captivating audiences, the cinema industry decided to strike back by offering something the TV did not offer - wider aspect ratio. They developed formats such as CinemaScope, which was far wider, giving the viewer a more panoramic experience and luring ticket buyers back to the theaters.
Most films still offer a wide aspect ratio. For many years, when we watched a film on television, we would see "This film has been changed from the original to fit your screen." What that meant was that in order to fit the 4:3 aspect ratio of the television set, the broadcaster cut off the sides of the film. So, the viewer lost a lot of the film and definitely lost what the filmmaker intended.
The last few years, films on DVD have changed home theater so that a large majority of televisions today are in the wider 16:9 aspect ratio to show films as they were intended to be seen. And because so many travelers were taking their DVDs on airplanes, manufacturers began selling notebook computers with the wider 16:9 aspect ratio.
It wasn't long before presenters realized that while the vertical space on the wall may be somewhat limited, the horizontal space rarely is. A projection screen is often mounted on a dedicated wall. A 4:3 aspect ratio projection screen may mean a lot of wasted space that could be filled with more data.
In addition, there are specific industries in which the 16:9 aspect ratio is preferred. Design studios, production houses, anyone in the visual arts and others responsible for the development and creation of visual content have standardized on 16:9. In fact, Apple computer, the preferred choice for designers, has moved the majority of its product line to 16:9. Capitalize on the widespread adoption and growth of 16:9 formats for design of media, graphics and images by recommending 16:9 projection to your clients
More important to the mainstream is that the 16:9 provides opportunities to present more information. For example, a presenter can use a split-screen in 16:9, impractical with 4:3, for showing two different sources of data at once. An example is with conferencing: the remote speaker can be speaking on one half of the screen while sharing a PowerPoint presentation on the other. And this is true for any collaborative meetings.
Many experts believe the 16:9 aspect ratio will become the standard before long. That means as your legacy 4:3 equipment ages, you'll want to be replacing it with 16:9 projectors, projection screens, notebook computers, and flat-panel displays. You'll also want to standardize your content creation, such as PowerPoint slides, and begin moving oft-used 4:3 presentations into the new format.
Presenters can be more creative, conferencing is now better and more affordable than ever. Let us show you how much more you can do with 16:9 in your organization.
13. Prepare, Protect, Prevail
Images of the recent natural disasters that have devastated regions of our country boggle the mind with their implications. The human factors tug at the heart, while the economic factors are yet to be fully known. Reports of the total destruction of large organizations (banks, casinos, government offices, even insurance companies themselves) with their structures, equipment, files and records, should serve as a wake-up call to create a disaster plan.
Americans tend to agree that "no place is safe" from potential hazard, be they forces of nature, or man-made. Tornadoes, earthquakes, wildfires, ice storms, and, of course, hurricanes can inflict catastrophic results and disrupt operations either short or long-term. While some of these threats will always be unpredictable, there's no time like the present to take steps to minimize and mitigate the damage you could suffer from a disastrous event. You have worked too hard to build your AV infrastructure and populate it with the presentations and messages that are vital to your audiences, to see it all (literally!) gone with the wind or washed away.
Let's review what you can do to prepare and protect your investment.
First, make sure your business insurance policies are adequate and up-to-date. Have your agent appraise your business every five years. Policies should be stored in a fireproof, waterproof location.
Take pictures or video of the inside and outside of your business. Be sure to document all equipment and supplies. Back-up critical data - be it CDs, PowerPoint presentations, video/audio tapes, DVDs, original artwork such as slides, other photography, logos, and graphic design archives. Investigate the availability, convenience and cost of off-site data storage services.
Ask your insurance agent about Business Interruption Insurance, a Business Owners Protection Package, and Income Disruption Insurance. If you are hit by disaster, there may be low-interest relief loans available from the Small Business Administration field office.
Whether an event is forecast or unexpected, the preservation of human life naturally is of primary concern. That said, a plan that allows for the quick and intelligent protection of valuable equipment can mean the difference between a swift restoration of operations, many days or weeks of frustration, or total loss.
As experienced with Florida's Hurricane Andrew in 1992, a Category 5 storm proves that virtually nothing survives the power of 155 mph or higher winds and the inevitable gusts. While the "direct-hit" area may be relatively small, a larger, wider area is likely to suffer serious damage as well, as we saw with Hurricane Katrina.
Rain and wind are the most likely villains of destruction. "Walk" your presentation areas, or other locations where AV equipment is used or stored. Note the location of doors and windows. If windows break, airborne debris and water can enter. A wind-tunnel effect can be created, as the wind will seek an exit. Try to imagine what could occur.
Then, identify in advance the corners, closets, or windowless rooms where you could easily move equipment making sure it is first unplugged. Keep a supply of heavy plastic wrap (garbage bags will do) and tape handy for such an emergency. If a disaster is on the way and time permits, double wrap each component to keep out water, grit, or other debris.
If flooding seems likely, place equipment in water resistant containers, such as garbage cans or plastic storage boxes. If a roof collapse is possible, try locating sensitive equipment under a sturdy desk or table that can withstand the effects of falling ceilings.
Similar precautions should be taken for your essential software.
Any disaster plan should address the role of employees. They'll need time and opportunity to protect their own homes and families. But since the degree of any disaster is inherently "unknown" until it hits, employees should have a clear sense of their responsibilities in the meantime.
Who goes home, who stays, who helps who accomplish what tasks? Indeed, can your place of business actually serve as a shelter for workers and their families? These are questions to consider and prepare for now, rather than later.
In the Aftermath
As must be sadly acknowledged, local authorities may not provide adequate protection from looting. Develop a contingency plan, either with a private security company and/or an employee task force.
From the standpoint of strict safety, do not plug in any equipment that may be water damaged. Beware of running any electronic component from a generator, as this "unclean" source of power may be subject to surges, spikes and voltage drops and could damage the equipment. During cleanup, dangerous charges of electricity may be retained in power supplies and monitors. Retaining a qualified technical person to salvage such equipment is the safest thing to do.
Be aware that rain and storm water may contain a fine grit that can coat the inside and outside of valuable equipment, rendering them non-functional. The cleaning process may require the use of small vacuums, brushes, compressed air and soft towels. It will definitely require patience. Before undertaking the cleaning of any component, know the answer to these three questions: 1) Is the warranty in effect? 2) Will I void the warranty by taking this action? 3) Is a professional technician available to do the necessary work?
Although Mother Nature rules us all with the decisions she makes, we are able to live as her thoughtful, careful sons and daughters doing what we can to avoid her wrath. We must always hope for the best, and prepare for the worst. Check with us soon to help develop a customized, smart disaster prevention and recovery plan and, while we hope you won't need to, call us afterward to help put your equipment and your business back together.