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Signal Conversion: Unifying Complex Multimedia in the Classroom

Oct 3, 2006 11:07 AM, By Linda Seid Frembes


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The education market often draws parallels and comparisons with other market segments, like its similarity with the corporate market in the adoption of enterprise network backbones. Recently, more educational facilities are also treading into professional broadcast market territory by integrating video signal conversion products not usually seen in the classroom environment.

Take, for example, the new multimedia room at the Harvard University Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, D.C. Systems integrator Univision’s Crimson Group of Wilmington, Mass., worked with creative consultant Convergeo of Concord, Mass., to create a space that could host discussions about everything from Ancient Rome and Greece to tracing the history of Egyptian pharaohs and the Parthenon. The “Digital Agora Room,” also known as the “Creative Space” room, has all the expected AV equipment—personal computers, DVD players, VCRs, a document camera, a videoconferencing system, projectors, and a 5.1 surround sound audio system—whose multimedia output can be streamed to remote locations so that colleagues and scholars all over the world can contribute to and benefit from the experience.

The lynchpin in making the video system output appear seamlessly is the installed TV One SC-1250R scalers. An integral component in the success of the room, the TV One scalers handle all the signals from the three projectors and other input devices and converts the diverse video signals to a common output type—in this case VGA signals.

Following the conceptual goal of the room, which is to display information in a way that is so understated it never intrudes on the thought processes of those that use it, the AV system can present a seemingly unlimited combination of video sources in one common output type with zero fuss. “We are starting to do more business with universities, more so with video scalers and presentation switchers,” explains Dan Gibson, vice president at TV One in Erlanger, Ky. “TV One has excelled its penetration into the education market by focusing on cost performance of the product lines, meeting or exceeding competitors’ specifications, and offering more features at a good price.”

The company was founded in 1991 and has the distinction of manufacturing one of the first scan converters on the market. According to Gibson, that product represented a fair amount of business for several years. Since then, the company has evolved with market changes. With less of a need for strictly PC-to-video conversion, TV One’s core business shifted to the presentation market.

TV One has quickly gained recognition for the development of its proprietary Corio and Corio2 video-conversion technologies. The technology is used in all of the company’s video scalers, switchers, and video mixers. New Corio2 units debuting this year are the ultimate in cost efficiency and flexibility. “We are very well-known for our scaling engine. The firmware-based technology makes each unit very flexible on resolution and effects,” Gibson says. “Units can do exactly what the user wants them to do. We don’t rely on a third-party scaling chip like other manufacturers.”

Sold through integrators and dealers, TV One products have become popular in the education market, as well as other markets that rely on cost-effective, high-performance solutions. The company also manufactures products with its proprietary technology for OEM customers. “Using our technology, the user can program the input and output resolution they need. Our scalers can handle virtually all resolutions up to 2048x2048, while other products on the market have fixed resolutions,” Gibson says. “Additionally, the user can do up-, down-, and cross-conversions easily.”

Users can easily upgrade their TV One product with changes in performance or feature set by free firmware upgrades made available for download on the company’s tech support website. “Firmware upgrades are a huge cost advantage to the end user,” Gibson says. “It’s a good buy for the budget-conscious customer; in a way, it’s much like future-proofing your system. Five years from now if a new projector on the market comes out with a higher resolution, a customer would have to buy a new scaler/switcher. With TV One, that end-user could just do a firmware upgrade or program the resolution manually.”

This past summer, TV One added edge-blending capability as a free firmware upgrade to its C2 model line. Edge blending includes high resolution RGB computer images, composite video, S-Video, YUV or YPbPr component video, SD-SDI, HD-SDI, DVI, and any of the multiple formats supported by the product line. The edge-blending feature can also be used for other effects, such as adding a soft edge to single or dual picture-in-picture (PIP) windows on each output.

Moving forward, the drastic drop in projector pricing is helping with market penetration of signal conversion products in educational facilities. According to Gibson, TV One plans to fuel growth in the education market by introducing new scalers that move downstream in price and are more function-specific.





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