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INFOCOMM 2001 Wrap-Up

Aug 17, 2001 12:00 PM, Peter H. Putman, CTS

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It was inevitable that INFOCOMM, the industry’s pre-eminent A/V show, would wind up in Las Vegas, the glitz capital of the world. The overwhelming number of electronic display technologies seen at INFOCOMM fit naturally with the video-in-your-face atmosphere all over the city.

Venue wasn’t the only change this year. A new leadership team from ICIA was at the helm, along with a new logo and branding campaign for INFOCOMM. There was a record number of educational seminars, accompanied by several manufacturer-sponsored seminars.

Trade show floor space expanded to a new high of 513 exhibitors occupying nearly 300,000 square feet inside the Sands Expo Center. The serendipitous contiguity of the Venetian and Sands show floors made it convenient to dash from booth appointments to classes and back to the floor.

Main Themes: Aggressive Pricing and Line Expansion

That said, there really wasn’t much technological breakthrough this year. Rather, the show reflected the vagaries of the national economy—aggressive product pricing and line expansion were the hot topics of the 3-day event. The cutthroat discounting started by Sony in 1999 with the VPL-CS1 LCD projector sent shock waves through the industry that were still being felt at this show.

Ditto the lowball moves by Sony in the fall of 2000 with its 42-inch PFM-42B1 plasma. As a result, several companies dropped 50-inch panel prices into the $17,000–$18,000 range earlier this year, but Panasonic pulled the rug completely out from under them by introducing its 50-inch TH-50PHD3U at the show with a surprising $13,995 MSRP. (Now NEC knows what to charge for its new 61-inch plasma panel—the old 50-inch price!)

Predictions were made at NAB 2001 that we might see 50-inch panels under $10,000 by the end of this year, and that’s looking like an even stronger bet right now.

Extron Electronics had one of the broadest lines of new products, including a media control system that seems to be treading into Crestron and AMX territory (although Extron says that’s not the case). Speaking of AMX, they’re back, having consigned the Panja name to history. Upstart Kramer Electronics, with its strong management team, took dead aim at a piece of Extron’s business (and some of Folsom’s, too) with low-priced interfaces and seamless video/RGB scaler/switchers.

Clarity, Synelec, Mitsubishi and ImTech are burying the term videowall in favor of datawall, having mined a rich new niche market in the financial and public display industries. NEC, Epson, Sony, Barco, Mitsubishi and others featured at least one IP-enabled projector and/or plasma monitor, reflecting the increasing interest in blending LANs and the A/V world.

JVC surprised everyone by showing a new and improved QXGA D-ILA projector (yes, that’s 2048 by 1536 true pixels, unlike the Lasergraphics enhanced-XGA LCD projector), but Hitachi, Philips, Sanyo, 3M, Samsung and InFocus also got into the LCoS act. There’s a fair amount of money riding on reflective liquid crystal for high-resolution imaging, so look for more companies to get into this game shortly.

The other big news was the proliferation of ultra-micro DLP projectors, led by Plus with its new sub-2-pound design. As I said to TI officials, it’s now possible to lose both the remote and the projector behind your couch! Similar mockups and prototypes were seen from InFocus, Sharp, Mitsubishi, Philips, Acer, Compaq and others in the TI DLP booth. These products will also be aggressively priced, which will inevitably show up at the large computer and office supply discounters.

So What Happened at the O.K. Corral?

Last year, I dropped my annual (since 1994) analysis of the Projection Shoot-Out due to the withdrawal of Sony and Christie and a sub-par staging in Anaheim. At that time, I made an observation (which turned out to be rather controversial) that the event appeared to wobbling on its last legs.

Well, if this year was any indication, that observation was not far off the mark. Following Sony’s and Christie’s lead, several other manufacturers skipped the Shoot-Out entirely and concentrate on booth space instead. The Shoot-Out hall was noticeably smaller this year, with 84 entries dominated by the likes of Sanyo, Mitsubishi, Panasonic, Sharp, Viewsonic and Hitachi. At least one of this year’s participants told me they wouldn’t be back for 2002, since the absence of virtually all the market leaders rendered the competition virtually meaningless. Buyers now look for the lowest price in a given brightness/resolution category, not the best-looking or brightest image.

Two of this year’s Shoot-Out categories featured exactly one entry each, while seven had all of two entries apiece. The largest category in 2000 (1024x768 desktop projectors) featured 27 entries; this year, the largest category featured 15. However, there was a bright spot: The test images featured pop-up word balloons that instructed a viewer where and what to look for in a given test image, which was a great idea on the part of the Shoot-Out committee led by Steve Somers of Extron.

What about next year? There was talk of merging or blending the Shoot-Out into another, adjoining exhibit called the Display Systems Encounter. This might be a good idea, with an increased emphasis on education at INFOCOMM and reluctance on the part of exhibitors to spend extra money outside of their booth space.

The feeling here is that INFOCOMM is a strong, unique trade show; able to survive on its own without the Shoot-Out, if it comes to that. The record number of seminars, increased booth-space sales and the general positive buzz are all ample proof.

The Show in a (Rather Large) Nutshell

After 30 pounds of literature and several hours of note-taking, I’ve prepared a distilled version of the show. With several hundred exhibitors, it was impossible to visit everyone. For those I missed, my apologies. It wasn’t intentional; there just aren’t any 36-hour clocks available!

While there’s a ton of things to see at INFOCOMM, I’ve highlighted some selected products in color. This means I thought that particular product—or the technology it represents—was significant and not just the same old, same old.

Projectors: A Mother Lode

Projectors make the show go, and this year INFOCOMM featured a dizzying number of new projectors.

InFocus revealed a line of microportables, desktops and installation designs. For INFOCOMM, the company announced the LP290, an ASK-designed, 5.7-pound desktop, XGA (1024 by 768) LCD projector. It’s got a really nice European look and develops 1100 ANSI lumens. More importantly, it has a suggested MSRP of $3999.

InFocus also unveiled the LP530, another 5.7-pound projector that uses DLP technology. It also features XGA resolution but is one of the first single-chip DLP projectors to break the 2000-lumens barrier. Variable brightness settings for economy, video signal processing by Sage (Faroudja) and a suggested price of $4999 round out the picture. For installations, InFocus offers the Proxima Pro AV 9410, a 1280x1024 box rated at 3700 ANSI lumens and 600:1 contrast, with interchangeable lenses.

JVC’s demo of the DLA-QX1 consistently brought in big crowds. The model on display was rated at 7000 ANSI lumens and greater than 1000:1 contrast. And although it still had a few image artifacts, it looked substantially improved from its debut at ShoWest. The DLA-M5000L and DLA-M5000SC large-venue D-ILA projectors were also out for viewing. Both feature 1365x1024 native resolution and are rated at 5000 ANSI lumens. For the portable and desktop market, JVC also showed the DLA-DS1, an updated version of the DLA-3010Z prototype. This 14.3 chassis has SXGA resolution and is rated at 1300 ANSI lumens, making it the smallest (so far) and least-expensive (at $8995) SXGA projector on the market. For the home theater and cinema crowd, JVC demonstrated the DLA-G150HT CineLine projector, using a proprietary Video Gamma Profile grayscale tracking system to maintain true D-6500 color balance, rated at 1000 ANSI lumens.

Panasonic had a striking demo of its near-DLP-Cinema projector design, the PT-D9610U. Although Panasonic is not one of the three official DLP Cinema licensees, it has tinkered with the optical path, mirrors and added another aperture to lower black levels and boost contrast. I had to admit the results were quite impressive for a "standard" large-venue DLP chassis. (When asked, some Texas Instruments representatives stated they encouraged all of their customers’ efforts in making advancements to DLP imaging, but at least one person at TI "wasn’t too thrilled" with Panasonic’s efforts to blur the standard DLP and DLP-Cinema boundaries.)

Panasonic also had the PT-L711XNTU ultra-portable on display, using a wireless interface to communicate with a nearby 802.11b-equipped notebook computer. Two new portable LCD projectors entered the line: the XGA-resolution PT-L759XU (3100 lumens) and PT-L759VU (2400 lumens). Panasonic’s ultra-portable line has expanded by five models, ranging from the PT-L711XU (XGA, 1600 lumens) to the PT-L501XU (SVGA, 1200 lumens).

Christie Digital announced the sale of the DigiPro DLP Cinema projector to Industrial Light and Magic just before the show, which gave the company some nice momentum. At the Christie booth, the Vivid Red LCoS front projector was in the spotlight. This model uses three 0.9-inch D-ILA panels (yes, they’re from JVC) and features SXGA (1365 by 1024) native resolution. It’s rated at 1800 ANSI lumens and 500:1 contrast.

Enhancements were also announced to existing Christie models. The Roadster X4/S4 and Roadster X6/S6 modular DLP projectors got a boost to 4000 and 6000 lumens respectively, and feature new stacking and rigging systems. A partnership was announced with 3D Perception to use CompactU technology inside Christie projectors for simulation and 3D curved screen projection. (It works, but you still need those special glasses.)

Mitsubishi promoted the heck out of its sRGB-compliant projectors, showing off the new X500 desktop/installation projector (16 pounds, 3700 lumens, XGA), the 1024x768 X490 and 800x600 S490 (2500 lumens, 16 pounds), and the super-small XL1 and SL1 compact LCD projectors (1000 lumens, 6.5 pounds). Mitsubishi also had a demo of the Mini-Mits microportable DLP projector, and it’s reasonable to assume that an even smaller version will follow soon.

NEC Technologies brought plenty of new products along. Its MultiSync GT950 desktop/installation projector has true (not digital) dual-axis keystone correction, a must for stacking and seamless image projection. This 15-pound projector uses XGA LCD technology and can be fitted with an optional LAN card. NEC’s GT2150 now occupies the top of the LCD category for NEC, delivering 1365x1024 resolution, 3:2 pulldown compensation, interchangeable lenses and DVI input.

Upgrades to the LT-series were also on view, with the LT75 (SVGA) and LT150z (XGA) both delivering 1000 ANSI lumens and a claimed 800:1 contrast. Each projector has a built-in flashcard reader for notebook-less presentations, as well as NEC’s Vortex image enhancement technology. Across the aisle, some new additions to the Nighthawk line were showcased. The SX10000 is an 8000-lumen, SXGA (1280 by 1024) DLP large-venue chassis; while the XT4100 (XGA) and S4100 (SXGA) are more compact 3-chip DLP designs for small to mid-sized installs. Both are rated at 3500 ANSI lumens brightness.

Epson has been doing its homework and announced a trio of portable projectors at the show. The PowerLite 810p is a 2000-lumen XGA chassis that weighs 9.3 pounds. The PowerLite 800p is identical except for 1500 lumens brightness. For SVGA fans—including the budget-conscious educational market—the PowerLite 600p presents 1700 lumens in a 9.3-pound package. All three models support the sRGB color standard. For the installation crowd, the PowerLite 8150i cranks out 3200 lumens in a 20-pound box and provides LAN connectivity—both wired and wireless—through Epson’s software.

Sanyo retired its Projector Hall of Fame booth and went with a more contemporary presentation, showcasing the largest line of LCD projectors in the industry. Attention was focused on the PLC-UF10, the only true UXGA (1600x1200) LCD projector available on the market. This 78-pound chassis is rated at 7700 ANSI lumens and offers a range of interchangeable lenses.

Two new large-venue models made a splash: the 5800-lumen PLC-EF30/L (1280 by 1024, dual lamps, DVI) and the 5200-lumen PLC-XF30/L (1024 by 768, dual lamps, DVI). There was a new portable PLC-XP45/L (3500 lumens, XGA); three 8.6-pound ultra-portables—PLC-SU30, PLC-XU30, and PLC-XU35—ranging from 1600 to 2000 ANSI lumens; two microportables—PLC-XW20 (XGA, 1100 lumens) and PLC-SW15 (SVGA, 700 lumens); and the PLV-60HT home theater projector (1366x768 wide XGA, 1200 lumens). If that weren’t enough, there was even a LCoS prototype desktop projector on display.

Sony had the second-largest booth at the show, and the emphasis was on LAN connectivity and IP addressing. Even so, a few new projectors popped up, led by the VPL-PX15, a network-ready desktop/installation model with 1024x768 resolution and a rating of 2000 ANSI lumens. The VPL-PX10 also has XGA resolution and is rated at 2000 ANSI lumens but is not a network design. The SVGA-resolution VPL-PS10 complements the PX10 and delivers 1500 ANSI lumens.

Across the way, three new 5.5-pound microportables with 0.7-inch LCD panels grabbed some attention. The VPL-CX3 incorporates Sony’s Memory Stick technology for PC-less presentations and is rated at 900 ANSI lumens using 1024x768 LCDs. A lower-brightness version, VPL-CX2, is rated at 750 ANSI lumens, while the SVGA (800x600) VPL-CS3 cranks out 700 ANSI lumens. All three models have a unique flip-up top control panel with built-in speakers. For the installation crowd, the super-bright quad-lamped VPL-FE110U (4000 lumens, SXGA) and cool-looking VPL-FX50U (3500 lumens, XGA) were quite popular. Both are network-capable designs.

Barco unveiled a new network projector series: the 6400i. The BarcoGraphics 6400i features 1024x768 LCD panels and a new 600-watt UHP-style lamp, while the BarcoReality 6400i uses the same lamp and 1280x1024 LCD panels. Both models are rated at 3200 ANSI lumens, and both can be configured with IP addresses on a local-area network.

Barco also displayed the recently announced BarcoReality 6500DLC, first seen at NAB 2001. This small, large-venue projector is capable of 5500 ANSI lumens and uses micro-lens array 1280x1024 LCD panels for SXGA display, plus Barco’s Pixel Map Processor for scaling of lower- and higher-resolution sources. There’s also an optional IEEE-1394 input for direct digital connection to D-VCRs and digital cameras.

Sharp featured the ultra-small Notevision M15X (1024x768 DLP) and Notevision M15S (800x600 DLP). Both projectors weigh just 3.5 pounds and are rated at 1100 ANSI lumens. Each supports analog and DVI signals. The Notevision C20 compact LCD projector is an XGA LCD design and isn’t much bigger than the 15-series at 5.5 pounds. It cranks out 1000 ANSI lumens. Also on display were the Notevision M10S and M10X DLP micros, both at 2.9 pounds and developing 800 lumens.

For the install market, Sharp had the XG-V10XU and XG-V10WU on exhibit. The V10W is rated at 4700 ANSI lumens, while the V10X is rated at 4000 lumens. Both use 3-panel LCD technology, with XGA (1024x768) panels inside the V10X and SXGA (1280 by 1024) panels in the V10W. A full range of interchangeable lenses is offered for both models. In the "hang-and-bang" (fixed install) category, there was the XG-P20XU (3300 ANSI) and XG-P10XU (3000 ANSI). Both weigh less than 21 pounds, and the P20XU uses Gyration Inc.’s GyroPoint RF mouse technology.

Digital Projection, despite the battered stock price of parent company Imax, made a nice showing in Las Vegas. Its 20-Series Lightning displays really push the illumination bar past 12,000 lumens. The Lightning 22gv is rated at 10,000 ANSI and uses XGA (1024 by 768) native resolution DMDs, plus Faroudja/Sage and Cintel digital signal processing. One step up is the Lightning 22sx, with 11,000 ANSI lumens and SXGA (1280 by 1024) native resolution, also with the Faroudja/Cintel combo. Finally, there’s the Lightning 25sx, rated at a mind-boggling 14,000 lumens with SXGA resolution and Faroudja/Cintel inputs. All models support wide-bandwidth SDI.

Plus had some projectors that are smaller than the DP remotes! The newest entries—and those that got the most attention—were the 2-pound V-1080SF (XGA, 0.7-inch DMD, 800 lumens) and V-807SF (SVGA, 0.7-inch DMD, 700 lumens). Both projectors measure but 1.8 inches thick. I’m not kidding, you really can lose one of these beneath the couch cushions! Plus also had a clever-looking home theater projector, the HE-3100, which is the first to use the recently announced 16:9, 848x480 SDTV DMDs. It incorporates a 33dB quiet fan and automatic 3:2 pulldown compensation. (Yes, it’s light at 4.4 pounds. What did you expect?)

Hitachi has expanded on its microportable LCD line with the CP-X270W. This 800-lumen, XGA design is 2.4 inches thick and weighs 5 pounds. It was accompanied by two new portable/desktop models, the CP-X980W (2300 lumens) and CP-X985W (2700 lumens). Both projectors incorporate progressive-scan technology and use XGA (1024 by 768) LCD panels. Around the corner, Hitachi had a demo of its first LCoS projector, the CP-SX5500W. This SXGA (1365 by 1024) design is rated at 1500 lumens, but like the JVC DLA-DS1 is priced competitively at $8995. (I suspect it uses JVC devices as well.)

Toshiba continues to upgrade its line. This year, it brought out two new portable XGA projectors (TLP-780/781), XGA LCD designs rated at 2000 lumens. (The XX1 version has the attached video document camera.) The TLP-680/681 designs weigh under 10 pounds and develop 1500 ANSI lumens, while the TLP-550 and TLP-250 are more affordable XGA and SVGA models.

Toshiba also decided to jump into the home theater market with the TLP-MT7, a widescreen LCD projector that features 1280x720-pixel LCD panels and a rating of 1000 ANSI lumens. For fixed installs, there’s the TLP-X20. It has a DVI interface, a PCMCIA memory card slot, XGA (1024 by 768) resolution, and is rated at 2400 ANSI lumens.

Plasma Display Panels: More Options and Plummeting Prices

Although this category was not nearly as crowded as the projectors, there still were plenty of products to see.

Samsung, with its recently formed professional A/V division, is enthusiastic. Why not, when it has a full range of 16x9 plasma panels, from the 42-inch SPD-42P1SM (852x480 wide VGA) to the 50-inch SPD-50P2HM (1366x768 wide XGA) and the 63-inch SPD-63P1HM (also 1366x768 wide XGA). This is currently the largest plasma panel for sale. All of Samsung’s panels measure just over 3.3 inches thick, and they’re not too heavy—even the 63-inch model weighs only 150 pounds.

Sony showed the panel that started the recent price wars, the 16x9, 1024x1024, 3.25-inch-thick PFM-42B1. Supposedly, Sony can’t keep up with the orders. (These panels have gone as low as $6300 on the Internet.) This was also the first Sony panel to have IP connectivity, through a side slot. A 50-inch panel was expected but hasn’t arrived yet.

Sanyo sells plasma, too. It’s just hard to find behind all of the projectors on display. The PDP-42H1A is a 42-inch, 16x9 HD (1024 by 1024) panel, which in all likelihood originated in the Hitachi/Fujitsu factory. The PDP-32H1A 32-inch, 16x9 panel has an oddball resolution of 852x1024 pixels. Toshiba jumped on the 50-inch bandwagon with the 50HP81. It’s equipped with Toshiba’s ColorStream progressive-scanning technology and has a native pixel count of 1366 by 768 (wide XGA).

NEC’s newest flat panel is the PlasmaSync 61MP1, which (for a short while) was the largest commercially available PDP. This monster features 1365x768 wide-XGA resolution, 3:2 pulldown detection and compensation, built-in split screen imaging and digital zoom.

Hitachi brought along its 42-inch CMP4120HDU (16x9, 1024x1024) and 37-inch CMP307XU (4:3, 1024x768) plasma panels.

JVC showed the new 50-inch GD-V500PZU. It has a native pixel count of 1366 by 768.

Panasonic’s 16x9 TH-50PHD3U is significant for lowering the industry’s MSRP on 50-inch panels to $13,995; and it also incorporates the super-rich blacks and enhanced video signal processing of its 42-inch companion, the TH-42PWD3.

Pioneer’s PDP-503MX FlexPlasma is perhaps the first configurable plasma panel. An expansion card slot allows plug-in of analog and digital interface cards. This 16x9 panel has 1280x768 wide-XGA resolution and remains the lightest PDP at just under 90 pounds.

Fujitsu is a mover and shaker in the PDP market, and it provided more than a couple of surprises. The new 50-inch 16x9 panel (seen at Winter CES,)the PDS-5001 featuring 1365x768 wide-XGA resolution, is less than 4 inches thick, and has high contrast—this unit is bright! The 16:9, 42-inch PDS-4241 is a much brighter version of the PDS-4221, and it has quieter fans. The pixel resolution is 1204 by 1024, and it incorporates a proprietary Advanced Video Movement digital signal processor.

To keep up with Sony, Fujitsu also announced the relatively inexpensive PDS-4229AG. It’s a stripped-down 1024x1024 panel with the AVM processor, retailing for $6999—about $1000 less than the PFM-42B1. (Here we go again with the pricing wars.)

Datawalls and Large-Screen Displays: Bigger, Brighter, More Flexible

The datawall nee videowall category continues to be strong.

Clarity rolled out a few new rear-projection cubes and stand-alone displays, most notably the Lion WN-6720-UX. It’s a 67-inch AP/LCD display for 24/7 command and control and financial applications. The Lion is also available in XGA and SXGA resolution. The Panther PN-6730-UX is a standalone super-high-resolution display that also measures 67 inches and is intended for conference and meeting rooms.

Samsung’s ferro-electric LCD RP displays are capable of true 1280x720 resolution, using three FeLCD LCoS panels. The 43-inch display shown with these panels measures 15.7 inches deep. Samsung also showed the SV-50P1F, a 50-inch FeLCD RP cube in a 16:9 aspect ratio, and a 50-inch FeLCD RP monitor (ST-506WM, also 16:9). It will be interesting to see if the RP monitor category comes back; it’s been all but demolished by plasma in the Pro-A/V market.

Mitsubishi was the first DLP OEM to build 1024x768 RP cubes. At INFOCOMM, the company showed the MegaView datawall, made up of individual 50-inch RP cubes using 0.7-inch, 1024x768 DMDs. Each cube measures about 26 inches deep.

Christie showed its unique RP cubes, the GraphXMASTER CX50-100U (XGA DMD, 50-inch diagonal, 24 inches deep) and the GraphXMASTER CX60-100U (XGA DMD, 60-inch diagonal, 27 inches deep).

Toshiba showed the 50-inch (4:3) P500DL, a rear-projection cube that uses a 0.7-inch DMD and measures just over 21 inches in depth. There’s a companion P402LC 40-inch LCD rear-projection cube, too.

Olympus had the VisionPlex HDPS-100 100-inch (16:9) rear-projection stand-alone display in its booth. This RP monitor uses nine separate SVGA LCD projectors to achieve an amazingly bright image with over four million pixels of resolution in a 1300-pound cabinet.

ComView Visual Systems is coming on strong with a full line of RP monitors and datawall cubes. Its ViewBoard product is a seamless modular datawall that can use either 52-inch SVGA or 52-inch XGA DLP projection cubes, while the ViewScreen is a panoramic display that uses custom soft-edge blending from rear projectors. It works with flat or curved screens. Finally, the ViewMaestro is a custom multichannel controller for image manipulation on any ComView product.

Electrosonic brought the final version of its Vector Director image control software to INFOCOMM. This program is now more user-friendly for the corporate world. It processes video image and position choices in real time and supports two video/SVGA sources and one HD/SXGA source simultaneously. It can drive two separate progressive-scan outputs at up to 1280x1024-pixel resolution.

Scalers and Interfaces: Some Interesting Inventions

There were scads of interfaces to be seen in Las Vegas. Here’s a sampling of the models I got a chance to look at:

Kramer Electronics has decided to go after the interface market with a full line of inexpensive products. Of interest were the VP-series matrix switchers, including the VP-1616 (16x16 RGBHV), VP-3216 (32x16 RGBHV) and VP-3232 (32x32 RGBHV) models. There were also six new scan converters including a unique vertical-mount VP-701SC VGA/SVGA/XGA model, and the VP-706SC full-featured scan converter with genlock. Three video scalers rounded out the picture. The VP-721DS (up to XGA output with single-input VGA switcher), VP-722DS (same but with a four-input switcher), and the VP-770DS (converts up to SXGA output or 480p, 720p, 1080i and 1080p rates).

Communications Specialties had several models of its new Deuce MC and Deuce HD scalers in operation. The Deuce MC converts video to five different output rates, including 800x600, 852x480 (for plasma) and 1024x768, while the Deuce HD converts to DTV-standard rates (480p, 720p, 1080p) plus SXGA and wide XGA (1366 by 768).

Faroudja’s Native Rate Series processor was on display and is designed to optimize mid-priced fixed-installation digital LCD, DLP and plasma. Scan rates can be optimized for 480p screens, 852x480 plasma, 800x600 projectors, 16:9 HD displays, 1024x768 projectors, 1366x768 plasma, ALIS plasma, and D-ILA projectors. They’re reasonably priced, too, at $3995 apiece.

InLine showed the IN1408 Video/DVI Scaler, one of the least expensive scalers I’ve seen that supports the DVI format (so far, not very popular). It will handle video and RGB signals up to 1600 by 1200 and outputs three separate outputs as analog RGB, analog YPbPr, and also DVI at the same time. There are eight inputs; four provide audio-follow switching.

Analog Way had yet another preliminary video scaler/switcher on display. The Trans-Scaler XT has seven signal inputs (six video in composite, S, and component formats, plus one VGA) and provides one scaled output at any resolution from 640x480 up to 1365 by 1024, including HD-standard rates of 480p and 720p.

Folsom Research’s Presentation Pro installation scaler functions in a 2RU design with seven universal video/RGB inputs and stereo audio-follow switching. This product is intended to give conference and boardroom users the same seamless blending found in Folsom’s ScreenPro products used for staging.

Extron Electronics, last but not least, had a big roll-out of interfaces for virtually every application. The DDS402 is a full-bore scaler that can convert video to any of 33 different output rates, while the USP 405 Universal Signal Processor is even more impressive, literally converting any signal to any other signal format, interlaced or progressive. The UPS 405 accepts RGB, HD component, SDI, S-video and composite sources, and all video sources can be transcoded to all output connectors. Extron also unveiled a new line of ISM-series Integration scaling matrix switchers, basically video scaler/switchers for the installation market. The ISM 108 offers eight video inputs that can be configured for component or composite input, and two high-resolution RGB outputs using 5xBNCs or 15-pin VGA jacks. (The ISM 408 adds HDTV compatibility.) For audio follow, the ISM 182 and ISM 482 models are also available.

Extron’s MediaLink is billed as a one-touch A/V system control. The MLC 206 is a remote control panel for universal operation of room devices and projectors, including a full line of MediaLink video and RGB switchers. Currently, MediaLink can provide remote control of power on/off, input switching, and volume, using the six-input MLS 306 switcher, the MLS 506 (2-RU enclosure, all BNCs), the MLS 506MA (built-in 30-watt mono amplifier), and MLS 506SA (built-in 30-watt stereo amplifier).

It was a show to remember, not so much for incredible advances in technology, but for competitive moves for market share and broadening of current capabilities. And it marked some changes and growth at INFOCOMM itself with a glittery new home-base and booming attendance and education.

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