InfoComm 08 Video Preview
May 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Trevor Boyer
Dominant trends and new products at the show.
The CP-A100 — retailing for about $2,000 — features network connectivity, which allows for simultaneous monitoring and control of several projectors from a remote location. A possible companion piece for the short-throw CP-A100 is Hitachi's StarBoard FX-77-Duo, a 77in. interactive whiteboard that accepts stylus- and fingertip-driven interaction, made possible by its camera-image-sensor system. Hitachi claims it's the first interactive whiteboard that allows two users to work simultaneously.
3M will also showcase short-throw projection at InfoComm 08 in the form of its Vikuiti Super Close Projection Digital Media Systems 700 Series. Models in this line are designed with basic connectivity — VGA, USB, and power only — but users can add an I/O module if necessary and/or an Annotation Sensor Module that can turn a standard whiteboard into an interactive whiteboard system. More modularity: Further options include fixed and folding wall mounts (with or without loudspeakers) for these short-throw projectors. 3M also makes a telescoping wall mount that facilitates the projection of a 60in.-to-80in. image from a 700 Series model. So far the SCP712 has been announced, featuring XGA resolution and 2000 lumens of brightness. At the 3M booth, look for additional models: the SCP717, SCP715, and SCP740.
The market for videoconferencing systems is still exploding. According to a report from Frost & Sullivan, over the next four years, the telepresence market will grow by a 91-percent compound annual growth rate. For systems integrators, one challenge will be identifying systems that will allow their clients to tie into the larger cosmos of videoconferencing systems years down the road. “The real key to unified communications is interoperability,” says Rick Snyder, president of Tandberg Americas. “Without interoperability, all you have is a cluster of phones, conferencing, and instant messaging applications that just don't play well together.”
To that end, Tandberg announced in March a development initiative to deliver the first high-definition webcam camera for integration with Microsoft's unified communications platform. The company will deliver the camera in conjunction with Microsoft's intended support of high-definition video in its next release of Microsoft Office Communications Server, expected during the first half of 2009. Look for Tandberg's full range of video-conferencing systems at the show.
For videoconferencing systems, there's been a tug-of-war between the demand for greater resolution and lower bandwidth requirements in order to ease the strain on IT networks. Luckily, over the past few years, the industry has continually provided increasingly affordable HD cameras and displays to go with better, more bit-efficient codecs. In April, LifeSize Communications announced a $4,999 package for point-to-point videoconferencing that includes an Express model codec and a Focus model HD videocamera (1280×720, 30fps) with a built-in microphone. The 1in.-thick Express box facilitates DVD quality at only 1Mbps, and there's support for video bandwidth ranging from 128Kbps to 2Mbps, according to LifeSize. It also supports the H.239 dual-stream codec for concurrent video and data streams.
The hardware processing of video and computer inputs is useful for a wide variety of applications: presentations with picture-in-picture, switching several camera and recorded source feeds, and creation of multiprojector displays via edge blending. In the last few years, Barco has added another application to that list: remote collaboration. At InfoComm 08, the company will introduce its new XDC-3000 display system with its super-high-def 10-megapixel resolution, which allows clear viewing of the densest Excel spreadsheets. The XDC-3000 can access a variety of connected and networked sources that can be selected easily and controlled remotely. Content is rendered on a widescreen, networked Windows desktop via Barco-patented software. Also look out for Barco's new Galaxy NH-12, a 3DLP projector equipped with a Windows interface and a powerful network card. The 12,000-lumen projector can display mono and 3D sources in multiple windows simultaneously on a large canvas at full native 1080p HD resolution.
TV One says that its main focus at the moment is incorporating more HD-SDI inputs and outputs into its products, including five of the 10 members of the affordable C2-2000A series. Why the move toward a type of I/O that's still considered high-end by broadcast standards? “We have found that the price of HD cameras has declined significantly,” says Dan Gibson, vice president of TV One, “and houses of worship are after ways to effectively and affordably incorporate it into their sermons.” The C2-2000A series boxes perform varying functions, including up/down/cross-conversion, edge blending, PIP, aspect-ratio conversion, and chroma key.
At InfoComm, Analog Way will introduce a new member of its Octo/Quattro product range: the QVX 421 scaler and seamless switcher. The QVX 421 has four universal AV inputs (including one DVI) as well as three outputs: one analog, one DVI for the main, and one analog for the preview. The unit facilitates display of any format to any HD display, with its 3:2 and 2:2 pulldown circuitry, auto-adaptive pixel-by-pixel 3D motion compensation, time-base corrector, and frame-rate converter and follower. The QVX 421 also features picture-in-picture, fade, titling, high-resolution logo insertion, and frame store.
If you're looking for a streaming product that allows the user to start a session with the simple push of a button, check out the Advanced Media Design (AMD) MediaPointe booth at the show. The company will be introducing a new Digital Network Streamer (DNS210e) that uses MPEG-4 encoding to allow easy viewing on any computer via QuickTime. AMD MediaPointe is also introducing a decoder, the DMD200, which decodes live streaming content from the DNS210e and other MediaPointe products. The DMD200 can be mounted behind any HD-capable display up to 1080i resolution.
For limited broadcast within an environment such as a college campus, it's sometimes hard to find a server that isn't overkill. 360 Systems is finding a lot of interest in HD-capable servers that integrate well into a video-editing environment. At the show, the company will be showing its new Maxx 2400, a 4-channel server that allows direct ingest of video and direct playout of AVI-wrapped DV files to Apple Final Cut Pro.
Need a projection screen that makes a splashy entrance? At InfoComm, Elite Screens will be showing its new Kestrel projection screen, a mobile unit that rises from the floor. The Kestrel measures either 84in. or 100in. diagonally in either a 4:3 or 16:9 aspect ratio. The screen's mechanized cross-rising apparatus is driven by a tubular motor.
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