The integration of multimedia and IT offers many opportunities to increase productivity and enhance the bottom line.
Collaborative conferencing, digital signage, and mobile presentations are just a few of the applications of these technologies that can help a business grow and prosper.
The power that can be released through the integration of AV and IT is perhaps most clearly seen in the rapidly growing field of digital signage. Uses include advertising, point-of-sales support, corporate communications, and trade show exhibits.
Most current digital signage deployments involve a large-screen display (plasma or LCD); a set-top box or networked receiver; a workstation to create, store, and serve content; and a digital network to schedule, deliver, and update that content. Several innovative products combine some of these elements to simplify installation and increase versatility.
Samsung's SyncMaster 400Pn ($5,100) integrates a Windows PC into a high-definition, 40-inch LCD flat-panel. This effectively manages a variety of signage functions, including the ability to access and schedule signage content up to a month in advance.
Some displays accept plug-in modules to facilitate control and delivery of content over an IP network. Panasonic offers a sub-$3,000 plug-in computer module, PLUG-VC250XS, which provides a turnkey solution for playback on its plasma displays equipped with interchangeable, multi-function slots.
Set-top boxes and modules that work with a variety of displays to enable signage applications include Chryon's easy to use ChyTV (from $1,395), and the HDTV-capable Firefly MZ (about $2,000).
Powerful software and server systems that manage and distribute signage content, such as the Scala InfoChannel, WireSpring FireCast, and Helius MediaGate, can cost from a few thousand dollars to over $50,000.
Many growing businesses prefer to have a specialized VAR such as Diversified Media Group or Webpavement host and support their signage applications. Costs are approx. $200 per month, per display location.
Specialized peripherals can greatly enhance the utility of signage installations. To accommodate the kind of user feedback required for many point-of-purchase or retail applications, touch-screen overlays such as the Actalyst series from SMART Technologies, help convert a variety of flat-panels to interactive terminals. Actalyst overlays work with 37- to 65-inch displays from 17 different manufacturers, and range in price from $2,200 to $3,000.
Deploying a digital signage network calls for the skillful integration of AV and IT technologies. Leading system manufacturers and service providers, such as VertigoXMedia and Tech Electronics, will demonstrate the latest solutions at InfoComm06, June 3-9 in Orlando, Florida. This event provides a great opportunity to see business communication systems firsthand, and get answers to questions directly from the experts.
Desktop videoconferencing and interactive presentations are two of the fastest growing applications for networked multimedia.
Sony's new all-in-one desktop videoconferencing system, the IPELA PCS-TL30, features a built-in Ethernet interface, and doubles as a 17-inch WXGA display for PC use. This sub-$3,000 VC solution supports data-transfer rates of up to 2 Mb/s over IP networks for high-quality H.264 or H.263 videoconferencing.
For meetings and training sessions, Hitachi's StarBoard T-17SXL ($2,195) provides a portable, interactive solution. This pen-operated, 17-inch SXGA LCD tablet display with StarBoard v6.3 software, features PC and projector inputs for presentation use. The versatile T-17SXL can also be used to collaborate via remote T-17SXLs or other StarBoard interactive devices.
Connectivity is also a significant factor in the selection of a projector and flat-panel display. The BenQ CP120 micro-portable projector features built-in 802.11 a/b/g technology that enables wireless display of video and slide shows. This sub $1,600, DLP-powered, 2.9-lb. projector delivers XGA native resolution, brightness of 1500 ANSI lumens, and a 2000:1 contrast ratio.
In the same price range, the Epson PowerLite 755c is a tad heavier, but delivers 2000 lumens of brightness, and features LEAP-authentication and WEP/WPA for secure wireless transmissions. Panasonic's PT-LB20NTU projector (under $2,700) can simultaneously display images from multiple wireless PCs.
A versatile display, the new NEC MultiSync LCD3735WXM (around $2,800) features an ATSC high-definition TV tuner, PC and HDCP video connectivity, and S-video, composite, and component inputs for multiple media devices.
For spectacular high-definition video, the new, 55-inch LCD flat-panel from LG Electronics delivers full native HD resolution of 1920x1080. The sleek, sub-$15,000, LG-M5500C features multiple inputs for computer, DVD player, and DVI-D sources.
Timely delivery of paper and disc copies of presentations and other resources is a key factor in the lasting impact of any meeting.
Konica Minolta's magicolor 2480 laser MF machine enables 5 essential office functions--print, copy, scan, PC fax, and camera-direct photo printing (see sidebar). The company's new monochrome laser print/copy/scan/fax, the PagePro 1390 MF, makes rapid sharing of documents inexpensive and easy. This $349 model features 33.6 Kbps Super G3 fax functionality, broadcast faxing, and 3.5 MB of fax memory.
The compact VideoBuster VP4690-VCIT-5 ($770) from Vinpower Digital, quickly and automatically duplicates up to 5 CDs or DVDs from a built-in hard drive, allowing attendees to leave a meeting with up-to-the-minute information, such as a DVD recording of a videoconference.
It's a road-warrior axiom that you can't have too much battery power or too much memory.
The Universal Power Adapter from APC can run or recharge most notebook computers using power from a car, airplane, or AC outlet--anywhere in the world. This $69 unit can simultaneously power a laptop and two additional devices (phone, PDA, MP3 player) via a USB power port and splitter cable.
Flash memory provides a super-convenient way to transport important data, including PowerPoint slides. Imation's latest Swivel Pro USB 2.0 Flash drives are small enough to wear on a necklace, hold up to 4GB of data, can read files at a speedy12MB/sec., and feature a bright blue LED data transfer indicator. The 2GB unit is available for less than $200.
Getting up-to-speed on AV-IT convergence and other new technologies can enhance your work style and keep your company ahead of the curve.
Need AV Products Installed? Look for the CAVSP Designation.
Companies can earn InfoComm's designation of Certified AudioVisual Solutions Provider by demonstrating their commitment to certification and professional excellence. Companies can achieve Basic, Silver or Gold CAVSP levels based on the proportion of their technical sales and customer service personnel who earn either the General or Specialized Certified Technology Specialist designation.
All CTS holders are rigorously tested and are dedicated to providing quality service. Many large companies and architectural firms give preference to audiovisual integrators or consultants that have earned the CAVSP designation. The dependability factor has never been more important in business, and firms looking to "do it right the first time" know they can rely on CAVSP companies.
To find a CAVSP company near you, visit www.infocomm.org.
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