Ask the Experts

Our industry experts answer frequently asked questions about developing technology. Commercial AV systems can be complex and daunting without the right guide. Need some terminology explained? Want to learn our best practice approach to installation? Check this page regularly!

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Q: I’m continually hearing or reading about systems that are 'digital ready'. What exactly is a 'digital ready' system?

A: We consider digital ready to mean an integrated system of hardware and software, which will pass all digital sources to displays, with a minimum bandwidth capacity of 1920 x 1200 resolution, including all HDCP, EDID, 3D and CEC signals if applicable.

— Anthony Jeffcoat, CTS

Q: Just what is the 'analog sunset'?

A: Officially, a downgrade of analog outputs to 480i was set in motion in June 2009 as part of the Advanced Access Content System (AACS) license agreement, which aims to thwart piracy by limiting a Blu-ray disc’s or Blu-ray player’s ability to output analog video – thus the analog sunset.

One AACS milestone was Dec. 31, 2010. As of that date, vendors no longer could manufacture Blu-ray players – including those built into PCs – with HD analog video outputs. The next milestone is Dec. 31, 2013, when vendors have to eliminate analog video outputs altogether.

The AACS license requirements are a subset of a larger analog sunset, which is the ongoing migration toward all-digital AV in both the consumer and pro AV worlds. So in a sense, AACS just assigns a timeline to a phase-out that was always a matter of when rather than if. Our website has a number of white paper downloads on the topic, if you would like further information.

— Tim Pollack, CTS

Q: I know I’m going to save money on travel by deploying video conferencing. Are there any other benefits?

A: Users of video conferencing comment that while yes, they are saving money on travel, the improvement in the quality of their communication and collaboration is what really means something. Employees can now have scheduled or ad hoc meetings with their various offices and warehouses from any location at any time and still make it home in time for dinner.

The technology also improves the quality of life for employees, which leads to an increase in performance and productivity. Employers have the same number of heads, but they work better and smarter than ever before.

The value propositions within the education market are also very strong - distance learning and training, on-demand video lectures, webcasts, video broadcasting, video podcasts, and social networks.

— Jeff Lloyd, CTS

Q: How can I extend the life of my projector?

A: Projectors can have a longer lifespan when properly maintained and cared for. Most projectors have air filters at the air intake vents. Frequent cleaning of these filters will allow for cooler operation, more effective filtering and cleaner internal optics over time.

LCD and DLP projectors both use lamps (LED don't). If a projector is not being used for a matter of a few hours, leaving the projector running creates less wear on the lamp than turning it off and having to restrike the lamp. If the projector is not needed for more than four hours, it would then be beneficial to turn it off. The striking of the lamp has a significant impact on the lamp life.

— Brad Palmer, B.Comp., CVE, MCP

Q: What online networking tools are available for techs working in the AV Industry?

A: You can download some great free tools from SolarWinds.

— Joshua Anderson, PM (AV)

Q: What are some useful online tools for projectors?

A: A projector calculator is a useful tool for estimating the output of any given projector and lens combo. It can be used to find the throw ratio, necessary projector distance, or maximum screen size, depending on the values you enter. Find the perfect projector for your application using these projector calculators.

View our hub page to research projectors from Sony, Panasonic, Epson and Mitsubishi Electric.

— Joshua Anderson, PM (AV)

Q: What is EDID?

A: EDID data exchange is a standardised means for a display to communicate its capabilities to a source device. The premise of this communication is for the display to relay its operational characteristics, such as its native resolution, to the attached source, and then allow the source to generate the necessary video characteristics to match the needs of the display. This maximises the functional compatibility between devices without requiring a user to configure them manually, thus reducing the potential for incorrect settings and adjustments that could compromise the quality of the displayed images and overall reliability of the system.

Non Technical version?

Having a matrix controller that emulates or forwards the correct EDID information from displays to sources means that you can plug in any source device, and the "true" resolution, not a "stretched or "squashed" image, will be displayed no matter whether the display/projector is 16:9 or 16:10 widescreen or a 4:3 older type. This is important because people may want to plug in an iPad or a laptop or a Blu-ray player etc etc as their source, and if their system has a matrix controller with built-in EDID it will automatically accommodate all these different sources simultaneously across multiple displays.

— Tim Pollack, CTS

Q: Where is EDID utilised?

Generally, the source device will be a computer graphics card on a desktop or laptop PC, but provisions are in place for many other devices, including HDTV receivers and DVRs, DVD and Blu-ray Disc players, and even gaming consoles, to read EDID and output video accordingly. Originally developed for use between analog computer-video devices with VGA ports, EDID is also now implemented for DVI, HDMI, and DisplayPort.

Matrix switching environments represent the most difficult EDID management situation, with simultaneous EDID communications required for multiple inputs and outputs. The displays connected to the outputs are very likely to be of different models and native resolutions. The EDID information between them is different and needs to be conveyed to the source devices. Proper EDID management within the system is crucial to consistent and reliable operation.

— Tim Pollack, CTS

Q: BYOD is a hot topic for IT Managers everywhere. How does this translate within the AV space, using Apple TV as an example?

AirPlay via Apple TV, is being increasingly requested as a medium for users to wirelessly stream their BYOD content to large presentation displays and projectors. It is natively available through any Mac or iOS device, or through Windows devices using third party mirroring software such as AirParrot. There are some "gotcha's" though when it comes to deploying Apple TV in the corporate environment.

Apple's AirPlay wireless content streaming doesn't work when Apple clients and Apple TV's are on different IP subnets, which is a feature of most enterprise networks. Apple TV's Bonjour technology "does not work in a scalable, sustainable fashion between different IP subnets" and workarounds such as Wide-Area Bonjour (DNS-SD) and Dynamic DNS have scaling and security problems. Many education institutions routinely disable IP multicast, which is an essential part of Bonjour. Apple TV doesn't support WPA2-Enterprise authentication and encryption, and its single-password security is therefore hackable.

— Jason Workman