Would you be interested in installing a free-standing, 55” portrait kiosk with touch and Wi-Fi connectivity? This kiosk would support a simple interactive directory board, which an end-user can easily update and manage using a cloud-based CMS. All this for around $5,5 read more
SIZE MATTERS. The United States hotel market is made up of 4 million hotel rooms and the typical life span of guest room televisions ranges between 5-7 years according to recent studies. Going back just a few years, the most popular size for guest r read more
At Almo Pro AV we just wrapped up our 2016 E-4 AV Tour with stops in Boston and then Dallas. Like our previous E-4s, these events offered our customers, large end-users and consultants multiple CTS-certified lectures (with RU Credits!), hands-on experience rooms and an impressive exhibit floor populated with over 50 manufacturer partners displaying the latest in technology.
Due to space constraints and other outside factors, exhibit halls in general often restrict what manufacturers showcase to individual components and not an entire working solution. Attendees then must visualize the solution, usually by associating it with a recent or current application need. But what if they could see an entire solution, made up of components from multiple manufacturers in a single exhibit? This is a concept I’ve been at work on for the past few E-4 events, and the reception and feedback I’ve received is motivating.
Representatives from well-regarded display and projector manufacturer NEC have worked with me on this concept from the beginning. Our goal is to display NEC’s superior commercial panel designs and demonstrate their functionality in a working model, such as a video wall or unique projector application. To accomplish this we started with a video wall configuration and called on another partner, Peerless-AV to supply their specialized video wall cart. The cart is an actual Peerless-AV sku providing video wall mounting with mobility. Perfect for our exhibit hall floor. Now we can easily demonstrate the features of this video wall solution and mount combination to show attendees.
In Dallas we took the partial solution even further. TVOne joined our configuration to display their low-cost and feature-rich 4k video processing unit that utilizes NEC’s Tile Matrix feature. We then insured electrical noise-free power by employing a Tripp-Lite double-conversion UPS. The end result was a working, fully mobile 4k video wall solution.
Next, we wanted to demonstrate a single-panel application with a 65″ UHD Panel, mounted in portrait orientation. Once again we called on Peerless-AV to provide a video cart capable of portrait orientation, enabling us to demonstrate the panel’s ability to change screen orientation. One dealer group actually came by the booth that day ans offered to purchase the solution right then and there and take it back to their office!
Also popular these days are indoor kiosks, and Almo and NEC were able to bring such a solution to our E4 attendees as well. This time we created a kiosk solution featuring a 46″ NEC panel displaying content from a BrightSign media player, all secured and ventilated within the Peerless-AV kiosk and once again powered by Tripp-Lite.
Almo is already hard at work with our partners for our March E-4 AV Tour stop in the Windy City, Chicago, IL. Our solutions exhibits will no doubt continue to evolve and grow. Perhaps we’ll employ a unique NEC SSL laser projector based digital signage application with portrait orientation using content provided by Almo’s Content Creation Services. Rest assured, we’ll come up with something – and our attendees will be able to see a true solution through the forest of products on the exhibit floor.
I’ve noticed over the last year the increasing use of outdoor displays in commercial applications. Once regulated to residential porches and light commercial use (such as a sports bar’s outdoor covered patio), manufacturers are now producing displays that eliminate the need for environmental enclosures and kiosks.
Today, properly specified displays provide many benefits compared to the traditional panel within an enclosure or kiosk. Some of those benefits include but are not limited to:
- Weatherproof operation at a considerable lower cost without expensive environmental enclosures & kiosks
- Better picture due to no gap between the screen and an outer enclosure glass that may hinder picture quality
- Overall reduction in physical size and weight for the application
- Simpler mounting and installation
- Ease of on-going maintenance
But how does a design engineer specify the right outdoor panel for a particular environmental application? It’s relatively simple – match the properly-rated display to the outdoor demands of the application. First, assess the application environmental demands:
- Environmental temperature extremes.
- Dust & water extremes (both type of dust and at what angles they can attack a panel).
- Under cover or in direct sunlight.
- Maintenance access (e.g., mounted high, extremely restricted location, etc.).
- Exposure to glass-breaking projectiles like rocks and such.
Now, match the display to the environmental demands of the application.
- Temperature Extremes: Coldest and warmest extremes a display can safely operate.
- Dust and Moisture: Determine a display’s rating using either a NEMA Enclosure Rating (relative dust & particle resistance measurement) or the more popular “IP’ Rating (Ingress Protection as defined by DIN EN 60529). An IP rating indicates the external conditions enclosures can withstand. It describes a display’s scope of protection during use when exposed to temperatures, fuel and oil and their fumes, chemical clouds, acid based moisture and dust entering the display. For example, the “I” in IP has a scale of 1 to 6 that defines the protection against contact and ingress of dust. The “P” has a scale of 0 to 9k that defines ingress of moisture from water droplets to high pressure steam cleaning.
- Indirect or Direct Sunlight: If direct sunlight is a factor, consider a panel with UV optical bonding that can eliminate reflection & refraction glare so it can be easily seen in direct sunlight. Note that simply being a high brightness panel (1500+ nits) doesn’t necessarily translate to good picture in direct sunlight. It’s hard to out bright the sun!
- Impact Resistant: Determine if the display needs to be protected from impacts. And should the screen be broken, make sure it is shatter proof to protect nearby viewers and property.
- Maintenance: Some displays will be mounted high or in difficult to reach places. The less maintenance of filters and the ability to be hosed-off or pressure washed can be key.
Almo ProAV partners with Peerless-AV to offer a family of outdoor displays starting with the IP55-rated UltraView Series up to the IP68-rated Xtreme series. We can match the right display for the environmental demands of temperatures, dust & moisture, direct sunlight, impact resistance, and ease of maintenance. Also, we will assist in pairing the proper outdoor, wind-rated mount. Feel free to contact me or your Almo ProAV Account Rep. We’ll be happy to assist you in specifying the right display for your outdoor application.
In case you weren’t aware, Peerless-AV (yes, the Peerless that is famous for mounts) is offering an Indoor/Outdoor TV that is an outstanding choice for environments that may be less than ideal including cold, rain, dust and bright light. Your first inclination may be “who needs that?” but stop and think for a moment of the places and times it would be perfect. How about Restaurants, Night Clubs and Country Clubs with outdoor dining; Sporting Venues (Baseball, Football, Soccer . . . ); Ice Rinks; Zoos; Theme Parks; Factories; Retail Outdoor Strip Malls; Rental and Staging (where events are often outdoors); and at the marina or on a boat! Let’s look at a few examples.
- Clean Image Car Wash: In the spring of 2014 Clean Image Car Wash made the decision to update their facility’s signage. Their static services board located at the entrance of the car wash required regular upkeep due to weathering and consistent service changes. In addition, each and every promotion designed to increase sales and upsells required the printing of a new sign and manual removal and replacement of the signs. Clean Image decided it was time to look for a digital signage solution that would look sleek and modern, while offering a cost effective option. In just two months, Clean Image Car Wash has experienced a noticeable increase in upsells. With promotions displayed prominently in a visually-appealing, well-lit services board, more and more customers spend their time in line perusing service package offerings. And, with the Xtreme™ Outdoor Digital Menu Board’s ability to quickly change content, much of the attention garnered surrounds new promotions that pop on and off the board frequently, causing a call to action due to their time-sensitive nature.
- Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority: In late 2012, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) rolled out a new digital signage project designed to inform riders on its Metrorail system about track work, weekend closures and other travel issues before they pass through the fare gate at any of the system’s 88 stations.T he project required displays that could withstand rain, snow, dust, dirt, pressure washing and other ravages unavoidable in the transit environment. Today, 110 Xtreme displays are mounted on station manager kiosks both inside and outside all Washington Metro stations, with digital media players inside the booths feeding content to each display. For the more than 700,000 commuters who ride the local rails every day, the Metro’s Kiosk Information Display System (KIDS) delivers vital information ranging from elevator outages, problems on a particular train line and track maintenance that may affect service to travel advice for special events like D.C.’s annual Cherry Blossom Festival.
- Columbus Zoo and Aquarium: In mid-2014, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium embarked on a project to revamp the facility’s signage. A well-known, non-profit organization welcoming approximately 2.2 million guests annually, the zoo was relying on static wayfinding signage and a handful of flatscreen TVs showcasing videos via the zoo’s internal digital content network. This conservation-minded organization also hoped to reduce the use of printed materials to assist in keeping the environment green. Located in Powell, Ohio, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium faces a multitude of weather challenges, including snow, ice, moisture, bright sun and humidity. Open 363 days of the year, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium remains a visitor attraction even during winter months with its annual holiday lights display. As such, the zoo and aquarium needed a solution offering clarity and outdoor capabilities. Installation of the 39 Xtreme™ Displays began in May 2014 and will be completed this month. With its initial success, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium plans to continue providing an enhanced experience for its visitors with weather warnings and ride information shared via additional Peerless-AV® digital signage solutions.
Standard televisions simply are not made to be used in these conditions and if your TV should fail due to these types of use the warranty would not be honored. Speaking of which – these sets come with a two year warranty! The 47” UV2 Outdoor TV has won several awards from industry publications including Technology Integrator EXC!TE (2014 Winner) and TWICE (2014 Best in Show). It is rated to temperatures as low as -24 Degrees Fahrenheit and as high as +124 Degrees Fahrenheit, is Fully-Sealed to protect against water, dust and insects, uses Anti-Reflective Impact Resistant Safety glass and even has external water proof speakers that sound great. For even harsher environments there is the Xtreme Outdoor model which boasts temperature ratings as low as -40 Degrees Fahrenheit and as high as +140 Degrees Fahrenheit. The icing on the cake – very reasonably priced. So no reason to drag your feet any longer – this is a great product whose time has come.
The first commandment: “Thou Shall Know Thy Application!”
Redacted transcript from a common call.
Caller: “Hi, we want to try a couple wireless signal distribution options for our customer and were considering [option apple] and [option orange]. Which is better?”
Me: “Well, these are very different units designed for different needs. Tell me more about the application – most importantly, what are they looking to accomplish?”
Caller: “The customer wants to take video from [point A] to [point B]. The signal type is [X] going about [Y] number of feet to their [Z] room. Perhaps we can try a couple [very different units] and we’ll see which is best for them?”
Quick digression… An essential element in creative problem solving is knowing what you are really trying to “solve”. One of my favorite analogies describes a person who goes to a hardware store to buy a drill. The sales people, in an attempt to help, may ask questions about what they are looking for in a drill to help narrow down the choices. Unfortunately, what gets lost in the process is that the shopper does not really need a drill. They need a hole. The focus shifted away from the actual need to an assumed solution which may or may not fulfill the underlying objective. [Note: we could take this further and look at why they need a hole to begin with – but I think you get the point.]
Back to our caller…
While most wireless distribution solutions are similar in that they move signal from point A to point B (and possibly points C, D, and E), the commonalities usually end there. Time otherwise spent on conducting a “shoot-out” between units can sometimes be reduced by understanding how the differences between various options impact their suitability for different applications – thereby narrowing the field and simplifying the process. To illustrate this, let’s compare applications and see how well these fit with different solutions.
Scenario 1: A corporate environment wants to show training DVD’s or cable news in up to four locations around the office. The office manager needs to be able to control playback of the DVD’s while at any of the display locations so she can stop playback to answer questions. Occasionally, they have vendors come in to conduct training and would like them to show their presentations on those same displays. These outside presenters would be located in the main training room which also houses their equipment rack.
In this situation, we would look closely at the HD Flow™ from Peerless-AV. This HDCP compliant device has multiple AV input and output formats that can be switched from an included wireless remote. IR return for up to three devices (such as DVD players) is supported via emitters. Packages are available with one to four receivers with secure pairing between units. Presenters control the presentation locally on their own PC and it shows up in the training room and the three locations around the office. Straight-forward enough.
But what if we changed the need slightly. A corporate trainer needs the option to show materials either from the training room, from a sales floor, or both locations simultaneously. With the presentation materials being resident on the computer in the training room, they want to be able to go between locations without moving a computer or anything else. Locating a second keyboard in the sales location and providing real-time wireless keyboard and mouse (HID) return back to the PC is required. In this case, PeerAir™ Wireless HD unit may be a better solution.
PeerAir™ Wireless HD offers 2 HDMI inputs, along with IR and USB HUI return control back to a source PC. The differences between this and the HD Flow™ mentioned previously, goes beyond I/O. Being that this has zero latency on the video, it makes keyboard and mouse control practical – without any discernible lag. Since the transmitter has a local HDMI pass-through, placing the receiver in the training room and locating the transmitter, secondary keyboard/mouse and local display in the sales floor could be a viable solution.
Additionally, zero latency makes PeerAir™ Wireless HD much more suitable for IMAG applications, such as in a house of worship or rental and staging environment – where an image from a stage is being magnified to large screens within the same location – where you wouldn’t want a visible delay between the live person and the displayed image when they are both in the same field of view.
In our last application, we have large a retailer wanting to retrofit digital signage into their stores, but they don’t want to pull cables throughout the facilities. They may also need the flexibility to relocate signage displays as they periodically rearrange the floor plan. They want to update content instantly on every display throughout the store. The same content may need to appear on a large number of displays throughout the store, and yet they may have different content in some locations.
In this application, Pico Broadcaster may be best option. This unit has an RJ45 input intended to work with a transport stream from a computer. A variation is available with AV inputs. The transmission method is via ATSC compatible broadcast utilizing frequencies in FCC allocated white spaces. This means any television with an ATSC tuner within the 350’ range can receive the transmission. This well exceeds the range of most other options on the market and means the number of available receivers with a single transmitter is unlimited. The range can also be extended with third-party hardware. If you want the content to vary by location within the store, multiple Pico broadcasters can be set to output different channels. Each receiving display’s tuner would then be left on the corresponding channel to the preferred Pico Broadcaster.
Since this is essentially working as small over-the-air television transmitter, there are none of the same security features as provided by other units, and a small annual FCC licensing fee is required (currently around $55). While not ideally suited for presentation sharing within a conference room, or remote playback and control of AV sources, the applications for this type of device are vast.
Some other applications where we see Pico Broadcaster include outdoor displays in mass transit applications, marinas, train yards, factories, warehouses and the like – providing updates to passengers, boat owners, engineers and yard workers, and employees, via a large number of displays over a wide area – all without pulling any cable. In addition to the benefits of wireless signal distribution to an unlimited number of displays, running a transport stream from a computer allows for easy management of the content.
While elements such as connectivity, range and security, are typically among the first factors addressed when considering options, understanding the underlying application can help make sure all pertinent elements are addressed. This may include the number of simultaneous sources displayed, which may differ from the number of connected devices, how many destination displays are required or supported, along with the implications for Bi-directional control and latency. Each solution on the market handles audio differently and the transmitted resolution or frame rate may change from the source, so these may need to be taken into consideration as well. Focusing on the underlying need and objective in any situation can help improve the results and simplify the process. In practice, the next time you contact us for a solution – wireless or otherwise – don’t be surprised if we ask some questions about the application. The answers will help make sure your customers get the right hole and not just a drill.
|Peerless-AVHD Flow™||Peerless-AVWireless HD||Peerless-AVPico Broadcaster|
|Simultaneous Sources Connected||2x HDMI, 1x Composite, VGA (or Component)||2 HDMI||1x RJ45 for Transport Stream(AV Version Available)|
|Simultaneous Sources Displayed||1||1||1|
|# of Displays||1-4||1+ HDMI Pass-through||Unlimited|
|Max Range||131 ft||100 ft||350’|
|Return Control or HUI||IR return||IR and USB HID Return||None|
|Common Application||Sending AV sources between rooms||Home entertainment, gaming, or when zero latency is required||Digital Signage, large number of end-point displays|