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iPontificateNew Wireless A/V Devices Save Time & Money


- June 20th, 2005

Video professionals have a new tool in their arsenal that can save them time, which in turn can save them money. Earlier this month at the InfoComm Conference and Expo in Las Vegas, Avocent unveiled a new line of Audio/Visual devices designed for wireless media streaming, making it easier and faster to set up production sites.

Leading the way is the Avocent Emerge WMS1000, a point-to-point wireless transmitter capable of sending out streaming video signals up to distances of 1,000 ft. using line-to-sight, 250ft. through walls. I spoke with Avocent's Director of Strategic Business, Matt Nelson, about the new products being featured at the InfoComm conference.

According to Mr. Nelson, the new Emerge line of products, specifically the WMS1000, is touted as a "VGA cable replacement", designed to alleviate the dependency of cables for sending video signals to remote receivers and monitors. The real world applications of the devices include ad servers streaming video and audio to multiple screens in a store or business lobby. Another use for the Emerge line is supporting the presentation market, where it is necessary to play video from a projector in a conference room or at live stage events.

The Emerge line is completely software independent and features plug-and-play functionality for video streaming. Using their own proprietary compression scheme and protocols, which were pioneered with the Longview devices, 30 fps full motion video is supported. Where the Longview was designed for IT professionals, the Emerge line is being marketed to A/V professionals needing a solution to fill the gap in remote video transmission.

The Emerge line also takes steps towards the A/V market with the inclusion and support of multiple video output signals including composite video, component video, and S-Video. The signal input/output are independent, meaning a user can send a video signal from a DVD player via S-Video to and LCD monitor across the room. The WMS1000 supports resolutions up to XVGA 1366x768 as found in large format plasma displays.

Using the RS-232 protocol, adjustments can also be made remotely from a laptop including support for turning on and off individual monitors and the adjustment of a projector's keystone and more. This is a great feature for live performance applications where often times the projectors are attached to a ceiling say, 40ft. in the air. Usually an A/V tech would have to set each projector individually in a scissor-lift high above the ground. The fact all this can be done wirelessly is great for performance halls and live events where the images on stage are being projected to screens with video feeds coming from multiple cameras.

Using the 802.11a baseband radio channels, the device uses 12 non-overlapping channels for transmission/receiving. When the device is powered on, it looks for, and locks onto the strongest signal available. Mr. Nelson used a spectrum analyzer in a recent trade show test and said that none, or little interference was detected. Since the units use the 802.11a frequencies, which have yet to be congested with other types of wireless devices, signal strength and interference is expected to be minimum if any at all. This is great for when used on a busy trade show floor with hundreds of wireless devices competing for frequency real estate. If interference becomes a problem, the device will automatically search for a clean channel to lock onto. Screw-on, screw-off standard omnidirectional antennas are used for transmission and receiving. Optional directional antennas are also available.

In addition to the WMS1000 wireless transmitters and receivers being debuted at the InfoComm conference, two other A/V devices fall under the Emerge family. The MS1000P and the MS1000MP are signal streamers designed to extend video and audio signals up to 500 ft. via CAT-5 cables. The MS1000P is a point-to-point extender that supports one monitor or projector, the MS1000MP (multi-point) features support for up to 36 monitors when "daisy chained" together. Resolutions supported for the MS series are up to 1600x1200.

Avocent has delivered a solution for the simplified wireless transmitting of high-resolution video content where previously there had been few options, if any. These new wireless devices from Avocent promise a new avenue for video professionals. By negating the need to hard wire monitors to a computer, the field becomes wide open for video applications. By supporting multiple monitors and projectors to a single system, display of video content can pretty much be done anywhere. From the local church projecting a Sunday sermon, to advertisements or information being displayed in an office lobby on a plasma screen, a users video content is only limited to where the A/C power will be coming from.

The WMS1000 solves some annoying steps involved for video professionals who previously were forced to wire all the monitors directly into the source system with a variety of tangle-prone cables like BNC and S-Video. The Avocent solution provides a time saving alternative especially for event production when the projection gear has to be assembled on a per project basis. This saves time and required manpower when setting up projection on site for events and presentations. Not only does the wireless features of the device save effort and time, the fact it supports plug-and-play functionality also saves the sometimes confusing and tedious task of re-configuring network cards for transmission.

Check back in the next few weeks for a hands-on product review of the devices as I stream my latest editing project to every TV in my apartment.

For more information and technical specifications, please visit the Avocent Web site.

With five years in the entertainment industry, and three years writing for The Mac Observer, works passionately on various genres of film, including documentaries, narrative features, and shorts. He has two feature films under his belt as Director of Photography and Camera Operator, and his current role at TMO is to cover digital media and the film industry.

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