How It’s Done
FINDING THE RIGHT FIT
HOW TO DEAL WITH COMPETING DEMANDS IN AV SYSTEM DESIGN. By Joe da Silva
roper AV design is a balancing act. Designers must evaluate and weigh the goals and needs of the client carefully. Many clients come with ambitious expectations and leave it up to the designer to help bring their vision in line with their budget. Choosing the right AV equipment for the job requires open communication with the client, clear goals, and more often than not, managing expectations. BUDGET DEMANDS Some clients know they have a low budget and are fine with that. The designer must take extra care prioritizing where the money in the project needs to go. On the other end is the “Best Design” scenario, where cost is no object, and the maximum functionality can be engineered. AESTHETICS AND RELIABILITY Some clients will want to pay particular attention to the aesthetics of the design. While the functional demands are still a concern, the client may want the visible components and the user interfaces to seamlessly blend with the environment or to have a particularly high-tech feel. Other clients, such as those in military and Network Operations Centers (NOCs), will put the greatest emphasis on the serviceability and reliability of the system. If systems fail for any reason, they need to be brought back online with minimal effort in the shortest time possible. SCALING TO ROOM SIZE AND DEVICE DEMAND
The design of an AV control system is largely driven by the needs of the user and the number of components that require control. Wall-mounted pushbutton controllers are ideal for single-display systems with a limited number of sources. They offer simplified control through an easy-to-operate interface, thanks to their fixed arrangements of well-labeled buttons. For more complex systems, control processors provide Ethernet-enabled control and are available in a verity of sizes. They are designed to work with touchpanels and button panel user interfaces. Control processors should be able to manage, monitor, and control AV devices, such as projectors and audio processors, using a standard Ethernet network. In addition, they should support web-based remote diagnostics, AV resource management, and support. For larger rooms or rooms that share resources, look for customizable, integration-friendly button panels that are designed to share a common control processor. In these applications, multiple button panels could also be linked together by a single proprietary or Ethernet cable that carries both power and communication. Deciding whether to use a button panel or a touchpanel comes down to three basic factors: budget, number of devices to be supported, and level of control necessary. Button-based user interfaces work well for applications that have limited functionality and that require more cost-effective solutions. They function well as replacements for a display’s handheld IR remote, provid-
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Extron offers a range of control solutions suited to nearly any kind of AV system design.
ing user-friendly control for power, volume, and input selection. Touchpanels are better suited for applications that require more functionality, or a more aesthetically pleasing control interface. Touchpanels are also ideal for larger systems that require interactive feedback from the control system. Effective use of graphics on the touchpanel can be used for corporate branding and added aesthetic appeal. Some systems may benefit by using a combination of touchpanels and button panels when more granular control is desired. NETWORK CONNECTIVITY FOR WEB CONTROL Web-based resource management provides a powerful, flexible way to manage, monitor, and control equipment like projectors, displays, monitors, media players, and other devices using a standard TCP/ IP network. Remote helpdesk functionality provides a number of time-saving tools for technicians, including the ability to easily navigate between rooms, manage each system with multiple tools, remotely interact with the control products using visual representations, and see system notifications all within one view. Joe da Silva is the director of product marketing at Extron Electronics.
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