Samsung releases an Android tablet for business and trades

Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 8" business tablet press picture courtesy of Samsung

Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 8″ business tablet

Article

First business-specific Samsung Galaxy tablet goes on sale | PC World

Samsung launches the Galaxy Tab Active for business and enterprise | AusDroid

Samsung means business with new tablet for work | Geelong Advertiser

From the horse’s mouth

Samsung

Galaxy Tab Active (Product Page)

My Comments

Samsung have released an Android tablet that has for the first time been pitched at business users including tradesmen. This tablet, known as the Galaxy Tab Active has been designed from knowledge Samsung gleaned from their interaction with the US’s Fortune-500 companies about the kind of tablets they require.

Personally, I see this as a small-form 8” tablet that could answer Apple’s iPad as a workplace tablet that is based on a mobile operating system. It is designed to IP67 rugged-use specifications which would make it even useful for outdoor work including as a workhorse for tradespeople who are effectively working out of the back of their vans.

The Android 4.4 KitKat tablet is security-hardened courtesy of Samsung’s KNOX security platform for business Android devices. It can link to an 802.11a/g/n Wi-Fi network and mobile-broadband variants can work with the 4G LTE mobile-broadband services. It has 16Gb memory on board and the ability to work with “infinitely swappable” microSD cards like most other Android devices.

Of course the Samsung Galaxy Tab Active is pitched for business users and may not be easily available through the big-box consumer-technology stores, but would be available through some carrier outlets and business-technology specialists including independent computer / technology stores. The durability aspect could also appeal to those of us who want an Android tablet that “bridges” between the smaller coat-pocket personal tablets and the 10” tablets of the iPad ilk.

There is also the billion-dollar question about whether Android 5.1 Lollipop will be offered to this tablet rather than it being stuck with the Android 4.4 Kitkat software.

Personally I would like to see Samsung offer a 10” variant of this model to the business community for applications where such a screen size can play in handy. As well, if a unit has done its business tour of duty, it could earn its keep as a cost-effective alternative to equipment like the iPad.

Send to Kindle

HP joins with Bang & Olufsen for optimised notebook sound

Article

HP taps Bang & Olufsen for audio tech now that Apple has Beats | Engadget

HP Partnership With Apple’s Beats Officially Ends as HP Moves on to Bang & Olufsen | MacRumors

From the horse’s mouth

Bang & Olufsen

Press Release

Hewlett-Packard

Press Release

My Comments

B&O will start to appear in HP computers very soon

B&O will start to appear in HP computers very soon

Over the last many years, most of the Windows-based laptop manufacturers have been working with companies in the sound-recording and sound-reproduction space to improve the way these computers have sounded. This is whether through the integrated speakers or when they are connected to external speakers or headphones and was seen as a way to compete with Apple for music recording and reproduction.

The knowhow associated with this sound system will affect how the next HP laptop is designed

The knowhow associated with this sound system will affect how the next HP laptop is designed

As I have seen with the Hewlett-Packard laptops that I have reviewed, HP had partnered with Beats by Dr Dre, known for headphones and speakers with a very impressive bass response, to improve the sound from their laptops. But lately Apple bought out Beats and HP realised they couldn’t continue this partnership.

Bang & Olufsen Form 2 headphones

Bang & Olufsen Form 2 headphones

Bang & Olufsen has been well known for some very impressive hi-fi and video equipment, speakers, and audio accessories that are works of art in themselves for a long time.  For example, I had cited their single-piece music systems such as the Beocenter 7000 series, the Beocenter 9000 series and Beosound 9000 CD changer as being above their peers for sound quality even in their days.

They also have designed the ICEPower power-amplification modules to allow sound to be amplified by a compact device that is efficient with power and heat. Of course, B&O has related to a wide range of music from the classics through jazz and classic rock to current popular music and made their brand have that same kind of appeal as the Jaguar or Range Rover cars. This is where a premium brand like these isn’t just about being a status symbol, but is about enjoying the legendary expertise that the brand is all about.

But they have dabbled with sound tuning for ASUS, initially on a project basis but had applied the technology to a larger range of laptops under this brand.

So B&O have decided to pick up the mantle and offer the sound-tuning expertise to HP. This will also be about sharing the design expertise that is associated with how the Beomaster 1900 or Beosound Ouverture were designed. This includes preventing audio-noise sources like the power supply or other control circuitry from adding noise to the signal path.

Let’s not forget the way they have designed their speakers, headphones and similar equipment where they use a special cubic room for measuring the acoustic characteristics for the device they are designing. Here, this could lead towards being able to answer the question about how a laptop or tablet’s integrated sound system can be improved upon, making for a product that is more listenable.

The “Bang & Olufsen” brand will appear on the premium HP computers such as the Envy, Omen and Spectre lineups while the B&O Play lifestyle-focused brand will appear on the Pavilion computers, the tablets and accessories. Here, the B&O influence will affect HP computers that are being released through this year onwards.

I would see this partnership celebrate the expertise that both HP and B&O are about when it comes to their proficiencies rather than the bragging rights that is associated with a particular brand. Could that newer HP Envy or Omen complement that Beocenter?

Send to Kindle

Legacy analogue audio to today’s needs–can this be done?

Problem

Linn Sondek LP12

You can bridge the old turntable to today’s digital needs

Most of you will be wanting to link legacy audio media like vinyl or cassette to today’s needs. This will be true for people who have lived through the time period between the 1950s to the 1990s where vinyl records, tapes in the open-reel, 8-track cartridge or cassette form, or newer digital-recording formats like DAT, DCC or MiniDisc were part of one’s music-listening life and you have built up a collection of music on one or more of these formats. On the other hand, you may have started to dabble in the classic audio formats such as participating in the return of vinyl courtesy of the recent “Record Store Day” effort or had shown interest in cassettes courtesy of “Guardians Of The Galaxy” with the Awesome Mix Vol 1 tape (CD at Amazon / JB Hi-Fi, Spotify, MP3 on iTunes / Google Play ) in the Star Lord’s Walkman.

An "on-ramp" digital media adaptor for a network-based multiroom audio setup

An “on-ramp” digital media adaptor for a network-based multiroom audio setup

Similarly, you may find that it is hard to acquire particular recordings or kinds of music on anything other than the aforementioned legacy media. This holds especially true for the “easy-listening” music of the 1950s to the 1970s which has been retroactively dubbed “lounge” or “space-age bachelor-pad” music, or some world or folk music that was turned out through that same era. This leads to you rummaging through second-hand music stores, charity-run thrift stores, eBay and the like for this content and picking it up on records, musicassettes, or similar media.

But there are the new trends like network-based multiroom audio or the ability to copy the music to a file-based audio format to enjoy on your smartphone or via a DLNA-capable home media network. Similarly, you may want to use a computer-based audio-editing program to digitally salvage an old recording before it goes to waste.

Creative Labs Sound Blaster Digital Music Premium USB sound module press image courtesy of Creative Labs

Creative Labs Sound Blaster Digital Music Premium USB sound module – useful for copying old media to your home network

What you want to be able to do is bridge these classic media to the new requirements, whether by operating a turntable to play records through your network-based multiroom system or copying that old open-reel tape to your computer to digitally salvage it and have in a ready-to-play form.

The multiroom system can be catered for through the use of an “on-ramp” module which may also be part of a speaker or network-media-player module. This device takes an incoming audio signal and converts it in to a bitstream that suits the multiroom system it is designed to work with. then presenting it to that system via the home network. Then you use the multiroom system’s control app to select that input and have it play through the speakers.

Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro convertible notebook at Rydges Hotel Melbourne

A Windows laptop can be used for “digitizing” old irreplaceable media

You could use a USB sound module, PCI sound card or an integrated sound module along with a recording program like Creative Media Toolbox, WavePad or Audacity to record from legacy media to file-based media. These tools have functionality to allow you to “clean up” recordings that had come through below par such as to clean out tape hiss or clicks and pops.

Solution

The classic vinyl record

Turntables that have an integrated preamplifier could be connected directly to equipment that has a line-level input but there is an increasing number of these, typically offered for peanuts, that aren’t really kind to records. These have flimsy construction for both the plinth and the tonearm and use a cheap moving-magnet cartridge. Their “automatics” (mechanisms associated with automatic arm return, automatic stylus cueing (fully-auto setups only) and stylus lift) may not behave properly placing undue pressure on the stylus or even permitting the stylus to drop on a spinning platter rather than the record. This also applies to a lot of USB turntables that are pitched as a way to “dump” records to file-based audio media.

VinylPlay - an integrated-phono-stage turntable that raises the bar for this class of turntable

VinylPlay – an integrated-phono-stage turntable that raises the bar for this class of turntable

There may be exceptions to this rule like an integrated music system like a 1970s-era “music centre” that has a turntable that you trusted with your records and have kept in good running order. Some of these systems, especially a lot of the good-quality music centres, will also have a line output, typically so you can connect an outboard tape deck. On the other hand, you may be able to have a good system modified to obtain a line output.

But you may want to use a good-quality turntable or a turntable that you have trusted with your vinyl for a long time especially when vinyl was the main audio medium. Here, you use a regular hi-fi amplifier or receiver that has a phono input and a tape loop that you customarily hooked up a tape deck to.  Even that old amplifier that used to be in your hi-fi system but you use for the computer or have left in the garage can do the job. On the other hand, you can purchase a dedicated phono preamplifier to do this job. As well, some USB sound modules like the Creative Labs Sound Blaster Digital Music Premium HD have an in-house phono stage.

You connect the turntable to the PHONO input on the amplifier and the sound module to that amplifier’s tape output and have the amplifier’s input selector set at PHONO. Here, the amplifier works simply as a phono preamplifier in the context the sound module or multiroom “on-ramp” module.

Tapes, digital media, etc

MiniDisc and cassette decks can also be used to bridge these formats to file-based computer audio or multiroom setups

MiniDisc and cassette decks can also be used to bridge these formats to file-based computer audio or multiroom setups

This is a simpler affair because you can connect the line output (playback output) of these devices directly to a line-level input on the sound module or multiroom “on-ramp” module. Most of the digital decks like that work with DAT, DCC or MiniDisc do expose a digital output which can be connected to the sound module’s digital input. For that matter, some DCC decks like the Philips DCC-900 do use this output even when playing standard cassettes.

In the context of the tape-based formats or MiniDisc, you may use them as a “workspace” when you are doing a recording effort. For example, you may find that these could work well in the “capture” context such as “how long is a length of tape” applying to reliably recording live or radio content. Then you would transfer the content to file-based media for post-production and network playback,

You may find that an amplifier can come in handy if you are feeding multiple sources of this kind to the one sound module or multiroom “on-ramp”. On the other hand, you can get away with a switch-box to select amongst the different sources of this kind. This is because they are typically used as the “switchboard” in a hi-fi system. Here, you connect the sound module up to the amplifier’s record output where you would typically connect up a tape deck to record and could even use an RCA “Y-adaptor” on the same outputs if you are serving a tape deck and the sound module from the same outputs.

Other concerns

You may have to be sure that the equipment you are dealing with is mechanically sound so that it doesn’t damage or destroy irreplaceable media. This is more so if you are playing the legacy media through the setup on a regular basis.

For tape equipment, this may also making sure that the heads are kept clean with an appropriate non-abrasive cleaning tape that is in good condition or, in the case of open-reel or some cassette equipment, using a cotton bud (Q-Tip) soaked in rubbing alcohol (methylated spirits) rubbed across the heads. For turntables, it would also mean that the stylus isn’t chipped or damaged in any other way and is kept clean; and the tonearm is set up properly to follow the record’s groove accurately with the right amount of pressure.

Conclusion

You can bridge the classic music media with today’s audio technology once you are sure that you are dealing with equipment that is in good order and know how to connect it to the modern equipment.

Send to Kindle

TAG Heuer announces an Android Wear dress smartwatch

Articles

TAG Heuer and Intel announce Swiss Smartwatch for 2015 | Smarterwatching

Watch Out Apple Watch, There’s a Swiss-Made Android Wear Watch Coming | Gizmodo

From the horse’s mouth

Intel

Press Release

TAG Heuer

Press Release

Video Press Announcement

My Comments

Most smartwatches that were being released were pitched as “everyday wear” watches or sports watches which were something you wouldn’t really choose to wear if your goal was to impress someone special. That is unless they were someone who was impressed by the concept of the smartwatch and what it can do.

But when Apple put forward their Apple Watch, they put forward a few premium models that would go alongside or replace that Rolex Presidential as a status-symbol dress watch. Here, they set the cat amongst the pigeons when it came to providing a smartwatch of the calibre that you would wear in the Member’s Stand at Flemington during the Spring Racing Carnival (Melbourne Cup) or you, as the father of the bride, would have on your wrist as you walk the bride down the aisle at the start of the wedding.

TAG Heuer, along with Intel and Google, have worked on an Android Wear smartwatch that uses technology from the microelectronics name. Here, the idea is to create one of these watches that is pitched to the luxury-watch market rather than keeping Android Wear and the smartwatch scene for so-called “all-purpose” or “sports-class” wearables.

As well, TAG Heuer are even pushing to allow the qualification of a Swiss watch to expand to smartwatches that integrate electronics from other countries like Intel’s silicon but still have the watch assembled in Switzerland and have decorative and electromechanical parts coming from there. It can also be a good chance for Intel to investigate the idea of using Switzerland as a hub for activities associated with manufacturing, research and development for wearable technology.

What I see of this is the fact that companies are stepping forward to sell smartwatches fit for wearing at that exclusive club or in the boardroom of that Fortune 500 company in America. It also means that the smartwatch market can become like the traditional watch market with watches that suit different price ranges and different dress senses.

Send to Kindle

You can start and stop Google Chromecast with your TV’s remote

Articles

You Can Now Control Your Chromecast With A Normal TV Remote | Gizmodo

Chromecast now works with your TV’s remote control | Medium

You Can Now Play Or Pause Chromecast Videos With Your TV’s Remote | Lifehacker

My Comments

This can now control your Chromecast

This can now control your Chromecast

The $49 Google Chromecast dongle is able to stream from your smartphone, tablet or computer to your HDMI-equipped TV or projector via your Wi-Fi-equipped home network.

The HDMI specification includes HDMI-CEC (Consumer Electronics Control) functionality, typically presented by equipment manufacturers under their own marketing names like Anynet+, VIERA Link, BRAVIA Link and REGZA Link. Here, this allows for “one-touch start” where a Blu-Ray player or similar device wakes up the TV and, where applicable, home-theatre amplifier, and selects the input it is connected to while the source device prepares to play. Similarly, it allows for “one remote control” operation of multiple video devices such as to use your TV’s remote control to navigate the menus on a DVD that is in a separate Blu-Ray player that is connected to the TV, another way to simplify how your AV setup is operated.

The Google Chromecast had a basic level of HDMI-CEC functionality where it can wake up your HDMI-CEC-capable TV and amplifier and select the input it is connected to if you start streaming through the Chromecast with your phone or computer. This reduced the confusion associated with operating it somewhat.

But, thanks to a new firmware update, you can start and stop your Chromecast content using the play and pause buttons on your TV’s remote control. This includes the ability to pause content using the TV’s remote control and resume it with the device you are streaming it from or vice versa. This can come in handy where you just want to use the device nearest to you to pause it or get it going quickly.

Google could see more potential with HDMI-CEC and the Chromecast. For eample, they could exploit the remote control’s D-Pad as a way of navigating onscreen menus or “paging through” photos in a collection for example. It could also give the likes of Apple something to worry about as HDMI-CEC becomes a desireable feature for platform-based set-top devices.

Send to Kindle

Panasonic has outlined what Wi-Fi can mean for your camera

Article – From the horse’s mouth

Panasonic

The wonderful world of Wi-Fi supercharges our latest cameras and camcorders (Blog post)

My Comments

LG G-Flex 2 curved Android smartphone - courtesy of LG

Panasonic is pushing the idea of apps as a Wi-Fi-linked control surface for cameras and camcorders

When Wi-Fi is added to a digital camera or camcorder, it is typically about being able to download the images or footage to a regular computer for editing and post-production.

But Panasonic is using Wi-Fi wireless networking for more than that thanks to the app-cessory model. Here, they provide a downloadable app that works as a control surface for the camera and can use the smartphone’s abilities to increase what the camera or camcorder can do.

For example, they have a “Jump Snap” feature which uses the accelerometer in your phone to detect the peak in a jump to cause the camera to take the picture as you jump. It also exploits the smartphone’s GPS so you can geocode your photos that you take with your camera. Let’s not forget the ability to use the smartphone’s screen to set up and take your photo, as what a control-surface app would do.

Sony FRD-AX33 4K HandyCam camcorder press picture courtesy of Sony America

Your smartphone could control one of these and add extra capabilities to it

For camcorders, the Wi-Fi ability allows for multi-camera filming like what the TV producers do in the studios. Here, the smartphone’s camera works as a second camera. This would lead to practices like picture-in-picture or real-time cuts/fades/dissolves being part of your videography. There is even the ability to purpose the camcorder as a network-capable video-surveillance camera with your smartphone or tablet serving as a monitor.

What I see of this is these apps could allow Panasonic and other camera manufacturers to add capabilities to their cameras and camcorders using a mobile-platform app.  The multi-camera filming could be improved upon by allowing multiple camera devices, especially digital cameras or camcorders with the good lenses, to work together for creating multiple video tracks or multi-camera views.

The current limitations with anything that will use a smartphone to add capabilities to a digital camera or camcorder is the fact that the software will only work with a certain range of products supplied by a particular manufacturer. Typically this could be limited to mid-tier and high-end products made since a certain model-year or generation.

Who knows who else will be turning out “app-cessory” setups for their camera and camcorder ranges?

Send to Kindle

Discussions in Germany about how broadband can benefit rural areas

Article

German industry is poised to exploit rural broadband | PC World

My Comments

German countryside - By Manfred&Barbara Aulbach (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

There are real applications for real broadband in Germany

Other countries are having to work harder to even justify rural broadband but Germany is justifying and standing for a broadband standard of at least 50Mbps even in rural areas. This was something that the German Chancellor Angela Merkel had called for in her opening speech at CEBIt 2015 in Hannover.

Here. the goal was about using broadband as a tool to benefit the tradition-driven farming and forestry industries that exist in the country’s rural areas. This is although Germany is pushing the VDSL2 barrow for their next-generation broadband technology but could use “fibre to the remote node” with VDSL2 and ADSL2 to push real broadband to rural households or to serve 4G or newer mobile-broadband service to these areas.

The main benefit was to allow farmers and forestry workers to implement computer-driven analytics rather than tradition and “rough-gauging” to their tasks in order to gain better harvests. SAP were premiering a “field analytics” service which covers the lifecycle of a farmer’s crop, recommending when to start the various tasks associated with that crop. This allows dates for these tasks to be factored in by the farmer or seed merchant. As well, weather reports for that area can be used to vary when to start a particular task.

The SAP service also has the ability for the farmer to share out data with contractors on an “as-needed” basis thus honouring Germany’s strict data-protection laws. At the moment, it is a proof-of-concept service but it was realised that this kind of service can benefit from real broadband being available to rural areas.

Other beneficiaries included Claas who offered a sensor-equipped tractor along with Fovea who offered a surveying app for forestry workers.

Here it is not just about personal entertainment or general office communication that would benefit the rural community when real broadband arrives. It is also about using the “fat pipes” that this technology provides to exchange data with various analytics services to obtain the right crop yield.

Send to Kindle

USB Type-C could mean external battery packs for your laptop

Article

Thanks to USB Type-C, external MacBook batteries may finally arrive (update) | Engadget

My Comments

USB external battery pack

Laptops could be benefiting from external battery packs like this one

Just after Apple had premiered their latest iteration of the MacBook laptop, the computer press have been focusing on this computer being equipped with a USB Type-C connector as its only connector. Subsequently, Google premiered their latest iteration of the Chromebook i.e. the Chromebook Pixel which also has this connection and were making murmurs about this for the Android platform.

Both these computers use the USB Type-C socket as a data / video / power socket and it is an example of things to come for ultraportable notebook computers, because of the low-profile design of these sockets. What is to be the advantage of this connection and the associated USB Power Delivery device class?

Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro convertible notebook left hand side - 2 x USB 3.0 ports (including power inlet), micro HDMI port, SD card reader

USB power via a Type C connector to be the norm for ultraportable computers

Look at what has happened with the smartphones which have come with USB-ended power cables and battery chargers having USB sockets on them. It has led to innovation in how the battery charger is designed because there isn’t any worry about different voltages needed for different smartphones or other gadgets.

For that matter, a highly popular charger type for smartphones especially is the external battery pack which connects to the smartphone’s charging socket. Most of them can be connected to another charger that plugs in to AC power or a car’s cigar-lighter socket to charge up, then they can either charge up the phone’ onboard batteries or provide extra runtime power for that device.

This kind of power universality hadn’t reached laptops yet but, thanks to USB Type C and Power Delivery, it will. These designs will call for a standard fitment and set of power specifications which will open up a common requirement for power supply devices.

The article highlighted the possibility of manufacturers supplying power-supply devices that work with a large number of laptop computers without having consumers worry about whether the power device will work properly and safely with their laptop. They even extended the possibility of external battery packs that are terminated with the USB Type C connector so that one can benefit from longer running time from these batteries.

They also highlighted the fact that Apple would be moving away from its MagSafe power connections just like they have with their Apple Desktop Bus connections. What I see of this as well is that it’s not all about keeping within their own universe but “working beyond” with everyone else. The billion-dollar question yet to be asked is whether Apple will dump the Lightning device-side connection on their iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch devices when they release subsequent generations of these devices, or are this considered by Apple and their fanbois as the “crown jewels” and have to have Apple’s own connections?

Send to Kindle

Free launches the Android-driven Freebox Mini in France

Artlcles – French language / Langue Française

Free mise sur sa mini-box | TF1.fr

Free lance la Freebox Mini et un Freebox Player 4K sous Android TV | 01Net.com

Free : Une box plus petite et 4K | Ère Numérique.fr

From the horse’s mouth

Free.fr

Press release (PDF – French language / Langue Française)

My Comments

Freebox Mini press image courtesy of Free.fr

Freebox Mini

Free have launched into the French market the latest triple-play Freebox. This is not to replace the Freebox Révolution but to be offered as a cheaper hardware option for your high-value have-it-all service that they provide. It is based on a simplified design like the other Freebox products yet is designed to be future-ready.

The Freebox Server Mini is considered a highly functional Internet gateway device which can work with ADSL2, VDSL2 or Fibre-to-the-premises Internet services provided by Free. Like other Freebox gateway devices like the Freebox Révolution, it runs the Freebox OS which has a user interface not dissimilar to a QNAP NAS or a new Linux distro’s graphic user interface. The LAN is based on a 4-port Gigabit Ethernet switch and 802.11n N450 three-stream 2.4GHz Wi-Fi. There is the ability to connect audio equipment so it becomes an audio player in the same manner as the Freebox Révolution Server.

If you want to store data to this device, you would need to use an external hard disk that is connected via eSATA or USB 3.0. This allows for it to be a central “data store” for the home network, including recording TV content from the Freebox Player Mini. As well like other Freebox devices, it has a single-line analogue-telephone adaptor along with a femtocell for mobile phones that are connected to Free’s mobile service.

The Freebox Player Mini is the first set-top box issued by a French telco to have the latest expectations. These include an RF remote which is based on Bluetooth 4.0 Smart technology, the ability to supply 4K video via its HDMI output along with the fact that it runs Google’s Android TV operating system. It also makes this set Google Cast ready and able to be a Chromecast box of sorts.

Another bonus that this set-top box has is voice guidance courtesy of a microphone integrated in to the remote control. There is also an SD card slot so you can quickly show your digital pictures straight from your camera’s SD card “film”.

The price for these devices is EUR€29.95 per month if you are setting them up as one of those legendary French “triple-play” services which encompasses phone calls to more than 100 countries, more than 200 TV channels on the TV, Freebox Replay catch-up TV, or full-on “hot-and-cold” running Internet. The Android-based Freebox Player Mini is available for an extra cost of EUR€2 if it is to be an extra set-top box for a Freebox Révolution setup.

What I see of these devices is that there is a willingness for the highly-competitive French Internet-service market to step forward but stick to commonly-known commonly-available standards rather than head off down their own paths.

Send to Kindle

HDMI for your small organisation’s video display needs

Sony BDP-S390 Blu-Ray Disc Player connections

Most video peripherals like the Sony BDP-S390 Blu-Ray player nowadays have an HDMI connector on them

I have been assisting a small church in their purchase of a newer projector for use through their worship services. Here, I have been steering them towards using equipment that uses HDMI connectivity rather than the 15-pin “VGA” cables. But why am I steering them towards this?

Video peripherals use HDMI as a standard connector

Sony VAIO E-Series mainstream laptop SVE15129CG Left-hand-side connections - Gigabit Ethernet, VGA, HDMI, USB 3.0, 3.5mm microphone jack, 3.5mm audio output jack and SD and MemoryStick card readers

… as do an increasing number of laptop comptuers

Increasingly every video peripheral ranging from Blu-Ray players and network-media receivers to cable boxes and digital-TV tuners implements HDMI as a “best-case” connector. If the video peripheral had analogue component video connections, it would come with RCA-based YCC connections as that “best-case” analogue connection.

Most of the economy-class data projectors that are in circulation would implement as their best connector an RGB connector in the form of the 15-pin screw-on “VGA” connector that is intended as a baseline connection for computers because a lot of computer monitors use this connection. This is although most computers and monitors are moving towards DVI-D or HDMI connections.

If we are chasing the idea of connecting a laptop for presentations, a Blu-Ray / DVD player for movies or a DVB-T digital-TV tuner for the big news or sports broadcast, we would have to switch between different connection types for the application which can cause a lot of confusion. This is more so with people who haven’t had much experience or can get flustered easily with connecting different AV equipment.

Increased installation flexibility

New desktop comptuer at church

New desktop comptuer at church – something that could benefit from an all-HDMI connection for the projector

One main advantage of an HDMI setup for your video display needs is increased installation flexibility. This is brought on by the audio signal carried in a digital form on the same cable. It is typically to allow the one-cable setup between a video peripheral and a TV with even a surround-sound setup having one cable from the video peripheral to the surround-sound amplifier which can be capable of being a video switcher, then another cable from that surround-sound amplifier going to the TV.

HDMI offers a maximum length of 25 feet / 7.62 metres between two pieces of equipment but there are solutions to cover larger installations. For example, you could use a line-powered active HDMI splitter as a repeater for a length up to 30 metres. Some devices in their own right, like HDMI-capable digital-analogue converters or amplifiers can be repeaters. Or you could use a “Category-5” HDMI balun pair along with Category-5 Ethernet cable for a distance of 330 feet / 100.58 metres between the pieces of equipment.

In these setups, you are running just one cable which passes along the digital representation of high-resolution images and sound between the source device and the display.

Audio setups

HDMI also uses the same cable to pass along a digital representation of the sound along with the high-resolution video signal. This can be a 7.1 surround-sound Dolby Digital or DTS bitstream or a simpler stereo PCM bitstream,

HDIM audio-extractor box setup

What an HDMI audio-extractor box is all about

In a video-presentation setup where you are using a projector, you will also find that the sound system is located either near the video source device like a computer or near the projector. The device that is handy for these situations is an HDMI audio adaptor, known as an HDMI audio extractor or HDMI digital-analogue converter.

Here, these devices connect the HDMI video source to the audio equipment either via an SP/DIF or AES/EBU digital connection; or a stereo line-level analogue connection and pass the sound signal from the video peripheral to the sound system. There is an HDMI output on these devices to connect the device to the display for the “final leg” of the signal’s journey.

Some projectors even have an HDMI audio-adaptor function typically to feed an integrated mono speaker for “quick-setup” arrangements. These will also have a line-out connection in the form of a 3.5mm stereo phone jack so they can be connected to an external sound system that is located up front and can put up a stronger sound.

Here, you could locate this device close to the sound system irrespective of where the display device is located and be able to hear good-quality noise-free sound. One main advantage of this is to be able to keep any unbalanced analogue audio connections as short as possible thus reducing the possibility of unwanted noise getting in to the amplifier which can happen easily with longer unbalanced analogue connections.

Another point of flexibility is HDMI Audio Return Channel. This is relevant to TVs with integrated tuners, multiple HDMI inputs and/or smart-TV functionality where a digital sound stream is sent back from the TV’s own sources to the amplifier to feed the speakers associated with that amplifier.  Here, this also leads to a high-quality sound path between that wall-mounted TV and a more powerful home-theatre setup that is located in a position for easier control.

HDMI-CEC

Yet another point of flexibility that HDMI offers is Consumer Electronics Control. This uses the same HDMI cable as a control cable and, as I have observed, has reduced the need to juggle remote controls to operate a Blu-Ray player for example. For example, it allows the TV to “light up” and select the appropriate input when you are loading a disc in the Blu-Ray player. Similarly, you use the TV’s remote to navigate the disc menu and get the movie underway. When used with a projector and computer that supports it, it could be feasible to use the projector’s remote to page through a presentation or start and stop video content, being seen as a presenter’s dream come true.

This is implemented mainly on higher-end big-name TVs, and most home-theatre amplifiers pitched to the residential-use market along with nearly all home-theatre video peripherals especially Blu-Ray players. Most manufacturers market this feature under their own marketing names like AnyNet (Samsung) or VIERA Link (Panasonic) but will cast a reference to HDMI-CEC in the device’s operating instructions or setup menu. An increasing number of premium-grade HDIM-equipped projectors pitched for home-theatre use also offer this function. Toshiba implements this function in their latest computers “out-of-the-box” and there is an RCAware add-on black box which allows this to work with other computers.

Moving your existing video display setup to HDMI

I would recommend that you move your video-display setup towards HDMI as part of your equipment replacement cycle.

Make sure your equipment has HDMI when you are purchasing or specifying newer projectors and other display equipment. If possible, prefer that the equipment works at 1080p if you are running a lot of video content as more video is captured or mastered in this resolution. Examples of this include Blu-Ray discs, console and PC games, along with consumer and semi-pro still and video cameras that can record in 1080p.

When you improve your playout computer equipment, upgrade the video cards to those that have HDMI outputs or, for portables, use USB DisplayLink adaptors that have HDMI outputs or specify newer equipment with these outputs. This is easy to achieve if you are purchasing current-generation laptop computers as they come with HDMI or DisplayPort connections whether “standard” or of a smaller form-factor. Similarly, current-issue display cards for desktop computers will be expected to have HDMI or DisplayPort connections. In the case of DisplayPort connectors, you would need to use a DisplayPort-HDMI adaptor cable to connect them to HDMI display devices.

As well, it could be a chance to replace DVD players with Blu-Ray players because these have the HDMI output and can show high-resolution video that the connection is known for. Similarly, digital-TV tuners and set-top boxes that you use to receive broadcast TV in your installation should have HDMI connections. If you are wanting to show legacy sources like VHS tapes through your video system, a composite-HDMI adaptor may come in handy. These devices convert the analogue signals from the legacy source such as the video recorder to a digital signal and even upscale them to a higher resolution before passing them along an HDMI cable.

When you revise the installation, make sure you are pulling HDMI cable or, if you use Cat5 or Cat6 cable for the extended cable runs, replace the baluns that you use with other technologies like VGA with those that work with HDMI. As well, the equipment should be connected via HDMI cables. For that matter, the HDMI baluns can be purchased from dedicated electronics stores like Radio Parts, Jaycar or Maplin.

What can be done here?

Integrating HDMI-CEC in more equipment

A projector that is equipped with HDMI-CEC could allow for the use of the remote control as a control surface for connected video peripherals. It can also allow a computer, for example, to cause the projector to be switched on and off as needed. The command set for HDMI-CEC could be extended to exchange status details that are of concern to projector operation like lamp condition and runtime.

As computers are being used as playout equipment in the business location, they could benefit from being HDMI-CEC control-target or control-source equipment. This could be facilitated through hardware and software additions that are provided by more computer and display-subsystem manufacturers. The software could support “page-through” on presentation software or use of the D-toggle on the remote as a virtual mouse. Similarly, a playout computer with HDMI-CEC “control-source” functionality can be able to turn on and turn off display or amplification equipment or provide “master volume” control over the system.

Conclusion

Moving your small business’s or community organisation’s display technology to HDMI can provide for increased flexibility when managing how this equipment acts when playing video material. It would also become simpler to achieve a “best-quality” setup so that your customers, patrons or congregation can see sharper images on the screen.

Send to Kindle

Page 1 of 135123456»102030...Last »

Sponsors

HomeNetworking01.Info

Latest PDF issue
Homenetworking01.info website reputation