Category Archives: Media

Run HDMI over 5-wire component video cables

Most of our classrooms have 5-wire component video cables (aka 5 BNC) from the podium (or equipment rack) to the projector. To upgrade the classrooms so they work with digital video we (well, facilities and contractors) had to pull out these cables and replace them with something more modern.

Atlona, Gefen and a few other manufacturers have come out with extenders that let you run digital audio and video over the existing 5-wire component video cables, thus eliminating the need for wiring upgrades. We’ll be testing how well these work, and we hope to find that it will speed-up classroom upgrades!


Online media storage and encoding appliances (also good for lecture capture)


All of these can be integrated into some form of lecture recording and capture.

Converting Analog to Digital

Quite a few products on the market:

  1. Extron RGB-HDMI 300 A,
  2. Aurora ASP-VTH,
  3. Atlona AT-HD500,
  4. Kanex VGARLHD,
  5. Aluratek AVH100F,

Wireless projection and wireless tv

Update Aug. 27, 2012: Added another wireless projection/TV option under projectors & TV.

I know we have a blackbox product that does wireless projection (and will work with Tvs as well), but it requires you to load software/drivers onto the computer, and also while connected to it you don’t get any internet on the wireless. So I looked around for any solutions that A) Don’t require any software/drivers and B) Don’t interrupt your internet connection.

Both Windows and Mac/iPad/iPhone support wireless projection out of the box but there are some gotchas.

1. Windows
In Windows this is called Windows Network Projector. If there is a compatible projector on the network, a Windows computer can connect to it wirelessly, no drivers required and internet is not interrupted. The problem is that right now there’s only a few compatible projectors, all from NEC (e.g. NP-PA500X from B&H).

2. Mac/iPad/iPhone
In Mac/iPad/iPhone this is called AirPlay and it requires you to connect an AppleTV ($99) to your projector or switcher or TV but will work with any projector/switcher/TV with HDMI. Right now it only displays iTunes content, but this summer Apple is releasing a new version of the OS which will show anything on the computer screen. No software to load, internet is not interrupted.

3. Cross-platform option
Intelix recently released their SkyPlay-HD product [1][2]. It consists of a sender and receiver box. The sender can connect to any PC or Mac with HDMI or DVI output (no drivers or software needed). The receiver can connect to any projector or TV. Similarly, Gefen has a more affordable wireless HDMI extender (GTV-WHD-1080P-LR) that seems more affordable.

See my update above about the wireless cross-platform product. This will work with any TV. Also, see my note above about Mac/iPad/iPhone. The AppleTV will work with any HDMI TV. I did not find anything that would work on Windows without having to load special software.

A couple of TV manufacturers (e.g. LG) make boxes that communicates wirelessly with the TV. Using regular wires you plugin the computer or standalone DVD/Blu-ray/VHS to the box and the box sends the a/v signal wirelessly to the TV. Seems to be limited to 45 feet and may be sensitive to other wireless devices in the vicinity. I guess the benefit here is that you don’t have to run any wires to the TV other than power.

Also, some TV manufacturers make Tvs that are “web-enabled”, meaning that they can connect to web sites without a computer. However this seems to be limited to web sites like Netflix, Youtube, Amazon, etc.

Have you heard/seen any other wireless projection/tv solutions?


Audio and video collaboration tools

Telepresence solutions
When considering audio and video collaboration tools (also known as telepresence) in education, the following technical factors should be taken into account:

– The scale of the collaboration: How many participants are expected to collaborate at the same time in a session?
– The nature of the collaboration: if there are more than two participants per session, are the participants going to be interacting synchronously or asynchronously? For three or more participants to interact face-to-face synchronously, the software must support multipoint connections.
– What devices will participants be using? PCs, Macs, stand-alone video conferencing units, regular phones, tablets, etc.
– Will content be added to the audio and the video? Do participants need to share their computer screen, a document, a video or music file?
– Does the collaboration software require a server-side component?
– What kind of bandwidth does the collaboration software need?

An educational institution can, for example, need 6-12 simultaneous video calls in a single conference, with a mixture of standalone video conferencing units, Mac and PC computers. At some point during this multipoint call, the presenter may want to show a powerpoint. On the backend, the institution may prefer to have the server-side components hosted offsite. Ideally, the licensing for this would concurrent.

Some examples of telepresence solutions that match and exceed these sample requirements: Polycom CMA, Vidyo Panorama, Microsoft Lync.

In addition, Nefsis is a competitor to the above, however it has no Mac support at this point.

It is worth noting that WebEx, with their Meeting Center product, can support a video conference with up to 7 simultaneous participants (any mixture of Macs and PCs). However, there is no support for connecting from a standalone video conferencing unit. Similarly, ooVoo supports up to 6 simultaneous participants (any mix of Macs and PCs) but, like WebEx, offers no support for connecting from a standalone video conferencing unit. If no document or desktop sharing is required, then ooVoo is free for up to 3 participants. To add up to 6 participants and add document/desktop sharing, there is some added cost.

Webinar solutions
At the same time, the institution may be interested in hosting webinars where face-to-face interaction is not required or desired. In such a situation, a solution such as WebEx may be best suited. It would allow a few people to act as presenters, while allowing hundreds or thousands to act as viewers. The biggest advantage of a webinar-style solution is that it is very cheap compared to a telepresence-style solution, can be used ad-hoc and allows almost anyone in the world to listen to the webinar without needing any internet connection.