Streamlined Classroom AV Systems by Christopher Maione

10/11/2011 11:33:21 PM
By PSN Staff

The Educational market and Classroom AV Systems has been a market niche since the beginning of AV.   If you think about it,  chalkboards and blackboards were probably the first “displays” intended to capture the attention of the audience.  Then, as time and technology progressed – next up – you guessed it – the overhead projector.  Somewhere the blackboard evolved into a whiteboard which provided a surface to project onto (albeit not the best) and allowed teachers to “annotate” overhead transparencies – and hence the concept of an interactive whiteboard was born.

In today’s world of PC’s and laptops – and let’s hope just about all teachers have (finally) migrated to PC based lesson plans – the Classroom AV / IT systems have established themselves in the education arena and have made their mark in the commercial AV world.

The video projector manufacturers have certainly found this niche – and firms such as Epson, Hitachi, InFocus, Optoma and Toshiba have all targeted specific product lines for the educational market.

So let’s look at the AV capabilities of a typical classroom AV system:

·       Display of projected images (video projector & screen)

·       PC and / or laptop connectivity

·       Lectern or wireless microphone (depending on classroom size)

Some of the “extras” would include:

·       Document camera

·       Interactive annotation

As AV goes, these are  fairly straightforward technologies.  

So it’s  no surprise that the Big 3 (AMX, Crestron, Extron) have  developed straightforward products for this market.

Years ago the equipment required to outfit a basic classroom AV system would have included numerous components, mixer, amplifier, audio/video switcher, preamplifier, amplifier etc.

Now an entire classroom AV system can be built around a few key “all in one” components.  There is no reason to design a complicated multi-component system when there are integrated single component systems engineered specifically for the simple classroom “hang & bang” environment.  

Take a look at these offerings, they each provide a single key component solution and in many cases the key component is packaged with all the other parts and pieces for the entire system.

AMX EXP – TOTAL- DVX-2100HD-DC

Based around the DVX-2100HD switcher, this solution provides everything you need in a drop ceiling “kit” for a complete classroom AV system.

Crestron QuickPacks

Three distinct packages, the QP-200, QP-300 and QP-400 are bundled presentation systems which include room controller, audio amplifier, speakers, wall plates, cables and even the projector mount.

Extron System 5ip and System 7SC

An all-in-one switcher and scaler, The System 5 is a 5 x 1 switcher and the System 7 has 7 inputs x 2 outputs.

If you want an even more streamlined solution from Extron, check out their PoleVault System.  Everything you need for a complete classroom AV system based around the video projector mounting pole.

The engineers and the manufacturers behind these products  have done an excellent job in developing their equipment  specifically for the education market.  There is no need for you to recreate the wheel and no homework assignments necessary for building a Classroom AV System from scratch.  

So here is my advice:

End Users – Take a look at each of these solutions – they make good technical, practical and economical sense for the basic Classroom AV system.  

Consultant – if you are “designing” Classroom AV systems – take the simple route – these products are good, cost effective solutions for your clients.

AV System Integrators – these are bundled solutions that make installs quick and easy – which will make the project profitable.  Run with it.

Got it?  Alright then...class dismissed.


Christopher Maione, CTS-D, is president of Christopher Maione Associates, a firm specializing in all aspects of AV business, technologies, emerging trends and marketing strategy. Serving as an InfoComm Adjunct Faculty member since as well as on several standards committees, he continues to promote the betterment of the AV industry through his extensive involvement.  Reach him at cmaione@chrismaione.com

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