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Why Your Conference Room Technology May Soon Be Obsolete

by Tim Heneveld on July 9, 2009

You can’t get away from the digital age. It seems like digital technology is everywhere. As Audio-Video designers, the march towards all things digital is having an impact on display technologies as well. Meanwhile, flying under the radar, there is a subtle shift happening in how the average person shows information from a computer onto a projector or display.

For years, desktop computers and laptops have been manufactured with the classic 15-pin analog VGA connector for outputting video signals to an external display. Yes, that’s right, these digital computers have relied on analog video/display cabling since Bill Gates wore bell bottoms. But recently, computer makers have begun eliminating the analog VGA connector and only supporting external displays with digital HDMI or DisplayPort connections. Apple has been an early adopter of these connections on their computers. Check out the latest MacBook and you’ll notice that there is no VGA connector. Most other computer manufacturers are scheduled to do the same in the next 12 – 18 months. But wait, there’s a problem…

Almost every conference room and boardroom in the world is outfitted with cables for analog VGA connections. So, how will the CEO display the Power Point from his brand new MacBook at the next big meeting? Easy, just put an adapter on it, right? Hold on a second. Just to complicate matters, not only are the connectors different, but so is the cabling (limited to around 30′ in most typical applications). And just for good measure, part of the digital signal experience includes the fact that the display also has to have a digital input. Oh, and all the switching and processing in between has to be able to pass the signal correctly (with content protection). Suddenly we’re not talking about a little adapter here. We’re looking at whole AV systems that won’t support the computers and video sources they need to. So, that room you just re-wired and put an LCD projector in? Well, odds are it’s not ready for the digital content that computers will be putting out in the very near future.

At Acoustics By Design, we are constantly researching and testing the latest digital AVL equipment in our own working test room. Not to sell it (we’re independent consultants, so we don’t sell anything), but to learn what works. It’s our job to pass on that real life knowledge to our clients. If you get in a jam, and think you may have to scrap your whole corporate board room AV system, give us a call. We can work with you to help solve the complex challenges of the digital age.

Tim Heneveld

Tim Heneveld

Tim Heneveld, CTS-D, has worked in almost every aspect of the Audio-Video and lighting industry. From System Design to Project Management to Studio and Live Engineering. Tim has overseen audio, video, and lighting systems as well as operations, and provided recording studio and live sound engineering around the world for recording artists of all genres. Tim is a Certified Crestron and Extron Programmer, and is the Senior AVL Design Consultant for Acoustics By Design, in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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Duglass Young July 22, 2009 at 4:35 pm

Tim and team… thanks for the information, what a nightmare. Glad that we have you guys around to keep us all connected.

Duglass Young July 22, 2009 at 4:35 pm

Tim and team… thanks for the information, what a nightmare. Glad that we have you guys around to keep us all connected.

Duglass Young July 22, 2009 at 4:35 pm

Tim and team… thanks for the information, what a nightmare. Glad that we have you guys around to keep us all connected.

Jeff P. August 3, 2009 at 3:28 pm

Tim, every Mac user I’ve encountered lately carries around a DisplayPort to VGA adapter. It’s been OK so far. How’s about a future article about Digital Rights Management. I think this may become a bigger obstacle… something I’m certainly watching.

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