• Published , by Tom Devine

CEDIA coming up this month brings to mind the occasions we have to speak with many of you in person. Often these discussions involve product features or sharing case-uses. We have noticed it trending that many integrators are forgoing video signal distribution systems by simply placing a streaming product behind each display, particularly in new builds. While this is elegantly sufficient for a seldom used guest bedroom, some evaluation must be considered as to whether this may be underserving end-users. If they have concisely communicated to you that prevailing economic factors have forced drastic cost-cutting measures, little can be done to move that needle.

However, if the one-to-one pairing is originated from your side of the proposal, perhaps some analysis of common use scenarios is called for.   

  • Video Syncing and Audio Latency Issues
    • When displays are close in proximity to one another, particularly if audio overlaps will be heard in both viewing areas, such as kitchens which unfold into great rooms, a single source distributed to multi-displays eliminates both of these issues.    
    • Simultaneously-timed playback cannot be accomplished as the individual sources, though the same content, are acquired via separate network streams which have no provision for a synchronized beginning. 
  • Home Sports Bar Theme
    • The scenario includes two 65” displays flanking an 83” central display, with two other displays within the same room, one located behind a bar, another near a billiard table. It would not be possible to have additional displays elsewhere in this dwelling without the addition of a second iTunes account. Apple’s maximum is five Apple TVs per account.
    • Aside from account considerations, as outlined above in scenario #1, synchronization is impossible.
    • Let’s take one additional step: Both 65” displays are LED with the 83” an OLED. Was video calibration performed to perceptually match these differing technology types and make them as close to one another as possible?
  • Vacation Images / Videos For Guest Entertaining
    • In a luxury home setting, more than 5 display devices is routine, rather than an exception. As per #2, account issues arise.
    • Distributed audio accompanies this scenario, and solutions exist to mitigate audio latency issues. Curiously, having not been presented a distributed video solution, or provided solid reasoning for its inclusion, is the client just now embarrassingly discovering he or she has been underserved, observing the syncing issues across multiple displays from a single point of observation?
  • Kaleidescape Systems
    • Kaleidescape has experienced price reductions broadening its appeal to a wider array of clients. As a source into a video distribution system, it becomes untethered from a theater or prime viewing location to be available to every display.

  • Update and Upgrade Concerns
    • TV manufacturers bundle streaming capabilities from a variety of providers (subscriptions required) and initially, it provides a highly appealing element of convenience. In time however, the apps combined with the available update storage space the manufacturer allots, collide and the apps become static, unable to upgrade.
    • Streaming providers update their apps for optimization with external streaming devices. With the rapid advancements to streaming with Dolby Vision and HDR10 content, plus Dolby Atmos and DTS-X, internal apps have a propensity to be left to wallow as providers become reluctant to tailor new content to outmoded apps, due to the added production costs. And the time when this begins to occur shortens each cycle. As a result, content to slows and buffers, leaving end-users puzzled and frustrated.
    • In distributed systems, sources delivered to multiple displays maintain update optimization, continuing to deliver the best fidelity available.
    • When source upgrades become necessary, replacing a single device is a less daunting task than one behind every display.
  • Distribution Logistics
    • A source per household member enables hyper-personalized content to be delivered to that person at any connected display.
    • Account limitations are likely kept in check, unless household members number more than Apple’s limit of 5.
    • Multiple iTunes accounts are certainly possible, but shared devices require separate log-ins, likely a source of irritation.
  • Provider Subscription Stipulations
    • Multiple streaming devices may entail subscription limitations with some accounts. For example, an NFL Sunday Ticket subscription allows streaming to one device only.
    • Netflix has a tiered subscription plan, and the total number of devices per account is a maximum of four with the Premium plan.
    • Hulu limits to two devices. If you have the Live TV option, for an additional $9.95 per month devices can be unlimited but must be located on your home network.
    • With Hulu, premium network add-ons vary. For example, if you subscribe to HBO Max, Cinemax, SHOWTIME, or STARZ through Hulu, content may be streamed on up to five screens simultaneously.
    • A distributed video system may be something clients favor when details of streaming providers limitations are adequately explained.

  • Bandwidth Requirements
    • Depending on the number of simultaneous streaming users there might be in a household, a robust network with top tier bandwidth availability will be required. 
    • Other network demands such as heavy gaming may severely tax nominal home networks. 
    • A distributed video network, while representing a financial outlay, may partially offset steeper investments in equipment necessary to circumvent such a system. 
  • Only TV Audio?
    • While a solo streaming device tucked behind a TV may be sufficient for some areas in a home for others, sound produced from flat panels is woefully inadequate. While supplemented by a soundbar improves audio quality, is immersive audio being forfeited as well?
  • It Is About The Benjamins…
    • Clients should never be sold something they do not need or discover after the sale, did not want. We are not advocating predatory tactics. We know you interview clients, basing your proposals on that exchange. The Art Of The Demo appears to have suffered a fatal wound. How many of you enthusiastically demonstrate to clients how a control system combined with distributed audio and video will simplify their lives while increasing their entertainment time due to ease of use?   
    • Distributed video systems are represented in many manifestations these days. AVPro Edge MXNet 1G, and the soon to be released on-steroids version, MXNet 10G are examples of systems that not only distribute video but offer a broad range of technology solutions.
    • Time-tested systems such as HDMI and HDBaseT matrix switchers continue to answer the needs of satisfied users.
    • An etched in stone sales adage remains as vital today as when first conceived: Nobody is insulted if you presume they can afford what you are selling, but they will be highly offended when they discover you assumed they couldn’t.


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