Black Box demonstrates 4K video wall at ISE 2015

The Black Box Team is back from Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) – the world’s largest tradeshow dedicated to professional AV and electronic systemsblack-box-video-wall-ISE integration. The show took place February 9–12, 2015, in Amsterdam.

We had a huge response to our innovative AV product line showcased at ISE. Commercial Integrator named Black Box as one of the top nine products changing the scope of video at ISE 2015.

If you didn’t have a chance to attend, take a look as Inavate captures Peter Brooke-Wavell demonstrating the new 4K-ready iCOMPEL and VideoPlex 4 live at ISE 2015.

In addition to our 4K video wall controller, VideoPlex 4, and 4K digital signage player, iCOMPEL P Series, we also showcased MediaCento IPX – our solution for HDMI-over-IP extension, switching, and video wall creation. This video extension product line includes devices that compress and encode source video for extending over a LAN using lossless compression technology. They can be for multicast distribution (multicast) or point-to-point (unicast) distribution. Other benefits include: easy integration, plug-and-play setup, optimal PC-to-screen performance, uncompromised digital content, and secure connectors. Plus, a controller is available for matrix switching and video wall creation.

Overall, the show was a success – it’s always great connecting with customers worldwide. The Black Box Team looks forward meeting again – see you at these upcoming events.

Additional resources
For more 4K resources, be sure to check out:
• 4K products:
• Free white paper: Piecing Together the 4K Puzzle


The hidden cost of digital signage stream decoders

Why are more people signing up for digital signage installations? One reason is the drop in initial capital costs.

Recently I saw a player on Google Shopping for roughly $200. That is cheaper than two tickets to a first-class rock concert, and can offer much more than a few hours of entertainment. The low-cost player offers a chance to increase business revenue.

Wow, increase revenue for just $200? Before you sign up, keep in mind there is a reason these digital signage installations are inexpensive.

Unlike digital signage players that are PC-based (x86 process, storage, etc.), these inexpensive players are appliance-based and gather content by streaming data across a network. With simple content layouts, this is not a problem. However, when digital signage content is streamed over a wireless network, data costs can creep up if not careful.

Example of how quickly data costs can rise over time.
Suppose a company wanted to install three 3G media players at a price point of $200 on their business network. Let’s sayhidden-iceburg that the company wanted Web pages, videos, and photos as part of their signage content. A quick estimate of data costs can be calculated using a data calculator*.

Let’s say the three players are on a total of 12 hours in a given day. During this time, these three players stream five Web pages, 60 minutes of video, and 50 photos (it can be assumed that RSS feeds, Twitter feeds, and text boxes consume negligible data). For all three players, total data usage would be 18GB/month (6GB per player).

This statistic is important for one critical reason: the cost of data overages. Data rates for businesses using a WiFi network can costs upwards of $80 per 10GB; however, data overages can cost up to $15 per 1GB overage. That being said, the overages themselves would cost $120 per month. This brings the total month data charges to $200. Multiplying this number for the year brings the total to more than $2600 for the three players. Suddenly, those “cheap” players become more expensive.

By adding the additional costs of the players, the total cost per installation of digital signage for the first year is equal to $3K. The other item to take note of is that these data charges do not fluctuate too greatly. Therefore, it can be inferred that a three-player signage installation can cost upwards of $8K for three years of operation. There are other players that do not use stream decoding; however, they are more expensive initially.

Digital signage players with no hidden costs.
If your company cannot afford to be surprised with operational costs that continue to add up over time, I’d recommend you go with a one-time investment digital signage system like iCOMPEL. You just pay one up-front cost. All digital signage software is preinstalled and updates are free. No expensive licenses are required year after year.

Plus, the PC-based digital signage player works right out of the box – keeping digital signage simple. It also comes packed with customization capabilities making it perfect for large-scale, sophisticated applications.

So, what digital signage player will you choose for your next installation?

*Data calculations based off a well-known telecommunications estimation tool.

5 Reasons to use AV over IP

You’ve been tasked to engage your audience with real-time, media-rich content. In other words, send high-quality images over a local area network (LAN). Before you get your cables in a bunch, consider AV over IP.

Sending high-quality images and video over a LAN has never been easier or more advantageous. Benefit from full HD capabilities with ultra-low latency and the ability to introduce dynamic content.

Sounds great, but what exactly is AV over IP?
AV over IP is the transport of audio visual (AV) signals over a standard Ethernet network including HD video, audio, control signals, and peripheral signals.

av-over-ipWhy use AV over IP?
1. Scalability
The technology eliminates port limitations, which means from one single source you can reach hundreds of displays. Therefore, the number of displays you can reach are only limited by the number of ports in your network.

2. Flexibility
AV over IP solutions from the right vendor provides flexibility to manage multiple displays remotely. As you grow your signage in various locations, a high-end AV over IP device is necessary to easily manage both content and the performance status of each display. This device allows you to bring multiple information sources to a display, including media-rich presentations with full video. Furthermore, it’s possible to display rich interactive content with live RSS feeds and introduce static logos for consistent branding.

3. Distance
Go the distance with AV over IP. This technology has no distance limitations; send video as far as your network reaches.

Although standard Ethernet segments are limited to 330 feet, switches or repeaters can be added to get additional distance. For very long runs, runs between buildings, or in installations in industrial environments with high levels of EMI, standard Ethernet media converters can be used with the system to convert the electrical signals into optical ones for transport over fiber cable.

4. Image Quality
Experience lossless video and ultra-low latency with AV-over-IP.

In venues such as sports stadiums, digital signage is everywhere. For the signage that streams live video of the sporting event, latency is a huge problem. For instance, fans waiting at concession stands could hear the cheering crowd and look to digital signage only to experience a four- or five-second delay for the “live” content to come through.

High-end AV over IP systems placed in stadiums, for example, can use compression algorithms such as H.264 to send packetized data over increasingly long distances. Such compression shrinks the signal delay down to an unnoticeable two or three frames per second. This gives the patrons an enhanced experience when viewing live content.

5. Cost savings
To implement AV over IP, use your existing network equipment. Since AV over IP can be set up over existing LAN lines, there is no need to tear up the walls and install separate cabling. This eliminates the need for expensive electrical contractors.

Purchasing a digital signage content publisher and manager also is an efficient one-time investment. Avoid the need to produce and mount traditionally printed signage and work with the inflexibility of non-networked systems.

So, where is AV over IP implemented?
Sending AV signals over IP introduces a simpler way for companies to better engage viewers by providing richer and more varied content to multiple locations. Today’s consumer expects immediate information. Digital signage can incorporate multimedia that meets this expectation by presenting fresh content that holds the customer’s attention.

We see AV over IP technology used in retail stores, corporate communications, schools, cinemas/theaters, health care, broadcast, command and control, security, exhibitions, concerts, and events.

The demand for real-time content has driven the need for AV-over-IP appliances in these settings. The AV-over-IP devices act as plug in and play, and are controlled by Web browsers. Additional benefits include easy installation and customization.

Next steps
Now that you’re aware of the numerous reasons to use AV over IP, how will you implement the technology at your business?

If you’re ready to explore some AV-over-IP solutions, consider Black Box. The MediaCento IPX is an award-winning HDMI-over-IP solution. We also have a host of ProAV solutions, such as HDMI matrix switches, scalers, and video wall controllers. See the full list.

Why you should use digital signage enclosures

A digital signage deployment isn’t truly complete until an enclosure has been included. The practical benefits to even the most simple digital signage enclosure are numerous, and if a signage display is going to be outdoors, it’s ever more important to pick the right enclosure for a player.

An enclosure is the first line of defense signage has against any type of tampering. At its most basic, a locking metal box around a player prevents vandalism, cable disconnects, or even repositioning. An enclosure protects the investment that digital signage represents. Most enclosures feature Gorilla® Glass, which is easier to clean off than an LCD or plasma screen of a display. Plus, it’s tough, and can usually prevent damage from thrown or wielded objects.

DS EnclosureAesthetically, an enclosure is the difference between a nicely framed and matted picture and a poster tacked to a wall. A digital signage screen in the proper enclosure has a neat appearance. The enclosure encompasses cables and other connections, giving a mounted display a contained, well-maintained appearance. Additionally, an enclosure is an opportunity for branding—a canvas as it were, for logos, team colors, and other messaging.

Another practical consideration for digital signage is mounting, and enclosures give users more options than a player on its own.

If digital signage displays are going to be placed outside, enclosures are not optional. Enclosures protect signage from the elements and regulate operating temperatures. Rated with an Ingress Protection (IP) Code, it is clear what digital signage enclosures protect against. Usually two numbers, the IP Code rates for solid particle protection (0-6) and liquid ingress protection (0-9), with 0 meaning no protection; 6 meaning dust-tight; and 9 meaning protection against close range, high-pressure water jets. For most outdoor applications, the most popular ratings are 65 (dustproof and water resistant) and 67 (dustproof and waterproof, including short immersion in water). Continue reading

What is HDBaseT technology?

HDBaseT is a connectivity standard for distribution of uncompressed HD multimedia content. HDBaseT technology converges full HD digital video, audio, 100BaseT Ethernet, power over cable, and various control signals through a single LAN cable. This is referred to as 5Play™, a feature set that sets HDBaseT technology above the current standard.

1. Video
HDBaseT delivers full HD/3D and 2K/4K uncompressed video to a network of devices or to a single device (point-to-point). HDBaseT supports all key HDMI 1.4 features, including EPG, Consumer Electronic Controls (CEC), EDID, and HDCP. The unique video coding scheme ensure the highest video quality at zero latency.HDBaseT-Logo

2. Audio
As with the video, HDBaseT audio is passed through from the HDMI chipset. All standard formats are supported, including Dolby Digital, DTS, Dolby TrueHD, DTS HD-Master Audio.

3. Ethernet
HDBaseT supports 100Mb Ethernet, which enables communications between electronic devices including televisions, sound systems, computers, and more. Additionally, Ethernet support enables access to any stored multimedia content (such as video or music streaming). Continue reading