PPI Named an SCN 2015 Top 50 Systems Integrator

Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 12.09.20 PMPresentation Products, Inc. is pleased to announce that it has been named to the Systems Contractor News 2015 Top 50 Systems Integrators list. This marks the fourth time in the last six years that PPI has been included. PPI ranked 45th, up two spots from 2014. The list, which uses total AV-systems-generated revenue as its primary ranking factor, is widely considered to be an authoritative indicator of the largest companies in the industry.

As a design/build-focused firm, PPI is particularly proud to be on a list that features many companies who focus on high-volume bid work. Presentation Products is also one of only two companies based in New York, NY, to make the top 50. PPI is honored to be included, and looks forward to continuing to climb up the list each year. PPI extends sincere congratulations to every company on the list.

See the full list here. 

 

InFocus JTouch: A Well-Rounded & Affordable Interactive Display

Though perhaps not the most historically ubiquitous name in the interactive display market, InFocus has brought itself to the fore in recent years with the Mondopad, the BigTouch, and our most recent favorite: the JTouch. A well rounded, affordable interactive whiteboard display, the JTouch offers a unique array of features that make it appropriate for both corporate and educational deployments. Here’s what makes it stand out:

Configuration Flexibility: The JTouch’s primary functionality is to act a large, touch screen display for your computer. Connect your Mac or PC to the display via HDMI and USB – the standard connections for this type of functionality – and you’re good to go. The cross-party, Mac/PC compatibility is a plus in the flexibility column – many competitive products can only provide robust touch experiences when connected to a PC. 4 HDMI inputs is also an unusual plus for interactive displays – this allows integrators to connect a variety of sources to the display without bringing in additional switchers. But the most notable feature that the JTouch offers in terms of flexibility is that you don’t have to connect a computer to it to use it. Out of the box, the JTouch offers digital whiteboarding functionality without anything connected to it. This allows the JTouch to be installed without the requirement of a dedicated, in-room PC – and at once, IT support personnel everywhere smile.

Size Flexibility: The JTouch comes in a number of sizes, making it appropriate for huddle rooms, classrooms, and large conference rooms. 40”, 57”, 65”, 70”, and 80” models are all available, which allows integrators to more accurately specify the proper size display for a particular room. With other interactive displays that only come in two or three sizes, you’re often forced to round up or down to the nearest one. This always costs you – either in dollars spent, or in screen size lost.

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The five different JTouch sizes offered by InFocus

 

Wireless Functionality: JTouch’s newest feature is LightCast, a way of wirelessly sharing content from your device to the JTouch. LightCast uses your device’s native protocol – AirPlay for Apple and Miracast for Android – to wirelessly share content. Not every JTouch model comes with LightCast, but those that do further de-emphasize the need for an in-room PC. The LightCast home screen, with no source connected to it, offers you three options: whiteboard, web browser, or wireless sharing. This is robust functionality for a standalone device.

InFocus -JTOUCH-LIGHTCAST

The LightCast home screen

Price: The most notable JTouch feature of all is its price. Compared to other interactive displays on the market, the JTouch provides extreme affordability. The InFocus page provides detailed pricing on all models, but we put together a table below for a few highlights:

 

Model MSRP
65” JTouch $2,899
65” JTouch with LightCast $3,299
70” JTouch $3,999

 

For comparison’s sake, the MSRP of a 70” Sharp Aquos Board is $7,695, and a 65” SMART Technologies Interactive Display comes in at $8,799. Now, the SMART display comes with advanced whiteboarding software, and the Aquos Board has its own features as well. Additionally, the JTouch isn’t perfect – we’d love to see more advanced whiteboarding features, and for the display to come with a stylus or two. But there’s no denying that the JTouch offers similar functionality to its competition at a significantly lower price point. For users looking for a simple, reliable interactive display without breaking the bank, it’s a great solution. Contact an Account Manager today to talk about your next interactive display.

Planar Unveils Next Generation of 4K Displays

Planar UltraRes

Planar Systems, a leading manufacturer of digital displays, announced last week the next generation of its UltraRes line of displays. These large format displays, which already were capable of supporting 4K ultra high definition (UHD) resolution (3840 x 2160), now boast several new impressive features. For a full list, take a look at Planar’s website. Here’s what’s caught our eye:

  1. A New Size: Previously available in two large sizes – 84” and 98” – Planar has added a third size to the mix: 75”. This size makes this line of displays appropriate for smaller conference rooms, where the 84” or 98” may previously have been prohibitively large or expensive.
  2. Improved 4K Support: As we’ve mentioned on this blog before, all 4K is not created equal. Frame rate, color bit depth, and chroma subsampling all play a big role in 4K image quality. And while the old generation of UltraRes could support 4K at 30Hz, the new generation supports it at 60Hz over a single HDMI 2.0 or DisplayPort 1.2 cable. This means a smoother image with more frames per second. Color bit depth and chroma subsampling specifications at 4K60 have yet to be released by Planar – we’ll let you know when they are.
  3. Advanced Built in Multi-viewer Options: Built into the display’s processor is an expanded version of something called a multi-viewer, which allows multiple sources to be displayed in various configurations across the single display. Previously, the only multi-source layout available was a 2×2 quad layout. The new generation now supports dual, triple, quad, or picture-in-picture layouts, allowing much greater flexibility of use. Furthermore, these configurations can be controlled and presets recalled from an app on your mobile device. Though it still won’t offer you the same flexibility that a dedicated multi-viewer will, it’s a significant upgrade from the first generation, and one that can save you thousands of dollars.
  4. Compact Mounting System: One unique component of the first generation UltraRes line was its ultra-slim Planar Profile Mounting System. This is a key part of the new series as well. This mounting system is the slimmest in the industry: the total depth, including the display and the mount, clocks in at under 4”. The combination of up to 98” diagonal image size at less than 4” of depth creates a stunning image on a wall.
  5. Touch Screen Support: Like the previous generation, the new models also all come in touch screen versions. With 32 simultaneous touch points, the displays provide a robust and accurate touch screen experience. The touch models are only .5” deeper than the standard versions, making these the thinnest large format touch screen displays on the market.

Planar Multi-viewer Control

Control of UltraRes multi-imaging is easy via a free app for mobile devices

PPI has successfully installed Planar UltraRes displays for clients like VICE Media, Horizon Media, and more. Contact an Account Manager to talk about your company’s 4K implementation strategy today.

PPI in the News: SCN Guide to Video Walls

Presentation Products continues to establish itself as a leader in the field of audiovisual solutions. Because each of our Account Managers is a CTS certified professional and expert in their market, PPI is often asked to contribute to great publications like SCN. Most recently our own Scott Gantkin was interviewed about video walls. See the article below, or click here for the full video wall issue.

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Presentation Products Featured in the Media Again

k-12tech-logo
Published in the May 2015 edition of k-12 TechDecisions.com:

Browning School’s Measured Approach to Tech Integration Pays Off

With the help of design build-firm, Presentation Products, a boys prep school revamps classroom tech and turns its gym into a multipurpose space.

Chrissy Winske ·May 11, 2015
 The Browning School is an all boys prep school founded in 1888. It has a proud history of academic excellence and in promoting personal integrity so it’s no surprise the school didn’t want to cut corners when it came to classroom technology. When the school was in the process of expanding, it took the opportunity to upgrade its classrooms and create a school-wide standard.

“That way all of their equipment would be a little easier to manage,” says Joseph Fattorini, K-12 sales manager for Presentation Products, the A/V design-build firm that designed and installed Browning’s new technology.

Before any tech was purchased or installed, Browning’s director of technology, Aaron Grill, sought the opinion of his teachers. During a professional development session, educators weighed in on what they would consider to be the ideal classroom.

“An overwhelming response was more whiteboard space and flexibility,” Grill says.

Browning has interactive whiteboards in its classrooms. These boards were installed over existing whiteboards. This didn’t seem to be a problem at the time, but it proved to be an inconvenient setup for teachers. If the interactive whiteboard system stopped working, teachers were left without a way to present lessons. Grill found a way around this issue by replacing the interactive whiteboards with interactive projectors. He went with SMART LightRaise projectors instead.

“The LightRaise seemed to work for everyone so they could have both a whiteboard and an interactive projector,” Grill says.

Presentation Products also installed an Extron system to control classroom AV like projectors, document cameras and a Bose professional sound system.

“The teacher hits a button on the wall and it turns on the projector and the Bose system,” Grill explains. The teacher then has the option of choosing either an HDMI or VGA connection. They can also connect to a compact Elmo digital document camera.

The upgrades to classroom technology were part of a larger renovation project that also included converting the Browning School’s gym into a multipurpose space. The room had to serve as a fully functioning gymnasium, theater and presentation space. The challenge was to find a setup for the sound system that wasn’t in the way when the room was used as a gym, but could still provide the necessary audio coverage required of a theater or large meeting area for the whole school to gather. Presentation Products did not create the design for the multipurpose space, but the company did work with a consultant and install the AV equipment. Upgrades were also completed in the school’s cafeteria that included a projector, ceiling recessed screen, distributed audio and digital signage.

A Culture That Supports Tech Innovation

These upgrades go hand-in-hand with Browning’s forward thinking approach to technology. The school began the process of rolling out a 1:1 iPad initiative three years ago. Grades 9-12 are currently 1:1. Next year the program will expand to the fifth and sixth grades.
“Managing the rollouts is key for our small department,” Grill says. “If we just rolled out an iPad for everyone in one year it would not only be difficult for teachers, but difficult for us to manage.” The 1:1 is deployed using Cisco’s Meraki Management.

Grill has been happy with the school’s phased approach to mobile learning. it’s allowed him enough time to really make sure the school’s network can handle additional traffic. This careful approach has led the school to see success rather than encounter obstacles on its path to 1:1 that could have discouraged or teachers or made them apprehensive about the benefits of mobile learning.

“If you do something way too fast then it doesn’t work and it’s not used,” Grill says.

This measured approach to technology integration is one more schools could learn from.

“They approach technology in a good way from the top down,” Fattorini says. “They can fund it. They don’t rush into it. They’re not following trends. They’re looking at their goals and then giving themselves the right time-frames and budgets to get it done.”

New Product Spotlight: Extron SMP 351 Streaming Media Processor

Lecture capture, distance learning, archival, overflow support, switching, multi-window processing… all in one affordable box.

 

Extron SMP 351 Streaming Media Processor

List Price: $4,790 (not including camera, content, or any installation and integration with existing or new AV system)

Lecture capture and distance learning have long been key components of classroom and theater audiovisual systems, but never before have they been available in the same unit. Extron’s streaming media processor changes this, and does it without breaking the bank.

A one rack-unit device, the streaming media processor’s core feature is the ability to record and stream simultaneously. The device can stream at 1080p / 30 frames per second so that students who aren’t in class – whether they’re in the overflow room next door, sick at home,  or in the sister school around the world – can still attend. Concurrently, the device can record (at an identical or independent resolution) 32 hours or more of content to an internal solid state drive, to a USB thumb drive, or to a designated network directory, so that students who aren’t available during class time can access lectures after the fact. The device is also a two input multi-window processor, allowing recording and streaming of a combination of two inputs – typically a camera feed of the teacher and a content feed – in any configuration. A preview output allows the device to connect to a local TV or projector to power your local presentations as well.

The Extron Streaming Media Processor replaces a rack’s worth of gear with one unit from a reliable manufacturer, but it also is not the only option available for extending lectures beyond the confines of the classroom or the auditorium. Contact PPI to talk about your AV system – whether its lecture capture, distance learning, or anything else – today.

POSITIVES NEGATIVES
Simultaneous recording & streaming at variable independent resolutions & bit rates Requires third party content distribution network for widespread access to streams
Can record to internal drive, thumb drive, or network directory Once recorded, files are compressed .MP4, not full color space, professional video files
Built in two input switcher and multi-viewer with up to five input connectors Cannot simultaneously stream one input channel and record the other input channel
List price under $5k – separate recorder, streamer, switcher and multi-viewer can total $10 – $20k or more

Skype For Business is Here!

Skype For Business Begins Rolling Out Publicly Today

April 15, 2015

Microsoft’s “Skype for Business,” which is designed to replace the company’s older enterprise communication tool Lync, is rolling out publicly today as part of the Office 2013 April update, the company announced this morning. It’s also now rolling out Skype for Business Online to its Office 365 customers who currently use Lync Online.

With Skype for Business, enterprise customers will have access to software that greatly resembles Skype’s consumer-facing client application in look-and-feel, but it comes with enterprise-grade security and compliance features that allow an I.T. organization to better administer and control the software’s use internally within an organization. Skype for Business conversations are authenticated through Active Directory and encrypted, and I.T. can manage the company’s user accounts and deployments. The system also inter-operates with company’s PBX systems or legacy video teleconferencing systems, if need be.

In addition, Skype for Business customers are now able to communicate via chat, audio and video both within their own company as well as with any of the over 300 million customers who have a Skype ID using apps that run on Android, iOS, Mac, Windows and web.

The software is also built into Office, making features such as presence, IM, voice and video calls, as well as online meetings a part of the Office experience, Microsoft notes.

It was only a few weeks ago that Microsoft unveiled the technical preview version of this software, so it acknowledges that some customers may still require additional testing time. To that end, it’s allowing admins the ability to switch between Skype for Business and the traditional Lync user interface, Microsoft explains in a blog post this morning detailing the changes. Information on how to continue to use Lync for the time being is also available .

The transition from Lync Online to Skype for Business Online will complete for all customers by the end of May, Microsoft note

See how Skype for Business is changing how you work

PPI Tips- Best Practices for Audio Conference Calls

Audio Conference Calls in an Integrated Room

Call quality is best when attendees on both sides of the call are using integrated audio/visual rooms with built-in audio conferencing technology. If an attendee does not have a conference room built for audio conferencing, a standard desk phone with handset or wired headset will suffice. Cell phones, speakerphones, or a desk/cell phone on speakerphone is never recommended. Call quality is only as strong as its weakest link.
Housekeeping Notes:

Before the Call

Be respectful of everyone’s time.

  • Test call with the far end. Preferably with the room you’ll be dialing for the actual call. If that’s not possible, call someone at his or her desk either at the other end of your call (aka far end), or alternatively, in the office you’re located in.

Prep the Room for the Call

  • Close the windows and the shades.
  • Close the door.
  •  Make sure to set the HVAC so it doesn’t turn on while in a call.
  •  Set the volume to a comfortable listening level for the room.
  •  Dial in and initiate the call at least 5 minutes before the scheduled start time.

During the Call

  • The meeting organizer should introduce all conference members and then list best practices.
  • Use the mute button when you’re not speaking to alleviate unneeded noise on the call.

 Do Not

  • Use the “HOLD” button to avoid having the entire group listen to ON Hold music.
  • Block table microphones with laptops, notepads, sheets of paper, etc.
  • Have side conversations or rustle papers or tap the desk. These sounds will be audible to all attendees on the call.

After the Call

  •  Ensure that you have disconnected from the conference call before discussing the events of the meeting.