Our history has taken us through about 5 years of HD over IP products in our search for the ultimate solution for driving several A/V zones from an iPad or other simple control system. We learned intimately how these products work and their inherent weaknesses. Let’s start with why “IN THEORY” this is such an attractive technology:
Concept & Scalability – It is a great concept – buy only the number of boxes you need for each source and each TV – add a simple off-the-shelf switch and VOILA! You have an effective solution for sports bars and bowling alleys everywhere.
Low Cost – Since you only need to buy exactly what is called for, the cost is lower than say buying a 32×32 traditional matrix switch and only using 8 input sources to 25 displays (that’s a lot of IN/OUTs not being used).
Widely Used – A lot of companies make similar Video over IP products, so they must work…..right?
Audio Routing – Most include some from of de-embedding or down-mixing, but not many allow full routing options.
Multiview & Video Wall Options – These are low-resolution options, unless you want to add more components (receivers) to increase overall resolution (if you don’t do this, the resolution is simply split between the displays thus creating a video wall with four 480i displays). Plus, in almost every install where video walls or displays were deployed a fair amount of tearing adjustment is required just to make the picture watchable.
Concept vs. Reality – In practice HDIP systems are like fitting a round peg in a square hole. These “off-the-shelf” switches are not all the same. Configuration is required; with some level of knowledge on how to transform a switch designed for email and web browsing into a switch for transporting extremely large files containing movies or TV shows. Every HDIP example on the market requires some knowledge of networking and system structure. Furthermore, none of these systems are designed to run over an existing IT infrastructure. We have recently learned that some late-comers to the HDIP market are also requiring their re-sellers to have Cisco/IT certified personnel on staff personnel on staff to even sell the solution – this alone spells long term support – make sure you charge for it.
Compression & More Compression – Broadcasters spend a fortune encoding movies and TV shows for transport so that data is not lost in the process. HDIP products use extremely low cost variants of MPEG encoders to compress the movies and TV shows at about 100-200:1. This means that they can be sent over CAT5e cables – and at the other end they decompress the signal for viewing on the TV. In decoding, there is always loss of picture or artifacts. These switches are designed for email and web browsing – not movies or TV shows on 65” screens. MPEG enabled the invention of, and is best deployed in smart phones.
Latency – This is an inherent issue with IP based networks. Latency is a by-product of encoding and decoding the signal and will vary by manufacturer. This causes issues especially in live venues – lip sync comes to mind.
PoE (Power Over Ethernet) – PoE is optional. When working with certain manufacturers, we were told to add power back (plug them into an AC outlet) because the switch wasn’t producing enough power to run the system.
Image Preview – Some systems offer this feature and it is nice. The problem is it also zaps system resources and is the first thing to go once the system begins to bog down.
Constant Reboots – Most of these systems require reboots at regular intervals to keep them running.
Hardware Failures – Higher data rates cause components to heat up and fail often. Based on the number of replacements we still send out to customers for existing systems, we know this to be true.
Switch Problems – A main problem with working with network switches is that when problems arise, there is no support because the manufacturers did not design the product for AV systems. This limits what a network switch manufacturer is willing to do to help
When we started to design Cloud 9, it was due to the sheer number of support calls and major issues with hardware failure we had experienced over the past five years (using almost all the HDIP solutions on the market). Cloud 9 has been under a veil of secrecy for the past year and has been our biggest programming challenge yet (multiple MCUs and FPGAs). Cloud 9 has been tested by select HDIP integrators with stunning with stunning results – 100% of our testers will never install HDIP solutions again – here’s why:
HDBaseT – This technology was designed for the A/V market. It was built for extending full bandwidth HD signals to any location over about 10 meters. HDbaseT is a fantastic, reliable and perfect technology for Cloud 9 outputs. HDBaseT was designed for point-to-point communication between HDMI enabled devices and was specifically designed for 5-PLAY – Audio, Video, Control, Ethernet and Power. IP was developed to support IT networks, essentially, to move data to the correct destination…. eventually.
Actual Instant Matrix Switching – AIMS is truly instant switching, sources switch immediately when you push the button.
PoE – PoE gives the option to provide power to your receivers (TV location) from the main switch.
No Latency – Near zero latency, built for live video.
IR – Four input IR routing is included for control downstream components.
Audio Routing – A complete audio matrix is built-in – route audio from any source to any output zone/display.
Multiview – Both 2×2 and 3×3 is built-in and available to any output. In 2×2 mode you can matrix each quadrant independently.
Video Wall – By using the Cloud 9 Video Wall Rx Advanced Video Wall Processor, will allow you put up as many video walls that are required for your job.
RS-232 – Bi-directional, you can control the switch and remote devices. Broadcast and routable RS-232 available.
Control – RS-232 & IP Drivers for Control4, RTI, ELAN, OnControls and Crestron (Savant & URC coming soon).
Cloud 9 in plain and simple Cloud 9 in plain and simple terms is a nine HDMI input, nine HDBaseT output matrix switch, unlike other matrices this was built for cascading in a new and clever way. For each HDMI input, there is an additional HDMI looping output designed to feed the next unit. This way your original nine sources can be distributed to as many additional units as you need. Every time you cascade to an additional unit, you are giving yourself nine additional displays that have all the benefits we have already discussed like instant switching and 2×2 or 3×3 multiview.
There are three FPGA chips in each unit. Those chips coupled with our proprietary engineering and programming technology makes this a unique and extremely robust matrix. One additional benefit we haven’t discussed is the ease at which you can control a Cloud 9 system. It does come with drivers for all the big control systems (ie Crestron, Control4, RTI, ELAN and others). So it’s not a problem if you have someone in house to program those controls. These drivers are available through our website or just give AVPro Edge a call and we can get them to you. If you don’t have someone to program a custom switch, or you’re paying a 3rd party to do it, then we have the ideal solution for you. The Cloud 9 Custom Control System: A turn key, user friendly control system custom built for any Cloud 9 project and completely run from an iPad.
Next time you put together a video over IP system, do a comparison with Cloud 9. In almost every situation you will find that you are going to save thousands of dollars by going with AVPro Edge products. Remember when installing the cloud 9, you don’t have to have a beefy network switcher control hardware, it can all be done over the cloud. More importantly you will save thousands in TIME, because after installation you will have a solid infrastructure that you won’t have to come back to later when something happens to the degrading picture or network switch. Have an upcoming job, give us a call and we can get you a no-hassle, free quote.