Projectors vs. Displays: Audio-Visual Solutions for Equitable Hybrid Learning Environments

Over the past few years, hybrid learning has quickly become the new normal in a variety of educational spaces. In order to accommodate the needs of in-person and distance learners alike, modern educational environments require innovative audio-visual solutions to ensure that classrooms provide a productive and equitable experience for everyone involved.

This poses an important question. Display or projector?

hybrid-lecture-projectorWhen designing or renovating a classroom, there are several key factors that affect an integrator’s decision in choosing to install a display or a projector. Generally speaking, the decision is based on the room size, seating layout, and light levels of the overall environment – both natural and overhead lighting included.

Displays are more commonly utilized in smaller meeting rooms, as they provide clear, crisp images for students viewing at a short distance. In larger classrooms of more than 20-25 participants, integrators usually prefer to install projectors, as they better accommodate the students seated in the back of the classroom and serve as a more cost-effective option for lecture halls and higher education spaces.

The CMZ50 from Panasonic is an excellent addition to any mid-size to large learning environment, as the projector features high visibility and dynamic visuals in bright rooms and flexible installation for a variety of room layouts, including a 21:9 aspect ratio for hybrid learning and remote collaboration. Perfect for the education space, the projector features a compact design and long-lasting power. Plus, the simple set-up and wall-mounted installation provides crystal-clear images up to 120” with little to no chances of projector shadows from the presenter.

Although projectors are a cost-conscious choice for larger rooms, some recently designed classrooms are including both projectors and displays in order to create an equitable experience for students, no matter where they’re seated. By placing displays midway through a lecture hall, these additional screens tend to mirror the content displayed on the main projectors for students seated in the back of the room.

Panasonic’s variety of professional displays for educational spaces create fascinating learning environments that enhance classroom collaboration. With hybrid learning in mind, Panasonic’s education-focused displays are designed for simple use, 24/7 operation, and advanced adaptability to keep up with the evolving education market.

hybrid-lecture-displayAdditionally, we’ve seen an increased demand for both displays and projectors in hy-flex classrooms, which follow a small group-based layout. These learning spaces feature a main projector, or several, at the front of the classroom, but separate students into small groups, each with their own individual display at their meeting table. The professor can walk around the room and supervise the individual groups, with the capability to transmit a video feed from the small group displays to the main projector to share content with the whole class.

In fact, integrating both products into a learning space can be beneficial when there are obstacles in the way, like low ceilings or an obstructed view from a certain seat. Whether these secondary displays are presenting supplemental material or reinforcing the content on the primary projector(s), this combination of technologies is a versatile way to accommodate the needs of every student and prioritize classroom equity.

However, there are some challenges and additional elements to consider when choosing a classroom layout, including fire code compliance, natural light levels throughout the day, and the existing layout of the room. For example, ceiling technologies, like projectors and microphones, have to be adjusted to prevent interaction with fans, HVAC systems, and more.

If you’d like to learn more about the Panasonic, please visit our website. You can also contact me here or reach out over on LinkedIn.
Angie Greene
About the Author

Angie Greene | CTS, DSCE

Business Development Manager

Supported Manufacturers: ScreenBeam and Panasonic

Overcoming Security Threats: In-Room Collaboration Technology

Wireless Security Layers

With the increase in hybrid collaboration following the pandemic, cybersecurity is at the forefront of everyone’s mind, especially in office meeting spaces and conference rooms with a great amount of traffic throughout the day – team members and guests included. IT and maintenance departments are incredibly precise with the hardware they are installing, focusing heavily on certifications and the way in which certain products handle these cybersecurity risks – in some cases, even gluing the USB ports of a government-issued laptop to manually prevent any plug-ins.

Wireless display technology presents many security risks, and in order to provide protection against any threats, there are three layers of security that are typical (and industry standard).

1. Connection Level

This involves the user’s laptop connecting to the closest access point and authenticating itself to the network (representing the standard set of security protocols WPA, 802.1X, WEP, etc.).

2. Session

The session involves the transmission of data – searching out, sending an email, connecting to a wireless printer, and much more. When a user transmits their data from a laptop to an access point, they are in an active session – the data is encrypted.

3. On-Screen

The on-screen layer involves a display pin that needs to be entered, requiring someone to be physically present in order to connect.

Network Security

Along with these three layers of security, ScreenBeam adds additional protection in the architecture of the device itself, providing an internal network for employees and an external network for guests, with a firewall in between. In your conference room, users with Apple devices can connect to the access point and use AirPlay to discover ScreenBeam as a display point over the network infrastructure – this applies exclusively to company employees. For those with Windows 10/11 devices, users may connect to ScreenBeam using P2P mode. On the other hand, guests may use WiFi tools with ScreenBeam an access point, without ever interacting with the internal network. If they require Internet access, they can gain this permission through WLAN1.

When utilizing ScreenBeam, users must authenticate themselves, as anything shared is encrypted. With other similar technology, you must choose between putting a device on the internal network (which guests cannot use) or putting a device on the guest network, which requires every employee to also switch to the guest network. ScreenBeam is connected to both the internal network and the external network at the same time, so you can connect securely to both networks, without ever exposing your internal network to guests, since their access is directly connected to the display.

Additionally, when faced with guests that require a connection to the network, other similar devices would likely opt to provide guests with access to the internal network, therefore punching a hole in the firewall, which is not the most secure choice. With ScreenBeam, there is no connection between the local WiFi and Ethernet, which prevents access to the wired Ethernet, even if someone were able to hack into the local WiFi.

When it comes to in-room collaboration security, there’s much more to the product than most people realize.

With any questions or to learn more about ScreenBeam’s innovative solutions, I encourage you to contact me or reach out over on LinkedIn.

Angie Greene
About the Author

Angie Greene | CTS, DSCE

Business Development Manager

Supported Manufacturers: ScreenBeam and Panasonic

Tech Tips with Tom Kehr | LG pt 2 – The Quick Differences

In part 2 of the Exertis Almo Tech Tips with LG video, Tom Kehr, Systems Designer & Trainer at Exertis Almo, and Dan Baker, Technical Business Development Manager at LG discuss savvy solutions for conference rooms, education, and work spaces.

43″ 3840 x 2160 One Quick Series LED Backlit LCD Large Format Monitors

43HT3WJ-B

LG’s 43HT3WJ-B is the all-in-one display for simple and quick video calls. With LG One:Quick Flex’s 43-inch all-in-one display complete with built-in camera, microphones and speakers, there’s no need to stress over online meetings and calls and no more inconvenience of connecting to and setting up video conferencing. Simplicity meets effective collaboration with touch and drawing. Equipped with In-Cell touch technology, the One:Quick Flex turns ideas into reality. With a dedicated touch pen, taking notes and drawing is easy. Work can be saved as files, and easily shared via mobile phone. On the move? This monitor is easy to transport with a movable stand. The One:Quick Flex can be used anywhere indoors where it can be moved by wheels.

Tom Kehr

Tom Kehr

CTS-D, CTS-I, Network+, LEED Green Associate, ISF-C, ATD Master Trainer

In-House System Designer and Trainer

Supported Applications: System Design

Tech Tips with Tom Kehr | LG pt 1 – How Quick? One:Quick

In Part 1 of Exertis Almo Tech Tips with LG video, Tom Kehr, Systems Designer & Trainer at Exertis Almo, and Dan Baker, Technical Business Development Manager at LG discuss how to achieve less hassles with all-in-one video conferencing solutions.

Less hassles with all-in-one video conferencing solutions from LG.

55″ 3840 x 2160 One Quick Series LED Backlit LCD Large Format Monitors

55CT5WJ-B

Video conferencing setup doesn’t need to be stressful. This all-in-one solution features a built-in Windows PC, crisp 4K UHD camera, microphone, speaker and a digital whiteboard. Experience clear video and sound qualities in your meetings.

Tom Kehr

Tom Kehr

CTS-D, CTS-I, Network+, LEED Green Associate, ISF-C, ATD Master Trainer

In-House System Designer and Trainer

Supported Applications: System Design

Atlona’s WAVE-101 for a Hands-free Meeting Experience

Wireless Audio Visual Environment

What product do you know of that can wirelessly share from Windows, iOS, Andriod, and MacOS, dynamically adjust the interface based on the number of presenters, play videos from YouTube, allow presenters to control who is on screen, and even livestream the output of your presentation straight to remote audiences on YouTube – all while maintaining a hands-free experience?

Atlona logoThe Atlona WAVE-101 (AT-WAVE-101) is probably the smallest wireless presentation tool that we’ve put on our bench – made for the commercial professional audiovisual market, by people who know the Pro AV space.

Device Types

We’ve seen a lot of screen sharing and collaborative devices over the years. From full servers to set top boxes – then, to dongles, and now this little cube. Typically, the smaller they get the fewer features they have, but this is not the case with the WAVE 101. Let’s discuss why.

Wireless presentation tools fall into a few categories. The ones that require a dongle to be connected to your computer in order to connect to the screen in the room. The ones that require software for you to connect to the screen in the room. Lastly, the ones that have the wireless protocols for the specific OS variations built in – no additional software needed.

Operating Systems

This is where the WAVE-101 sits in the market. It provides wireless screen casting with iOS®, AndroidTM, Mac®, ChromebookTM, and Windows® devices through native AirPlay®, Google CastTM, or MiracastTM protocols. This covers pretty much all the major OS’s and device types. No additional dongles or software needed.

Ease of Use

Users connect via the instructions onscreen and start sharing content. The system dynamically adjusts the screen when additional users want to share content, and the meeting gets moving with no added wait time.

Device Ports

The Wave-101 has a Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) port for connecting into the local network, an HDMI port for connecting to the display, and few USB ports for accessories. Lastly, it has a Kensington lock (a.k.a. K-Slot or Kensington Security Slot) for what I would call a removal deterrence feature.

This is simple hardware that even includes a Vesa Mount in the box to secure the cube to the back of your monitor.

wave-101 callouts

Top 3 Features

Here are the 3 features that we think will make you want to use the WAVE-101:

#1. Instructor Mode

When used in a classroom, or even a rowdy conference room with engineers who are always trying to flash photos of their latest Dungeons & Dragons conquests, this feature can really come in handy to reign in control of the screen. A queue is displayed to the instructor showing who is connected and wants to share content. The list of available content will appear on the page, and the instructor can show up to 4 contributors at the same time – or deny them from sharing altogether. Instructor Mode allows a user to manage content, adjust audio volume, upload and play media content, stream YouTubeTM, and switch between layouts.

Because this is a media device, URLs and media content can also be loaded into the queue. So instead of the content being driven by a device, a contributor can load up a URL to YouTube and let the internet do the sharing. Thankfully, since it’s in the queue, the final decision on what’s shown is still in the hands of the instructor.

#2. Room Occupancy Sensor

Atlona added one more trick up their sleeve – room occupancy sensor integration. When coupled with Atlona’s Network-Enabled Occupancy Sensor (AT-OCS-900N), the WAVE-101 will automatically turn the room on when a person enters the space, and turn off, after a set time of having no one in the room. The sensor, along with the Instructor Mode feature, allow for the room to be used with no additional control system required. Even better, this allows for hands-free operation of the room – to enable safer and cleaner conference rooms.

AT-OCS-900N room sensor

#3. OMEGA Switchers & Extenders

Coupled with Atlona’s new Omega series switching and extension products the WAVE-101 can create a very simple huddle room, or add collaboration to a full size conference room with multiple displays, microphones, and PTZ cameras – making any room the video conferencing hub of your organization.

Atlona huddle space gear
Contact your Exertis Almo team for more information on
how Atlona can change the way you present.

Innovating Wireless BYOD and Beyond

Atlona’s Wireless Audio Visual Environment (WAVE) and the AT-WAVE-101, is a new, innovative wireless presentation platform designed for quick and easy content sharing from up to four PCs or mobile devices. The versatility of the WAVE-101 expands well beyond BYOD content sharing, with a host of additional features to enhance education, corporate, and many other applications.

at-wave-101

New Year, New Opportunities for Growth in 2021!

An interview with Sam Taylor, Senior Vice President and COO, Almo Professional A/V

With 2020 in the rearview mirror, we are settling in and setting our sites on new goals in 2021. And yes, while 2021 is already starting with its share of challenges, there is a bright glimmer of expectation for the future, especially in Pro AV!

With recent AVIXA reports showing 7-8 percent growth this year, the Pro AV market continues to march ahead. In fact, according to AXIXA’s 2020 Industry Outlook and Trends Analysis, North American Pro AV revenue is expected to grow to $78.5 billion in 2021, up from $74.3 billion in 2020.

There are other glimmers available to small businesses in our industry. The latest COVID-19 Relief Package signed into law on Dec. 27, 2020 provides a second round of assistance to companies in need. See the see the full article from NSCA for complete details.

Sam Taylor
Senior Vice President & COO, Almo Professional A/V

Many lessons were learned in 2020. Like most companies, the Almo Pro A/V crew was also challenged with cancelled events, the work-from-home learning curve, and moving quickly to offer new ways to keep reseller and integrator partners learning, working and relevant.

We sat down with Sam Taylor, Vice President and COO for Almo Pro A/V to get his perspective on the highs and lows of 2020 and what to expect from Almo in 2021. Here’s what he had to say:

Q: What was the single greatest challenge for Almo in 2020?

Sam: The most difficult part was the inability to begin or complete installations due to facility closures. We’ve experienced a “W-shaped” business cycle with projects at a hard stop in the spring, only to come roaring back in the summer, then closing down again in the late fall with re-opening starting to happen again now.  

Q: How has Almo responded to this challenge?

Sam: Two primary ways, by keeping our partners educated on new trends and opportunities in the industry and providing them with relevant products/services/support they need to keep their business moving forward – either with existing opportunities or with new ones. While many markets like hospitality and onsite events were paused, others like distance learning for education and working from home for corporate businesses had urgent new AV needs.

Q: How is Almo keeping partners educated?

Sam: For the first time in 11 years, and after announcing and preparing for our regional E4 Experience education and networking program to travel to Washington, D.C. and CA last spring, we cancelled our live events and introduced a new virtual platform called E4 Evolution (E4v). E4v was met with such success that it has become a permanent part of the E4 program. With fully curated live and interactive AVIXA-certified sessions led by all-star educators on relevant topics to help attendees thrive, E4v has become the next evolution in live education experiences.

We are soon announcing the next E4v, which will take place in March! Stay tuned for details!

Q: What other measures has Almo taken to support integrators since COVID changed our world?

Sam: We are constantly evaluating and changing direction based on the industry and the needs of our partners. We now offer PPE, disinfectant fogging kits, hand sanitizing kiosks and other point-of-entry products. We supply work-from-home bundles and lecture-capture devices for educators and business professionals. We’ve even entered an exclusive relationship with ARHT Media to offer holographic telepresence technology, which is the next best thing to being live!

At the same time, we’ve expanded our managed services offering, particularly for labor and installation to include drafting and engineering options. So many spaces have to be reworked to accommodate COVID restrictions, like restaurant build-outs and restructured office and educational facilities and most of these changes must be made quickly. Almo provides these services so integrators can use them without having to worry about hiring the experts or managing the overhead. We are ready for you now.

Q: How have you handled shipping and manufacturing delays due to COVID?

Sam: The most common delays we have seen are with cameras and USB audio products due to high demand, particularly for education. We offer multiple manufacturing lines so that if one is delayed, there is usually another to access. We help our partners lock down on product allocations early and build flexible options into their P.O.’s to provide the best possible outcome. Offering managed services to help get those products installed quickly and effectively has also helped our partners complete their projects.

Q: Looking on the bright side, what are some of the positives that emerged as a result of all the challenges in 2020? 

Sam: It’s been interesting to see how some of the changes we’ve been forced to make have actually been beneficial. We have the technology to make working from home a professional, productive experience. Our E4v has enabled partners to participate in more educational sessions worth AVIXA CTS renewal units from the comfort and safety of their remote workspace. New projects and new ways of conducting business have created exciting new opportunities for our industry that we have been able to immediately embrace.

What are you looking forward to the most in 2021? 

Sam: I cannot wait until I am seeing our customers and our vendor partners in person, and getting back to the business of being together as an industry face to face for business and pleasure. While some things may permanently change, many will stay in a “hybrid” mode for some. As COVID vaccines and treatments become more widely available, public spaces will continue to open, making way for existing projects to continue and new projects to begin. The future is bright!

DO YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS FOR SAM? IF SO, TYPE THEM IN THE COMMENTS SECTION BELOW!

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