Boasting of a 50 GB backplane, there were claims that this is what makes Extron’s switchers not only 4K ready, but fully capable of passing 4K at 60Hz without any issues—something other manufacturers cannot necessarily state.
Watch Extron’s Casey Hall discuss XTP II technology:
The announcement of this next level of XTP technology shows the commitment that Extron is making to HDBaseT technology and the 4K track.
It is still a little early to see if this new generation of XTP technology is going to have all the amenities required to support the future of 4K in commercial environments as only the switchers were shown at NAB. The modules for inputs and outputs will support both copper and fiber transmission, but the transmitters and receivers for extending the signal were not shown.
However, Extron employees did say they have is a module to support is HDMI 2.0 with HDCP 2.2.
There are some added complexities with that, as the available modules are only in groups of four. So if a client has one HDMI 2.0 source and one HDMI 1.4 source, that will require the purchasing of 1 input card of each flavor in order to support the paired HDCP (2.2 for HDMI 2.0 and 2.0 for HDMI 1.4).
This is a place where all video switch manufacturers are going to come to a crossroads as HDCP 2.2 is not a backwards compatible technology, leaving the AV professionals to have to support both simultaneously. And that issue is where the yet to be released transmitters and receivers leave us in complicated territory because of the wide variety of pairings that must be supported: copper, fiber, HDMI 1.4, HDMI 2.0, HDCP 2.0, HDCP 2.2, etc.
Extron isn’t just putting its development dollars into video switching. The company is also increasing its offering of Dante audio solutions. At the show this year, a sample of some of the newer products introduced included a Dante capable 100W 70V amplifier and a stereo 8 ohm/4ohm amplifier with 50W per channel, as well as single gang, dual XLR input plate.
One of the advantages of the input plate is that it also includes two balanced outputs on the back plane, giving you the option to expand to another local output plate or run that cabling to another location nearby, such as, for example, a powered speaker mounted above this input plate location. This would give integrators the ability to pass signal over the Dante network as both an input and output, while still allowing the output cabling to run inside the wall.
The diversification of the Extron product line continues to grow and develop with improved offerings in their streaming media player and decoder, the SMD 202, which provides secure digital H.264 streaming, local recording to a USB 2.0 thumb drive, and support of up to 40 MB streams.
Some of the features, though, may also lend themselves to this device being used in centralized media distribution options as it does have 550 MB of internal storage and has a failsafe to play a specific file (perhaps the presentation) or begin broadcasting a certain stream if the unit were ever to require a reboot.
The other streaming product Extron showcased at NAB was the new SMP 351 streaming media player. While the SMD 202 is more of a baseline product, the SMP 351 offers some added features. In particular, one great feature in this new box that Extron included is a privacy mode for the content stream.
While there can be circumstances where you might want to stream that content to a capture server, or even store it locally on a USB drive plugged into the device, the privacy mode allows for securing the ability to view the images when you don’t want the world outside that room to view the content being shared.
The last of the newer offerings that Extron was showing off was its newest room scheduling software suite. The simplicity, and also limitation, of the room scheduling software is that it links directly with Microsoft Exchange. This means that integration is simply getting the panels connected to the network and from there it’s integration through the company’s network administrator.
Extron is working on developing support for other backend software, but being as Microsoft Exchange is still one of the most popular enterprise suites out there, this should allow for integration in a majority of systems.
We, in the commercial AV world, might not have noticed that Extron continues to expand the product offering each year across all the facets of audio, video and control, and while the company isn’t a part of the InfoComm show anymore, that clearly does not mean that it has been lying low and doing nothing.
The best way it can be put was stated by one of Extron’s employees. “While one of the product groups might slow down for a while, another with pick-up keeps us very busy.”