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Hands On: Atlona Multiformat Switcher/Scaler Meets Higher Ed Needs

Atlona recognized a need for a multiformat switcher/scaler that would operate reliably in situations where tech support wasn’t an option.

One of the common challenges in creating AV systems for classrooms, especially in higher education, is the need to accommodate a wide range of possible sources, both digital and analog, that teachers, students and guests bring with them to give a presentation.

In addition to providing the correct inputs for basic hardware connections, systems need to offer foolproof solutions that convert and deliver video and audio as expected.

Atlona, a maker of AV distribution solutions for education and business, recognized a need for a multiformat switcher/scaler that would operate reliably in situations where tech support wasn’t an option. But don’t take our word for it; let’s get some insight from an integrator who used the product in an education environment.

Gil Foreman, owner of Sight And Sound, Hattiesburg, Miss. reviews the Atlona Pro5 Gen2 (AT-LINE-PRO5-GEN2).

Tell us about a project in which you used it?

We implemented it into the existing projection systems at the University of Southern Mississippi. The classrooms were already equipped with Elmo overhead projectors and a sole VGA connection to it. The issue was that everyone attempting to use the systems would bring in different devices they couldn’t connect to the system, the devices wouldn’t convert properly, or they wouldn’t appear to work at all.

Related: More Switcher/Scaler Reviews from Commercial Integrator

As a result the university had a lot of systems it wasn’t using. You might say the Atlona Pro5 Gen2 is the Swiss army knife of AV conversion, ensuring any device someone hooks up to the system will work, the audio and video will be high quality and the video will be properly scaled. Instructors were then able to use the equipment easily.

We also incorporated the AT-HDTX/RX extender to deliver video to the projector, Atlona AT-PA100 amplifiers, and Control4 keypads to control everything. We’ve equipped 20 classrooms and have been signed on to continue doing about 10 rooms per year.

Which of the product’s features were instrumental in your decision to use this product versus another solution?

The number and variety of inputs on the switcher was key to our decision. We felt confident that this product would meet the needs of the classroom, where no matter what kind of device someone walked in with, it would work easily and reliably. Also, having RS-232 was great for volume control and reliable input selection.

For what types of applications do you recommend this product?

Any application involving many different sources. It is especially practical in commercial settings such as boardrooms or classrooms where presentations occur. It has also proven handy when providing a wall plate with various connections, to allow virtually anyone to sit down, plug up, and present their information.

How was installation of this product?

It is very easy to install. We like that you can lock the output resolution to anything a customer might want so the screen formats are consistent regardless of the source.

What are the biggest benefits – “pros” – for this product?

The product comes with a full-feature remote, RS-232, a variety of inputs and the support from Atlona is excellent. Another big plus, is the ability to lock the front panel, forcing the user only to use the control system provided. The HDMI baluns just work, no questions — plug them up and go. The amplifiers are truly awesome for this job. They feature audio loop through, RS-232 control and are very small in size.

What are the biggest negatives – “cons” – for this product?

For some budgets, the price — about $1,200 — may be too high.

Features:

  • 11 inputs for HDMI (4), DVI (1), as well as VGA (2), component (2) and composite (2) to enable new and legacy sources
  • Set output resolution to NATIVE and sources from 640×480 to 1920×1200 or 480i to 1080p from any input are scaled to match resolution of display
  • Pass any analog or digital 2-channel audio signal
  • Volume control allows adjustment of de-embedded audio from any connected source routed to an external audio system
  • Send media to two HDMI displays simultaneously without additional hardware
  • Control the LINE-PRO5-GEN2 from the front panel, hand-held IR remote, or using RS-232

Learn more about Atlona here.

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