For most clients a control room falls into that “mission critical” category. When Fran Yount and his Kansas City integration business worked with a large retail customer on command and control space to support its new product delivery system, he realized that his AV connectivity choices were also critical. Yount ended up working with a range of ATEN solutions — ATEN 8 x 9 4K HDMI Matrix Switch with Scaler; HDMI HDBaseT Receiver; HDMI HDBaseT Transmitter; HDMI Audio/Video Cable and 4K HDMI 2.0 plenum active optical cable.
We asked Yount to provide Commercial Integrator’s audience with a hands-on review of the ATEN solutions.
Tell us about the project in which you used the ATEN AV connectivity solutions:
Yount: We had a major distribution center for a local chain. They put in a new conveyor belt delivery system, and they needed a control room.
With that, we had three different locations where they wanted to monitor various computers that were monitoring the conveyor distribution belt. By doing the research, I came up with ATEN, and we went with the ATEN 8 x 9 HDMI with the scaler because it had the fastest refresh rate.
We were also able to put six monitors in the primary control area, two monitors in the managers’ area, and then a single monitor in the president’s office. They all had control via the internet to switch to whatever computer they wanted to see where there might be an issue or a problem.
What specific features or specs drew you to ATEN versus other solutions?
Yount: ATEN, first of all, had the scaler. So it wasn’t like it took two or three seconds to re-clock and display the information or the signal, which was a big issue.
The manager could go in and create the looks without everyone having total access to where they could reconfigure at will.
The second reason was that remote access: How do I get everybody to be able to have access to this switcher to get the information that they need? With ATEN, the GUI-based web page that comes with the system was ideal because it didn’t matter where they were in the building. In some locations, they were over 300 feet away in the various offices, so it proved convenient. Not only that, then the manager could also go in and create the looks without everyone having total access to where they could reconfigure at will.
There are a lot of great features. Not only that, using the Cat 5 HDMI extender option 4K solution worked out perfectly.
For what other types of applications do you think these AV connectivity solutions are a good fit?
Yount: This particular ATEN product would be perfect in a sports bar application, because you can combine the monitors to make a larger image and still display it however you choose — portrait, landscape — and still set it to multiple inputs to your output. So video walls, even churches for that matter. It would be a perfect solution for a lot of different things.
How easy or hard was the installation process?
Yount: The installation was actually fairly straightforward if you have any integration experience at all. We configured the IPs where we could gain access to it on their network. That part of it took maybe 20 minutes just to get it fired up and get connected.
The GUI does require just a little bit of thought process, but once you understand it it’s very straightforward. The presets are just amazing. You have 17 different presets that you can configure.
What are the three biggest pros that you see for these solutions?
Yount: The size is one thing. It’s just a single rack space. It doesn’t weigh a considerable amount, so that’s No. 1.
I’m not for sure where they came up with the ninth output, but I’m glad they did because it really fit the bill.
The fact that it is an 8 x 9 — I’m not for sure where they came up with the ninth output, but I’m glad they did because it really fit the bill for what we were doing.
Then just ease of use, overall. It’s not like you have a half a day or even an hour learning curve before you can be up and running and moving.
Not only that but on your outputs, you have individual scaling, so you can set three or four of them to 4K. You can set a couple of them to various other resolutions that might fit your application. It was very well thought out.
What about negatives for the solution?
Yount: The only negative is that the GUI could use just a little bit of work in terms of functionality, but that was minor.
What else should integrators know about ATEN connectivity solutions?
Yount:I think it’s pretty self-explanatory. The ATEN 8 x 9 product is solid; that is my first and foremost [selling point]. It didn’t appear to have any quirks. I installed it. I plugged things in. I configured it to work with the internal network. We went to work getting things set up, and it’s been functioning great.
The remote offices, one of the floor managers even has a tablet that he walks around with where he can actually configure and change things on the fly if he needs to.