Clay Stahlka CTS-D
Clay Stahlka CTS-D
Some of us will remember when we carried a Nokia phone and when companies like Nortel owned the business phone market with sales in the billions. Today, Nortel is bankrupt, and Nokia sold off their money-losing phone division to Microsoft. While the dedicated AV switcher market generates over $2B in revenue today, the latest generation of IP technology can distribute video, audio, and control signals over long distances at much lower costs, signaling a clear threat to dedicated AV switcher solutions.

This potential paradigm shift is based around two key technology transitions in both display technology and data infrastructure technology.

Trend #1 –Rise of 4K Displays

The cost of a 4K display has dropped rapidly, and this summer 4K televisions generated nearly 40% of all television revenue. With 50” models selling for around $500, the impact of these high-resolution screens in signage, entertainment, and other commercial applications will be dramatic.

Trend #2 – Low cost 1Gb Network Switches

With the ever-increasing demand for bandwidth used in video, photos, and other media requirements in the business world, managed network switches comprise the largest growth area in the data hardware market. Like most things in IT, once the volume grows to a certain point – prices plummet. The cost of these switches has declined as much as 60% over the last few years – and now can be purchased for as little as $150 from major brands such as Cisco, Netgear and Dell.

Paradigm Shift – Uncompressed 4K Video, Audio, and Control Over a Standard Network Switch

Until recently, HDBaseT was the only technology capable of distributing 4K video over long distances. However, the recent launch of new packet-switched 4K multimedia-over-IP solutions, warrants that we explore the strengths and weaknesses of each approach. New packet-switched 4K multimedia-over-IP solutions, such as the Visionary Solutions PacketAV products, enable uncompressed 4K video, multi-channel digital audio, RS-232 and IR control at each encoder and decoder.

Since the device converts all the content to standard IP packets, nearly any mainstream managed 1Gb network switch can replace the traditional AV matrix switcher – reducing both the purchase cost as well as the risk of sunk cost if the switch has to be repurposed. Additionally, integrators don’t have to purchase special cables to ensure that the project is warranted by the manufacturer (can you say Kramer or Extron?).

The Visionary Solutions PacketAV DUET supports Dante multi-channel digital audio and 4K UHD video over IP, providing the flexibility and scalability of converged IP networks.

AV switcher diagram

Key benefits of packet-switched 4K multimedia-over-IP solutions

Lower Costs -By using off-the-shelf IP switches and cables, the cost per port is driven by the entire networking market, not just the AV market. As the larger managed network switches follow a continuing price reduction trend, the initial costs should be much lower than even mainstream AV matrix switchers.

No Programming costs

With many larger AV matrix switchers, programming each port to the proper device is a key component of the overall system. By contrast, with 4K Multimedia over IP, the devices are assigned an IP address automatically, enabling the entire system to be set-up and running in minutes.

Resolution and Color Bit Flexibility

The system’s ability to utilize light compression techniques enables the user to change the color depth, frame rate, and resolution as needed without having to worry that he will exceed the bandwidth of the switch. This enables such techniques as 4.4.4 color spaces, higher frame rates, and other bandwidth demands to be accommodated.

Free Video Wall Support

The system will automatically scale and support video walls without an extra video wall processor or other hardware. This makes it even more practical when considering scalability as a part of the ROI of the system.

Packet-switched 4K multimedia-over-IP solutions will be potentially disruptive to some AV technologies, but their ease of deployment will expand the market for these types of systems to distribute video, audio, and control signals over long distances at significantly lower costs.

Please share this with your customers. Although they’re busy specifying “old school” technologies now, Packet-switched 4K multimedia-over-IP solutions can punch their ticket to success in the future.