• Choosing the right Audio Visual device


Audio Visual (AV) equipment was once most closely associated with schools and colleges, but these products are now increasingly common in modern workplaces.

The way we interact with technology has changed, and we now expect that we should be able to use technology in the workplace in the same way as we do in our own homes. So the growth of interactive displays in offices is no surprise, as teams look to improve collaboration and content sharing in group settings. And even though more traditional projector and screen set-up remains a cost effective option for some users, interactive projectors are also available allowing you to turn turn your wall or table into an interactive display.

So which AV device should you choose? A projector and screen, an interactive whiteboard or the latest the flat panel display? There are several factors to consider depending on your budget, how often you plan to use the equipment, and what you're using it for.

We've taken a look at these three options in more detail to help you decide:

Traditional projector and screen

Perhaps the entry-level AV device, the projector and screen may also be the cheapest option. It has the advantage of being simple to control for all users but may be more suited to occasional, rather than constant, use. If you are merely replacing an existing projector and screen, there is the added benefit that the same brackets, cables and accessories from your original equipment can be reused.

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Top tips:

  • Decide on your budget, and balance that against the quality of display required.
  • Judge how often you will be using the projector. If you require regular use, this option may not actually be that cost effective – replacement bulbs are not cheap.
  • Decide where the projector and screen will be situated. Rooms that are too bright will interfere with the quality, and it may not be practical to go around closing blinds and turning off lights before every presentation. Shadowing on the screen caused by the user should also be considered.
  • Bear in mind that maintenance will need to be carried out at regular intervals, with filters needing to be cleaned and bulbs having to be replaced after so many hours’ use.
  • Take into consideration the time and effort required to calibrate the projector before every use.

Interactive whiteboard

Mostly used in education but now growing in popularity for businesses, the interactive whiteboard has the bonus of having pre-installed software, which is used in conjunction with a personal computer and a digital projector. Navigation via pens or fingers allows you to write notes, drag, click and copy. Text or drawings can also be saved or shared.

Top tips:

  • Allocate time for users to receive the training required to use the whiteboard to its full potential. If you are not going to use all the functionality then this is perhaps not the right option.
  • Whiteboards are heavy and large, so work out a preferred location and assess how you will physically install it on the wall.
  • While this technology encourages greater creativity than the traditional projector, the interactive whiteboard is still operated via a projector so it can cause similar issues with image quality.
  • Although initially more expensive than traditional projectors, they can actually work out cheaper in the long run when factoring in replacement parts.
  • Whiteboards are not a stand-alone technology, so decide whether this will be right for all users.

Interactive flat panel displays

Interactive flat panel displays are an all-in-one solution, offering high quality LED images with multiple touch points to enable several users to work at the same time. The devices are pre-loaded with software so they can be used in conjunction with mobile or desktop devices. In-built connectivity means that attaching cables is also less of an issue.

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Top tips:

  • This is the most expensive option, so consider how often you will be using the device and what functions you will need.
  • Despite the initial upfront costs, low wattage and low power output could keep running costs down and should see a display lasting 10 years.
  • Screens are available in 4k or HD, so there is no need to alter the brightness of the room. Likewise there is no need for calibration.
  • Allocate some of your budget to staff training to ensure users get the most out of your investment.
  • Ensure your software enables all the features you require. There is no point of investing in multi-touch technology or 4k if the software is only one or two-point touch or you don’t have 4k playback technology.

Rob Xenos, business and marketing manager at Sahara, manufacturer of flat panel displays and interactive whiteboards, says that before committing to the more expensive options, buyers should be aware of some of the obstacles people encounter using interactive technology.

Common issues include technologies not working together and the limitations of a badly set up wireless network – meaning that products cannot communicate with each other. There are a lot of new options on the market and it can be confusing. Buyers should research the brand and evaluate what they are buying. They need to look at how they want to use the product, especially the software. Whatever the customer decides, it’s vital they leave budget for training, training and more training.

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