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Cable-Free Connections

Wireless 5G aIt’s ironic and at times frustrating, but the cost of installing video cabling to project a teacher’s notebook can often dwarf the price of the AV equipment involved. No more, with Kinivo’s WHD 110 Wireless 5G HD AV Kit. At $139, it is a bargain compared to what an electrician can cost to do it with wires.

Based on the Wireless Home Digital Interface protocol, the kit can move more than enough AV data over thin air to support an HD audio and video stream. The box includes a transmitter (to plug into the notebook) and a receiver (to plug into the projector or large screen monitor). Together, they can bring the output of a notebook, DVD player, cable box or just about anything with an HDMI connector to the whole class.

Unlike using Google’s Chromcast, the good news is that there’s no software to install, making the 5G kit perfect for technophobic instructors and young students. In fact, the 5GHz transmitter-receiver duo replaces a physical HDMI cable by streaming audio and video between the boxes.

Other than opening the box, pulling out the devices, attaching their stands and plugging the two boxes in, there’s nothing to do. All told, it takes about 2 minutes to set it all up.

Wireless 5G dBoth the sender and receiver have HDMI ports and LEDs to show they’re connected. The receiver adds an IR window for use with the included remote control and comes with an IR Blaster extension that lets you put a remote control sensor within 6-feet of the box

Unfortunately, both the transmitter and receiver require their own power and the kit includes an AC adapter for each. But, the Wireless 5G set only comes with one HDMI cable; you’ll need two to use it.

Once it’s all set up, the system can move full video and sound from computer to screen. It works with 3-D material at full high definition resolution, but the kit only works with HDMI sources and destinations, ignoring VGA and DisplayPort equipment.

I used the Wireless 5G kit with several notebooks and tablets, including an Acer Aspire R7 and a Dell Venue Pro 8, on the sending side and an Epson BrightLink Pro 1410Wi projector and Sceptre 32-inch display on the receiving side. It was able to move everything from Web-based video to classroom software. It really came into its own with interactive material, like the University of Colorado’s PHET science and math simulations and a touch-screen tablet, which can inexpensively replace most of the elements of a more expensive interactive white board.

The system connected in a couple of seconds and had a useful range of about 42-feet, which should be plenty for the typical classroom or small auditorium. While the receiver can move between different sources and the transmitter automatically re-establishes a connection when it’s back in range, the devices work better when both are vertically oriented.

Its video output is only as good as the source material it has to work with, but at 12-feet, the video was crystal clear with good color, audio synchronization and an almost imperceptible delay. On the other hand, the transmitter and receiver tend to get hot while in use, hitting a peak of 124 degrees Fahrenheit.

Wireless 5G cWhile its size and weight restrict the Wireless 5G kit to stationary use, it outdoes Google’s Chromecast by working with anything that has an HDMI port, although for some newer computers a micro-HDMI converter will come in handy. Unlike Intel’s WiDi, it works with just about any source that has an HDMI port. Still, Kinivo’s Wireless 5G HD AV Kit is an inexpensive way to share video with the class without cables.

 A-

Wireless 5G b

Kinivo Wireless 5G HD AV Kit

$139 

+ Replaces HDMI cable

+ Less expensive than physical wiring

+ Video and audio

+ No software needed

+ Full HD resolution

+ Includes IR Blaster

 

- Transmitter and receiver require power

- No VGA or DisplayPort connectors

- Gets hot

Bottom of Form

 

Projection Two-Fer

AF5D_20_FrontSometimes a powerful projector isn’t bright enough to fill a large auditorium’s screen and you need to double-, triple- or quadruple-up. Elite Screen’s Airflex AF5D-20 system has an 8-bit graphics scaler and a built-in QStack grid overlay to help align and aim stacked projectors to create a single cohesive image from several projectors. At $700, it is a bargain device that is capable of working with 1,920 by 1,080 HD projectors, incorporates audio and comes with a remote control for adjusting image placement from anywhere in the room.

FETC 2013: Video the Ethernet Way

Belkin HDBaseT extender-1If your school’s old cable TV network doesn’t cut it in a digital world, think about using its wired Ethernet cabling for distributing video throughout the building with Belkin’s HDBaseT HDMI audio/video extender. The device converts the video signal into one that can travel long distances over regular old Cat 5 cables and can plug into a projector or large screen monitor in the classroom. Booth 1356.

Tune In

CompactVideohubBackBlackmagic Design’s $3,000 Compact Videohub can turn a school into a TV studio. From kid news shows to morning video announcements, the Videohub can make sure that every room is connected. The device is small and rack-mountable, but has 40 SDI inputs and outputs as well as intelligent switching that re-clocks the video signal for long cable lengths and the system has an iPad app.

 

Phone-in a Lesson

Mhl aMost schools restrict the use of smartphones on school grounds to keep the student body’s limited attention span on the lesson at hand and reduce the temptation to cheat on exams. But, what about embracing the phone as the next step in teaching? It could end up that smartphones, which many students and teachers already have, are the ultimate in Bring Your Own Device technology.

But, how do you go about getting a lesson out of a phone and onto the big screen for the whole class to see? While some phones have an HDMI port built-in, it can make for a thick and heavy device. That’s where the Mobile High Definition Link (MHL) comes in. It’s a small adapter that can turn many smart phones into lean screen machines by sending an HD audio-video signal to a projector, large screen monitor or TV.

At the moment MHL works with about 30 phones, and the current version of the spec can be used with just about any TV or projector that has an HDMI port. The good news is that it doesn’t require any special software at either end and can put everything from a Web site to a YouTube video to an Acrobat file on the big screen. 

Mhl cAccell’s MHL to HDMI Audio/Video Adapter is tiny and uses the current version 1.1 of the MHL protocol as well as the high-speed HDMI specification. About the size of a memory key, it’s a marvel of miniaturization. In fact, at times it’s so small that it’s too easy to lose or leave on a desk after class.

The adapter relies on the phone’s microUSB connector and works with many Android smartphones on the market. It won’t work with an iPhone, which lacks the needed USB port, or a Samsung Galaxy S III, which uses its own plug and requires a specialized cable, but is classroom-ready for many tablets. A word of advice: MHL technology is so new that you should do your homework and make sure it’ll work with your gear before you buy.

To get it the Accell MHL adapter to work, plug it into the phone and the classroom projector and then power it on. The chances are that you can use the AC adapter that came with your phone or a generic USB adapter. Finally, set the projector , TV or monitor that you’re using to display the HDMI input. In a second or two what’s on the phone’s screen is projected for the class to see.

Mhl bAlong with an LG Nitro Android phone, I used the adapter with Dell’s S500wi, Epson’s X15 projectors as well as an LG LV4400 47-inch TV. The adapter produced surprisingly strong video and audio from such a small device. It delivered perfect sound synchronization and images that were free of static. The video is shown both on the phone and on the projector, making navigation a snap.

With a two-year warranty and a 6-foot HDMI cable, Accell’s MHL to HDMI $30 adapter is a bargain that can turn a phone into a teaching tool. The best part is that rather than packing up a notebook or tablet for the move to the next classroom, all teachers have to do is unplug their phone, put it in their pocket and leave.

A+

Accell’s MHL to HDMI Audio/Video Adapter with HDMI Cable

 Price: $30

 

+ Sends audio and video to projector or monitor

+ Small and light

+ Inexpensive

+ Excellent image and audio

+ Includes HDMI cable

 

- Requires AC power

- Too easy to lose

 

Making the Most of WiFi

HDFlow Think that a wireless network is only good for moving data around, printing and sharing an Internet connection? Peerless-AV’s HD Flow Wireless Multimedia Kit is an 802.11n router that can add audio-visual distribution to its list of classroom duties. It can move HD video to a projector or large screen monitor as well as surround sound audio to a set of speakers, but is limited to a 131-foot range, plenty for most classrooms. Each transmitter can service up to 4 receivers and the $429 kit comes with a transmitter and receiver and a remote control. While the transmitter has a pair of HDMI, VGA and composite video, the receiver has an HDMI, composite and component video ports.  

 

 

 

Getting the Word Out

DS128_prod(300)[1] Tired of boring announcements that nobody listens to or ecologically destructive printed hand-outs? StarTech has a better idea with its Digital Sign Broadcaster and Receiver, which can put all sorts of announcements onto screens in hallways, cafeterias and other open spaces. The DS128 sells for $600 and can send high quality video and stereo audio from a standard Ethernet cable to as many as 9 separate screens. It requires the $400 DSRXL receiver and the system comes with Java-based software that lets an administrator monitor each screen.

 

HD Video Everywhere

280554_lrg If you’ve ever tried to connect a high-definition source, like Blu-Ray player, to a projector that’s more than 10- or 15-feet away, it’s an expensive hassle to get and snake a long HDMI cable. But, with Vantec’s new converter box, the signal can be sent over plain old coaxial cable for up to 382-feet, making it perfect for the auditorium or other large venue at school.

Beam Me Up

HP Wireless TV Connect, group One of the hardest things that the digital classroom requires is getting what’s on the teacher’s screen to a projector or large display so the entire class can see. Without rewiring old buildings, which can cost as much as installing a new projector, means cables hanging all over the place. HP’s Wireless TV Connect has a way of sending the PC’s output to a high-definition screen without wires. It doesn’t require loading any software, but the desktop PC or notebook needs to have an HDMI port for the audio and video as well as an unused USB connection for power. The computer’s USB port and hang it on the back with the included clip and the audio and video are streamed to the TV or projector. There’s a slight delay, but it works quite well, although it’s limited to a range of about 10-feet.

Press and See

CP451-008_front For many all the possible classroom connections are enough to drive a normally sane teacher crazy. Altinex’s CP451-008 Wireless Touchscreen Controller can make sense of it all with the ability to control a dozen different audio-visual devices, all by touching the 8.4-inch color screen. Because it’s wireless, there are no clunky cables to deal with and the teacher can roam the classroom with it in hand. It comes with AVSnap software for integrating an entire classroom’s digital equipment.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Tech Tools are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.