Most of you have heard about the revolutionary AV over IP, that AV is moving into IT Network and this will replace many of the conventional AV Systems. How true are these statements exactly? Where are we at in the evolution of AV over IP?
There are definitely advantages of using AV over IP against the traditional way of using AV Switchers and Scalers/ Converters, one of which is the infrastructure of IT network, all we need is the connection between the equipment and network point. This means that we can re-use the existing IT network infrastructure when deploying solution, eliminating the need to reinstall the infrastructure for an AV System.
With regards to AV cabling, there is no specific requirements to using only HDMI, DVI or Display Port cables. Category copper cables, being a more cost effective alternative, can be used as well. It can be easily expanded by adding more Network ports in the Network Switchers. Network Switchers are cheaper than AV switchers.
All the advantages mentioned to this point apply to any AV over IP device in the market today. However, when we analyse it in detail we find that some areas can still be improved when fully deploying an AV over IP solution.
1. There is no audio breakout
Audio breakout is required in some complex AV Systems with several displays for content. It allows us to route the audio source to the sound system. This is currently not possible with many of the encoders and decoders in the market.
Many manufacturers provide a software (web based) as a kind of management system where we decide what sources should be routed to which displays. However, from the viewpoint of the user that may not be useful as those software solutions will present you with the full view of the system. A user who is using just one meeting room might not want to see devices of other spaces, his main objective is just to start the meeting. Currently, this is not possible in most of the AV over IP systems. Some manufacturers allow integration with the traditional control systems, however it requires deployment of a new server and additional programming cost.
3. Inter-brand compatibility
If the client is using brand X in the whole office and wishes to have an additional AV point in the future, this must be of the same brand. Conversely, if a client wants to use another brand for the AV point, then he must change all the encoders and decoders to be of the same brand.
In summary, having AV over IP is definitely a good idea and there are many advantages to it. However, there are still a few challenges that we need to overcome before the AV over IP can replace traditional AV systems completely.