<strong>The Two General Video System Types and Which One Is Best For You</strong>

The Two General Video System Types and Which One Is Best For You

December 20, 2016
The Two General Video System Types and Which One Is Best For You | Electronic Contracting Company

By Alex Asay


There are endless ways to transport and display imagery in a meeting or gathering space. The most effective video system is dictated by the size and shape of your room and how you’ll use it. From a high level, a video system will generally be designed one of two ways. It will either be designed as a presentation video system or a broadcast video system. What’s the difference?

A presentation video system employs equipment and a design philosophy that’s rooted in conference rooms. This type of system is designed to accept all kinds of video signals from the Mini DisplayPort input from your modern laptop, to a composite input from the VHS player that’s dead but still takes up room in your credenza. This type of system excels at handling multiple resolutions, aspect ratios, color spaces, bit depths, refresh rates, etc. Basically, a presentation video system can be designed to handle whatever the end user wants to plug into it.

However, presentation video systems have their drawbacks. If you need to transport a modern (digital) video signal over a distance such as 15-25 feet and have it be reliable, or if you need to run the cable carrying that signal through a normal sized conduit, that signal will need to be converted to run over standard category cable (i.e. Cat5e or Cat6). This adds cost to the system, and more importantly, it adds extra potential points of failure. While latency in this type of system has been greatly reduced over the past decade, in most cases, it’s still there. Simply put, anytime the system needs to convert one type of signal to another, there’s a mismatch in resolution, frame rate, or anything else that involves processing. Processing video adds delay or latency to the system. Overall, the biggest trade-off of a presentation video system is that all the features that allow it to be the Swiss Army Knife of your meeting space, also adds potential complications.

Presentation video systems are typically deployed in meeting spaces that are small to medium in size such as boardrooms, classrooms, conference rooms, training rooms, etc. They are useful in spaces that have many different uses and need to have last minute flexibility. Like I said earlier, this type of system excels at handling many different types of video signals.

On the other side of this conversation are broadcast video systems. This type of system is rooted in television broadcast facilities. The overall design philosophy of a broadcast video system is reliability through simplicity. Generally, there’s only one signal type in a broadcast video system which means redundancy can easily be built in at every level. This type of system can be designed to employ a highly accurate clock that generates a signal that is distributed to all equipment in the system. This signal synchronizes the entire system together which eliminates latency in most cases. At the same time, because the master clock is so accurate, video tearing is almost never a problem.

This type of system operates on only one signal type. That simplicity combined with the redundancy that is often built into these systems makes them extremely reliable as a whole. This signal type can be set to the end user’s needs. This means a single resolution at a single refresh rate, color space, bit depth, etc. That can be a big trade-off. The routing and processing equipment are expecting only one signal type, and if another signal is inputted, the equipment doesn’t even see anything there. If the end user wants to input something with a signal other than what the system is set to, then conversion needs to happen on the front end.

Broadcast video systems are almost always used in spaces with a large in-house and/or remote audience such as auditoriums, large conference facilities, TV or internet broadcasting facilities, etc. Because of their low or zero latency ability, broadcast video systems are typically deployed in spaces where there’s live video from cameras in the room for IMAG (image magnification). If reliability is a high value, this is most likely the right choice for you.

I want to take some time to talk about copy protection and how it affects your broadcast video system. In the modern world of video, copy protection is handled by HDCP (High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection). It’s built into computer and video hardware and software to ensure that copyrighted video assets are not being illegally copied or displayed. Broadcast video systems do not support HDCP and therefore can’t display HDCP enabled content. HDCP enabled mediums, such as DVDs, Blue-ray discs, Netflix, YouTube, etc., even when a purchase was involved, don’t permit you the right to play their content to a room full of people, unless that room is your living room and those people are your friends. If you have purchased the proper rights to play content through your broadcast video system, you were probably supplied with a version of that content that’s not HDCP enabled.

As time goes on, both of these system types are getting more alike in some ways and further apart in others. At this point, the drawbacks on either side, for the most part, are not deal breakers. Hybrid video systems can be designed to utilize strengths or minimize drawbacks of each of these system types for your specific case.

It takes experience and a firm understanding of these design philosophies and system types to get the best results. Whether you need a presentation or broadcast video system, or a hybrid of the two, Electronic Contracting Company has a team of creative and experienced designers with a full and ever-growing understanding of video systems to help you achieve your goals. Let us help you with your next project!