InfoComm 2010 highlights changing nature of AV

In older school buildings in particular, it can be costly to add the electrical infrastructure needed to set up computers in a classroom. Bretford’s new Juice Power System aims to solve that problem. It allows up to four tables and eight computer stations to be powered from a single outlet, without the expense of hardwiring or the clutter of individual power strips.

The Juice Power System features a “toolless” installation that doesn’t require an electrician or a building modification, Bretford says, so it can be incorporated into a facility for less than half the cost of most hardwired components. The system is available at a list price that averages $150 per table.

Schools and colleges that are still using Bretford products they bought decades ago have a chance to win free Bretford furniture through a new video contest, the company also announced. Schools that send in a video showing their oldest Bretford product in use are eligible to win furniture for a 30-student classroom, including 15 tables, a Presenter’s Assistant for Learning cart, a laptop cart, a flat-panel display cart, and a projection screen. The total value of the giveaway is more than $17,000. The deadline for submissions is Aug. 31; for more information, go to

Another company that aims to make classroom technology as flexible and simple to deploy as possible is Extron Electronics, which highlighted an easy-to-use AV control system for classrooms with only a single display source.

Extron’s WallVault Systems are designed for classrooms with a wall-mounted short-throw projector or flat-panel display. WallVault Systems include all the necessary audio and video switching, sound amplification, system control, source connectivity, speakers, mounting hardware, and cabling for a complete classroom AV solution, the company says; all that’s left to add is the video projector or flat-panel display itself.

Instructors can control their projector or flat-panel display through a wall-mounted controller, switching back and forth between a computer, DVD, VCR, or other media source connected to the display and adjusting the volume as necessary. Or, they can control the system via the school’s network, using a graphical interface on a web page.

WallVault Systems use Cat 5 twisted pair cabling for carrying the audio and video signals between the wall plate input and switcher. Twisted pair cabling is lighter, smaller, and more flexible than coaxial cable, Extron says, so it is easier to route through walls and pull through small conduits. What’s more, all the necessary switching and amplification is housed in the projector’s wall mount itself, thereby securing these electrical components and hiding them from view.

Yet another company whose products are intended to give educators greater flexibility in how they deploy AV technology is Draper, which has sold projection screens to schools for more than 50 years.

Last year, the company introduced a product called Stage Screen, a completely modular framing system (with optional legs) for creating truss screens ranging in size from 5’ x 8’ all the way up to 30’ x 40’ for large outdoor displays. School personnel can use Stage Screen to build projection surfaces of whatever size they need, for either temporary or permanent use.

Draper President John Pidgeon said customers liked the idea of Stage Screen, but some said it was too expensive for smaller installations, such as classrooms or boardrooms. So at this year’s InfoComm, Draper unveiled a smaller, more economic modular screen framing system, called Focal Point. It works just like Stage Screen, but it’s smaller (supporting screen sizes up to 20 feet wide) and costs about half as much, Pidgeon said.

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