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Topic: Question re: Panasonic PT-VW440U, general connectivity
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Joined: Feb 14, 2014
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Good morning!

I'm looking for a projector for our small-ish conference room (8-10 people) and have some questions. Here's information regarding the room and requirements:
- Projected content will be largely Office documents (spreadsheets and presentations mostly) with occasional pictures and videos
- Room can be made fairly dark but not completely
- Our initial plan is to use the wall (off-white, eggshell type color) as a projection area with the possibility of adding an actual screen if the wall doesn't provide adequate results.
- I'm not fixed on a particular screen size or aspect ratio, the wall itself is rather large - I was thinking of an area about 8ft x 4ft. Does that make sense?
- The projector will be permanently ceiling-mounted so throw distance is irrelevant (I think?), as are portability, weight and an eventual carrying case.
- Ideally we'd like to keep it under 1500$
- The main requirement I have is that we can connect the projector to our wired network as its only interface. People would bring a laptop to the conference room, plug into the network (outlets are on the table) and send their documents to the projector over the network. Initial setup difficulty doesn't really matter but once configured, it has to be very easy and trouble-free to use. This is the single most important factor for us.

That brings me to the Panasonic PT-VW440U - or any other networked projector for that matter. I read all documentation I can find on this unit and the network section is always filled with buzzwords and hype, yet never actually goes into what it really does or how it works. The rest of the specs on this unit seem to be right on the mark for our needs, very bright, nice contrast ratio, wired LAN interface, good price, etc... will it do what I'm looking for?

So, what do I need to know about networking a projector in an office environment? Is there anything I'm overlooking for our conference room? Would you have a better recommendation for the networking aspect of things?

Thanks for any help!
James
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Joined: Mar 28, 2005
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James,

Uncompressed HDMI video runs at about 3Gbs. That's typically more than any corporate network can handle for a single uncompressed video stream.

IT guys tend to think of the network as the magic encompassing umbrella, but it just doesn't work that way with quality A/V.

Presentation level streaming encoders (real time) run at about $3,500 per encoder and another $500 or so for a decoder.

So, no PC can do the encoding in real time properly, and no projector will add the cost of a decoder when you can just run a proper video wire to it for $20, or have something installed in your walls to the conference table.

Instead, think of a projector as a computer monitor and expect similar results and performance. It shows an image, it may have some junky speakers built in.

The ONLY reason networking is included on projectors is for control. That is, in a office building with many of the same make/model of projector you can typically use IP to see what the lamp hours are on the projector, what the current power status is, perhaps send out a global 'all off' command to the projectors.

In campus-wide use, it allows for management of projectors with the hundreds of lamps which may need to be monitored, and to ensure they are turned off every day as they should be.

For video though, projectors don't build that functionality in.

PCs must still connect using their internal video connections for acceptable results and while there are some wired and wireless video solutions, they often aren't at a level which leaves text legible or can handle full motion video when needed. Any computer-based solution will depend heavily on the PC to be able to perform what is necessary and may not work with all computers.

Your request is not unusual, it's just not reality (yet).
AV Integrated - Theater, whole house audio, and technology consultation during the build and installation process in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.
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Thanks for the comprehensive answer! It's disapointing but I understand the logic behind it.

As a last shot, do you know if there's any projector that would support something like what I described but for Office documents only (spreadsheets, slides or text files), not video? If that exists it would fulfill 95% of our requirements.

If not, then we'll just have to run a video cable and deal with it I guess. In that case, based on the rest of our requirements, do you think the Panasonic PT-VW440U would be good? Or would there be anything similar in performance for cheaper?

Thanks again, much appreciated!

James
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Joined: Mar 28, 2005
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I'll get back to you in a bit on the projector, but I will throw out that I just saw the Christie Digital Brio, which is an outboard product which will accept network video from Apple, PCs, etc.

MSRP is $5,000 and isn't really designed to go up next to a projector.

I think we are 2-3 years out from an AppleTV sized product which does what you want to do at a price point of perhaps as much as $1,000 or so to achieve this functionality.

Keep in mind, in most conference rooms, a couple of guys can cable it up for you in a day, install it, etc. for under $2,000.
AV Integrated - Theater, whole house audio, and technology consultation during the build and installation process in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.