Switch Wars

Switch Wars

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. . . .

If anyone has been following the Crestron/Extron/AMX Video Shootout of their HDMI switchers, let me start be saying. . . WAKE UP!  I’m sure the 5 minute demonstrations have lullled you into a slumber, so get some coffee.

I will first take AMX out of the fray here, because their response video was awesome.  1 minute of “who cares”, with some quick red asterisks pointing out the “Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire” sections of the original Crestron Demo.  I give AMX a free pass to Endor.  Go have a great Friday, those Ewoks really know how to party!

As for the other two. . .It’s hard to tell who the Evil Empire is and who is the Rebel Alliance.

Crestron obviously took little care to set up a controlled demo, or  could have purposefully slanted the demo in their favor.  If they did the latter, they are no better than Best Buy and the other box stores whose salespeople turn up the color and brightness settings on the TVs they want to move that month, so they look brighter than their low margin, out of stock counterparts.

Extron responds by setting up a controlled demo, and then saying “look over here” while playing slight of hand with their stopwatch and button presses.  Don’t get me wrong, given that Crestron took the first punch and didn’t care to make sure the equipment was set up the same, turnabout is fair play.

None of this changes the fact however that the whole video switch shootout is just a big distraction.

I’m hearing Vader tell me to “Search my Feelings”, so here they are:  We are stuck in a galaxy of AV that is dependent on HDMI, and given its variances, the real world performance of either of these switches will pale in comparison to these controlled video demos.

Take a closer look at both videos and as an integrator think about these things.

1)      In the Extron demo all cables are the same length and all source material is 1080p.  When was the last time you had a job where that happened?  Different run lengths, 720p signals on satellite, SD video on legacy gear, etc are the real world we live in.

2)       In both videos the Sony Display and the BenQ display have dramatically different switching times.  In the real world we are faced with various models and brands of screens being integrated into one job, and neither switcher can provide a ready, set, go that triggers all screen equally.

3)      HDMI extenders through a whole new kink in the chain.  Copper based extenders are commonly used and commonly don’t work as needed.  It may be due to the source and sink, it may be due to the cable length and EMF, it may be due to poor tolerances on the extender, but whatever the case, unless you’re transmitting at Light Speed over fiber, you risk some major problems.

So congratulations Crestron and Extron!  Neither video has helped serve any purpose or proven anything definitively.  My guess is the switching time is probably the same if you add up and average the large variance in times across brands and models.

At the end of the day, no one cares how many parsecs it takes your ship to do the Kessel Run if the journey takes us through a star system with pink sparkles and black holes that swallow video randomly.

I think you both have been indulging in your own glitterstim spice along the way.

“Help me HD-SDI, you’re my only hope.”

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