Simple Control

One of the things I’ve always loved about SMART Boards is that you don’t need a remote to use the system. They all have a power button and an input button and a volume knob attached to the system, mounted permanently, impossible to lose. Unfortunately, as you step up into more complex systems, the type that might be installed in a conference room or multi-purpose room, the components are no longer mounted all together on the same wall. Integrated controls on a device in the ceiling are not very useful. So we default to using a cluster of inscrutable remotes, destined to a lifetime of disappearing and reappearing.

MLC 104 IP Plus

This is a simple controller from Extron.

There is a better way! Just like the lights in your ceiling are cabled through the wall to a light switch, we can connect a small push button controller to your A/V equipment. This has a number of benefits. First, it’s impossible to lose, and much less likely to break. Have you ever searched the couch cushions for a lighting dimmer? Have you ever changed the batteries on a doorbell? The concept is the same: the cabling runs through the wall, linking the controls to the device, and none of the connections are ever touched.

Second, we can make selecting inputs and turning the system on and off a one-button process. Instead of turning off the system one piece at a time, all you need to do is push the ‘off’ button. The system tells the projector to shut down, the screen to roll up, and the DVD player to turn off, so you don’t have to think about it. If you want to watch Cable TV, you push one button and the projector comes on, the screen comes down, and the system switches to the right video source. The goal here is for a system that ‘just works’.

The third benefit of using an integrated control system is that it can simplify the use of a system by including only the controls you need. How many buttons do you really use on most remotes? Volume, for sure. Some way to change inputs. Power, of course. Do you really need anything else? This simple pushbutton controller gives you the ability to turn your system on and off, select what you want to see, and adjust the volume. Anything else just gets in the way.

A system that isn’t easy to use isn’t used. This is evident watching the march of technology. And projectors, screens, switchers, scalers, and amplifiers can all be very intimidating if you don’t know what they do, or what’s connected where. To provide the most user friendly experience, we need to take the guesswork out of operation, and just ask “What do you want to do?”

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Nick Sandar

Nick joined the audiovisual industry in 2008 with a background in audio engineering and recording studio design. As The Chariot Group’s System Engineer, he specializes in integrating multiple technologies to create seamless systems. Nick works with users before, during, and after system implementation, making complex technologies understandable and accessible to users of all experience levels.

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