One Of These Things Is Not Like The Others

You know, I wasn’t going to write about this. There are so many more important things going in in the world of AV that could occupy my blog. The recovery, service contracts, the digital transition. However, this one theme kept popping up again and again this week. “Extron has their first competitor to the Enova DVX and DMPS.” This in reference to the new Extron DTP CrossPoint 84 Series switchers.

My initial response was, “No, they don’t.” However, after a few articles by some cohorts of Extron, friends in the industry asking what I thought, and even those I work with commenting on it, I feel it is at least worth a few hundred words to explain why this is NOT an all-in-one-box and why Extron has missed the mark, yet again.

Let’s take it from the top.

There is no control system. Period. End of sentence. No… control… system. So, right away we are not comparing apples to apples. Both the AMX Enova DVX and Crestron DMPS have a control processor built into the box they ship. Now, currently Extron is running a promotion where you get a free IPL 250 or IPCP Pro 350 control processor with each DTP. That’s great. By the same token Crestron could include a CP3 with each DM 8×8 and call it even. It still wouldn’t be. Why does it matter? For one it is the way in which people are viewing this. It is not an all-in-one box because of this one missing feature. Why Extron didn’t choose to include it is beyond the knowledge of this humble writer.

Connectors on the back

Next up is the type of connections available out of the box (pun intended). The AMX Enova DVX and the Crestron DMPS (all four skews) have analog connections native. You can connect a minimum of four analog signals to the various inputs on the back of each box. On the actual Extron DTP CrossPoint 84 you will only get HDMI inputs. Now, they do have two DTP inputs available. So, in theory, you could purchase a number of DTP transmitters that have analog connections. That takes it beyond the all-in-one-box form. Again, we are not comparing apples to apples.

4K ish

Extron says this is the “first” 4K capable HD switcher. Well, if you consider that they announced this/put it out there the same week as ISE (which of course they weren’t in attendance). At ISE, Crestron also announced their entrance into 4K with their DM line. AMX also says their Enova line is 4k ready. So, let’s call that a draw.

First To Market or Best In Market?

There is something to be said for being an innovator in this industry. Crestron and AMX have both been producing digital over twisted pair solutions of more than a few years. According to AMX, their first Enova shipped in July of 2009. Crestron’s first DMPS 100 shipped in July of 2012. First to market doesn’t always make you better. This time it does because you see what works and what doesn’t and you can change based on feedback the end users and dealers give.

My first exposure to an all-in-one presentation systems was a Crestron MPS. My Crestron rep walked into my office at the college I worked for at the time. Taking the box out and setting it on my desk he said “connect the components and you are ready to go”. He wasn’t kidding. That is the beauty of a complete audio/video/control system. It doesn’t matter, to me, that AMX and Crestron have been doing this far longer than Extron has. If Extron had come up with a product that matched, at least, the current offerings I would be first in line to try it out. But they didn’t. They have an HDMI/DTP/Audio scaling switcher. Nothing more. If they want to play in this space, they need to go back to the drawing board.

It isn’t as if Extron hasn’t done it before. Their Series 7 switcher had control, audio, and video processing. The control was basic, but it was there. And this was before their entire line of control systems. So, go grab the team that did the Series 7 and put them on this line.

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. Have a great week.

4 thoughts on “One Of These Things Is Not Like The Others

  1. 4k ish is right; I don’t consider 4k@30 frames per second to be “really” 4k. Give me 60fps and we’ll talk.

    You’re right on point with the control system, but the lack of analog inputs doesn’t bother me all that much; analog just doesn’t cope up all that much on modern designs.

    In Extron’s defense they have a bigger amp and claim better DSP. To their detriment, the DSP is expandable only through their proprietary expansion bus. If it had Dante I’d be slightly more interested.

    • Leonard, thanks for the response. The analog inputs are helpful in using these all-in-one boxes in education and HOW. Especially where they are still supporting legacy equipment. You’re right about new installations, though.

  2. There might be some sort of 4k in it but not of the useful kind! AFAIK they ONLY support 4k on the HDMI in/Outs but NOT on the CAT/twisted pair! Considering that going beyond 1080 and towards 4k *significantly* shortening real world distances for HDMI, the CAT connectors gain even more importance over time! As in “what used to be ok with HDMI now needs to have extenders”.
    Speaking of twisted pair: HDBaseT is gaining importance by the week and Extron’s decision to not HDBaseT-certify and therfore guaranteeing compatibility drives the “just another tiny box with a wall wart” business we all want to get away from.
    You already pointed out, that without proper control built in, it simply misses the point.

    People tend to forget that “infrastructure” is being replaced only once in about 10 yrs whereas the sources and sinks have typically a shorter replacement circle.
    So not supporting SNMP or other IT friendly protocols might not be too big of a deal for many customers NOW but looking down the road it will be painful pretty soon.

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