Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Video Splitters - Standard and CAT5 Based

To put it simply, a Video Splitter takes one signal from a video source and replicates over multiple monitors. How many times a Video Splitter divides the signal varies, but Video Splitters currently on the market will do simple divisions of 2 ports all the way up to hundreds of ports.

This article will tackle the purpose of when a Video Splitter will be needed as well as the many different types and styles of Video Splitters.

Basic Video Splitters: Standard VGA Video Splitters make it possible for 2, 4, 8, or 16 SVGA, VGA, XGA, and Multisync monitors to be simultaneously driven from a single VGA video source.

Applications such as classrooms, trade shows, point-of-sale, airports, process control, and security systems are perfect for VGA Video Splitters in which images are required to be replicated on several monitors.

Resolutions that are typically supported can reach as high as 1900x1200. However, this is under the assumption that the split monitors are less than 20-30’ away. Once a monitor is extended past 20-30’, video degradation and ghosting will result. To fix this problem, some Video Splitters such as Aten’s VS138 8-port Video Splitter implements a built-in signal booster which will allow the video signal to be extended up to 200 ft over a standard VGA cable.

Some projects may call for a Video Splitter with a small form factor. To cover all bases, some 2 and 4-port Video Splitter vendors can produce a Video Splitter that is quite small. For instance, the Startech ST122 2-port Video Splitter has only a 1” x 4” x 3.8” form factor. standard daisy chaining to add more than 16 ports.

Cat 5 Video Splitters: A Cat 5 based Video Splitter differs from a standard Video Splitter mainly by the use of cable that is used from the target video source to the multiple monitor feeds. Standard Video Splitters, like the ones mentioned above, use coaxial style VGA cables. Minicom’s Cat 5 Video Display System implements thin cat 5 cabling in place of bulky coaxial cable for use of the Video Extension system that is built into the Video Splitter. By using Cat 5 technology, the cabling nightmare that may exist with standard Video Splitters is practically removed.

Minicom’s Cat 5 Video Display System is a pure hardware driven system that has the ability to transmit hundreds of real-time remote video displays up to 1600x1200@75 Hz over Cat 5 cabling.

The Minicom Cat 5 Video Display System doubles as a Video Splitter and a Cat 5 Video Extender. However, the Cat 5 Video Splitter product line will involve more that just the video splitter hardware component. Since a Cat 5 Video Splitter needs to be converted from a standard VGA connection to an RJ-45 or Cat 5 connection, 2 converter boxes will be need – a main splitter box and multiple remote receivers. The main Broadcaster unit acts as the brains of the operation. The Broadcaster component connects to the single output VGA host and has enough ports to split 8 remote monitor feeds. The micro sized remote dongle, needed at each extended monitor, is the other necessary component. Once 8 ports are exceeded, a simple Line Splitter is added to the equation. The Line Splitter box attaches to any output from the Video Display System Broadcaster unit. The Line Splitter will add 8 more feeds to the Cat 5 Video Display System.

Separating Cat 5 Video Splitters from standard Video Splitters further, Minicom offers an added feature on their VDS product line. Some end-users might require that all remote monitors have the ability to darken while administrative changes are made. The Video Display System will allow the option of darkening all remote monitors at any given time.
Along with the Video Display System, Minicom also has available their simple 2 and 4-port Cat 5 UTP Video Splitters. The Cat 5 UTP Video Splitter can simultaneously broadcast video images to 2 or 4 monitors over cat 5 cabling.

Users will have the choice to extend the monitors either 360’ or 820’ by using either required remote receiver. The UTP Video Splitter does not implement an optional Line Splitter, however, units can be chained together to gain dozens of additional ports. The UTP Video Splitter will support VGA, SVGA, XGA, and Monochrome monitors as well as high resolution video - 1280x1024 @75 Hz.

An alternative Cat 5 Video Splitter solution that is currently on the market is Network Technologies Inc.'s (NTI) VOPEX series. It functions equally to the Minicom solution, though one difference in the VOPEX product line is the port density. NTI promotes its VOPEX-C5V-16 because the central Video Splitter offers 16 ports instead of 8. Since NTI does not offer an optional line splitter with the VOPEX-C5V-16, users must incorporate standard daisy chaining to add more than 16 ports.

For additional information regarding Video Splitter applications, please visit this site.