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Can you use a 4g router to stream?

Essentially yes, But and it's a big but, there are a lot of defining factors that determine if you can or can't. In this article we will dive into the world of 4G routers and how they can enable streaming and a lot more.  So what are some of the pros and cons of using […]

Essentially yes, But and it's a big but, there are a lot of defining factors that determine if you can or can't. In this article we will dive into the world of 4G routers and how they can enable streaming and a lot more. 

So what are some of the pros and cons of using 4G to stream? 

Pros: 

  1. Mobility and Flexibility:
  • Enables streaming from any location with a strong 4G signal, allowing flexibility in choosing the setup location within the church.
  1. Quick Setup and Installation:
  • Simple and quick installation compared to fixed broadband, making it convenient for temporary or mobile setups.
  1. Reliability in Remote Areas:
  • Ideal for churches in rural or remote areas where traditional internet infrastructure may be limited or unreliable.
  1. Redundancy for Backup:
  • Acts as a reliable backup in case of primary internet failure, ensuring uninterrupted streaming during important church events.
  1. Ease of Use:
  • Generally user-friendly, with plug-and-play options available, reducing the need for extensive technical expertise.

Cons:

  1. Data Limits and Costs:
  • Limited data plans may result in additional costs or the need to monitor data usage carefully to avoid 
  1. Network Congestion:
  • Speed and performance may be affected during peak usage times or in areas with high network congestion, potentially impacting the quality of the live stream.
  • As local users are all sharing the bandwidth from the nearby tower connection speeds can vary by a factor of 10x within minutes. There is no guaranteed minimum bandwidth unlike a wired connection.
  1. Variable Signal Strength:
  • Signal strength can vary based on location and external factors, leading to potential fluctuations in streaming quality. So often if you are out of reach of a wired connection you may also be in a poor 4G area.
  1. Security Concerns:
  • Using public 4G networks may pose security risks, and additional measures may be required to secure the livestream and protect sensitive information.
  1. Equipment Costs:
  • Initial costs for purchasing a 4G router and associated equipment may be higher compared to traditional wired setups.
  1. Dependence on Cellular Coverage:
  • Livestream quality is contingent on the availability and strength of the cellular signal, which may be challenging in some locations.

In conclusion, like with most things it depends on the circumstances. If you are a rural church with no internet connection then yes 4G streaming could be the answer for you. But a good wired connection is always the gold standard. Another alternative might be a microwave link to a building which has a wired broadband connection. For example there may be a church office in a building that has a good connection. If there is line of sight between this and the church, even if it is up to 1Km away a low cost microwave link can bring high speed connectivity to the door.

Both projection systems and multiple screens have their advantages and disadvantages. Here are some pros and cons of each:

Projection Systems: 

Pros:

  1. Large Screen Size: Projectors can display images and videos on a much larger scale compared to individual screens, making them ideal for creating immersive experiences in home theatres, classrooms, or conference rooms.
  1. Portability: Projectors are generally more portable than multiple screens. They can be easily moved from one location to another, allowing for flexibility in different settings.
  1. Cost-Effective: Projectors can be more cost-effective when it comes to large-scale displays. Instead of purchasing multiple individual screens, a single projector can cover a large area.
  1. Space Saving: Since projectors don't require physical screens, they can save space in small rooms or areas where mounting multiple screens might be challenging.

Cons:

  1. Ambient Light Interference: Projected images can be affected by ambient light, which may reduce the overall image quality, especially in bright environments. A dedicated projection room or proper light control is often necessary for optimal performance.
  1. Image Quality: While modern projectors can produce impressive image quality, they may not match the pixel density and sharpness of individual high-resolution screens.
  1. Limited Viewing Angles: Projectors typically have a limited viewing angle, meaning the image quality and clarity can diminish when viewed from extreme angles.
  1. Maintenance: Projectors require periodic maintenance, such as lamp replacements and cleaning, to ensure consistent performance.

Multiple Screens: 

Pros:

  1. High Image Quality: Individual screens can provide higher pixel density, better contrast ratios, and more accurate colours compared to projectors, resulting in superior image quality.
  1. Flexibility: Multiple screens offer more flexibility in terms of displaying different content simultaneously or arranging them in various configurations. They are well-suited for multitasking, gaming, or applications that require displaying multiple sources at once.
  1. Better Viewing Angles: Each screen can offer a wide viewing angle, ensuring consistent image quality from different positions in a room.
  1. No Ambient Light Interference: Unlike projectors, individual screens are not as susceptible to ambient light interference, allowing for better visibility in brightly lit environments.

Cons:

  1. Cost: Purchasing and setting up multiple screens can be more expensive than a single projector, especially when considering the cost of separate display units, cables, and mounting solutions.
  1. Space Requirements: Multiple screens require more physical space compared to a single projector, which may not be feasible in small rooms or constrained environments.
  1. Installation Complexity: Mounting and aligning multiple screens can be more complex and time-consuming, requiring precise measurements, cable management, and configuration.
  1. Limited Screen Size: While it's possible to create large displays with multiple screens, achieving extremely large sizes can be more challenging and costly compared to projection systems.

Conclusion:

When deciding between projection systems and multiple screens, consider four important factors: specific requirements, available space, budget, and desired visual experience. By understanding these elements, you can choose the option that best fits your needs. Take into account the purpose of the system, the physical area available, your financial limits, and the kind of visual impact you want to create. A well-thought-out decision can lead to an effective and cost-efficient solution that maximizes the overall value of your chosen display setup.

Introduction:

Creating a memorable and spiritually uplifting church service involves more than just powerful sermons and heartfelt worship; it also requires support from a reliable and well-designed audio-visual (AV) system. Selecting the right AV system for your church is crucial to ensure that every member of the congregation can fully engage with the message and worship experience. In this article, we will explore key considerations and recommendations to help you choose the best AV system for your church service.

Assessing Church Size and Layout:

  • The first step in selecting an AV system is understanding the size and layout of your church. Larger spaces may require more powerful audio systems and additional display screens to ensure that everyone can see and hear clearly. Consider the acoustics of the space and any unique architectural features that may impact sound distribution.

Audio System Components:

a. Microphones: Invest in high-quality microphones for pastors, worship leaders, and musicians. Consider both wired and wireless options based on the church's needs. Remember a wired microphone will always be more reliable and cost effective than wireless.

b. Mixing Console: A user-friendly mixing console is essential for balancing and adjusting audio levels. Look for a console with sufficient channels for all instruments and microphones.

But overall look for a console that your users will feel confident and comfortable operating.

c. Speakers: Choose speakers that match the size and aesthetics of your church. They are the one part of the audio system that is always on display so they mustn’t dominate visually. Ultimately there may be a trade-off between looks and performance, some congregations will be happier than others sacrificing one for the other.

Visual Display:

a. Projectors and Screens: Select high-resolution projectors and screens for displaying lyrics, announcements, and multimedia content. HD resolution is good to have but not essential, widescreen format is essential as all content is this shape. However, 4K resolution is fairly pointless as most viewers will be too far from a screen to see the difference.

Consider the size and placement of screens to maximise visibility for the congregation. Sometimes there are several options for this, especially old buildings there may seem to be no obvious option, that's where a specialist church installer will have experience and solutions to offer.

b. Cameras: If your church would like to broadcast services online, Quality cameras will provide better long-term value for money and greatly increase low-light performance over basic webcams for live streaming. As control and operation of cameras and streaming equipment can be a lot more complicated than using say a laptop or phone to stream, finding a supplier who has experience working with churches will always produce a simpler-to-use system tailored to your needs.

Lighting:

a. Stage Lighting: Enhance the worship experience with well-designed stage lighting. Consider intelligent lighting systems that can be programmed to create dynamic atmospheres during different parts of the service. These can be programmed to allow push-button recall of lighting scenes enabling anyone to operate the system. Stage lighting can also improve the quality of your streaming output as most cameras perform better with higher light levels.

b. House Lighting: Ensure proper ambient lighting for the congregation, allowing them to read hymnals or follow along with scriptures without straining their eyes. A specialist church lighting designer will understand the unique requirements of lighting older buildings sympathetically.

Integration and Control:

Choose an AV system that allows seamless integration and control. This includes the ability to control audio, video, and lighting from a central location, making it easy for operators to manage the entire system during services. This may now include wireless operation from a tablet allowing control from the minister if operating solo.

Budget Considerations:

While it's crucial to invest in quality AV equipment, it's equally important to stay within budget. A professional church AV contractor will help you prioritise essential components and explore cost-effective options without compromising on performance.

Conclusion:

Selecting the best AV system for your church service requires careful consideration of your church's size, layout, and specific needs. By investing in high-quality audio, visual, and lighting equipment, you can create an immersive and spiritually enriching experience for your congregation, fostering a deeper connection with the message and worship. Two key components of this are 1. Selecting a provider who has a proven track record in the church sector and 2. Good communication between the church and contractor ensures that the project is delivered to your expectations and the operational capabilities of your team.

In the world of projectors, understanding the term "projector throw" is essential for achieving the optimal display in your desired setting. The projector throw refers to the distance between the projector and the screen, and it plays a pivotal role in determining the size and clarity of the projected image. As you venture into the realm of projection systems, you may encounter the need to purchase a lens separately, leading to the question: What is a projector throw, and why does it necessitate a separate lens purchase?

Projector Throw: The Basics

Projector throw is essentially the distance required for a projector to cast a particular image size onto a screen. It is measured in feet or meters and is a critical factor in determining how far or near the projector needs to be positioned for an optimal display. Projector throw ratios express this relationship by indicating the amount of throw distance required to achieve a specific image width.

Throw Ratio = Throw Distance / Image Width

For example, a projector with a throw ratio of 2:1 means that for every 2 feet (or meters) of throw distance, the projected image will be 1 foot (or meter) wide.

The Need for Separate Lens Purchases

Now, the reason why projector throws often lead to separate lens purchases lies in the diverse requirements of different installation scenarios and the flexibility needed to achieve the best projection outcomes.

1. Customization for Varied Throw Distances:

Different venues present different spatial challenges. Some environments may have limitations on how far you can place the projector from the screen, while others may allow for more flexibility. By offering separate lenses, projector manufacturers empower users to customise the throw distance according to their unique needs.

2. Lens Options for Installation Versatility:

Standard lenses that come with projectors are designed to meet common throw ratio needs, for example most are 2:1 or less. However, for users seeking more versatile installations or dealing with physical placement constraints, additional lens options become necessary. Separate lenses, such as short-throw or long-throw lenses, provide the flexibility to adjust the projector's position without compromising on image size.

3. Specialized Applications and Features:

In specific applications, such as large auditoriums or immersive museum displays, precise control over throw distance is crucial. Separate lenses may offer advanced features like motorized zoom, focus, and lens shift, allowing for seamless adjustments without physically moving the projector.

What We Consider When Choosing a Lens

When faced with the decision to purchase a lens separately, several considerations come into play:

1. Compatibility:

Ensure that the lens is compatible with the throw ratio requirements of your specific projector model. This information is typically provided in the projector's specifications.

2. Installation Constraints:

Consider the venue and installation constraints. A short-throw lens may be suitable for confined spaces, while a long-throw lens may be necessary for larger auditoriums.

3. Image Size and Quality:

Different lenses can impact image size and quality. Choose a lens that aligns with your preferences for brightness, clarity, and the desired size of the projected image.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the concept of projector throw is fundamental to achieving an optimal projection experience. While it may require an additional investment, purchasing a lens separately provides the adaptability needed for diverse installation scenarios, ensuring that your projection system is tailored to the unique demands of your environment. Before making a purchase, carefully review the projector's specifications, consider your venue's characteristics, and choose the right lens to unlock the full potential of your projection setup.

Many projector manufacturers have a ‘lens calculator’ on their website making simple the task of selecting the right lens.

Usually, when a screen or projector is installed it will come with a remote in the box that can be used to turn the projector on or put the screen up and down, but these can be easily misplaced, leaving you with no way to easily control those devices. Therefore, we usually recommend a wall-mounted control panel, meaning that you can leave the remote controls locked away safely.

One particular product we use a lot is a small wall-mounted panel that takes away the need for remote controls, by becoming a central controller for the visual system. These controllers come in a range of sizes to suit the size of the system and some have additional features such as volume controls which can be programmed to control background music volume, for example. Ultimately, you still need to keep the remote controls handy as a backup - better to have them and not need them, as the saying goes.

Why is it better than lots of remotes?

  • Centralised Control: These controllers allow for centralised control of multiple AV components, including projectors and input selection from a single point. This simplifies operation and reduces the need for multiple remote controls.
  • Making life easy: Wall controllers can automate various functions, such as turning on or off the projector, adjusting brightness and volume, and selecting input sources. This streamlines the setup process and enhances user experience. In other words, it makes controlling your AV system much easier, and that is always a good thing.
  • Integration: The wall control panels we use are designed to integrate with various AV and automation systems, making them compatible with a wide range of equipment. This means they are useful in all sorts of installations.
  • User-Friendly: This is especially important in environments where multiple groups of people will be using the system, such as village halls or education installations. Each button function can be labelled accordingly, making the process of operating the system self-explanatory.

But what if I really like remote controls?

There are not many people who feel that way, but we want to be inclusive, so if you do love lots of remote controls, here are some reasons why you might want to stick with them over a control panel.

  • Cost: High-quality controllers can be relatively expensive, particularly when factoring in installation and programming costs. This cost may not be justifiable for smaller or budget-conscious setups.
  • Complexity: Setting up and programming SY controllers can be complex and time-consuming. It often requires specialized knowledge and expertise, so unless you are tech-savvy, you will need to call in the professionals.
  • Compatibility: While SY controllers are designed to work with a wide range of AV equipment, compatibility issues can still arise, especially with older or non-standard devices.
  • They can go wrong: SY controllers rely on technology, which can sometimes fail or experience glitches. They also rely on power supplies, which can get damaged by power surges or simply overheat due to age. When technical issues occur, they can disrupt presentations or events until resolved.
  • Maintenance: Regular maintenance and updates may be required to ensure that the SY controller and associated equipment function smoothly. This can lead to ongoing costs and potential downtime during maintenance activities.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, wall-mounted AV controllers are user-friendly, simplify control of equipment and will bring all system control to one central location. While you still need to keep the remotes safe, you will not need to juggle them to turn your system on, but instead walk over to one point and within 2 buttons, the projector or screens will be on and the input source selected.

In today's digital age, video content has become an integral part of our lives, with 72 hours of video being uploaded to YouTube every 60 seconds. When we want to connect our laptop to a display, we will usually use an HDMI cable.

While HDMI offers exceptional quality and convenience, it does come with limitations, especially when it comes to running long cables in places like churches. In this blog post, we will explore what HDMI is, its advantages and the reasons why running a long HDMI cable the length of a church is a bad idea.

What is HDMI?

HDMI, which stands for High-Definition Multimedia Interface, is a standard for transmitting high-definition audio and video signals between compatible devices. It was introduced in 2003 as a replacement for older analogue video standards like VGA and component video. HDMI cables and ports are commonly found throughout the video market. Televisions, computer monitors, gaming consoles, Blu-ray players, and projectors. In fact, almost all modern video devices now come with an HDMI connection as standard, especially now that Apple has decided to re-introduce them for the latest generation of their laptops (goodbye USB-C adapter!).

So, what are the advantages of HDMI?

Before delving into the limitations of long HDMI cable runs, let's first understand the advantages that HDMI offers:

1. High-Quality Audio and Video: HDMI provides an all-digital connection, ensuring that both audio and video signals are transmitted in their highest quality without any loss of signal quality. With the ever-increasing quality of video equipment, HDMI cables are now rated up to 8K resolution, which is really, really good quality video.

2. Single-Cable Solution: HDMI consolidates multiple audio and video cables into a single cable, simplifying connections and reducing cable clutter.

3. Compatibility: HDMI is a universal standard used by a wide range of consumer electronics, making it easy to connect devices from different manufacturers.

4. Cost: Because HDMI is so widely used throughout the world of modern video, you are able to buy short high-quality cables for a very reasonable price.

Why Can't You Run a Long HDMI Cable in a Church?

While HDMI is undoubtedly a versatile and powerful technology, it has limitations when it comes to long cable runs in larger spaces like churches. Here are some key reasons why running a long HDMI cable the length of a church can be problematic:

1. Signal Degradation: HDMI signals can degrade over long cable lengths. The longer the cable, the more the signal quality may deteriorate, resulting in issues such as pixelation, audio dropouts, or complete signal loss.

2. Cable Quality Matters: Not all HDMI cables are created equal. High-quality HDMI cables are designed to maintain signal integrity over longer distances, but using low-quality or excessively long cables can exacerbate signal degradation issues.

3. HDMI Versions: HDMI standards have evolved over the years, with newer versions offering better support for longer cable runs. Using an outdated HDMI version may limit the distance the signal can travel without degradation.

4. Need for Signal Boosters: In larger spaces like churches, signal boosters or extenders may be required to maintain signal quality over long distances. These are often built into longer-length HDMI cables, but the large 'bullet' shape makes it difficult to hide in trunking.

5. Cost and Aesthetics: Running a long HDMI cable the length of a church can be costly, both in terms of cable and equipment expenses. Additionally, managing and concealing such a long cable can be aesthetically challenging.

Alternative Solutions:

To overcome the limitations of long HDMI cable runs, churches and similar venues often employ alternative solutions, including:

1. Wireless HDMI: Using wireless HDMI transmitters and receivers can eliminate the need for long cables and minimise signal degradation issues. But they need to have a clear line of site otherwise they don't work correctly, and the professional-quality systems are more expensive than a cabled solution.

2. HDMI over Cat5/6: HDMI signals can be extended over long distances using Cat5e or Cat6 network cables in conjunction with HDMI extenders. These have a distance limit of 70m with standard equipment but can allow for a signal to be carried over 100m with the right extenders.

3. Active HDMI: It is possible to run HDMI cables over longer distances, but these have an active element which boosts the signal at each end, so often require power. They sometimes have a booster in the middle to ensure that the signal strength is maintained, but although this works, it is hard to hide this in trunking or when cabling has been surface-mounted.

4. Optical HDMI: Much like the active HDMI cables, optical cables are made of a different material which means an HDMI signal can be sent over very long distances at a very high quality. These cables are often thinner than normal HDMI cables and do not have a booster, but this all comes at a very hefty price.

Conclusion:

HDMI technology has revolutionised the way we connect and transmit audio and video signals in the digital age. However, running a long HDMI cable the length of a church presents significant challenges due to signal degradation and other factors. To ensure reliable audio and video transmission in such environments, it's essential to consider alternative solutions like wireless HDMI or HDMI over Cat5/6 depending on the specific needs and budget of the church. These solutions can help maintain the quality and integrity of the multimedia experience in houses of worship and other large venues.

Why not keep reading about HDMI and how it can be used in streaming here?

LED Laser projectors have been with us for some time with most major manufacturers firmly embracing laser technology at both the install and portable ends of the market. However, you may be unsure as to what having a laser projector really means; we’re here to help you understand.

As you have probably already guessed, the answer is no, but it is still very clever! In simple terms, in a laser projector, the traditional lamp has been replaced by a bright white laser LED source. With a lamp, the light from the lamp that creates the bright white illumination travels through LCD panels to create the image. This means that the actual image is created the same way in both types, but the light source is the key difference. A 5000-lumen lamp projector and a 5000-lumen laser projector will have the same brightness and look almost identical on the screen.

So why do we need laser projectors? Lamps have several downsides:
  1. They contain mercury, a metal which is dangerous if released into the environment.
  2. Lamps are much less energy efficient, producing a good deal of heat as well as light.
  3. Lamps have a much shorter lifespan, typically 10x less than a laser equivalent and have a lower average light output in long-term use.
  4. Lamped projectors require lamp changes and servicing whereas laser units are designed to be almost maintenance-free.
So what are the deciding factors now when choosing laser over lamped units?

Currently, there is still a considerable percentage difference in the cost of laser above lamps within all levels of the market, typically adding 30% to the purchase price.  Although in some market areas laser is fast becoming the only option. Some situations will also be more suited to laser, as we will come on to in a minute.

A diagram showing the inner-workings of a projector.

So the decision you make depends on your usage pattern:

If you are running the projector every day for several hours you are going to be replacing lamps on a regular basis (possibly every 18 months). So the total cost of ownership is going to be heavily influenced by the cost of lamps, and possibly by the additional cost of access and installation of the lamps if your projector is sited at a high level. Using a laser-based product in these circumstances would definitely be a good idea if you can stand the initial purchase cost.

For those with less demanding usage requirements, the decision is slightly harder, as in many cases, such as churches where use can be confined to a few hours a week, the original lamp may well be the only one in the life of the projector. With technology and resolutions moving so fast, many customers prefer to change the projector rather than fit an expensive lamp in an out-of-warranty unit. However, this is not good from an environmental perspective.

However, where this equation changes is in a situation where the projector is mounted in a location that is difficult or expensive to access safely.  If you have to factor in the cost of two technicians and a scaffold tower or powered lift, then a laser unit with 10,000+ hours of laser life and long-life or filterless design becomes very attractive.

Add to this the advantage of laser technology that overcomes the traditional lamp issue of rapid reduction in light output after around 50% of lamp hours, and the declining cost of laser projectors, laser becomes an attractive alternative.

Some projector brands are already saying that in two years they will not be selling a lamped projector in the UK, having replaced all of their product with laser alternatives.

To discuss how APi Sound and Visual could assist your church with a laser projector, please call us on 0845 5578350 or contact us online.

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