In the race for higher resolution, speed and quality audio technology has been moving from an analog world to pure digital. Although consumer electronics are the main focus of these changes from televisions to Blue Ray Disc players, the ‘analog sunset’ as it is known does have an impact on professional AV. The fact is that many AV systems have Blue Ray Disc players integrated within the design along with computers and laptops which may still have VGA connectors.
The analog sunset is the term used to describe the final transition for digital display technologies to no longer manufacturer devices with analog connectors such as VGA. As more of these newer items enter the marketplace the ability to interface old and new will become more challenging.
By the end of 2013, Blue Ray Disc players will not have analog inputs and as we approach that date it is clear that Pro AV needs to step plans to deal with computer manufacturers who will no longer offer or support these analog connections. Some laptops do not even come equipped with VGA connections and have already moved towards digital standards such as HDMI, DVI or DisplayPort.
Another more subtle issue with the analog sunset is EDID which stands for “extended display identification data.” EDIS allows a digital device to detect the type of display connected and adjust the signal. For example a laptop with a lower resolution screen such as 1280 x 1024 could output a 1920 x 1200 video signal when it is connected to a large external screen display. However if the external display doesn’t send the EDID information the result is a blank screen. Some video drivers require the EDID communication even if connected via VGA.
Existing integrations will need to be evaluated for the opportunity to add cable adapters or to replace components altogether. Adapters that can take any source and convert the signal to HDMI such as C2G Displayport series cables. To be safe, systems should plan on a complete digital transition in the next year as the analog sunset goes into full swing on December 31, 2013. Manufacturers have already announced elimination of VGA connectors and support in 2013 with a few going out as far as 2015. It is safe to assume that by 2014, the transition will be well under way for most.
Although the move from analog to digital has been a known factor for AV integrations, some have been slow to invest time and equipment to start flipping the switch. With the inevitable analog sunset, it would be a smart move to start evaluating systems for the transition. In some cases it can be solved with simple cable replacement and in others it may need new equipment. Whatever the solution, having a plan to start implementation early is important.