Clear-Com at #IBC2018
E-IPA – The Beast
The E-IPA was launched at NAB this year and started to ship only a few weeks ago. This new card plays to all three of Clear-Com’s strengths:
- The Matrix Port Density
- Integrated Wireless
- IP Communications
The release of this card for anyone looking at a new or updating an existing matrix means a reduction on card investment and a maximising on freeing up matrix card slots and increasing frame density.
The E-IPA combines the role of the IVC-32 (IP Communication) and E-Que (Integrated Wireless) cards and reminds us why Clear-Com are the heavyweights in these three strength areas.
Release Details of the new card are:
- Licence model – Clear-Com have acknowledged that a feature license model is the future for any manufacturer. Users only pay for what they need rather than a host of features or in this case ports they do not require. The E-IPA card ships in the following port configurations and can be upgraded by purchasing a license upgrade.
- 16 Ports / 32 Ports / 48 Ports / 64 Ports
- The licensable port counts related to the number of users that can be connected. These include User Panel, FreeSpeak Belt Packs, Agent-IC, LQ Interface, Trunk or Tie-Lines.
- Regardless of the number of ports you have licensed, the card will ALSO support 64 of the new AES67 FreeSpeak IP Antennas. This means you could have 64 FreeSpeak Belt Packs and 64 Antennas on a single card!!!
- Dual LAN connectivity for redundancy on either copper of fibre connectivity. Plus the option to spreading network communication across 4 LAN nics on the rear of the card.
On release the card supports the current G.722 codec that Clear-Com uses in its IVC-32 but the horsepower on this card gives Clear-Com the scope to support higher bandwidth codecs in the future.
Right in time, Clear-Com have come to the party with a card that is SMPTE2110-30 ready.
New Panel Design
Is it a new panel or an update to an existing design? The features on the panel suggest that it should be new, but they have kept the main look of the existing V-Series where with so much going on I think they missed the marketing opportunity to release it as the next gen panel. An interesting point for Clear-Com at this show is the decision to announce and present a product so early on. Planned release for this panel is Jan 2019, what this tells me is that they are coming around to the idea that the customer base wants to know the direction they are heading and acknowledge pressure from the competition.
When this panel is released it will have the following feature enhancements:
- AES67 Compliant.
- New display tech that removes the age-old problem of sun and facility light reflection.
- Multi-coloured OLED with metering functions. Updates to EHX Software allows for functional group IDs to be colour-coded for easy identification. No longer will we rely on vox to indicate signal on the key/port, new meters give users that visual feedback.
- EHX control of a panel. A long-waited feature but this allows EHX users to change the state of a key and hopefully when released, monitor that key.
I have created a new paragraph for this last feature. As dry as it is I think this panel is a forward thinking idea. Clear-Com have allowed other systems such as BNCS, Cerebrum and VSM to control a Clear-Com matrix via its API called HCI rather than doing it all through the EHX program. The new version of EHX and HCI provides facilities with the ability to use an intercom panel as a control panel. At the show they controlled a video router and made cross point assignments to various displays. To conclude my point on forward thinking, for those open to a multifunction tool this offers both cost and space saving options in those projects that require it.
The only hardware release for FreeSpeak is the AES67 IP FreeSpeak Antenna which they launched at NAB this year and is now shipping. The antenna itself supports both copper and fibre connectivity and improves on the maximum of 5 users that its predecessor had. This new IP Antenna will support 10 users and for now is only available in the 1.8-1.9Ghz band and in an EclipseHX matrix.
The rest of Clear-Com’s FreeSpeak news were software features:
- Improved Telemetry:
- Integrated Matrix FreeSpeak– the ability to review the RF data of a belt pack in a timeline. Having spent many years trying to establish why a belt pack dropped out when a user claims it did….or did it😊?
- Standalone FreeSpeak systems will benefit from improved live performance analytics too, button status and level status on each key of a belt pack, text messaging to all belt packs.
- Standalone FreeSpeak Version 1.5 also gives the user the ability to remove the C and D labels from the screen, improving belt pack display presentation.
- Improved RF performance in those facilities that have challenging multipath problems.
Last but not least, Agent-IC Support on Apple Watch. It’s a small extension of the Agent-IC IoS and Android client software and more a nice to have than anything that serves true value to comms system infrastructure. I see this as a more rounding of the feature set than anything that will influence system choices.