Monday, June 17, 2013

The Video Wall

Ours is a less-paper practice at Harding & Associates Family Law.  Everything is converted to digital format.  For the most part if we work on a document, we do so on our computer.  Research is all done electronically.  Much of our practice is handled with software applications.  The days of spreading books and papers all over the desktop are long gone.  The one problem I found with this practice was a when it came to meeting with clients.  In many instances I did not have a piece of paper to show to the client.  Swiveling my computer monitor around so that the client could review a document with me, or look at a Dissomaster screen, or so that we could simultaneously see an internet page just did not work well.  What to do?

I was having a phone chat with my friend Ken Raggio, a family lawyer in Dallas, and he explained that he had recently installed a flat screen television in his office.  He connects it wirelessly to his laptop and then uses it as a jumbo monitor when he meets with clients.  Sounds good, but not a perfect solution for me.  I did not want to have to fire up a laptop, log onto the office network, and then use the laptop and the TV while working with the client. I was also concerned with wireless transmission speeds.  I wanted a big screen that could act as an external monitor for my desktop computer, without any signal lag. Nonetheless, Ken had planted the seed, and the spending began.

The Before Picture
First the location.  The east wall of my office had the most free space, and it was at a 90 degree angle to my desk allowing clients to easily swivel to their left and view.

I called my family electrician (a good guy to have).  In three hours he had hard wired a dedicated plug and a video box.

Next I found a great Samsung Smart, flat screen television.  The Smart designation was important.  Smart TV refers to computer-like features and internet connected technologies that are built into the television, such as web browsing and social networking.  I have always found it sound practice to go with new technologies that can grow in the future rather than buying last year's model, and outgrowing it next year.  The Samsung model that I bought is a Smart TV, and it comes with an abundance of USB, HDMI, and AV ports.  Of course it is designed to connect to a computer.  At 55" there would be no doubt it would be big enough, and easy enough for viewers to see from roughly ten feet away.  At the same time I ordered a flat wall mount.

The hardware arrived a week later.  Hanging the wall mount was a piece of cake.  Did it myself in about thirty minutes.

Next step was to get my IT guy out.  The cable run from my computer to the TV was too long for HDMI.  A USB cable does not work for running a TV as a monitor (at least not the USB 2.0 ports that I have on my computer).  So my IT guy connected the TV to the computer with a CAT5/ethernet cable, an adapter on the TV end and a video card on the computer end.

Then I hooked the TV to the mount, plugged in the cables, and powered her up.  Walked over to the computer, selected the external monitor from the Windows controls and Voila!  We are computing large.  Not only are we computing large, but because of the high def the TV is clearer and sharper than the computer monitors on my desk!

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