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The Cat5 PhenomenonThe Final Sayye by Gary Kayye
After two years of writing about how signal distribution via Cat5 cable is on the horizon, its now almost mainstream. In fact, if you havent designed, built and installed a Cat5-based classroom or meeting room by now, youre in the minority.
Crestrons MediaManager is one of the fastest growing products in system history. Extron has now started advertising the simplicity and quality of Cat5 signal distribution of back-cover ad spaces the most expensive ad placement location. Projector and flat-panel manufacturers are designing InfoComm 2005 booths around either wireless projection of Cat5-based projection. If you dont believe its mainstream, youre in denial of a changing AV world.
No, the sales of Cat5 signal cable dont outpace that of RGBHV cable, yet, but it will. Its a matter of time.
So, what is it with this Cat5 phenomenon? Well, lets take a look:
Cost: The obvious value proposition to the customer is cost. In fact, its cheap. Cat5 cable is literally pennies a foot from Home Depot and Radio Shack and even the industrys fancy Cat5 solutions from traditional cable manufacturers like Liberty are as much as 40 times less than that of traditional color-coded coax solutions. So, everyone likes that.
Simplicity: If youve ever crimped or soldered on a BNC connector onto mini-coax cable or youve been tasked with twisting on 64 BNC connectors in the back of an 8 x 8 RGB matrix switcher, you already know the simplicity value of Cat5. Cat5 is easy to terminate. Cat5 is easy to slide in and out of a Cat5 jack. Cat5 is simple to run through conduit. A 1000-foot spool of Cat5 can be carried with one hand. Cat5 is simply easier to work with than the plethora of cable weve historically used in systems applications to route video, audio, mic, control and RGB signals.
Performance: Two years ago, I could not have included performance in a review of Cat5 solutions for ProAV systems. But, now I can. If you havent looked at the latest Cat5 solutions out there from just about every signal routing company, lately, you should. And, of course, as we move toward network-based AV systems, Cat5e is the current signal routing standard using the same basic cable, simple termination.
Cat5 is here to stay and will become the cable of the future until we go wireless?
Gary Kayye, CTS is Chief Visionary at Kayye Consulting, Inc., a Chapel Hill, NC-based marketing consulting firm that serves the ProAV and Home Theater markets. In addition to strategic marketing consulting, Kayye Consulting, Inc. is also a training development company. Gary can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com or through his Web site at www.kayye.com.
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