Peer review - Analog Way Tetra Vio

Reviewed by Steve Montgomery, Director of New Media Image, a UK-based integration firm, Analog Way's multipurpose scaling tool is put through its paces.

What is it for?

In a live show situation and faced with a need to handle a wide range of differing inputs an engineer’s role is to connect, switch and display everything to whatever display device is being used. The Tetra Vio solves immediate and most pressing problems by providing six fully integrated functions in a single unit. It is a scan converter, scaler, standard converter with TBC, audio de/embedder, switcher and interface all in one.

What we liked about it.

On top of the six primary features, the Tetra Vio offers many additional features including a 500% zoom, user programmable EDID, remote control over RS232 and GUI, together with TCP/IP control for network access. It has a comprehensive set of inputs and outputs; catering for all common formats and connectors, making it compatible with the every possible feed and eliminating the need to cross-convert outside the unit for compatibility with other devices up or down the chain.

It is a piece of ruggedised electronic equipment, manufactured to a level of sturdiness and strength that will survive years of service on the road. Easily mounted in a standard 19” rack through support holes cut into the front panel rather than attached at the side: once installed it will stay there.

Universal equipment such as this is often difficult to set up and control, particularly in the heat of the moment. Not so with the Tetra Vio. Front panel push button controls allow immediate selection between the four banks of inputs; input AUX, on the front panel and input 1, on the rear, are for computer or analogue signals, input 2 for DVI-I and input 3 for SD/HDSDI. Every input has a corresponding loopout connector, again providing the benefit that signals can be drawn taken from a feed without the need for ancillary distribution amplifiers. Genlock and additional audio inputs are also provided for on the jam-packed back panel.

An extensive set of output connectors ensures connection to every device that may be proffered. Covering all analogue SD and HD formats, DVI-I and SDI/HDSDI, together with analogue and SPDIF audio outputs for audio de/embedding.

All appropriate inputs and outputs operate equally at 50Hz and 60Hz, allowing transparent operation with any input or output device and standards conversion between the two formats. In addition, an internally-generated test pattern grid allows the output to be moved and aligned with a display to ensure all picture information is received and a full set of test screens, including colour bars, burst, grey scale remove the need for yet another piece of external equipment.

What would we change?

In a device as comprehensive and flexible as this, nothing of note. To really nit-pick, superficial items like the menu select knob, which is the only part extending from the front panel, could easily be knocked and damaged and might be recessed; and without live sources on one or two inputs there was a second or two’s delay on the lights illuminating the selected input as they were changed. I told you it was nit-picking!

In use.

Basic operation of the device calls for input and output setting using a straightforward menu tree, operated from front panel controls on a clear and readable display. Current status of the device: input and output formats are shown when the device is switched on.

The control menu is easily accessed and manipulated from a set of three knobs/buttons alongside the display and the first levels of the menu tree are obvious and intuitive, allowing input and output configuration, image characteristic adjustment of aspect ratio, colour, brightness, gamma etc, audio set up and device configuration for networking and housekeeping type parameters. In a busy and hectic live environment equipment control needs to be intuitive. This device is. Reading the manual is not necessary in order to set up the inputs and outputs and configure it for immediate operation.

Is it recommended?

Unreservedly yes. Ease of operation, functionality, picture quality is outstanding. More than that, as well as solving the “how do I get this source onto that screen?” problem, it provides a unique bridge between the worlds of professional AV and broadcast domains.

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