Peer review - Extron Digital Design Guide

Extron published its Digital Design Guide in the summer as an aid to installers navigating the tricky transition period between analogue and digital video distribution. Chris Fitzsimmons has read it….

What is it?

Extron’s Digital Design Guide is an 84-page guide to the challenges posed by the transition from analogue to digital video standards. It contains four main sections: A guide to digital video formats and standards, a series of system design examples using both analogue and digital technologies, a condensed catalogue of Extron’s relevant products, and finally a relatively extensive, 11 page glossary of terms and common abbreviations.

Digital discussions

The first quarter of the book contains a detailed set of information about digital video transmission techniques, and is certainly the most useful. It explains something of the origins of the digital video formats, its advantages over analogue distribution and also some of the limitations or pitfalls of the technology.

The guide also enters into some discussion of the need to cater for legacy analogue equipment and the considerations that need to take place when engaging in an upgrade or new project – sources, content, budget, transmission ranges and bandwidth availability for example.

There’s also an excellent explanation of two key features of digital video – EDID and HDCP, the two methods of two-way communication available in the current crop of digital standards.

The section continues with in-depth descriptions of the four main digital standards – DVI, HDMI (including v1.4), Display Port and SDI. It extends to pin layouts, performance information and additional functionality.

System design

The digital system design chapter consists of seven sample designs, which cover a range of applications. These include a boardroom, university lecture theatre, an HD videoconference suite and also an upgrade plan for an existing AV installation.

Each one contains a detailed needs assessment, and system diagram, and whilst they are obviously all designed using Extron solutions, you could of course adapt them to your needs.

Next is the mini-catalogue, which doesn’t really need much explanation, but essentially covers Extron’s digital video product range.

Finally there’s a nice extensive glossary of terms. This covers most of the standards, techniques and jargon relating to both digital video and audio systems.


As with all such publications, the Extron Digital Design Guide treads a narrow line between marketing tool and informative resource. Granted, it does contain around 30-pages of catalogue information and product listings, but there’s still a lot of good stuff in there that makes the guide well worth reading. Also, considering the cost (nothing!) it’s definitely worth a read as a source of useful information. Copies can be obtained directly from Extron.

Download the Digital Design Guide

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