Multifunction tools—where would we be without them? MacGyver would still be stuck in a third-world prison, and if you work in production, you would more than likely be stuck carrying a ton of extra tools. For those who have to manipulate images for a living, Analog Way offers Tetra-VIO™, an AV switcher/converter/interface with three universal inputs and one SD/HD-SDI input. Universal outputs include computer and TV-HDTV outputs (SDI, RGB, YUV, DVI, S-video, and composite). The versatile universal device provides six functions: scan converter, scaler, standard converter with time base correction (TBC), audio de-embedder, switcher, and interface. It’s useful in solving signal compatibility issues at the last minute and provides flexibility for complex installations. In addition to being a multi-format converter, it is an audio/video switcher offering many features, such as a 500% zoom, a user-programmable EDID (extended display identification data) for DVI input, and more.

What It Does
“Tetra-VIO stands for four—‘tetra’ in Greek—versatile inputs/output,” says Ludovic Mellot, Analog Way Inc. vice president. “It is the ultimate AV problem solver that will enable you to switch and convert any signal to any signal, such as low resolution to high resolution, analog to digital, SD to HD, interlaced to progressive...and vice versa. It is like having six products in a 19" 1U rack space. It also comes with great features such as genlock, logo insertion, A/D audio, powerful zoom, customizable output, and user-programmable EDID. The technology used in this device benefits from Analog Way’s renowned proprietary conversion algorithms.”

The unit can convert any high resolution up to 2K, which is useful for applications requiring non-standard resolutions such as LED walls. It is now high-bandwidth digital content protection (HDCP) compatible, accepting a large range of formats, from computer to video and HDTV, in analog or digital format, and it provides a range of connectors: BNC, HD15, DVI, mini DIN4, Cinch, RCA. The output provides the same diversity of formats and the same type of signals and connectors. Each of the three universal inputs features an active loop-through (monitoring) for easy control of the sources.

Equipped with an analog genlock input with an active loop-through, the Tetra-VIO offers a choice between SDTV black burst and black HD-YUV. It allows genlocking of HDTV output signal on an SDTV black burst. User phase adjustments are available. It supports numerous input and output formats and signal types, such as HDTV, SDTV, and computer up to 2048x1080RB and 1600x1200 @60Hz in both analog RGB and DVI.

The same format is available simultaneously on different outputs. For example, computer formats are delivered in RGB and in DVI-D at the same time, SDTV formats are available in composite, S-video, YUV and SDI, etc. Tetra-VIO features four analog audio stereo-in and one stereo-out and also one digital SPDIF (Sony/Philips Digital Interface) audio-in/out. It allows embedding analog and SPDIF digital audio stereo signal into SD/HD-SDI with A/V delay compensation. It also extracts and outputs SPDIF digital audio stereo signal from the SD/HD-SDI embedded stream.

The system also offers true 10-bit video path processing with automatic 3:2 and 2:2 pull-down circuitry; de-interlaced SD and HD TV format; auto-adaptive pixel-per-pixel level motion compensation; auto-centering; time base corrector; frame rate converter and follower; and multilevel anti-flicker.

The image adjustments and device setup are recorded in a non-volatile memory. The standard RS232 connection and GUI allow full remote control of the device and upgrade capability to maintain the value of equipment over time. Optional RJ45 is available for TCP/IP control.

With six functions in one, this universal device is appropriate for the rental and staging environment. “Since this one product covers many requirements, its ROI is very fast,” says Mellot. “Tetra-VIO is also used in postproduction, in studios, or in mobile broadcast units, since it delivers a broadcast-quality signal. Finally, it proves to be a useful tool for high-grade and complex installations involving various AV equipment, and thus, where numerous different signals are used.”

How It Came To Be And What’s Next
“Analog Way gained its popularity developing solutions to bridge the gap between the computer and the video world,” says Mellot. “From there, popular demand pushed us to design a toolbox that would do it all and that would be compatible with rapidly evolving technologies. Our R&D department designed a powerful device on steroids.”

As to future development plans, Mellot says optimistically that “hopefully this product is future-proof. It already processes inputs up to 2K and handles HDCP.”

What End-Users Have To Say
Andrew Gumper, president of Ronkonkoma, NY-based AG Light and Sound Inc., explains that he was looking for an alternative to other products and a company that was “easy to deal with and acts on our suggestions for product advancement.” Gumper likes the unit’s networking capability and remote configuration settings. “Analog Way has taken all of our input and implemented it into the current software version, and the company has created a custom version for us to accomplish some specialized projects we have done. It’s a wonderful device.”

Peter Daniel, the Pete of Pete’s Big TVs became a fan of the Tetra-VIO unit through his image processing needs. “I had been using a competitive product, and there were a couple of options in the Tetra-VIO that I liked better,” he says. “The scalers are newer, so I think that they do the job a bit better. What I do is LED screens, so we are always taking an image and reducing it in size. There are only a handful of times where the client will pay for enough diodes to be one to one. We are always crushing the picture by some percentage, sometimes huge and sometimes not that much.”

Daniel also likes the fact that, for a Bruce Springsteen project, they were used to loop the high-definition inputs, “so we didn’t need additional hi-def DAs in the rack. We used three of the Tetra-VIOs,” he says. “The Bruce screen is the exception to the rule. It was actually more pixels than hi-def, so we sent the original image to three Tetra-VIOs and then blew the picture up a little bit. It was over 1,080 lines.” Daniel also feels that the pricing of the unit is right and likes that “you can use not only an external signal running to the genlock input as genlock, but you can also assign any of the inputs as your thing to lock to. That is a really cool feature. We use that a lot, and it saves you running a whole black burst through all of the racks, when you can just tell the Tetra-VIOs to lock to their input signals.”

For further information, visit the Analog Way website.

Michael S. Eddy runs Eddy Marketing & Consulting, which handles marketing, media relations, and events for a range of entertainment technology companies. He also freelances as a writer on design and technology and can be reached at michael@eddymarketing.com.