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Learning About Atlona’s OmniStream, Firsthand

Imagine a world where you could distribute 4K video, audio, and control over a standard gigabit network to anywhere. Not just inside a building, but anywhere in the world, with virtually unlimited scalability.

Imagine a world where you could distribute 4K video, audio, and control over a standard gigabit network to anywhere. Not just inside a building, but anywhere in the world, with virtually unlimited scalability. 

Video over IP has existed for years, but only recently has it started breaking into the mainstream, as we saw at this years’ InfoComm, where many manufacturers brought this technology to our attention. It was there that Atlona introduced OmniStream, but last week at its San Jose, CA headquarters is where I took a deeper dive into the product. 

Atlona demo control room Spending two days at Atlona, I now know more about AV over IP than I ever thought possible, and I’ll be the first to admit that I only understand it conceptually. Remember, I’m a sales gal first, not a technician and certainly not an engineer. What Atlona has created in its new Omni product is a virtual matrix, “with several industry-leading capabilities including high-density encoding and decoding, redundant AV networks and streams, secure content distribution, network-error resilience, critical-quality 4K video compression with extremely low latency, and audio distribution via Dante technology.” (That’s a mouthful!) 

In our resi world, we have seen video matrix system here and there, but one would not say they are commonplace. What if you could run the source into a “magic black box” (encoder) then over IP to a switch then back to your (decoder) display with almost no latency and visually lossless compression? Repeat with any source you have. See the potential?

There is more than meets the eye with that concept, but technology like Omni Stream could become a major game changer. Remember, we are talking about 4K, not just HD; this is a big deal. 

AMS (Atlona Management Software) is the essential tool for accessing all capabilities of OmniStream, including AV and control signal routing, system monitoring with instant alerts, and more. 

Let’s say, for example, that there is a room that often hosts company presentations, but there are more employees at the company than can fit in the space. With OmniStream, you can live stream the presentation to overflow rooms with only 0.9ms of delay. After experiencing this for myself, I can tell you that the class was unable to see the difference between the live and streamed feed. Have an audio system built into the room? Omni is also making a Dante audio streaming device. 

One encoder (AT-OMNI-111) can process two HD feeds or one 4K feed (for my tech friends, this is sent 30Hz 4:4:4 or 60Hz at 4:2:0). There is also a dual encoder (AT-OMNI-112) that can push two 4K feeds; I’m told this is an AV industry first. The feed passes through a recommended switch and then to a decoder (AT-OMIN-121 or 122) to the display. There can be major cost effectiveness in this type of solution versus larger chassis with multiple video cards, and it certainly takes up less space. The dual channel can be used as redundancy and “failover,” creating a robust design. This, along with AES-128 encryption, makes Omni an ideal solution for government, financial, and courtroom projects.

We all know the 4K killer is bandwidth. How do you get that lush picture down the pipe without compressing it, or compressing it so the end user cannot tell? Atlona’s answer is VC-2 compression, which is a visually lossless algorithm that was developed by the BBC. Have I mentioned that while watching video on both live and streamed at headquarters, I could see no artifacts or latency?

Mr. and Mrs. Sidorowicz

Atlona’s online training modules for both sales and techs are excellent, with advantages for those who become certified. Of course, these five new products also come with their award-winning 10-year warranty. 

My company has been a big supporter of Atlona for years. It was our first matrix switcher (that still lives today), and we recently finished a sports bar and restaurant with 48 displays fed by only 16 sources, designed and matrixed by Atlona products. When we ran into a glitch (that may or may not have been our fault) Atlona went above and beyond to help us work through to an answer. More than pricing specials and packages, this is what I look for in a long-term company relationship. With the introduction of OmniStream, we can see that Atlona is not just planting its feet solidly on today’s ground, but ready to fly into the future.