Echolab Offers Low-Cost HD Upgrades

Video production switcher vendor Echolab is offering
existing customers of its standard-definition switchers a low-cost upgrade to
HD production.

The offer allows existing customers of Echolab's Nova, Opera
or Overture standard-definition switchers to upgrade to an Echolab Atem, which
is a 1 M/E 3 Gigabits per second 1080/60 production switcher for $14,500.

The deal illustrates a move by vendors to offer
cash-strapped customers a way to move to high def in a tough economic climate. Echolab
senior product manager Ankit Patel estimated that there are well over 500
customers -- mostly churches, schools and rental houses -- who would be
eligible to take advantage of the offer.

"You keep your familiar panel and workflow and simply
replace the chassis," Patel said. "We will reprogram the panel and you get
Atem, which is a really powerful switcher, a fully loaded system [including
installation] for $14,500."

The move also makes it easier to create HD content without
making the transition to a full HD infrastructure, he added.

"They can keep all their existing SD sources and run the
switcher in high def and provide HD outputs," he said. "They don't even have to
worry about monitoring because the multi-viewer is included."

Churches and schools have been less affected by the
recession than broadcasters, but the demand for HD upgrades in those sectors
still remains mixed given their relatively limited budgets, Patel noted.

"They are all looking at high-def and they want to go
HD, but for a lot of them it still comes down to budgets," Patel said. "A lot
of them are doing it in parts. They'll say I'll do the switcher this year and
the cameras next year. The good thing about this is very affordable."