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PHILIPS LTC 2682/90VIDEO MULTIPLEXER/CONTROLLER

 

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One of the less obvious benefits of digital technology is the comparative ease with which devices and systems can be integrated. In other words more diverse functions can be squeezed into fewer, smaller boxes and usually for less money. This can be a major advantage in video surveillance, which suffers from a surfeit of grey and cream coloured boxes, each dedicated to a separate task but designed to work together as part of a system.

 

The Philips LTC-2682/09 is a neat illustration of the way things are going. It’s the flagship model in a family of products launched under the banner ‘System 4’. This particular device is a highly expandable 16-channel camera switcher and triplex multiplexer with multi-screen display, sophisticated motion sensing alarm functions, camera telemetry and PTZ and VCR control facilities with a PC and printer interface thrown in for good measure. 

 

One of the more obvious dangers of cramming so much into one box is that it could become difficult to install and unwieldy for operators to use but Philips has sought to avoid that particular pitfall with a generally well thought out control system and intuitive interface in the shape of a remote keyboard unit. In fact one keyboard can control up to 30 System 4 units, alternatively, should the need arise each device can be controlled by up to 4 keyboards and with a suitable extension kit these can be located at up to 1.6km from the main unit. Flexibility is also a key feature in the unit’s multiplexing functions, which allows for simultaneous recording, playback and live multi-screen viewing. For the record the display options include full-screen, quad, 5+1, 4+3, 3x3, 8+2 and 12+1.

 

The 2682 is housed in a slim rack-mountable steel case. The quality of construction is admirable, it looks like it’s built to withstand a minor earthquake, and resist the attentions of ham-fisted service engineers, who Philips seem to think will be put off put off poking around inside by no less than 20 small screws holding the lid on! Not that there’s much anyone could do to fix one of these things when you’ve got it open, in the box there’s separate power supply module and a single PCB, smothered in surface mount components and custom chips -- large and small – which, if nothing else, should ensure reliability and a long service life.

 

Back on the outside there is a rather daunting row of 25 buttons across the width of the front panel. Fortunately it’s not as bad as it looks, the 16 buttons on the left side are the camera selectors and VCR controls whilst the buttons on the right side are concerned with image selection, accessing and moving around the menu-driven on-screen displays. The rear panel has two rows of BNC sockets for the camera inputs and loop-through outputs, monitor and VCR connections. There are four mini DIN sockets carrying S-Video/YC video to suitably equipped monitors and a VCR, and three D-Sub sockets for PC and printer communications, camera telemetry and alarm inputs/outputs/VCR control. A pair of US-style phone ‘T’-connectors links the unit to the external keyboard or keyboards.

 

The remote keyboard controller is housed in a compact sloping console dominated by a joystick with a large twist-grip zoom knob. The unit also features an LED camera/mode display, a duplicate set of front panel buttons, plus a handful of extra buttons for controlling additional facilities such as manual focus and iris control, auxiliary functions and programming camera positions (up to 99 presets can be memorised on Philips R/D and AutoDome units).

 

Installation is reasonably straightforward, with the proviso that it covers a lot of ground so there’s plenty to do. Basic configuration is fully automatic and at switch on the system selects video standard (PAL or NTSC) and the number of connected cameras. The rest of the setup is carried out from the on-screen displays, which can be accessed form the front panel or a remote keyboard. The opening menu has two choices, Quick Setup, which covers the main parameters (time/date and VCR basics), and Advanced Setup, which includes everything else.

 

Video recorder synchronisation can be automatic, using VEXT signals (on suitably equipped models) or manual, by type, model or custom settings. Each camera can be assigned a title (1 line of 16 characters), with a choice of text and background effects. The motion detector setup, on the Advanced menu uses a grid of 14 x 16 targets, a ‘walkthrough’ option allows the user to fine-tune zone sensitivity, target size and specify the direction of any movement from or to individual camera ‘zones’.  Alarm actions, logs and display modes are also dealt with on the Advanced menus

 

PERFORMANCE

It is evident that there have been some small but worthwhile improvements in video processing, compared with many current generation mid-range and high-end multiplexers. It’s most apparent in the fluidity of movement and sharpness of the multi-screen displays. Colour fidelity is a notch up on many rival designs in both full screen and multi-screen modes, with better rendition of subtle shades and graduations. Noise levels are very low, in fact there’s no noticeable increase in levels on the output and camera images emerge in virtually the same condition as they went in.

 

Camera PTZ control is a key feature on this model and it is clear from the outset that it works as well as any dedicated devices we’ve tested. Our test rig based around a Philips AutoDome camera, proved to be fast and very responsive. The joystick has a light and treacly smooth action that allows the operator to move easily from small and precise increments to a rapid pan or tilt.

 

SUMMARY

It is possible to have too many eggs in one basket and the 2682 is possibly approaching that point but Philips wisely knew when to stop. As it stands it is a well though out and efficient one-box solution for medium to large-scale installations. Technically it works very well indeed and the only criticism that can be levelled against it is the somewhat narrow range of compatibility when it comes to driving other manufacturer’s PTZ cameras or systems.

 

PRODUCT SPECIFICATION

 

Power supply              230 VAC 50Hz

Weight                        5kg

Dimensions                 440 x 305 x 40mm

 

PSI RATINGS

 

Product                      

Product design             9

Build quality                           9

Ruggedness                            8

 

Operation                  

General functions                     9

CCTV functions                     9         

Ease of use                             8

Instructions                            8

Manuf. support                        8         

Performance                           9

Video quality                          9

 

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Ó R. Maybury 2000 0310

 


 

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