The Analog Sunset 2013 – What does it mean to your AV Systems?

Are your AV Systems about to become obsolete?

It’s official.  The Analog Sunset is coming at the end of 2013.  So is this an opportunity to embrace the digital age, improve your organization’s communications systems and enhance your ability to collaborate or a disaster for your existing AV systems?  Depending on your perspective it may be both.  If you do nothing, this change will prove to be a disaster.  If you prepare appropriately, this change will be a big opportunity.

What is the Analog Sunset?  Technically, the Analog Sunset refers to a portion of the Advance Access Content System (AACS) license agreement adopted by content owners and device manufactures to insure copyright protected content, like Hollywood Movies, is not illegally copied and distributed. Non-Technically, the Analog Sunset is the continuing demise of analog connections.  Most notably for AV systems, VGA  and Component Video Connections will no longer be offered on new equipment.   This includes new laptops at the end of 2013.  Wondering if your AV System is Analog or Digital?  Chances are you have an Analog only system, if your system was not installed in the last couple of years.

Sample VGA ConnectionsWhat will happen at the end of 2013?  The biggest impact to AV systems will be the changes made to Laptops manufactured after 2013.  Both of the two main chip manufactures for laptops (Intel and AMD) have announced that after 2013, they will no longer produce laptop PC chipsets with an Analog Video output.  This means starting next year, new laptops will not have a VGA connection.  Some may have already experienced this with Apple Macbooks which have not had analog connectors for several years and require an adapter to be used with an Analog System.  There is also the proliferation of the use of smartphones and tablets to prepare for, as none of those devices have analog capabilities.

Digital AV Connectors

What Connectors are replacing VGA?  There are lots of digital connectors out there (HDMI, DisplayPort, DVI, Mini DisplayPort, Mini HDMI) and the industry is still decided on what will be the standard connector.  The leader right now and best bet to become the digital standard is HDMI.  The good news is that HDMI, DisplayPort, and DVI are all based on the TMDS standard and can easily be adapted from one to another, so HDMI-compatible cables and switchers will handle them all.


What to do?  If you are already planning on upgrading your system or if you are building a new system, your timing is perfect.  Today’s technologies allow the construction of a fully digital routing system with the ability to ingest and convert legacy analog inputs (like VGA, RGBHV, and RGB) to a digital signal.  This type of systems allows you to embrace the latest technology while still accommodating older laptops and devices that will continue to be used for the next few years.  It is truly a best of both worlds solution.  If you have an existing analog only AV system, there are peripheral devices that can be used to convert digital signals to analog that will allow you to extend the life of your analog system.  The only drawback to using Digital to Analog converters is they are not HDCP compliant and you will not be able to run Copyright protected content (Blu-Rays) through your system.  If all you use your system for is to show PowerPoint presentations, you will be able to stretch the useful life of your Analog System much farther.

IMS can help you.  Above is a quick overview of the Analog Sunset and how it may impact your systems.  There are lots of considerations when designing a new Digital System or when adapting an existing Analog System to accommodate Digital Signals.  IMS is the AV Integrator of choice for some of the largest organizations in the world for a reason.  We know all of the right questions to ask and considerations to make.

Please contact us for help future proofing your AV Systems for the Analog Sunset and beyond.

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