Most schools and educational facilities were built before the advent of modern multimedia technology, and while many have upgraded in order to bring the latest tech into classrooms, it’s often a scattershot effort based on budget concerns and availability. As a result, some rooms in schools may be completely decked out with the latest learning tools, while others might not even have basic connectivity.
The Cisco Systems Edge 340 Digital Media Player allows for an easy and inexpensive deployment that brings both high-definition video and interactive educational applications into classrooms in a unified way. It’s a stand-alone product, with no need for extra desktops — or the security concerns that come along with them.
The Edge 340 is a tiny, 2-pound box that contains all the hardware needed for hosting videos in 1080p resolution. It has both high- and standard-definition video decoding software and works with MPEG 2, VC-1 and MPEG 4 videos. Plus, it supports the display of applications and videos created using Flash.
It can even handle two HD video streams simultaneously without bogging down performance. A teacher in a remote classroom can appear on a live feed talking about a video playing at the same time, for instance. I tested this in conjunction with a telepresence network while also playing an HD feed, and neither video skipped nor buffered. Both maintained at least 32 frames per second.
The Edge can be attached to almost any type of monitor and will adjust the video playback accordingly. It also supports very large displays: I connected the Edge to a 70-inch panel, and the playback looked just as sharp as when viewed on a 24-inch computer display. The Edge recognizes touch interfaces if paired with a compatible monitor, so interactive experiences or even kiosk-type configurations are possible.
Content can be served over a network, from the cloud or off the Internet. It can also be stored locally on the 32 gigabytes of flash memory, or provided to the Edge through the included SD card slot.
Setting up video and interactive experiences inside a classroom can be done with a variety of hardware and software tools. But the Cisco Edge 340 makes this an extremely easy, one-step process for a very reasonable price.
Cisco Edge 340 Digital Media Player
Dimensions: 1.4 x 7.3 x 9.6 inches
Weight: 2 pounds
Memory: 2GB DDR3 SDRAM
Storage: 32GB Flash RAM
Connectivity: SB 2.0, Gigabit Ethernet, audio in/out, HDMI, VGA, serial, infrared