VGA>TV Elite lets you take your presentation on the road

by Alan Zisman (c) 1994. First published in Our Computer Player, 18 March, 1994


available from:
EMJ Data Systems
14480 River Road, Unit 120
Richmond, BC, V6V 1L4

(604) 270-9324
(604) 270-7834 fax

So you've got your new presentation graphics program, and you've
produced that slide show... now you've got to actually get people to
watch it. Maybe you're trying to sell your product to a new
client. Or impress your boss. Or a teacher with a too-easily bored

Me, I've got to present a workshop on WINDOWS FOR ABSOLUTE
BEGINNERS in a couple of weeks.

You COULD output it to slides, but that's pretty pricey. Besides,
you don't have the time to send it out.

You COULD print it out on your laser printer, printing to acetates,
and fumble with an overhead projector, but that would leave you
with black and white. And with that or slides, you'd lose those
nice special effects.

You COULD try and run it off a computer at your destination. Here,
too, you've got a couple of obstacles. Does the computer there
have your software? If not, maybe your program lets you produce a
runtime version of the presentation that doesn't need any special
software (Lotus Freelance for Windows lets me get a DOS-based
version that I can run from a floppy disk... though I can't use
the multimedia features that way).

But how will people see it? Should they all try to cluster around
a single 14" computer monitor? That may be workable if your
audience is only one or two, but otherwise, forget it.

Well, how about those overhead projection panels? They connect
onto your vga output, and run into a flat liquid crystal display
that shows what's happening on your computer to a large audience,
via an overhead projector.

Great if you can find one. They're pricy ($1500 and up), and the
ones I've used had pretty washed out colour.

Well, for medium-sized audiences, there's a new alternative, of
which the $549 VGA>TV ELITE is one of the better examples. These
gadgets are small... about the size of a paperback novel. Like a
projection panel, they connect to your VGA output, with a pass-
through so you can re-connect your computer's monitor. Unlike the
projection panels, these let you connect up to a standard-sized TV.

This is handy, as you're far more likely to have access to a
large, 28" or larger TV than to a high-quality overhead panel. The
colours are strong and clear. Unlike some of its competitors, the
Elite will support up to 16.7 million colours on its TV output (at
640x480 resolution).

It's quick and simple to set up, and lets you show up with your
presentation on a laptop, even a monchrome one. As long as it has
a VGA output jack, you can hook it onto this gizmo, and show your
stuff to a roomful of people.

There's a minimal amount of software necessary... in fact, if you'
re running from Windows, you can get by without any software. You
can, if you choose, install a Windows control panel, which lets
you have some control over centering the screen on the TV. If you'
re running a DOS program, you should run a small TSR first...
without it, the picture rolled on the TV I used, though this
stopped as soon as I started Windows. The TSR also gives you the
ability to adjust the picture from DOS.

The Elite comes in two different versions; one supports VGA to
NTSC television, the North American standard. The other version
converts to PAL, the TV standard for much of the rest of the
world. It comes with an AC adapter, and cables allowing you to
connect up to an SVHS input, or an RCA jack. The RCA jack allows
you to hook up to most video recorders, which is an easy way into
your TV, and lets you record your presentation.

The catch? Well, TV is a much lower quality than VGA or super VGA
computer monitors. Even at 640x480 resolution, your output onto a
TV has to be interlaced. Simply put, it flickers.

You can get used to this, and especially if there's a lot of
movement, it's barely noticeable. This is a great gadget for
playing games!

The Elite has a flicker switch in its Windows utility... it helps
some. Still, text screens, particularly at standard DOS screen
output, are difficult to read-- I wouldn't want to use this on my
29" TV, while expecting students at the back of the room to read
my DOS commands.

Most Windows programs let you select a larger font, and for
presentations, using large text, this is not a major concern.

All in all, this is a product that many people will find easily
usable, and quite useful.

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Alan Zisman is a Vancouver educator, writer, and computer specialist. He can be reached at E-mail Alan