Microsoft Surface Event

Microsoft visited the Technology Engagement Center (TEC) on Duke’s campus to showcase their Microsoft Surface line of touch devices. From its humble beginnings in 2012, the touch-focused Surface line of portable computers from Microsoft has matured and expanded to include five unique hardware variations. The Surface Pro, Surface Book, and Surface Laptop are meant to provide three flavors of mobile computing for Windows users. While rather similar, the core differences between the three devices are power consumption, weight, screen size, and keyboard flexibility. If you want an iPad-like tablet that runs the full version of Windows 10 and has a portable keyboard and pen option, you’ll want to look at the Surface Pro. On the other hand, if you simply want a traditional laptop with built-in touch capabilities, keep your eye on the Surface Laptop. The Surface Book falls somewhere in the middle of the three devices in terms of a detachable keyboard, power consumption, etc. From a classroom technology standpoint, these devices are ideal for annotating PowerPoint slides, graphing, and note taking, while connected to the local AV system.

The Microsoft Surface Studio is meant to replace a traditional desktop computer, but adds an articulating 28” touch-screen monitor that is simply a joy to use as both a traditional monitor and as a drawing surface. Sure, it’s still a desktop computer, but it’s clear Microsoft has considered many alternative ways that educators, artists, and designers could use the touch-driven device to convey information. With minimal latency and a top down approach to hardware/operating system/software integration, the drawing capabilities are the best I’ve seen, seeming very natural to use. This is the first device where I’ve thought, “I hardly notice the technology” when annotating on top of a PowerPoint. With a few Schools deploying Surface Studios for the fall semester, I’ll be curious to see how they are received.

The final Surface device, not showcased at the TEC due to size/weight limitations, was the Microsoft Surface Hub. With wall and cart mounting options, the Microsoft Surface Hub comes in two sizes (84” and 55”) and seems to be an even larger version of the Surface Studio, but with a focus on collaborative meeting spaces. The DDMC is planning to take a trip to Microsoft’s offices in Raleigh this summer to see one in action.

4K? Meh. HDR TVs Are Coming.

I was intrigued by a recent article on that outlines innovations in home entertainment technology that are poised to make a big splash in the months ahead. These changes focus around dynamic range–the ability to express a much wider gamut of color information and luminosity than was possible using previous technologies. HDR expands the range between the brightest and the darkest pixels in a TV set, expanding the contrast to look more like film than video. As a result of this, the colors you see will look noticeably richer and deeper.

HDR TV Comparison

HDR technology will first arrive first in the living room, with followups for desktop media and mobile devices poised for arrival later (the article predicts several years for the technology to filter down).

In short, the article argues that 4k TVs aren’t really that big of a deal, and adoption hasn’t been all that great, given that you need to get a really huge TV in order to appreciate the difference between 4k and 1080p. The difference between current standards and HDR, however, is easily apparent.

Unfortunately, the picture is not all roses, as there are a lot of technical standards competing against each other in the implementation of HDR that will fracture the consumer marketplace and force consumers to make choices that necessarily limit their access to content.

For more information you can check out the full article here:

DDMC – Cisco video conferencing demo in RTP – 5/28/15

338305-cisco-logoFor those that couldn’t make it, we had a great demo at Cisco’s briefing center. We got to see a few of Cisco’s latest MX, SX, and DX video conferencing systems. We also got to see a few new web collaboration technologies Cisco has recently released, some of which will be available at Duke later this year. We plan to have a Duke community meeting in August so Duke OIT’s Networking team can give an update on which of the following Cisco technologies will be made available.


Below are links to the various technologies we saw and discussed.

Video conferencing

Web collaboration


Google announces a new HDMI stick called Chromebit


Yesterday, Google announced its new HDMI stick, Chromebit, which will run Google’s Chrome OS.  Basically, it is a mini computer that plugs into a display’s HDMI input.  The device will be availble this summer, and will be sold for under $100.  It will be interesting to see how this compares to Intel’s Compute Stick.  It will also be interesting to see how these devices could be used in classrooms and meeting rooms.  Specs for the Chromebit are below.

  • Rockchip 3288 SoC (quad-core ARM Cortex-A17 processor and ARM Mali 760 quad-core GPU)
  • 2GB of RAM
  • 16GB of eMMC memory
  • USB 2.0 port
  • WiFi 802.11 ac support
  • Bluetooth 4.0

InFocus Mondopad 55″

The InFocus 55′” Mondopad was demo’d on October 25th, 2013 at the Link.   This is an all-in-one Windows 7 based HD touchscreen monitor designed to present, annotate and collaborate with participants in the same room  and globally. The device is currently on display in Group Study 7  located at the Link through November 1st, 2013. (See below for available times.)

Video Conferencing:

You can add a SIP endpoint on the existing conference server or service. Interacts seamlessly with Cisco WebEx, Tandberg and Cisco VTC endpoints as well as Skype.




Mobile Apps:

There are two apps, Mondopad Connect and ControlView, for sharing, viewing, and controlling content from a tablet, PC or smartphone. The ControlView App was demo’d and worked very well. It basically replicates the Mondopad desktop. It gives you full control from that device. This would be great in an academic environment where the instructor is active in the classroom and then wants/allows participation from the students from their own devices via the ControlView App.




Schedule of available times to see it in person:

Today, 10/29 –  2pm to 4pm

Wed,  10/30 – 2pm to 4pm  (Video Conferencing demo w/InFocus rep at 2PM)

Thurs, 10/31 – 2pm to 4pm

Friday, 11/01 – 10am to noon

Duke Digital Signage Service Announcement

A few weeks ago Duke Digital Signage Governance Committee and OIT launched Duke’s Digital Signage service.  Duke’s Digital Signage service is a centrally managed/locally controlled electronic sign and interactive display platform powered by technology from Four Winds Interactive.  The service is available to both Duke University and Duke Medicine.

Please visit the Duke Digital Signage webpage for more information about the service.  If you are interested in participating, please fill out the participation form which can be accessed from this page.

Need a cheap HDMI switcher?

We recently purchased this little guy from for $10.15.  The HDMI switch features 3 inputs and 1 output, and does not require a power source.  It automatically switches inputs when a device is powered up or can be switched manually using a button on it.  The switcher supports all current formats and supports HDCP pass-through.  This unit is so small it can pretty much fit in the palm of your hand.  It could easily be mounted on the back of a display for easy hiding if desired.