I have always struggled with whether a real wireless video system was worth the cost for my schools.
I have sampled equipment in just about every price range. I have found some that worked well in one area but failed in others. I have found some that just don’t work. Recently, I reached out to Rich Greb and the gang at Camera Motion Research to see about using the Connex Mini set up as I prepared for my new building and have a decent budget to do so.
I admit I wasn’t sure what I was getting. I knew the system would be small and simple to use. I checked out the website and also knew that I would be able to cover a ton of space with the set up but what I didn’t know is how much I would like using the Connex Mini system.
First, let’s talk distance. 1600 ft…. five Football fields (endzone to endzone). 4 Major League baseball fields (home plate to center field - given that center field is 400 ft away). ¼ mile. That’s the distance you will have with the Connex Mini. (If you go with the Connex Long Range… Think 2+ miles). Now that I have impressed you with the length of the coverage area, I ask…. When would you EVER need to be over a quarter mile away to get video. (Yes, there are professional examples, but I’m thinking about use in the education realm.) Let’s just say, there isn’t a football, soccer, baseball field or gym in the world that won’t be able to get a great video signal… as long as you have line of site. The photo (right) is a great example of what the Connex can do. We were on top of a press box and if you look to the left of the cheerleaders on the track, that is our field producer standing next to the camera. Ideally, we would have been on the other side of the field but it was our microphone that limited us to that spot and certainly not the video. During pregame, we were on the complete opposite side of the stadium shooting beauty shots.
The Connect Mini transmitter is about the size of a deck of playing cards and with the optional Accent enclosure feels like it is make to do some serious work! That was the first thing I thought, This thing is made for work. In working with a lot of different wireless set ups, I have found that some of the transmitters are not made for the “real world.” The Connex Mini with the Accent Enclosure is ready to take on the world.
The other thing that I was blown away by was the battery life of the Connex Mini. I used the set up for several football games and never had a battery issue. I usually powered up the camera an hour before the game we stayed up through the game and probably 30 minutes after the game and I never had a battery die. The batteries do take a little longer than I thought they would to fully charge but I think it is worth it for the outcome later.
The Connex Mini Receiver is bigger than the transmitter and can use the battery just like the transmitter but you can also use 12v power (which is what I did… no need to test fate with 2 batteries during a live show). The receiver and the transmitter use regular, full size HDMI cables to connect to the camera and the video. I found this to be one of the best aspects of the unit. Too often I have had to purchase specific, consumer grade
cables to work with different equipment.
The only possible downside to the Connex Mini is that it doesn’t transmit audio. That isn’t that big of a deal for me as I am aware that most professional grade wireless systems like this don’t. I like this too because I like that I am not locked into using the camera when I am using a sideline reporter. I like to have my audio and video separated as much as I can. Having the ability to cue audio to hear quality before airing is very important so separating the audio and video is actually a really good thing in my opinion.
Do I think close to $1,800 is a lot to spend on wireless? Yes. Do I think it is absolutely worth it? YES. Do I think that I have found a great solution to a problem we all face? Yes. Do I think that with the right pitch and the right reasoning you, no matter your situation, could fund such an expense? Yes*. The opportunities that having a wireless camera afford you and your program are endless. Imagine those great sideline shots from football or soccer. Baseline shots for basketball. That ever impressive centerfield shot for baseball or softball. The opportunities when it comes to wireless video are endless (well 1600 ft away) and the Connex Mini is your opportunity to take your productions to the next level.
The Connex Mini from Camera Motion Research is by far the most cost effective and best working wireless video solution that I have found. As an educator, you can take your broadcasts to the next level instantly or if you want, don’t run a single cable to your camera. Just plug and go for your main camera and never run a cable (great for basketball gyms). Also, I suggest you buy the optional hard case in order to keep all of the pieces together.
*Find a unique sponsorship opportunity only available if you have the wireless set up. For example, the sponsor will have the only add on the backstop on the baseball field. Everytime you go to the center field camera, which for baseball should be EVERY pitch, your sponsor’s ad is there.
For more information on the Connex Mini and all the fine products from Camera Motion Research, visit their website at Camera Motion Research