Audio-visual entertainment systems and their associated storage media are an area of technology that never seem to keep still, whether it be on the high street or at sea. In recent years we have all seen the rise of highly compressed, digital audio and video signals (MP3 & MP4 files for example) allowing a huge selection of media content to be conveniently stored and transported on a single disc or device than has ever been possible before.
For larger vessels the trend over recent years has been that of a networked, integrated system where movies, music, satellite TV and Internet can be stored and processed by central media servers for distribution to multiple locations around the boat, allowing users to select, view or listen to whatever they wish. Blu-ray is the latest medium for digital video content, replacing DVDs and VHS cassettes. Blu-ray discs have a much larger capacity than DVDs allowing extra features, such as additional movie scenes and bonus material, and more data intensive content required for HD (High Definition) video playback.
HD screens have been around for a while but it is only now the source material (Blu-ray discs, Sky and BBC HD services) is readily available. However, there have been developments with TV/monitor technology over recent months and the future now looks set to be dominated by ultra-slim, energy efficient LED screens.
LED screens utilise Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) to provide the screen backlighting and bring huge benefits with both picture quality and, importantly for marine applications, space, weight and energy savings. Other TV/monitor developments include the use of ‘touch screen’ technology. This allows the user to control all aspects of their onboard digital environment from a single location, including movies, music and charts/navigation software.