We hot seaters have probably seen it all, the perfect Courtroom setup and the patchwork of old government AV equipment being held together with duct tape (I fell a little nostalgic for the NY court system right now). Over the years I have put together a small collection of gear that seems to get me thru most of the courtrooms I enter, there is always the possibility of a larger issue that this collection could not fix but a work around has always been found.
Let me know what wonderful toys, I mean gear you all carry.
VGA and analogue audio systems
3.5 mm Audio gender bender
The ability to extend the reach of the inbuilt audio cable in a courtroom is a must, most courts are setup for presentations to be made from counsel table. Depending on space / team size this may not work well for a trial tech, what can I say we like our own space 😉
The above gender bender does us very little good without the additional cable. I carry numerous sizes of these, from a few inches up to 25 feet they don’t take up much space.
I gave up on expensive headphones when I lost my last set of Bose on a red-eye crossing the country. These smaller earbuds are perfect for creating clips on the fly, I now carry 2 pairs, you know just in case.
On the subject of creating clips on the fly, this little switch has been a life saver. Connect the laptop, earbuds and the court system. With the flick of a switch audio goes to the court or the buds without popping.
VGA gender benders
These have always been worth their weight in gold, saved my ass on numerous occasions. I have used them to extend VGA cables and to change the gender of VGA connection on equipment.
As we know most courts are setup for presentations to be made from counsel table.
I always carry some spare VGA cables. As we move to higher resolutions during presentations be aware that not all VGA cables are created equally. My collection has made 1080p presentation work when the original cables were suffering issues.
Tape is no place to cheap out, too many times I have seen cheap or duct tape used with one of two results. Either it does not stick or it sticks way too well and leaves glue on the floor.
Always remember to remove the tape (holding the end of the cable down) before pulling up the cable, you will thank me later.
I also take my own Monitor, VGA DA, VGA Switch (all tested at the presentation resolution of the Court-Room). I present with dual monitors and redundant laptops.
This section is related to the next generation courtroom, that is to say when the designer had the great idea of only providing HDMI connections. I have not have the misfortune of presenting like this as yet, but I am researching so when the time comes i will be ready.
To say I’m not a fan of HDMI only setups would be an understatement, HDMI is great for the Living Room but it takes away the flexibility of a presentation setup i.e. separate video / audio line feeds. I like my analogue audio switch, i can create and listen to clips etc in court and not have the whole room hear what i am doing.
VGA to HDMI
To enable my dream I cannot use the digital (HDMI) out on my laptops (without an audio extractor and then re-injecting the audio back into the HDMI line), this also lets me use all of my old VGA switches and DA’s (yep we are saving money here)
Enter the VGA to HDMI converter, with Audio. Plug it in and go.
Slow Switching and black screens when using HDMI
When someone decides to add security to a new device a company WILL find a way to get around it, such is the way with HDMI. This little beauty can provide the court system with a continuous EDID (Extended display identification data) this will help to prevent communication issues between the laptops and the court system. I have been using older models (DVI) of this device for years on HTPC’s.
I would like to hear from people who have had experience with Court based HDMI systems, what gear worked or didn’t.
Stuff that just makes life easier
This is my final point, it really didn’t belong anywhere else in this write up.
PSU / Docking Station
You choice, docking station or just extra power supplies, either way it makes packing a breeze.
PowerPoint Remote / Green Laser Pointer
How did I ever live with out this? The remote is amazing and the green pointer actually works…
USB Thumb Drive
How Attorneys like to forget they borrowed these. I always carry numerous, they are so cheap these days. Remember back in 2000 when they cost around $50 and only held 8MB?
And there you have it, my Court-Room Gear-Kit. I would love to hear what others are using, be it for the same reasons or for different challenges that have come up during your career.