The Court Technology and Trial Presentation Blawg features articles, reviews and news of interest to lawyers and other legal professionals. This blog is published by Ted Brooks, a Trial Presentation and Legal Technology Consultant, Author and Speaker. Ted's trial experience includes the Los Angeles Dodgers divorce trial, People v. Robert Blake murder trial, and a hundreds of high profile, high value and complex civil matters.

All materials © Ted Brooks, unless otherwise indicated.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

HDMI v. VGA: Time to Upgrade?

Although the HDMI video format has been available for several years now, the majority of courtroom trial presentations are still done with VGA cables and equipment in a 4:3 format. For comparison, the diagram below shows common settings with monitor #2 in 16:9 (1920x1080), and monitor #1 in 4:3 (1024x768).

If you’re planning on providing your own projector and associated equipment, you can decide whether to go with something that nearly anyone can connect to (VGA), or with a format that offers a higher resolution (HDMI) with more pixels and a sharper picture. If you’re connecting to an existing courtroom system, you will be using whatever they have available. The majority of “wired” courtrooms have VGA systems, and while newer installations are running HDMI, they are also generally including the VGA option for compatibility reasons. When contacted by courts going through upgrades and new installations, I have encouraged them to include the VGA option to help ensure that everyone can connect.

At the Brobeck firm, we used two “massive” 37” monitors in custom hydraulic scissor-lift cases. In the image below, one of the 37” monitors can be seen in the background. An equally-dated computer system can be seen in the foreground.

Today’s setups look a little nicer, are much easier to move around, and are certainly easier for jurors to view – especially when projected on a 10’ screen.

Many courtroom setups have large flat monitors rather than a projector and screen. This offers excellent image color and contrast, but can be lacking a bit in image size. Plus, it can be helpful to have one “main” point of focus for all, allowing counsel or a witness to use a laser pointer as everyone views the same image.

 Some laptops have a VGA port, some have HDMI, and others have both.


And, some have only USB or DVI ports, which offers a special challenge, often requiring an adapter. Regardless of which you’d prefer to use, make sure that it all works together before showing up in court. The last thing you want in trial is a surprise, realizing you won’t be showing your exhibits or slides.