MSolutions, a leading supplier of AV test devices and collaboration solutions, has joined forces with Lenovo, a leading IT and computing intelligence innovator, to develop networked collaboration solutions for Lenovo’s Microsoft Teams Room and Zoom Room customers. The alliance pairs MSolutions’ compact USB-C extenders with Lenovo’s ThinkSmart USB portfolio inside meeting and learning spaces to extend USB-C data channels over a single CatX cable infrastructure for up to 333 feet (100m).
Lenovo’s ThinkSmart USB portfolio brings pertinent AV and IT toolsets together required for today’s collaboration requirements, including cameras, audio gear (microphones, speakers) and control equipment. Options range from condensed systems for smaller spaces that benefit from tightly integrated systems, such as an all-in-one video/soundbar, to complete, integrator-friendly room kit solutions that bring together all necessary in-room peripherals for larger spaces.
Lenovo’s ThinkSmart Controller is the one common component across its entire Teams Room and Zoom Room portfolio. The ThinkSmart Controller acts as the central hub for all system configurations, providing users with a tablet-sized touchpanel featuring an interactive display. Its user interface allows meeting coordinators, presenters, and classroom instructors to initiate hybrid events and control AV equipment inside the room, from managing video feeds to raising and reducing sound volume.
There was one problem that Lenovo wanted to solve – a challenge that MSolutions has now addressed through its MS-6U1C extender set.
“The ThinkSmart Controller treats USB-C as a monitor output, which feeds the signal back to the touch-panel. That interactive touch information from the user is then routed back to our computer,” said Mark Whittaker, Smart collaboration technical consultant for Lenovo. “The challenge we faced was about establishing a stable, long-distance USB-C connection with no perceivable delay, and without the need to swap different cable types. MSolutions proved to have the rare solution to address all these needs.”
Adding the MS-6U1C to ThinkSmart installations means that separate cables are no longer required to connect the infrastructure. Prior to working with MSolutions, most ThinkSmart configurations were distance-limited — most cable lengths were under 50 feet — and would often require block repeaters if core computing systems were centralized to an IT closet, for example. The MS-6U1C extender’s robust reliability removes that bulkier cabling infrastructure and ensures that signal integrity is maintained even when peripheral devices are concealed from sight. It also supports RS-232 serial pass-through and bi-directional 12V PoC (Power over Cable) over the same CatX connection.
Whittaker first came across the MS-6U1C at InfoComm in June, where MSolutions CEO Eliran Toren invited him to booth to test the networked solution. “My gut reaction was scepticism that this would work for USB-C extension, which is uncommon and typically not very stable,” said Whittaker. “They came by our booth, plugged in the extender and to my surprise, it just worked. Now, we can reliably extend our touch-panel to our core situated on a rack inside a closet without requiring a big brick in the middle of a USB cable.”
Toren confirms that the MS-6U1C is built to ensure that are is no discernible latency. “This is real-time USB-C extension without compression, and we are talking microseconds of delay which is practically zero,” he said. “That opens the door for use in very latency-sensitive environments, including use within large enterprise and government facilities. And when it comes down to it, our common customers no longer need to run visible cables across the floor.”