Residential Systems and TWICE have announced the winners of their annual Best of Show awards at CEDIA Expo, this year joined by What Hi-Fi?. The products were nominated by the manufacturers and a team of judges was employed to read through the entries and rate the products on a number of criteria, including its value, impact, and how unique it was to the market. On a typical year, the judges would also walk the floor to check out the products in person, but this year is anything but typical, so they had to rely on the submitted entries and any additional information featured in the nominated companies’ CEDIA Expo virtual booths.
Residential Systems entries were judged through the lens of the residential integrator, TWICE based theirs on a consumer electronics retail view, and What Hi-Fi? from the home entertainment enthusiast perspective. [See sidebars below for a listing of TWICE and What Hi-Fi? winners.]
Here are excerpts for the winning entries. Congratulations to all the winners! [To see all the entries for 2020, click here to read the Best of Show at CEDIA Virtual 2020 Program Guide.]
Cleerline SSF 8K UHD HDMI Active Optical Cables
Cleerline SSF 8K Ultra High Definition HDMI Active Optical Cables (AOC) provide the ultimate signal transfer at 48 Gbps. These cables bridge the gap between shorter-distance HDMI installations and longer-distance fiber installations. In longer distance applications, they also reduce needed materials by eliminating the immediate need for HDMI over fiber extenders.
Each cable provides a full suite of features, including support for 4K, 5K, 8K UHD, and up to 10K resolutions, all at 48 Gbps. Cables offer HDR, WCG, eARC (up to 20 meters), ARC (up to 40 meters), and more.
All Cleerline SSF 8K UHD HDMI Active Optical Cables are constructed with four strands of SSF fiber optic glass alongside copper wire, allowing the integrator to run four strands of fiber by installing the HDMI AOC cable. The internal fibers feature SSF Glass, Glass, Polymer construction, creating a fiber that is much more durable and flexible than traditional fiber optic cable. The fiber optic component of these cables also provides increased EMI resistance and lower latency compared to passive copper HDMI cables.
Control4 Neeo Remote
Designed to deliver highly refined control for both smart home experiences and entertainment devices, Neeo is a modern handheld remote with a 3-inch, high resolution glass touchscreen interface that fully leverages the power of the Control4 Smart Home OS 3 platform.
Neeo is the first Control4 remote that includes both physical buttons and a touchscreen, making it the ideal interface for smart home experiences including television, music, lighting, thermostats, and more. The touchscreen offers a graphical interface that leverages Smart Home OS 3, so favorites are instantly available and arranged through the Control4 mobile app or a T3 touchscreen. Neeo includes only essential physical buttons, so it’s easy to pause movies or adjust the volume without looking. Available in silver and black, Neeo can be installed in Control4 systems running the latest version of OS 3 without a truck roll. Simply connect it to the home Wi-Fi and select the primary room where it will be used, and it automatically connects to the Control4 system. Neeo offers what no other remote offers — control of your Control4 smart home, personalized just the way you want.
Crestron HomeTime Video Conference System for Zoom Rooms Software
Crestron HomeTime (HT‑CAM) is an at-home video conferencing system for use with Zoom Rooms software. Meeting the needs of the new remote reality, Crestron HomeTime is a unification of the Logitech MeetUp conference camera with the Crestron UC Engine that integrates with Crestron control to deliver the optimal Zoom Rooms experience. Crestron HomeTime is a complete HD video and audio conferencing system with the size and scale to handle UC in any room in the home. Crestron allows users to host and join Zoom meetings without a laptop while providing the simplicity of one-touch join from a Crestron remote or mobile app. The Crestron HomeTime conferencing system provides digital meeting functionality without the hassle of crowding around a tablet or mobile device.
The Home Conferencing portfolio also includes two additional options for any workspace or television in the home. At the desktop, transform any home office into a collaboration place with a Crestron Mercury X Kit that connects with any personal device and runs any video conferencing application. Any television can be turned into a classroom, conference room, or chat room with an AirMedia Wireless Presentation System that fits discretely behind the screen and connects with any device and operating system. For the additional functionality of universal web conferencing, simply add a Smart Soundbar.
Crestron Home is the home automation software platform from Crestron that is designed for premium performance, quick installation, and ease of use. Crestron Home empowers integrators to provide smart home control and automation for any size home, without programming. Crestron Home is a game-changing solution that puts the full power of the smart home in the homeowner’s hands and makes it possible for dealers to configure a project in just hours. Crestron Home is constantly evolving, enabling users to make software updates and add new features that work with their existing hardware.
Designed to deliver a sophisticated and dynamic control experience on phones, tablets, Crestron touch screens, Crestron remote controls, and more, the intuitive interface is easy to use by anyone in the household. The UI has smooth animation and responsive icons that make Crestron Home easy to navigate both remotely and in the home. Combined with remarkably fast deployment for integrators and the confidence that comes with renowned Crestron hardware, Crestron Home offers residential integrators the complete package for any size project.
Related: The Making of Crestron Home OS 3
D-Tools Cloud is an easy-to-use web-based SaaS application that guides system integrators through managing sales prospects, quoting, browser-based drawings, and procurement, from any device.
Numerous enhancements and features include new visual quoting that helps bring projects to life and close sales by adding plan views as part of the quoting process, and quotes a bill of materials within a floor plan. Change order functionality enables users to create, track, and manage internal and client-facing change orders to manage projects better, faster, and more accurately. On top of that, D-Tools will introduce project planning and execution capabilities, such as project-based reporting and item tracking that allows users to manage payment terms, while delivering order, schedule, and install status on items.
ELAN Control Home Systems Multi-Zone Audio System
The ELAN IP-Enabled Audio Distribution System is an advanced multi-room audio family of products and one of the very first complete audio lines to leverage Dante audio networking technology in the residential custom marketplace, according to the company. The ELAN audio line delivers integrators and homeowners superior-quality music with near-zero latency over the network, thereby simplifying whole house audio and reducing cabling, complexity, and project costs. It also allows for decentralized installations, so audio products may be placed where desired. This comprehensive ELAN audio distribution line includes a multi-zone audio matrix, multi-zone audio extender, multi-zone pre-amp audio matrix, local audio source interface, and a network audio card.
One single cable routes audio between devices over the network, so amplifiers can be located around a home or large property while making speaker cables runs shorter. This saves Integrators time and allows them to serve a greater number of customers seeking superior audio solutions.
Hunter Douglas PowerView+
PowerView+, the latest addition to the Hunter Douglas PowerView Automation family, introduces a premium low-voltage, hardwired solution designed for new residential construction and renovation projects. PowerView+ is compatible with Designer Roller Shades, Designer Screen Shades, Pirouette Window Shadings, and Silhouette Quartette Window Shadings, all unique styles to the Hunter Douglas brand that have customization options in the smart home space, including over 300 fabrics and colors as well as custom shapes and sizes.
The PowerView+ motor and motor encasement were engineered to decrease shade noise, and the wired connection provides rock-solid reliability for operation. The system comprises four elements: The PowerView Hub, low-voltage electrical wiring, the 16-Shade Smart Power Supply, and select Hunter Douglas custom window shadings of the homeowner’s choice.
The Smart Power Supply can automate up to 16 shades at a time. For installation ease and to solve tricky wiring challenges, up to three shades can be daisy-chained yet retain independent control. The PowerView+ system can accommodate larger sized shades than past control systems, with sizes up to 156 x 180 inches depending on the shade style and fabric. The 16-Shade Smart Power Supply receives commands via Ethernet from the PowerView Hub.
Just Add Power 3G 708POE Transmitter
Just Add Power’s new 3G 708POE transmitter not only distributes video resolutions up to 4K Ultra HD with no latency over a single Cat 5e cable, it also features audio extraction from sources, allowing integrators to cost-effectively add a stereo analog audio output to their 3G Ultra HD over IP systems. The unit supports HDCP 2.2, HDMI 2.0, HDR, HDR10, and all lossless audio formats, including Dolby Atmos. Video wall functionality is built-in for displays installed in portrait and flipped configurations, as well as image push, pull, and pop features. The 708POE supports control inputs with RS-232, CEC, and IR. As with all models in the Just Add Power lineup, it integrates seamlessly with any generation of the company’s products. This allows integrators to select the Just Add Power solution that best fits the job.
Luxul PoE Switches Family
Luxul’s family of unmanaged PoE switches is designed to provide integrators with installation flexibility, while making it simple to expand networks with PoE-enabled devices like VoIP phones, IP cameras, control system interfaces, AV-over-IP receivers, and wireless APs. Featuring compact designs, the SW-100-04P and SW-100-08P Gigabit PoE+ switches can be installed in a wide range of locations, including behind displays or inside media cabinets. In addition to a dedicated uplink port for connection to a router or upstream switch, the SW-100-04P features four PoE+ Gigabit ports with a total power budget of 58 watts, while the SW-100-08P provides eight PoE+ Gigabit ports with a total power budget of 92 watts. The switches are fanless for silent operation and offer durable metal cases with keyhole features and rubber feet for surface mounting options.
The five-port SW-100-05PD is a PoE+ powered Gigabit switch with PoE pass-through. Powered by a PoE+ switch or injector, the device eliminates the need for a power supply and doesn’t need to be located near an outlet. The SW-100-05PD features a dedicated PoE+ input port, a pass-through Gigabit PoE port capable of powering a PoE/802.11af device up to 15 watts and four additional non-PoE Gigabit ports that deliver 10/100/1000Mbps Ethernet connectivity. The unit offers a durable metal enclosure and includes attachable rubber feet for desktop mounting, wing brackets for surface mounting, and magnet feet for mounting to metal surfaces.
Metra Home Theater Group 4×1 HDMI Multi-Viewer Pro (CS-4X1MVUP)
The Metra 4×1 HDMI Multi-Viewer shows up to four sources with different content on one display while being able to choose between multiple split-screen viewing modes. For example, viewers can watch multiple sports games on one screen, look at a computer display and a Blu-ray player at the same time, or show both a video game and a cable box on their TV.
One key feature is the ability to select which input’s audio is sent to the display, plus the video pass-through output for each of the four inputs. The fast setup with RS232 and IP control allows an installer to provide a cost-effective yet valuable solution for viewing multiple sources of content on one screen. Additionally, this product’s control system drivers allow for integration into the most commonly used automation systems that may already be in place. The individual video pass through output for all four of the inputs allows the installer to utilize systems with an AVR or matrix.
This is a valuable solution for both residential and commercial environments. It is easy to install and use, with inputs and an output that supports 720p, 1080p, 1440p, and 4K@30 Hz.
Nuvo P600 DIN Rail Three-Zone Player Kit
The Nuvo P600 DIN Rail Three-Zone Player Kit (NV-P6003Z-NA) includes everything U.S. installers need to provide their customers with a complete three-zone streaming audio system. At the heart of the system is Nuvo’s P600 DIN Rail Player, the first streaming audio player designed specifically for DIN rail installations, according to the company. The P600 provides any room in the home with instant access to endless music options from networked collections or a variety of internet radio and streaming services — including Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, SiriusXM, Amazon Music, and more. In addition, with AirPlay 2 support, homeowners have the option of making their iOS devices the hub of their multiroom audio systems, allowing them to stream Apple Music and other supported services, their iTunes libraries, favorite podcasts, and more. The unit supplies 2×20 watts of efficient Class D digital amplification for a single zone of powerful audio. The streaming audio player is powered by the PW1060 24VDC power supply, which drives up to three P600s for a scalable system that can easily be expanded up to 16 zones. For users, convenient control is always at hand with the intuitive Nuvo Player Portfolio app, in addition to optional in-wall keypads. The P600 can also be seamlessly integrated into third-party automation systems from Vantage, KNX, Control4, URC, Elan, Crestron, RTI, and more.
On-Q Enhanced Plastic Structured Wiring Media Enclosures
Made in the USA, On-Q enhanced plastic structured wiring media enclosures offer a number of design enhancements that help residential installers save time and money, while providing a clean, centralized location for the wired and wireless services that bring the connected home to life. The units feature added structural rigidity and a free integrated trim ring for concealing imperfections in drywall. In addition, the enclosures offer a new hinge design that allows the door to snap easily and quickly into and out of the trim ring for faster installation without tools. Moreover, the hinge is reversible, so the door can swing left or right within a 180-degree range to maximize installation space. The door also includes new locking capabilities, with the option to install a lock and key to keep components safe before and after commissioning. The hinged door and trim add 1.2 inches of extra enclosure depth for compatibility with a greater number of third-party devices, such as service provider modems, Wi-Fi routers, and uninterruptible power supplies.
Samsung 85-inch Q950TS 8K QLED TV
Samsung’s flagship 85-inch Q950TS offers 8K resolution and AI-upscaling, while providing a visually dynamic Infinity Screen designed for the tech enthusiast with an eye for aesthetics. The Q950TS is Samsung’s first TV to combine 8K picture quality with surround-sound audio, packaged in an ultra-thin form factor. It is designed to offer consumers a cutting-edge picture for years to come, with an array of visual, audio and design improvements from previous models.
The Samsung 8K Q950TS’s immersive 8K picture quality provides 16 times the resolution of HDTV. Among the variety of picture quality improvements, the Q950TS offers HDR10+, Ultra Viewing Angle to reduce glare no matter where you sit, and precise contrast for stunning depth and detail.
The Q950TS’s Infinity Screen offers a screen-to-body ratio of nearly 99 percent. The result is that when consumers watch from the average viewing distance of 10-15 feet, the bezel seems to disappear, creating an immersive effect where the screen appears to elegantly float in the air. Further, the Q950TS meets the requirements of the 8K Association’s Certified Test Specifications and carries the CTA 8K Ultra HD Display Definition logo.
Samsung No-Gap Wall Mount
Samsung has made sure that the process of setting up a TV is just as simple as hanging a picture thanks to the continued engineering of its No-Gap Wall Mount. The mount improves upon its past iterations of a simple pre-embedded bracket on the backside of the TV. No assembly is required and the setup to get on a wall is simpler than ever. The wall mount’s double-prevention-hinge ensures optimal stability and safety, and, of course, it gets the TV extremely close to the wall.
What’s more, Samsung has continued to improve the mount with its one-touch cable solution, allowing users to magnetically insert a connector-head of the Invisible Cable into a pre-made shape on the wall-mount. The cable is inconspicuous, and users can easily attach or detach it whenever they need, reducing the time and hassle spent on installation. And to make the process even easier, every television comes with visual guides for wall mount installation. Everything about the No-Gap Wall Mount has been engineered with ease and simplicity in mind.
SANUS In-Wall Power Kit for Soundbar + Mounted TV
The SANUS In-Wall Power Kit for Soundbar + Mounted TV allows installers to safely extend power to soundbars and accompanying displays — in addition to devices such as cable boxes, digital TV adapters, or streaming media players — while neatly concealing power and AV cables inside the wall for a clean and professional look. The in-wall kit includes everything installers need for a 30-minute installation without the need for hard-wiring or an electrician, including three power modules, eight feet of Romex cable, a drywall handsaw, flat-head runner cable, and cut-out template.
What separates the SANUS In-Wall Power Kit for Soundbar + Mounted TV from the pack is the flexibility it provides installers. With the kit, they can install soundbars and displays virtually anywhere their clients want — without the need to modify existing wiring — while easily incorporating additional devices. For additional flexibility, the kit’s power modules accommodate any type of power plug, including right angles. Furthermore, the SANUS In-Wall Power Kit for Soundbar + Mounted TV provides installers with absolutely everything they need to deliver an uncluttered installation in one convenient package. Even if they forget to bring a drywall handsaw to the site, the kit has them covered.
SnapAV New OvrC
The new OvrC remote management and monitoring app for professionals was designed using years of feedback from professionals and includes hundreds of enhancements, including an expanded ecosystem of supported products including Pakedge, new features for the OvrC mobile app, and a modern design that provides more information at a glance.
The new interface is fully responsive, loading twice as fast and dynamically adapting the layout to utilize all available space on the screen. Pros can now quickly access vital information, even when a device is offline. New mobile features include the ability to add customers, view a map of all customer sites, configure site and device settings such as wireless SSIDs, guest networks, DHCP reservations, and program automatic reboots with WattBox products, to name a few. Now available through an Early Access Beta, Pakedge access points and Ihiji monitoring appliances can be upgraded to OvrC. Through this expanded support, thousands of pros and customers can see the benefits of OvrC without requiring additional hardware to be installed in the home.
Sony Electronics Inc. VPL-VW715ES 4K Lamp Projector
Sony’s highest quality native 4K lamp projector delivers unrivaled color, clarity and contrast. An added white chassis option, wide zoom, and shift lens help this model compliment any décor style. The powered zoom lens with a 2.1x zoom ratio and wide lens shift range five greater installation flexibility in any room size, even with a high ceiling.
Sony’s new X1 processor for projector brings the best of BRAVIA to your screen. The X1 features Dynamic HDR Enhancer to maximize 4K HDR content impact. VW715ES also incorporates Sony TRILUMINOS display color, reproducing more tones and textures than a standard projector system. A new affordable price point makes peak performance even more accessible for the custom home install market.
Sony Electronics Inc. VPL-VW915ES 4K Laser Projector
The Sony Electronics VPL-VW915ES Laser Projector is the company’s most affordable premium compact 4K laser projector and features 2000 lumens that create spectacular contrast and make 4K HDR images even clearer and brighter than before. Sony’s new X1 processor enables high-precision frame analysis for unrivaled color, clarity and contrast.
Sony’s new X1 processor for projector brings the best of BRAVIA to your screen. The X1 features Dynamic HDR Enhancer to maximize 4K HDR content impact. VW915ES also incorporates Sony TRILUMINOS display color, reproducing more tones and textures than a standard projector system. A new affordable price point makes peak performance even more accessible for the custom home install market.
StormAudio ISP 32 Digital AES MK2 Preamp/Processor
StormAudio is the main brand of French manufacturer Immersive Audio Technologies, a company who designs and manufactures high-end electronics that are used in luxury home theaters and private cinema around the globe. The ISP 32 Digital AES MK2 is StormAudio’s latest preamp / processor that brings the ultimate feature package required by the most demanding integrators and movie enthusiasts. With a native 24 channel decoder, the processor supports Dolby Atmos, DTS:X Pro, Auro-3D, and IMAX Enhanced with outputs up to 32 digital channels (AES) and 16 analog channels (XLR). The processor includes up to 32 channels of post-processing, which includes the StormAudio Expert Bass Management with flexible bass routing, up to 20 PEQ per channel, active crossovers, Dirac Live Room Correction with Bass Control premium license included, and many other parameters. The modular platform allows the processor to be upgraded to support future audio and video technologies when needed, including HDMI 2.1.
Squid defines a new category of power management products designed to fulfill the unique needs of today’s tight-spaced residential AV systems, as well as meeting rooms and huddle spaces. The SurgeX Squid is a single power management solution that is compact, reliable, and all-encompassing to offer home technology professionals the management, monitoring, and control features needed to manage and protect sensitive AV equipment. Squid’s small footprint provides home professionals the ability to discreetly mount the device behind a rack, flat panel, or AV furniture, eliminating the need for clunky wall warts or power strips to protect sensitive AV systems.
Squid’s unobtrusive design packs an array of power quality features into a single compact chassis, offering boxed networked control, analytics of AC and DC, front end protection, filtration, and SurgeX-patented Multi-Stage surge suppression technology. The AC and DC outlets, in tandem with advanced surge protection, power conditioning, power management, and analytical software, streamline installations and ensure that home technology professionals no longer have to install a product for AC, another for DC, and yet another to monitor and control the power environment.
TWICE Best of Show Winners
- Cleer Crescent Smart Speaker
- Crestron Electronics, Inc. Crestron Home
- EPV Screens Polar Max Recessed
- Equator Super Combo Washer-Dryer EZ 5500 CV
- Samsung 65” The Terrace TV
- Sony VPL-VW915ES Laser Projector
- Wall-Smart Flush Mounts for IC Realtime Cameras
What Hi-Fi? Best of Show Winner
- Arcam ST60 Music Streaming Player
To see all the entries for 2020, click here to read the Best of Show at CEDIA Virtual 2020 Program Guide.