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Tech Showcase: Best of Show Winners at CEDIA Expo 2019

Here are the details on the products that most impressed our industry-expert judges.

CEDIA Expo brought a bevy of new products to integrators. To help make sure the best products get their due attention, each year Residential Systems hosts it annual Best of Show awards (click here for a quick list of the winning products). All the included products were nominated by the manufacturers as part of a paid-entry program, and a team of judges was employed to walk the floor and rate the products on a number of criteria, including its value, impact, and how unique it was to the market.

Here are excerpts from the winning products’ entry forms. Congratulations to all of this year’s winners! Click here to read the Best of Show Guide, which has even more information on the winners, as well as every nominated product.

Control4 Smart Home OS 3
With more than a thousand new capabilities across lighting, whole-home music and video, security, comfort, and more, Control4 Smart Home OS 3 (click to read review) sets a new standard for the smart home. Control4 OS 3 was designed to unify all the connected devices within a home, control them from a single platform, and deliver the personalization homeowners want with the professional support they need.

Control4 Smart Home OS 3 removes the complexity of managing multiple devices, accessories, and systems by enabling intuitive, easy access and control for nearly everything across the home. Homeowners are able to quickly swipe between rooms, see only the lights that are on, doors that are unlocked, music or video that is playing, or glance at the entire house in one place using interfaces and gestures anyone with a mobile phone is familiar with. Over 350 new icons enable an at-a-glance view of the vital devices in the home.

D-Tools, Inc. D-Tools Cloud
D-Tools Cloud intelligently manages sales, system design, and procurement from any web-enabled Mac, PC or tablet. Features new to D-Tools Cloud include Visual Quoting and Budgeting, which can be done within the quoting or design interface with the customer, ensuring clear communication; and Intelligent System Design, which uses D-Tools Cloud’s browser-based and data-driven drawing capabilities to remove the need for outside drawing applications such as Visio or AutoCAD.

D-Tools Cloud’s new Whiteboards enable users to sketch out and share ideas, collaborate on design, and help clients visualize their project — all in-app.

To assist in business intelligence, D-Tools Cloud provides powerful analytics through visual dashboards that help users gain valuable insights and influence better business decisions.

Dirac Live Bass Management
Dirac Live Bass Management (DLBM) addresses and phase corrects a home theater’s speakers and subwoofers across all frequencies, regardless of the number of subs. DLBM is offered in two tiers, based on use case and home theater system requirements: Single-Sub and Multi-Sub. Single-Sub offers advanced setup for a single subwoofer, while also providing control over parameters and applying frequency filters to all speakers based on measurements. Multi-Sub allows management of any number of subwoofers, analyzing each one to create a single-optimized sub channel that drives each subwoofer. It also enables precise control of frequency cutoffs for all speakers.

DISH Network DISH Over-the-Air Signal Meter

This portable and waterproof meter is designed to measure and maximize signal strength and quality of OTA (over-the-air) TV antenna installations. Since the introduction of digital technology in the U.S. in 2008, most areas of the country broadcast free, crystal-clear HD OTA TV signals. The OTA TV broadcast signals vary on a number of factors.

This meter is designed to help determine whether a location is suitable to receive OTA TV signals, identify the optimal location to install an OTA TV reception antenna and to fine-tune the direction and orientation of the OTA TV reception antenna itself to obtain maximum TV signal strength and quality.

In addition to measuring OTA TV signals, the meter can also be used to measure signal strength (power) of channels distributed in QAM (quadrature amplitude modulation), a digital television standard and the format by which digital cable channels are encoded and transmitted via cable television providers. QAM is typically used for multiple-dwelling-unit structures such as apartment complexes and hotels.

doqxD for Google Nest Hub

doqxD for Google Nest Hub is a dual-stand and wall-mounting application for the Google Nest Hub smart display. It enables the Nest Hub to be controlled and viewed across a 360-degree axis rotation, on your end table, bedside, counter-top, or desk. Combined with the optional doqxD Connecting Wall Mount for Google Nest Hub, the Nest Hub can be attached to any wall surface (drywall, tile, granite, glass) to serve as a smart home control panel. Finally, the doqxD for Google Nest Hub includes a secure protector case for the Nest Hub’s factory cable, enabling a floating look for the Hub wherever it’s located.

FIBBR Pure2 active fiber optic HDMI cable
FIBBR’s Pure2 features a new, more powerful optical engine, increased bandwidth, and the added advantage of a USB pigtail power supply to ensure that the optical engine never runs out of power. FIBBR’s active connector design contains an optical engine that is no larger than a passive design. The Pure2 design adds a power safeguard in the form of a USB pigtail. When a connected device needs an additional boost to properly power the engine, the pigtail provides it from an adjacent USB jack. The pigtail can swing to either side for flexible placement.

Designed for evolving video standards, FIBBR’s Pure2 extends its bandwidth to 24 Gbps, supporting 12-bit color depth with 4K resolution, 60 Hz frame rate, and 4:4:4 color. Pure2 also supports ARC for reliable audio transmission.

Intellithings Ltd. RoomMe
RoomMe by Intellithings is the first smart home Personal Location Sensor (PLS) that leverages patented presence sensing technology (PST) to make room-to-room, person-specific smart home automations a reality. RoomMe is not a replacement for your smart home system — instead, it exists as an additional layer over your already-installed smart home devices to deliver the intelligence that is lacking in smart home devices: the ability to sense who is and isn’t in each room to trigger personalized smart home scenes for lighting, music, comfort, and lifestyle simplicity.

When deployed within a residence, RoomMe PLSs create a virtual Bluetooth Low Energy threshold at the entrance to a room. When you enter a room with a smartphone running the RoomMe app, the PLS reads the unique Bluetooth signature of your smartphone to verify that it’s you; it then updates the RoomMe app about your current room location and verifies whether or not you have control priority over the room. If you have control priority, the RoomMe app triggers the personal scenes you’ve  defined to automatically adjust the lights, thermostat, music, and other smart home devices within the space. Each member of the household can create an account and personalize settings that are specific to their needs and comfort on a room-to-room basis.

JBL Synthesis SCL-5 In-Ceiling Loudspeaker
The SCL-5 is a two-way in-ceiling loudspeaker system featuring the patented JBL 2409H 1-inch compression driver tweeter mated to a High-Definition (HDI) waveguide assembly. The HDI waveguide is positioned at an angle and provides controlled directivity in combination with the 6.5-inch cast-frame, Advanced Aluminum Matrix cone woofer. This design allows the SCL-5 to be position far off-axis as is typically the case when used in overhead height channel applications. It also allows the SCL-5 to be used as an in-ceiling LCR or surround channel loudspeaker when traditional in-wall placement is not available.

The system features a sealed/acoustic suspension design with an integrated metal back can, retractable fastener arms, and zero-bezel, magnetically-attached round and square grilles. Gold-plated, spring-loaded binding post terminals make installation connections quick and reliable. As a key part of the design, the SCL-5 features a new mounting mechanism referred to as cat claws. As opposed to traditional dog leg mounting points that must be partially tightened before the speaker is secured in the ceiling, the cat claws mounting system allows for the installer to free up both hands while the speaker remains secure in the ceiling. The system works via five retractable fastener arms that are engaged as soon as the SCL-5 is pushed into the mounting hole in the ceiling. Once in the hole, the five arms are tightened in the traditional manner in order to seal the SCL-5 to the ceiling. To remove the loudspeaker, loosening the five fasteners retracts them out of the way allowing the speaker to come back thru the ceiling hole.

Klipsch Audio Pro Cinema Home Experience
Klipsch has adapted its Pro Cinema speakers for home use and will offer a modular system as an easy-to-order and install bundle. This is the only Pro Cinema Speaker system designed exclusively for the home that comes in one bundle/part number. At just 20.5 inches deep, this shallow-depth system fits medium to large dedicated home cinemas and media rooms.

Integrators can determine the screen size and position; order a Klipsch Modular Pro Cinema System (one part number); cut hole; insert speakers and connect wires (no repositioning necessary); and hang screen over the speakers. Complimentary Klipsch Pro surface mount and high performance in-ceiling speakers are aviliable for surround sound.

Konnected Alarm Panel 2
Breathe new life into your wired alarm system with the Konnected Alarm Panel 2. Building off the significant success of the original product, Konnected leverages the wiring that’s likely been in your home for years and has been lying dormant for people that didn’t want to pay the high fees of security providers like ADT. A simple switching of the panels hidden in a closet not only enables consumers to take their own home security into their own hands without recurring monitoring fees from an alarm company, but it also opens the door to the incredibly robust SmartThings, Home Assistant, OpenHUB, and Hubitat ecosystems and making the smart home exponentially more useful.

Lutron Electronics Co., Inc. Maestro LED+ Dimmer for RadioRA 2 and HomeWorks QS
Lutron’s Maestro LED+ dimmer for RadioRA 2 and HomeWorks QS is one dimmer for any job. This extremely versatile dimmer works with or without a neutral wire and is phase-selectable for controlling a broad range of lighting types. It also has screw terminals (no wire connectors required). Together, these features deliver a fast, easy retrofittable installation for any age home, with any wiring.

This product works in both forward and reverse phase dimming. It provides two-wire LED control (without a neutral) in either forward or reverse phase (an industry first), which is a unique advantage of Lutron proprietary technology.

Luxul Epic Mesh
Luxul’s Epic Mesh combines a router and satellite nodes (access points) that require no wired link between them. Each node in the network can talk to all the others, forming a point-to-point mesh for fast, reliable, powerful, and high throughput for a truly wireless experience.

Providing integrators with flexible installation and placement, the Epic Mesh kit comes with two triband, dual-purpose mesh nodes that can each serve as either a router or an access point. Simple to install, integrators turn one of the two nodes into a router using the Luxul Easy Setup App on their iOS or Android smartphone. The other node becomes the satellite node, which is placed around the residence to create a powerful wireless mesh. There is no need to run additional wires; integrators just plug the satellite node into an available outlet.

MantelMount MM860 Robotic TV Mount
Three years in the making, the MM860 Robotic Mount (click to read review) is the ideal solution for upscale installations such as over a fireplace. The automated MM860 TV mount smoothly drop-downs and swivels simultaneously into position for the ultimate comfort in eye-level viewing. It works with or without a home automation system and allows for multiple memory presets. The patented multi-axis hub, proprietary software, and precision electronic actuators lower and swivel the TV in one fluid motion. The MM860 has multiple remote control options through the included 433 MHz RF remote, IR-based Logitech Harmony remotes, and popular home automation systems.

Its power-sensing technology detects when the TV is turned on and automatically lowers it to a favorite preset position. The custom electronic actuators allow for smooth, barely audible movement. Like all Pro Series mounts, the MM860 comes with a heat-sensing monitor, the difference being that it will automatically retract and return to the home position if an unsafe temperature is detected, thereby safeguarding the investment in your television.

Marantz NR-1200 Receiver
Marantz’s new NR1200 high-performance stereo receiver is engineered to deliver detailed, high-fidelity music playback from a slim chassis while including all of the modern features and connectivity consumers demand. At its heart, the AVR features a newly designed 75-watt per channel (8-ohm, 20 Hz–20 kHz, 0.08% THD) amplification section that boasts discrete left and right channel circuitry to optimize performance. The NR1200 has been engineered throughout using carefully selected audio parts ideally suited for 2-channel Hi-Fi performance, including custom-designed power capacitors and dual DACs all extensively tuned by Marantz sound masters.   The power transformer is wired independently to the circuits of the amplifier, preamplifier, tuner, and front display, which improves channel separation, reduces crosstalk, and preserves audio purity. It also includes five HDMI inputs, each one supporting HDCP 2.3, 4K Ultra HD 60 Hz video, 4:4:4 Pure Color sub-sampling, HLG, High Dynamic Range (HDR10), 21:9 video, 3D, and BT.2020 pass-through. With HEOS Built-in, the NR1200 can get access to almost unlimited music delivered to any room throughout the home using other HEOS Built-in-capable speakers or electronics for a wireless, whole-home entertainment experience.

Meridian DSP520.2 In-Wall Loudspeaker
Characterized by their high SPLs and strong bass performance capabilities, the DSP520.2 in-wall loudspeakers are the first to be powered by the new Meridian “Class-M” DSP engine. The double-precision Aux filter improves resolution on low frequencies, and the built-in Dynamic bass protection technology maximizes bass extension, achieving low-frequency agility and punch in a 4-inch deep cabinet.

Each drive unit is driven by a pair of high bandwidth, ultra-HD amps for guaranteed performance and complete control. The amplifier’s high mass toroidal transformer is electrically screened, potted, and optimized for the lowest possible mechanical noise, while post filter feedback delivers lower output noise and improved total harmonic distortion (THD). This new feature also provides greater control, accurate detail, and precise spatial resolution, giving a much larger soundstage.

Middle Atlantic Products Forward
Installers spend hours inside the rack, carefully placing a countless number of rack screws, zip ties, and other tools to bring a plethora of devices together into a comprehensive system for homeowners to enjoy. Middle Atlantic Products’ Forward family of toolless options was created to make rack installations easier and faster for installers.

Forward is designed around a new rackrail and Middle Atlantic’s patented universal mounting pattern that allow the family’s blank and vent panels, cable management, lighting, and other rack solutions to be quickly installed without tools. In a rack, space is finite, which is why Middle Atlantic has transformed the traditional rackrail into a multipurpose solution. The rackrail, when coupled with Forward options, becomes a flexible workhorse that allows integrators to easily achieve reliable rack layouts with less time, labor, and hardware.

Forward Rail features a new take on the conventional L-shaped design, providing two planes of mounting possibilities: First, the front face of the rail features a square hole designed to engage with Forward blank and vent panels and horizontal cable management options by simply clicking into place without tools or hardware. In addition to this hardware-free functionality, the rail maintains the 10-32 tapped holes for rack-screw mounting of equipment. Second, the side of the rail is punched with Middle Atlantic’s patented Universal Hole Pattern. This feature allows for vertical cable management from top to bottom or from one rack unit to another throughout the enclosure.

Nortek Security & Control ELAN Intelligent Touch Panel
The ELAN Intelligent Touch Panel leverages face recognition and voice control technology to completely automate media, lighting, climate, shares, security, and more.

Face recognition analytics from NSC’s IntelliVision enables the panel to respond to individual users with a personalized menu, and to automatically create scenes — such as media, climate, and lighting — personalized for the user. A dual digital MEMS microphone-array provides voice control for the ELAN system as well. Users can even choose their preferred voice interface — including Amazon Alexa — without needing to fill the house with voice assistant hardware.

On the video front, the panel displays a high-resolution picture with monitoring and playback from ELAN Surveillance cameras and NVR. Additionally, two-way audio and video enables communication with the video doorbell, paging, and ELAN Intercom.

One Firefly Mercury Pro
Mercury Pro is the elite website solution for the most discerning technology professionals. This web solution is a premium step-up product from the agency’s existing Mercury Collection websites initially launched in 2014. Mercury Pro features a wide array of customizable website theme options; carefully crafted, industry-focused copy designed to speak to specific buyer personas; compulsory SEO configuration; and access to One Firefly’s exclusive library of photos and videos. With Mercury Pro, One Firefly aims to help custom electronics professionals present their brand message to the world through mobile-first web design that features the industry’s best luxury lifestyle video, imagery, and messaging.

Panasonic Reference DVD Player DP-UB9000
Enjoy premium picture and sound quality with this Panasonic Ultra HD Blu-ray player. Reduced vibration and compatibility with Hi-Res Audio help achieve vibrant sound reproduction, while the HCX processor delivers impressive 4K detail. The chroma processing technology on this Panasonic Ultra HD Blu-ray player enhances the color of HDR content and provides excellent color balance and sense of realism.

Polk Audio Legend Series
Polk Audio’s new Legend Series is led by the flagship L800 tower speaker. Polk Audio integrated its celebrated Stereo Dimensional Array (SDA) technology into the L800 tower speaker, creating a fully immersive listening experience from two channels. SDA technology cancels out interaural crosstalk, greatly reducing speaker distortion and enveloping the listener in a deep sound stage, almost like wearing giant headphones with fantastic imaging. Aside L800’s SDA technology, the Legend Series — including the L100 and L200 bookshelf speakers, L400 center channel, L600 tower speakers, and L900 Atmos module — can be used for home theater or 2-channel listening applications. Reproduction across the line is well-balanced, with deep bass, crisp highs, and enveloping properties. Other improvements to the new line of Legend Series speakers are an enhanced Power Port design, built to extend bass (an average of 3 dB lower) and improve air flow through the speaker cabinet to reduce unpleasant chuffing. The Legend Series also uses newly designed turbine woofers and pinnacle tweeters, developed specifically for this new line.

Powersoft Mezzo
Built in a svelte, half-rack enclosure and sporting plenty of connectivity options, Mezzo is expressly designed for the AV/IT markets, and perfect for home and residential installations. The new line consists of eight amplifier models in all, each offering different power and connectivity options. While Mezzo is capable of delivering an unprecedented degree of power and flexibility in a highly compact design, it is self-configuring and simple to operate. Further, the system can be operated and monitored remotely.

The eight available models in the new Mezzo line consist of four power sizes, each offering an option with “A” (analog) or “AD” (analog-digital), which adds Dante/AES67. The power sizes include smaller option of 320W in 4 x 80W and 2 x 160W variants, and a larger option of 600W in 4 x 150 or 2 x 300W. All of the eight models are networkable and feature automatic setup for audio parameters. Further, all of the units offer load monitoring, so users can monitor system parameters such as temperature, power usage, and performance over time.

ProVideoInstruments LLC VeCOAX MINIMOD-2
The VeCOAX MINIMOD-2 distributes an HDMI source with full 1080p video encoding over a coax network to an unlimited number of televisions. The VeCOAX MINIMOD-2 is simple to use, with a color display to provide integrators with a simple plug-and-play installation, and setup is easily completed on the device. The ultra-compact design of the VeCOAX MINIMOD-2 allows it to be mounted and installed anywhere without compromising quality and functions. With endless capabilities and universal compatibility, the VeCOAX MINIMOD-2 eliminates the need for new cables or adapters and creates a simple, affordable, and reliable solution for high-quality video distribution.

ProVideoInstruments LLC VeCOAX PIXEL

ProVideoInstruments VeCOAX PIXEL stands out not only in appearance but as well as performance. The PIXEL can fit anywhere and installs within minutes, it offers 720p Dolby HDMI to any existing TV coaxial cables as HDTV Channel to unlimited TV sources. Perfect for security cameras and surveillance systems, the PIXEL replaces video extenders and matrixes for a fraction of the cost.

Samsung 55-inch The Frame 2019
TV when it’s on, art when it’s off. The Frame transforms the empty black void left by traditional TVs into an innovative, gallery-like art display. Featuring 1000+ pieces of art and exceptional picture quality, The Frame represents a harmonious balance between form and function.

When it’s not being used to enjoy TV or movies, The Frame’s Art Mode displays digital pieces of artwork. Aside from the 20 exclusive artwork selections that come pre-loaded on The Frame in 2019, Samsung’s Art Store provides access to over 1000 pieces of art and photos curated from the most prestigious artists, galleries, and museums from around the world. Users are transported to the Vincent Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, and more through artwork that suits their personal tastes and enhance their home décor. Users can even upload and display their favorite personal artwork or photographs.

New this year, The Frame features pristine QLED picture quality, offering deeper contrasts, deeper and darker blacks, and 100 percent color volume.

Samsung 82-inch Q900
The Samsung 82-inch Q900 delivers super-big-screen clarity and a cinematic viewing experience with 8K resolution, AI upscaling, and cutting-edge lifestyle capabilities. The Q900 represents the best of TV technology with 100 percent color volume and proprietary Direct Full Array Local Dimming, enabling the Q900 to maintain color fidelity even at its peak brightness of 4000 nits, while displaying HDR10+ content without color saturation. The Ultra Wide Viewing Angle improves off-axis viewing for the most stunning image from LED, no matter where you’re seated.

8K AI upscaling technology transforms lower resolution content, whether 480, 720p, 1080p, and even 4K, so users experience a true-to-life image in 8K. Samsung’s upscaling technology uses AI-based machine learning to create thousands of algorithms that are then embedded on the Q900’s Quantum Processor 8K and updated as needed.

SANUS Advanced Full-Motion Premium TV Mounts
SANUS Advanced Full-Motion Premium TV Mounts unite high-end performance with high-end design. The result is a next-generation mount that thoughtfully incorporates the display into the home in a way that is both functionally and aesthetically modern. Inspired by the sleek look of today’s TVs and high-end kitchen appliances, Advanced Full-Motion Mounts feature a brushed metal exterior and are available in two distinct finishes: brushed stainless black with charcoal grey trim and brushed stainless silver with black trim. Offering a lower profile depth than traditional full-motion mounts, Advanced Full-Motion Mounts position displays closer to the wall for a more streamlined look.

Beneath their stylish exterior lies an ultra-strong, solid-steel frame that provides maximum support to ensure TVs stay securely in place. The mounts’ included Steady Set functionality ensures that TVs stay exactly where users want them — no drifting, shifting, or unwanted movement. And with its simple and intuitive design, Advanced Full-Motion Mounts offer a hassle-free, 30-minute installation.

Savant Breaker-Companion Modules
Savant Breaker-Companion Modules provide panelized lighting control and energy management functionality that delivers individual load-level control throughout the home, as well as utility-grade reporting of energy usage data. Designed in partnership with sister-company Racepoint Energy, Savant Breaker-Companion Modules have been engineered to deliver both control and energy management functionality of lighting loads as well as other devices throughout the home.

These modules have been designed to fit into standard electrical panels as a functioning companion (hence the product name) to any circuit breaker in the home. Because these modules can be used for many individual electrical load applications throughout the home and are fully compatible with the Savant control ecosystem, technology integrators have a tremendous opportunity to deliver better smart home functionality and critical energy usage data across all electrical load types, as well as the foundation for a net-zero compliant home design.

Sony Electronics Inc. MASTER Series A9G
The A9G is Sony’s new flagship 4K OLED TV available in 77-, 65-, and 55-inch classes, all in a slim form factor. Images come to life with the super-wide viewing angle, precise contrast, and absolute blacks of OLED technology, and over 8 million self-illuminating pixels are precisely and individually controlled by Sony’s Picture Processor X1 Ultimate. In addition to the processor, the A9G has Pixel Contrast Booster for more color and contrast in bright areas. As a result, the A9G provides premium picture quality approaching that of a professional-grade monitor, showing images and colors as they truly are. The processor improves SD and HD content to near 4K HDR quality and shows 4K content in stunning clarity.

Acoustic Surface Audio+ provides a totally immersive sound experience with the sound coming from the entire screen. In addition, a TV Center Speaker Mode provides choice to use the TV as the center speaker.

Vanco International Evolution EVO-IP EZ
Built off Vanco’s Evolution EVO-IP platform, the newly launched EVO-IP EZ from  Vanco’s Evolution line is a cost-effective HDMI-over-IP system solution that is ideal for integrators who want to incorporate most of the features offered by EVO-IP, but into cost-conscious installations with lower bandwidth requirements.

EVO-IP EZ simplifies installations by using the same control box and GUI platform as the original EVO-IP, but with one less SKU that can be used as either a transmitter or a receiver. EVO-IP EZ is designed for installers looking for a matrix, switching, and splitting platform for video resolutions up to 1080p @ 60 Hz. The EVO-IP EZ also includes analog and digital audio breakouts, IR and RS232 passthrough, and full cloud control through the current EVO-IP apps and interfaces. Cloud control allows installers to schedule events and remotely monitor the system from the iOS or Android app. Both EVO-IP and EVO-IP EZ can be seen and used simultaneously on the same system.