From a technology standpoint, InfoComm is my favorite show. Not only is it a trade show, but also a buying show for universities and government, which equates to some crazy budgets and booth design. Everyone in the technology industry should experience this show at least once in their life to see what is possible when great minds and big money come together.
At more than 35,000 in attendance, InfoComm is a large show. And, unlike CEDIA, where you are bound to run into friends (and maybe some foes), InfoComm can get a little lonely when you come from the residential world. Last year I found myself at a Crestron party filled with what felt like thousands, and I didn’t know a single soul (this year I made one friend).
You can, however, can find cross-platform manufacturers that we think of as residential companies but in actuality play both sides at the show. Here some examples of those and what they are up to at the show.
Atlona: Say you are new to the commercial market, and you have just landed a high-end conference room. All equipment is going to be housed in a closet outside the room. The client would like wall plates with HDMI and VGA installed in two separate locations in the room, along with a media-steaming device, Blu-ray player, and in-room PC. This larger space will require two video displays.
Where do you begin?
Enter Atlona’s AT-UHD-CLSO-824 an 8x2 matrix switcher with HDbaseT in and out allowing for your long runs back to the closet. I recently ran into a similar situation as described above and there is not a lot on the market with both HDbaseT in and out—certainly not with the ability to pass 4K! Atlona has also introduced a 6x1 with and without HDbaseT outputs. Not only are these units problem solvers in the commercial world, but certainly have a place in the residential markets as well where a video matrix is needed.
They are also introducing Atlona Management System (AMS) that will allow a unit to connect to the wonderful world of the internet—a big theme at InfoComm as we enter into the Internet of Things era. Everything is becoming connected. Everything.
Pakedge: BakPak Cloud management from Pakedge’s is not new to some, but it is new in the commercial realm. More than remote monitoring, it will have the ability to auto heal, auto firmware update, backup, and restore functionality… all without rolling a truck. The backbone of the system is called Triplex, which is a built-in auto troubleshooting algorithm. BakPak will be free to all users up until September 31, so one has no reason not to try it out. They have also released new hardware ready for the commercial space. Pakedge understands that more and more residential companies are working in the commercial world, and they want to grow with them. As a dealer I can tell you that they are there to back it up.
Pakedge's BakPak Cloud management is not new to some, but it is new in the commercial realm.
Crestron: What residential or commercial AV conversation would be complete without talking about Crestron? To no surprise, their booth is front and center at the show. They want us to remember that Crestron and their solutions are more than just a luxury item—that are needed for business to flow and function. They now offer Crestron Certified designs to unify the process and continue to preach that a system is only as good as its weakest link. With a Crestron Certified system, there is no weak link.
Crestron continues to be a leader in 4K distribution and multi-room media, but what is generating the most buzz at the show (I heard about it twice during my one hour on the show floor yesterday) is the Microsoft Surface Hub—a conference room in a box.
Microsoft Surface Hub
It’s a touch screen, a white board, a video conferencing unit, and just damn fun to touch. The Microsoft Hub is sure to continue to generate interest.
Epson: Bringing one of the coolest demos to the show is Epson. This year they want us all to remember they’re much more than projectors.
It is easy to understand the crossover for Epson, as they are the number-one projector in terms of units sold. This year the company is concentrating on the Brightlink Pro, which is its interactive short throw model. These affordable short throw projectors have many uses in education and corporate, but I can’t help but wonder how much more fun would it be for the kids to do their homework on it? Just email it to the teacher when completed and then sit back and watch a movie. Hey, you never know.
LG, Sony, Samsung: InfoComm is a stunning video show, and the big players have not disappointed. LG announced a wall with a 2mm bezel, creating amazing scenes. Laser projectors are a growing market, and brightness is going up while the price is coming down. Samsung is showing off a curved LED Video Display, which is exquisite and certainly stops you in your tracks.
Samsung is showing off a curved LED Video Display.
With another day and a half to go, I’m sure there will be much more to discover on the floor. Certainly trends at this point are the connection to the Internet, streamlining systems, and ease of use. However, the promise of this and the reality can be very different animals.
Heather L. Sidorowicz is the president of Southtown Audio Video in Hamburg, NY.