InfoComm 2012 Part 1 – The Toys

Like many of you I spent the middle of last month in Vegas at InfoComm. I’m going to take a stab at blogging about the experience.

I think I may get three posts out of it. This is the first – the tech one. In the next I’ll talk about the classes, the events, the alcohol, any good dirt or gossip I can remember, and the alcohol. The third – if the blue helicopters don’t whisk me away before I finish it – will be a post-InfoComm revisit of the whole Extron situation.

I don’t pretend to be any sort of expert or industry sage in any of this. I just buy and install a ton of this stuff and have been fortunate enough to get to InfoComm for many years now on the University’s dime. I make a point of walking as much of the show floor as I possibly can. I make notes about the items that catch my attention. I do a write up about the things I saw.

I used to just share it around the office and with close industry friends, a handful of people. Now, through the miracle of social media, I am able to subject – I mean share – my musings with a whole new world, the literally dozens of you who read the blog posts here on

Now this is filtered through the lens of my little AV world at UCLA. Some things I’m just not looking for right now so I didn’t spend much time looking at them. I also just included links where I found a good demo or the product was a bit hard to find online. And with that, on with the show…

1)   Altinex’s Muse is a power, HDMI, and IR over Cat 6 extender. No, not HDBaseT; there is a 120V 150W outlet on the receiver. Hang your monitor, pull a Cat 6, and you are done. No Facilities’ charges. Now you aren’t going to power a projector – yet – but it’s a neat new idea that gives us options in certain situations.

2)   Barco’s ClickShare: I didn’t see this in person. (Barco has been pretty boring the last few years.) It’s a USB dongle with a button. Everyone who is going to share their laptop gets a dongle. Hit the button and you are displayed on the screen. Now the dongles would walk away immediately in my classrooms, but this could eliminate a whole bunch of messy wiring in the right environments.

3)   BMS (Business Machine Security) is a small company that makes a versatile line of security mounts. (They are also very open to custom modifications of their products – speaking from experience.) We use a lot of their projector mounts. They have a new articulating flat panel mount that is completely secure – all the hardware and hinge points are completely enclosed. Mount a monitor on an arm in unsecure areas.

4)   BTX is probably best known for their complete line of solderless AV connectors but they have been adding some innovative new companies to their line like Luxi Electronics and Just Add Power. Their web site is a real clunker though.

5)   Crestron’s CaptureHD, with its one-time hardware cost and no recurring fees, is going to be a cruel wake-up for the capture box companies that want thousands of dollars in licensing fees every year. A lot of us never had the funding model to support that and think this box is going to be big in the world of Higher Ed. Crestron even added live streaming capability to it recently with little fanfare. (And a whole lot of manufacturers could take a lesson on how to cover a trade show from Crestron’s collection of basic, but really useful, short product videos.)

6)   Da-Lite’s IDEA Screen and IDEA Interactive Cart use a combination whiteboard and projection surface that seemed to do a pretty good job of both. And the IDEA Cart is an RP screen on wheels intended to work with most any of the interactive projectors out there now or in the future.

7)   Drawmer is someone fans of odd little niche audio companies should check out. They make an eclectic line of rack mounted audio processing equipment. I thought their SP2120 Speaker Protector – complete with key lock on the faceplate – was pretty slick.

8)   Element One offers a line of very stylish metal wrapped monitors and keyboards. They get built into furniture and then rise up or flip up from the surface with the push of a button. I need to find an app to try these on.

9)   FSR’s Top Shelf is a different take on the ceiling equipment boxes these folks and others have made popular the last few years. Top Shelf mounts to the wall at the ceiling externally. It has the same rack mount and power facilities as their other ceiling boxes and is enclosed by a fiberglass cover that can be painted to match your decor. This could be handy in rooms where you need to install a bit of equipment but are stuck with one of those old-school stick-on tile ceilings, or hard plaster. It’s not on their web site yet – which is a real turkey anyway.

10)   InFocus was showing a videophone they plan to start selling next year. They also had a whole fleet of Mondopads on display. Those came out last year but they are very trick – a combination interactive whiteboard, computer, and VTC unit. I’ve tried to talk a couple of campus departments into buying one.

11)   Kaltman Creations is a great company to know if you coordinate the wireless mic frequencies at your facility. They make a wonderful set of RF test and measurement tools. Their most recent spectrum analyzer software package offers a plethora of functions for tracking, logging, and even monitoring multiple RF signals.

12)   Klipsch was at InfoComm for the first time, complete with a line of commercial install speakers. They didn’t have a demo room, relying instead on the largess of their neighbors during brief near triple-decibel demo sessions. From what I could tell they sounded like a Klipsch speaker should – awesome. They were also giving away little yellow buttons – copies of the one Paul W. would wear. (Look it up.)

13)   Kramer: We may not have had the blue defensive fortification traditionally erected by a former InfoComm exhibitor, but with white walls and white uniforms Kramer’s huge, open, Narnia-like palace took the visual lead in the world of little AV boxes. And with their continued incremental additions, Kramer’s product line is looking more like a serious threat to their absent competitor every year. They also offer some great travelling training classes. The schedule is on the web, although finding products on their site is pretty confusing.

14)   LED Lighting: Not a company, an observation. Wandering through the rental and staging area it was amazing how much of the world of lighting effects and fixtures has been taken over by LEDs. I really wanted to stop and talk to some of the folks there but just have no app for that sort of gear at all.

15)   Liberty AV is doing a great job creating a synergy between the smaller companies they have brought into their fold. Now you can get custom Panelcrafters panels where the connectors are the inputs or outputs of integral Intelix extenders mounted on the back side of the panel.

16)   Listen Technologies (and also Williams Sound) are now offering telecoil hearing assist systems. This is a system capability that I expect we will all hear more requests for in the future.

17)   Mediatech makes a wide range of AV carts, furniture, and lecterns. Their WorksZone Interactive is an odd combination of a wheeled whiteboard and an interactive projector. The board can be tilted, allowing the setup to be used vertically like an interactive whiteboard, horizontally like a table, or anywhere in between.

18)   Optoma had a WXGA 6KL video projector complete with interchangeable lenses and a list price just under $4K. They are just the latest manufacturer known primarily for smaller projectors to jump into the world of bigger and brighter.

19)   Panasonic had their prototype entry into the laser/LED hybrid projector world on display. Preliminary specs list it as greater than 3KL with a lifespan greater than 20K hours and available in both WXGA and 1920×1080. The really trick feature, however, was the HDBaseT input it will come with. I’m not sure, are they the first projector manufacturer to do that? In any case they won’t be the last.

20)   Penveu had a really slick little portable pen and interface box (that doubles as a carrying case for the pen) that can turn any projector into an interactive whiteboard. The pen also works at a distance from the screen and can even double as a mouse. It also doesn’t require any special software.

21)   PowerCreator is a Chinese company that has jumped into the lecture capture world with an interesting collection of hardware and software solutions. There is an English version of their web site, but even with that many of the product descriptions were a bit hard to follow.

22)   Premier Mounts has a track system that simplifies the use of monitors or interactive whiteboards alongside existing whiteboards or chalkboards. It has a track at the top, has rollers at the bottom, straddles the existing boards, and lets them move horizontally as required.

23)   Sharp’s AQUOS Interactive Whiteboard debuted last year in Orlando but they just updated the software with some new drawing tools and also a new half-screen mode – half-whiteboard half-computer. That seems very useful with those boards getting as big as they are.

24)   Screen Innovations brings a new idea to the projection screen world, not usually a hotbed of exciting new products. The screen assembly (which is nicely low profile to begin with) lowers down on a pair of wires and then the screen unrolls from it. The screen is actually attached to the upper housing and the tube unrolls down, acting like the batten when it gets to the bottom. You don’t need any black drop above the screen. You can position the screen surface – and little else visually save the black border – wherever you need it.

25)   SoundTube has an interesting new line of ceiling can speakers that connect via Cat 5. They have internal 40W amps. The software lets you address each speaker individually (or the whole group) and also offers a bunch of control and monitoring options. They also have a 35” 3-way line array speaker.

26)   Stewart Filmscreen has come out with a line of low-cost screens, obviously intending to go up against their “Brand D” competitors. They come in a selection of standard sizes. Previously everything from Stewart was made to order. I haven’t seen any info on how big that selection is, and there is nothing on the web site yet, so I think the jury is still out on this idea. I like their screens but they are a difficult company to work with.

27)   SurgeX has the most versatile line of IP controllable power centers available right now, useful with more and more of us getting pressed for detailed power usage statistics and control. Their Cervella server system offers the ability to monitor, control, and even map usage in real-time to an impressive degree.

28)   Vaddio is another company making lecture capture easier with all the novel USB hardware they have introduced recently. Their HD PTZ USB camera and AV Bridge (video and audio in – USB out) are both pretty cool.

29)   Vivitek’s display of six edge-blended short-throw HD projectors (three above and three below the screen) creating a single high-resolution image was pretty impressive.

So there you go. That’s my take, what’s yours? If you saw something significant at the show that I missed please chime in and tell us about it.

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