Partners in Collaboration. Even More So Now.

Enhanced video conferencing and state of the art furniture from Sharp and Salamander are bringing conference rooms to the next level.

Partners in Collaboration. Even More So Now.

It may be hard to believe during the current state of uncertainty in this country, but the Modern Workspace is a significant piece of the Pro AV industry. When offices eventually reopen, the modern workspace may look slightly different than we’re used to, but there is no denying that room analytics and smart space management will be a tantalizing feature for businesses regardless.

Companies that are upgrading their huddle rooms and conference rooms to enhance video conferencing capabilities should consider the Windows collaboration display from Sharp. The first display to be certified by Microsoft delivers Windows® 10 and Office 365® at room scale on a huge 4K screen, enabling multiple users to collaborate together. It is Skype for Business certified and Microsoft Teams enabled and can be daisy-chained via dual source side-by side capability and extend mode for an even larger collaborative canvas.

Making spaces smarter with the embedded sensor hub is what makes the Windows collaboration display even more special. Using Azure IoT, the sensor hub can detect room occupancy to determine the location of people to turn on displays nearest each individual and even amplify their voice with a three-dimensional microphone. In turn, this allows the opportunity for better management of room-booking systems. Additionally, temperature and lighting are detected by sensors to help provide a better understanding of energy utilization. Whether there’s small breakout with 2-3 people or a large meeting with 12 or more, the sensor hub can help provide data allowing you to optimize your meeting spaces for a more comfortable and productive environment for all involved.

Simply enhancing the video capabilities is but one piece of upgrading collaboration. When it’s time for a technology refresh, it’s time for Salamander Designs. Now is the perfect time to leverage this high quality, fully customizable solution to transform and refresh your workspace. Even simple, preconfigured cabinets and carts will immediately improve productivity and collaboration with premium furniture engineered to make today’s offices mobile, global and better than ever before. Whether your needs require display stands or cabinets, Salamander stands will keep everything safe and supported while still looking great. Mobile stands are also available for easy portability between workspaces.

With Sharp and Salamander products combined, you’ll have top of the line smart display technology supported by the best furniture to bring any conference room to the next level.

Sharp has strategically partnered with Salamander Designs and Almo to offer five Windows Collaboration Display Bundles giving you incredible savings opportunities never seen before. Integrators that become Windows collaboration display certified will save $1700 per display as well as up to an additional $300 on the mobile stand or cabinet when purchased as a bundle.

Social Butterfly Thanks ZOOM for the Tiny Taste of Normal during infocomm CONNECTED

Not in my lifetime have I been a big fan of Las Vegas. This June I never missed it more. (I’m one of those rare birds that have only been to Vegas to attend InfoComm.) I’m not a gambler. I don’t party late into the night (any more). I live in Florida, so it’s really hard to justify paying for access to a hotel pool party – I do that pretty much every weekend all year long!

The list could probably go on and on (I won’t blame the Vegas heat, though.  I love the heat).

I was going to do Vegas right this year!  I’d planned to extend my stay after helping with the booth tear-down and stay another night or two so I could experience the ever-famous Strip with my Almo friends.  I wanted to stay out LATE!  I was going to dance and sip colorful cocktails and laugh, and blow on dice for whoever was throwing!

Thanks to the worldwide pandemic we’re all so sick of hearing about, I never even got the opportunity to book my flight.  So I spent the week at home like the rest of us, attending the virtual event that had some incredible content, but none of the smiles and hugs I took for granted in years past.

Early on in 2020 I put together a loose calendar for the Almo Blog.  It takes some effort managing multiple contributors, you know, and I had planned to pen the “InfoComm Social Butterfly of 2020”.  The booth tours, the dinners, the happy hours, the after-hours… even though I’m not a night owl I love it.  I enjoy the networking with our vendor partners, the interaction and introductions with our customers and end-users.  It’s invigorating! 

It was definitely different this year.  The InfoComm we know became a virtual infocomm CONNECTED, thanks to the world we are living in.  (NOTE… you can still check out the virtual replay until August 21!)

Obviously AVIXA and the industry made the right call.  We have to protect ourselves and our loved ones.  I know I’m not alone, though, when I say I really, REALLY missed InfoComm and Las Vegas this year. 

So, my “InfoComm Social Butterfly” blog post feels more like a Poor, Poor, Pitiful Me post.  I did manage, however, to find one social highlight.  Normally at InfoComm I attend a happy hour networking event organized by the USAV group.  At the end of the week they hosted a “Coffee and Cocktails” virtual happy hour on ZOOM.  Certainly new to us all, but a way to connect just the same.

Oh, thank goodness for Zoom!  Just 30 minutes, but I met some new people and got to virtually “cheers” some old friends.

Zoom is no substitute for in-person events, but I’ll take all I can get these days.  Thankfully we have Zoom and other platforms that enable us to have face-to-face interactions when we can’t be in-person.  I’m so grateful for that. 

If I didn’t work at Almo, surely I’d have heard about ZOOM thanks to the pandemic, but like my parents and countless others, I’d have had to adopt it and learn how to use it.  The silver lining is the window has been thrown wide open, and businesses and organizations everywhere are open to incorporating this technology into their daily operations.  Almo has experts on-staff who can help our customers offer Zoom Rooms to end-users with bundles that include the hardware and the license for a complete solution with multiple options for different sized huddle and conference rooms.

We all can’t help but reexamine how we do business and how we can learn from this experience and save ourselves time and money when we are living that “new normal” we keep waiting for. 

I wish we’d have been able to connect last week, and I’m (not so) patiently waiting for whenever it’s safe to return to in-person conferences and meetings, though they’ll certainly be different.

Whatever our “new normal” is, I’m ready for it.

This Girl Loves Football-Watching… OUTSIDE. My review of 3 local spots and what makes them great. Or not.

The playoffs this year are just incredible.  Last week, watching KC come back and beat the snot out of Houston was nothing short of epic.  Imagine being at that game!  As a long suffering Dolphins fan it’s been a hot minute since I was able to attend a playoff game (and I was pulling hard for Tannehill yesterday, but KC means business).  As a very happy and fortunate South Floridian, I settle for what I consider the next best thing, watching other teams play post-season games at my local outdoor bars and restaurants.

Earlier this season, I went to the new hot spot sports bar in town to watch my beloved Florida Gators take on the South Carolina Gamecocks.  It was mid-October, while most of the country is enjoying colorful foliage and crisp afternoons, Fort Lauderdale is still pretty hot.  Still, I will always choose an outdoor or at least open-air venue when I’m out with friends for a serious afternoon of football watching.  Much to my dismay, the newest, hottest spot for outdoor football watching lacked the one thing that is pretty critical to the football watching experience… DISPLAYS!

Check out all of that prime real estate that’s going completely unused!  Install a few 55” or 65” Peerless-AV UltraViewTM UHD Outdoor TVs on those white walls and I’d be at this bar every weekend for the games.  The restaurant manager wouldn’t need to worry about covering them or the typical Florida afternoon thunderstorms damaging them, they’re built specifically to handle the elements!  Not that anyone wants to watch TV outside when it’s negative 22° or as hot as 122° but these TVs can handle those extreme temps!  And they’re all-weather rated for direct sunlight, rain and snow.  What a missed opportunity for this restaurant, I never went back.  If there are any Fort Lauderdale integrators looking for an easy job to sell go check out Quarterdeck Fort Lauderdale and tell them they need some Peerless-AV UltraViewTM Outdoor TVs!  Let me know when the job’s done and I’ll give them another chance.

My usual spot for Saturday and Sunday sports-watching is Bokampers.  Located right on Fort Lauderdale’s Intracoastal waterway this place has 167 TVs!  Yes, you read that right.  One. Hundred. And. Sixty. Seven.  If you can’t find your game here then your team must be in terrible shape.  Even on the day I captured this shot one of their TVs was on the fritz and still it was an ideal football watching day.

Sometime in mid-November, Bokampers opened a new location, Bo’s Pub Las Olas.  It’s a spot right on what I like to call the Rodeo Drive of Fort Lauderdale, where all of the hot restaurants and boutique shops are.  I forget what this place was before they turned it into a sports pub, but adding the dvLED wall made me a total fan.  With lots of TVs mounted throughout the downstairs and this awesome video wall, you won’t miss a single play when you come here to watch a game.

If you have ever met me, you know I’d be remiss if I didn’t throw in one last establishment… Heather’s Hut!  It’s by far my favorite spot ever to watch a game.  The food’s amazing, the drinks are always cold, and even if it’s just me and my pups, the company cannot be beat, even if my team is!

Drop a comment and let me know your favorite spots to catch the game and why.  I could use some recommendations for my upcoming travel schedule.

E4 Experience Recap. It was more than just an event.

So that’s a wrap on the 2019 Spring E4 Experience.  And this year, it was more than an event… it was an ExperienceRead on, I’ll explain.

In this, its tenth year Almo shed the name of the award winning E4 AV Tour, and rebranded the event the E4 Experience.  Said Melody Craigmyle, Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Almo Corporation, “We’re seeing the industry really focus on the customer experience, be it live events, business meetings or house of worship experiences.  We are giving them an invaluable, full-day encounter that enables resellers, integrators and end-users to connect, learn and grow.  Especially if they’ve not got the opportunity to travel to other industry trade shows.”

Outside of InfoComm, (happening June 8-14 in Orlando, FL), the only other show you can attend and receive multiple CTS Renewal Units in a single day is the E4 Experience, featuring new exhibitors, new instructors, and exciting new networking opportunities.

Almo created new partnerships in 2019 with the SDVoE Alliance to offer an AV-over-IP Design Certification as well as the Digital Signage Federation to give attendees the opportunity to earn certification in the fast-paced Foundations of Digital Signage course.  Back by popular demand this spring was the highly attended Guided Exhibit Hall Tour, led by industry veteran and rAVe [Publications] founder Gary Kayye.

“We recruited super-star educations – influential and highly respected business professionals – to help our attendees stretch their knowledge, spark new ideas and embrace the future of Pro AV and IT”, said Craigmyle.

Among those all-star instructors who joined us in Chicago and Southern California this March and April was Justin Kennington, president of SDVoE, who said the organization was happy to participate in the E4 Experience because of the opportunity to make the jobs easier for system designers and installers, ultimately making their customers happier.  He noted “the Certified Design Partner program teaches attendees the difference between designing with matrix switches and designing with SDVoE – those who are certified become recognized experts in how to successfully design AV systems on this platform and how to communication the benefits to customers.”

Brian Gorg, executive director of the Digital Signage Federation was also pleased to be able to bring unbiased and relevant information to those looking to further their digital signage practice.  “The Digital Signage Federation is proud to participate in the E4 Experience where we may education integrators, resellers and end users about the business and technical aspects of digital signage.

In total, there were 11 CTS Renewal Units to be had whether you attended Chicago or Southern California.  It’s impossible to attend two classes at once, but the sheer availability to earn a total of five in a single day is virtually unheard of.  Thanks to the incredible partnerships Almo has with our manufacturer partners and sponsors, the opportunity to maintain this very important certification was provided to all attendees free of charge and included parking validation, breakfast and lunch, and hundreds of products on exhibit featuring the latest technology available by vendors like LG, Sharp, and new vendors like Vivitek, D-Link systems, VDO360 and Barco.

If certification RUs and hot new technology wasn’t your thing, we had that covered, too.  Sharp presented a hugely popular autograph and photo opportunity with sports legends at both stops.  Chicago guests were thrilled to meet and chat with former Chicago Bears quarterback and two-time Super Bowl Champion, Jim McMahon and in Southern California fans took autographs and selfies with former Major League Baseball Rookie of the Year, MVP and six-time All-Star Jose Canseco.

It’s a whirlwind, having two shows in two very different parts of the country within less than one month of each other!  It takes a great deal of effort and planning to set up this one day show.  Weeks to do site visits and choose an ideal location, more time to scrutinize schedules and choose a date that has no conflicts with holidays or other industry shows.  Then months of coordinating with vendor partners to organize booth space, secure their latest technology to showcase and get it shipped to the location.

When it’s show time, it takes a village, but we set up an E4 Experience in a single day!  It’s all hands on deck to set up every vendor booth, registration desk, classrooms and the main stage.  It’s fun to see it all come together.  And the morning of the event really brings it home why we at Almo put so much effort into these events.

If you joined us in Chicago or Southern California let us know!  Drop a comment and tell us what you thought, learned and or earned.  And if you missed it, you’ll have another shot.  Registration opens late summer for our fall show.  We’ll be bringing our all-star instructors, advanced education, new technology, new vendor surprises and special celebrity autograph session to Teaneck, NJ on September 25 and Alpharetta, GA on October 15.  We can’t wait to see you there!


Last week a friend and I went to check out Taco Tuesday at a new hotspot down by my favorite watering hole in Lauderdale by the Sea.  I expected to enjoy dinner and a drink surrounded by sunshine and music at the open-air bar.  I did NOT expect the chance to geek out after hours with an AV/how to create stress-free collaboration chat, but that’s just what happened.

He’s a sales rep for commercial grade office furniture, and had a big meeting coming up that week.  “You work in PowerPoint, don’t you?” he asked. Ah-ha!  An ulterior motive!  I fully expected him to ask for help with his transitions or animation.  He followed up with, “how do you show your PowerPoint on a TV in a conference room?”  I ignored my initial instinct to correct him on the term “TV” and instead reveled at the chance to talk shop.  He rattled off the familiar complaints about meetings we are all familiar with. People unengaged and even checked out. Meetings can never start on time because it takes too long to set up presentations and project to the displays or screen.  And on and on.

Well!  Isn’t this right up my alley?  As the resident Barco ClickShare expert for the Florida office I am a big fan of the simple technology that makes sharing content and collaborating easy for anyone in any meeting.  I was more than happy to launch into the features and benefits of ClickShare, and how Barco has been changing how meetings are conducted for the past few years with full BYOD support and zero obstacles for downloading software.  IT departments pretty much anywhere can jump on board thanks to the 3 levels of security built into the technology.  And now that they have the CSE-200+ and CSE-800 that does touch back, annotation, and blackboarding for touch panels, the sky’s the limit when it comes to presenting and collaboration.

My friend was intrigued. One device that can easily alleviate all the meeting issues he described?  Not a mythical unicorn!

Unfortunately the company my friend was calling on did not have a ClickShare-enabled conference room, so he was left tethered to the display via an unattractive HDMI cord draped from the conference room table.  Great for impromptu limbo parties, but cumbersome and awkward for presentations and sales pitches.  Fortunately, he still landed the sale.

If he keeps inviting me for dinner on Taco Tuesday I’ll invite him into our office for a personal demo.  In the meantime, he’s going to have to keep wowing his customers with his winning personality

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