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Welcome to San Antonio: In Super High “Razor”-lution

It’s especially nice when the manufacturers plan their distributor summits in a nice warm location during the dead of February. Such was the case this month with Samsung in beautiful San Antonio, Texas. Distributors, resellers and DMR’s gathered to hear the vision to 2016 and beyond, while seeing some of the latest product developments.

One of the greatest things about these functions is the networking aspect. You’re surrounded by customers, the manufacturer’s folks and even your friendly competitors (and if you are lucky a celebrity or two). The opening reception kicked off this portion of the conference. Here I am rubbing elbows with George Gervin from the San Antonio Spurs (left) and Director, US B2B Distribution for Samsung, Tom Perrier (right):
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A lot of the conversations revolved around the ever-present dilemma of shrinking and sometimes even razor thin margins on displays in both the Pro and especially consumer markets. I think Samsung has got some new things up their sleeve that may be impactful for their partners as to help with the margin issue. More on that later. Now speaking of razor….

I’ve been on the road a lot lately, and even though I consider myself a season traveler, inevitable I forget something. This time it was a razor so I went down to the JW Marriott gift shop. Filled with cowboy hats, sombreros, ponchos, hot sauces and other Texas sized treats, it was your typical gift shop. I grabbed my usual brand from the stand, went up to the register and the cashier said, “That will be $20.12”. WHAT???!! $20.12 for one disposable razor?

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I said no thanks and started to wonder…in this age of fighting declining margins in our industry, how is it that a commodity product like the razor can command 3000% mark up? Location, location, location. Resourcefulness took me to the spa and they ponied up a razor at no charge.

On to the Samsung Product Showcase – in usually Samsung fashion they never disappoint when it comes to new product development. It was good to see some of the concept things coming to fruition such as:

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The transparent display which holds a multitude of applications such as retail and anywhere the end user just basically wants to be uber swank.

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The mirror display which they showed in a retail setting with RF technology in clothing and shoes that dynamically changed when the user took them to the mirror. Here is our Business Development Manager extraordinaire, Apryl Lamberti taking it for a spin.

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Outdoor displays – not just ruggedized, coated and cased back- lit LED panels but..

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Surfs’up! Samsung’s YESCO acquisition last year brings the new outdoor LED.

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Finally the indoor LED was quite a hit. Here is Apryl examining the type of panel used to make the video wall in the background.

I think the future looks bright with the new LED products (no pun intended). What Samsung was showing are solutions that require an ecosystem of services, which is where the margin lies and value to our partners. The opportunity for services such as content creation, can create that long-term relationship with a customer, long past the sale of the display.

Making the Move to 4K Ultra High Definition

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The use of 4K Ultra High Definition has skyrocketed since its commercial introduction in 2010. Professional installs of all kinds – digital signage, hospitality, corporate, education, command and control – can be dramatically enhanced due to the stunning beauty and astounding resolutions made possible with this display technology.

The worldwide 4K display market is expected to reach $52 billion by 2020 according to industry researchers. And while commercial displays are still the top use for 4K, the technology has even started to appear in the entire range of display devices we commonly use, including PC monitors, notebooks, tablets and even smartphone screens.

Here are some common questions we get asked about moving to 4K:

What makes 4K UHD such a critical display tool for commercial integrators?

A 4K UHD display has four times the number of pixels (3840 x 2160) compared to full HD (1080p) resolution. The major advantage of using 4K displays is that you can ultimately deliver a very immersive and rich experience that is in close proximity to the display without sacrificing image quality. UHD provides the ability to display finer details, amazing depth of colors and more information on a screen. As the technology matures and costs are driven down, we will see 4K screens become the norm and 1080 slowly drift away due to lack of production.

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Why purchase a 4K display through Almo Pro A/V?

brightsign4kAlmo offers a range of 4K displays, including exclusive accessibility to the Sharp AQUOS® 70-inch display, which features the Revelation Upscaler to display all content at near-4K quality for an amazing picture all the time, no matter which source is being used. Almo also offers a host of powerful media players with high storage capability from manufacturers like BrightSign to drive the data and produce the best results based on the content that is being shown.

So, what about content?

Obtaining 4K content has been the biggest 4K barrier to date, however, as the technology increases in popularity, more content is becoming available and the cost to create that content is decreasing. With Almo’s Content Creation Services, integrators have the opportunity to offer 4K standard and customized still images or full motion video content as part of an initial installation and ongoing maintenance package. This creates recurring revenue, builds margins and lengthens customer relationships.

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What if I need support to help select and integrate the 4K displays?

Almo has a highly specialized fleet of Business Development Managers that offer technical knowledge, system design assistance and in-depth brand knowledge about 4K displays to help you integrate the technology into your commercial installs. No other distributor in the AV industry provides this level of expertise to its partner community.

Super Stretch Your Digital Signage with LG

It’s no secret we’ve been moving away from the classic form of advertisement for quite some time. Static advertisement strategies to merely attract customers are a thing of the past. With the onslaught of information, creating an engaging experience around the customer is today’s minimum requirement.

Digital signage is an exploding market with ever expanding applications and innovative products that help draw attention to the message. But have you ever wanted to exhibit your latest signage project on a display that truly stands apart from the rest? Well, LG has introduced an amazing new 86” Ultra Stretch monitor for these types of cutting edge digital signage applications – the 86BH5C-B. It’s the world’s first 58:9 format featuring 4K Ultra HD resolution.

UltraHDResolution(3840x600)This distinctive display size is ideal for some very unique visual applications. The 3840 x 600 resolution provides a one-of-a-kind canvas to display lots of content with amazing color and imagery. Having an extended wide format display can provide a lot of information on a broad canvas without sacrificing image quality. For example, mounting it sideways in landscape format is a fantastic way for retail stores to display them on top of shelves and demonstrate the latest products.

lg_stretch1The portrait format mount is equally valuable and really shows the versatility of this type of monitor where it can be utilized in spaces previously unused for signage. You can mount them vertically on building columns to show the latest information and schedules at transportation hubs (i.e. airports, train stations, bus depots, etc.) and businesses (hotels, banks, art galleries, etc.). Plus, the Picture-by-Picture (PBP) feature allows you to divide the screen into four parts in landscape or portrait installations. You can use one portion of the monitor to show video (live TV) and the remaining 3 portions of still images (date/time, weather, flight schedules, etc.).

Debuted as a new digital signage format, the 86-inch LG Ultra Stretch Signage display can even double as “digital décor” (art galleries and museums come to mind). Its stunning image quality and capability of being used in diverse scenarios make this a revolutionary breakthrough in signage.

The only challenge may be in getting the exact content you desire to be custom created for this unique format. However, with the LG SuperSign media editor, you can easily edit images or video clips of original content without any additional editing programs. If you ever need help obtaining the content needed to ride on that display, Almo Content Creation services is also a fantastic option!

For more information on LG’s Ultra stretch display or any of their products please reach out to me at [email protected] / 888-420-2566 X4082

A Smart Display That’s Built to Enhance Communication

sharp_header3Sharp’s Professional division has been the industry leader in touch monitors 60 inches and above with the AQUOS BOARD®. To remain as the industry leader Sharp has had to modify these panels over the years. Some of these changes have included the addition of multi touch, anti-glare features, simultaneous annotation, and improved hand handwriting recognition, making it a collaborative solution with its touch display link software that comes free with the purchase of any AQUOS BOARD®. Sharp offers the AQUOS BOARDS® in 60”, 70” and 80” sizes, and most recently Sharp has introduced 2 more AQUOS BOARDS® to their current lineup, the PN-C603D and PN-C703B. These new versions of the AQUOS BOARD® are really aimed for the education market, specifically K-12.

The value series PN-C603D and PN-C703B don’t sacrifice features and are similar to the PN-L line up of AQUOS BOARDS® with the exception of a few differences. The PN-C603D and PN-C703B are still multi touch but only 6 points of touch versus the 10 points of touch in the PN-L series. The other differences between the PN-C and PN-L series are 2 can simultaneously annotate versus 4 people and the PN-C series are rated 16/7 rather than the more robust PN-L series which is rated at 24/7. Even though the PN-C series gives up these few features for it’s economical cost, it still comes with a 3 year warranty, sharps pen software, touch display link software – and best of all – it is still built on the same open platform as the PN-L series allowing it be versatile and agnostic to most software on the market. Even though the education vertical is the primary focus for these new AQUOS BOARDS® it can be used in any application such as way finding, collaborative conference rooms or huddle areas, interactive signage in places such as museums and hospitals.

Stay tuned to more exciting products from Sharp Professional on future blogs. For versatility and performance in business office meetings, education and high-impact signage, there’s never been a better time to think Sharp. For more information on Sharp Professional or to schedule a demo, contact Darren Altman at [email protected] or 888.420.2566 x6541.

Techorating Awesomeness: My Visit to Comcast

First, if you haven’t heard of the term “techorating”, it’s not something I made up. I thought I had but after I asked my dear friends Alan and Jonathan Brawn to write a course for our E4 AV Tour on this trend I was calling techorating, they discovered it was not an original. Techorating was a catchy term coined back in 2008 by interior designer, Doug Wilson from the TLC TV show Trading Spaces, as a concept for the emergence of integrating home technology and home decor in balance with one another. Since the Brawn’s taught this course for us a few years ago, the term caught on it the AV industry and has been written about in nearly every major AV publication, including a recent article in Digital Signage Today.com. I’ve seen a lot of great examples of techorating, especially in Las Vegas where designers and architects continue to push the limits to wow audiences, attract visitors and keep us coming back for more shows, casinos, long cab lines and the ever-present linger of 2nd hand smoke. Which is why my visit to Comcast last week was filled with techorating awesomeness! It was an experience like no other, elegantly done with a playful yet bold approach – and 100% smoke free. IMG_2835 You enter the lobby on JFK Boulevard in downtown Philadelphia, which is the tallest building in the city, and at first it looks like any other normal lobby: IMG_2822 Nice ashy oak walls, silver accents, very clean and polished look. But wait, something starts to happen and… IMG_2841 It’s not just a wall! It’s an intergalactic force to be reckoned with. No wait, it’s a water wall! IMG_2816 Cool stuff, right? It’s the attention to detail as well that struck me. Much of the content intertwines with the wall architecture, creating virtual joints in the places where the LED panels “join” – you can see from this shot that part of the image is a real joint and the other is silver colored pixels. IMG_2824 You may be wondering what I was doing lingering in the Comcast lobby. I was there on official business but I can tell you that this is one of the most visited tourist destinations in Philadelphia, so it’s not uncommon to see all sorts of people in their lobby. We launched our new Almo Connect service for our resellers to offer bandwidth, cable TV and voice services to their customers and Comcast is one of our partners (along with many other top cable providers). Why would our partners offer bandwidth services? Think about if you’re doing a digital signage deployment and you plan on refreshing high resolution content on a daily or weekly basis. You need LOTS of bandwidth! And for future proofing, think about 4K – now you’re talking BIG data coming across a network. And of course the IT people are like, “no way, not on my network!” And you’re like, “no big deal, we offer high speed internet and we can take care of everything.” Voila – the reseller makes monthly reoccurring revenue on that sale – that’s right – every single month. But back to the techorating – here’s a very cool video so you can see how they use different parts of the wall for entertainment, like this “cubical” video:

 

 

Kudos to the designers and especially to the content creators. The convergence of architecture, decorating, digital display, graphic arts done spectacularly well and I didn’t even have to walk through a casino to see it.

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