On the Circuit

How do you keep up with new gear and changing trends? 4/11/2012 7:41 AM Eastern

On the Circuit

Apr 11, 2012 11:41 AM

How do you keep up with new gear and changing trends? Recently there’s been some high-profile discussion about whether the big annual tradeshows are the best option and whether it’s best to focus on regional outreach and training. In my experience, it’s yes to both.

This week, I attended the E4 AV Tour presented by Almo Pro AV at the Hyatt Regency in Irvine, Calif. When I walked in the door, I naturally headed straight for the way-finding podium, which bore a tasteful, but explicit brass plaque asserting that it was “not a touchscreen”—a victory for the cleaning staff no doubt and a reassurance to visitors that the screen had not in fact frozen. It was all the preamble necessary for the conference and tradeshow going on just a few feet away in the grand ballroom. Inside, almost everything emphatically was a touchscreen. Or as in the case of the Samsung, the Smart TV was not a touchscreen because it instead responded to voice and motion commands.

Almo is among a group of forward-thinking dealers who are stepping up to help move professional AV forward and keep us relevant in a changing world that is chock full of AV. The E4 AV Tour was a pretty big leap into the unknown when Almo started it in 2009 in New York. The show has returned to NYC every year—this year attracting 400 attendees. E4 has also touched down in cities including Dallas; San Francisco; Anaheim, Calif.; Chicago; and Washington, D.C. The scene in Irvine brought integrators together with representatives from the lines that Almo carries—including Planar, LG, NanoLumens, BrightSign, Sharp, and the exclusive Samsung Surface, among others. Several manufacturers, including SunBrite TV, had used the occasion to show product for the first time ever (manufactured in the USA by the way); others brought product that the professional market does not normally get to see.

The event also features training sessions—this time using an excellent hands-on with the Surface, as well as presentations by Brawn Consulting, including a standing-room only session on 25 keys to successful digital signage.

The role of hands-on, in-person contact in learning is key. Each form of real, brick-and-mortar communication—whether intimate or large-scale—has its distinct benefits, not least of which to remind us that we are part of an industry full of human beings. There is nothing more potent than sharing realtime exchange with another person or group of people. It may not be as efficient as a cut sheet or a YouTube demo (and hurray for both), but I think it does more to advance success and satisfaction. Your mom was right: Turn off the screen and go outside and play.

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