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InfoComm Best of Show 2021

The annual Best of Show Awards honor products that actually displayed at our return to in-person InfoComm 2021. They were judged on site by AV experts who were themselves back in person. A special congratulations to the product teams in this year and gratitude to our judges. Please note that we loosened some rules around release timing this year to account for the challenges of Covid.

Fibercommand VisionBeam/HydraView

Fibercommand is a new patented extender for uncompressed distribution over fiber optic with zero perceived latency for Internet, KVM, and HDMI 2.1 4K/8K for multiple simultaneous TVs. Additionally, the patented VisionBeam terminations are removable and can easily be swapped between HDMI, DVI, SDI, and USB. The cable is Plenum, doesn’t require power, is wall and fire rated, and guarantees to deliver up to 6 HDMI 2.1 4K120 / 8K60 48 Gbps uncompressed signals simultaneously. Extremely small and “rocksolid,” it was an overwhelming judge favorite for applications ranging from rental/staging to command/control. “A great extension solution without all the clutter and expense of transmitter and receiver boxes.”

Pathway eGlass

This unique and compelling device is a transparent glass board with a built-in camera that you can write on—the new whiteboard, if you will. Developed with neurologists and supported by Cognitive Learning Theory, it addresses the age-old issue of teachers having to turn their backs to the class, while also offering options that markedly improve hybrid meetings. Now the teacher can “write on the board” while facing and making eye contact with their students, whether in person or online. For collaborative meetings, the camera latency is superior to most webcams. The glass—which sits between the speaker and their computer–is imperceptible on the far end, until the speaker begins to write on it or call up browser images to it, all with natural eye contact and gestural movement. “Wow! What a brilliant idea. Really ingenious thinking in product development.”

NETGEAR M4250 AV Line Switches

The new NETGEAR AV Line of M4250 switches encompasses 11 models that are designed from the ground up for Pro AV with input from integrators, consultants, and end users. Starting from the outside appearance, they look unlike any other network switch with a sleek appearance and ports on the back of the chassis; reverse-mount rack ears are included too, as are multiple threaded mounting holes and a VESA pattern on the bottom. Judges liked that the fans could be turned off, and they responded to the new AV GUI that brings an easy-configuration PROFILES option. In considering the highly specific installation and configuration realities of Pro AV, NETGEAR proved their commitment to our judges. “So nice to see a network switch manufacturer on our side.”

Samsung Webcam Monitor

Samsung’s 24-inch Webcam Monitor S4 was built with the hybrid workforce in mind with an integrated high-definition webcam, speakers, and microphone. The 2.0-megapixel FHD and infrared camera that pop-ups from the top of the monitor with a simple spring action and can be tucked away when not in use. With the monitor working as a USB hub, a USBconnected laptop can allow additional devices to be connected simultaneously, removing any concerns about port shortage. Users can expect an HDMI, DP, D-Sub and Audio Out port as connectivity options. Ergonomics, audio options including built-in 2W stereo speakers, integrated standard software such as Windows Hello. Biometric sensors, low-blue light, viewing angle, refresh rate, and resolution were all built for prolevel comfort and to reduce fatigue add up to a detailed and thoughtful integration of camera, audio, and monitor. “It’s about time.”

D-Tools System Integrator

Version 17 adds long-awaited capabilities and productivity advancements to focus on supporting costing, margin, and performance against budget; the features better track employee efficiency, project performance, and supply critical leading indicators for financial planning purposes. New features include timesheets, business analytics that tie to time sheets, as well as job costing, labor utilization reports, scope of work reports, project revenue, and backlog. Better matching for inputted product data overcomes typos, aliases, redundancies, etc. for better input and merging of data. New ways to ID components, improved Gantt chart functionality, and additional communication tools jumped out at judges. “D-Tools continues to impress with this major new version, creating both a design tool and back-of-house support software.”

LynTec Narrow Profile Panelboards

Recognizing that utility space is always at a premium and that designers are always looking to maximize available space or utilize dead space for power control options, LynTec challenged itself to create a product that was just nine inches wide, holding either 30 or 42 controllable circuit breakers. A secondary benefit is the panels can be mounted much closer to the end loads. This can dramatically lower the electrical distribution installation labor and material costs. Pitched at live events, stadiums, performance spaces, and mega-churches with robust AVL demands and unique infrastructure requirements. From the judges: “What a great idea for a niche product, a real space save and problem solver.”

Aurora Multimedia VPX-TC1

Small is in. The VPX-TC1 Pro Series utilizes Aurora’s new Mimix CODEC technology, claiming near perfect reproduction of video and graphic images at resolutions up to 4K60 4:4:4 over 1G networks. HDR10, 10+ and Dolby Vision are supported as are HDMI 1.0b, and HDCP 2.2/2.3. It has only one frame (16.6ms) of latency and seamless switching for fast lag free content. Power consumption is as little as 8 watts with no fan and a small form factor. Whether operating as a transmitter or receiver audio can be de embedded at any location, and/or be sent to or received from a Dante enabled device; AES 256 encryption is supported. The USB is also flexible, working as a KVM and/or a high-speed data transfer (100Mbps) for memory sticks and cameras. “Very accommodating and practical features built into this powerful box.”

Renkus-Heinz Iconyx Compact Series- RD1

The narrow profile and exceptional directivity of the Iconyx Compact Series brings the performance of beam-steered line arrays to even the most architecturally sensitive spaces. An integrated Dante Ultimo chip, and support for Crestron’s remote-control solutions round out this modern problem-solver. Plus custom-color matching. “Just another great product from RH.” ”Continually impressive sound.” “Great vocal reproduction,” were among the judges comments.

Samsung The Wall

Though not technically a new product, judges consider The Wall for 2021 as part of granting latitude to accommodate the wacky scheduling challenges of tradeshows through Covid. This unique modular microLED display is straight-up gorgeous at up to over 1000 inches and judges had a chance to see that in person at IC21. With modular flexibility, AI scaling, white glove support, it’s what you want in a premium product. From the judges:“Unbelievable picture quality in a limitless size.” “Quality and resolution are fantastic.”

Ross Tria Express Duet Compact Poduction Server

For churches or any other broadcast-style AV application, this is a single hardware platform that can be licensed as a two channel or four channel server. The two channel model features two symmetrical channels with both inputs and outputs. The four channel model uses the same two symmetrical channels and activates two additional playback-only channels. All channels can quickly be reconfigured to suit multiple workflows including individual video playback, video and key playback, time slip recording, multiscreen video asset playback, and much more. Judges likened it to a small post production facility in a box. “The ability to playback key layers gives this product good flexibility and the interface provides ease of use.”

Bolin Technology Dante AV PTZ camera

Bolin D412 is the world first Dante AV PTZ camera powered by Dante AV module and Bolin’s FPGA engineering design. This longstanding manufacturer (and veteran AV, OEM) is supporting Dante Audio natively along with the ProAV-optimized implementation of JPEG2000 to provide up to 4K60 resolution YUV4:2:2 streaming with extremely low latency and 100% sync over 1Gbps network. Secondary IP streaming and IP control provides RTSP and RTMP options for live streaming. The camera integrates all the expected PTZ standard features as well as using Dante Controller. Judges were pleased to see the first Dante AV shipping camera and look forward to more to come from the Dante AV ecosystem.

IHSE Draco MV42-4K60 Multiviewer

Designed to add flexibility to KVM management systems, while integrating seamlessly with IHSE’s full line of KVM extenders and switchers, the Draco MV42-4K60 dual-head HDMI 2.0 multiviewer offers a unique set of visualization features for control rooms or presentation room environments, especially where hundreds of endpoints are in play. Judges responded to the sheer practicality and accessibility of this 4-port multiviewer, with its dual-head display friendliness, and wide flexibility of IO and screen layout. Support for USB-HID and USB 2.0 allow for full control of connected devices via a keyboard and mouse. The MV2-4K60 supports audio de-embedding to 8-channel digital or stereo analog. A workhorse product that cleanly addresses mature market needs.

Sennheiser TeamConnect Ceiling 2 with TruVoiceLift

The TeamConnect Ceiling 2, with its patented automatic dynamic beamforming technology, was already a leader in conference room audio technology. Now, with the addition of TruVoicelift and advanced zone control, TeamConnect Ceiling 2 combines the advantages of a boundary microphone and a microphone array and provides advanced levels of zone management. Judges like the additional functionality with a product that has already distinguished itself with sound quality and natural speech pickup.

Apantac SDM Interfaces

One of Apantac’s highlights this year is its new line of interface products that are based on the Intel SDM Platform. SDM stands for Smart Display Module, and it was launched in 2018 as a standard with 2 form factors: large (SDM-L) and small (SDM-S). SDM modules can be inserted into display for direct control from source to display, even for slim displays. Apantac SDM solutions, are based on the Intel Cyclone 10 and Arria V FPGAs and provide flexibility for extending and connecting UHD signals to SDM displays. Judges really liked the innovation and forward-looking design whether for broadcast, ProAV, or AVoIP. Judges evaluated the SDM-SDI-HDTV-UHD, which adds UHD SDI Input Connectivity. It is a 12G (3G, HD) SDI Receiver for SDM with SDI loop-out and HDMI 2.0 4:4:4 output. They found it to be a robust widget with a wide array of applications.

MAXHUB LM220A18 220″ 4K LED Video Display

The new addition to the dv LED line seeks to radically simplify control with a modern OS for more natural interaction. The integrated studioquality speaker enhances voice intelligibility. From the judges: “Love the product concept – the fact that the electronics to drive the wall are included in the ‘sound’ bar beneath the display makes it super easy to install.”

VANGUARD LED Displays Axion Invictus

Judges found this product with its ChipFlip Technology for low failure rate, hot swappable modules, no external cables, no internal ribbons, and range of pixel pitches including P0.7, P0.9, P1.25, P1.5.625, P1.875, and P2.5 very easy to like. It’s front serviceable, looks great, is epoxy coated for weather. TAA compliant—just a lot of flexible and useful features. “A well built LED package in an excellent form factor. Nice pick of pixel pitches.” “This is a great product with a low failure rate driven by the ChipFlip. Quality and installation similar to other video walls with ease of use resulting in high quality installations.”

Absen CL Series 

Clear Cobalt is the new generation of display products from Absen and supports 2K/4K/8K for higher HD display requirements. Judges found it a viable next-generation solution to LED large-scale displays and appreciated the support for resolutions at 2k, 4k and 8K. “The bracket system looks simple to install.” This product is not yet shipping—a latitude granted in the time of Covid—but also a caveat.

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