Last week and this two technology reps hit New York with their roadshows; Sapphire Marketting last week and SYMCO this. I managed time for a very quick visit to each, and saw a handful of interesting things.
For those who don't know the nice folk at Sapphire, they're reps for several major tech manufacturers, including Crestron, Vaddio, Tripplite, Delta (the displays, not the faucets) and others. Symco reps Savant Systems, Barco, SVSI, Biamp, and different others.
With the big Infocomm tradeshow just around the corner this is a tiny bit of an off time to be checking out new products. There was a handful of hardware I'd not seen in person as of yet, including the EasyUSB line from Vaddio (more on this later), but there wasn't a wow, gee-whiz, crazy innovation that would knock your socks off - unless, of course, your socks are knocked off by seeing one of Sapphire's familiar faces don a motorcycle helmet and do some variant of the Harlem Shake. If that's the case, I suggest you invest in some sock-garters. To the best of my knowledge, nobody at Symco did the Harlem Shake. Whether that's a point in favor of Sapphire or a point for Symco is, I suppose, a question for the reader.
I'd caught demos of Cybertouch and Delta Displays recently (see earlier post), so I didn't dwell on those at the Sapphire event. It was a treat to see Vaddio in person, especially with some of their new products destined for use in a current project of mine. They have some very nice quality high-definition pan-tilt-zoom cameras and digital mic arrays in their "EasyUSB" line as well as an audio/video to USB (or H.264) encoder called the AVBridge. Why would you want to do such a thing? So you could use a software-based conference solution (Lync, Jabber, etc) or recording solution in a conference room. It's not always the best solution, but it can be a very attractive option for organizations with existing unified communications infrastructure to leverage. More on that in a later post. The products, of course, have the quality I expect from Vaddio.
Next door to Vaddio was MondoPad. Their product is a flat-panel display with integrated camera, microphone, speakers, and PC with both interactive whiteboarding and collaborative software. There were smartphone apps and videoconferencing (SIP and h.323). When I asked about a better camera for a larger room (it's a 55" display; you're not necessarily going to be right on top of it) the rep nodded next door at Vadio.
Coincidentally, Symco also had an all-in-one PC/multitouch flatpanel/VTC endpoint from Clary.icon. Like MondoPad, the Clari.icon product had an integrated PC, high-definition camera, mic, speakers, interactive whiteboard software, etc. Where MondoPad has a slight edge is with the inclusion of a second WiFi radio. Why two? One points at the network for internet access and videoconferencing while the other can be used with smartphone screen capture and control apps. A cranky wifi at the event space hampered the demo of Clary.icon's remote control app with considerable lag. While this clearly appeared to be a network issue rather than a problem inherent in the device it did highlight what a thoughtful design choice the second WiFi radio is.
Other products over the two days? I'll confess to not stopping by Crestron as I'm fairly up-to-date with their offerings, having gone so far as to specify the new 64x64 DM switch. They also offered a brief introductory class to the "smart objects" in their newly updated programming environment (relabeled from Core3 to alleviate confusion with their 3 series processors). There were also some very nice architectural items at Sapphire, including this groovy LCD lift which would be a great fit for a conference table in a high-end boardroom. Someone else had already articulated my wish before I got there: an option for an HDBaseT LCD taking its power along with video and control over the single Cat5. Not today, but perhaps someday soon.
Again at the Symco side I got my first in-person look at Savant Systems' switching solutions. I'd already been introduced to their control options which use an Apple Mac Mini as a host and iOS devices as control interfaces. It's a very nice thought, but for many applications the absence of support for non-Apple platforms (so far!) is a bit of a deal-breaker. A 12x12 switcher fits into a 3RU box (compare 4RU for an AMX Enova 8x8 or 16x16, 4 for a Crestron 8x8, and 7 for a Crestron 16x16). They were showing off local HDMI inputs and outputs along with a tiling card that switched sources in up to five tiles (in what seemed to be fixed configurations). The switching was very slow, but that might have been a matter of the physical configuration; they'd taken the output of the tile processor to the display rather than use it as another switcher input and send a "regular" output to the display. This means that, in addition to negotiating EDID and the HDCP and the like, the tiling processor might have had to recalculate with each switch. I'd like to see the unit in action before judging any farther (and they tell me that it's much, much faster if configured correctly). It's clear that Savant wants to compete in the same space as Crestron and AMX.
There is, of course, more to discuss about some of these. Look for more details on Vaddio, on Savant, on SVSI (not mentioned in this post).