As a proud Kentucky native, I look forward to the Kentucky Derby every year. The hats, the pageantry, the mint juleps, the horses – it’s all just an incredible spectacle for the best 2:30 (approx.) seconds in sports. For your information Secretariat ran it in less than read more
As a product manager in Pro AV Sales, or any type of sales, really, it’s critical to be able to connect with your customers. While establishing a relationship using only the telephone is not impossible, I’ve discovered that connections and rapport can be made more quickly and become much stronger in-person. A great way to personally connect with partners and resellers in the Pro AV world is through technology training and product roadshows. It’s a great way to say, “check this new gadget out” and “thank you for your business!”
At Almo PRO AV we bring the future of AV to you via our E4 AV Tour. These one-day events, held in different cities across the country offer product exhibit halls, educational classes for CTS renewal units, demonstrations, and one-on-one engagement with our Almo Pro AV Business Development Managers and their respective manufacturers.
For me… it’s all about LG!
At our most recent E4 AV Tour stop in Boson, Commercial Integrator Magazine named LG a leading manufacturer with “Standout Products” for its OLED technology, suggested to be “one of the most eye-catching displays on the exhibit floor.”
LG’s 4K dual-sided OLED straight displays are available now. The curved models are coming late this month.
At the end of September, Almo sponsored an invitation-only reseller event at the LG Business Innovation Center in Lincolnshire, IL. Approximately 25 resellers attended this event and enjoyed in-person training on LG’s exclusive OLED, IPS technology and a private tour of the facility. Product demonstrations showcased a full assortment of LG products, including LG Stretch, 4k, OLED dual side and curved models, video walls and the soon to be released 98” display. Steve Stacy, Almo’s VP of Sales for the Midwest and Northwest Regions delivered a summary presentation on Almo’s Value Add services such as Content Management, Installation and Connectivity.
Our events provide hand-on technical training as a component of social learning and partner collaboration. I look forward to building new partnerships and strengthening the existing ones in a comfortable, friendly setting that opens lines of communication.
Looking ahead, the Almo E4 AV Tour makes its final stop in 2016 on Tuesday Dallas in the Lone Star State. As we wind down the year we’re continuing to plan new and exciting ways to bring our partners and resellers emerging technologies.
The popularity of video walls in in the Pro/AV industry is exploding. The market is competitive and selecting the best video wall solution may feel overwhelming. Video walls can be configured in an infinite range of shapes, sizes and technology. With LG’s Commercial Display Portfolio that targets all vertical markets you can create stunning video walls that are easily installed, maintained and managed. LG offers a Commercial Display Portfolio that targets all vertical markets.
Most of us are comfortable talking about LCD (liquid crystal display) flat panels. We see this technology every day in computer monitors, smart phones and TVs. They are cost effective and high resolution. This makes displaying text images and video aesthetically pleasing. Typically though, their bezel width is visible, so when you are creating a video wall, the “big picture” is far from seamless.
Direct view LED panels are bezel free, so you can create different configurations for a seamless video wall. They are great for large scale digital signage solutions due to their efficiency, reliability, refresh rates and color accuracy.
OLED or “Organic Light Emitting Diod’s” are solid state devices made up of thin films of organic molecules that glow when an electric current is introduced. When the light passes through the layers, it produces spectacular high definition images. LG’s perfect OLED design has only two layers, making their digital signage display unbelievably light-weight and incredibly thin; 4.5 mm at its thinnest point.
Image Gap reduction from LG provides a beautiful, crisp clear picture… without image distortion.
As the content moves from one screen to another, and the picture is shared across multiple screens, look to LG for the distortion-free “BIG PICTURE” every time.
Being in the Pro Av arena for 10 years there is really not much that I haven’t seen. You would think by now I wouldn’t be the person walking behind a LCD panel in a store or restaurant to see what mount is being used or what type of ceiling accessory it has…..well, you would be wrong! Yes, I am still that person! Just yesterday I received a text message with a picture from my niece while she was at Petco Stadium watching the Padres vs Diamondbacks game, instead of commenting on her experience my first response was “I love that stadium! I was part of their original AV renovation project in the early 2000’s”! Again, I am that person.
With that said, while there is not much in the AV arena I haven’t seen, there is still a TON that impresses me! Living in Chicago I have access to some of the most historic arenas and stadiums equipped with the best AV systems money can buy. Last month I had the privilege of going to the United Center to see Adele perform live. While I’ve been to the United Center numerous times over the last year, no other experience compared to this for me. I walk through the doors on July 13th and see the 35’ x 9’ curved video wall with no other than, yes, you guessed it, Adele! I was smiling from ear to ear and most definitely felt like a newbie in the AV industry. I am a huge fan. =)
As with many sporting events and concerts, signage was everywhere! Visitors of the United Center can see 64, 42 inch flat panel displays throughout the 100 level concourses, not to mention LED boards inside each of the four main gate entrances.
I feel very lucky to be part of a great industry like Pro Av! I get to help clients spec in products that enhance their customers experience in many different vertical markets. On July 13th I was just a patron benefiting from a truly immersive fan experience thanks to innovative, Pro Av solutions.
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. 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: Nice ashy oak walls, silver accents, very clean and polished look. But wait, something starts to happen and… It’s not just a wall! It’s an intergalactic force to be reckoned with. No wait, it’s a water wall! 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. 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.
It seems flat panel displays are virtually everywhere these days and have gotten larger, thinner, lighter, and less expensive than ever. Not that long ago in applications requiring a large image a projector was the natural choice, however as flat panels have evolved you are now seeing them installed where historically it would have been a projector. I am not denying the benefits of using a flat panel display, but there are many reasons why projection would be the way to go.
For starters, let’s look at image size. Generally speaking 98” is about the largest flat panel that is readily available at this time. So in instances where an image of larger than 98” diagonal is required, projection becomes the only option to use for a single display device without the complexity of multi-screen video walls. This is pretty clear cut, but size is not the only consideration.
Often audio visual components are integrated into high end architectural spaces including corporate board rooms, lecture centers, training facilities, and more where the display device may not always be in use and for aesthetic reasons the client may not want to “see” the technology in the room. Most projectors are ceiling mounted and generally out of view or can be installed in a lift that can disappear into the ceiling. Projection screens also can disappear when not in use by recessing flush into the ceiling.
Another key consideration is cost. While flat panels have certainly become affordable, however once you get up into the larger sizes above 80”- 90” the costs can still be prohibitive in many cases where projection will often be much more affordable. For illustration purposes consider a 98” professional grade monitor at a cost of $32,679.00 compared to an installation class projector like the Epson PowerLite Pro G 6770WU which is 1920×1200 resolution at 6000 lumens available at a retail price of $5,699.00.
When it comes to unique display applications there are times when a flat panel display is simply not an option. Think about events where you have projection on floor surfaces or on buildings. With projection mapping some really unique projects can be pulled off. A really cool example of this was recently featured in a case study on the basketball arena at Pensacola Christian College using Epson Pro G projectors:
Both flat panel displays and projectors have their pros and cons, however projection is still and will continue to be a great choice for many display applications. For assistance in selecting the right Epson projector or to learn more, contact Brian Rhatigan at email@example.com or 888.420.2566 x6546.
So when did your end user last consider refreshing an older video wall? What a great question. I bet most end users consider replacing or reconfiguring video walls a prohibitive exercise of expense for soft dollar returns. In other words, it’s about metrics related to advertising attention or informational effectiveness. But soft dollars are challenging to measure and hard for integrators to include in project proposals designed to convince end users.
But today there’s more! When advances in large display panel technology, mount designs, content software, signal distribution, and control are combined with lower purchase, implementation, and operational costs, a “perfect storm” of hard cost justification opportunity begins to form. Add in the possibility that the end user’s current video wall may be fully depreciated as a capital expense, and BINGO! ….. dealers and integrators have a great pitch to sell.
In the coming month, Almo ProAV will be reviewing the opportunities with Video Wall Refresh. In the meantime, here are some quick items to consider:
- Energy Savings: Today’s panels are much more efficient in operation, substantially reducing energy costs. Those savings alone can nearly justify a whole project.
- Advanced Design and Features: One example is ambient light sensors that provide auto dimming. Another example is High Brightness (high nit) panels for high ambient light environments
- Lower Install Costs: Today’s mount designs reduce install time. Easy to use color calibration tools reduce install time as well
- Lower Large Format Display Costs: Perhaps consider a single 90”+ display rather than a 2×2 wall, for example
Look for discussion guide to Video Wall Refresh in the coming months.
Over the past few years AV professionals have known that their industry has merged with IT in many different facets. Part of that collision of industries involves an impact on network resources, which is significant to say the least. Equally important is finding the best telecom services that are needed to support those network requirements. Almost every AV project involves some form of telecom in how they will effectively operate. Consequently, data connectivity and bandwidth requirements are in high demand and must be addressed for these A/V solutions to function successfully.
Bandwidth governs all access to the Internet, the speed that data, images, and video can be uploaded and downloaded, and whether usage will be seamless or problematic. Capabilities vary from venue-to-venue, location-to-location, and project to project. As A/V technologies and solutions advance there is a perpetual requirement for the right telecom services to make them work. There are many key indicators that would trigger the need for more bandwidth to be successful in a new project.
But how well are you prepared to handle bandwidth requirements and telecom services on your next AV solution?
Here are some examples and ways to evaluate your AV projects and the resulting telecom needs:
Video Walls – need bandwidth to update content and stream video/audio content. They require a substantial bandwidth pipeline to accommodate the download requirements of streaming high definition video content and services. Without the appropriate amount of bandwidth your message
Video Teleconferencing – Expecting flawless video and audio during a teleconference requires proper upstream bandwidth for smooth conversations without lag, jitter, and choppy images. If you’ve just outfitted your customer with a new video teleconferencing system, you need to have the conversation with them about obtaining the appropriate amount of bandwidth to accommodate that service functionally. The impact on network resources should be realized and planned accordingly from the beginning.
Video Surveillance – We’ve been seeing the transition from analog to IP cameras used for surveillance over the last few years. Now that these cameras are riding on category cables (Cat 5e/6a) and connected to a network they will also need to send and retrieve stored information on network video recorders (NVRs). If you plan on viewing or recording footage remotely then you will need to have substantial upload capability to accommodate bandwidth hungry high resolution megapixel cameras. For reference, a single 3 megapixel IP camera operating at 30 frames per second will need at least 50 Mbps of network bandwidth to operate effectively.
VoIP Phones – If you have a PBX system that is about to migrate to the cloud, you will have to consider the bandwidth requirements to support this new move. You’ll save money on hardware overall, but an upgrade to business class voice services will definitely require an increase in available bandwidth. And, since your telephone system is so critical to daily operations, you will likely need to have a dedicated Ethernet circuit brought into the business. These types of circuits offer guaranteed service level agreements (SLAs) that guarantee uptime of your network for mission critical operations, like your phone system. This is especially critical for call centers handling numerous calls simultaneously.
Streaming HD Video Services – with the advent of streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube the network will always be taxed to deliver the intense data load of HD content. Bandwidth hungry services like YouTube, Hulu, Netflix, etc. are driving the need to provide more bandwidth to businesses that support these applications. Hospitality is one market that is constantly changing its bandwidth requirements to conform to their customer’s habits of online gaming, streaming video services, guest Wi-Fi usage for multiple devices, etc.
All of the previously mentioned examples are key indicators that a conversation should take place about evaluating, and possibly upgrading, your bandwidth circuits to support – cable TV services, streaming HD video, video teleconferencing, digital signage content, command and control rooms, VoIP phone systems, and surveillance applications.
Remember: Key indications that you need a bandwidth discussion begin with a complete evaluation of the project, network environment, and overall requirements. Without the right speed, their applications may be slow. They need connectivity that will help keep everything working as you intended. And they are going to look to someone for connectivity. Why not have it be you? Offering customers something that they have an existing need for adds an additional tool in your tool belt, and allows integrators to become more complete solutions providers. If you are a trusted technical partner of your customer and they depend upon your expertise to keep their projects running flawlessly, you should be involved in the discussions for bandwidth requirements and telecom services.
ALMO CONNECT’s national telecom services aims to be your complete telecom solutions and bandwidth provider that will help you become even more valuable to your customers and their projects.
We all know a well executed video wall makes quite an impression; multiple displays working in concert to provide remarkable images bound only by constraints of the imagination. As AV professionals, we may sometimes “ooh” and “ahh” over the latest gizmos that makes this possible. Yet, there is one critical element that is often overlooked for accolades and glory – it’s the only piece of the system with no electronic component and without which, the entire project would literally fall apart. Yes, the lowly mount. Often described as nothing more than “bent metal”, these seemingly insignificant items are essential to the success of a video wall project. More than just a fancy picture wire, the right mounting solution can make or break a project.
So, what factors should be considered when selecting a video wall mounting solution? The following provides some suggestions bearing in mind that personal preferences, installed costs, and total cost of ownership come into play with many of these items.
While displays have become lighter over time, a video wall still can be extremely heavy. Limit your choice to UL rated mounts that are rated for more than the load of the system. Remember, beyond ensuring the structural capacity of the mount, the surface to which the mount is attached must be able to adequately support the system. In March of 2013, a 10 year old boy was killed when a single display fell on him in an airport. In this case, fault was found not with the mount, but with the structure to which it was attached. When calculating the weight of the system, remember to also include the mount itself and all associated hardware.
Have a large open space that needs a centrally located video wall – perhaps an atrium or open food court? Video Walls are not just limited to walls. Several options are now available to provide flexible location options, allowing you to position the solution where it is most effective. This includes mobile free standing video wall carts, bolt down solutions, and ceiling mounts.
Ease of installation
A significant time saver when setting up a video wall is to have some easy method to accurately position mounts relative to each other. This should include the proper horizontal and vertical spacing for the specific displays and pre-leveled relative to the other displays. Mount manufacturers have different design philosophies to make this easier. For example, one manufacturer achieves preliminary alignment with display-specific horizontal and vertical spacers placed between individual mounts. Another uses readily available unistrut channel run the length of the entire video wall, providing a consistent, level mounting surface, and extensive horizontal shift options. The pre-install leveling design is often mount manufacturer-specific and patented.
It’s been said that there are no straight lines in nature. Spend enough time trying to align displays in a video wall, and you’ll realize that there are very few truly straight and level lines in man-made structures, too. Not floors, not walls, and not ceilings. So even if you carefully measure the anticipated position of the displays relative any one surface and used the pre-install leveling methods described above, the final result may not look exactly right even if your level tells you otherwise. Having the ability to adjust individual displays relative to all the others can save you time and frustration. This includes horizontal and vertical tilt, height, and depth. Additionally, some display manufacturers will void the warranty if a minimum gap is not maintained between displays further making this post installation adjustment important. Many mounts ship with a hex wrench or other tool required for these adjustments. Some mounting systems go a step further and allow adjustment without any tools – eliminating the need to climb down from the ladder and start fishing behind the displays when you drop your last Allen key.
Displays don’t last forever. Inevitably, the one that will need service first will be the one in the middle of a matrix of displays. Removing, replacing, and realigning all the surrounding displays to service the culprit can take a lot of time. Several mount manufacturers provide for removal of a single display from the middle of a matrix, without disturbing any of the surrounding units. Some designs require applying light pressure to the front or bezel of the display, which then releases the display as it pops forward enough to reach the release mechanism. Some display manufacturers initially frowned on this idea due the idea of applying pressure to the displays. They became comfortable with this approach after seeing it properly applied in action. Another design for releasing displays uses pull cords that can be hidden behind displays or even located somewhat remotely in a locked panel. This approach provides additional security and eliminates the need to apply any pressure to the panel. The release cords include labeling tags to easily identify which display is being released.
Displays are getting lighter, thieves are getting smarter, vandalism is expensive, and sometimes accidents just happen. Almost all video wall mounts provide the ability to lock the displays to prevent removal. However, locks are typically not included and sometimes additional hardware is advised. For example, adding a lock may deter removal of a display, but the display may still be shifted horizontally along the mounting rails. In these cases, make sure to budget for the additional hardware to prevent horizontal shift – whether intentional or just from someone absent mindedly leaning against the sides of the displays.
Local and Federal Regulations
Details of potential compliance issues extend well beyond the scope of this article. Yet, keep in mind that ADA regulations specify how far objects can protrude from a wall depending on the height of the unit. For example, wall mounted objects whose bottom edge is between 27” and 80” off the ground, cannot stick out more than 4” from the wall. Free-standing objects of a similar height cannot stick out more than 12”. Allowing for the depth of the mount when combined with the displays, or the ability to recess the video wall, may be the determining factor on if your system meets local and federal requirements.
System Life Cycle
Things break. Technology becomes outdated. Customers change their mind at the last minute or want the latest and greatest widget that just came out. Just installed that gorgeous video wall? Guess what – your customer now wants the 8K option. Maybe not. But just in case, consider a mounting solution that is not display-brand-specific. While some display manufacturers offer innovative video-wall solutions for their products, and some offer them as part of a cost-savings bundle, it may be beneficial to consider if the same mounts can be used with other displays down the road.
Not all video wall solutions are equal. While the above is by no means comprehensive, and neither are the mounting options in this guide, hopefully it provides some food for thought in your planning process. For specific suggestions on your project, give us a call. We’re here to help.
Video walls reach into a diverse realm of markets that include retail, stadiums, arenas, theme parks, museums, galleries, casinos, hotels, shopping malls, houses of worship, transportation hubs, command and control centers, convention centers and theaters,… just to name a few. Each different application has its own message to bring to these venues and their target audiences. Whether it’s to enhance the entertainment experience, engage the customer, or to provide information in a more effective manner, you can accomplish that with more impact using a visually stunning video wall system.
Today, venues and attractions are faced with the challenges of attracting more visitors and exploring new revenue streams. In our fast-paced digital world, passive audiences are a thing of the past: people want to take part in the experience and participate actively. It’s especially important to engage visitors from the moment they walk through the door. A video wall makes an immediate and unforgettable impression that can entertain audiences with a rich and rewarding experience, or educate and stimulate visitors. Let’s take a deeper look into the benefits that video wall products offer some different markets to help get their specific messages across.
Businesses need to grab the attention and focus of their customers. With smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices competing for their attention, it is crucial to make a strong first impression. Video walls can give businesses the visual presence they need, as they are remarkably effective and versatile. Companies can use them as a marketing focal point, a message center, or higher profile advertisement. Video walls can display any digital data that a business wants to share with its employees, partners, clients, and prospective customers. With spectacular video detail and digital content, video walls can drive companies toward their business objectives and goals.
Visualization is a key element in bringing the ultimate fan experience to life in any modern sports venue. Sports fans want to have an all-encompassing entertainment experience, before, during and after the game. Today, a ticketholder for a sports event expects state-of-the-art LED displays, digital signage and massive video walls featuring HD video content that inform and entertain them at any moment while bringing action and excitement. These venues can be turned into a site that serves many purposes and truly engages the fans through the use of a video wall system.
Various technologies are transforming theme parks and amusement parks into larger-than -life experiences that leave a lasting impression on visitors. People are no longer content to be on the sidelines – they want to be personally involved through captivating interactive experiences. In fact, the entire theme park experience can be made interactive and personalized from start to finish. As your entrance and exit provides your audience’s first and last impressions, it’s crucial to make the right impression there. The same is true for the lines at theme park attractions: if people are having fun while they’re waiting, frustration is reduced and you can build up excitement for the attraction itself. Flexible and reliable video wall solutions can create a unique and personal amusement park experience, driving audiences to return, over and over again.
We have seen a few examples of how video wall systems are utilized by transforming the way businesses deliver their messages and captivate their audience. With all of the different markets and methods of conveying a message with a video wall, how do we differentiate between all of the options available? Display manufacturers are continuously competing in the race to slimmer bezels, higher brightness, easier installation and higher reliability. Fortunately, LG Commercial Display has made the decision a little easier by revolutionizing the industry with cutting-edge advancements and innovation in the form of Project Clover. Clover, introduced by LG at InfoComm 2015, is currently the industry leader in narrow bezel video wall technology; providing less than 2mm bezel-to-bezel (1.8mm). Consequently, image gap is reduced and viewing experience is enhanced tremendously.
LG’s Clover is not only the slimmest bezel-to-bezel video wall system, it also offers best in class viewing with its IPS (in-plane switching) technology. This technology brings ultra-wide viewing angles (178°), less blackening defect and less color distortion. LG is the present-day frontrunner in video wall technology and has earned three “Best of Show” awards this past InfoComm 2015 (Digital Signage Magazine, Sound & Video Contractor, and rAVe Publications). With Clover’s impending Fall 2015 release date, LG is sure to be the one to beat in the latest video wall features and technologies that separate them from the competition.
Today, video wall displays are big business for providing digital content to the world. Video wall growth is being driven by an increase in the number of applications for the giant displays, as well as new products with new features and more installation options. With diverse solutions in use for capturing the attention of the target audience, this market segment is expected to remain strong for years to come.