Commercial Integrator Expo (CIX23), held earlier this month alongside CEDIA Expo in Denver, showcased some incredible technologies. The co-located shows brought together the commercial AV and custom-home integration worlds, attracting verified attendance of 12,848 industry professionals. Taken together, CIX23 and CEDIA Expo featured some 340 exhibitors, whose exhibits stretched across 154,400 net square feet of space. Notably, over 32% of those at the Colorado Convention Center were first-time attendees, and the co-located shows attracted nearly 100 first-time exhibitors.
Touring Booths at CIX23 and CEDIA Expo
My CIX23 and CEDIA Expo experience was jam-packed with booth tours. This gave me an opportunity to learn about revolutionary new offerings from leading manufacturers, as well as what those companies were most excited about. As always, high-profile vendors such as Crestron, LG and Legrand | AV seized on the widespread buzz surrounding a show like CIX23 and CEDIA Expo to highlight integration-channel-focused products that might perfectly suit your next project.
Here, Commercial Integrator will highlight eight vendors, among the hundreds that exhibited at CIX23 and CEDIA Expo, as a small sample of the innovation our reporters experienced. We asked each of these vendors about key products that they believe might be difference-makers for integrators seeking to deliver outstanding client outcomes across markets. We also sought comments from each one on what’s newsiest and most exciting at their company. In particular, we asked about their headline news for commercial AV pros.
What follows is live-from-the-show-floor reporting from Commercial Integrator.
At CIX23, Commercial Integrator caught up with John Henkel, director of SMB product marketing with NETGEAR, to discuss the company’s new PR460X pro router. “We debuted this router at this show,” he said. It’s a 10G/multi-gigabit dual WAN pro router with Insight Remote Cloud Management. “People have been waiting for that router for a while,” Henkel declared. “It’s sold in distribution only. It’s not sold on NETGEAR.com or Amazon.com — only in distribution.” The PR460X got a ton of attention from showgoers in Denver, but booth visitors also expressed strong interest in NETGEAR’s new M4350 switches, which the company unveiled at InfoComm 2023. Finally, Henkel added, integrators coming to the booth expressed enthusiasm about NETGEAR’s complimentary Pro AV Design Services for integrators’ AV networks and Pro Wi-Fi Design Services for their wireless networks.
During a stop by the LG booth, Commercial Integrator chatted with John Taylor, senior vice president, public affairs and communications, with LG Electronics USA, Inc. OLED displays were a clear booth highlight, with the crown jewel among them being OLED M. That offering comes in 77-inch, 83-inch and 97-inch diagonal measures, all models in dazzling 4K. “The ‘M’ stands for mobility,” he explained. “It’s a wireless device that allows you to install it without the spaghetti of wires behind the screen.” For that reason, Taylor said, OLED M will have plenty of commercial applications, owing to its simplicity of installation. In addition, LG showcased a range of direct-view LED (DVLED) solutions — in particular, microLED products. During an at-booth interview, Taylor explained, “We’re showing both 2K and 4K 136-inch product. And our 118-inch brand new one is an installer’s dream. It comes in only two panels; they snap together. It’s an incredibly gorgeous picture.”
George Walter of Digital Projection Inc. (DPI) took time out at CIX23 and CEDIA Expo to demonstrate the company’s range of custom solutions. “We can do very specialized, high-performance, high-end front-projection solutions, of course using DLP technology and laser illumination, in two-piece and one-piece designs,” he stated. He explained that two-piece designs have a major advantage — namely, the ability to take the big, noisy component and put it in a separate room. The connection to the projector head is via a fiber cable. “That’s what we’re demonstrating, in two different sections, on front-projection screens,” Walter added on the show floor. He also highlighted DPI’s continuing investment in the DVLED videowall category, highlighting solutions with 0.9mm and 1.2mm pixel pitches. “Our future lies in even finer dot pitch,” he explained. “More flexibility…easier to design.” The message, then, is that DPI has display solutions from the entry level (E-Vision projectors) to ultra-tight-pixel-pitch DVLED.
Vaddio, one of the brands in the celebrated Legrand | AV family, grabbed a lot of attention on the show floor. Paul Cords, director of sales for Vaddio, mentioned some key products that the company showcased on the co-located show floor: the AV Bridge Nano, the ConferenceSHOT AV camera and the company’s EasyIP Ecosystem. Asked why those products spoke best to the CIX23 and CEDIA Expo audience, he responded, “The reason we picked those is we thought they were translatable to the types of rooms — mid to large size, flexible conference rooms — that residential integrators are going to face” as they look to expand their business into the “resimercial” sphere. Cords added, “Our goal this week has been to have conversations. What kind of multi-camera rooms are you seeing? What kind of conferencing requests have you been seeing? And how do we make the camera part of that super easy?”
Will Bear, vice president of sales and marketing at CrimsonAV, reported lots of booth visitors during CIX23 and CEDIA Expo. The company has recently widened its aperture beyond AV mounts and accessories. “We’ve been transitioning into what we call ‘more than mounts,’ he said. “Light products, commercial and specifically digital signage focus.” One of the biggest attention-getters was its lineup of All-in-One kiosk solutions, which ship fully integrated with displays and Android operating systems, with or without touch.” He also underlined CrimsonAV’s custom capabilities, pointing to its kiosks for the outdoor space, as well as its custom outdoor mounts. Finally, he underlined CrimsonAV’s connection to the LED space via its participation in the LED Experts Group. “We’re bringing a vetted-partner approach and an education-focused approach to the space,” Bear declared. The goal is to help small to medium-sized integrators bring LED projects to life — from concept, to design and engineering, to implementation and installation.
For Crestron, which had a huge footprint at CEDIA Expo and CIX23, the vision for the co-located shows was simple: Give Crestron’s residential dealers a clearer, easier pathway into commercial applications. Lauren Simmen, director of commercial product marketing, particularly emphasized Crestron meeting-room solutions. “We’re focusing on our AirMedia wireless conferencing and presentation devices,” she explained. “That is a really end-to-end, complete solution for presentation and conferencing.” In addition, Simmen reported a lot of integrator interest in Crestron’s Videobar 70, which is a plug-and-play, all-in-one device. Plus, she pointed to notable dealer activity around the Crestron Flex Pods, a plug-and-play audio device. “You can scale it up [or] scale it down,” Simmen declared. “It’s all about simplicity…it’s all about ease of use and installation to allow our residential and commercial dealers that are here the ability to go and expand their businesses.”
When Commercial Integrator spoke to Tom Devine, director of marketing with AVPro Edge, he was particularly excited about the company bringing a full manufacturing plant to the United States — to Sioux Falls, S.D., specifically — and being able to supply TAA-compliant products by January 2024. Moreover, he was enthusiastic about AVPro Edge’s recent acquisition of AudioControl. “That has brought the best in image quality from AVPro Edge together with the best in sound quality from AudioControl,” he stated. The vision, Devine said, is “…to bring our engineers together to develop and improve both of our product lines and offer the best in audio and video under one company.” AVPro Edge also had a lot of integrator interest in its expanding MXNet AV-over-IP line. “We’re making it easier for integrators to install by including a network switch that we manufacture that is preconfigured for the integrator in AV installs.”
For a company like Snap One, which positions itself to serve professional integrators in both the commercial and residential markets, it was a natural fit to participate in CIX23 and CEDIA Expo. According to Scott Normand, commercial market senior director, “Our goal here is to serve AV, IT and security integration professionals with the best products and platforms that enable them to be successful and serve their clients better.” He emphasized that Snap One’s product lines enjoy a great deal of overlap, enabling them to work equally well in commercial and residential environments. He did point to a couple of segment-specific hits from the show — namely, its Chime video doorbells for the resi market and its IT Datacomm racks and servers for commercial applications. However, according to Normand, “Most of what we build is equally relevant in both markets: things like power, networking, infrastructure and many more products — even OvrC.”
Next year, CIX24 and CEDIA Expo will once again emanate from Denver. The conference will take place September 4 to 6, whereas exhibits will be open from September 5 to 7. Save the date and look out for additional information in the coming weeks and months.
Commercial Integrator will deliver more reporting from CIX23 and CEDIA Expo in the days ahead.
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