Every contractor knows that specifying an integrated system to meet a client's needs is just one portion of the battle: once the equipment parameters are decided upon, all of these devices need to go somewhere. As ongoing technological advancement forces integrators to work with increasingly sophisticated technology, it also drives AV furniture manufacturers to design solutions that efficiently house and protect these sensitive electronics.
"Furniture is the shoelace of the industry-everybody thinks about the electronics, and then they suddenly realize that they have to put it in, or on, something," observed Mike Skinner, CEO and founder of Video Furniture International in Mississauga, ON, Canada. "That is where we come in."
Mark Tracy, director of marketing at Middle Atlantic Products in Fairfield, NJ, believes that AV furniture should fill the same role as equipment racks: it should accommodate and protect the equipment that is housed in it, while offering easy accessibility and aesthetic appeal. "If you think about electronic credenzas, lecterns, or presentation furniture, they are all there to facilitate communications," he said. "It needs to accommodate the equipment and cables that are coming in, house them reliably, protect them, but also allow easy usability."
Cindy Weinschreider, senior marketing manager at Bretford in Franklin Park, IL, observes that AV furniture has evolved in tandem with the technology. "As technology has evolved into flat screens, we are starting to see AV carts being adapted for a flat screen," she said. "The biggest change is that it's evolving with technology." Bretford, for example, recently worked with Apple to design a cart that is capable of housing an iPod.
As systems become increasingly computer-based, integrators are facing more issues surrounding heat management. "Obviously, the furniture needs to be able to house and protect the gear, but cooling is becoming a big issue," Tracy noted. "We design all of our products to provide the appropriate types of thermal management based on what's going inside of it." It depends, he added, on what the furniture is housing: "If it just has a DVD player in it, and maybe a video switcher, it's not going to generate as much heat as it would if it housed a PC and a power amp."
Not only should AV furniture protect equipment and present it in such a way that is user-friendly, it should also ensure long-term reliability and ease of installation for the integrator. Middle Atlantic offers pull-out, rotating racks designed to fit inside electronic credenzas, enabling contractors to integrate equipment into the rack in the comfort of their own shop before installing it into the credenza. The easy access to cables allows for quick detection of kinks, which can affect system reliability.
"It needs to be profitable for an integrator to do an installation into one of these pieces of furniture, which is where they can apply some of the best practices that are taught at the trade organizations, such as integrating their rack in a shop and installing it in the field, rather than spending valuable time in a boardroom on their back trying to wire something up that is built into a credenza that is already in the wall," Tracy illustrated.
Weinschreider argues that systems contractors stand to gain higher margins from the sale of AV furniture than they do from electronics. "I would say that anywhere from 10 to 20 percent on average is the figure that resellers would be able to get off of furniture, over the two to three percent that they are seeing on the electronic components," she estimated.
"There is actually more money in the furniture side of the business than there is in the electronics side," Skinner agreed. "It's just the way the margins work in the furniture business."
As is the case with electronic components, however, systems contractors must invest a bit of time in familiarizing themselves with AV furniture products in order to take advantage of the margins they offer. "It does take some time to learn it, because there are finish options, and there are different configurations," Weinschreider said.
And, the education process will be ongoing, as AV furniture continues to progress along with the systems it houses. "Typically, the furniture isn't the first thing that comes out; it's the technology that comes out first, and we follow behind it and adapt to it," Weinschreider said.
New Furniture Products 2007
Forbes-AV Reception Desk/Mobile Bar
The Reception Desk/Mobile Bar set-up features a back cabinet with a built-in 40-inch monitor for attracting attention and relaying an image or message. Cabinets are constructed out of furniture-grade plywood and can be finished in wood veneer or laminate. Interior of the cabinets can be set up for reception desk operation or bar operation with stainless steel countertop and sink. Forbes-AV offers a wide selection of wood finishes and laminate colors, along with six different countertop Avonite colors. Forbes-AV manufacturing methods allow them to customize any of its Audio-Visual Equipment to fit any specific needs.
Bretford Presentation Technology Carts
Bretford has a new family of Presentation Technology Carts, which offer streamlined mobility and display of AV equipment. Designed for education and office environments, the TC12, TC15 and TC35 Series carts offer a clean, sleek shape. They can all accommodate a projector, but also offer an optional flat panel mount that supports up to a 42-inch monitor with a 200mm VESA hole pattern. The new carts are the first to include an aluminum extruded pole that extends up to 28 inches for flat panel viewing from further distances. The TC12 Series includes an open-shelf design for easy access to storage, while the TC15 Series has a closed cabinet with locking doors for security, and a 19-inch rack mount to house additional equipment. The TC35 Series has adjustable top and customizable pull-out shelves.
The E4853 Encompass-2 Tailored TruForm Unique workstation fits every environment from multi-media to video to security and office settings. The tandard center section is 48 inches by 30 inches and comes with a custom beveled front edge and overhead light. Left and right return desks are 60 inches by 24 inches with concave front edges, and a trapezoidal riser top measuring 33.5 inches front by 44 inches back by 12 inches. A black powder coat finish with custom TruForm tops and sides compliment the unit.
Argosy V Series
The V Series from Argosy Console lets you tailor your console configuration specifically for your control room application. The patented modular design of V Series lets you mix the best of both rack mount and/or desk top components to achieve a fully integrated console appearance. Simply choose a V Series chassis and then mix and match rack and/or desk inserts modules. Whether it's the compact format of the 50 V Series, the mid-range 70 V Series, or the full blown 90 V Series chassis that can be expanded to accommodate even the largest of systems, the amenities of a full length padded armrest, powder coated components, steel leg supports, and internal (hidden) shelf storage compliment the gear.
OmniMount Floor Rack System
The Floor Rack System is made of heavy-gauge steel, has a durable powder coat finish and integrates a caster base allowing for easy placement inside or against walls. Removable handles allow for a snug fit in tighter spaces. The Floor Rack System is designed with adjustable vented shelves to accommodate most components. It is designed in EIA standard rackspace increments and incorporates ventilated component shelves that can be customized per application. An additional benefit is integrated cable management for routing wires.
The PowerOptions family is a range of power strips that address increasing power consumption requirements as well as the desire for unique and useful features suitable for data center applications. With A and B power feed options, IEC plug options, surge protection, current monitoring, and several other options available, PowerOptions power strips are suited for cabinetized data server applications and are suited to complement APWMayville's Pioneer Server Cabinets. PowerOptions is delivered with a versatile bracket that allows several power strips to be mounted either horizontally or vertically with the same mounting bracket. Several receptacle styles and cord lengths are available as well as features like surge protection, current monitoring, and circuit breakers.
HSA Fine Wood Furnishings
Fine Wood Furnishings for AV are designed by electronic systems professionals and executed by skilled craftsman for those special applications. The wide variety of mixing consoles, keyboards, processors, projectors, and related electronics that help bring to life services, performances, and meetings can easily fall into disarray from improper accommodations. Whether needs are for standard designs, or a completely custom multi-piece control center, beautiful oak rolltops, racks, podiums, and accessories provide harmony and order and an elegant answer for aesthetics, function, and security.
ClearOne Titan Metal Series
ClearOne's Titan metal series consists of the Titan plasma and monitor carts. The Titan plasma cart is available in single and dual configurations and is reinforced for extreme balance and smooth movement, making it easy to transport from room to room. The Titan single plasma cart includes a set-top codec shelf and the Titan dual plasma cart includes a set-top codec shelf and a center PTZ camera mount. Both carts provide a professional depth, 9-space rack on the inside to accommodate multiple equipment pieces and are built to handle rigorous use and withstand wear and tear. Titan monitor carts blend heavy-duty metal construction and professional styling in a scratch-resistant cart with your choice of single or dual model. They are tall enough for easy monitor viewing and provide a professional depth, 9-space rack on the inside to accommodate multiple equipment pieces.
Duplicating the functionality of an OEM dual plasma stand, VFI's PL3070 adds the optional PM-S or PM-D plasma/LCD mount, and the optional TOA speakers, for a roll-about system ready for videoconferencing codec and other rack mount electronics. The PL3070 also features perforated metal sides for maximum ventilation for any electronics mounted in the standard 12RU rack rails. The PL3070's wider front wheelbase adds extra stability for dual monitor configurations and also fits nicely into corners when used with single monitors. Options include a printer cart, VFI rack mount accessories, six outlet power bar with 10-foot cord, and single and dual plasma mounts.