Almo Professional A/V wrapped the Dallas edition of its E4 AV Tour yesterday. The all-day event at the iconic Hyatt Reunion Tower drew a blend of AV integrators and consultants, along with a mini-tradeshow-sized contingent of AV gear exhibitors (more than 35) who showed everything from OLED and QLED and direct-view LED displays to projectors to collaboration tools. And Almo also timed the event in Dallas with the launch of three significant new initiatives of its own: Almo CONNECT, Almo Sound Options, and new packages from its Content Creation Services team.
It wouldn’t be an E4 without a good mix of exhibitors, and in Dallas, Barco (with its UniSee video wall and ClickShare), Samsung (QLED and other LCD displays), LG (OLED), Epson (laser projectors), Sharp (LCD displays), Chief, Da-Lite, Premier Mounts, Peerless-AV, NEC, Vaddio, Biamp, AMX (and the other Harman companies), and more, brought some of their best gear to demo.
The E4 stop in Dallas did feature—as do all the E4 events—a conference and training track. The day started out with a keynote on AV over IP. Gary Kayye explored how it’s easy to be misleaded about AV over IP, with no definitive standards yet agreed upon for sending AV signals (video, audio, control, and power) over the network. Kayye went through the different AV/IP options, including H.264 (and H.265) that are according to Kayye “great for streaming,” and the “1Gbps or 10Gbps you need for routing.” To get to the best options for any particular application, said Kayye, “you need to involve your customer in the process, to figure out what you need. What are you going to be doing in the room?”
Kayye added that if you are not sending content out of the room, you can often use legacy technology like HDMI. Or if you do both—in-room, and routing content outside the room—you can have legacy (like HDMI) and AV over IP working together.
Probably one of the most interesting things Almo is doing differently this year is placing more emphasis on the audio side of the AV equation—it's a rapidly changing segment and Almo wants to help its customers on that side of the business. With Almo’s hiring of business development manager Steve Alexander—who specializes in installed audio, professional audio-video production, broadcast videoconferencing, projection, audio recording, IP signal distribution, and networks—it is doing a deep dive to help its customers deliver better audio products and solutions.
The Launch of Sound Options
To that end, Almo has just launched Sound Options, a dedicated audio sourcing and technical engineering group. From mics, speakers, DSPs, mixers, and specialty applications, Sound Options offers all the favorite product brands while providing the audio-specific sales, technical, and engineering expertise needed to complete a smart and successful AV installation, according to Almo.
“We understand that audio is a very personal choice for integrators and that most have a preferred brand, which is why Sound Options stocks and sources the industry’s favorite pro audio lines,” said Sam Taylor, executive vice president and COO for Almo Professional A/V.
“Sound Options is the experienced and trusted resource for everything pro audio. With more than 70 combined years of real-world audio expertise, this group is dedicated to helping incorporate an audio system that works flawlessly as part of a complete AV installation for everything from a collaboration room to a mega church," he continued. "Streamlining through Almo rather than setting up a new account with every supplier ultimately saves time and money with the added benefit of superior service and technical support.”
“Our customers know us for purchasing display products but the most important part of the install is the sound: if the audio is not operational, the whole installation is in trouble,” said Rob Ziv, director of business development for Almo Professional A/V. He said that with 20-plus featured brands and access to dozens more, “if an Almo partner doesn’t see their favorite brand listed, all they have to do is ask and we can source it for them. In fact, sourcing those obscure, uncommon products is a service we offer. In addition, we can answer technical questions in-house and we have a direct line to all the audio manufacturers.”
Some of the featured brands available through Sound Options include Revolution Acoustics, Tascam, BSS, Kramer, AMX, Atlas, Phoenix, Taiden, DBX, JBL, Crown, Ashly Audio, Beyerdynamic, and Biamp.
Connecting with Almo CONNECT
Almo CONNECT has new offerings that allow its integrator customers to offer better bandwidth/connectivity packages to their customers in addition to AV gear. According to Almo, its CONNECT service continues to experience month-over-month growth.
“In the last year, Almo CONNECT went from 80 service providers to more than 155, including Comcast SmartOffice, DIRECTV, Megapath Hosted Voice and Internet Connectivity, Mettel Mobile, and our newest addition, Viasat Internet,” said Taylor. “Some of Almo CONNECT’s biggest successes have been in the hospitality vertical where property managers are looking for new technology to improve the guest experience, as well as the bar/restaurant sector where DIRECTV’s exclusive sports programming is a must-have. With the addition of Viasat, we are now able to provide a service comparable to cable at a very reasonable cost for any vertical market.”
“Viasat is one of our most exciting new product offerings we showed this week at E4,” said Rob Voorhees, business development manager for Almo CONNECT at Almo Professional A/V. “Even though Viasat has been providing satellite internet services for several years, the 2017 launch of the Viasat-2 satellite system is game-changing."
"Beginning this month, customers are receiving download speeds of 35Mbps, which is very competitive with cable internet—and this is expected to increase to 60 and 100Mbps downloads, making it ideal for hotels, office complexes and everything in between," Voorhees added. "Almo CONNECT partners can also expect a lifetime recurring commission on all Viasat sales, so it is a very profitable opportunity.”
Content Creation Services
And rounding out Almo’s offerings that were on exhibit at E4 in Dallas, was its “revenue-enhancing" Content Creation Services for partners.
“Our Content Creation Services team includes a group of high-caliber designers who work with branding and style guidelines to create eye-catching, effective, and functional designs,” said Jay Saret, business development manager for Almo Professional A/V. “The new content packages make it easier than ever to incorporate affordable content into a digital signage installation. We handle all the design, programming, content loading, and setup, so it’s ready to go when the screen goes on.”
Some of the Almo prebuilt content packages on display at E4, that according to Saret, are popular packages for the company's customers were lobby directories, digital menus, digital bulletin boards, directional signage, wayfinding, interactive lobby directory, photo directories/halls of fame, and interactive donor walls.
The Almo E4 tour continues in 2018, with its next stop in Boston on September 21, followed by Nashville on October 26. Registration for those events can be found here.