The Universal AV Sales and Supplier Event took shape in 2016, has gone from strength to strength and is fast becoming quite the talked about Integrator event in the Industry.

The event is unique, key partners and suppliers come together to discuss roadmaps and product with the Universal Sales and Project Management Teams, before a joint session takes place with all suppliers and Universal members looking at the industry as a whole and where common problems are whilst trying to provide solutions. The evening provides further networking opportunities for all, with team building thrown in for good measure, and where you have sales people you see fierce competition and this year was no exception with a closely fought game of family fortunes.

The Road Ahead

Matthew Stoddard from Sahara was the first to present, and provided the team with some interesting market research to set the scene on the interactive screen market. With the UK market having around 22000 screens to be replaced in 2018, Sahara believe they have a strong fit with the Clevertouch product to meet the demand.

Sahara prides itself on being one of the only independent distributors left, working with valued resellers and integrators to provide innovative av solutions.

The Clevertouch line up was detailed from the Mainstream Plus Series, through Pro, to the V Series, all of which have won Interactive touch screen of the year in the last 3 years, a real testament to the product set. The use of NFC cards in order to provide security and ease of use for transforming user profiles was demonstrated which in a busy education or work environment would work wonders and provide a familiarity we are all becoming used to with contact-less payments and apple pay.

Clevershare dongles were highlighted as working in any room situation where a device is brought in as it is peer to peer technology and not reliant on WiFi which is where so many solutions fall over in the meeting room space.

Sahara are launching their own range of LFD screens in the line with the Sedao Digital signage offering that the company recently purchased. MDM Software allows for screens to be simply controlled at the touch of the button and allow for hey messages to be pushed to all screens entered onto the management tool.

All in all, the Sahara offering is all encompassing, not only do they design and develop their own interactive screens and digital signage offering, they work with some of the industry’s leading manufacturers to distribute theirs. Universal admires the family approach the company still has and look forward to working on even more exciting projects with them this year.

All things Peerless came next, with Tracey Barrow providing an update from ISE, the famous Peerless party and the latest in brackets and kiosks. Peerless are the Universal go to for bracketry, especially when it comes to videowalls. The range Peerless offer is second to none. Working with many of the leading manufacturers, Peerless have a solution for all.

The new solution for the Samsung flip was demonstrated, as well as the Dual Screen Video conferencing solution.

One of the wow factors on the stand at ISE for Peerless was the kiosks and podiums. Sleek and sexy and a range of sizes. The new all in one 55” Touch screen kiosk powered by Brightsign looked fantastic and works well as a wayfinding solution. The Ultra Slim kiosk looked fantastic and provides a fantastic focal point in reception and public space areas.

Peerless were delighted with the award they received for Innovation for Brackets at the AV News Awards.

The quick release videowall bracket was discussed by all sales and project managers as being the best to use bracket for videowall installation, and is the Universal go to on each project.

Cathy Waterhouse took to the floor for NEC. The NEC stand for me at ISE was fantastic, and won a coveted best stand award, and was a true demonstration of what could be achieved through AV with some fantastic displays and product solutions.

The NEC Large Format Display Line Up was discussed and the 4K Range. The decrease in price on 4K LFD was detailed as the market becomes more expectant of 4K, whilst not wanting to pay the premium previously associated with it.

With a full range of projectors to back up display solutions, NEC truly have a solution for everything. The range shown at ISE was outstanding. LED also featured heavily in product line, with some interesting use of where the tiles could be used with the Leafengine product, providing customers in shops he ability to pick up a product and have it displayed to you to see. With freestanding LED pop up panels too a wow factor can be achieved simply.

NEC were keen to focus on their warranty package, with next day warranty swap featuring heavily on customers key buying factors.


 For a snapshop from ISE on all things NEC take a look here…

AMX Harman has undergone a lot of change in the last couple of years, the one thing not changing is the quality of product produced. The possibilities are now endless with the Harman range, Samsung, JBL and Harman Kardon all add to the solution. Having recently moved to a new all singing and dancing office, showcasing a full suite of products the brand is thriving.

Harman see growth in the huddle space and collaboration markets and the new Acendo VIBE and Core sit in these markets perfectly. AMX and Samsung have collaborated to offer some all-encompassing in room meeting solutions from a small space to a larger meeting room where all facets of AV are used.

SVSI is still key and the distribution of video over IP causes much debate as to how best achieve, with all source providers dealing with this in great depth at ISE. The Harman solutions are vast and with the AMXN2400 they have brought to market the first 4K Windowing Processor.

The Sales and supplier event was not a day for the faint hearted. The industry’s leading manufacturers and distributors took to the stage to educate the teams at Universal on new product and road maps, the information is vital when it comes to specifying projects on behalf of clients and being able to advise correctly.

Panasonic were next, and firstly the introduction of the new account manager Dean Williamson. Universal AV, as Panasonics largest Northern dealer were delighted to be able to welcome him to Panasonic, on his first integrator outing.

Again a key theme of discussion was 4K, the shift in lenses to accommodate 4K and full line up of projection and LFD, which again were displayed at ISE and the clarity was simply outstanding.

The launch of the new PT-RZ120/120L a 12,000 ANSI lumen machine extends the Panasonic range, truly completing their projection line up.

With the launch late last year of the MZ series, Panasonic now has a LCD laser offering to complement its extensive DLP laser range. Panasonic were clear to point out that their main focus was on their DLP laser range as this offered the best performance in lecture theatres and large venue spaces. The LCD laser offering filled a definite gap in the market where great performance was still required, but where budget was a determining factor. This reinforces Panasonic’s commitment to the laser projector market, providing laser projectors to suite most requirements and budgets.

Panasonic are looking to shift all LFD to 4K over the course on 2018, with a price point to match as they believe as do Universal it does not command the higher price premium, people expect it as standard now.

Dalen Top-Tec finished the morning session. Having spent a lot of time looking at the huddle space market, research was talked about and how we could work together to best meet the needs of a market which has 53 million huddle and conference spaces.

Thinking outside the box seems to be key with huddle/collaboration spaces taking many forms and in a variety of locations. With office and meeting space coming at a premium the effective use of space is vital.

A range of solutions were showcased including the synergy blade, a height adjustable conference room solution, to smaller huddle spaces with a low level plectrum and soft seating providing students/employees with a practical solution to collaboration and fitting in a variety of room/open space settings.

Active collaboration and Group learning are driving the market in the education sector and Dalen truly have a solution for all. From collaborative learning workstations to pods that be used in open spaces/corridors, one size does not fit all, but Dalen have solutions to meet all those needs.

Part two to follow tomorrow........