Bob Archer’s 2017 Products of the Year: Audio, Video, Home Automation

CE Pro senior editor Bob Archer picks his 12 favorite products of 2017 from companies including Stewart Filmscreen, Control4, Epson, NAD, Meridian, Just Add Power and more.

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With the calendar now showing that we’ve entered the holiday season, it means that it’s time for my annual products of the year. As usual, I focus here on residental A/V, with a little bit of networking and home automation thrown in. 

Among the my 2017 picks are premium A/V products like Stewart Filmscreen's HALR projection screen. But many of my faves are more affordable versions of high-performance products, like Meridian's 218 Zone Controller/258 Multichannel Amplifier, Epson's 6040UB 4K projector, and the Triad One Streaming Amp from Control4.

Before I offer up my 12 best products of 2017 for your feedback, I thought it would be nice to take a look at what has transpired over the past year in the world of residential technology.

2017: Home-Tech Year in Review

In the realm of control and automation, Amazon and Google continue to refine their voice control platforms, and the rapid development of these platforms is driving a new era of control and automation.

Projector and screen companies are stepping up big time to develop products that deliver 4K and HDR compatibility, even with ambient lighting.

I personally believe the combination of voice control with control apps and traditional control interface solutions —remote controls and touchscreens—will bring the home automation market into the mainstream and mass acceptance to rival the popularity of A/V.

Speaking of A/V it’s been a big year in the projection category. Projector and screen companies are stepping up big time to develop products that deliver 4K and HDR compatibility, and in the case of screen products, flexible integration capabilities to support their installation into brightly lit rooms.

Meanwhile, whole-house audio continues to thrive. Companies like Bluesound and Sonos continue to improve their products, while new entries into the category bring fresh ideas to keep the market highly competitive.

Traditional audio, we’ll call it stereo, is also doing well. The category is definitely evolving with streaming services and high-resolution audio redefining how people listen, with vinyl also carving out a niche for itself among purists that prefer the sound and dynamics of analog.

Perhaps the best the best thing to come to integrators during 2017 and the past couple of years is in the the residential networking category.  Manufacturers, including SnapAV with its Araknis brand and OvrC platform, as well as Luxul through its partnership with Domotz, are bringing more remote features to reduce truck roles and enhace customer serve. 

My 2017 Product of the Year

Further separating from the 11 other standout products on my list, my product of the year is Stewart Filmscreen’s Phantom HALR screen material.

At this point ambient light rejecting screens (ALR) have been around for several years, but Stewart’s Phantom HALR material takes the technology to a new level, and it could be a potential projection game changer for dealers serving residential and commercial clientele.

Check out my 2017 Products of the Year here. 

Please share your faves in the comments section below.