It's that time again. The year is quickly winding down and it's time for CE Pro to take a look at some of the year's best products.
Recently I selected my top picks for products of the year, the most impressive, impactful products released in 2016. Now we turn to the dealers and ask the same question.
Three of the industry’s top dealers — Nick Tamburri, owner of Aggressive Home Automation & Design, Paul Diggin, president of Advanced Communication Technologies, and John Rein, principal of Audio Video Therapy — named a range of products covering the audio, video and automation categories.
Here are Tamburri, Diggin and Rein’s top products of 2016.
Photo Gallery: Which Products Are Dealers' Faves from 2016?
An Explosive Pair from New York’s Finest
N.J.-based Nick Tamburri, or “Nitro Nick” as he is known, is one of the most passionate gear guys in the industry, and even though he cut his teeth in audio, he is a huge home automation enthusiast.
Picking one product that relates to his audio background and one pick from a category that drives his passion, Tamburri says the latest URC remote, the R500 Wi-Fi remote, is “really cool,” and from a dealer perspective he points out that, “URC is a real company that makes real equipment.”
The audio product Tamburri recommends is the Xstream line of components from Russound. Tamburri says the system sets up and installs easily, and when you add the company’s XTS touchscreen, the system delivers a stable, simple-to-install multiroom audio system with streaming services, AirPlay and Bluetooth.
One other product line Tamburri likes is the Yamaha line of A/V receivers that include MusicCast compatibility. According to Tamburri, the companion Yamaha apps are excellent, and as a whole Yamaha’s products are very dealer friendly.
Class ACT Product Choices
Located in the South Shore region of the Boston area, Advanced Communication Technologies (ACT), is a CE Pro 100 company led by president Paul Diggin.
Diggin a music guy at heart — he fronts a rock band during his free time — and, unsurprisingly, he started with audio for his choices.
Citing KEF’s acclaimed LS50 wireless loudspeakers, as well as Sony’s acclaimed Z Series high-performance LED TVs, Diggin says these products represent the very best of the consumer electronics industry.
As an audio purist, Diggin admits that in most cases wireless gadgets are not his products of choice, but with the LS50 Wireless speakers, KEF designed an excellent product.
“I’m not usually a fan of wireless speakers, but KEF did a really nice job with these [speakers],” he says. “They are nice looking and [nice] sounding too. The LS50 Wireless is a good solution for someone who wants a high-quality speaker and can’t go wired. I also like the new Sony Z series TVs. Great picture quality … I think [Sony] is going to do well with these products.”
Pulling from the control category, Diggin adds the new Savant Remote+Host is a standout product that is worthy of the attention it’s received.
Rock Solid Gear from Granite State-based Dealer
It could be said that John Rein, principal of N.H.-based Audio Video Therapy, is an old-school audiophile.
One thing that separates Rein from many of his audiophile contemporaries is that, unlike the majority of that crowd, he is not stuck in the past. Recognizing how much the consumer audio industry has evolved, Rein’s business is rooted in stereo, but his company offers a complete array of traditional audio and custom installation services.
Showing the diversity of Audio Video Therapy’s business without abandoning his roots, Rein says Paradigm’s new Persona 9H speakers, as well as the entire Bluesound product line, are his choices as the best of 2016 for audio.
Like Diggin, Rein adds that Sony’s new Z series of Ultra HD televisions are his choices as the top home video product for the year.
Summarizing the consumer mindset of today, Rein emphasizes consumers’ approach to electronics is different than years past. Value is a big component of how consumers evaluate electronics these days.
“These are all spectacular products that perform beyond their price,” says Rein. “$35,000 speakers and $10,000 projectors that are an actual value are hard to find.”