Bob Archer’s 2020 Products of the Year

Bob Archer’s 2020 Products of the Year recognizes some of the best products from top brands in the residential AV market including Crestron, Savant, and more.

Bob Archer’s 2020 Products of the Year

Crestron's HomeTime combines unified communications and home control all in a single package.

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Without rehashing what’s gone on over the past nine months with the rapid spread of COVID-19, 2020 has been a challenging year, and it has certainly impacted many things, including the annual new product cycle in the electronics industry. 

Perhaps the greatest impact of the pandemic has been on public events that includes sports, concerts and trade shows. 

Focusing specifically on trade shows and events such as the annual CEDIA Expo, these types of public gatherings are great for trade professionals to take part in the latest industry trainings … and to see the latest new products from hundreds of manufacturers. 

Without these trade events, access to see these products has been extremely limited, and taking it a step further, the pandemic and the sudden need to stay at home halted or delayed the introduction of many product releases. 

With that caveat out of the way, I did my best to assemble my annual list of the year’s top products. 

Coronavirus Impacts 2020 Products of the Year

Before I get to the 2020 Products of the Year, one of my biggest takeaways that impacted how I viewed this year’s crop of new products is how COVID-19 has reshaped some of the things we may take for granted such as how we work. 

Work from home (WFH), fueled by collaboration platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams have exploded in adoption. The usage of these products has been increasingly popular in boardrooms, training rooms and other commercial environments, but now due to coronavirus quarantining the workforce has taken these platforms home. 

Over course of 2020 the public has shown the workforce can remain productive working from home, and conversely the way people work has been changed forever. This may be bad news from the commercial real estate market, but it’s good news for the integration industry. 

Stepping in to take a leadership position to facilitate the of WFH is Crestron.

Crestron’s Home platform is a next-generation home control, automation and wellness platform that offers some of the industry’s hottest options, including motorized shades, web-based thermostats, lighting control and whole-house AV. 

Augmenting Crestron Home, the company introduced HomeTime earlier this year. The collaboration solution is the result of an agreement between Crestron, Logitech and Zoom. HomeTime enables authorized Crestron dealers to integrate a powerful, unified communications (UC) solution into a Crestron Home system. As my top product 2020 Product of the Year I think Crestron is ahead of the curve with this solution. Through the company’s thoughtfulness and powerful commercial market background, Crestron Residential is putting its dealers in position to be at the forefront of some the hottest categories in consumer electronics: WFH, smart home and wellness. 

In addition to Crestron Home and HomeTime, my other product choices include Mackie in-ear monitors (IEMs), KRK’s Classic 5 powered monitor, Beale Street Audio’s BPS-80 subwoofer, Savant’s SIPA Amp with Integrated Host, the Sonos Arc soundbar; the Simaudio Moon 860A v2 amplifier, and the Sony ES-VPL915ES 4K laser-based HDR projector. 

As an honorable mention product, I want to shout out Access Networks’ Core systems. Access Networks introduced these preconfigured network systems a couple of years ago, and these network systems serve as true, high-performance, commercial-grade network with remote monitoring that reliably supports systems such as Crestron Home, as well as WFH UC solutions, lighting, and of course streaming media. 

Also, sometimes I will pick a piece of music gear. I am doing that this year with the 2020 Paul Reed Smith (PRS) SE Custom 24. 

For more details on all of these products check out my mini slideshow!


About the Author

Robert Archer
Robert Archer:

Bob is an audio enthusiast who has written about consumer electronics for various publications within Massachusetts before joining the staff of CE Pro in 2000. Bob is THX Level I certified, and he's also taken classes from the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF) and Home Acoustics Alliance (HAA). Bob has also served as the technology editor for CE Pro's sister publication Commercial Integrator. In his personal time beyond his family, he's studied guitar and music theory at Sarrin Music Studios in Wakefield, Mass., and he also studies Kyokushin karate at 5 Dragons and Brazilian jiu-jitsu at Binda Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.