Kramer AV brings 4K sports entertainment to ‘world famous’ Norman Hotel

Kramer has announced that its range of network-based hardware and remote management software solutions have been selected to bring transformational TV viewing and audio experiences to bar areas in the historic Norman Hotel in Woolloongabba, Brisbane. 

With a history dating as far back as 1889 – and located just a few minutes’ walk from the world-famous ‘Gabba Stadium’ – the two-story Norman Hotel is one of Woolloongabba’s oldest and most recognised landmarks.

Added to the Queensland Heritage List in 2005, Norman Hotel – Brisbane’s self-proclaimed ‘best steakhouse’ and ‘worst vegetarian restaurant’ – is a go-to destination for locals and tourists alike, looking to enjoy a vibrant atmosphere, and the extensive choice of live TV sporting events and other entertainment screened in the bar areas.

Boasting 12 large-screen TVs, each strategically placed to provide uninterrupted views, their existing TV system had become outdated and unreliable, no longer working in certain areas and frequently breaking down. 

Capable of only showing content in 720p standard definition (SD), the experience for punters had fallen below expectations, while creating unnecessary daily challenges (and frustrations) among staff, who were repeatedly being diverted away from their primary job roles.

As part of a major system upgrade, the Norman Hotel’s management team sought a new, highly flexible video and audio solution that would provide site-wide reliability, seamless and effortless control, and 4K UHD picture performance, all while retaining its existing fleet of TVs.

To bring these ambitions to life, the hotel teamed up with local integration specialists, SDC Solutions and Smart Home Programming and Automation. Based on their combined knowledge and experience, Kramer and its range of solutions was the choice for the project. 

Working with Kramer’s Australia team throughout, the Kramer VS-1616DN-EM multi-format digital matrix switcher was chosen to upgrade video performance from SD to HD on all 12 large screens. 

Running on the Kramer Network the VS-1616DN-EM system is controlled by Kramer’s scalable and flexible SL-280 room controller and a Kramer FC-26, PoE control gateway. 

At the front end of the project, Norman’s bar now has access to nine separate zones of video with nine inputs, which are controlled using Kramer’s advanced cloud-based platform, Kramer Control. Going far beyond the traditional boundaries of AV, the platform enables the Norman Hotel to take control of any in-room AV and automation devices, from any location in the building – or even off-site. 

Previously, the audio-visual system inside the Norman Hotel was controlled via an app on a single iPad, which was regularly moved around as different staff members used it to change channels, adjust audio and rectify any problems that occurred. This presented significant challenges if they or the iPad happened to be elsewhere in the venue.

As part of the new upgrade, all management of each TV is controlled using installed (fixed) Kramer’s KT-1010, 10” IPS, multi-touch panel displays, which have been strategically placed and installed on walls and shelves around the staff areas of the bar. The days of searching for a single iPad are over. 

Using Kramer Control, the KT-1010 displays feature a tailored, highly intuitive interface – requiring near-zero training for staff – for effortless changing of channels and adjusting audio settings. This ensures visitors receive an uninterrupted 4K entertainment experience.

Completed on time and on budget, the system upgrade has proven a major hit with staff and punters alike, with the venue now well-equipped – for today and in the future – to provide a destination for local and global sporting events, including the 2030 Brisbane Olympics, of which ‘the Gabba’ will be the home stadium. 

Discussing the project, David Bowdler, the owner of Smart Home Programming & Automation, hailed the success of the project, describing Kramer as providing “superb support,” while delivering the most versatile solutions in the current market.

He notes that being able to view and fix any issues remotely via Kramer Control, with no truck roll needed, is another factor that made Kramer the right choice for this installation.

“Kramer had the best products for this job,” explains Bowdler. “Using the Kramer Control system, it gives us the flexibility of being able to custom-build the interface to suit the customer. They’re at a great price point that makes it competitive, and the backup support you get is superb. Now, patrons can come to the bar and see the footy in great quality. They can hear it. It just makes it a much better place to be in.”

Gavin Sayers, Telecommunications Installer for SDC Solutions adds: “Feedback from Norman from both managers and upper management has been very positive. The benefits of using Kramer have come through the reliability, customer feedback with how easy it is to use.

“Another benefit of having the Kramer system is that they have a seven-year warranty on the majority of their hardware, which has helped with not only giving the client confidence to go ahead with this product but also gave us as the installer full confidence knowing we have the backing from Kramer.”

Kramer will be showing its brand new range of control panel hardware at the upcoming ISE 2024 show in Barcelona, which includes 8, 10 and 15-inch variants.

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