Wednesday, August 27, 2008

CEDIA EXPO: Gearing up for the Show

CEDIA EXPO 2008 takes place next week, and the industry is gearing up for the best of the best in the custom A/V world. As Lee Distad points out on our sister Website, the current U.S. housing crisis doesn't exactly bode well for companies that thrive on high-end A/V systems in new homes. But there's still plenty of new technologies and interesting trends to be observed in that area; and plenty of potential customers looking to adopt the latest and greatest.

What do I expect to see at the show?

HD video distribution is probably going to be a hot topic. How effectively can this be achieved right now? And what new products are out there that can handle transmitting such a heavy amount of data? Belkin's FlyWire, first shown at CES, will likely be fully-functioning at the show, so I'm looking forward to a demo. The product, which is scheduled for Canadian retail availability in October for about $1,000, is said to be able to distribute HD video from one location to another, up to 30-feet away.

Just as we saw at CES, it'll be no surprise to see the most recently-introduced thin-bezel flat-panel TVs; as well as more 1080p displays that we can count on all hands and toes. Not to mention a multitude of innovative mounting systems for them that tilt, shift, and fit in awkward places.

Music and video storage is becoming of greater interest to consumers, especially as they continue to collect hundreds and hundreds of DVD movies and music CDs. While dedicated media servers have always been popular among the custom installation crowd, will we see a greater focus on the PC storage side? After all, the idea of the media PC as part of your home theatre is becoming even more apparent now than ever. What's more, how will companies approach the potential changes to copyright law in Canada that could effectively deem the majority of these products illegal?

Blu-ray will quite obviously be at the forefront of the DVD arena, along with Toshiba's recently announced XDE up-converting DVD player that serves as a mid-level product between standard DVD players and Blu-ray. It's a clever idea for the company now that it is officially out of the HD DVD business: why not have a solution that lets you play your existing DVDs while still enjoying a better viewing experience?

Naturally, products centred around the iPod music player haven't slowed down any (nor has consumer interest in downloading music) and we're likely to see some higher-end products in this realm. Of particular note already are the RED-I tube amp and speaker package from Fatman (which also works with the iPhone!); SpeakerCraft's new iPhone interface for its MODE multi-room home A/V control system; the Wadia Digital 170iTransport “high resolution” iPod dock that has component video outputs for viewing videos in full, DVD quality; and Xantech's XAN-XIS100 iPod dock with an HD component video output.

Finally, as the residential housing market hits a crunch, the commercial market continues to flourish. Even with the residential market taken into consideration, many dealers tells me that commercial applications are a huge part of their business. Will we see more products targeted toward commercial applications, whether they be restaurants, schools, or MDUs?

Stay tuned for more information for CEDIA EXPO, which takes place September 4-7, 2008 in Denver, CO.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I expect to see booth girls,everywhere!