A Review of ISE

Sure, 80 percent of the attendees of this year’s ISE show in Amsterdam are European, but, it’s the sheer numbers of them that astounded me — and many others here at Integrated Systems Europe in February 2011.

Literally almost 35,000 attendees scanned their badges as they walked into the 10 massive halls of AV exhibits during the three-day trek. It’s not quite the size of InfoComm in square footage, but it’s bigger in bodies.

1-green-lcd-ise-0211But what surprised this writer the most was the satisfaction rating given by the 700 or so exhibitors. No one, I mean NO ONE complained one bit about the quantity OR the quality of the attendees at ISE 2011. This is a coup. Barely a show ever existed that could make that claim.

So, what’s worth mentioning? Well, we shot nearly 500 videos during the three-day event and you can actually watch each and every one of them at the ISE Portal site we set up here. And while you’re there, check out the 300 or so Tweets we sent while walking the show floor.

But, in case you don’t have time to do all that, here are a few GENERAL observations:

2-touchscreen-ise-0211Digital Signage: ISE now has the claim to fame of having hosted the world’s largest gathering of digital signage manufacturers. Filling over two and a half halls of the Amsterdam RAI convention center, the digital signage pavilion was more of a sprawling housing complex. And, in something never seen outside of a DSE (Digital Signage Expo), the manufacturers included hardware suppliers, software vendors as well as creative content producers. I suspect we’ll see a lot more digital signage at InfoComm because of the success of this at ISE.

Control: I’ve been in this industry for more than 20+ years and I cannot get over the number of companies that make control systems now. Sure, there are the biggies in the ProAV market like Crestron, Extron and AMX and the biggies in the HomeAV channel like RTI, Crestron, Savant and URC, but I counted no fewer than 25 other companies whose SOLE BUSINESS was AV control. Wow!

The Network:

3-mixer-ise-0211More AV gear was networkable than ever before at this year’s ISE. This will bode well for InfoComm as they seemed to have rebranded themselves well as the AV and IT show for the ProAV market. And I suspect, based on what I saw and heard, we’ll see a push from both Cisco and HP into AV this year – in more than just telepresence and video conferencing.

See related  Rants & rAVes — Episode 1351: AWOL Vision Enters the Commercial AV Market With 21:9 Projector — You Heard It Here First!

Mixers and Amps: Audio mixers and amps are still a huge segment of the ProAV market and no where was that more evident than ever than at ISE. Audio gear’s still more profitable than video, and I counted 34 manufacturers of pro-grade mixers.

LEDs: I wrote an earlier blog entry about the ubiquitousness of LED walls on the show floor, but it didn’t stop there. It won’t be long before all LCD TVs and monitors will be LED backlit and it all started here at ISE 2011 with NEC’s launch of their 46” and 55” models (along with Planar and others). Sure, we’ve had consumer-grade LED backlit LCDs, but these are pro-grade now. Expect to see 30 percent of the newly launched LCDs at InfoComm to be LED-based in 2011 and almost 50 percent at CEDIA.

Short-Throw Projectors: Every major manufacturer has a short-throw lens projector model now. And, there for way more than whiteboard applications. In a show of creativity, I saw more decorative and signage applications of short-throw lens projectors than ever before.

Pico Projectors: Although they weren’t the central theme of any projector manufacturer’s stand, they were everywhere with the 3M and Samsung models garnering the most attention — both about 30 lumens bright. And let’s not forget about Vivitek’s Qumi pick projector for presenters, which they say is 300 lumens! Make no doubt about it — this is foreshadowing things to come in the projector market. They’re getting smaller and brighter.

SMART Technology vs. Every Projector Manufacturer: First there were the SmartBoard knockoffs in the 1990s and then Epson and a few others added interactive whiteboarding to the feature set of a few products. But at ISE 2011, I saw more projector manufacturers doing “interactive whiteboard-less” whiteboarding than I thought I’d ever see. My only guess is that once SMART Technologies went public, everyone found out how lucrative and profitable that market is and they’re all jumping in. I think, give it a few years, SMART may have a problem on their hands.
Where’s Sony? The ONLY unrepresented major AV manufacturer missing from ISE 2011 was Sony. And, given that their European Headquarters is here in Holland, this is weirder than weird. What the heck? Are they totally clueless over there? I expect to se them begging for a stand next year.