CEDIA 2010 – What a Show!

cedia opening 0910

cedia-opening-0910Well, well, this year’s CEDIA blew away everyone’s expectations, including mine. I was hoping for a show that might come close to the 2009 numbers, but not expecting it. I was hoping for a show with some major new innovations, but not expecting it. I was hoping for a show that buzzed with excitement about a potential market recovers, but didn’t expect it. And, I was hoping we, rAVe, could shoot a video at every booth, but certainly wasn’t expecting it.

My expectations we’re blown out of the water.

Not only did we cover the entire CEDIA 2010 floor and shoot a video at every booth that would let us (or was open), but there were a ton of new innovations, the buzz was amazing, the talk of the economic woes turned to the excitement of the potential growth of 2011 and how the commercial AV market (e.g., digital signage) are exploding opportunities for theHomeAV integrator and 2010 attendance was nearly 1000 higher than 2009. Yay!

But, best news of all, bye, bye Atlanta! The 2010 show returns to its home turf of Indianapolis and there are no complaints coming from rAVe [Publications] about that shift in locale.

In case you didn’t get to attend the 2010 Expo or maybe you walked the floor but didn’t see EVERY booth there, we’ve got a treat for you!

First of all, I’ve written a show review for you that highlights the trends and new tech I think you’ve got to be aware of from the 2010 Expo. So, read on…

cediaondemand-0810Secondly, after reading my review, head on over to our CEDIA portal here and you can literally see the show floor the way we did – through our nearly 600 videos of new products “in their words” – straight from the manufacturer’s mouths.

Third, we posted more than 200 Tweets from the show floor and you can read them ALL here: http://twitter.com/ravepubs

Finally, my show observations:

The Blockbuster Effect: They’re bankrupt! Sure, they’ll attempt to reorganize and waste countless millions of dollars failing, again. Look, the market’s going streaming! People aren’t going to buy huge collections of Blu-ray discs or any other fixed media format. We are learning to use media that’s intangible and we like the freedom that anywhere, anytime brings. My money’s on Netflix, Hulu, iTunes and Amazon — as they stream thousands of movies, TV shows and personal video content to broadband homes! Sure, we’re all afraid of the “network” and its reliability, but why not become Cisco Certified and learn to perfect networking yourself?!?

Take a look at this photo that I took at CEDIA Expo in the Sony booth (normally we don’t post full-sized photos, but I want you to see this, carefully). Notice how much space (all those monitors) Sony gave its TVs and AV receivers new online streaming video services compared to Blu-ray (that lit up rack on the left).Blu-ray barely takes up a 6’x10′ space in their booth while on-line, streaming video content partners take up well over 30’x30′ of their booth! Where do YOU think Sony thinks the future of HD movies are headed? 🙂

HomeAV’s Going Commercial!: I can’t tell you how many people at the show told me  that commercial AV integration (e.g., digital signage, meeting rooms, doctor’s offices) saved their businesses over the past two years. Go for it! The digital signage market is ripe and low-hanging fruit that even the ProAV integration channel hasn’t mastered (less than 16 percent of DS projects in 2009 were integrated by ProAV integrators). So go for it! And, make sure you consider attending the DSE (Digital Signage Expo in Vegas in February).

The iPad Show: iPad docks have found their way on to high-end component speakers in every booth from SpeakerCraft to JBL and iPad control is not only in the entry-level software-only control systems, but the iPad is prominently displayed in booths such as AMX, Crestron, Savant and even Sony — yes, Sony — a company that rarely ever displays any technology other than its own.

savant-0910Apple dominated CEDIA and didn’t even exhibit.

Four years ago, the day CEDIA opened, the new iPods arrived and took the show by storm as their connection – although looked identical – was totally different than the previous generation stuff. So, everyone was scrambling to make the old docking systems work with the new gear.

Flash forward to 2010 and Apple’s all over the show, again, but this time with seamless integration with everything from iPods to iPads to iPhones. Demos abound all over the floor with manufacturers claiming that the “i-line” of Apple gear is capable of being a music server, a movie server, a room management system and even a touch panel capable of controlling everything in the house.

Listen, we’re big fans of the iPad – heck, EVERY SINGLE EMPLOYEE of rAVe (full-time and part-time) has been issued the tablet-like Mac handheld. We love them! But, let’s be honest here — this is not the savior of the lagging high-end HomeAV market. Yes, it’s exciting to see them being integrated in the home as we know our clients will want them – fast. But, we’ve got a lot more to offer than that.

Android Apps: For two years the iPhone, the iPod and, as I mentioned above, at CEDIA 2010 we saw the iPad all over the place. But, our money’s on Android Apps for 2011. Sure, the iStuff from Apple will still be supported – and prominently displayed all over the place, but there’s talk of all sorts of AndroidHomeAV apps ahead of the forthcoming Android Tablets, Pads, handhelds, etc. Watch for them to swarm the AV market in mere months.

Thinstall: It all started with Chief Manufacturing and the super-thin mounts for those LED TVs and now the emulators (imitators) abound. Every mount company has thin mounts, and the TVs keep getting thinner. We have a video, below, that shows Chief’s new thin, automated swivel and tilt mount, too!

 As expected, 3D was everywhere at CEDIA 2010 and even Monster’s gotten into the action launching a line of universal, RF Monster-branded 3D glasses priced at, you go it, about 30-50 percent higher than the manufacturers’ own — but, they’re universal — we’ve posted a video demo of them below, too. 3D is hot and even if you don’t think it’ll be in everyone’s living room, there’s no question it will be a HIT with gamers – and the average age of game buyers, by the way, is 39 — are you selling to them, yet?

Terrible 3D: Want to see bad 3D? It was all ove the place at CEDIA, but a special shout-out to the worst: the Mitsubishi demo of 3D – projector light output noticeably drops more than any I’ve ever seen, but the demo doesn’t do justice to Mitsubishi’s quality — they’d have been better off not using it as I know it can look way better than what they showed at CEDIA — shame, shame. Oh, I can’t mention terrible 3D without telling you that LG’s 3D projector demo was noisy (packed with artifacts) and distracting — get better stuff to show in 2011.

 Their 3D demo from A Christmas Carol was stunning — who’d have thought? Vivitek?!? Weird. Congrats. Digital Projection also used a clip from the same movie, and looked awesome. Sony and Runco both looked great — as expected. Sony’s is extra good as it includes 3D stuff YOU can do yourself — featuring 3D point-and-shoot digital cameras, handicams and an SLR that shoots in 3D and you can show your own home movies and demo them in 3D. Maybe your neighbors won’t mind looking at your lame vacation shots if they’re in 3D – but don’t forget to buy a few extra pairs of the $200 Monster 3D glasses.

Middle Atlantic had some great cooling stuff for residential racks. HomeAV gear is, as we all know, getting HOTTER and HOTTER — literally. My AppleTV, DirecTV and Netflix boxes are all hotter than my audio amp in my theater. So, Middle Atlantic has all sorts of creative cooling solutions – including drawers loaded with fans, LED-front panel fans to show off your rack and even in-rack fans that can be attached to the inside walls. Kudos.

A Creative Retrofit Ceiling Can Speaker/Light: I have to tell you about a product that I saw that was pretty cool. Sure, this isn’t a high-end in-ceiling speaker, but Klipsch debuted a speaker/LED light (wireless) that literally fits into ANY 6” ceiling can light and turns it into a light/ceiling speaker (with no tools or time required to do it). It’s a four-room, eight-speaker whole-house audio system that’s designed for retrofit applications (and runs on less than 10 watts). It’s specifically designed for small home and apartment retrofits as well as low-end, entry-level, whole-home audio applications. I posted a video of it below in the news section; it’s worth watching.

This Christmas: This Christmas will usher in a plethora of new potential clients for us in HomeAV for 2011. The market’s seeded with all new entry-level technology as the high-end users will rise to the top and come ask us to make it’s easier to use and totally integrated seamlessly with everything else. So, sure, TVs will be plunging in prices by Thanksgiving (almost 30 percent less than 2009), but we’re in the business of selling expertise, not gear. So, I’m not worried! I’m excited!

Ad Notam has some really nice mirror TVs, including in-cabinet TVs, but we were especially impressed with the multi-touch mirror TV, which has really nice styling (and would be awesome for digital signage, even though this is a HomeAV show). Here is the video for the multi-touch mirror TV. They also have the requisite 3D TV, which you can see a video of here.

Smyth Research had a tiny booth in the back corner of the show, but has a really neat audio product and demo (though we’re not sure how often you’ll actually need to sell it). The Smyth Realiser A8 is a suite of products, including a head set and set of calibration tools that recreates a specific theater’s surround sound experience. The system uses calibration mics, a head motion tracker, tracker reference, and a processor to record and track what it’s like to sit in your own home theater (or another’s) and listen to the surround sound set up, which you can then emulate on the speakers. The system can then take the emulated listening environment anywhere. The system obviously has a lot of potential commercial applications, but gamers and other home users may also be interested. AtCEDIA, Smyth let attendees do the calibration and then listen to the system. Our video doesn’t do it justice, but here it is anyway. You can find out more about the technology on the company’s website.

sony-receiver-0910Networked HomeAV and Automation:
 We’re getting close to seeing the death of custom protocol-based control systems. We’re seeing TCP/IP integration all over the place. Everyone’s embraced the network as not only a content provider, but also as a way to seamlessly control everything. Everyone from AMX to Xantech had networked everything – heck, Sony even integrated a four-port network switch/router into its new ES line of receivers to help you connect all your components to the network and the Sony ES receivers even manage content flow data rates for you! Wanna see it? Go here.

SpeakerCraft: This company is simply amazing in its approach to HomeAV. On Day 1, it launched a line ofretro-ish stand-alone audio players (iPad/iPod-dockable speaker called FloBox, small Hi-Fi receiver, called Vital 250) with an integrated iPad/iPod dock and stand-alone subs called ROOTS — all integratable withNIRV, the whole-home  control and AV distribution (via Cat5e) solution coming Q4 2010. But, the writers at their press conference couldn’t get beyond the fact that SpeakerCraft founder Jeremy Burkhardt said they’d be sold in Best Buy. What they didn’t get is they’re an amazing entry point for buyers to get into whole-house NIRV applications — something the CEDIA channel will totally get. We love the new gear — check it out at: www.speakercraft.com (the new stuff isn’t on there, yet, but we’re told it will be soon).

And, the Next Big Thing? GREEN! Everyone on the show floor is looking for the GreenAV gear and technologies. Lutron’s the leader here with Control4 andAMX right behind them with a lot of Green power and AV management solutions. And, watch for all sorts of real, actually GreenAV solutions to debut in 2011. I’ve talked to more 30 manufacturers planning GreenAV gear and software management tools for the home that will allow us to take a lead in sustainability.