Having attended probably 15 to 17 CEDIA Expos over the past 20 years, I feel I am comfortable in saying that this year, the 2014 show, is the best they’ve had in the past six years. Don’t get me wrong, last year’s event was well attended and was a good show, but there was a heavy focus away from HomeAV technology and a clear and present push into the commercial AV world — specifically a lot of digital signage gear. In fact, I believe we wrote in our review of the 2013 event that likely 25 percent of the products shown were ProAV products – not HomeAV products.
Not in 2014. This show is nearly exclusively HomeAV.
I think we’re past the 2008 hump, the elongated recession that has plagued the residential AV community since the economic downturn. The aisles are filled, there are more new products on the show floor than I’ve seen int he past 10-years and there is plenty of totally new technology that’s creating a buzz.
And, here are my Day One Observations:
The High-End is Getting Higher: My first point that is doubly relevant as we’re in Denver, Colorado. This version of the world’s largest HomeAV show is the highest-end version I’ve seen in a long time — and barely any mention of Apple and its influence. Manufacturers have finally realized that the mass consumer isn’t going to buy into what the CEDIA channel is offering. They’re very focused on app-based control, simplification and entertainment. And, in 2008, 2009 and certainly in 2011, the CEDIA show was filled with app-based products, technology and gear. But, this version has barely any – no one here seems to care too much about what Apple is doing and, in fact, just sees them as a source – not a solution. Thus, there’s a ton of new audio, video and control gear that’s higher-end than high end has ever been. For example, instead of a big push into wireless speakers and wireless HDMI – the majority of what’s here is very systems focused – the way it should be. So, in short, the HomeAV market is back!
The Laser Projectors Are Here: The best two laser projectors here are from EPSON and SONY. There are others scattered around the show floor, but those didn’t look as good. But, kudos to EPSON for one-upping Sony. Sony’s was certainly creative (as you can see from my picture) as it’s designed to sit on the floor in front of the screen (only 7 to 10 inches away) and it creates a 100” image – and it’s 4K. But, the EPSON theater was tops in the laser projector — using its new PowerLite Pro Cinema LS10000 3LCD reflective laser technology — no price set yet, but I am told in the $8,000 range.
Forget DTS and SDDS Sound – ATMOS: Dolby has re-established itself as the de facto audio standard with their new ATMOS standard. With a Dolby Atmos system, sound comes from all directions, including overhead. Dolby Atmos is the first audio format based on audio objects rather than channels. It is simply amazing and, of course, everyone in the CI market loves is as you literally install 12-20 speakers (depending on the size of the room) in a home theater to get signal sound to each and ever speaker. And, Integra blew everyone away with their ATMOS sound theater.
Blu-ray is Dead: Streaming everything is all that anyone talks about. Sure, there’s the new 4K version of Blu-ray coming, but even Sony — the inventor of Blu-ray — has all but conceded that streaming 4K is way better than owning is as it also showed its own 4K Media Player in the form of the FMP-X10 for $699. That’s half the price of its original BD-1 Blue-ray player cost in 2007.
Jeremy Burkhardt is Back!: The famous founder of SpeakerCraft launched his new brand here, dubbed Origin Acoustics, and he launched over 100 new products here at the show – including some of the thinnest in-walls we’ve ever seen. Mostly what they have now are in-wall, on-wall and outdoor speakers, but, when asked at his press conference if they’re looking at home theater speakers or even sound bars, his simple response was heard loudly, “we love speakers.”
The New Room is Outside: The new room is your backyard – at least that’s what a bunch of manufacturers are hoping you’ll see it. Stealth Acoustics launched the best integrated system with the Patio Theater, but well over 20 companies here had outdoor everything covered with everything from water-proof TVs that are finally affordable from SunBright to underwater speakers and all-weather speakers.
Network Rulez: If you aren’t a dealer for Pakedge yet, you should be. This company is the AV market’s version of Cisco as it has AV-centric routers, switches and PoE products that you can use on every install you do. But the best product it offers is a service called their BakPak Cloud Management System – a combined hardware/software maintenance and management system that provides complete remote alerts, visibility, management and uptime controls for A/V networks. You can use it to charge a recurring fee to keep systems working!