CEDIA’s Impact in ProAV

Even if you’re with a long-time ProAV integration company, chances are someone from your company went to CEDIA. It used to be that ProAV dealers were just that, with the occasional home installation for important clients, or the owner’s mom. But these days, whenever I’m talking to a ProAV company, most now have anywhere from eight to 30 percent HomeAV sales in the mix. Business-wise, that’s smart  a bit like diversifying funds between stocks and bonds.
It’s amazing how these markets have played out over the last decade. ProAV was hotter than hot and HomeAV was a rather elite, niche market.

I don’t need to tell you about the market flip since then. Not only is having both residential and Pro departments a good idea, it might be the best way to really keep up on technology. The past year or so, we at rAVe have pointed out how ProAV technology advances used to find their way “down” into HomeAV, a trend that has flipped as well.

So, just in case you didn’t get to CEDIA, here are just a few of the technologies coming your way in the ProAV world. (You can also subscribe to rAVe Home Edition right here  it’s free, just like this one! And our publishing partner is CEDIA.) These all pack enough “wow” factor that customers are likely to agree with you that it’s time to upgrade.

1080p
Rather than asking who had it, it would be easier to ask who didn’t. Okay, so there is hardly any 1080p content yet available, but in another turn of events, we’ll see the rare occasion when function precedes need. The fact that these great megaresolution projectors and displays are available will mean 1080p content WILL be generated, and soon.

ProAV integrators who want to get ahead of this trend will start educating customers  now  about the fact that some equipment actually displays 1080p, some just fake it with conversion, and some content will never be 1080p anyway so why spend the cash unless the 1080p source is one they truly need? And they really need to turn to you as the one who knows the difference.

rAVe columnist, Gary Kayye, insists EVERY projector in the presentation segment of the ProAV market will eventually standardize on 1080p. “Get used to it,” he says. “There is NO REASON for projector manufacturers to continue to make 4 x 3 aspect ratio displays for a market that’s barely measurable when the laptop and desktop PC markets will be 80 percent wide-screen by the end of 2008. Heck, it’s already 40 percent now!” 

Wireless HDMI
Wireless media distribution is a fantastic development that’s nowhere near widespread in commercial applications, yet here comes wireless HD. And we aren’t even yet equipped with products based on the new 802.11n spec at this point. Avocent, the company that first showed wireless digital signage at InfoComm two years ago, showed me at CEDIA their new HD unit, with both wired and wireless connection and with the same 150 feet line-of-sight/1,000 feet through walls distribution as the original products, and delivering to up to eight receivers. It’s obvious that your customers will prefer wireless, and the technology looks ready for them.

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Media Servers
Media servers are already old news to CEDIA folks, but there are still huge opportunities in commercial. Storing multimedia (or any) files on a central server, easily accessible from any room in the corporate office or school building, makes a lot of sense. IT departments have fewer files to recover off of crashed laptops, and individual connections within rooms are simpler.

Media servers also allow for better media organization, certainly easier sharing of files, and valuable files aren’t lost when an employee leaves the organization. Then, get into something like Grass Valley’s Turbo iDDR and the customer gets a recording and broadcast tool as well.

Thin DLPs
DLP monitors may have been out of the running for some of your projects because of their depth, which can run anywhere from 15-32 or so inches. That’s fine for some installations but too deep for tight spaces or wall mounting. Not for long. TI showed some new DLP sets as thin as 10 inches so DLP, in theory, can compete just about anywhere you’re considering a flat panel.

In-Wall and In-Ceiling Speakers Get Pretty
There was a lot of focus on speaker design at CEDIA. Some customers love the huge, tall speakers that make a sort of fashion statement, but a lot of customers are preferring the low profile of in-wall and in-ceiling speakers (whole-home audio distribution is one reason for the popularity). Sonance, for example, showed me their line of in-wall speakers. Sonance has round, square, and rectangular, and in-wall speakers that are virtually invisible, barely visible and speakers without grilles for a completely high tech look.

iPod Docks
Most people think of iPods as an extension of iTunes, just a holder for Top 40. And iPod docks? Just a gadget that lets you play your iPod tunes out loud. But don’t be surprised when iPods are used to hold more than entertainment. There may come a time soon when the CEO at your client company comes to you, asking how he can use the employee broadcast he recorded last night at home on his or her iPod to send over the PA system. Or the content the teacher downloaded for his or her class. Or that the trainer put together to take on the road.

New Display Technologies

While we’re waiting for the foldable electronic paper, other technologies are in the works. Gary tells of a top-secret demo of a flat screen LED. “Larger than 60 inches and AMAZINGLY bright — 8 times brighter than the brightest Sharp LCD — and that NEVER burns in or dies. Flat screen LED could set the ProAV market on fire by the end of 2008.”

There are more advances at all levels of HomeAV system integration, and most AV professionals seem to know it. CEDIA was THE most widely attended AV tradeshow of all time. If your ProAV company isn’t already a CEDIA member and attending shows, I wouldn’t wait any longer. The HomeAV market is still growing nicely.. but you really have to get it into it immediately.

See you next year in Denver in ’07?