In 20 years, CEDIA EXPO has changed in many ways. The convention has morphed from simple table-top displays to a mix of elaborate booths and simple stands. The EXPO program also reflects the greater change in CEDIA itself. Education offerings have evolved from a few panel discussions and primitive presentations in the early days to rigorously vetted courses and certifications programs within CEDIA University, today.
But, for all the evolution in the last 20 years, perhaps the one thing that has not changed is EXPO’s role in demonstrating new products and new applications to a discerning attendee base.
With that in mind, here are 20 things to look for at CEDIA’s 20th Anniversary EXPO.
The CEDIA EXPO venue changes from Denver to Atlanta this year.
1 HDMI 1.4
Your more tech-savvy clients will ask about it, and you need to be able to give them the full low-down on “who, what and when.” At the same time, move beyond products and find out about the “why and how.” As a shameless bit of self-promotion, your humble author will be moderating the “HDMI Hot Seat,” on Friday morning, September 11. The industry experts who will be present will be a great part of your HDMI resource.
2 DISPLAY PORT
A parallel display connectivity technology to HDMI, Display Port has not yet appeared on consumer video displays, but it is gaining some traction in the computer monitor world. Will it be anywhere in evidence at EXPO, signaling that it is something you will need to accommodate in future installations or retrofits?
3 3D DISPLAYS
There is likely to be a great deal of talk about 3D at EXPO, but how will things shake out in terms of actual displays? Which display technologies can easily handle 3D, and which are better suited to one standard or another? Some of the answers will come on the EXPO floor, some will be explained in the various seminars.
4 3D CONTENT DISTRIBUTION AND STANDARDS EXPO
will be a good touchstone to see where the world of 3D content and distribution for movies, games, and broadcast or cable content stands.
5 FLAT PANEL SCREEN SIZES
Will there be any new size categories added to the mix? Will there be more 60-inch and large displays to keep specialists ahead of the 40- to 55-inch displays now available everywhere? At the other end of the display size spectrum, will we see anything under 16 inches to replace the millions of under-counter and small-size CRT sets that were installed over the years in kitchens, guest rooms, and baths?
6 HOW THIN CAN THEY GO?
An oft-repeated cliché is that few people have actually complained that their flatpanel display is not thin enough, but the race to offer the thinnest TV may have replaced the claim of producing the largest. At the same time, how will the suppliers of mounting hardware continue to respond to the requirements of ultra- thin displays?
7 LED ILLUMINATION
How far down the price ranges will back-lit LED illumination for LCD go? Will most of the sets use edge-lit systems for thin profiles, or will the manufacturers introduce more models with full-array backlighting that makes it possible to use local-dimming techniques for added contrast? Will we see more models with RGB arrays, or will white LEDs be the norm?
8 DIFFERENTIATING FLAT PANEL DISPLAYS
If “120Hz is the new 60Hz,” will “240Hz be the new 120Hz?” What will manufacturers offer to the specialty market to prevent us from being run over by the increasing quality and more sophisticated feature sets of main-line displays?
9 WHERE IS BLU-RAY GOING IN THE CUSTOM WORLD?
It’s too early to tell how low pricing will go for Blu-ray players on Black Friday this year, but if $200 was last year’s line of demarcation, will it be $99 for a Profile 2.0 player this year? Will the traditional “heavier chassis and better electronics” be enough, or has this category already been commoditized?
At this point, Sony’s 11-inch OLED display is still the only commercially available OLED display outside of those in cell phones, mobile product displays, and other small-screen applications. Sony and other manufacturers have shown larger OLED sets, and plans have been floated for more sets using this technology. Will more OLED models be announced at EXPO, and if so by whom, in what size, and at what pricing?
11 PICO PROJECTORS EXPO
traditionally has been where we all look for large screens, both for flatpanel displays and in front projection. However, coming out of SID’s Display Week and InfoComm. these “hold in your hand” projectors have proven to be viable and reliable. What is their role in our world? Will any of the “custom-centric” brands offer them? What hints will be offered for installing them and finding practical uses for them?
12 SERVERS AND SUCH
As content delivery and storage increasingly moves from physical media to electronic, how will this category adapt to meet the needs of large-scale installations and full system integration? Will PCs take over here, or will the custom market continue to be able to support specialized audio and audio-video servers?
13 OVER THE TOP
Servers to store and play out electronically delivered content are only one part of the new media puzzle. A means has to be provided to search out the content, deal with any transactional fees or subscriptions that might be needed, there has to be a navigation and control system, and then everything has be integrated into your own master system. What products will appear to make this possible? What modules will be available to integrate existing products such as Apple TV into custom systems?
14 SYSTEMS CONTROL AND AUTOMATION
This is a broad category, to be sure, but one that is at the core our business. Will the existing players “stay the course” with extensions to their current offerings, or will someone come out with a next-generation system? Will there be any new players with disruptive technology?
15 AUDIO TECHNOLOGIES
To some extent, “digital” has been the great leveler here, because the differences that once separated one product’s analog decoding and processing from another just aren’t there anymore. What is different are the feature sets and how they are implemented. For instance, which product has which EQ system or audio leveler? Will amplifiers continue to be analog based, or will they begin to shift to digital technologies? Video sometimes seems to get all the attention, but don’t ignore the audio side of the fence.
Will this be the year when the increasingly popular “netbook” form factor for “mini-laptops” be the next product category to jump over from the broader consumer market with configurations or applications tailored for the systems integrator? Their low cost and small size would seem to make that a likely possibility, but who will take the plunge? Is there a place for netbooks in the world of custom systems?
17 HOME HEALTH
This one has been circling around for years, but with “boomers” approaching retirement and health costs continuing to rise, will this be the year that “home health” becomes a serious and regular part of the custom installation and home systems integration world?
18 PRODUCTS FOR CELL PHONE INTEGRATION
As mobile phones become more pervasive every day, what products will be shown at EXPO that make it easier for you to make them a true part of integrated home solutions? Look for independent vendors of femto cells and wireless extenders. What products will enable seamless integration into sophisticated multi-line systems? With the proposed move to micro-USB as an industry-wide standard for cell phone charging and data interchange surface new products and client upgrade opportunities?
19 BITS AND PIECES AND PRODUCTIVITY TOOLS
Remember that you are in a business that involves physical things that are often behind the scenes. Perhaps invisible to your clients, this is the glue that hold a system together. As you roam the aisles in Atlanta be sure to be on the lookout for new mounting systems, tools and calibration gear, easier to install and better-sounding in-wall and inceiling speakers, cables and connection devices, controllers and keypads, and all the rest. While you are at it, don’t forget to look for things that are truly behind the scenes, like the productivity tools that help you run your business more efficiently.
“Green” is more than just using energy- efficient products. The concept extends to the total picture of making the systems that you install contribute to a fully environmentally conscious installation. Does a product use recyclable materials, and how recyclable is the product itself? Does the product or system enable a home to use less water or energy for a lower overall carbon footprint? This is an area where a properly designed system can prove true economic benefit to a client in a socially responsible fashion.