Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now



Sometimes, its a wonder how our business survives at all. The other day I was watching a ballgame when a commercial for one of those new-fangled high-definition thing-a-ma-bobs came on the TV. After seeing some really pretty pictures of pretty pictures, the voice-over described the product as a 1080P LCD HDTV. Whaaaat? Are you kidding me?

There is a lot I love about our industry. Given the choices out there, what you design and install and editors like me write about is pretty darn cool. But, weve got to stop sometimes and think before we interact with the outside world.

Personally, Ive never had a great recall for the alphabet soup that constitutes many of the technologies and product names in the consumer electronics space. Sure Ive got the DLP, LCD, LCoS, and plasma stuff down cold. I know the basic differences between 720p, 1080i, and 1080p, and have passable knowledge of DVD-Audio, SACD, and Class D amplifiers. I even know a little bit about VoIP and IPTV, but so help me, if I ever flip any of this lingo on my non-industry friends, their eyes will glaze over faster than George W. at a U.N. General Security Council meeting. And therein lies the biggest challenge for our industry. Weve got to find a way to sell this great stuff that we produce, but doing so without frightening our customers will never be easy.

According to new research from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), once consumers get a taste of the good stuff, many are willing to buy more (sorry, that sounded a little too much like crack-dealer lingo). What I meant to say was that, according to the research, approximately one third of home theater owners plan to purchase a new component for their primary TV room or home theater system during the next year. Of course, CEA defines home theater a little more broadly than most in the custom installation business would (they classify a home theater system as including at least a 34-inch display, a VCR or DVD player, a surround sound receiver/processor and at least four speakers). But even if were talking entry-level systems here, the idea that one-third of consumers with even an A/V system are happy enough to want more bodes well for everyone.

CEAs study, called Home Theater Opportunities, reveals that total investment among home theater owners for the coming year is expected to be around $1,700 per household. In addition, non-owner households plan to invest an average of $1,400 in home theater technologies during the same year. OK, again, this is not big money we are talking about, but its positive news nonetheless.

The study also found that consumers already have made significant investments in their existing home theater systems with a strong emphasis on displays. Displays also topped the list of purchase plans, with half of consumers wanting to improve their TV first.

The high interest in displays leads many to wonder if there is opportunity left for the other components of a home theater system, such as audio, said the CEAs Sean Wargo. But the survey results show, when it comes to home theaters, sound and video quality are almost equally important to the majority of consumers. As a result, investments in displays may just be the first round in a larger investment in the home entertainment system.

As this survey and the attendance at CEDIA EXPO last month attest, our industry continues to grow and thrive. Yet there are many untapped opportunities within the home theater market. Gaining the trust of the entry-level consumer, and helping them to make progressive investments in their home theater, represents the true opportunity for our business.