The CEDIA Expo is still the largest trade show for the home technology industry. The show took place this year in Indianapolis, Indiana. This may seem like an odd location, but CEDIA tends to avoid the usual convention cities (next year will probably be in Denver) Also, several large A/V companies (Klipsch, Dalite Screen, Draper) are located near Indianapolis, so the A/V industry is not unfamiliar to them. The show has changed over the years, with many of the large companies not booking space on the convention floor. Instead they introduce products in off site locations at local hotels. Neither LG nor Panasonic chose to exhibit this year, but there were many other major companies on hand, and a lot of new products to be seen. In the Home Automation and Home Entertainment field, here are a few of the interesting items and trends that were on display.
4K Television: Now that just about everyone has a high definition LED TV in their home, we are being offered a new format. Ulta High Definition TV (4K) is almost four thousand pixels across. That is double the resolution of a current high definition TV. Is the public ready and willing to adopt this? No-one is sure. With a hefty $20,000 to $25,000 price tag for an 84” screen, there will be a small number of early adopters of this format. Considering that a lot of people have just converted to high definition and are pretty satisfied, it may be several years and a lot of price decreases before we see 4K in wide use.
Wireless Everything: The trend towards eliminating cables is now becoming the standard. Speaker manufacturers are heavily promoting “wireless: speakers (though they still need A/C, the signal arrives wirelessly). Everything in home automation is now offered with a wireless option. Some manufacturers are offering Home Automation systems that are driven by information stored offsite on the internet. It remains to be seen whether people will be comfortable putting the operation of home systems in the cloud, as that means you will be relying on your internet service provider to make the systems in your home function.
Affordable Home Automation: The major A/V manufacturers have finally realized that the Crestron and AMX systems that were a custom app for the rich are now reaching a much more affordable position in the marketplace. Creston and AMX have developed many far more affordable options. Combine that with product from some of the more modestly priced home control manufacturers, and you have the potential for an explosion of growth in this area. A perfect example is Sony. They showed a $1000 receiver that includes an HDMI switcher, ethernet router and comes with a do-it-yourself Control4 system built in. They have higher end equipment that has the same on-board control technology, but is designed to have the programming custom-tweeked by an outside expert. Add to that the large number of inexpensive apps to turn tablet devices into controllers, and you have a truly exciting area of the A/V market that the public is now finding is within their budget.
AMX took an interesting approach. They have bundled their products into five packages to make it easier for the customer to understand. Rather than look at individual parts, they want you to think of: Distributed Audio; Media Room; Essential Home Control; Whole Home Control; and Energy Management. They believe this will make it easier for the end user to become comfortable with Home Automation concepts and drive acceptance of the technology.
Crestron focused on introducing new products for both the contractor and the end user. Their new Home Designer software promises to make designing a full home system faster, easier and more cost effective. Their new full line of shades eliminates the need to communicate with third party systems. Reacting to the wide use of iphone, Creston introduced Airconnect and Airplay Support, Airconnect uses Near Field Connection technology to activate personal setting in the home based on the nearness of an iPhone. Airplay Support uses the Sonnex system to allow the user to easily stream music from any iPad, iPhone or Mac computer without switching audio sources. Music can be played in any room in the house without ever using a separate touch panel. Add the new Crestron ultra thin tablet-style controllers, and you see a company committing to Home Automation as the core of its business.
Light Rejecting Screens: One more item, this one straight out of science fiction. When home owners automate, they often use this opportunity to upgrade their home theatre. Many would like a really large screen, but are chased away by the price of a 103” plasma. At CEDIA, companies like DNP, Vutec and Dalite were showing Light Rejecting Screens. As thin and light as a regular screen, this new technology allows you to keep the lights on without losing brightness or colour on the screen. It offers seven times the contrast and twice the brightness of a regular projection screen. The end result is that, combined with a modest projector, you can achieve the look of a giant plasma screen for about a tenth of the price.
One short blog can’t come close to telling you all the new items that are coming onto the market this year. Here at OneTouch Automation, we use our connections with the top manufacturers and constant training and education to make sure we offer you the latest and greatest in Integrated Home systems.