I'm currently in Brazil and had the opportunity to attend a HiFi show in So Paulo. It was incredibly small, at least by comparison to the shows I attend in the US. However, it did provide some insight as to what products are being introduced into the Brazilian market and how they compare to the North American equivalents.
Ten years ago, this show started out demonstrating high-end 2-channel stereo, and following the same evolution we experienced in the U.S., it has slowly expanded into home theater. This year, whole-house automation was introduced and demonstrated in the Casa Digital. Using a variety of products that were both imported and made in Brazil, the Casa Digital showed consumers how to integrate lighting, HVAC, and all their AV into a single system that could be controlled from touch panel wall units or directly from their TV. It may sound familiar to us but for many Brazilians this is a fairly new concept.
The show runs the gamut from the latest in HD plasma TVs to esoteric 2-channel audio including the use of turntables. How quaint, as Scotty would say. The products, in and of themselves, are not so different than anything you will find at the local Best Buy or Circuit City. Some models are made specifically for the Brazilian market though many are imported.
Downloading is popular here but mostly from peer-to-peer networks such as eMule and Bit Torrent. Brazilians love to download a lot of American TV and music. Many of the sites I mentioned in my last blog entry are not available outside the US, which is why they have to download these shows, rather than just stream them.
Another first at the HiFi show were media servers with Windows Media Center, and Microsoft was there providing demonstrations. While a friend of mine had upgraded to Windows Vista, he was unaware of all the capabilities Windows Media Center offered.
There were two media servers at the show. With the brand names of Munddo and Maestro, both contained Blu-ray players, 500 GB hard drives, provided HDMI 1.3, and used Windows Media Center for the basic interface. Given the high cost of electronics in this country, I was quite surprised at their prices. The Munddo was R$4000 and the Maestro R$3500. With the current exchange rate you can roughly estimate the US pricing as half that, which would be a terrific value even here.
What was of most interest to me were the details about the Brazilian market itself and the reasons for the high price of electronics. I am making my own blog for friends and business colleagues, so I'll just provide you the link to my Brasil Blog and you can read what I have written about this topic.
I just arrived in Rio de Janiero today, so I'm off to Ipanema Beach.