Hotlanta, Here I Come

As many of you know, the CEDIA (Custom Electronics Design and Installation Association) Expo is this week, so I'm on my way to Atlanta, Georgia, which, by all accounts, will be hot and muggy the whole time—yuck! Oh well, the show must go on. I'll be blogging throughout the convention, but before I start, I thought I'd preview a few of the trends I expect to see there...

Of course, the weak economy is sure to have an effect. I've heard a lot of speculation that attendance will be down in terms of both show goers and exhibitors. For example, D&M Holdings, parent company of Denon and Marantz, will have no booth on the show floor. Also, there are fewer events scheduled—no big concert like the Doobie Brothers last year.

Still, there have been lots of product announcements, many of which I've already posted in the pre-show blog here on UAV. One trend will surely be LED-illuminated, single-chip DLP front projectors. Digital Projection and Projectiondesign will both show their entries into this field, and there are others under embargo until the show, so watch for those. These projectors pump out less light than their lamp-based siblings, but they need no lamp replacement over their entire lifespan, and they avoid the so-called "rainbow effect" by cycling through red, green, and blue much faster than color wheels.

Another big push will be 3D. Mitsubishi will be demonstrating its 3D-capable rear-projection TVs as it has for several years, and Panasonic will have its mobile 3D demo truck on hand so we can see what will be shown to consumers across the country in the coming months. I hope this technology has been improved recently—3D with polarized or even active-shutter glasses just isn't that great from what I've seen so far.

I've been a bit surprised at the appearance of universal Blu-ray players that can read SACD and DVD-Audio—aren't those formats essentially dead? Actually, I'm very glad to see these players, because I really enjoy both formats in addition to Blu-ray. Prices are all over the map—$3500 for the Lexicon BD-30 and $900 for the Cambridge Azur 650BD—both of which are more expensive than the Oppo BDP-83 at $500 but less than the Denon DVD-A1UDCI at $4500. Is there really that much difference in performance? I intend to find out.

Wireless products are also slated to make a strong showing. Focus Enhancements will be demonstrating a 7.1-channel wireless system with modified Aperion Intimus 5 speakers, and Gefen has announced several wireless HD products.

Clearly, there will be lots to cover at the show, even if attendance is significantly lower than in years past. I invite you to check our show report often to see what I come across—assuming I don't succumb to heat exhaustion and dehydration!

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