Top 5 Most Interesting Trends at CEDIA 2010 
Home Theater Feature Articles Best Of & Top 100 Lists
Written by Mike Flacy   
Tuesday, 28 September 2010

We just got back from surviving the sweltering temperatures of Atlanta to bring you the latest news on the new gear announced at CEDIA 2010.  The show was rife with all of our favorite high-end consumer electronics companies showing off all the gear that they announced between now and CES 2010 back in January.  After 5 different press conferences and 50+ booth visits, here’s our take on the top five most intriguing trends that we saw during our three days on the show floor.

The Hope That CE Consumers Are Craving 3D

You couldn’t walk ten feet in the Georgia Congress Center without seeing something that had to do with 3D technology; 3D Displays, 3D Projectors, 3D Screen Material, 3D compatible audio components, 3D High-Speed cables and the list goes on.  Sharp announced $199 glasses that switch between 3D and 2D views on the same display to cater to all the viewers in the room as well as 3D Aquos displays , a 3D projector and a 3D Blu-ray playerJVC rolled out six new 3D projectors, across professional and consumer lines, as well as their phenomenal 4K projector right after their press conference at the Omni hotel.

Toshiba 3D display

LG was showing off 3D displays at their booth as well as 3D projectors with custom content.  Digital Projection had multiple booths setup for 3D as well showing demos of the animated Christmas Carol and Avatar.  Panasonic was showing off a massive 152” display capable of 3D that served more as a spot for group pictures to attract people in to their booth rather than a viable option for the home theater.  Sony announced a $10K 3D projector in their lineup as well as pushing 3D gaming using a display with their Playstation 3 .

While Avatar was the mostly commonly used 3D source material, you had to hunt down the CEDIA technology booth to see the most impressive 3D display using the inexpensive, passive glasses.  In combination with a variety of companies like Stewart Filmscreen and Harman Kardon, the booth was showing a 3D version of the Tron Legacy trailer that was really phenomenal.  The moving, rumbling seats where probably influencing my decision, but still impressive.  Screen Innovations, while showing off their motorized version of the Black Diamond, had the best looking version of Avatar in a back room.  The room was setup to show the difference ambient lighting had on the screen quality and Avatar looked perfect on the black screen material.

Bringing The Home Back Into Home Theater

Last year, you may remember Sonance launching their TRUFIG line of products to take all the elements in your home theater or home in general and make them blend into the background.  They are basically pushing those devices like outlets, control panels, LCD panels and speakers into the wall to create a seamless design.  Think of it as a design solution for architects and interior designers to blend these units into walls and ultimately make the girlfriend / wife / significant other happy that their walls aren’t plastered with ugly, techy coverings.   TRUFIG was back this year, but with insets into other types of wall material like stone as well as HVAC diffusers to expand their line.  They are also making it simpler for installers to cut the pieces to scale and inset them into a design.

TruFig Installed

While not as elegant of a solution, we saw plenty more of this type of thinking about the show.  Nearly every home automation company was showing off their wall mounts for iPhone / iPod Touch connections.  Control4 was showing off a LCD panel mount that was interchangeable with different LCD sizes.  LG showed off a wireless A/V transfer system for sending your 1080p high-def content streaming to televisions up to 50 feet away.  Media Décor was showing off their standard line of television covers with sliding paintings and mirrors.  They even had a LCD screen inset into a bathroom mirror.  Over at Paradigm’s booth, they were showing off a wireless sub that was thin enough to slide underneath a couch and smaller, stylistic bookshelf speakers that would be pleasing the eye in any home theater.


Apple’s Influence on the High-End CE Market

Similar to 3D, the iPad was hard to escape when traveling from booth to booth.  Nearly every audio company and home automation company was showing off native iPad applications or how the iPad integrated into their audio systems.  There were single devices with multiple iPod / iPhone docks for shuffling between two people’s music collections.  

Ipad Pioneer system

Taking the Apple influence a step further and making it their own, the folks at Control4 were stressing the accessibility of their own app store, 4Store (previously shown off at CES 2010).  The 4Store is open to third party developers and they can submit apps for approval by Control4, thus allowing the ability to sell their applications to Control4 consumers.  Similar to Apple’s model, they use a revenue split so both the host and the creator are making money of the sales of the applications.  There were a couple third parties on display, specifically for locking doors remotely as well as tracking utilities.  These applications are ideal for keeping track of who is coming and going from the house as well as bringing the cost of your utility bill down by regulating when devices are turned on and off.

ML SpeakerVenturing Down the Economic Ladder

It’s clear that the current state of the U.S. economy is taking its toll on higher end companies.  You can just look at the overall decreased amount of product announcements at CEDIA 2010 as an example of the slower pace.  That being said, there were companies releasing products on the less expensive end.  MartinLogin is the perfect example of this trend, just look at the $2000 (pair) ESL speakers they announced .  The speakers are in a familiar design to the rest of their line, but use a matte black plastic housing at the base of the speaker rather than wood.  I got a chance to listen to these new units in their listening room and the quality of the sound is pretty amazing for the price point.  Digital Projection, among many other companies, was following in kind with their first sub $10K projector being announced.  

Glimpses of Innovation

There wasn’t a tremendous amount of innovative products shown off at CEDIA this year beyond the inevitable foray into 3D for nearly all video involved companies, but two booths come to mind.  The first was at the Harman booth; specifically their work in transferring a technology that was built for the car audio space into the home theater space.  The result was a thin digital amplifier from Lexicon that couldn’t have weighed more than 10 pounds and retailed for about a grand.  The change in size was due to a small chip developed for the yellow Lexus LFA car on display at the show.  The chip, seen to the right, was no larger than the size of a small button.  Watching companies develop smaller, more compact technologies for the home theater space is definitely impressive for consumers that are ultimately looking for a sleeker design on their high-end components.

Harmon Chip

The other innovative product that I spotted was at Digital Projection’s booth, a projector designed for the limited space of the stereotypical “New York” sized apartment.  There’s a vague 10K price range assigned to the unit and there’s no name yet.  The projector is designed to be mounted either above or below the projector screen, about a foot away from the screen.  It could hypothetically sit on the same rack that holds your home theater components, right below the screen.  It bounced the image off a thick lens mounted on the front of the unit.  It was projecting about a 90” image on the screen in the booth and the quality was surprisingly excellent, despite the heavy lighting around the convention center.  

In the End

CEDIA seemed more low-key than in past years, specifically less innovation with product design and more conformity into the CE industry’s hasty launch into 3D hardware.  Frankly, I’m surprised that the industry thinks that the CE consumer, even the affluent high-end folks, are going to adopt the 3D format when it’s still being perfected for the home theater space and high-definition still isn’t fully adopted.  The limited amount of content makes the situation even worse, thus it’s curious why everyone is desperate to jump on the 3D bandwagon.

Overall, CEDIA 2010 was a nice look at some of the products announced over 2010, but there wasn’t an overflow of new products flooding the show floor.  It will be interesting to watch the progression of the industry leading up to next year’s CES (a little over 3 months away) as well as CEDIA 2011 (which is moving to Indianapolis).

What was the most interesting announcement that you heard out of CEDIA 2010?

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