October 3, 2013
Every September, the team at Stereo East travels to the annual CEDIA (Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association) show. Many of you may already be familiar with CES (the Consumer Electronics Show) which features a large spectrum of consumer electronics, but at CEDIA, the focus is narrowed to custom installation and systems integration of home technologies.
One of the main draws for us is technical education. Industry leaders and experts gather at CEDIA to provide extensive training and certification classes to help keep us on the cutting edge of our craft. They also offer panels and forums to talk about new technologies and showcase their latest products. Best of all, we can use this information to help our clients truly design systems that offer the greatest value and make the most sense for their lifestyle, all while providing a highly qualified technical staff to deliver on our clients’ expectations.
There were over 470 exhibitors and more than 20% were new, but several of the big staple vendors were conspicuously absent. LG and Samsung were two of the bigger names that didn’t show at this year’s CEDIA expo.
Automation and Distributed Audio Steal the Show
An overriding theme at CEDIA 2013 centered on extending control and automation to tablets and smartphones. App-driven control allows the user to operate products or systems without having to buy and incorporate special software. An example of this is the new app available from Universal Remote Control (URC). If you purchased a URC remote from Stereo East, you may purchase an app that will allow you to extend your programmed control to your tablets and phones by enabling them to communicate with the RF base stations. Control4 now includes the app for free for up to fifty of your mobile devices when you purchase a single processor.
Another primary driver at this year’s show was distributed audio. Simply put, there was a plethora of new products designed to effortlessly grab music from network-enabled devices and move them seamlessly around the home. Competitors NuVo and Sonos showed their latest products. Both are extremely capable wireless music systems. The NuVo products offer USB stick capabilities in case your Wi-Fi network goes down, and all processors have a line out and subwoofer output for connections to better audio systems. Sonos was showing their new Play Bar (soundbar), which manages to incorporate some of those features. Sonos offers Spotify, which is not yet available on NuVo. Voco is a new player in the category and will supposedly be the first of these to move video through these streaming devices. There are also countless apps and AirPlay technologies being incorporated directly into the more conventional products like TVs, A/V receivers, and portable audio.
Leading Brands Launch New Projectors and TVs
Epson displayed their new line of projectors, and they are stronger than ever. The new entry level 2030 allows Epson to compete against the poorly-performing, cheap projectors found all over the web and at price clubs, but with Epson’s quality, it should dominate the $1000 price point. Epson will soon debut the new 4030, which will squeeze in between model 3020 at $1599 (a home series projector) and model 6020 / 6030 at $3500 (a professional series projector). The professional series projector includes a mounting bracket, an extra lamp, and a three year warranty.
Sony was one of the few power vendors that did make the investment to showcase at CEDIA. Sony was showing their soon-to-be-released new 4K Ultra HD TVs. And yes, you will be able to find these spectacular TVs here at Stereo East Home Theater. We were one of the first to get these ordered for the busy holiday season. Additionally, Sony showed two new remarkable music servers that will store up to a terabyte of music and access it anywhere you have network access. Our vote for the “wake up call” of the year award goes to Sony. Sony has made great strides and is now producing some of the finest projectors and flat panel TVs in the industry. Even their ES line of high performance audio products has taken its rightful place back at the top.
High-Definition Video Distribution Solutions
HD Base T is a connection technology utilizing Cat5 e and Cat6 wiring to distribute video, control, audio, and POE (power over Ethernet) signals. It is so robust that it is now being incorporated directly into receivers and televisions. This is due in part to the failures of HDMI at distances beyond fifty feet, and the cost associated with up and down conversion such as baluns. Integra will be one of the first receivers to offer HD Base T on the back panel of their receivers, and Samsung will be incorporating the technology into at least two models of flat panel TVs. Higher performance products from companies like Leaf offer more reliable distribution of HD video at much lower prices, and all these offerings are substantially less than the previous $20k solution from Crestron.
High-Performance Audio Delivers
Audio was also omnipresent, and since it the most fundamentally important form of entertainment, we should give kudos where they are due. Accolades go to Sandy Gross and the team at GoldenEar. This company is spearheaded by one of the founders of Polk Audio and subsequent founder of Definitive Technology. With GoldenEar, he has taken another giant leap. The awe inspiring value-to-performance ratio in these products has made them the second biggest speaker line at Stereo East. At CEDIA this year, GoldenEar demonstrated a complete in-wall and in-ceiling theater system utilizing the new HTR7000, with the Invisa MPX and SuperCenter XL. It was incredible!
PSB showed some new in-ceiling and in-wall speakers with back-box designs that are sure to be ideal matches for the Imagine series of products. NAD joined the digital audio race with the entrance of BlueSound, a high-performance alternative to the type of products available from Sonos and NuVo. Q Motion offered some of the coolest shading and drapery solutions we have ever seen. Not only are they motorized and controllable, but we don’t have to drill through your walls to run wires.
Overwhelmed by Options? Let Stereo East Home Theater Help!
What does all of this mean for our clients? It means there is a wide range of effective, impressive, and affordable solutions available for any lifestyle. If you’re not quite sure where to start, visit our showroom in Frisco. Our design consultants can help with all phases of your project. You’ll also get to see and hear the great new products. If you’d like more information on any of our services, contact us!