My feet are sore and I think I caught a cold. But it was worth it to get all the skinny for you, my loyal Solid Signal Blog readers, as I scoured the CEDIA EXPO in Denver to get the best stuff to show you. Tomorrow’s devoted to meetings, so today I walked around trying to get the feel of the show.
The one big reveal, surprisingly, wasn’t an overarching obsession with 4K. In fact, as hard as CEDIA (the organization) has pushed for the Ultra HD name, it was nowhere to be seen, and other than Sony and LG there really wasn’t a lot of 4K hoopla. I’ll get to that later.
On the other hand, two words kept popping up in conversation: Dolby Atmos. Dolby Atmos doesn’t have a really big profile outside of movie theaters, but if the folks at CEDIA Expo have their way that’s soon to change. Atmos allows for unlimited channels of audio and is compatible with spatializer software that should make your existing surround system better. Atmos was the hit of the show this year.
The other most talked about item was definitely TiVo’s monster 24TB DVR, giving you the option to record, oh about a year’s worth of HD. It’s not on sale yet but it was the hit of the newly resurgent TiVo booth. It won’t go on sale until 2015, which gives you time to save up.
What you won’t see on the tech blogs is the back of the TiVo Mega DVR, which is surprisingly sparse with just OTA and cablecard inputs, and very few outputs. The shrewd viewer will note that this particular prototype was labeled “megatron 1.”
On the other hand, our friends at North American Cable were proud to show off the tiny HDMP-1 and HDMP-2 digital signage players, already available at Solid Signal. Slightly bigger than a deck of cards (look at the massive RCA cable to the right to get an idea) these inexpensive players pull nearly any image file off nearly any flash drive for an instant digital signage experience. They are so affordable that anyone can get into digital signage.
Wilson Electronics and zBoost were in the house, with some hard-working reps who flew in from Las Vegas just hours before showing the latest in custom-installer-rated products. These are available from Solid Signal upon request but are only shown and sold to installers, hence the lack of pictures.
DISH had a very large booth presence to show off the fact that their Hopper DVRs work with Crestron and Control4 home integration systems. With the exception of the shadowy employee shown in this picture, though, the booth wasn’t really… hopping… since DISH just revealed a ton of new hardware at CES and had nothing new to talk about here.
Sony was crowing loudly about their 4K products, and sure the demos looked pretty good, although I’m pretty sure I saw some of them last year. They had 80″ 4K TVs, while LG had a super-wide-screen curved TV that was over 100″. When I asked a Sony rep where the content was going to come from, I got the standard company line about downloading at half speed, and there were many Sony movies available. Not quite what I meant.
In the “oh, dear dear dear” department” there was Carver. If you’re over 40 you probably remember lusting for a Carver amplifier or if you were one of the lucky ones, owning one and having the police visit your house because they heard the noise a mile away at the station. Carver had a 10×10 booth with one bored looking employee and one or two pieces of gear. How the mighty have fallen.
Overall, CEDIA Expo was a great show because it showed the custom installation market is really strong, whether it’s motorized blinds, waterproof TVs, or absurdly complex audio equipment. Rich people are buying this stuff, and that’s good for everyone.