CEDIA Expo 2018 – Impressions

By Douglas Weinstein
Published on: September 14, 2018

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Wow. Lots of DIY products. But that’s probably a subject for another day. Let’s keep things positive, because it was a good Expo.

Overall, traffic looked really good on Thursday and Friday. Not sure how Saturday was, but every vendor I talked to had great things to say about the traffic on the floor. Quantity and quality.

Lots of impressive booths this year (well, every year I guess!). Our friends at Samsung were rockin’ The Wall and the new 8K TV. The Frame wall was pretty cool conceptually, and the Ambient Mode wall really demonstrated what that technology is all about. Sony had a great booth, too – they’ve made such incredible CT products for so long, you just have to stand in amazement as they evolve and switch gears. Somebody should write a book. Here’s another thing – there were so many booths with cushioned wood paneled floors – gave it a much more personalized vibe than your basic carpet set up. And, incredible lighting in many, many booths. As lighting explodes in the residential marketplace, its nice to see it in action in the commercial field. Really makes a difference when its done right, no?

The parties were very nice. Great food and great conversation. Hope everyone made it back to their hotel rooms in one piece every night. For me personally, I thought every conversation throughout the day, with friends I haven’t see for a while, were my own personal parties. Great to see everyone doing well by doing good. The individual acts of kindness and charitable activities of individual integration firms is an unheralded story in our world – kudos to everyone giving back to their communities. It resonates with our group. And we will endeavor to tell your stories.

Here are my thoughts on some of the tech:

Best sound once again goes to MBL. There were lots of good multi-channel rigs on display in the sound rooms, but nothing beats the pure pleasure and level of sophistication that the folks at MBL produce in their 2-channel demos.

Also in Hi-Fi – the new expanded Kanta line-up from Focal? Very cool. I can’t wait to get the opportunity to listen to them in a quiet space (note to ListenUp – ring me when you have them on display in Boulder). Per usual, Meridian and Revel are at the top of anyone’s list for audiophile reference speakers. Just think, if we as an industry would only sit our customers down and let them experience what true high-fidelity is all about, I think we’d sell much, much more and at the same time be doing the world a huge favor. Less war, more fidelity. (T-shirt in the works!) One final thought – let’s keep pushing the high fidelity message regarding streaming services.

Best image. This one is really difficult, because there were many, many images that popped off the screens and dazzled. From Wolf Cinema to Samsung’s The Wall, from DPI to Sony, the level of performance (IMO) has become universally excellent. I’m not sure where we go from today moving forward, because my eyes and brain have reached their limits when it comes to processing these images. The depth perception is amazing, the blacks are black, and new technologies are reducing ambient glare. Very, very impressive and congrats to all of you in the image industry. Ring me when you perfect holographic projection! (Now on sale for $399)

A (timely) product group I personally enjoyed visiting with – energy management – and specifically, sonnen and RoseWater. Energy management is going to play an ever-expanding role in the modern luxury residential sector. As I sit at my desk writing this article, Hurricane Florence is bearing down on the east coast. If you haven’t gotten your head around these sophisticated energy management systems, you need to start paying closer attention. With all the rage in CI channels with the talk about remote system management and recurring monthly revenue service plans, this is actually the epicenter of what that’s all about. It’s not about rebooting a micro-processor and saving a truck roll (although that is a huge benefit to the integrator). It’s about remotely managing sophisticated processes and networks that span the entire scope and breadth of the systems that power today’s intelligent home. From the landscape to the water bug in the basement, and the power that feeds the technology, energy management is a mission-critical resource.

Not to belabor the point, but today – right now – energy companies could afford to put a RoseWater Hub into every home (they list for $70K) and actually make more money than they do on their recurring revenue model. And at the same time conserve a majority of the 25 percent of generated power that we as a nation dump into the ground and waste every year. Get your head around that! So, I’ll get off my soapbox and just say that these are exciting products and exciting companies forging new territories in the world of luxe residential home building. Really cool stuff. And really smart people. Thank you Michelle and Joe for your candid views.

Rayva caught my eye. It is an interesting business model. It’s been tried in various permutations over the years, but this model has such obvious benefits to the integrator and the home owner, we’ll be keeping an eye on it. In fact, we’ll be talking to Vin Bruno next week and getting more information to share with our readers. There are ample opportunities for dedicated home theater installations in under-utilized home spaces – that extra garage that you just use to store junk in, or the 5th bedroom, etc. A reasonably priced, edge-of-the-art home theater adds value and delivers a great experience for the entire family to enjoy.

Great to see Expo embrace their Kitchen and Bath Design Association counterparts. I heard only good things from the designers I talked with at the show. They have a thirst for knowledge as it relates to technology, as everyone in the Design Build community has come to realize that technology impacts virtually everything in the modern home. What a smart move by Expo to escort them around the floor and show them various tech products.

Finally, Lisa Loeb at the Women in Consumer Technology luncheon? Bravo! Such a powerful audience. Wasn’t it a hoot when Lisa ran down all of products her and hubby have in the theater? They love it. And many others will as we expand our messaging. Thanx CEDIA Expo, it was a really nice event to be a part of.

Safe travels all.

 

Douglas Weinstein

Douglas Weinstein

Doug is the managing editor and co-founder of the Technology Insider Group. He is also the executive editor of the forthcoming Technology Designer Magazine, that debuts January 2019. Previously, he was the co-founder and Executive Director of the Elf Foundation, a non-profit organization that created Room of Magic entertainment theaters in children's hospitals across North America.

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