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INSTALLATION / CEDIA MEMBERS

CEDIA Expo 2005 A Big Hit

By David Richards | Monday | 01/08/2005

While the Crowds seemed smaller than last year the enthusiasm and vendor effort in delivering an outstanding array of stands at this years CEDIA Expo made up for any shortfall in numbers.

The 2005 CEDIA Expo in Surfers Paradise is over. Held at the Gold Coast Convention Centre, the event was the platform for several vendors to launch new products into the convergence marketplace. Companies like Hills Industries chose the event to launch a complete new division, while Pioneer - while not winning any awards for their plasma range, which came as a big surprise to many - launched a brand new Microsoft Media Center platform, which will only be sold to custom integrators selling into the home automation market. A big hit at the show was the SmartHouse Reseller massage angels. Sponsored by Samsung and D-Link, the girls provided five-minute muscle relief to a queue of stressed-out vendors and attendees.   Audio Marketing showed off the new integrated Focal iCub sub woofer which works across a wireless network and can be integrated to work with an iPod. This product, while exposed to the CE channel, is ideal for IT resellers selling into the home or office market. (See more on this product later).

 Over at the Total Q stand there was a lot of action - apart from pretty women serving coffee and beer. Rob Saunders announced a competitor to the Clipsal Wireless lighting system. Starting as low as $250, which means a move into new distribution channels, the idea behind the new system is that one can replace an existing lighting and power switches with a product that seamlessly integrates home technologies into a lighting system.

 Rob Sanders, managing director of Total Q, said: "We believe this will be a successful product range for us. We are currently reviewing distribution arrangements with a view to expanding into new channels".  The range includes single and dual channel in-wall and in-roof dimmers, relays, remote wall plates, RS232 wireless integration and RF remote control. The system is designed to take upgrades to new wireless methods as protocols are agreed on. With the new HAL wireless lighting system, audio-video controls for your HAL Distributed AV system can also be accommodated. This eliminates the need for a second wall plate. Major sponsor Panasonic showed a new range of commercial screens and projectors deigned specifically for use in stores or at commercial locations such as shopping malls and airports. The company was also big winners in the CEDIA Awards which were judged by attendees to the CEDIA Expo. (See separate story).

 Also on show for the first time in Australia were products from Control4. This is a company that has recently appointed Convergent Technology to distribute their range of wireless and IP-based solutions. In the US, Ingram Micro have expressed an interest in distributing this range of products which, while currently targeted at the CEDIA member, is able to be configured by IT based resellers selling into the home market. Several vendors revealed a new generation of mounting systems - from in-ceiling systems to pop-up systems controlled by a new generation of motors and designed to handle up to 63" plasma screens. These stands proved extremely popular as they are a high-margin category, with most installs in both the IT space and the CE market having to integrate a mounting system.

 Among the vendors displaying at this years show were Screen Technics, Vogel and Up Lift Australia. Hills Industries unveiled a home entertainment business with the release of a raft of new products targeting installers and home integrators. The company, which recently made news with the acquisition of Audio Telex and Crestron Controls, has created a new division dubbed Hills AV or HAV Equipment.Under this new business the company launched a range of integrator products, including 19-inch rack mount matrix switching gear, distribution amplifiers, scan converters and a whole range of distribution and retail cable products is a new home theatre PVR box that integrates an analogue tuner, 160GB hard disk drive, Internet connectivity and movie download capabilities. The, as yet, unreleased box may feature a digital TV tuner and DVD player by the time it hits the market.

Already available is a range of SD and HD set-top box and PVR products branded under the HAV logo, but sourced from a variety of manufacturers in the US and Asia.Also announced at the show was the company's plan to leverage its experience in the antenna and Pay TV business by launching a structured cabling system under the name Hills Home Hub. The Home Hub integrates data, audio/video, phone and security into the same wiring closet. One of the key differentiators, says the company, is that the product is also licensed to Integrate satellite-based Pay TV services.

In addition to the quality range of Beldon and Hills branded cables, the company is also promoting a range of compression connectors and a compression tool kit. Finally, the company has also launched a new plasma/LCD wall-mount system. The user-adjustable system is lightweight and also adjusts to the width of wall stubs by simply sliding along the back railings. The company plans to price the system well below competing mounting systems.

Hills looks like making a big impact on the custom install business in Australia, having acquired both professional audio distributor Audio Telex and the Australian distributor of Crestron automation products, Crestron Control Solutions. A Rolls Royce of media centres was released by Pioneer, with many CEDIA member enthused by the systems design. The Niveus media centre costs a mere $7000 and an additional 908GB storage system is available at $2,500.

Designed from the ground up for the system installer market, the Intel-based system comes in a massive black anodised chassis with duel TV tuners. The 'Denali Limited Edition' is the first commercially available tuner system based on Microsoft Media Center 2005. With a total of four tuners, users can watch and record up to four shows simultaneously, including two in HDTV. With more recording power comes the need for more storage. The Denali Limited Edition comes with a separate one terabyte of storage (1000GB), providing up to 100 hours of HDTV recording. It also has ATI's Image Science Foundation (ISF) certified X850 Graphics, and over 2GB of memory standard.The Denali Limited Edition pushes the envelope with some impressive specifications that include P4 3.4Ghz HT, 2GB 400Mhz DDR SDRAM, 1TB HDD, Slot Load Progressive Scan Dual Layer DVD Recorder, Dual TV Tuner, Dual HDTV, ATI X850XL ISF Certified, 24-bit/192Khz High Definition 8-Channel Audio & Windows XP MCE 2005 with HDTV. The product line will be sold through Pioneer's Professional A/V and Multimedia Division into the CEDIA/Custom Installation sales channels. "We're extremely excited to be working with Pioneer Electronics," said Tim Cutting, CEO & Founder of Niveus Media. "They have an impressive history of innovation in the home entertainment market and are the perfect go-to-market partner for Niveus in Australia. Key to the success of this product in the Australian market is education and training."

One of the key features of the Niveus Media Centres is the fanless Passive Cooling System. Noisy fans are one of the main objections to using PCs in a living room and the unique Niveus case design - incorporating a combination of heat pipes, high performance heat sinks and thermal pads - has completely eliminated the need for conventional cooling fans" he added.

Rob Thompson, general manager for Pioneer's Export and Commercial Business Group, said: "Right from receiving our first sample we have been extremely impressed with the design, build quality and presentation of the Niveus products. We have been building to this launch for 18 months and I am very confident that we have the right product. If we need to add more people we will do so. "Niveus support has proved to be excellent as we customised the products for our local market. We believe that these are undoubtedly the best products of their kind on the market today." Dynalite also introduced a whole set of new designs for their state-of-the-art lighting management system. Designed to be adapted in a matter of seconds, the range allows installers and designers to work with customers in delivering the very latest look in light fittings.

 Finally, but not least, Tannoy showed an upgraded sound 5.1 sound system that runs over a cat 5 Ethernet network, eliminating the need for audio cables. The Eyris 1DP home theatre kit includes digital room equalisation that has to be set up by the dealer at installation time. All control is via a PC running dedicated Tannoy software. iDP also includes two active subwoofers.

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