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Consumer Electronics Show Packed with Pro AV

A few observations from my time at CES By Denise Harrison
Was there really ever a time when we wondered when Pro AV would become mainstream? There was, just a couple of years ago. But walking the floor at CES, you wouldn't think so. Traditional Pro AV companies were all over the place and looked really, really good. It was also clear, particularly in the Home Theater area, that traditional Pro AV companies were the technology leaders. And this looks like the year that demand meets product, consumer interest is way up and products are scaled down in size, power and price.

Here are a few observations from my time at CES:

1. The line between Pro AV and consumer electronics has blurred, and the great dividing line is made up of flat-panel displays and projectors. Not only have the price/performance ratios of projectors, LCDs and plasmas become attractive, the selection is now huge among displays and more than big enough among projectors. And the projector manufacturers have done a fantastic job of designing attractive (and small) casings that not only look great in a home theater but anywhere in the house.

2. The mainstreaming of projectors and flat-panel displays is nothing but good news for screen and mount companies. The quality of screens and mounts was one of the Pro AV world's best kept secrets. Not so any longer, as the screen and mount companies now enjoy much more prominence among home theater installers and consumers. Anyone planning to use a projector at home needs a good screen, and all those pretty flat-panel TVs need a mount or stand to hold the more than 50 million units expected to sell by 2007. Another nice thing for mount companies is that they can now go even further beyond just being utilitarian in their designs. In fact Peerless Industries had one of the coolest mounts I've seen, with a titanium-colored curvy art deco arm that encases all the cables, and full tilt and swivel - very easy and fluid motion for just about any position but backwards.

3. DLP TVs were everywhere. InFocus, LG, Loewe, Samsung, SIM2, Optoma, Panasonic, Thomson/RCA, and Zenith all had DLP TVs, according to TI. I was blown away by the pictures on the DLP TVs in the Optoma booth. Optoma's new DLP TVs use TI's HD2 chipset (around a year ago, that chipset was called "Mustang.") They looked absolutely incredible. Optoma also had a small theater set up with its new H30 home theater projector. Granted, the theater was completely dark, but the 800-lumen, 2000:1 contrast ratio and SVGA resolution looked really good, probably because of TI's Double Data Rate DLP with a four-speed, six-segment color wheel as well as scaling and deinterlacing from Pixelworks. Especially nice for under $1,400.

4. Speaking of TI, the company had a prototype of its new HD3 chipset in a 61" Samsung casing. It had1080p1920x1080 resolution - seriously nice -- but what I found most impressive was TI's SmoothPicture technology, which is supposed to all but eliminate pixilation, and really does. I looked at this TV from quite close up and it was about as smooth as possible.

5. Finding Nemo: Not a Problem. Tons of display companies were using its incredible detail and color to show off their products. I think I could have seen the entire movie in about 35 pieces just from walking the show floor.

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Related Keywords:Pro AV, mainstream, walking the floor, CES, Home Theater, technology leaders, consumer interest, power, price, Denise Harrison

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