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Kayye Krystal Ball for 2005 Part 2

The 2005 Predictions By Gary Kayye, CTS

Digital Content Servers: The future of AV integration will make its debut in 2005 in the form of digital content servers. What are they? Well, imagine TiVo, iTunes and a DVR (high-quality digital VCR) all rolled up in one. Why differentiate TiVo and the DVR? Well, cable companies started offering DVRs for homes in 2004, allowing people to perform TiVo-like TV show pausing, recording, archiving and commercial skipping. But the TiVo is all that and a whole lot more. TiVo is customizable network TV. Its user interface means that there is, literally, no learning curve something NO cable DVR can claim. No way.

What does this all have to do with the ProAV market? A lot, actually. The future of the ProAV market will be driven by customer needs to manage content a lot of content, from all sorts of sources and places. Todays meeting rooms were designed to be self-contained. They were equipped with the ?give me everything I may ever need philosophy. The problem with that is that its not scalable and very difficult to control. Sure, you can tack on an AMX or Crestron control system and make the control easier, but still, it leaves a big hole for managing content, truly and simply.

Today, if a professor on a college campus enters a room to make a presentation, they lug their laptop, connect it to the VGA port on the podium or wall-plate, find their presentation using one of the most difficult and counter-intuitive user-interfaces on the planet (known as Windows), turn on their projector, lower the screen and lights and voila projection. Then, add in the need to show a clip from a VCR tape or a DVD, and the complexity multiplies. But, thats not even the real point. The tough issue is how to deal with the fact that dozens of professors use the same room AND they all have to go through the same cord and cable juggling acts over and over again to get the presentations to the students. Then, what do you do if theres a visiting professor that steps in to present a class? Sure, they can haul in their laptop, but what about all the other supporting materials he or she should be presenting along with it?

While we know that the old-fashioned way of handing out the PowerPoint slides on copier paper is hackneyed and just not what they want anymore, we also know that some still resort to doing that just in order to save their sanity. Bottom line: the current way of accessing and sharing presentations is too clumsy and redundant.  

This is a complicated issue. Even though in many cases we over-designed the rooms, user needs outpaced the rooms despite our precautions, because content is now available from everywhere. Its no longer simply PowerPoint, DVDs, VCRs and the Internet. Adding the browser to the room doesnt offer the complete solution, either. Its content --- the variety of it, the amount of it and the ever changing formats of it.

Thats where Digital Content Servers come in. This is my annual Krystal Ball predictions piece, so I dont have the room to address how the digital content server will become the central hub of the eventual AV solution here in this article. Rest assured: you will see and read a number of columns in 2005 addressing them. Suffice it to say that 2005 will debut a massive storage AND recording server product category capable of archiving and playing ALL media content everything from PC stuff, MACs, video, MPEG2, MPEG4, wired content, wireless content, sound and even data. And serve it up whenever you want and wherever you want.

DVI and HDMI: The DVI connectors been here for four years. Its just that you havent connected to it yet. But as the trend of consumer technologies steering (and driving) professional AV technologies continues, 2005 will be the year you finally use that digital connector. Look, hands down, connecting digitally yields a better quality, more stable image. But I also appreciate that the VGA connector has just been easy and familiar. I am not saying that the market will switch from VGA to DVI in 2005. I am just saying that all of a sudden, 2005 will be the year you finally use that DVI connector and YOU will realize the difference. And, dont forget: digital video via DVI and the new consumer-heralded HDMI connector will become an industry-wide standard by January 2007 unless the FCC changes their mind and decides to delay it a bit more. So, even if you dont do that DVI thing in your professional life, you will do the HDMI thing in your consumer life.

The Small ProAV System Commodity: Unfortunately for the ProAV Dealer, the day of the ProAV System-in-a-Box is coming in 2005. For years, ProAV dealers themselves have been attempting to ?package systems for sale to clients. And some have succeeded. But this move to package the system has also pushed it closer to a commodity. In 2005, you will see true packaged systems from various tiers of the market for sale to the consumer. But all is not doom and gloom. I have seen this cycle before. I remember, specifically, standing in Kodaks booth at the COMTEX show (now called InfoComm) in 1986 when they launched the DataShow LCD panel, hearing dealers say, ?this is the death of the CRT projector. Well, for those newbies out there, not only did the CRT projector survive as the systems market leader for 11 more years, but the low-cost simplicity of the LCD panel brought more AV buyers into the market than we would have ever been able to reach without it. The same will happen with this. Sure, small systems will, no doubt, be sold this way, but those buyers will want larger systems, too. And theyll eventually want to buy up.

Apple Style: The style that has become renowned as Apple Computers signature buy-in from millions of new users (present company included) will find its way to the ProAV market in 2005. The sluggish economy of the past few years has stifled technological innovation and creative R&D for years. Thus, we are stuck with a host of look-alike projectors, monitors and especially rack-mountable glue products such as switchers, DAs, control systems and audio processors. But, in 2005, style will become a selling point. Apple Computer attributes fully 60% of its growth to its ?innovative design and style. Think about it: theyve outpaced eleven of the top twelve computer manufacturers in the world in growth percentage in the past two years, actually growing more than the top three combined. You think a projector is a commodity? Well, nothing close to that of a computer. Yet, a computer manufacturer does it: with style. 

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Related Keywords:Gary Kayye, CTS, preditions, 2005, ProAV industry, TiVo, Apple iPod, HDMI, DTV, DVD, Crestron

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