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What a Great InfoComm!

The Final Sayye by Gary Kayye By Gary Kayye, CTS

Attendance was up over 22,000, booths were packed, new product introductions were everywhere and the special events such as the Projection Summit, EduComm and the Digital Cinema Forum were packed!

So before we get into the new products that I saw at the show (outlined below) that are going to be hits in 2004 and 2005, here's my opinionated show wrap-up as well as my annual rAVe Radical Product Awards for InfoComm 2004.

I sensed that the show was going to go really well at set-up. As I walked the show floor while the massive booth structures were being assembled, I was struck by the upbeat attitude of all the manufacturer personnel. Everyone seemed to think that this show was going to be a major turning point in the industry - especially in light of the good second quarter that most manufacturers were enjoying. But what really excited me was the number of totally new products and technologies that I saw being prepared for introduction (more on that later).

As the show opened, people poured in. In fact, a 12 percent increase in attendance meant that almost 23,000 attendees browsed the 640-something booths (another record). However, aisles were not as packed as in past years (thanks to some ingenious thinking on the part of Jason McGraw of InfoComm) as they were a lot wider than in past shows. But, booths were packed. So the show was easy to walk and that made it possible to see what companies were introducing before walking into their booths. Thanks Jason!

What a show it was. After a few years of slow or almost no growth by many manufacturers and even a downturn by some, it was nice to see and hear good things coming into InfoComm and going out of InfoComm for the ProAV market. Our market analysis shows that so far in 2004 the market for systems integration work has increased 19 percent and we are projecting an annual increase of 27 percent. So we should see growth over 30 percent in the second half of 2004. By the way, the growth we are seeing is not only in projector sales, but in the up-sell of networked systems, flat-panel displays and control system programming.  

OK, I know all of you are getting tired of reading this and just want me to get into the details of the products and technologies I noticed on the show floor as well as my annual 2004 rAVe Radical Product Awards for InfoComm. But before I do, a disclaimer. It's always tough doing an article like this as invariably someone or something gets cut out as there is a space limitation to what can be printed. Also, sometimes it takes a while to become obvious what had a true impact at the show. So although I didn't cover each and every manufacturer that introduced something significant, below you will see that we have over 40 product introductions in the NEWS section of this issue of rAVe and I am sure we will cover more new products in future issues as well - as they start shipping.

So for those companies deserving of mention here but are not listed, I am truly sorry. But keep in mind that this is not necessarily designed as a product round-up piece as there are a half-dozen or so journalists who do a much better job at that than I will ever do. This is truly designed as a "here's what I noticed and should be considered as you move through the second half of 2004" - not a complete product roundup.

So, here we go:

Sony: Sony certainly had a number of new product introductions that are worth mentioning and some are below in the NEWS section, but a new technology they showed is what I want to tell you about. They showed and demonstrated a new, upgraded eConference technology for the future that they say will allow you to totally design and build meeting room systems without any analog cabling or infrastructure. Totally using the "network", this new technology is designed to allow for video, audio, HD, computer-video and even control signals to all be routed via an IP network infrastructure. Now certainly this concept isn't new as a number of us have been writing about it for two years, but they actually showed it working. They had cameras, computer video signals, program audio, VTC systems and even microphone signals all being routed via an Ethernet network and it looked pretty good - not perfect, but good enough. This will be something to watch as it is scheduled to deliver some time in 2005.

Crestron: Their new Isys I/O TouchPanels were cool. Using Windows XP Embedded (not Windows CE, but XP), they are now capable of more than simply room and system control as Crestron added on-screen annotation functionality via a technology called MediaMarker, dual-windowing functionality, include QuickMedia inputs and outputs (Cat5 signal distribution of video, audio and RGB signals) and they also support wireless control via an industry standard WiFi (802.11x technology). So, what you have is a Media Center in a touchpanel. Speaking of QuickMedia, the second generation MediaManager product line made its InfoComm debut including a 4x2 and 8x8 matrix switcher and a 7x2 system switcher with three video/s-video/component video inputs, two RGBHV (VGA/XGA) analog inputs and two QuickMedia inputs all converted to two QuickMedia outputs that are capable of routing any and all system video, audio and RGB signals up to 350' via Cat5e cable. MediaManager is major competition for Extron's MediaLink room system and now MediaManager includes six flip-top interfaces to compliment the wall-plate interface introduced at last year's show.  

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Related Keywords:InfoComm, Gary Kayye, new product introductions, Projection Summit, EduComm, Digital Cinema Forum, show wrap-up, raVe Radical Product Awards, InfoComm 2004

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