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Gary Kayye reveals what impressed him, what didn't By Gary Kayye, CTS

While we covered a number of new products in our InfoComm preview edition -- here are more recent news items worth noting.

1. Can't Swing a Bat Without Hitting LCD, DLP and Plasma Displays

At our readers' request, we're going to pretty much forgo coverage of many of the DLP, LCD and plasma panels introduced at the InfoComm tradeshow since everyone -- EVERYONE -- had them. Most cited digital signage as the market they were all now entering (the next big thing). Since most companies don't manufacture their own, they aren't likely to be investing a lot in providing these displays but the market is now beyond saturation.

I need to be totally frank here. At one time, it was cool seeing all these new projector companies entering the market and I enjoyed writing about all the new companies that were bringing us (the ProAV market) professionalism. But let's be honest here, we are near or at market saturation. Dell ? Gateway? Sure, the market's going to grow for projection this year, and it will probably grow well. But, there are now over 40 so-called projector manufacturers literally, I mean literally, marketing products they don't even make. There are 15 or so that do make a substantial part of their own projectors (but not the imaging device as over 90% of those are made by three companies -- we all know who those three are), and there are another four or five companies making their products from the ground up. That's almost 60 total projector companies.

So, as we focus on new projection display introductions in the future, we will focus on the unique parts of the projectors. Everyone has a lumen spec, a contrast ratio spec and a weight spec. But, not everyone's got networking. Not everyone's got a 6-segment color-wheel and not everyone's got great colorimetry and uniformity. So that's what we will bring you -- unique projector offerings. The rest is easy to find.

Rest assured that just about every company has a projector for each market segment. Not everyone can be an InFocus with the widest product range in the world and not everyone can be a Christie or a DPI with a segmented product line covering specific market niches. But there are a lot of companies that claim they have it all. Of course they don't, but a good 30 of them have most of what you're looking for. But, do they offer service and support -- and product performance?

And we know the future of projection loyalty among dealers will be biased toward unique product offerings and performance. But the ultimate key will be service. So we will also focus on that kind of specification as well.

Sure, we'll bring you the next generation introductions in technology milestones (i.e. the SXGA+ 1400 x 1050 resolution DLP and the new 4K x 2K LCoS from Sony). But we may bundle future product introductions and announcements together and cover them as groups of manufacturers and save the detailed coverage to the unique stuff.

This is due to reader feedback. There are plenty or trade magazines where more than 70 percent of their product coverage is dedicated to projection and we don't have the luxury of a 60-page magazine. So we'll continue to keep product introductions and announcements short and sweet -- and honest and to the point.  

In that light, just about every projector manufacturer on the show floor now has integrated networking embedded in their displays. Not all of them know what to do with it, but a few of them do and did demonstrate their strengths such as InFocus with their newest generation of LightPort allowing for wireless projection of just about everything. And Barco with their follow-up to IQ known as iCon offering an on-board XP computer for multi-imaging (up to four separate images) on a 1080i canvas. And if you'll read the rest of the news, you'll see we talk in depth about products and technologies from Epson, HP, Sony, Christie, DPI and a few other significant product announcements in the projection world along with a few other noteworthy display introductions included the aforementioned 46" LCDs - from companies like Clarity and Sharp, and the 57" LCD from Samsung along with its 80" plasma debut.

2. Sharp Goes 100 Percent DLP

Speaking of Sharp, in a move that surprised quite a few people on the show floor, Sharp gave the nod to DLP technology this year by introducing new projectors that are completely based on DLP technology -- no more LCD?

In a statement by a spokesperson: "Sharp is going to sell LCD projectors as long as stock is available and will continue to provide support. The company is in the process of transiting the line to DLP."

Sharp introduced five new projectors ranging from mobile to installation starting at just over three pounds, from 1100 to 4000 ANSI lumens and from $1,895 to $6,995.


3. Sean Matthews Returns to Tech Electronics

Sean Matthews, who was vice president of marketing and sales at Atlanta-based Tech Electronics from 1996 - 1999, recently returned to the company as its president. Matthews meanwhile was with MCSi, where he rose to the position of President of the Western Region before leaving MCSi earlier this year as the company wound down operations.

We caught up with Matthews at InfoComm and he's excited to be back home, and enthusiastic about Tech Electronics' product line, which includes a real contender of a digital signage solution called AxisTV. The Tech Electronics team has been quite creative in marketing this system under Ed Matthews' leadership so we're expecting even bigger things with Sean's return.


4. Dell Guns for Education and ProAV

Dell introduced the "Intelligent Classroom," a combination of computers, projectors, cameras and displays targeting K-12 and higher education classrooms. Dell is offering full end-to-end service with Dell Services, which will assess individual curriculum and budget requirements then design and install the systems and provide training. Their strategy is to package their Dell-branded and third-party solutions such as PCs, projectors, LCD monitors, interactive whiteboards, polling systems and document cameras all in pre-packaged solutions priced to apply to the educational market.

Why mention this in a ProAV newsletter?

You need to be aware of what is going on. There is no doubt that the market is already finding it difficult to sell some products with much margin above 15 percent and many systems are going out the door below 10 percent already. With Dell entering the market -- even if they say it's only for education -- it will change this forever. Companies like Dell and Gateway are not built on margin for the integration company. They are simply suppliers of technology and if you are structured to make money on services, you will like the news that Dell and Gateway are here -- if not, you wont. But, either way, you can't stop them. Prices will go down, margins will reduce (much more rapidly than ever) and product availability will become ubiquitous.


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Related Keywords:Infocomm04, InfoComm, Gary Kayye, Dell, Sharp, DLP, LCD, ProAV, projectors, Christie, Barco, InFocus, Mitsubishi, Plasma, Sony


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