Oct 12, 2009 12:00 PM, By Cynthia Wisehart
No magic wands in sight. I looked. I almost expected AMX to show a prototype wand. Some people quietly admit to having a strong 2009, as if saying so would jinx it (given the no-wand situation). Almost universally, they came from companies that are among the smaller in their specialty, able to compete on price. Most believe they would not have gotten the same chance to prove themselves in a better economy where specifying the proven brands is easier to afford and safest. It’s a reminder to cast a wide net.
Other companies were counting on their roadmap, staying committed on the principle that people will need quality products and that when they do, the winning products will stand out because they will be finished. Others were responding with new partnerships and marketing strategies, and difficult cuts to their operations and strategies, with an emphasis on differentiation, plus soul-searching about how to maintain existing relationships and connect with new ones.
At the Digital Projection International (DPI) booth, I saw how seriously it is taking 3D. The Titan 1080p Dual 3D projector received a 2009 CEDIA Electronic Lifestyles Award for bringing 9000 lumens of HD 3D picture to the home. DPI also presented the fruits of a partnership with visualization expert Mechdyne. The Total 3D Experience is a formidable turnkey HD 3D system: a Titan or Lightning 1080p 3D projector (delivering images at a beefy 120Hz), a Mechdyne Dimension media server, a Blu-ray drive, Active 3D glasses, infrared emitters, and a preprogrammed iPod Touch remote. It won't be cheap, but it aims high.
Likewise on the audio side, there was quality pouring out of beautiful loudspeakers as well as an effort to create new user experiences. Example: Focus Enhancements’ partnership with Aperion Audio. I test drove their Summit wireless mapping/alignment system (including the fun and all-powerful SpeakerFinder sweet spot calibration tool). It’s compelling for the home but interesting for the boardroom too.
Crestron received its CEDIA award for signal distribution of analog/uncompressed HD signals via the DM-MD8x8 (it handles the laundry list of video audio and data signals). Crestron wasn’t alone in receiving notice for signal (and power) processing, control, and distribution. Here is where the horizon seems to stretch away. AMX (and Savant also comes to mind) has a way of vividly illustrating the potential with the sexy user experience. But just as there is serious math behind the pretty GUIs, there are companies coming ever closer to what you really want in a magic wand: processing power. More to come, and check out Bennett’s Networked AV newsletter at svconline.com/newsletters.