Next week, as my kids head off to start their new school year I’ll be heading to Indianapolis for another CEDIA Expo. This is the show where the best companies in high-end home theater, audio and automation show off their new systems, and I get excited for another year of writing about this stuff.
Tech writers like to look for trends and make predictions, so here’s my go at what I expect and hope for at this year’s show.
Strangely there aren’t a lot of TV manufacturers coming to the show this year. No Samsung, Panasonic or Toshiba. Sharp has a booth, and will likely be showing off the recently released 90-inch TV and probably the Elite brand TVs, hopefully with new models. LG will be showing up just for a private event to show off it’s 84-inch 4K TV. Sony will be there, and hopefully we’ll get a closer look at its newly announced 84-inch 4K TV if it can get it shipped from Berlin in time.
But at CEDIA, projectors are more important than flat panel displays, and we’ll get up close with lots of new ones from Runco, SIM2, Digital Projection, Epson, JVC and more. Last year Sony launched the first 4K home theater projector, while JVC launches its eShift (sort of 4K) projectors (see a review of one here). 4K was cool, but ultrawidescreen solutions were cooler and a more practical solution for home theater users now (people are clamoring more for 2.35:1 images than 4K images). I expect to see more of both. Will 4K be a major theme among new projectors? It may be, but for the time being 4K will likely only be found in premium prices products—at least over $15K and probably highter (Sony’s VPL-VW1000ES was introduced at $25K).
Probably more common though will be high light output projectors. While 800 lumens may be fine for a dark basement theater, in a multipurpose room you need a lot more output to be acceptable.
More LED projectors. I’m cheating a little on this one. Digital Projection let me now today that the company will be showing three new LED projectors, including models that exceed 1,000 lumens. SIM2 will have a 3D LED projector.
Screen makers will also be stepping up with screens designed for brighter rooms.
Audio news isn’t going to be primarily about speakers and amps (though there will be plenty of both). No, audio at CEDIA will be about distribution—around the house and into the backyard. Easier multiroom audio systems will be everywhere, both in wired and wireless iterations.
Along with audio distribution will be more integration of cloud and streaming services. Audio systems makers are waking up to where people get and put their music, so system that include more streaming and cloud access will proliferate. I look forward to seeing the new systems from Autonomic, Nuvo and Eos.
And where you’ve got multiroom audio systems, you also get multiroom control. Earlier this year Key Digital told us about its new IP-based control. URC’s Total Control System is now fully formed (I can’t wait to check out the DMS-AV ). Control4 will show off its HC250 and I’m sure a lot more. My guess is there will be strong emphasis on simple one-room control systems that allow people to test the waters of automation. More lighting, shade and temperature control will defiantly be part of the mix.
If IP control and IP media is growing, that means better IP networks. Your home infrastructure is probably due for an overhaul, and we’ll see more products to allow that as well.
That’s all I’ve got time for now. Check back all next week for daily reports from Indianapolis.
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Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had training from THX, the Home Acoustics Alliance, Control4 and Sencore. He's also the author of the book The Trouble with Rivers
. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.