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A few thoughts about...CEDIA (1 Viewer)

Ronald Epstein

Senior HTF Member
Jul 3, 1997
Real Name
Ronald Epstein
This has been an incredible week for both my partner Parker
Clack and I. After all these years, we finally attended and
covered our very first CEDIA event.

What an eye-opener! For anyone that has never attended
a consumer electronics trade show, all I can say is that the
experience is not unlike being set loose in Willy Wonka's
chocolate factory -- except for the fact that all the sweets
are electronic goods.

The event itself is meticulously organized. The folks who put
the show together did an incredible job of not only keeping the
exhibit floor well organized, but making sure that their guests
had ample transportation to and from the event. Members of
the Press (which we were a part of) were given their own room
complete with Internet access and food.

But let me talk about the event itself....

As you walk onto the huge exhibit floor (which actually covers
almost two separate complete floors) you can't help but to be
taken back by the rows of manufacturers, towering banners
and live interactive shows that the dealers put on to lure attendees
to their booths .

Many of the major manufacturers (Runco, Crestron, Toshiba,
Sony, Panasonic, Atlantic Technologies, Infocus, etc.) have
constructed amazing demo theaters that allow you to view their
equipment in the privacy of a home theater setting. These booths
have been constructed with enough soundproofing and padding
to block outside noise and immerse the viewer into the theatrical

What really makes this convention fun is the opportunity to
be amongst the first to see the next generation of hardware and
software before released to the consumer.

The big "buzz word" throughout this year's CEDIA was Sony's
announcement to release the VPL-VW50, a 3-chip SXRD 1080p
front projector at a $5k price point. It's also very interesting to
see that because of this announcement, other manufacturers
are reducing comparable front projectors at similar price levels.

In fact, for what seems to be the first time, quality front projectors
are coming down to consumer friendly pricing. In a recent
conversation with Robert "RAF" Fowkes, we predicted that this
pricing *could* lead to the demise of rear projectors. There are
so many of us who have only dreamed of recreating the theatrical
experience in our homes using front projectors, but up until now,
have not been able to afford the means of obtaining it.

As someone who has owned nothing but rear projection displays
for the past 15 years, I am now looking to the new 3-chip 1080p
front projectors being introduced from from Sony and JVC at a
price of $5-$7k. It's amazing that there is so much bang available
for the buck.

While one can easily decipher what is happening on the hardware
front, software is another different matter completely.

The one thing that Blu-Ray has going for it over HD-DVD is
the amount of hardware manufacturers supporting it. Walking
around the show this past week you can see that just about
everyone was pushing Blu-Ray. Really, unless you walked outside
the convention center and across the street to the mobile setup,
it would be a bit difficult to see much HD-DVD on the floor (outside
of Toshiba's booth).

It was very interesting to learn that the second generation 1080p
capable Toshiba player is being set at a $1k pricepoint. This
certainly brings HD-DVD pricing in line with similar Blu-Ray hardware.

On the other hand, you certainly won't find any new Blu-Ray
players being offered for less than $1K. In fact, the Pioneer
Elite player and (I think) Panasonic player is being pushed above
the $1k mark. Please correct me if I am wrong on the Pana specs.

As long as Toshiba still offers a player for $500 (now selling
discounted for $400), and consumers don't mind the absence
of 1080p compliance, HD-DVD may still have a huge advantage
over Blu-Ray. For those of us who want 1080p, it seems the
playing field has now been leveled.

Additionally, we saw a very impressive demo of Fast &
Furious Tokyo Drift
. It is the first of the next generation
of HD-DVD titles to offer incredible interactive content that can
be viewed without leaving the film. I saw none of this sort of
stuff being demonstrated at any of the Blu-Ray booths.

Also, while most of the Blu-Ray stuff I saw looked quite good
(mostly animation), there were some live-action material that
didn't look as good as HD-DVD. Fortunately, most of what I
saw looked awfully impressive including Fox's Kingdom of
Heaven which the studio was showing off clips of at its
Blu-Ray launch party.

It's so hard to determine at this point if one format will win,
both will coexist with each other, or both will go the way of
Betamax. Certainly, HD-DVD seems to have captured the
hearts of many early adopters across the Internet, but looking
at the amount of manufacturer support behind Blu-Ray you
begin to see a second coming. I think the overall lack of
manufacturer support is going to hurt HD-DVD in the long run.

Parker and I are extremely grateful for the fact that we had
a great staff of individuals working for Home Theater Forum
at CEDIA this year. Robert Fowkes and Adam Gregorich have
provided great photos and editorial content for us. Additionally,
Parker and I took some great video from many of the major
vendors that we visited. We invite you to visit our photo and
video coverage page HERE

We look forward to covering CEDIA again next September!

Tim Glover

Senior HTF Member
Jan 12, 1999
Monroe, LA
Real Name
Tim Glover
Great post Ron. I kept checking back on the CEDIA forum like u said as a kid in a candy store & I wasn't even there. With the great daily feedback from you guys, it felt like I was there. Thanks! :)

Believe me Ron, and I've only owned 480p projectors until my next one soon....but you will absolutely LOVE front projection. There will be no going back. Ever. It's the Holy Grail of movie watching. Sometimes less is more and a bad big picture is bad but that won't happen.

You will rediscover your movie library and grin from ear to ear. :)

Michael Osadciw

Jun 24, 2003
Real Name
Michael Osadciw
Thank you for your coverage Ron. I'll have to make it out next year...or maybe to CES in January. Exciting times ahead...



Senior HTF Member
Jul 3, 1997
Ron has made some very good observations regarding CEDIA. And for those who are not familiar with this event and its tie-in with CES let me clarify it a bit. CES ("Consumer Electronics Show") is, of course, the much larger event (about 6-7 times larger) when it takes over Las Vegas every January. In fact, it practically chokes the city and is not that easy to get around. Vegas regulars usually take that time to escape the area. But if you are mainly concerned with Home Theater then CEDIA ("Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association") is the event that focuses on that aspect of consumer electronics. And, since its limited to industry people (installers and manufacturers) and not the general public there is a tendency to introduce things that will be available in the near future to allow custom installers to get a leg up on the competition by offering things that entice new customers. In other words, you are more likely to find people talking about the next generation HDMI considerations rather than how to use Xbox 360s, Auto Sound Systems, clock radios and the latest electric razors. It is, as Ron implied, a veritable cornucopia of HT delights - and then some!

Tim Glover

Senior HTF Member
Jan 12, 1999
Monroe, LA
Real Name
Tim Glover

Um, I need to somehow go next year.

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