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 experience. 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!