No Mickey Mouse show part deux

This is the second half of our InfoComm 2009 show report. If you haven’t seen part one yet, I suggest you take a look (link at the end of the article). If you don’t care about audio or control products, or you don’t want to find out when multi-touch isn’t actually multi-touch, then read on!

Invariably the lion’s share of InfoComm is taken up with the video and display part of the business. HD is here and here with a bang. There were numerous examples of high definition telepresence from the likes of Polycom and Tandberg. Systems integrator / reseller Teleportel also had an impressive system on display, demonstrating both HD telepresence and collaborative working systems in the same mocked up office. [See pic]
Away from the main floor, was a great demo from various companies including Christie. It was touted as the first ever transatlantic, HD, interactive hologram. Pre-rendered content was combined with a live HD camera feed from London, using Masergy's next-generation network, which allowed the audience to interact with a two-piece band. The display at the Orlando end was Musion’s Eyeliner hardware and a pair of Christie HD projectors. Essentially it works on the Pepper’s ghost principle, but you’d be hard pressed to make any meaningful comparison with a Victorian parlour trick, and what is achievable with modern HD video processing and projection. Very impressive indeed.
On the more conventional display front, the battle between Texas Instruments DLP and the 3LCD is always a source of interest (and in some cases amusement). This year I’m going to say that DLP was the firm winner on the marketing front. Why? Because they actually focused on products and technology rather than having a booth dedicated to knocking the opposition.
Texas Instruments’ big play was to emphasise growth markets such as education, where there is still opportunity for integrators. The company was keen to demonstrate the benefits of its new LED powered projection engines in markets such as education, where low maintenance costs are a massive bonus. Texas Instruments claims to have doubled the brightness possible with LED in one year.
The other side of this is the rapidly reducing cost of 3D projection, another technology the company believes will be massive for education. A total of eight vendors announced DLP-based, 3D-ready projectors aimed at this market.
projectiondesign’s trade mark “black box” booth had plenty of goodies in it this year. The company launched new models in its stereoscopic 3D range, as well as filling out its other lines with more resolution options.
Panasonic’s big announcement was an 85” plasma display, the first built on its NEO PDP technology (previously announced at ISE 2008 – yes 2008!). The new model was displayed alongside the 103” and the difference in brightness, colour and clarity was immediately obvious. Unless the company was doing something devious and turning down the 103”, NEO PDP represents a big leap forward for it.
As you’d expect, networking technologies also played a big part at the show. There was a huge amount of fibre based product on display – including extenders from the likes of Opticis (the MI-5000 Display Port over fibre extender), Multidyne, and of-course Crestron’s QM solution is designed with fibre in mind.
Jupiter systems is building on its PixelNet architecture with new breakout modules for more video sources, whilst also making a play for the Asian Broadcast market, with its announcement of the acquisition of Teranex.
AVB however still remains the best kept secret in the industry. This is probably due for the most part to the fact that the standard is yet to be ratified. Harman kept its AVB information until right at the end of an over-running press conference, and whilst Audinate mentioned it, they weren’t making too much of it. However, those who believe it’s not going to make much of an impact would do well to do their homework, wake up, and smell the IT-department’s coffee.
So, that’s about it for InfoComm, apart from the thousands of products and many vendors we didn’t get around to seeing! However, to get through it all we’d need a week long show, and I don’t think anyone really wants that do they?
My impressions over all are of a highly successful show. Whilst things were a little quieter, those in the know are putting this down to a reduced end user attendance. To be quite honest, that wasn’t such a bad thing from a journalistic point of view. It meant we didn’t have to fight for exhibitors attention, and didn’t suffer from “customer spotted over one’s shoulder” syndrome, which means stand staff focusing at a point three feet behind you instead of looking at you.
This leaves us with only one thing remaining – the announcement of the editorial picks for the show.

BEST SWAG: A projector shoot out kit from 3LCD including software and light meter. (Honourable mention to Rane, which has upped the ante with a 4 GB USB watch.)

BEST BOOTH: A toughie this one, it’s tricky to argue with Guitar Hero on a 4m projection. However the winner must be Advanced Method, who made use of telepresence technology on a remotely manned booth. (With an honourable mention to Tannoy for its demonstration room – the only place in the show you could get a beer.)

WORST BOOTH: NEC for its Island of booth in the centre of an ocean of grey carpet. (A dishonourable mention must go to AMX for a really dim, and poorly edge blended projection in its lecture theatre).

BEST NEW PRODUCT: Crestron Digital Media. Say what you like about HDMI, Crestron has just got on with making it work. (Honourable mention to the Samsung mobile phone with a Pico projector built in)
See you next year folks, I for one will keep going to InfoComm as long as I am able – where else on earth can you work for a week, and come across some great toys at the same time?

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