Here we continue with the dog days of August. The heat wave has broken in New York, and the heat and humidity are at reasonable levels. I am so happy to turn off the A/C. Just when you think its calm and you can focus on writing stories and columns, I am starting to hear from PR companies already about C.E.D.I.A (Custom Electronic Design & Installation Assn.) show, which will be held in Denver, CO next month (September 13 - September 17, 2006). Originally, this show was strictly for customer installers. Today, however, it's a high-end home theater venue showcasing next-generation displays, optical disc system, audio systems, and the like. It's actually a fun show with all of the manufacturers in one place. Unlike CES, which is now spread out all over Las Vegas, the C.E.D.I.A. show is self-contained.
What can we look forward to this year? In terms of displays, I expect to see more 1080p products especially HD plasmas. While Pioneer Elite has already shipped their first 50-inch model (PRO-FHD1), it's expected that other companies might be showing 1080p plasma HD displays as well -- possibly including Philips and Hitachi among others --- for delivery in 2007. While not inexpensive, 1080p plasma HD displays are a sight to behold. While all of the major players have introduced numerous LCD HDTVs so far this year, I expect to see new brands enter the marketplace such as Prima and Klegg among others. And, according to reports coming out of China recently, we might well see brands like Hisense and Haier making further inroads into the U.S. market beyond OEM and store brands (like Insignia). And, at the same time, the CRT business continues to decline at a rapid pace with factories closing all over the world with the latest reports coming from Matsushita out of Malaysia.
MicroDisplays (MDTVs) will be in abundance from key players like Sony and Samsung. On the other hand, brands like LG and others are quietly departing from this display category. Companies are either in the MDTV camp, they are leaving the MDTV category, or only stay in MDTVs to reach price point. Apparently, Sony and Samsung are in it for the long-haul, and are bullish about the market forecasting close to 2.0 million units to be sold this year. The flat-panel camp sees MDTVs going away shortly. Who's right and who's wrong. I guess it really depends on what type of factory you have. And, it becomes clearer every year that what can separate one display from another is its video processing. In 2006, we've seen improvements across the board in cleaning up standard definition as well as high-definition images.
Of course, the next-generation optical wars are just heating up. It will certainly be a blue C.E.D.I.A. with most of the Blu-ray Disc players finally becoming available. What will the HD DVD camp do? We haven't heard yet what Toshiba's plans are yet, but can't imagine that they will take all of the BD player hype lying down. We do know the HD Promotion Group has started a new 150 million marketing campaign entitled "The Look and Sound of Perfect." So, it should be an interesting Holiday season.
Rounding out the product offering at C.E.D.I.A., we can expect to see virtually all audio companies offering A/V receives with HDMI inputs. As well, many models include features HDMI switching and upconversion to 1080p. In turn, many of the upscale models will include internal video processing from companies like Faroudja and Silicon Optix that will improve both standard definition and high-definition images. However, it should be noted that none of the new receivers or A/V processors will include HDMI v1.3. According to representatives from Denon, don't expect to version 1.3 HDMI till mid-2007. HDMI v.1.3 will carry multi-channel Dolby True HD and DTS HD surround processing.
That's it for now. More on C.E.D.I.A. in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!