At CEDIA today, the central hall was fairly crowed. With a larger venue than last year in Indianapolis, it's hard to tell. Although, if I remember correctly, there were more than 26,000 attendees last year. I expect that those numbers will rise this year, and could possibly top 30,000 or so. Think of CEDIA as a mini CES, and its very focused. Unlike CES, on the other hand, all manufacturers and executives are on the show floor so it's relatively easy to find and talk to people about trends and developments.
I spent some time at the Hitachi booth today. It seems that they will be adding two new 1080p plasma HDTVs to their line in 2007 in 42-inch and 60-inch models. There could be a 50-inch model also. Although, they currently offer a 55-inch screen size, and could opt to turn this screen sized into a 1080p panel. At their line show last May, they introduced two 32-inch and two 37-inch 166x768 panels with a refresh rate of 120Hz (vs. the standard refresh rate of 60Hz). It seems that for the time being Hitachi is forgoing the 32-inch screen size models (and not selling them at this time), and concentrating of the 37-inch models only. Hitachi admits that they are late to the LCD TV market, but I question the wisdom of eliminating popular screen sizes with almost unique features. As well, I personally think it makes it harder for Hitachi to compete with the likes of Sharp, who now offers 32-inch, 37-inch, 42-inch, 47-inch, 52-inch, 57-inch and 65-inch LCD HDTVs with all except the 32-inch model being 1080p. On press day, Sharp introduced their new 42-inch Aquos
I spoke with several audio brands today also about HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc. No one will even commit to speculate as to which version the blue laser technology that they plan on adopting. As one manufacturer put it, "we are agnostic right now." They plan on sitting on the sidelines to wait for the dust to settle. Although, one manufacturer noted that they could possibly come out with a player in both formats to hedge their bets. When asked about HDMI 1.3, it will be mid-2007 before AV Receivers and Processors will incorporate this chipset. Although, some audio brands are considering adding new chipsets from Gennum, Silicon Optix, and Faroudja to their 2007 models to help improve overall image quality. I also heard that more than one company besides Silicon Image could be producing HDMI 1.3 chipsets next year.
In other show floor news, both HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc will be offering either dual or triple-layer single sided discs this year. There's confusion in the HD DVD camp as there's the dual-layer single-sided disc, and also a disc in which you turn it over to play the standard DVD side. Of course, companies like Warner Bros. and Universal have different names for these discs, which confuse the matter even more. I also heard that Microsoft will definitely be shipping their HD DVD add-on to Xbox 360 this Fall, but no pricing has been set. Nivius will be adding HD DVD to a Windows Media Center, and it mentioned by a representative from Microsoft that there will be additional hardware announcements of companies bringing HD DVD players to market besides Toshiba, RCA, and Microsoft. He indicated that these could be Chinese brands. We'll see. All I can say is that it's going to be an interesting December as Toshiba's 2nd gen 1080p HD DVD will compete head-to-head with 1st gen Blu-ray from Sony, Panasonic and Pioneer. Will Toshiba's HDMI 1.3 be an edge over BD's HDMI 1.2? Don't know. Who will have more titles? It depends who you talk to.