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Infocomm 2006

Although InfoComm has transitioned to an applications show, there were plenty of interesting product introductions.

The most intriguing 1080p front DLP projector wasn't on the floor, but in a suite in the nearby Rosen Center hotel. Developed by Delta Electronics, it uses a 430 W Xenon lamp from Cermax and produced some beautiful colors, even if the demo material was a stretched 4:3 DVD.

Barco's booth also contained several new presentation projectors. Among them were the iCon H600 (1920x1080, 6,000 lumens), which wasn't necessarily a new model, but with 16:9 imaging perhaps somewhat enigmatic to many would-be customers. Nearby, the FLM R20+ chugged away, quietly producing 20,000 lumens with SXGA+ resolution and making some impressive images.

The flat panel world was busy, too. Sharp put the spotlight on its PN-655, a 65-inch 1920x1080 LCD industrial monitor that may be the largest available in any quantity (Samsung's 80-inch product is still coming to market). Sharp also showed the LC-57D90U Aquos LCD HDTV. It's a 1920x1080 model with bright, colorful images that will no doubt soon be offered as an industrial product for digital signage.

At the Samsung booth, its MagicNet LAN-operated scheduler and server with capacity up to 255 separate nodes (displays) was shown. Samsung also showed demos of LED and enhanced color cold-cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFLs); you may see them in the near future for smaller LCD monitors.

LG also had a slew of LCD and plasma monitors and TVs out for inspection, including several integrated HDTV sets. Its 55-inch LCD monitor was up and running, although it doesn't seem to be shipping in any quantity at present. LG did unveil several TV/DTV interface boxes and plug-in cards, along with ProSelect head-end transcoders and modulators — all for a distributed RF signal system.

Panasonic had commercial versions of its 65-inch and 103-inch plasma monitors configured with tiled signal overlays for simulated command & control applications. This market has long been dominated by rear-projection cubes, but with the advent of larger PDP and LCD sizes, the tide could be shifting. Panasonic rounded out the package with a line of plug-in interface cards, something Sony also showed across the aisle for its line of LCD and plasma digital signage products.

I was surprised by the amount of LCD monitors in the Toshiba booth. The company appears to be quite serious about the digital signage market, offering seven different LCD screens ranging from 27 inches (P27LSA, 1366x768) to 56 inches (P56QHD, 3840x2160).

V Inc. didn't exhibit at the show, but it didn't matter. It stole a march on everyone by announcing a price reduction on its popular P50 HDM to $1,999 right before the show started — just in time for Father's Day. In fact, Kramer Electronics promptly went out and bought one to demonstrate its VP-727 In-CTRL dual-channel seamless switcher/scaler product at InfoComm. It has eight RGBHV inputs and supports a wide range of scaled RGB and video resolutions, including 720p, 1080i, and 1080p.

Down the aisle, Analog Way unveiled a new multi-function TV-style switcher for its seamless switching products, including the OctoVue FX, which I saw at NAB 2006. Two other boxes caught my attention, including the Trident DVI (dual-channel one in, four out DVI distribution amplifier) and the Trident SDI/HD-SDI (also dual channel one in, four out DA). The output of one DA can be cascaded into the other for 1x7 operation.

The fact that the Large Venue Display Gallery, a remnant of the old Projection ShootOut, was hidden way in the back of the north end of the Orlando Convention Center shows that the focus of the show really has shifted from endless breakthroughs in projection and flat panel design to peddling mature, mass-market technologies and how to make them work in today's AV environment.

Pete Putman is a contributing editor for Pro AV and president of ROAM Consulting, Doylestown, PA. Especially well known for the product testing/development services he provides manufacturers of projectors, monitors, integrated TVs, and display interfaces, he has also authored hundreds of technical articles, reviews, and columns for industry trade and consumer magazines over the last two decades. You can reach him at pete@hdtvexpert.com.



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