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Parallax View: Infocomm 2007

The pro AV channel, which had taken a backseat to the consumer channel in terms of manufacturer interest, is suddenly ?hot? again.

RGB Spectrum: An 8x8 DVI switcher product is nothing special, but the cables connected to it were. RGB Spectrum's XtendView hybrid cables contain DVI-to-fiber transitions, built into the plugs. They come in 15, 30, 50, and 100-meter lengths. No cables to trim, no connectors to mount and seal, but all the benefits of wideband fiber — at least for the red, green, and blue channels. Sync travels on separate copper lines.

Samsung: You've probably heard this before, but their 82-inch LCD monitor is now a commercial product (820DXN) and should be shipping any day now. (Hmm, it's déjà vu all over again!) Samsung also showed 42-inch, 46-inch, and 52-inch commercial 1080p LCD monitors and the XL20/XL30-series computer monitors with LED backlights. (Those colors really popped!)

Barco: The iCon 250 made its appearance in Anaheim. It's a smaller version of the iCon 600, a full 1920x1080 front projector rated at 2500 lumens and designed for smaller conference spaces. There's also an iCon 400, rated at 4000 lumens. More manufacturers are jumping on the 1080p conference room projector bandwagon, but Barco was one of the first to serve this growing market.

Sharp: They showed the XG-PG610X, a super-compact three-chip DLP projector with UHP lamps — and 1024x768 resolution? Conversations with Sharp executives included emphatic suggestions to kill off the XGA product immediately and instead shift to SXGA+ (1400x1050) and 1920x1080 resolution, where there would be little competition. Great design, wonderful execution, wrong resolution.

Westinghouse Digital: Honestly, did you ever expect to see a gas pump in an InfoComm booth? I didn't, but the folks at Westinghouse Digital had one to show off their point-of-purchase LCD monitors for gas stations and convenience stores, several of which are already in use in Southern California.

Microdisplay: This start-up company has engineered a no-frills 56-inch rear-projection LCoS HDTV, ready for private labeling. That might not seem to be such a big deal, except that this particular design uses a single LCoS panel — not three — and it's full 1920x1080 resolution, with a front-end video processor from Gennum.

Visix: This company was perched right behind the mammoth Crestron booth and had some nifty media server and scheduling hardware for digital signage applications, using a 100 percent IT-based backbone. The AV industry has been a bit slow to move away from analog or hybrid (UTP) signal distribution to 100 percent digital pipes. Maybe folks like Visix can help speed up the process.

The Incredible Man-eating Escalator: OK, it wasn't a product. But one of the two escalators leading upstairs from Hall E in the Anaheim Convention Center malfunctioned rather spectacularly on the first day of the show; coming to an abrupt stop, reversing at high speed, stopping again, then jolting forward before it died completely. I think all of those unfortunate souls on the escalator holding on for dear life must have thought: Who needs Disney's Tower of Terror?

Pete Putman is a contributing editor for Pro AV and president of ROAM Consulting, Doylestown, Pa. Especially well known for the product testing and development services he provides to 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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