InfoComm 09 Recap: Five Hot New Products
Despite the economic gloom and doom of the first half of the year, organizers and attendees of June's InfoComm 09 trade show sounded pleased with the show's results.
Despite the economic gloom and doom of the first half of the year, organizers and attendees of June's InfoComm 09 trade show sounded pleased with the show's results. As anyone who reads a newspaper would expect, attendance was off, though InfoComm says it was the largest east coast show ever (next year, back to Vegas).
And while the number of exhibiting companies was also off, there were still about 850 manufacturers rolling out new products and technologies. As one vendor explained to Pro AV, the company was actually introducing more products this year in an effort to capitalize and gain market share in a down economy.
These new products, among many others, are likely to draw your attention in the coming months.
What: Extron TouchLink
Why it matters: TouchLink lands Extron in the touch-panel control market with AMX and Crestron (as if it needs another reason to battle Crestron). With just three models so far, including 7-inch wall and tabletop models, TouchLink clearly doesn't offer the variety that other companies offer. But Extron's position is that its panels should be easy to deploy because they come with templates for common installations–videoconference suite, divisible room, and more. No custom programming necessary. Of course, there are exceptional programmers writing for other platforms, so time will tell if and in what situations this is a good thing.
Quick note: The 3.5-inch Cable Cubby version, which pops up from a table or lectern, was a nice choice to be among the first offerings. It still has 10 customizable backlit buttons (no volume knob like the others), and it supports full-motion video for previewing or using as a extra discrete confidence monitor.
What: Communications Specialties Fiberlink Matrix
Why it matters: Aside from the fact fiber is going to be increasingly important in distributing tomorrow's video streams, CSI's new matrix is attractive because it can be built with however many inputs and outputs the client needs, up to 32x32. Now you don't need to spend extra money for a matrix with 50 percent more ports than you actually need. The price per I/O could be less than half that of other solutions. It's SMPTE 297-2006 compliant up to 3 Gbps and supports single mode and multimode fiber without needing separate interface cards.
Quick note: Port granularity and a single interface board are not without compromise: The Fiberlink Matrix is not field-upgradable. So when you order (it starts shipping in October), CSI will advise you to spec a few more ports than you need–but not a lot more.
What: QSC Q-Sys integrated audio system
Why it matters: InfoComm 09 could have been the show when the digital audio networking picture got clearer, with vendors demonstrating or announcing support for IEEE-standard Ethernet AVB. But then comes QSC's new proprietary Q-Sys platform, which demands attention, frankly, because it's designed by the people who designed CobraNet, a successful platform in its own right. Q-Sys runs over Gigabit Ethernet and comprises a Core (running server-class Intel Xeon processors) and distributed I/O Frames (supporting 16 channels each). QSC claims latency under 2.5 milliseconds, which puts it in Ethernet AVB's ballpark.
Quick note: It's not for small installs, and despite the emphasis on control and processing, its architecture sure looks like an enterprise network (with built-in support for multilevel redundancy). As such, it could help turn IT guys into AV adopters rather than always making AV guys learn IT.
What: Digital Projection M-Vision 1080p-LED
Why it matters: DP's InfoComm demo of the upcoming M-Vision 1080p-LED displaying full-motion video content was a testament to the potential of LED-based technology. Color saturation was indeed impressive for a single-chip DLP. It supports 800 lumens, 1920 x 1080, and a 2,000:1 contrast ratio (10,000:1 if you want to employ dynamic black). And the LED light source should last 60,000 hours, according to the company.
Quick note: First, it won't ship in quantity until next quarter. Second, as you'd expect, it looks great where ambient light isn't an issue, so pick your spots.
What: JBL CBT Series line array columns
Why it matters: Passive column designs have their drawbacks, such as inconsistent coverage. JBL's trying to combat that with something called Constant Beamwidth Technology, which allows users to adjust coverage for medium- or long-throw applications with a switch.
Quick note: The CBT 70J (second from left), with 16 tweeters and four 5-inch woofers, is potentially the coolest of the bunch because it's designed to provide asymmetrical coverage like a curved line array would, but in a columnar package, with the top half sending sound to the back of the room without it splattering off the back wall, and the bottom half directing sound to the front of the room.