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PRO AV Product Guide: Now for Something Different

Allow me to paraphrase and oversimplify for just a moment. As one manufacturer of AV products put it to me recently, many of the devices that companies introduce each year are so obvious (albeit technologically innovative and critical to today's AV installations) that if a competitor saw one before the manufacturer was ready to sell it, that competitor could build a knock-off in no time flat.

Allow me to paraphrase and oversimplify for just a moment. As one manufacturer of AV products put it to me recently, many of the devices that companies introduce each year are so obvious (albeit technologically innovative and critical to today's AV installations) that if a competitor saw one before the manufacturer was ready to sell it, that competitor could build a knock-off in no time flat. Think of a switcher, for instance. How many flavors are there? If you plan to add another flavor to your arsenal, you've probably got the smallest window of opportunity to climb through while still claiming to offer the first of its kind. Because a switcher, almost by nature, serves a very real and specific purpose, determined by actual market evolution (for example, the need for DVI/HDMI switching), chances are AV pros already are on the look-out for a product that serves that purpose and they're ready to buy now. So every day you've got the product to sell is important.

Brad Grimes

Brad Grimes

Credit: James Kegley

All of which is to stay, I understand why it's so hard to get AV manufacturers to tell us about their newest products before they tell you at this month's InfoComm 09 in Orlando. Still, for this special-issue Pro AV Product Guide, we collected all the latest projectors, controllers, speakers, mics, encoders, scalers, etc. that we could. Brace yourself for more than 100 new products, including many making their debut at InfoComm. Then there are the 100+ products that went into this issue's annotated installation stories. And finally, readers sound off on the top AV brands in 23 product categories.

The beauty of this industry, and one way it's different from information technology, is that so much of AV product innovation is driven by real market need, as opposed to perceived need. AV systems aren't usually technologies that are developed and then search for a market. Do you need to hide a 103-inch display (page 21)? Someone will build something for you. Need to extend that HDMI signal just a little bit further? A manufacturer (or several) will quickly oblige. (On the IT side, you get things like WiMax, Twitter, or any number of obscure Microsoft Office features that spend years looking for a compelling reason to exist.)

So it's important for AV pros to stay on top of every new device, display, and DSP. Like InfoComm 09, this issue is a celebration of AV products.

Brad Grimes – Editor
e-mail: bgrimes@hanleywood.com



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