Whether you're looking to buy a new home theatre, or even build a new house, then the wares on display at CEDIA 2008 should appeal to you.
While it's not a name on everyone's lips, as a barometer of what technology is to come, the CEDIA conference on the Gold Coast is the best of what Australia has to offer. CEDIA, by the way, stands for Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association, and they represent the people who design home theatres, electronic installations and large audio set-ups.
The show ran from 31 July to 2 August and attracted custom installers from around Australia (and a handful of journalists). CEDIA did make a couple of announcements at the show, however: the first being that the show will be held in Sydney and not Brisbane next year (though it still won't be open to the public); and that the company has begun the first official Foxtel training program for hi-fi installers. This last point means that large jobs no longer need Foxtel to send over a technician when one company can do everything.
While the show was firmly focused on large professional installations, among the IP-addressable loudspeakers and waterproof TVs there were some great little nuggets...
One of these nuggets was hidden away inside the IT distributor Ingram Micro's stand. It was the first 1080p projector we've seen for under AU$4,000, and it's a Sony. Details are scarce, but it's a Bravia and based on the company's SXRD technology. We believe the model will be called the VW20 and will retail for about AU$3,600. More details as we get them.
The Olive Opus Nº4 may look a little like a SlingBox, but it's not. It's a stand-alone audio streamer in the vein of the Squeezebox Duet but has an on-board hard drive. The display is a touchscreen and you can search by cover art in a similar way to the iPod Touch. Prices start at AU$2,599 for the 320GB version.
The deceptively small Pioneer stand had one of the largest selections of upcoming devices at the show. The centrepiece was the new "Susano" receiver, an AU$9,999 juggernaut with professional studio credentials.
In addition to the Susano, there were five other receivers on display, including the intriguing looking PDX-Z9. It incorporates a universal disk player and network streaming for around AU$1,900 and will be available in October/November.
Pioneer was also using the show to test the waters with its Shiro Kuro (literal Japanese translation: "white black") panel. Essentially, it's an add-on white bezel that's available for its Kuro panels.
While Blu-ray is slowly gaining momentum, upscaling DVD players are still very popular, but what's the next step as far as video quality is concerned? Melbourne distributor Synergy had a stand-alone unit called the DVDO Edge which is designed to enhance the images not only from DVD players but from Blu-ray players as well. At AU$999 it will not only upscale and deinterlace, but also acts as a video switcher and will remember the settings for each separate input — something even most TVs can't do.
Though Qualifi didn't have much in the way of new Marantz gear on the stand, the company has a raft of new receivers coming in October which will feature DTS-HD and Dolby TrueHD decoding, and a new look. The high-end AV8003 pre-amp and MM8003 power amplifier form part of this range.
On Samsung's stand, amongst all the industrial touchscreens and stackable displays sat the company's Samsung SP-A800B projector. The device has picked up some good reviews overseas, but the staff at the stand had only just unpacked it from the box for the show. The company is still deciding whether to bring it out in Australia, so we'll bring you more news as we know it.