For over 50 years, InfoComm has been the show dealers turn to when looking for technology solutions to their application needs.

InfoComm 2006 Recap

Len Calderone | HomeToys

InfoComm 2006 - Recap
By Len Calderone

For over 50 years, InfoComm has been the show dealers turn to when looking for technology solutions to their application needs.

InfoComm is the largest, most comprehensive information communication systems technology marketplace in the world. The Show is renowned as the serious business -to-business tradeshow. For over 50 years, InfoComm has been the show dealers turn to when looking for technology solutions to their application needs.

From its humble beginnings in the visual education movement in the 1930s when educators sought to add visual elements to a print-dominated school curriculum, InfoComm International has been witness to such industry changes as:

  • the proliferation of non-theatrical films ('50s),
  • federal funding for school media centers and the prevalence of the overhead projector ('60s),
  • the corporate and school video movement ('70s),
  • the revolution of microcomputers ('80s), and
  • the explosion of display technology ('90s).

In the new millennium, the audiovisual industry has become an integral part of information technology and a new Internet era that includes:

  • new media, high definition TVs, digital signage, and remote video;
  • video-, audio-, data- and web-conferencing; and
  • interactive display, systems integration, and security systems.

The industry's scope also includes lighting and staging for corporate events, entertainment, sports and concerts. Within InfoComm International, the dramatic evolution of the industry and the technologies it supports has been dubbed an "AVolution."

So what .. you ask? All you care about is your home entertainment system so that you can watch the Sopranos in brilliant color. Most of the advancements that we see in our home entertainment systems come from new developments in the commercial market. So, let's take a walk through the aisles of 725 exhibitors and see what is in the works.

The most unique and interesting product in the show for home applications is a projection screen from a company out of the UK. Nuvu has literally changed the shape of things to come with a revolutionary new screen design. Their new, patented screen is a "pop-up" screen. You read that correctly. The screen is stored in a flat bag. You can store it under the bed, sofa or in the closet. The screen is hung from the ceiling, using two cables, which are attached to the screen frame and the ceiling magnetically. Two small screws are inserted into the ceiling with two small flat 1 ½" discs being the only thing that is seen. These discs can be installed in 15-minutes and can be placed in any and all rooms.

The home user can start in the living room watching a TV show, move to the bedroom to watch a movie, or hang the screen in the kids' room to watch the latest animated DVD. This concept has style and convenience. 

Chief Manufacturing has a new mount that is their easiest-to-install projector mount yet. The RPA™ Elite is the next generation in projector mounting solutions. Just like the older RPA model, it has independent roll, pitch and yaw; integrated cable management; and all-points security. Unique features have been added to further improve the installation and adjustments, such as MicroZone™ micro adjustments, which can be done with a Phillips screwdriver; Q-Lock™ integrated security locking lever; and Macro Adjustments with Centris™ Technology which uses the center of gravity to adjust the projector in easy, fluid movements, with just a touch of a finger. Once set, simply lock it into place with only three locking screws. 

Leon Speakers is a world leader in custom, audiophile-grade on-wall speakers for flat panel displays. Their 313-LCR combines left, center and right channels in a single unobtrusive cabinet. Custom built to order in 3-5 days, each 313-LCR matches the exact dimensions and finish of any flat panel display. The 313-LCR features six 3" ultra-linear, high-fidelity, full-range titanium cone drivers for superb dynamic range and tonal clarity. 

Sanyo had several projectors for the home market. Their PLV-Z4 is one of the top selling entry-level projectors on the market. This LCD projector has a true 16:9 format with a 7000:1 contrast ratio. It is a bright model with 1000 lumens. You can barely hear the projector running as it has a 22 dB noise rating. At $2,995.00, it is within easy reach of most home entertainment enthusiasts.

If you are looking for a brighter projector, their PLV- 80 will fit the bill perfectly at 3000 lumens. It has a 16:9 native aspect ratio at 1366 x 768 resolution. With Sanyo's new color management system, you can tune the colors to your exact liking.

In about six months, Sanyo will start shipping a 32" LCD television that is weatherproof. Have you ever watched TV under water in your pool? I wouldn't try that, but you can mount this panel near your pool without worrying about it getting wet. You can also mount it on the patio and not worry about bringing it in when it rains. Sanyo is planning a 42" model for a later introduction. Sanyo will have a version of this product for indoor use in high-dust areas. That's right guys, you can watch the NBA game while operating your power saw in your workshop. 

For many years, we have not had a way to measure color quality for a projector. We judge projectors by measuring contrast (total white to total black) and lumens (brightness based on a white reading). Note that these measurements are made using blacks and whites. What about color?

3LCD supporting companies have introduced the concept of assessing projector quality based on color luminance. The 3LCD companies are manufacturers who use LCD technology in their projectors.

This new way to measure a projector's performance in color indicates the brightness of the primary colors. This method will give us another measurement of quality in addition to the older contrast and lumens readings. The same color image projected from two projectors can appear different, even if the ANSI lumens ratings are the same. You will probably be hearing more about this in the future. 

Look to Stewart Screen to introduce theater quality projection without a theater. The Stewart Media screen features an attractive, contemporary look. When wall mounted it stands just a few inches from the wall, or it can be mounted on a floor pedestal. Your projector can be ceiling mounted or positioned on a table. The Stewart Media is designed for environments with substantial ambient light. Oh, did I mention this screen has integrated speakers that create a discrete phantom center channel to align the audio with the action on the screen? This is a total multimedia package available in 72 and 80" diagonal sizes. 

Talking about screens, Mitsubishi had a screen in their booth that was used to view three projectors, which were side-by-side and the images blended to give a Cinerama type image. The projectors have many commercial applications, but the screen is ideal for a home theater where you want a dedicated screen that is ambient light resistant. This screen comes either in a fixed frame, a motorized version or just as material. You can adhere the material directly to a smooth wall, thereby eliminating any bulk whatsoever. You can then build a frame to match any décor or not use a frame for an in-wall look. In the accompanying photo, you can see the difference this screen makes when there is a lot of light on the screen. The right side of the screen has a "washed out" appearance, while the left side maintains the integrity of the projected image. 

Homes are full of entertainment, security and other devices that must be integrated into automation systems. However, connecting those devices can be challenging, and replacing all the devices with network-enabled products can be prohibitively expensive. Another challenge is adding off-the-shelf devices that might not be compatible. Well, Global Caché hopes to simplify the challenge.

Global Caché's GC-100 Home Network Adapters are IP-enabler boxes that connect devices that are IR, serial or relay contact closure signals to an Ethernet network. The adapters allow entertainment products, security systems, lighting control, HVAC systems and other products that have historically functioned independently to communicate with one another and be controlled by a common interface. 

If cost is no object, LG Electronics has the plasma display for you. If you have to ask the price, you cannot afford this display, or maybe you can mortgage your house. LG's flagship plasma display is the MW-71PY10. You guessed it. This display has a diagonal of 71." It is also shipping on a limited basis. The MW-71PY10 boasts 1920 x 1080p resolution, which is the highest resolution available on any HDTV display. The image is very impressive. You can get optional speakers, and it comes with a removable stand.

LG utilizes the proprietary XD Engine™ technology that delivers crisp, lifelike and brilliant images by taking the low resolution of analog signals to near high-definition levels through improved brightness, contrast, detail and enhanced color, as well as reduced signal noise. 

If your existing projector is not bright enough, check out the Mitsubishi WD2000U DLP projector, which blasts out 3,000 lumens. This high-definition projector has a native 1280 x 768 resolution and 10-bit image processing for incredible detail. It has an advanced filter-free design, which makes the WD2000U maintenance-free. It even has a lamp that is rated at 5000 hours in low-lamp mode.

This next item might not come under home entertainment, but Mitsubishi introduced the new Concept CT car at the North American Auto Show earlier this year. It has two of Mitsubishi's PocketProjectors installed under the front hood, projecting rearwards onto a translucent acrylic projection screen. The unique wall-to-wall panels display information for navigation, time telemetry, front and rear camera images, drive-train performance status and rear/side-view mirror functions. Entertainment functions are also displayed when the car is in park.

The PK10 is the world's smallest projector, and it uses three LED's to create an image, which allows for instant on/off, virtually noiseless operation, minimal heat and no conventional lamps to replace. You don't have to buy Mitsubishi's Concept car to own a PocketProjector. Mitsubishi sells it as a stand-alone unit. The newest version is the PK20 and it uses 8 LED's. 

Active Thermal Management announced the Cool-stick™, a 36" long thin fan array designed to mount behind 42 and 50" plasma or LCD panels that have been recessed into wall. The array is only ¾" thick and 2 ½" wide. In operation, air enters below the display, flows up behind the display, exiting at the top. Heat from the display and drive circuitry is removed, while producing a very low noise level. Cool-stick moves over 80 CFM in free air, 20CFM in typical installations and features 100% redundancy. I cannot emphasize more the importance of keeping your entertainment equipment cool. Heat and dust are your worst enemy. 

We have seen DLP and LCD technology in projectors for many years. Now, LCoS is starting to make inroads. Cinetron introduced the HD-900, which is a 1080p HDTV projector. Cinetron expects to be shipping later this year. It has 1920 x 1080 resolution with an amazing 6000:1 contrast. The HD-900 has Silicon Optix HQV state of the art video processing. This 1000-lumen projector is ultra-quiet at 24 dB. Keep an eye out for this technology. 

Great memories are meant to be shared. Panasonic introduced the PT-P1SDU so that you can share your digital photos with friends and relatives. Just take the SD memory card out of your camera, slip it into the projector, sit back and enjoy the show. This is today's digital slide projector. This projector is 30% smaller than a sheet of letter-size paper and weighs a mere 2.9 pounds, which is ideal to take with you when visiting. In addition, the PT-P1SDU has DVD, video and PC input capability and 1500 lumens of light output.

Experience the ultimate in professional quality for a high definition home cinema projector with the PT-AE900U. This is the top selling home theater projector in its class. This projector has a Dynamic Iris with scene-tracking capability, which renders bright scenes more brightly and dark scenes with deeper, richer blacks. At the same time, Dynamic Gamma boosts the brightness of picture details that would normally be lost in black. It also has CCM technology, which can correct 1,070,000,000 colors individually without effecting other colors. This technology moves color correction closer to the process used in motion pictures. All of this comes at a $2,999.00 price. 

If you are looking to install recessed speakers, take a look at Penton Audio's PCC and PIC line of high-performing in-wall and in-ceiling speakers. Made from high-impact ABS, the speakers can be painted to match or highlight the room. Incorporating a unique ported design, the line offers an extended bass response not normally achieved by speakers in this class. Bass frequencies are enhanced, creating a deep, rich sound. The output power is from 80 - 150 watts RMS. 

DNP announced their new Supernova screen, which is an advanced optical front projection screen. It features a revolutionary high-contrast filter allowing the image to be reflected and effectively absorbs stray incident light. Most screen manufacturers are now offering a new type of technology to combat other ambient light. Matte white and gray screens are now facing a challenge from the various new technologies, such as DNP's Supernova surface. 

If you have multiple digital displays, Gefen has a splitter, which allows one HDMI source to connect to three HDMI displays. The 1:3 HDMI DA has a plug and play method of splitting one HDTV source signal and distributing it to up to three displays in your home with precise replication of visuals and multi-channel audio support. Gefen also has a 1:3 component DA to split a component signal. 

Peerless Industries introduced a series of articulating wall mounts for flat panel TV's, featuring smooth movement and cable management. The PLA series includes several models to fit sizes 32 - 71," handling an impressive 200 pounds. The PLA "V" models feature a vertical adjustment feature that allows the screen to be raised, or lowered up to one inch during or after installation making recess mounting very easy. 

Optoma Technology introduced the next generation in 1080p display. BigVizion comes in three sizes, 80, 90 and 100" diagonals. BigVizion is the first customized and modular in-wall 1080p rear projection display. Utilizing DLP ™ DarkChip3™ technology and true 1920 x 1080p resolution the picture quality is stunning. This 16:9 screen fits into a shallow 30" of depth. The BigVizion converts all sources to 1080p, which will improve detail and color no matter what the source. The contrast ratio is a whopping 10,000:1.

1080p is the optimum in projector resolution. The HD81 home theater projector from Optoma delivers true HD quality with the DarkChip3 chipset. With 10-bit per channel color processing, a seven-segment DLP color wheel and its 6000:1 contrast ratio, the HD81 delivers great color saturation and image quality. The HD-81 is a two-piece design. Many different sources can be input to the video processor, yet only one HDMI video signal cable attaches the processor to the projector and can transmit data more than 100 feet. Most of all I was impressed by the motion picture quality image. 

Tannoy announced their Highline speaker system for use with flat panel TV's. The bracket system and cable management ensure a close to the wall mounting.

The Highline 500 series offers models based on a 100mm (4.00") version of Tannoy's world famous proprietary Dual Concentric drive unit which is complemented by a bass drive unit of the same size within all models. The lavish high gloss silver or black cabinet finishes will satisfy the most demanding architectural specification and will enhance the final appearance of a modern venue.

The Highline 300 series offers models based on multi driver array comprising 2 x 75mm (3.00") midrange units, 2 x 75mm bass units and 1 x high frequency unit. Designed to harmonize with the wealth of flat panel televisions available to the installation market, all Highline 300 models are available in a distinctive matt black or silver finish. 

The C-LIFT is unique in its class. This ceiling projector lift fits into just 11" of ceiling space, yet extends down up to 27.6." It will handle a projector up to 44-pounds. If you need more drop, the C-LIFT-XL will extend down 53." It's very easy to install.  

NEC unveiled three innovative residential plasma displays in 42, 50 and 61." They have features such as day/night viewing settings; increased input connectivity; and enhanced video processing. The XR series has a sleek black bezel with silver outline and a super-slim profile. The image quality is achieved through Gamma 12, which provides high color processing at 68.7 billion colors, leading to increased details in dark areas. These displays stay brighter longer with a 60,000-hour phosphor half-life.

Well, that was a lot of walking. Infocomm is certainly the show where you can see new technologies first. The home entertainment industry is ever changing, and we should see many new products in the next few years, as broadcast television starts airing all of its programming in high-definition.

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