The words “trade” and “show” when spoken together usually evoke yawns from those who have never been to one or memories of aching feet for those who have. However, the annual CEDIA Expo (put on by the Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association) is special because it spotlights products and technologies that go well beyond what you can find at your local big box store. The CEDIA Expo eschews the “dog and pony show” and marketing hype in favor of new products that help integrators provide a complete, cohesive experience in your home. After traversing several football fields worth of product over several days, here are some of the most notable tech trends we found.
More (and more affordable) 4K
4K projectors popped up here and there at CEDIA, with a couple manufacturers revamping their projector lines by adding 4K (aka Ultra HD) inputs so that you, the homeowner, can enjoy the increased resolution (3,840 x 2,160 pixels compared to high-definition’s 1,920 x 1,080) and get an unbelievably good image from the comfort of your armchair. Meanwhile, one major TV manufacturer introduced new 4K sets at 55- and 65-inches that are actually affordable for many, at $3,500 and $5,000 respectively. We’ll keep you posted on new developments in the 4K category as they develop. If you value a great image, you’ll want to come in and demo this technology. Simply breathtaking!
Design (still) reigns supreme
One thing we love about the CEDIA show is that it features not only cutting-edge products, but cutting-edge products that are going to either look spectacular—or be completely invisible—in your home. One lighting and shading company announced the availability of more than 1,500 different fabrics for its motorized shade line, meaning not only will your drapes be automated, they’ll match your decor! Meanwhile, one manufacturer premiered a speaker that looks just like a painting—allowing you to choose from several prints or customize your own. It simply hangs like art whether it is on or off. Even on the outdoor front, design was important. One booth we visited featured speakers in sandstone, greenstone, or give you the ability to customize your own speaker finish for a completely camouflaged look in the backyard.
The outdoor den is the new man cave
Speaking of backyards, it’s no wonder outdoor entertainment was all the rage at CEDIA as homeowners continue to move outside with not only al fresco kitchens, but audio and video systems to boot. These days, dad is not sequestered in his man cave, but enjoying his entertainment outdoors amid children playing and BBQ grilling. One company showed water- and weather-resistant speakers that you can attach to a wall or stake directly into the ground, while burying the subwoofer in the ground for a true surround-sound experience on the patio. We also saw some powerful weatherproof Bluetooth® speakers and some very cool waterproof TVs, not to mention TV enclosures that allow your TV to ascend from its casing when you want to watch it, descend and stay protected when not. How fun would products like these be for an outdoor fall movie night with roasted marshmallows and hot cocoa?
Energy savings a top priority for homeowners
Aside from the more “fun” tech like 4K, aesthetically appealing gear and outdoor AV, there is a serious side to our business as well. We know, for example, that energy usage is a huge concern for our customers. That collective sentiment is reflected in the growing number of companies devoted to the energy-management category with significant real estate given to them on the CEDIA Expo show floor. Most control manufacturers announced solutions that allow homeowners to control and manage their energy usage with real, visual feedback and data on usage. Connected thermostats were tied into energy management, with one manufacturer touting a geo-fence that senses when you leave your home and adjusts your thermostat accordingly. LED lighting was everywhere, with several manufacturers entering the fray for the first time as homeowners transition to lower-cost, highly efficient LED bulbs throughout the home. The good news is that there are so many options available now, you can find LEDs that actually look great in your home.
Keyless entry gains steam
Several first-time exhibitors appeared on the scene touting the latest in keyless entry for the home, some of them tied into remote home-monitoring systems that include other components, such as connected thermostats. One company showed its biometric fingertip-scanning locks, while another uses Z-wave® technology, number codes or Bluetooth to grant access in lieu of the soon-to-be-arcane metal key. It’s confusing to know which option might be right for you and your home, especially now that the lines between security, lighting, climate, automation and AV systems are blurring.
We’d love to show you some of these products firsthand. Come in to our location or give us a call to see how you can make your home safer, more efficient, and more fun!