A lot of people were disappointed with CEDIA Expo in
The fountains in Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park.
What held this year’s event back from getting an A wasn’t the city or the venue or the organization of the event itself; rather, it was the lack of new products and the fact that there wasn’t anything revolutionary shown. There were simply no game-changers. 3D video displays, which were the centerpieces of many exhibits this year, are old news now. They were the big thing last year. Furthermore, I’m not even sure I want the technology to catch on. That might surprise some people who think it’s "neat," but ask yourself this: How many 3D movies have you seen that are actually any good? I’ll be the first to admit that Avatar was pretty good, but after that, the pickings get slim. One of the best films I’ve seen recently is Ben Affleck’s The Town -- a 2D film made the old-fashioned way. Good movies like The Town aren’t meant for 3D; in fact, 3D would ruin them.
On the audio side, most of the new product introductions were from speaker companies. Given my affinity for speaker technology, this wasn’t such a bad thing. In general, I liked what I saw. Paradigm has done a splendid job of mixing beautiful styling and high-quality sound with their new MilleniaOne/MilleniaSub sat/sub system. We actually got a set of the MilleniaOnes in for review long before the CEDIA and will have a writeup of them on SoundStage! Xperience shortly. Definite Technology certainly piqued my interest with their new bipolar speaker series, and GoldenEar Technology, a brand-new company whose president is Definitive Technology’s founder, Sandy Gross, is off to a fast start with what appears to be a great line-up of products, particularly the Triton Two floorstander. KEF’s new Q-series products look really interesting and they’ve promised us review samples shortly. Then, of course, there’s the $199 Pioneer bookshelf-type speaker that many people were talking about because they’re designed by Andrew Jones, the mastermind behind the state-of-the-art TAD speakers that sell for a bazillion times more.
Andrew Jones with Pioneer's "giant killer" speaker that he designed.
But none of what I’ve mentioned is going to set the home-entertainment world on fire. These are all interesting, high-quality, sensibly priced products released during difficult economic times -- cautious and safe and meant to deliver high value and plenty of enjoyment to buyers, but hardly revolutionary. They won’t have consumers running to the store with money in hands the way iPhones and iPads do.
What I’m waiting for is The Next Big Thing -- the product that sets the home-entertainment world ablaze. 3D certainly isn’t it, thankfully; but, frankly, I’m not sure what is. It looks like we’ll have to wait until CEDIA Expo 2011 to see what debuts there. If a "game-changer" shows there, and I certainly hope it does, then that show will stand a much better chance of mustering up an A.