After skipping the 2010 event, the Tea London team went to the Home Technology Event which ends today at the London Excel Centre.

What happened to just plain CEDIA?

In the past the show was always referred to as CEDIA, named after the The Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association. Apparently CEDIA get upset if the event is not referred to as the Home Technology Event. I suspect because there is a CEDIA Expo hosted during September in the United States, I suppose they may want to draw a distinction between the two events?

No matter, this article is a quick summary of some of the nifty things seen at the show, which made the visit worthwhile.

The all-directions HDMI cable from Cablesson

Cablesson are one of our many suppliers, and we really find them to be quite endearing.

Cablesson design a number of good quality (predominantly) HDMI cabling and connector products, get them made in China, and they then distribute through their 3 bases dotted around the world. They pretty much supply every means of connecting up HDMI devices together around the home.

The also have HDMI extender, switches and matrices in their product portfolio, including two rather excellent HDBaseT HDMI extenders, one of which has finally gone on a diet (see our report on HDBaseT, coming soon).

Despite the fact that Cablesson had plenty of gadgets on show, the product that impressed us most was their take on a swivelling HDMI connector.

This new connector essentially allows you to connect an HDMI cable pretty much in any

Swivel head HDMI connector
Swivel head HDMi connector

direction you want into the back of a component. They basically have taken an existing idea, and added a design tweak to it. There are HDMI cables that have a swivelling head, allowing you to ‘bend’ the connector over a 180 degree arc, this cable does the same but there is an added pivot movement of the connector as well, allowing you to plug in and orientate a cable in pretty much any direction you want. This will ensure that you can have a cable plugged into the back of, say a TV which is to be placed close to a wall, and allow the cable to drop safely behind the TV, no matter what direction or orientation of the HDMI port(s) on the back of the TV. This means that the cable itself will not need to be forced into a right-angle, and further reduces the chances of damaging the cable or the TV as the TV is pushed against a wall during mounting, which believe you me is a common occurrence in TV installations.

Shock and AWE

AWE Europe, another of Tea London’s choice suppliers put on a grand show this year.

152UX1They had most of their product portfolio on show, but they dedicated a lot of their Expo floorspace to Panasonic’s CHT (Custom Home Theatre) range of premium Plasma monitors. The CHT range of Plasma monitors, are in essence, the best plasma displays on the market. They are considered specialist and for the custom install market only. These displays you will not find in your local Dixons or John Lewis. They can cost up to 8 times the price of their standard domestic counterpart, if we look at an ‘inch for inch’ comparison alone however, comparing these to the lower end consumer TV’s would not do these monitors justice.

Panasonic’s CHT range of monitors are aimed at two niche markets – professionals who need accurate colour and as ‘honest’ as possible video supply, where all of the strengths and weaknesses in video content can be observed clearly – so the likes of the BBC for example would use these. The other niche market is for those fortunate individuals who want the best image possible out of Plasma display, and have a bank balance large enough to buy one of these wonderful displays.

AWE had pretty much the entire VX200 range on show, including the 85″ and 103″ plasma display, plus an exclusive preview of the a 65″ display from the VX300 range which will be launched in September this year.All I can say about the VX300 is it is simply the best image quality I have ever seen, the 3D was astonishing – images leapt out of the display with no perceptible flicker. If money was no object and 65″ is about the right size for you, this is the Plasma Display to get your hands on. I even started working out if I could finance one of these beauties in the near future…

AWE put the CHT range range to good use:

  • With the 85″ VX200 they ran a 3D driving game, and ran a Top Gear style fast lap competition, inviting all punters to have a go where the best lap time would get a trophy and a bottle of bubbly. It was great fun sitting in front of a huge 3D screen and (trying) to burn some rubber. I unfortunately did not clock up a good time, I kept on using the clutch pedal as a brake.
  • The 65″ unit showed a slide show, just showing how balanced the colours are and how good 3D is on these displays
  • Their showpiece was the “Million Dollar” home cinema. I do not know if it really did have a million dollars worth of equipment, but it must of cost at least half that. In this they had the huge 152″ UX1 Panasonic plasma monitor, which I think it the largest plasma monitor on the market. Capable of reproducing 4K2K image resolutions, which is 4 times that of Full HD image resolutions – I think a very necessary feature given how huge the image is. This huge monitor with a street price that goes into hundreds of thousands of pounds was coupled with Kef’s Muon loudspeakers, Arcam amplifiers and some sublime Chord Company speaker and interconnect cables, and you had a very impressive showing of how a ‘money no object’ home cinema could perform. In a word, the results were astonishing

Marata’s Exclusive Sony Projectors

Marata had Sony’s latest ‘entry level’ home cinema HD projector on show. It’s price point is around £3,000 but it delivers the level of performance I have seen in products that cost almost 3 times that price. It is incredibly well priced, with an incredible after-sales support plan. I simply could not find any faults with this.

Marata have exclusive distribution on this and several upper range Sony projectors, which I take great comfort in, as Marata will also provide the after-sales care, rather than Sony – which means that level of support will be considerably better than most.

Marata told me that this projector will expand later on in the year, where higher models that will have street prices in excess of £10,000 will become available. If a £3,000 projector is this good, how good will these high-end ones be? I can’t wait to find out.

HDMI Distribution – let me count the ways

There were a whole host of HDMI distribution products on show, ranging from standard extenders, to IPTv implementations.

Most of the IPTV products are on the extreme end of the price range and would only be feasible in large hospitality and commercial installations, or would not go amiss on the odd luxury yacht, but for the most part would be a technology that would be out of reach for the most of us… that is until you look at Just Add Power’s IPTV system, and then suddenly it becomes a very affordable technology and what we think will be a significant growth area in video distribution in the modern home. We were impressed with the speed at which the product worked, image clarity and its integration with Control4’s residential controllers. Tea London are Control4 installers so it just makes sense that Just Add Power needs to be in our product portfolio.

We also saw a number of excellent HDBaseT matrices and receiver units on display by Midwich’s True Colours division. They have a great price point and a very sensible approach to the cabling of HDBaseT products.

We will be releasing a series of articles explaining more about the various HDMI and digital video distribution technologies available for the home today. All we can say is that the developments in this area are probably the single most significant developments in custom install AV on show, and will likely become ubiquitous in the next 5 years.