Review: The Future Of Home Cinema showcase

posted on Friday, 1st May 2015 by Steve May

home cinema  4K  Events  Dolby Atmos  Inside Out 

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A sold-out crowd of the UK’s top custom installers had an early glimpse at the latest high-end home entertainment products, at the Future of Home Cinema showcase event, held this week in London.   

The timing for the conference, organised by Inside Out London, couldn’t be better. The consumer electronics business is entering a period of fundamental change, with far reaching implications for the custom install business. Display technology is shifting from Full HD to 4K UHD. According to industry market research company GfK, sales of 4K Ultra HD TVs will top one million units for the first time this year, making the technology a mainstream consumer product for the first time. Dolby Atmos is also spearheading a shift to 3D immersive audio.

The event was held at the London HQ of Dolby Laboratories. Utilising the company’s flagship Dolby Atmos cinema, delegates enjoyed awesome audio and stunning 4K video, plus hands-on with the latest 4K OLED TV from LG and Sony’s remarkable short throw 4K laser projector. In addition, audio distributor Gecko used Dolby’s smaller Beethoven listening room, which measures 4.1 by 4.8 metres, to demo a powerful M&K speaker system in Atmos configuration.

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Such was the popularity of the M&K sound system, a constant line of eager listeners snaked down from the demo room to the foyer. On demo was an M&K 5.2.2 Dolby Atmos system, featuring three M&K MP150Mk2 on-wall speakers, one pair of M&K S150T on-wall tripolar surrounds with two M&K MP150Mk2 on-wall front height speakers. Providing the bass slam were two M&K V12 subwoofers. Even from outside the sound proof room, it sounded like the apocalypse had arrived early...but in a good way.

The event was MC’d by experienced industry analyst Chris Forrester, who injected a wealth of market data between presentations.

To set the tone for the day, Dolby Senior Manager Venkat Venkataraman opened with an insight into the origins of Atmos and the significance of object-based audio. The audience was then dazzled by a variety of Atmos content, including Kristen Wiig playing Bowie’s 'Space Oddity' in Walter Mitty.

Marata Vision and Sony used the venue to demonstrate the power of Sony’s 4K residential projectors. In a bold move, the 4K UHD VPL-VW1100 projector was installed alongside pro-Christie digital projectors in Dolby’s projection booth – and the results proved astonishing. This 2000 lumens projector effortlessly cast images over a 12m throw onto the theatre’s full-size screen, delivering 3440x1920 images with a clarity many would find indistinguishable from those of a commercial theatre projector. Sony’s Jacob Barfoed (pictured above) led the audience deep into the world of 4K technology and teased what was coming from the brand later this year. “We are working very hard on 4K and laser technology,” he confided.

There was much admiration from installers for the latest generation of Signature Cinema Seating, too (pictured below). Luxurious, and available in a variety of colours, they seemed an obvious compliment to the cutting edge hardware on display.

One clear highlight of the event was an exclusive UK preview of the Sony Ultra Short throw VPL-GTZ1 4K laser projector. With only two circulating in the world right now, having one on demo for UK CI dealers was a real coup - and the results looked amazing. The clarity and brightness of this revolutionary 2000 lumens projector proved a revelation; even in relatively high ambient light it produced huge images of stunning clarity. The benefits of its short throw cabinet were not lost on installers. The VPL-GTZ1 provides a unique 4K solution for those projects where it’s simply not possible to make structural alterations to a property, or where the room might otherwise be too small to throw a large image. Orders were placed on the spot. Best to plan ahead though, this beauty is hand-built to order.

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Dolby Atmos and 4K are easy wins for custom installs, proclaimed Gecko’s Rob Sinden. “It’s the easiest sell in the world when it’s demonstrated properly,” he proclaimed. In a bullish presentation he laid out a variety of audio solutions for CI pros, from small form factor M&K and Lyngdorf kit to ultra high-end Lyngdorf Steinway towers. “The proof is in the pudding, these have to be heard to be believed,” he enthused.

Crestron’s Philip Pini provided a deep dive into the brand’s DigitalMedia distribution system, and highlighted pitfalls that could await unwary installers. But high bandwidth content doesn’t have to be a challenge, he reassured. Needless to say, the issue of HDCP 2.2 copy protection proved a hot topic throughout the day.

Consumer electronic major LG drew big crowds to its OLED product demo. The brand’s home entertainment product manager Robert Taylor provided compelling evidence to support the notion that OLED represents the next big evolution in display technology. There’s been a clear gap in the market for a new CI screen champion, since Pioneer’s Kuro plasma line abdicated. But with OLED, we seem to have found a natural successor.

Understandably, the issue of 4K content was a reoccurring theme throughout the day. Adding invaluable insight was film producer and post production expert Jon Thompson (pictured in the gallery below, wearing trademark hat), who heads up Picture Worx Films in London. Jon, who lists Mission Impossible 5 as one of his current projects, revealed that movie workflow is a 4K can of worms, particularly when it comes to visual effects rendering. He had the crowd enthralled.

After in-depth break out sessions with all the exhibitors, the day concluded with an expert Q&A panel. Dolby Senior Account Manager Stephen Auld, joined proceedings at this point, revealing more on Dolby Vision and the thorny issue of HDR. To be honest, this session could have easily continued beyond its allocated 30-minute slot, but the day, packed as it was, had to draw to a close.

The verdict from delegates was a unanimous thumbs up – and the exhibitors left eager to take part in a sequal. The Future of Home Cinema looks bright, and after this Inside Out London event, just a little bit clearer. For more, fire up our image gallery below...

Steve May

Steve is a veteran of the UK consumer electronics industry, having covered it for
various media outlets for more than 20 years.

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Posted by Allan Briscoe on 1st May 2015, 4:22 PM
fabulous event this one and some informative and very interesting info came from it, well worth attending and I hope it turns into an annual event Excellent layout with good categories and topics made this trip worthwhile thanks Allan @ Ideal AV
Posted by David Slater on 3rd May 2015, 4:41 PM
Hi Alan glad you found event fabulous we will be holding around 4 events a year keep an eye out for another one soon.

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