Reviewed: 2013 Home Technology Showcase

posted on Saturday, 25th May 2013 by Steve May

Expo 

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The Home Technology Showcase is bustling. Organised by CI and AV distributor Invision UK, the opening day at the Epsom Downs racecourse venue has seen close on 100 dealers pour through the doors. There's an appreciative crowd gathering around LG's 84-inch 4K TV but the smaller stuff is also commanding big attention too. RTI's new range of touch panels and remotes are getting plenty of hands-on and iRoom's in-wall iPad docking solutions are going down a storm.

Invision UK managing director Steve Beahan (pictured above) is thrilled. "The turn-out has been fantastic for this inaugural event. It was the right venue at the right time, and we've worked hard to attract people to the event. The emphasis on meeting the manufacturers, as well as talking to the sale team and seeing new stuff, has proved a good blend." The show proves to be a lively platform for Invision's key CI brands, with a variety of solutions on display from exhibitors like Wyrestorm, Niles, LG, JVC, Aquavision, RTI, iRoom, Autonomic, Elan and Luxul.

New launches at Home Tech show
The two day event is not without its surprises. Wyrestorm pre-empts its Infocomm appearance by unveiling a new 8x8 matrix which will be dealer online configurable, as well as announcing its first direct-to-consumer line, Wyrestorm Express, which will comprise a variety of low-cost HDMI switchers, in-line repeaters and DACs.

Nearby Aquavision continued to shed its bathroom image with a large touch screen, running off a Windows 8 PC. Director Alistair Benn told Inside CI that the brand was evolving with the business: "For us, product sizes have evolved and so demand has changed." The company also used the show to introduce two new on-wall TVs, at 19- and 26-inches. "What we have here are on-wall televisions that just happen to be waterproof." Significantly, despite the high ambient light levels at the show, Aquavision's IPS panels appear perfectly clear and interest is brisk. By the time you get one of the new 10-15mm thin LED screens and add a bracket, it's the same depth as a surface mounted TV anyway, reasons Benn. "Many customers actually want installers to fill in where the bracket is anyway." Also new from the brand is MirrorVision Plus, which is essentially a perfect mirror - you have no idea there's a TV behind it until you turn it on." Elsewhere Elan puts a convincing case for its Elan G! control system, which offers a unified user interface regardless of system configuration. The UI is clean and intuitive.

RTI introduced a variety of control solutions, including its new Universal SURFiR RF remote, intended as a tactile companion to Android or iOS control apps. The brand also showed bespoke engraved wall plates, which can be customised with service and product logos as required.

"We're heading North!"
Buoyed by the reaction to the show, Steve Beahan says the hunt is now on to find a venue for a lookalike Northern event, which Invision hopes to stage pre CEDIA Expo Denver. Beahan says the turnout is evidence that the industry has been missing "a platform like this. We used to love turning up at the old CEDIA UK Expo," he tells us. "The switch to ISE has diluted what was happening at that event in my view. When you walk into ISE…it's too big, too diverse. I think CEDIA's decision to switch to ISE has had a negative impact on the UK industry. So what we've done is stay on track and do it ourselves. In some ways it's better for us, but five years ago we wouldn't have been large enough to do it."

Exhibitor reaction at the end of the event is decidedly upbeat. Larry Sadoo, from JVC Marketing, says "The show has been very busy. Those that haven't seen JVC projectors before were amazed at the picture quality of the DLA- X55R..."

Adrian Ickeringill, EMEA General Manager for Wyrestorm describes the showcase as "fantastic, there was a real buzz about the place." adding "the quantity and quality of the attendees has been very impressive indeed. The variety of brands and products on show has been excellent - it's been a great opportunity to have dialogue with some key installers."

Pete Baker, Senior Vice President RTI, who flew in from the States for the shindig, says: "It's really been excellent. I think we've had a great turnout; a very good selection of dealers who are either new to RTI or looking for a new control system. So I think the dealers have been very responsive; very interested in checking out what we have to offer. I'd like to thank Invision for putting it on."

Invision UK Sales Manager Peter Alloway considers the Home Technology Showcase "a test bed. We felt we had enough information to bring to our customers, to present product. We know all our guys are as busy as hell, but they're keen to see, feel, touch products. And now we can't wait to bring this to the North. Watch this space!"

For video reports from the Home Technology Showcase, visit the Inside CI YouTube channel

Also read:
Elan G! takes control of CI charge at Grand Designs Live
Wyrestorm outs Express consumer line and DIY matrix
Home Technology Show announced by InvisionUK

 

Steve May

Inside CI Editor Steve May is a freelance technology journalist, who also writes for T3, TechRadar, Home Cinema Choice and ERT (amongst others).

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