Reviewed: Essential Install Live South 2013

posted on Tuesday, 25th June 2013 by David Slater

Trade  Events 

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I never seem to have enough time at the trade shows, probably because I talk far too much. It was no different at the Essential Install Live South show, held recently at Sandown Racecourse. I relish the opportunity to catch up with manufacturers and distributors, and there were plenty of familiar faces at this event to pass the time of day with. My first port of call was RGB, which was showing off the new Savant system. From the interest shown by installers, this product is really beginning to make some ground in the control sector. Uniquely, the Savant system is designed around the reliable Apple platform and works seamlessly with iOS devices. It's difficult not to be impressed when you see it all up and running.

Nearby, the Habitech stand was so full of installers I thought they were giving away free tenners. There was plenty to see, with the distributor exhibiting over 100 new products at the show. Highlights included the new iPort Control Mount for iPad Mini and the Launchport AM.1 and AP.4 sleeves for tabletop and wall mounting of the iPad Mini and iPad 4. There was also a welcome opportunity to get hands-on with the innovative NuVo control interface; this represents an easy way to manage and enjoy music files and online content around the home, and I think is a more rewarding CI-oriented alternative to Sonos.

New Habitech brands on display
Making a debut appearance on the Habitech stand were new brand additions Projecta Screens, Chief Racks and Sire. The latter's control processor platform provides a seamless interface with Sonos and Crestron. Projecta is a leading screen brand in Europe and offers a wide range of quality products at great prices. They told us that custom screen sizes could be created with a mere 14 day lead-time, which is impressive. Also on display was the ProNet IP networking range, which includes Ruckus and Draytek, along with new Habitech addition Niveo Professional. Making its UK show debut, Niveo's range of switches, WAPs, NAS and UPS is built exclusively with the custom install industry in mind, with corresponding performance and margins. In another show first, Habitech unveiled Stream's server/player platform.

Even the established Habitech brands had something new to offer: Wyrestorm came with its new HDBaseT zone and breakout amp, POE baluns and switchers, while Yamaha had its RXA370 7-channel AV amplifier, complete with 4K up-scaling and 3D support. New from Sonance was a completely upgraded Visual Performance Series of in-wall/ceiling speakers.

Habitech Sales Manager Timmi Thorsen told Inside CI: "We came in force with new products covering IP networking, home cinema and custom integration, and have made new connections and written new business as a result. We were able to demonstrate our commitment to the service of the installation community as the value-added one-stop supplier of CI products and training..."

HD Connectivity offers all mod cons
Over on the HD Connectivity stand, Chris Pinder's team were doing something rather different. Not only did they have a badged-up Morgan motor (pictured above), they were showing stunning 4K images which were being carried over a single Cat 5 cable! This looked truly amazing. HD distribution has come such a long way over the last couple of years and HD connectivity has become a major force in the market. Also on hand was the brand's new managed modular matrix, beautifully designed and proudly made in Britain. It's built like a tank and sports the famous mod roundel made famous by the British military and of course the Sixties music scene.

The matrix itself is very slick in design, painted in a stand-out royal blue colour, with bodywork milled from a single piece of aluminium for ultimate heat dissipation. It's stunning! With a revolutionary web UI for installers, the product comes with a suite of advanced tools to manage the behaviour of the system. What more could you want to save you money on needless callouts?

Are you sitting comfortably?
One other company which was showing interesting kit was Atlantik AV; among its brands are the class-leading cinema seats from Signature, which are now available in cream, brown, black and all-new Anthracite colours. Partner these with a Screen Excellence projection screen and Artcoustic speakers, and I predict you'll have one hell of a home theatre setup.

After a quick gallon of coffee it was time to check out the Wyrestorm stand. On display was the new modular matrix which is available in 8x8 and 16x6 variations, with built-in PoH (Power-over-HDBaseT - the latest evolution of PoE) and routable RS232 functionality. Installers can create a completely customized matrix with this, selecting from 8 modular multi-format transmission cards, including VGA, DVI, HDMI, analogue audio, digital audio - all built to your specifications and delivered to your door! The world's first HDBaseT class D digital audio amplifier was another interesting product at the show. We've admired this since first spotting it at ISE 2013; the AMP-001-010 combines HDBaseT extension, HDMI receiving, control and digital amplification in an ultimate all-in-one solution. The possibilities seem endless.

Of course there was more on to be seen, but I didn't manage to catch everything (like I said, I chat too much). For those that didn't have a chance to attend the event, fire up our photo album below…

Also read:
Reviewed: 2013 Home Technology Showcase
Reviewed: Habitech Pro Net training
In-depth: The Savant Experience Show Home
In-depth: HD Connectivity HDBaseT training
Reviewed: Bristol Sound & Vision show 2013

Visit the Northern show from Essential Install Live  

David Slater

David Slater started his writing career with SVI writing a popular column, he has also guested on publications like Home Cinema Choice and
Living North

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