Review: ISE 2016 the biggest and best Pro AV show yet?

posted on Monday, 22nd February 2016 by Geny Caloisi

Crestron  4K  Epson  Events  Control4  ISE 2016  BenQ  AWE  Pakedge 


Integrated Systems Europe 2016 was the largest and longest European AV show ever. Extended to four days, the Amsterdam-based trade fest attracted over 65,5000 visitors from all over Europe, Africa and the USA. In its 13th year, ISE reported a 10 per cent increase on visitors’ numbers and 1,103 exhibitors, taking over the whole of the RAI exhibition centre.

Although some feared that there were going to be two stronger days and two weaker days with the new arrangement, the result was not so. Most people visiting said that having an extra day gave them time to discover new things and not just rush from appointment to appointment. Exhibitors in general were happy with the attendance and, although an extra day meant extra expenses, the general view was that it was worth it – although you still could not manage to see everything.

Control4 is on the road with its new BakPack
Announced only four days before ISE, Control4’s acquisition of Pakedge Device and Software was big news. The $32.7 million cash deal will provide Control4 with a broader reach of its networking solutions and a richer offering for its distributors, dealers and integrators. 

Nickolas Phillips, Vice President Sales and Marketing at Pakedge, said that this was a nice recognition for the 12-year-old networking solutions company and added, “There is relatively little overlap between the two companies’ dealer bases: of 1,700 Pakedge dealers and 4,700 Control4 dealers, only 560 currently do both. This gives both companies room to grow. We will continue trading under Pakedge and servicing both the commercial and residential market.”


Phillips showed us Pakedge’s BakPak, the cloud-service software, which enables dealers and homeowners to monitor, configure, and reset their home networks from any computer browser. Packedge hardware and easy-to-use software, combined with its cloud solutions can integrate with third-party products to provide a future proof integrated home.

Pakedge was also exhibiting its Connect+ network platform, comprising wired and wireless networking products that are integrated through software and connected to the cloud. Connect+ incorporates artificial intelligence-based algorithms to detect, diagnose, self-repair and resolve network problems. 

Control4 Chairman and CEO Martin Plaehn commented: "By embracing networking as an expanded core-competency, integrating it tightly with our entertainment and automation capabilities, and delivering a single cloud-based reporting and management solution, Control4 will be able to harness the expanding opportunity, bring more simplicity to the complicated, and increase satisfaction for our end customers."

Meanwhile Control4 was showing its willingness to adapt to the EU market with a series of European wall switches. Control4’s new line of intelligent Square Wireless Lighting products expands custom and retrofit lighting opportunities for Control4 dealers in Europe and Asia. The new line, which consists of a wireless dimmer, wireless switch, and wireless keypad, all offer reliable intelligent wireless lighting automation performance in a compact square form-factor to fit a variety of wallboxes common in European and Asian homes.


Other releases by Control4 were its new 10-inch touch panel display and its integration with Apple products including the iWatch. CoolAutomation, manufacturers of CoolMasterNet HVAC products, also announced that its full range of HVAC controllers is now available for purchase through Control4.

On the control panels world, Crestron was talking about the Internet of Things; uncrompressed 4K switching streaming interface, using H.264 encoder/decoder; its Pyng hub for home automation and which allows dealers to log into their browser-based application to monitor and support client installations.

A controversial point that Crestron was questioned about at ISE is why it had pulled out of the  CEDIA Show - after 25 years participating in it. Has the brand lost interest in the residential market? 

Crestron president and CEO Randy Klein said that the company is definitely continuing to focus on the residential market, which represents 25 per cent of Crestron’s business. The company continues its association with CEDIA, but it has opted out from the show for strategic resons. “We have seen the show grow,” said Klein. “There are lots of people there that sell DIY, or over the counter solutions. This is not Crestron. We are dedicated to the high end residential market place.”

Laser precision projectors
Projector manufacturer BenQ had an attractive stand at ISE, showing 4K projection for business applications as well as home theatre. The company was premiering its W11000 4K UHD home theatre projector.

Royce Lye, general manager UK and Ireland at BenQ explained that, “Using Texas Instrument’s DLP technology, BenQ can offer the best colour accuracy. In January TI announced its 0.67-inch 4K UHD chip that will bring true 4K, not only to home theatres but also to business and education. Cinema lovers will be able to see at home all their favourite movies with the true colours and definition that the directors intended for them.”

TI’s DLP 4K UHD chipset combines the fast switching speed of the digital micromirror device (DMD) with advanced image processing, to deliver more than 8 million pixels to the screen with just 4 million mirrors.  Each mirror is capable of switching over 9,000 times per second, creating two distinct and unique pixels on the screen during every frame to deliver full 4K UHD resolution. “We are expecting to have  4K UHD projectors available by June,” said Lye.

BenQ was also showcasing its new Home Entertainment series, the W8000. These projectors have been engineered, built, and individually calibrated to deliver Rec. 709 colour and performance. Depending on the size of the room, customers can choose from five lens choices.

Epson_Stuart Tickle

Epson’s stand was the fourth largest of the show and very busy through out. The company had its Pro-AV 25,000lm 3LCD laser projector on show – a world’s first according.  Epson’s EB-L1000U laser projector series, which was launched last year for the home cinema market, was very effectively being used for 3D mapping over a formula one car. Although Epson didn’t released any new products for the custom install market, the company told us that this was a very exciting year for this sector and we should watch out for their announcement at IFA, in Berlin, this coming September.

Paul Wilson, Product Manager Epson UK said: “Of all our UK and Ireland high end home cinema projector sales in 2015, approximately one in seven use the laser phosphor lightsource. This segment is home to the EH-LS10000, launched in April.  This is Epson’s first projector to feature 4K enhancement technology, and utilises a dual laser light source to deliver our widest colour gamut and Absolute Black.”

Stewart Tickle, MD at UK distributor AWE (pictured above), commented, “Epson projector sales for the residential market have gone from strength to strength and they are favourites amongst retailers and installers.”  Tickle also pointed out that AWE’s exclusive distribution deal with projector screen manufacturer Draper is also offering custom installers a, “very competitive option to achieve a truly cinematic experience at home.” 

Draper projection screens offer a wide range of 4K ready fabrics, including standard, acoustically transparent Tecvision NanoPerf and high contrast react versions. TecVision surfaces offer high performance with its react fabric that deflects ambient light away from the screen – and the audience.

Anything new?
A somehow-hybrid between a projector and a flat screen was Phillips 4K AmbiLux Display. With nine pico projectors mounted at the back of the still-slim flat screen TV, AmniLux uses Philips Ambilight projection system, so that the image on the screen extends out into the wall behind it providing a 180-degree extension to the image – albeit on a more blurred or soft fashion. The company claims this breaks the boundaries of display viewing creating an ‘immersive wall-to-wall experience.’ Good for some tastes I expect.(read more here)

Have you heard of Ultra-D? it's not 3D or 4D, it's Stream TV Networks technology which allows users to watch content in fully adjustable 4K glasses-free 3D. The 3D depth can be added to any 2D movie. The higher the original resolution the more depth can be added as simple as if one was upping the volume of the TV.

Stream TV_ISE 2016_

Consisting of special hardware, firmware and a new content format, the 3-part Ultra-D solution includes a multi-layered optical system bonded to a 4K panel for maximum clarity, rendering firmware that redirects the sub-pixels for effective use of the optical layer, and a format that contains both image and depth data in a signal that works with current distribution pipelines.

Unlike CES; at ISE there was very little emphasis on Virtual Reality, Drones or HDR. As per brand new developments, we would say that what we witness was more an evolution of AV, rather than a revolution. However, stay tunned for a more reports from ISE 2016.

For more stories from ISE 2016, visit our resource page here


Geny Caloisi

Geny Caloisi is an accomplished technology journalist who has worked in a variety of AV industry publications. 

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