Displays and loudspeakers are nice to see (and hear!) in person. We can be honest and admit that processing, capture, and transport gear looks like nothing more than a collection of black, greyish, or other-colored boxes; what resolution a matrix switch handles can be just as easily viewed on a spec sheet. Detailed evaluation requires the kind of time, controlled conditions, and freedom to experiment you'll not likely find at a trade show. We should, to a large extent, be looking at the things which we'd see and hear in the real world.
Last year in Vegas one of the world's largest and most recognizable software companies purchased what felt like a square mile of show floor space which they populated with moderately comfortable couches, charging stations, and a handful of TVs showing the soccer tournament. It was the biggest expenditure for the least effect I've seen in a trade show.
I've made no secret of my growing interest in software-based solutions. One can use software for capture and playback, for control, for video routing, for conferencing. This creates an increasing need for tools which can allow computers to access professional quality input and output devices. If you missed it last year, I'd suggest you see the demo of Audinate's soon-to-be-released Dante Via, which allows each application on a PC to be a separate input and output to a Dante network. It's quite nifty, and opens up many possibilities.
Also look for tools to move video and audio via USB. Yesterday I saw this press release from Phoenix Audio; it's a soundbar/microphone/SIP speakerphone with USB connectivity. This plus a flatpanel, webcam, and small form-factor PC can make a neat soft-codec based system. It's the kind of solution of which I'd love to see more.
IP-based systems are another exciting frontier. This year we're promised the long-awaited debut of Aurora Multimedia's "IPBaseT" system. This is an uncompressed video over 10G ethernet system, with a slew of interesting features (image tiling, Dante integration, etc). It's a system which promises a great deal. I know some of my colleagues are going to check it out to see if it delivers.
|We need to talk about 10G copper vs Fiber. That's another post|
Finally, Some Fun! (and not)
There are some things which I consider fun and would recommend: The Drunk Unkles concert is a great time and a chance for the industry to raise money for charity. AVNation and WAVE are co-hosting a "Tweetup" - largely a gathering of professionals who use the "AVTweeps" hashtag on Twitter, but all are welcome.
What I'm not a fan of is in-booth raffles, giveaways, and other associated games. If that's what you like, enjoy. I suspect you'd get more out of the experience as a technology professional if you choose to NOT show up at the same time as a half-hundred other people looking to win a free iWatch and instead drop in when you can actually speak to a product expert.
Last thought for anyone who is going:
As I said, I'm holding down the fort this year. That means that I need to count on YOU to be my eyes and ears on the floor, in training classes, around Orlando. That's right, you. So... look around. Tell me what you see. Hashtag it on twitter (and if you see sexist displays in any booths, do us all a favor and tag those #NotBuyingIt. You can tell the people there that I'd disapprove).
Then come back, reflect on what you've learned, and see how you can use it to make your projects - and our industry - just a little bit better.