Cindy’s Home Tech Wish List from CEDIA Expo

CEDIA
(Image credit: John Staley)

The equivalent tradeshow to InfoComm for the residential custom installation industry is CEDIA Expo (opens in new tab) which takes place every fall. Of course, there is the behemoth Consumer Electronics Show (opens in new tab) in January each year, but CEDIA Expo is solely for the custom installer (CI) channel.

I’ve been attending CEDIA Expo for more than 20 years, but unfortunately, I couldn’t attend this year; however, being well-connected has its advantages. First, our sister publication, Residential Systems (opens in new tab), which also produces the CEDIA Daily, kept me updated, as did its editor, Tony Savona, and my old pal from my consumer electronics days, John Sciacca (opens in new tab). John is the person I call when I am thinking of making a big home technology purchase.

In addition to seeing industry friends, the part of CEDIA Expo that I enjoy most is the home theater demos. Sciacca wrote about his favorite demo in his CEDIA Expo 2022 Superlatives blog (opens in new tab). The home theater demo rooms are set up to completely immerse a small group of attendees with the highest standards in audio, video, and seating comfort, creating a visceral response that you’re sure can’t and maybe shouldn’t ever be repeated. Next year!

Throughout the years, I have made notes of new technologies that I hope to see in my home one day and the electronics I want to purchase sooner than later.

On Display

At InfoComm, we’ve seen direct-view LED for more than a decade and, more recently, microLEDs. Sciacca reported on dvLEDs and microLEDs (opens in new tab) from Planar, Samsung, Sony, and others marketed for the high-end residential market.

I’ve always thought it would be amazing to have a floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall display in my home (of my dreams). In my bedroom, I would like to awaken to a sunrise from different places around the world that fills the wall and is set to stream when I want to wake up. In this dream home, I would also have a large video wall in the kitchen with discrete areas for calendaring, interactive windows for messaging and creating, and others for favorite images or streaming the news. 

Related: Why dvLED Is Gaining Market Share (opens in new tab) ]

I am passionate about having the best image and audio quality for watching movies. I have a 2,000-square-foot home and don’t have the space for a dedicated viewing room, and a projector isn’t a practical choice. Only the folks in this industry (and, thankfully, my husband) would understand when I say that I “update” (replace) my main TV almost as often as I do my iPhone. In 2004, I purchased a 50-inch, 720p Fujitsu plasma TV with an M&K surround system, separate amp, and receiver and Straight Wire cables. Because that broke the bank, I got more than half-life out of that baby. Since then, I’ve owned three LG displays (HD and OLED), which have been outstanding.

Now it’s time for the next iteration. For my husband’s birthday (and Christmas and birthday next year, too), I purchased a Sony 65-inch A95K (opens in new tab), which is part of Sony’s MASTER Series, and hope to receive it in early November. When I consulted with John Sciacca, he reaffirmed my choice. I’ll be writing a review on the A95K for Residential Systems in early 2023.

The Light Dawns

Anyone who has entered my home for the past 20 years knows I have a crazy passion for lighting. Every light in my house is dimmable with controllable color temperature. Lighting is the best way to affect the mood of an environment, not to mention truly affecting how you feel. Correctly programmed lighting can help manage seasonal affective disorder, which can happen due to the fewer hours of daylight in the winter months. It can be as simple as adding a dimmer switch and learning a little about color temperature.

Many people don’t think about shading when it comes to lighting control, however, it’s the most obvious place to start. It was not until recent years that wireless shading systems became available, making automated shading a viable option for more people including myself.

CEDIA Expo was filled with more lighting and shading options (opens in new tab) than ever before. AiSPIRE, Crestron, Draper, Hunter Douglas, Leviton, Lutron, Vantage, and newcomers such as Orro (opens in new tab) were all on display.

Since its inception 20 years ago, I have been honored to be a judge in Lutron’s Excellence Awards (opens in new tab). Custom integrators submit projects for consideration in various lighting and shading categories. The judges team up to focus on specific categories; this year, my category was shading. The installations were awe-inspiring and convinced me that 2023 will be the year for wireless automated shades in the Davis house.

My husband and I recently remodeled two rooms in our 126-year-old home. Our dining room had stunning hand-silkscreened wallpaper that needed replacing because it faded from the sun. When we removed the furniture from our living room with large southwest-facing windows, we were shocked at how much everything had faded. We will install wireless shades with a fabric that will filter the sun but still allow a view outside and program them to lower during the afternoon sun.

Home Sweet Office

Several manufacturers from the commercial side have developed products for the home office, which residential custom installers are bringing to their customers. Companies such as Atlona, ClearOne, Crestron, FSR, Hall Technologies, Jabra, Logitech, Poly, Yamaha UC, and so many more have solutions to help create meeting equity on the far side that we know is critical to the success of the new hybrid workplace. The home office can no longer rely on bad audio and video from a laptop. 

I have had a dedicated home office for 20 years. I’ve been using a Yamaha YVC-200 (opens in new tab) speakerphone and a Jabra Panacast 20 (opens in new tab) that is hooked up to my personal 27-inch iMac. Last year I installed several pendant lights to better distribute the lighting for my webcasts.

I have begun research for a 21:9, 34-inch UHD monitor with either a built-in KVM switch or purchase an external switch so I can consolidate my desktop. Because Future laptops are locked down, I use the work-issued laptop for email and working on files, but I prefer my personal iMac for video conferencing and video editing. As mentioned above, display quality is crucial to me. I edit videos, so the monitor will need a highly accurate and wide color gamut and a fast response time. The search is on.

Cindy Davis
Brand and content director of AV Technology

Cindy Davis is the brand and content director of AV Technology. Davis enjoys exploring the ethos of experiential spaces as well as diving deep into the complex topics that shape the AV/IT industry. In 2012, the TechDecisions brand of content sites she developed for EH Publishing was named one of “10 Great Business Media Websites” by B2B Media Business magazine. For more than 20 years, Davis has developed and delivered multiplatform content for AV/IT B2B and consumer electronics B2C publications, associations, and companies. From 2000 to 2008, Davis was the publisher and editor-in-chief of Electronic House. From 2009 to present, as the principal of CustomMedia.Co, Davis developed content plans and delivered content for associations such as IEEE Standards Association and AVIXA, content marketing for Future Plc, and numerous AV/IT companies. Davis was a critical member of the AVT editorial team when the title won the “Best Media Brand” laurel in the 2018 SIIA Jesse H. Neal Awards. A lifelong New Englander, Davis makes time for coastal hikes with her husband, Gary, and their Vizsla rescue, Dixie, sailing on one of Gloucester’s great schooners, and sampling local IPAs.