Sure, the 1080p HD displays dazzled. The 7.1 surround speaker demonstrations boomed. The terabyte -- storable media servers dropped some jaws.
But perhaps the bigger picture illustrated by the CEDIA Expo show floor came from the accessories around seemingly every corner and the constant chatter over their higher margins and consumer demand.
End-users desire more than just a rocking A/V system these days -- they want it to blend into or enhance their home living environment, and that's good news for installers.
Video margins may be shrinking, but the options for mounting those cheaper flat panels appear to be healthily increasing.
Homeowners might want the understated look of a plasma mounted without adornment to a wall. Installers can explain to them that there are many other ways to show off flat panels -- hidden behind artwork, coupled with component-display shelving, mounted within modern architectural furniture, etc. If there's a successful up-sell, margins of 30-to-50 points are for the taking.
Other products simply provide cool details to any home theater, whether they be movie posters, theater seating and such. And some accessories serve practical purposes that end-users might not be aware that their system integrators can offer, such as environmentally friendly central vacuum- and indoor air pollution-related items.
Here's a peek at some of the accessories showcased at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver.
Warhol Would Probably Love This
Customers can choose from more than 600 pieces of artwork and 24 frame styles -- not including customizable prints such as a family portrait or other reproduced .tiff or .psd file -- to conceal their flat panels through Media Décor's HideandChic QX Robotic Art Series.
The Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based company's product allows viewers to tilt and swivel their flat panels (42-to-60 inches) via a Crestron ML-500 remote. Starting at $11,750 (non-robotic units, $4,000), up-sell it to clients who can splurge a little or are art enthusiasts.
Save Your Customers from Filthy Filters
Give your clients an indoor air pollution system in which they don't have to worry about the hassle of frequent filter replacement. H-P Products' Optimair -- available in four sizes (16 inches x 20 inches, 16 x 25, 20 x 20 and 20 x 25) is a furnace filtration system that automatically advances the filter to keep the airflow and air filter continuously clean.
Homeowners are required to replace the filter once a year, but the filters are only sold through authorized dealers, assuring them of some recurring revenue.
Illuminating Alternative to the Movie Poster
Miami-based Bass Industries offers dedicated home theater owners more than just the basic movie poster to adorn their walls, with its customizable action graphics product.
The company showcased its animated signs using "The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause" and "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift" as sparkling examples. The rear illumination animation features power consumption that's 80 percent less than a backlit sign and is made on flexible, thin (less than 1/8-inch) material.
Acoustics for Every Day
Acoustic Artwork is one of many products NoiseOut Essentials of East Hampton, N.Y., unveiled in an adaptable noise control line featuring design elements created by Dr. Bonnie Schnitta, president (pictured, displaying the artwork's front and back).
The artwork can blend into any room environment, as can the company's other products such as acoustically treated pillows, wallpaper, throws, moldings and door frames.
Magic Act Plays Well on the Wall
Mirror, mirror on the wall, is someone tripping my driveway sensor? The Magic Message Mirror from California-based Themeaddicts might startle homeowners a little until they get comfortable with the mirror's talking security annunciator, which otherwise acts as a regular reflection device.
At $22,000, the talking mirror certainly makes for a unique addition and conversation piece to a home installation.
Polaris Illuminates Easy Installs
Why was Premier Mounts marketing manager Jason Cole dressed up in an orange spacesuit? And what about that music from "2001: A Space Odyssey" coming from its booth?
The theme to the Anaheim, Calif.-based company's new projector mount solution -- the Polaris -- was its "next evolution" that uses its exclusive MagnaGuide Technology, which lets installers essentially snap the bottom, projector-attached part into the top mount arm in an easy align-lock-secure manner.
Laser Beams Fast Alignment
It looks like Alan Adelstein, president of American Recorder Technologies, is trying to be sneaky, but he is actually demonstrating the company's Sound Alignment Systems' Pro-Tech kit, which includes a laser alignment tool mounted on a tripod rotary base, to permit super-fast alignment of front-projectors.
The entire kit, which sells for $899, also includes two laser lenses, a laser line generator and sound level meter in a carrying case.
Cozy Speakers Up to the Television
Make your center, left and right speakers aesthetically pleasing by keeping them in close proximity to your flat-panel TV with this mounting accessory from Melrose Park, Ill.-based Peerless Mounts.
The accessory pairs with the company's single-SKU mounting solution, One Mount Flat Panel Modular Mount, it unveiled that features three interlocking wall plates, which can be used together or separately. A nice add-on for people who want to show off their speakers in an unobtrusive manner or enhance the look of a naked flat-panel display.
More Than the Basic Mount
Monster Cable introduced a line of flat-screen accessories at CEDIA Expo, and added a bit of uniqueness to the category. Monster is offering some of its wall mount units with integrated surge protection and AC power conditioning.
The prices will range from $39.95 to $249.95, so installers can give their customers a variety of options.
Guard Your Flat Panel from Potential Harm
Homeowners who want to protect their flat panel can feel secure using Chief Manufacturing's DGI Display Guard indoor enclosure.
Sara Schiffler from Chief Manufacturing says the key-lockable unit is made with high-grade aluminum and tempered glass and includes two fans for temperature control and air filtration.
Stack A/V in Style
Maybe your living quarters are a bit tight and your A/V setup needs to be as clutter-free as possible. Maybe you like to stack your components and are just looking for that modern design touch to complete the décor.
Either way, installers can provide a simple and affordable ($299) solution that combines mount and furniture with OmniMount Moda Wall Furniture System, which uses three wall panels (pictured, the middle has been removed to reveal the concealed wiring) and two glass shelves below the mounted flat panel.
Throw in the Cloth
Bill Corwin (kneeling) and Rob Heater of Wincor Inc. got quite a buzz on the show floor from their TornadoPower textured, scented cloths that are designed to capture dirt residue that exists in central vacuum hoses. Each canister contains 25 cloths ... a great little add-on sale.
Unearth Hidden Treasures in Sleek Alcove Piece
Chantilly, Va.-based BDI says this new piece of furniture has curve appeal. That it does, especially at a time when homeowners are looking for a cool way to showcase their equipment while also keeping some aspects out of view.
For $2,995 retail, the Alcove line will hide the flat-panel mount and stow all of the gear and DVDs/CDs. The curvature of the panel behind the TV makes the cabinetry appear shallow, when it is plenty deep for components, and its sides enclose all the movies and music played on those components.
A plasma or LCD screen can rest on the curved wooden panel while the components lie stealthly in the underlying cabinet. At first glance, the cabinet appears shallow, but the lower portion can fit full-sized components. Besides, how cool does a "floating" TV look?
Bell'O Takes a Seat in Theater Chair Category
A fixture in the furniture category, Morganville, N.J.-based Bell'O introduced its foray into seating solutions by looking to combine value and style, according to president Marc Sculler. The company's HTS-100 home theater chair retails for $999 and features high-grade leather in black or brown.
The seats can come as stand-alone units or be combined for a love seat or sofa, have a compact recline that only needs 3 inches of space for full capability and include headrests engineered to provide owners optimal viewing angles.
Movie Posters Add Classic Touch
"Do you have 'Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo?'" That question probably was not asked by any CEDIA attendees visiting the Millionaire Gallery booth, but it could have been.
The company displayed hundreds of movie posters, ranging from classics to contemporary in its booth. Movie posters can make a great final touch for a customer in his or her new home theater. (For the record ... the company does not carry any Deuce Bigalow posters.)