CES – Day 1

It is amazing how companies will invest countless thousands to set up a booth at one of the biggest trade shows on the planet, and then staff it with people who don’t speak the language maybe 95% of the attendees will want to speak, or who don’t know a whole pile about the products they’re went sent over to hump.

Me and an industry friend spent the first half of Monday at a surprisingly serene Sands Expo, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The Sands was host to all those companies with smaller budgets and booths — kind of like an overflow section from the main action at the larger Las Vegas convention centre.

There were many, many, many companies with gear from China and Taiwan, and to a lesser extent, South Korea. Almost unerringly, the people in their booths were stumped by any questions more exotic than, “How you doing?”

That aside, we found some interesting stuff directly related to the industry – particularly with display mount devices. There are a bunch of Chinese companies making flat panel wall, swinging arm and ceiling mounts, and all looking for distribution beyond their borders.

The first booth we stopped at, there was a guy sitting behind a table that had several sturdy looking mounts. I asked the guy, “How much?”

I thought he said “$60” but was corrected. “$16.”

Wow. I am used to paying a LOT more for that kind of gear. The handful of mainstream manufacturers of this gear, like Peerless and Chief, make great products, but they’re not particularly complicated. I suspect they’re looking over their shoulders.

The challenge with working with these sorts of companies is the world of pain the language gap will introduce, but you have to think someone over here, who speaks Mandarin or Cantonese, AND English, will take a few of these guys on as a reseller.

They also have some gear that is well ahead of the curve. Clo Systems, for example, has a large flat panel mount that is motorized so that it can swivel up and down, and left and right, as well as extend out from the wall. It likely costs a fortune but certainly provides some flexibility in a place where lighting conditions change through a day.

Sanus Systems, another major, had a nice will mounting system that uses a recessed tub inside a wall so smaller displays snug right in and hide the cables.

We also a number of companies with well-priced gear for VGA over Cat 5 (more some of them later) as well as a company called AverLogic that was showing early prototypes of a system to send solid, stable video using Powerline networking. The notion of using the existing copper wire in a venue to distribute the signage media is awfully attractive, but so far AverLogic is only looking at standard def video. The greater challenge is making Powerline work consistently. I know very little about this stuff, but there seems to be a very strong dependence on having very clean, well defined electrical wiring – which would rule out an awful lot of places.

Much more to relate from Monday, but will save that for another post. Today, we’re off to the main halls to see the major display guys and some of their 100″-plus screens.   

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