Editor’s Note: Frank Taylor is a technology entrepreneur in Cary, a pilot, and world-traveling sailor.The Custom Electronics Designers and Installers Association (CEDIA) Expo was just held in Indianapolis last week. CEDIA is the association for custom installers of home theater, home automation, and pretty much anything electronic in the home. Most electronics vendors attend to convince these important buyers to select their wares. The CEDIA Expo is like a more serious, and less crowded CES.

I thought the LTW readers might be interested to hear some of the highlights of the show.

5.1 Speaker Chair

One item which brought a lot of smiles was the 5.1 Media Chair – by SphereX (www.spherexinc.com ). SphereX makes the official Microsoft XBox 5.1 speaker system, and this is basically a chair with the speakers built into the chair. This is a gamer’s Must Buy. The chair has the six speakers built into the chair (two in the arms, two on left and right top, one down between your legs in front, and the subwoofer under-neath. Sounds awesome, and you FEEL the action. It costs $1500 – not too bad for a nice quality chair and surround soundsystem. Ready for XBox/console or PC gaming. Great for watching movies too.

Next Generation HDTV from Sony

Sony showed an absolutely awesome new widescreen next generation HDTV display based on their new display technology called SXRD (Sony’s equivalent to silicon
display chip like LCOS). This is the next generation chip with a nearly 4000×2000 theoretical resolution.

The fully functional 71″ display they demonstrated had 1920×1080 progressive. Sony showed Blu-Ray HD-DVD content that looked, well, awesome. The display will ship starting January 2005 for “less than $10,000”.

It may be better to wait until there is more 1080 content (i.e. Blu-ray DVDs) out there.

Digital Media Servers in the Home

Many of you have probably started listening to your music electronically thanks to products like I-Pod. It is common now to find special music servers you can put in your home to store all of your music electronically and connect it to your home theater or other stereo equipment.

At this CEDIA Expo there were a number of vendors showing new Media Servers
which can store all of your music AND all of your DVDs electronically. Why should have to get up and stick a disc in the DVD player when you can just select a menu with your remote, look at pictures of all the DVD covers, and click up your next movie?

Race Car Simulator

Somebody was showing a $12,000 race car simulator with a large plasma panel for display, a racing car-like sitting area complete with roll-bar, and vibrating subwoofer in the seat. Very realistic physical-based modeling. They claim they have accurate real-world race track models and can do Internet-based multi-driver races.

Most Expensive Speakers

Of course, there were countless speaker manufacturers at this show. But, the company catching my eye was Wilson Audio. They make the world’s most expensive consumer speakers. Their top-of-the-line speakers cost $125,000 a pair. For this, you get lots of gold connectors, every wire is hand-made and specially engineered to reduce noise, and to increase the WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor) you can get them in any color to match the home interior design.

So, for the guy that has to have the best, go to Wilson.