The 2002 Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association (CEDIA) show, normally held in Indianapolis, was instead located in Minneapolis this year. CEDIA is sort of like “CES Lite” – smaller and more intimate, with its focus squarely on home theater and home automation equipment. You won’t find car audio, microwave ovens or the latest console games here – but if you want high-end projectors, plasma televisions, A/V receivers, whole home automation and speakers with price tags that just might make Bill Gates blush, CEDIA is where you’ll want to be.
The Minneapolis Convention Center is conveniently divided into five halls, with four of them joined into one huge room where most of the big companies clustered. Numerous meeting rooms are used to hold training seminars – highly recommended for anyone in the industry – which is one way this show separates itself from CES. Although the show floor is open three days, courses run for a full five days.
As the show grows ever larger in size, it becomes an increasingly popular place for big companies to launch their latest wares. In this report I’ll be covering only those items that are completely new, or never displayed before. So, without further ado...
Two of the toughest aspects of attending any large trade show are, first, figuring out where everyone is and. second, knowing exactly where to start. Amazingly, right inside the first door we entered was Intrigue Technologies, makers of the Harmony remote control. As we found out before CEDIA, Intrigue was planning to demonstrate a brand new version of their Harmony – and they certainly didn’t disappoint!
Dubbed the Harmony SST-768 (the previously unnumbered Harmony model has since been named the SST-745), the new remote was on display in three glorious colors – red, blue and silver. Although only marginally larger than it elder sibling, the SST-768 packs in a whole lot of buttons, going from the equivalent of 17 to 35 hard keys. Folks wanted more buttons, and Intrigue has certainly delivered!
The SST-768 now sports full transport controls, a numeric keypad, Guide and Recall buttons, plus many other useful functions. Although the screen and scroll wheel are exactly the same as before, other improvements include an industry standard Mini USB port, four (instead of three) AAA batteries for longer life, enclosed IR emitters, plus a higher-quality ergonomic design that’s comfortable to hold. The new remote looks much less like a cell phone, although it still takes a bit of time to get used to the LCD screen at the bottom of the unit – people keep wanting to pick it up upside down!
Both models of the Harmony are “Internet programmable”, meaning that only minimal software resides on your computer. Everything is actually configured over Intrigue’s servers, making this a particularly unique (if unnecessary) concept. As of this writing I have a SST-768 in the office and will be posting a full review soon.