EHX Thoughts - Overall


Active Member
I'll try to type things in before I forget everything.

The expo was quite a bit larger this year than last, both in number of exhibits and attendees. Last year the main floor was around 75% full, while this year it expanded into a second hall. A lot of people were wearing the red "first time attendee" ribbons, especially on Friday and Saturday.

As usual, there were tons of companies showing products that would "revolutionize" the industry. A lot of them were touting "full range" solutions, i.e. systems combining lighting, security, HVAC, drapes, etc. either by providing all of the above, or more often, providing plug-n-play functionality with a myriad of different vendors. And again as usual, I expect a significant portion of the above to turn out to be marketing BS. :lol:

MCE (or WMC) popped up frequently on displays and exhibits. More of the traditional electronics companies, such as Epson, made appearances than in the past, and there seemed to be a bit more emphasis on "affordable" solutions. Unlike last year when one vendor defined an affordable home theatre as "under $25,000", I saw a lot of solutions that would be available to households with incomes well under $100,000. While many people would question the term "affordable" at this income level, remember that EHX is a trade show and the target audience is people who install home electronics (integrators, electricians, security installers, and VARs) for a living, and these numbers mean that the industry is making a niche in the step-up housing market.

The number of vendors using T&A to draw attention was up this year, but nothing like what you see at CES. Most of them showed that they had at least SOME knowledge of the products they were selling, so I shouldn't throw rocks. And as a single heterosexual male, I'm all for any increased female participation. :D

Orlando is nice, and as convention centers go, the OCCC is good. One complaint was the food. Last year they had several individual kiosks inside the hall, with multiple types of food. I had some passable Chinese food at an acceptable price. This year, the only food was a permanent stand outside the hall, with slowwww and rude employees serving poor quality food at outrageous prices. $7.95 for an institutional quality burger with 4 potato chips and some cole slaw. GAG!! :( They also had chicken sandwiches, hotdogs, and polish sausage at similar prices, but they had already sold out of the latter two by 1:00 the day I ate there.

Geeks? Yes there were geeks. By definition, anyone attending EHX is a geek. However, as one of the instructors pointed out, we were NOT at the bottom of the food chain. EHX shared the convention center Friday and Saturday with a comic book convention. People dressed up as super heroes, witches, storm troopers, trekkies, etc. I almost dislocated my jaw heading out for lunch Saturday, when I came across a pair of teenage girls doing the anime thing. Plaid skirts, hair in ribbons, bobbie socks, and tight white shirts. Nothing significant, except they were also doing a bondage number. They also had on handcuffs, chains, leather masks, and ball gags. Oh, and if they were over 17, I would be extremely surprised. I'm used to weird things (I live in the DC area and have watched our elected officials for 40 years), but this was a first. :lol:

Sorry, no pictures, as I carefully left my camera and business cards next to the phone on the counter at home.
Yeah right! Sure you left your camera at home :(

You're just keeping the pictures of the teenie booper bondage bimbos to yourself! :lol:
The show was definitely bigger in square footage than last year, but it felt like attendance was down. Maybe this was due to the larger size and maybe it was an illusion. One smaller vendor (who had been there many years) agreed with me, while a larger vendor was very happy with attendance and the number of catalogs they gave away. I am sure the sponsors will claim "best show ever" and I won't argue that. I have been attending since these shows started here in '97.

It felt like there was more home theater, speaker & similar stuff there this year. The largest booth was for an alarm monitoring company with no product to show... strange. There was lots of WMC, but it seemed that most of them were just GUIs, with no home automation "rules engine" anywhere to make them smart. Control4 was probably the biggest "real" HA company and yet they didn't have a shipping product a year ago. I have seen lots of big booths fail to make a dent in this industry.

It was nice (& kind of surprising to me) to see so many companies claim to support UPB and/or Z-wave. It looks like companies are willing to embrace a new protocol, which makes me think that Insteon will get good support as soon as it ships.

In the demo area, they had a kick ass WMC demo. They used a stock WMC machine & a projector & good amps/speakers. Retail cost would be under $8k. They spoke highly of the nVidia 6600 card and I think it is the only one that is ISF certified for image quality.

Tech Data (as of last year) and Ingram Micro (new this year) are two major IT distributors now carrying HA and HT stuff, so that adds some large distributors.

There was a company with a fingerprint door lock system for about $1000. It had 3 outputs, supported 99 fingers, but only supported one sensor, so you could not use a networked system at multiple doors. It did have an RS-232 output option.

I test drove a motion chair for $6k and up. Kind of like a personal simulator. They have over 400 DVDs already encoded. It was fun, but expensive. Maybe the love seat would be even more fun, but that was about $15k.

The Pacusma booth was interesting, if their idea takes off. I posted their press release here a couple weeks ago. They want to replace multiple wall warts (linear power supplies) with a universal 24VDC switching power supply, then use smaller inline voltage droppers with the appropriate plug for whatever device you need. The drawback is cheap and easy availability of the new adapter you would need every time you get a new gadget. If they can get a retailer willing to stock the 200-300 adapters needed (my guess) at a good price, it is a neat system and I would use it. I suspect they would want to partner with Best Buy or Walmart or something big to launch it.

Not too many people giving away anything good this year, I got 1 t-shirt, 1 hat and 1 electric pen. As a local, I can say that the wing of the convention center we were in (the West wing, the old part) is definitely showing its age & needs a makeover. I don't eat the food there and the kids at the comic show were a trip.
This being my first show ever, I don't have anything to compare with. But I agree with much of what Wayne said. The Applied Digital guys that I was with seemed to find that attendance was down in relation to previous years (and also joked that the promoters will likely say that this was the "biggest ever").

Also as Wayne mentioned, there were a lot of fancy color touch panels with nice graphic displays, but very few real controllers ("rules engine") behind them. HAI had a nice (and quite large, about 8") color panel that apparently has a dealer price around $500 or so (which some people found a bit hard to believe) that connects to their own proprietary systems.
Control4 was probably the biggest "real" HA company
I've got a couple of things to say about C4, but I'll save them for another post.

Not too many people giving away anything good this year, I got 1 t-shirt, 1 hat and 1 electric pen

I did a little better than you. 3 t-shirts (I was supposed to get a fourth, but I forgot to go by the HAI booth to pick it up), 2 hats, a boatload of pens and screwdrivers (but I missed the electric pen. Whatinhell is it?), 1 slinkee, a shoulder bag and RC car from Control4, and 2 "survival cards". I'm really surprised that I got the latter through security at the airport, for when I opened them up at home, I discovered they have a 1.25 inch cutting edge. When i went through security last year, they confiscated the cuticle cutter from my grooming kit, because it had a 3/4 inch sharp edge. For business reasons I joined CEA, and they gave me a nice rollaround travel case. I loaded it up with all the swag and paperwork I picked up, and the cabby just about broke his back putting it into the cab.
jlehnert said:
I missed the electric pen. Whatinhell is it?
a pen with an LED in it. This one is blue in the handle...slow blink, fast blink, steady or off. It came from the magician at the APC booth. Some have an LED more towards the point so you can actually write in the dark.

I bet you and I have heard similar comments about Control4. Lets see where they are in a few years. I saw their slick stuff, but I didn't see a rules engine, but then I didn't look that close.