EHX Thoughts - Training


Active Member
A major reason for attending EHX is for training opportunities. There are four types of training available, "Boot Camps", Seminars, free manufacturer training, and co-located training.

Boot Camps
The Boot Camps are all day sessions (9 AM - 5 PM, with two 15 minute breaks and an hour for lunch) supposed to provide in-depth training on a specific subject. They are put on by the expo itself, and are fee based (~$395 each if taken separately). Some examples of the subjects taught are "IP Based Media Distribution" and "Wireless Technologies". This year, I planned on attending the "Flat Panel" and "Home Theatre Design and Installation" boot camps. On Thursday evening, I realized that I had only covered 1/4 of the expo floor, so I blew off the Flat Panel camp on Friday in favor of hitting the rest of the floor.

On Saturday, I attended the Home Theatre camp, as this is an area where I want to expand my business. The first hour was general information from a Crestron employee about controls and trends. Interesting, but only moderately useful.

The next roughly four hours were taken up by a gentleman from Harmon Kardon. He went into excellent detail on the various factors that would make a theatre sound good or poor. There were explanations on the different speaker locations for music vs. home theatre, types of speakers and installation methods, even coverage on how various surfaces reflect (or absorb) sound. He showed how to position and tune the speakers, so that the sound level and range would be level across the entire listening area. His handout was 65 pages long, with six PowerPoint slides per page. For the most part, his handout matched his presentation, and on the occasions that it didn't, he gave us time to take appropriate notes.

The last roughly hour and a half was by the founder of Imaging Science Foundation, and was supposed to cover the display side of the coin. Notice the use of the word "supposed". The handout for his portion of the course was 11 pages, with only section titles provided. When his presentation did match the topics on the handout (it often didn't), he was shooting through information at a rate of a slide every 5 seconds. W-A-A-Y too fast for note taking. The people on either side of me were shaking their heads also. A third of the people got up and walked out. I figured that, "okay, he's in a hurry to get everything in before 5 (we ran over by 25 minutes), and I can get the notes from him after class". Nope. When I asked him if he could shoot me a copy of the slides if I dropped him an email, the answer was "The answers to the questions on the handout? Absolutely not! If you want to get them you need to attend my 2 day class on the subject."

For obvious reasons, I was (and am still) pretty peeved by this. I didn't expect to become an expert in a single day, but I did expect to get the basics that would allow me to distinguish my product from what you would get from a Best Buy "Theatre in a Box". I didn't expect to pay to listen for an advertisement for another class. When should I use a old fashioned CRT vs. LCD vs. DLP vs. LCOS, etc? Heck if I know. What was covered was covered so fast that I couldn't take notes. I'm going to send a Nasty-Gram out to Electric House, but my first draft was so poisonous that it would have destroyed every router between here and Boston.

Section 1 grade: B
Section 2 grade: A+
Section 3 grade: F

Overall grade: D-

Moral: If anyone decides to get into the industry, don't waste your time and money attending EHX Boot Camps.

Seminars, like boot camps, are put on by the expo, and are basically 1.5-hour lectures by "Industry Leaders". A pass for all four days of sessions is around $395. The sessions are broken out into "tracks" (A/V Entertainment, Networking & Communications, Comfort & Control, Tech-Style, and Marketing, Operations & Management), but you can mix and match in any fashion you please. Between this year and last, I've attended 4-5 seminars, and the quality varies from fair to excellent. It pretty much depends on the instructor. Most of the instructors will provide examples from their companies products, but so far it's been a case of "these are the product I know, so I will use them as examples", and not a case of using the class as a long sales pitch.

Overall grade (cumulative): B-

Moral: Useful, but the amount of knowledge you can get in an hour and a half is limited.

Free Manufacturer Training
Manufacturer Training classes are 1.5 hour combinations of training and sales talks. They are free to all expo attendees. Depending on the course and the manufacturer, the actual amount of training given will vary. The classes will give you a better feel for the products than you will get from a discussion on the noisy expo floor. Also, many manufacturers will provide something of value for attendees. For example, OnQ courses will count toward becoming an OnQ dealer, Russound attendees got a free copy of the DTools programming software for the CAV6.6, and Elk attendees got a $100 coupon toward the purchase of an Elk M1.

Overall grade: Quality too varied to assign a grade

Moral: Useful, and can provide some useful bonuses. A portion of each class is a sales presentation, so don't expect unbiased information.

Co-Located Training:
Co-located training is provided for a fee (~$200 - $400) by outside companies near the expo center. I have never attended any, nor has anyone I know, so I cannot give any feedback.