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September 18, 2006 | Author: Ibex Marketing

CEDIA is the Consumer Electronics Designer and Installer Association show, which was held last week in Denver. The exhibit hall was filled with high-end products for the custom install market, such as motorized mounts for large plasma HDTVs, plush seating for home theaters, and gorgeous wooden housings for 7.1 channel surround sound speaker systems.

So it is a bit surprising that a large number of the displays on exhibit had low prices. I expected to see only top-end pricing. I already reported on Sharp’s new LCD line with a $2,499 list 42″ 1080p LCD HDTV. Olevia also had a 42″ 720p LCD HDTV monitor with a $1,399 street price. That’s about the same price as an EDTV plasma.

CEDIA was not just about lower prices on flat panel LCDs. Dramatic new prices were announced for front projectors. 1080p projectors have been the domain of the elite home theater product manufacturers. You can expect to spend $15K to $50K for them. But Sony announced a new 1080p front projector using their acclaimed SXRD version of LCoS imagers, for a list price of $4,999. And Mitsubishi had a 1080p three-LCD projector for even less, at $4,495.

It is little surprise that I spoke with many dealers and custom installers who were singing the blues about not being able to compete with the prices of HDTVs at Costco and Best Buy. Their customers are used to spending more on the installation services and accessories than on the display itself, but now they are looking to pay less for the displays. This is similar to the what I witnessed more than 20 years ago in the personal computer market as the VARs — value added resellers — saw droves of potential customers buy their new computers off the shelp at retail or direct from the manufacturer. I expect that the same is going to happen to the CEDIA market; it will continue as there will always be high-end customers who will need those services, but as the HDTV market continues to grow rapidly, they won’t share in much of that growth.