CEDIA Market Stuffed -- CE Researcher
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Convergence is not happening and the home automation market is not doing well, an audience of 150 tech journalists heard today on the Sunshine Coast.

Qualifi and Topfield were the only two CE distributors to front more than 150 journalists at the 2006 Media Connect KickStart Conference on the Sunshine Coast. Qualifi revealed a sexy new Philips universal controller and Topfield revealed that it will launch a new PVR with a buitl-in Netgear wireless router and an Ice TV EPG. Researcher, Graeme Philipson, of Connected Research Services, predicted that the CEDIA market is stuffed.

During an extensive debate and later in round table discussions several vendors, distributors and researchers said that the home automation market was “In a mess” and that convergence was not happening. Researcher, Graeme Philipson, told the audience that “The home automation market is not doing well, convergence has not taken off and that due to the digital home industry being so young a lot of mistakes were being made. He also said that Government policy in the digital home market was not together. On the question of the CEDIA market he said “The home automation guys are not getting critical mass. We are currently doing a research study for a major home automation brand and even their own customers are not happy with what they are offering”.

He also said that the CEDIA model is wrong as there are “Not enough margins and not enough customers for them. The premium home automation market is a small market with a lot of people competing for home automation business. CEDIA members are being overrun by technology that is evolving beyond what they have a skill in”.

Ralph Grundl, Marketing Manager of Qualifi, told the audience that content would be the driving force and that without good content nothing will happen. He also revealed for the first time a new universal remote from Philips that will go on sale in Australia soon for around $990.

The Philips RC9800i has a lot to offer the consumer and is a great product for Qualifi as it pushes them further into the low-cost IP-based devices market. Some of the features on the new remote that I saw at the Media Connect conference include:

1. Extensive control of audio and video components. The RC9800i offers access to preset codes via its internal database, but also has learning capability that enables it to add codes to its database via interfacing with a component’s original remote control.

 2. The RC9800i has both a large 3.5-inch touch screen display as well as easy-to-use control buttons.

 3. A very comprehensive user manual is provided that takes the user, step-by-step through the set-up and use process.

4. The RC9800 comes with a stylish and convenient charging base that also doubles as an AC adapter.

5. The RC9800i is essentially future-proof as its database can be expanded and its operation enhanced via software downloads from a PC, using the provided USB interface cable.

Despite its seemingly basic appearance, the Philips RC9800i is sophisticated remote control components that can be replace just about all the functions in any standard audio/video remote control, as well as interfacing with Wig-Fi enabled and the PC. With its extensive, upgradeable, internal database, and its easy-to-use learning capabilities, the RC9800i is a powerful tool that will enable you to take control of your audio/video components and other devices, instead of you being at their mercy. This is a hot device that will hurt several high end universal remote vendors.