InfoComm Day One Impressions: A Lot And Very Little

June 13, 2024 by Dave Haynes

This is a hard post to knock out because Day 1 of InfoComm 2024 involved both a lot and very little – as in a lot of things and people to see, but not a whole hell of a lot that is genuinely new or different.

I have written in the past about how the digital signage industry is much more about small, incremental advances than giant leaps forward, and that is particularly true this week in Las Vegas.

There is no end of really impressive stuff, but it is largely stuff that was already impressive.

The flat panel companies are marketing tech that has been around for 15-20 years, and the old things like form factor and size are no longer news. So they are reduced to trumpeting things like how they handle reflection, or new-ish factors like energy consumption, which almost seems funny in a city where it can be insanely hot outside but sweater weather inside because the AC units are cranked to the point that people feel chilly.

Stuff like bezel width,  4K and 8K have come and gone, and smart signage is not something I see marketed or hear being discussed.

The much newer LED industry is now quite established, to a point that a lot of the bigger manufacturers don`t even have pixel pitches specified on the walls that surround featured displays. Some say fine pixel pitch. Others don`t even bother with that. Because everyone has fine pitch now and sub 1 mm is common.

The other thing about LED is that even completely unfamiliar Chinese manufacturers have displays that at least look good on the show floor, though build quality and customer service are valid questions and concerns.

The show floor was, I would say, busy-ish. Day one is usually the crazy-busy day, but I saw people from familiar companies scrolling through their phones to pass the time. On the other hand, some stands were insanely busy.

InfoComm has been a tour stop for me for almost 20 years, and I think I saw more CMS software companies with stands this year than in any previous year. I have no idea why that is, but there were numerous companies I was surprised to see. Poppulo, the company formerly known as Four Winds Interactive, is here … and it has been much more focused on other events for the last several years.

There are lots of European companies here, some showing, others walking the floor and getting a sense of the substantial differences over here – in approach, focus and technical sophistication. US and Canadian companies tend to think they are world leaders in this stuff, but in a lot of ways, they are behind by two or three years.

Some comments on what I saw:

Sacramento-based i5LED has a genuine microLED cabinet at its stand – 20 by 40 micron LEDs, which easily meets the technical definition of microLED. Almost all of the other product on the floor marketed as micro is really mini. Some of the manufacturers argue anything under 1mm pixel pitch should be called microLED, because the light emitters are teeny.

If you buy into that dubious argument, then you are OK with buying a car that is labelled as turbo but is really just a regular engine, but goes fast.

Realistically, true microLED as a cost-competitive large format display format is perhaps three years away. Most product that is sub 1mm looks really good, so the future benefit of microLED is likely going to be much more about lowering costs. No rational person is thinking we need to see the industry get to microLED so video walls will finally be crisp and beautiful.

Samsung does have the same transparent microLED display it showed at ISE, but it is almost certainly AUO product re-badged as Samsung. It is nice, but again …

Speaking of Samsung, the VXT platform again is a big feature at the walled black fortress that is the Korean company’s stand. I was curious if there were new functionality app partners for the platform, as there were all of two featured at ISE. There are indeed some more, but I cannot imagine the fortunes of VXT are in entertainment and fireplace channels from Montreal-based Stingray for Business.

Samsung is now the third major display manufacturer to be marketing E Ink e-paper product and kinda sorta presenting it as their own. PPDS and Sharp NEC do that, too. Those units are looking really good now, but price point is a huge issue and none of the display guys do much of a job laying out the Total Cost of Ownership argument for an $1,800 e-paper display versus a $200 LCD of the same size.

There are now several companies that have versions of the (not) invisible, (not) holographic Muxwave displays. I like that company`s product, but it is not the only one that has that tech.

I did not see many semi-transparent displays or displays on film or in glass, which was a bit of a surprise.

The fog screen-like Silky Fine Mist projection thing at the Panasonic stand is profoundly underwhelming – textbook trade show eye candy.

I have no idea what this was about …

Thank you to Google and Lenovo for the drinks and lobster-sized shrimp at their party in the Fontainebleau (which smells very nice, by the way).

Thank you to LG Canada for the hospitality at the new Atomic Golf place, which is Top Golf with a LOT of visual bling.

My admiration and condolences for the people who had the energy to go to the late night mayhem that is the Peerless-AV party. In simple terms, I am way too old for that stuff. I was in my room by 9:23, which is by a wide margin a good Vegas behavior record for me. But I have a mixer to co-host Thursday night. I will no doubt be led astray tomorrow, as there is always one very late night.

Quick story: Among countless show floor conversations I had on Wednesday, I asked one friend if he managed to register in time for the sold out mixer. He reminded me that his company was a sponsor, so yeah, he was going.

It is sad being both old and stupid.

  1. Craig k says:

    I’ve been working more closely with Chinese and it’s tough to argue when they use LG or boe or Samsung. Ekaa had big booth there

  2. Michel Perreault says:

    Great summary of Day 1, Dave. I am walking the show floor Wednesday and Thursday as well and agree with your many observations. I have not seen any projection displays (yet). Any comments of those?

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