Home show heats up the living room

The first of an expected 25,000 visitors streamed through the doors of the Sydney's Darling Harbour Exhibition Centre today, getting a visual feast of the hottest new home entertainment and consumer items.

The three-day show, which features a who's who in entertainment vendors with the likes of Samsung, LG, Acer, Sharp, BenqQ and Sony, opened to the public at midday after industry and media got in with the first looks.

This year's show features double the floor space as last year's and a range of products to suit all budgets. Show organiser, Wayne Castle, said the aim was to introduce consumers to the latest home technology, and be able to take it with them right way.

"You can buy! It is not just look and see, which is very different to most shows," he said.

Big push for Media Center

Many top tier hardware vendors are pushing Media Centre PC offerings at this year's show. Altech Computers product manager, Simon Clark, said the distributor wanted to pump up consumer awareness about the Media Center PC, and was using the show floor to get the message out.

"There's so much lack of awareness about the Media Center. People don't realise the main features and what it can do in the home," he said. "The technology is just starting to come of age so we hope to make a real impact on consumers."

The company is showcasing several models: the Maestro M100, its newest and beefiest model, the Maestro Ultima, Maestro Mini, and the Maestro Pro 2. The products range from $2200-$5800.

The products fit nicely into the growing category of IT and CE blended products, Clark said, highlighting the theme of the home show for Altech.

Consumer interest in the Media Center was expected to ramp up once Microsoft launched the Media Extender, which he said was slated for January.

The latest digital TV enhancements on the Media Center are also generating interest, Clark said. "This makes the Media Center fully functional," he said.

Meanwhile, Optima launched a sub-$2000 Media Center at the show in a bid to capture a new market segment. The tactic was to offer lower priced Media Center PCs to attract mainstream users, Optima product manager, David Choi, said. "It's a CE form factor in the lounge room," he said.

"Our competitors are offering Media Center PCs from $2999 to $5999, which is ideal for the enthusiasts, but to make it more accessible to the average user, we needed to make the systems more affordable."

The company also used the show floor to launch the Optima DLP digital projector, and the Optima Centoris KN performance series notebooks, a $2899 and $2499 model.

Show exhibitor, Asus, is also setting its sights on the digital home/convergence push. The company is well suited to take advantage of the blend given its IT (components) and CE (home entertainment) mix, its marketing manager, Carmen Li, claimed.

"This is our first end-user event," she said. "Home entertainment products are the way of the future. Consumers want all sorts of gadgets in the home."

Hot products to watch include the one-touch home entertainment machine, dubbed the S-presso.

"You can carry it throughout the home. It's a portable PC that lets users play movies, video and music," Li said.

The show is open till 5pm tonight and 10am-6pm on Saturday and Sunday. Entry is $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and free for children. Seniors who attend today will be admitted for free.

More information can be found at http://www.entertainmentshow.com.au/

The National Home Entertainment Show is presented by IDG, publisher of this site.

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