“Own the network, own the home” was the tagline for CEDIA Expo 2012, and this year it certainly was all about the network.

The phrase most heard at the show may have been “This will save installers time and money.”

There weren’t as many of the jaw-dropping, gut-wrenching, must-see products this year because existing products were busy getting smaller, faster, and more transparent. It’s tough to build hype about something you can’t immediately see. On an AVWeek podcast, Richard Fregosa of Fregosa Design poetically put it, “the trend for CEDIA this year is that it wasn’t so much about revolution, as it was just evolution.”

Perhaps the industry is at a turning point where what we need has become more important than what we want. We wanted smaller devices, bigger screens, clearer pictures, and we got them — a bezel can only get so thin before it completely disappears.

Now what we need is enough time to install all this equipment. We need a home that can still function when a router malfunctions. We need to be able to pick out the one bad link that is taking down the whole chain.

Olivia Dumanovsky of Pakedge explained that their booth was “bringing networking and AV together,” and that was the running theme for this year’s show.

Pakedge’s power distribution units can be set to remotely power cycle and to send specific alerts. Dealers can send commands through email, saving time and money previously spent on costly truck rolls.

SurgeX showed off IP addressable surge protectors that allow for remote access. Their line of Axess Ready products and new Cervella Remote Monitoring System interface allows integrators to access any device on the network from a secure web platform.

Clare Controls is calling for two truck roll home automation implementation, and allows the dealer to implement all updates online, saving further visits. Meanwhile Ikatu’s Khimo control system prides itself on making remote access more secure, bypassing port forwarding or other DNS servers and instead communicating directly though the Ikatu main server.

Fewer truck rolls isn’t the only thing saving dealers time and money. BlueVolt and Bedrock provide online training so that integrators don’t have to miss a single day at the office while taking courses and getting certifications.

On-site, installations are getting more efficient as well. Metra’s EHD HDMI cable is even thinner than an iPhone cord, freeing up space in racks and shipping costs. And AVocation Systems and Control4 are packing HDMI matrix switchers with up to 32 inputs, making it possible to bring one signal to many zones.

Even programming has gotten easier. iRidium’s control interface aims to provide integrators with one platform that can work with multiple devices in many different systems, and Pro Control’s software enables integrators to program a remote control for several devices at once. Again, both are here to save installers time and money.

Access Networks’ Hagai Feiner brought it home for me with a long look at the inside of their networks with the concept of visibility: the ability to see details about individual devices and network ports. He showed me exactly how error reporting and troubleshooting can happen on a network from anywhere in the world in real time.

“As integrated devices move to the network, you need this level of visibility on your network,” said Feiner. “We don’t sell single parts, we sell a full solution, and we support every solution we sell for the life of the project.”