HONG KONG: the best brands you've never heard of - all the fun of the Electronics Fair

The Hong Kong Electronics Fair, which opened yesterday at the waterfront Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, is big.

Very big.

This is only one of the two Fairs held here each year - it's the Autumn Edition, with the Spring version due in April - and yet there are well over 3000 exhibitors here spread over many halls and even more conference rooms and event spaces.

And a select group finds itself in the Hall of Fame, a showcase for the leading companies at the event. The stand being shared by NXT and Revo (above), though by no means the largest in this area, is typical, with products on display at showfloor level, plus a more secluded area of meeting rooms and rather more confidential products hidden away.

In this case the real business is done up a small spiral staircase on the top deck, but other stands have similar areas behind closed doors.

On the upper deck of the NXT stand I met up with Vian Li, the designer of those metal-cased speakers I'd enjoyed during the demonstrations at the NXT offices the other day.

He was keen for me to have another listen, as he'd done some more tuning over the weekend, to bring the image height a little more above the speakers. And it's worked, though I was keen to know how he'd done it.

Simple, he said - he just loaded some new DSP software via the unit's infrared remote control port. Welcome to the world of 21st century speaker design...

This is a very much a trade show, which is why most of the brands exhibiting will mean nothing to most consumers. It's where everyone from distributors to mass-market retailers come to buy products which will eventually appear under their own label.

That's one reason why some of the products on display here look familiar: could be you've seen that DAB radio or iPod dock under a British brand name already...

It also explains why people get a bit jumpy about products being photographed. There's a blanket 'no cameras' ban at the show, although it seems widely ignored, despite the efforts of ever-present security guards.

It seems like every time I take a picture I am challenged, and have to show my press badge before I'm grudgingly allowed to continue. Other visitors resort to more covert tactics.

Quite a lot of what you'll see in these reports isn't about new products you'll be able to buy immediately - rather it'll give you some ideas how the companies behind the famous brands are thinking, and the kind of products those buyers from all over the world will be looking at and bargaining over during the next few days.

If, that is, they haven't already placed their orders - apparently a lot of the biggest buyers came out here a couple of weeks ago, just to get a jump on their rivals.

Dominating one entrance to the show is the large Skyworth stand.

Skyworth is one of the leading TV brands in this part of the world, and judging from the sets on display here, has the wherewithal to take on the familiar names in export markets, too. Though it has to be said that in common with TV displays everywhere, the subject matter of choice is HD, slow-moving, and brightly-hued.

But then there are TVs everywhere at the show, and all from brands you've never heard of: the flatscreen is ubiquitous, although at least one brand, iTach Vision, reckons there's still a place for good ol' CRTs.

Talking of unfamiliar names, Panashiba, anyone?

Or Treefrog in-car audio?

But there are also names with echoes of the past. I spotted this turntable hidden away in a corner of the Lenco stand, bringing back memories of Goldring Lencos of the past,

but most of the products the company was showing were of the digital variety, including CD clock radios, the inevitable iPod docks and of course DVD portables such as this rather neat unit.

I'll be covering all things iPoddy and dockular in a later blog, so for the moment I'll round up with a very neat miniature three-channel speaker bar from Kinyo

which looks like just the thing to use under that computer monitor or portable TV. The volume control is neatly incorporated into the end-cap of the tube on the right.

Oh, and this from Maxcable - a system designed for long-run transmission of TV signals, converting HDMI into five coaxial cables.

As the banner says, it's good for runs of up to 100m, is fully HDCP compliant, and it carries picture resolutions of up to 1440p at 120Hz, and digital audio up to HD resuolution.

And just in case you doubted it, the stand runs the signal through these massive coils of cable - talk about making life difficult for yourself - before it emerges into the monitor and sound system.

It looks impressive, but that cable's pretty chunky, and the stand-lady on the right seems to have her doubts.

More from the show later - I'm off to do some more halls now...

Andrew has written about audio and video products for the past 20+ years, and been a consumer journalist for more than 30 years, starting his career on camera magazines. Andrew has contributed to titles including What Hi-Fi?, GramophoneJazzwise and Hi-Fi CriticHi-Fi News & Record Review and Hi-Fi Choice. I’ve also written for a number of non-specialist and overseas magazines.