No one knows what the future of tech shows holds. The pricey, flashy E3 show, for example, was declining for years before its last in-person show in 2019. Other trade shows are enduring notable decline in exhibitor numbers, in-show announcements, and attendee numbers.
This May, however, remained a time for tech trade shows. Computex started Tuesday, and The Society for Information Display (SID) held Display Week 2023 in Los Angeles last week.
As a tech reporter, the fun part of trade shows isn’t racking up steps or spotting slivers of time to eat and sleep. It’s checking out interesting products, features, and concepts that customers will soon see. It feels somewhat odd to say in this post-pandemic world, but May was actually an interesting time for trade show displays.
Here are six debuts that piqued my interest with what they do now and what they could mean for the future.
20 displays, one modular macropad
Cooler Master is showing off the momma of macropads at Computex. The MasterHUB is a modular device it says it’ll start selling in «late November» with nine modules available. Cooler Master initially targeted video editors, photo editors, and streamers, but macropads have earned a spot on the desks of various types of power users, and the extensive variety the modules offer highlights macropads’ untapped potential.
‘But I thought this was an article about displays,’ you say? Well, there are 20 displays across all of the MasterHUB’s modules. Among them is an 8-inch,1280×800 touchscreen, as reported by sites like Tom’s Hardware. There are also two modules with smaller displays, plus another one with an ultrawide one. A fifth module has a 1.3-inch dial with its own screen. Cooler Master believes this IPS display can be used to show off your images (pictures from attendees show the dial displaying a pet).
For excessive control, there’s a module that adds 15 custom keys to your setup, and each key is illuminated with an IPS screen.
Cooler Master has big dreams for the macropad, but I’ve seen the company fall short of peripheral product releases before. When I reached out about future features, a spokesperson said the company doesn’t have more information yet.
«Coupled with the API integration for wide software support and an SDK for user customization, the MasterHUB and MasterControl [Cooler Master software] become powerful tools for any tech enthusiast. The journey begins with the system environment in 2023, expanding to room environment support in 2024, and broadening to entire smart home automation by 2025,» Cooler Master’s announcement today said.
There are other non-screen modules, like one with scrolling wheels and another with dials. These input options make the MasterHUB stand out from other macropads aimed at creators, like the Elgato Stream Deck, or mechanical switch-based options, like Megalodon’s popular macropads. The Thunderbolt-connected base can hold two to six modules, depending on their sizes. Cooler Master is reportedly planning on making an even bigger base that can hold more modules.
The MasterHUB may end up a modular headache, though, if programming is complex or buggy. I’ve used Cooler Master’s frustrating peripherals software before, so it’s good to hear it’s working on a new app for this product.
Cooler Master will sell the MasterHUB as three premade kits (video editor, photo editor, and streamer) and will eventually sell lone modules.