Posted by Ken Kurtis on October 28, 2002 at 08:35:40:
Fro those interested, from our weekly "This Week at Reef Seekers" e-mail:
The annual DEMA trade show was last week in Las Vegas. This is where all the manufacturers trot out their goodies as well as introduce new merchandise. There were probably close to 2500 manufacturers, marketers, travel destinations, and "others" represented, spread over 49 aisles of the South Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center. (Total attendance is probably around 10,000 dive professionals.) They pitch everything from gear to services. Ken, Billy, Jerry, Hal, and Buck were among the Reef Seekers folks in attendance. One complaint heard from a lot of retailers (ourselves included) was that there simply wasn't much new, let alone innovative. Many things touted as "new" were simply cosmetic changes to existing items or clones or items already on the market.
But one item that did catch our eye was a new way to use a safety sausage from Stephen Frink and Aqualung. Called the SOS, it's a safety sausage that attaches to your BC by means of the rear dump valve, and can be inflated simply by releasing a Velcro strap and then inflating the BC (which inflates the sausage). Frink's a well-known photographer and came up with the idea one day when trying to deploy a standard sausage and gold it over his head while also holding two cameras. The SOS is designed as a one-hand system and seems to work pretty well. They're going to sell for $63 (Reef Saver) and we'll be getting some in. You can pre-order (and will still have our Satisfaction Guaranteed policy) by e-mail or phone.
We also were looking at drysuits in an attempt to get a better range of options in that area for you. Ideally, we'll end up with three shell suits and three neoprene suits covering a range of prices, with the least expensive under $1000. Probably the most comfortable one we saw was the Matrix Dri-Flex® from Harvey's which is made out of their new, stretchy Matrix material (similar to Hyperstretch). This drysuit comes as a 5mm neoprene suit which seemed incredibly comfortable. The suit also comes with Apeks® valves, BDM® heavy-duty zipper, a relief zipper in all the men's suits, Kevlar® kneepads, vulcanized dry boots, suspenders, and latex neck & wrist seals with neoprene seal protectors. Plus, you get a padded carry-bag AND underwear!! Reef Saver price will be around $1575.
We also liked the Wisdom computer from Sherwood. It's pretty much Sherwood's version of the Oceanic ProPlus 2 (both made by Pelagic) but is slightly smaller than the ProPlus 2, but still seems easy to read. It's programmable and downloadable and will sell for about $100 less than the ProPlus 2.
A number of BC manufacturers have addressed consumer concerns about Velcro-only quick-release systems for weights and have added buckles/snaps. Seaquest, Sherwood, and Scubapro immediately come to mind and there are probably others as well. And some may be able to be retrofitted onto existing BC models. So if this is a concern for you, bring your BC in and we'll see what we can do.
One of our friends, attending DEMA for the first time and after seeing about two dozen BC manufacturers each with anywhere from three to ten BC models, commented, "I never realized there could possibly be a need for some many different BCs in this world."
A number of housing manufacturers had new housings for digital cameras and one of the ones getting the most attention from serious shooters was for the new Nikon D100. The stuff was really pretty, but when you realize the camera body is around $2000, the housing is another $2000, a decent laptop for downloading will set you back another $2000 . . . $10 for a roll of film just doesn't seem too bad all of a sudden. (And for those of you thinking SLR digital, there's a Kodak 14n coming out by January that'll be 14 megapixels - that's NOT a misprint, compatible with Nikkor lenses, and has no conversion/magnifation factor. List price will be around $4000.)
Our own Murray Kaufman has a new book out called "Reefs and Rain Forests: the Natural Heritage of Malaysian Borneo" with underwater shots from Sipidan and Mabul. We'll not only be carrying the book in the store, but will arrange with Murray an evening slide show and book signing. We'll keep you posted.
Atomic introduced their version of the Air2. Scubapro's incorporated a pneumatic fill/dump system into a couple of their BCs. Luxfer has a 4500psi tank (though we can't imagine too many compressors will be able to fill it). Pressed Steel has a new series of tanks that will fill to 3442psi (which means they don't need a DIN since that threshold is 3500psi) and which will still have a reasonable amount of air if only filled to 2640psi (their 100cf is an 80cf at the lower pressure). Dacor's redesigned some of their BCs. NAUI's got their basic training materials now on DVD. PADI introduced their new Emergency First Response program, which combines CPR, First Aid, Oxygen delivery, and AED (easy-to-use consumer-friendly defibrillators) into one program (it'll replace Medic First Aid).
This is getting much longer than intended so we'll bring it to a close. If you've got other specific questions about DEMA, feel free to give us a call. Have a great week!!
- Ken, Bill, and all the gang at Reef Seekers Dive Co.
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