So, as you may or may not know, the Pioneer Theatre hosted a Strand console demo today. We got to see the new Palette VL and the Preset Palette II. The demo was organized by General Theatrical Supply and conducted by none other than Bobby Harrel. I have to say, I was very impressed. I know that some of you have these consoles or have seen them, but I figured that some my want to hear some impressions. First off, one of the best things about the demo was that after talking to Bobby about what we do at the theatre and the scale of our shows and whatnot, he was able to taylor the demo to what would be interesting and useful to us as opposed to just having someone come in and tout all the new fancy features of their gear. The other thing is, talking to a real programmer and user of the console is much more intuitive and informative than talking to a trained rep. Having Bobby be able to tell us about his real world experiences with the consoles made the experience much more personal and useful. Now, the consoles themselves are really pretty. Not that aesthetics should influence purchasing. One of the design ideas that really intrigued me was the fact that under the hood, the entire CPU was self contained in a box and should anything go wrong with it, you don't have to send out the entire console to be fixed, just the CPU. This allows Strand to either just ship a replacement or loaner and all you have to do is drop it in. Also, all of the facepanel PCBs connect to the CPU via USB so in the event of of a failure one can take the authorization key (a USB dongle) and plug it and all the facepanel PCBs into a computer and the computer becomes the CPU and the facepanel still functions as a facepenel. At the moment this only works with windows computers but according to Bobby, Mac support is around the corner. In terms of console layout the new consoles are very similar to the old. Some keys have become softkeys, which I think would take some getting used to, but probably not so bad. From what I saw, almost all functionality can be accessed right from the facepanel, you don't have to use the mouse and keyboard. One thing I would have liked would have been to see the softkeys laid out all in a row so they correspond with the screen. I realize that space it somewhat of a concern, so the stacked block of 12 softkeys makes sense. The only other thing that I thought was interesting about the softkey layout was that the lower numbers were on the bottom, higher on the top. I suppose that is like the number pad, but I would have thought about sftkeys in the opposite. Strand has also taken the standpoint of "selling channels" as apposed to selling outputs. So if you buy a console with 100 channels, you can patch as many addresses/outputs to those 100 channels as you want. They also have done away with attributes, so no matter how many attributes a fixture has, it only takes up one channel. So, you could connect 100 moving lights to a console with 100 channels and control every attribute of every fixture. One of the great things about these new consoles is that they can import a variety of show files, or even your LightWright file. We imported our current show from our 500 Series show file, but the Palette OS will read Obsession, Expression, and some others. Along with that, the console can output ShowNet, ETCNet3 (Maybe, I don't remember exactly, thought they said it, but never actually saw it in any menus), Pathport, Artnet, ACN (E1.31), and I think there is one more that I am forgetting. This of course is in addition to straight DMX out the back of the console. Programming. As Bobby put it, and I think I agree: "The Palette OS allows us to program lighting, not program arbitrary data." Basic operation is very similar to the 500 Series, though they did add release back into the syntax. Programming conventionals is pretty straightforward, not a whole lot of change there. You can have individual timing per channel which is kinda cool. Cues can now contain up to 26 parts, you can have link and follow cues and set all kinds of parameters for each cue. Cues can be numbered up to 5 digits with an additional 3 digits after the decimal, which by my math means that you can have 99899001 cues in a single cue stack, each with 26 parts and individual timing per channel. Moving light control was pretty intuitive. The abstract control model makes a lot of sense. I like how no matter what color mixing fixture you have you can control it from any color space. So you can control with CMY, RGB, HSV, HSV', HSL, and HSL' for any mixing fixture. Color spaces can be specified per fixture, and can change how the fixture fades from color to color. Also, if you use scrollers and put all the colors in all you have to do is call all your fixtures to that color and any color mixing fixtures will get as close as they can. You can also set movement to follow a polar pattern (standard) or a linear pattern. This allows point to point movement without dips or bends in the track. The new auto move while dark or move in black (MIB) is great. Basic functionality is the same as on the 500 Series, however you can now set mark cues where you want them, and you can set them on a per fixture basis. I am sure that there is more that I am missing/forgetting, but it has been a long day. I would be happy to answer questions if I can, and I bet there are some users on CB who can too. Overall, I think these look like great consoles. Luckily my local dealer now owns a Palette VL so I may be able to borrow/rent/demo it for a show and put it to real life use.