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Friday, September 26, 2014
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Tony Bennett last night helped host a special Sony listening party for his new album “Cheek To Cheek” with Lady Gaga. When Sony execs showed off the new NWZ-A17 Digital Walkman, the 88-year-old chimed in quickly, “Can I have one?”


By Jason Knott

I just spent an evening hanging out with Tony Bennett, who might be the coolest 88-year-old cat on the planet.  Bennett was the guest at a special Sony listening party event in New York City last night at Avatar Studios in midtown Manhattan, which is the same location he recently recorded his new No. 1 on iTunes album “Cheek to Cheek” with mega pop star Lady Gaga.

The album comes from Columbia Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment and Interscope Records, a division of UMG Recordings, Inc.—both powerhouses in the High Resolution Audio (HRA) movement.

Myself and about 20 other media (as well as some minor celebrities like CBS News and Oprah gal pal Gayle King) were invited to meet Bennett and get a glimpse behind Sony’s strategy for HRA, which is defined by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) as “lossless audio that is capable of reproducing the full range of sound from recordings that have been mastered from better than CD quality music sources.”

The NYC event made me wonder: Why is Sony hanging its HRA hat—so to speak—on an album collaboration between an 88-year-old crooner and a 28-year-old pop star who wears meat dresses? My conclusion after last night: It’s actually a brilliant idea.

By piggybacking its HRA message on two famous artists with totally different fan bases, the company is ingeniously introducing the value of higher quality music to two key demographics – young millennials who download music all the time and older Baby Boomers who have the wealth to buy HRA equipment.

As attendees…

Posted by Jason Knott on 09/26 at 08:33 AM
Blogs, Slideshow, Videos, Audio, Media Center, (11) Comments, Permalink


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As if ... the sky were falling


By Julie Jacobson

I get this all the time: “Print is dead. How will CE Pro survive?”

For starters, print isn’t dead yet. Even so, it is fading fast and we have had plenty of warning. We’re not quite dominating in digital – yet – but I believe we’re doing better than most.
When people ask what our future holds, I tell them: “We have to run our business as if print is going away.”

People still like print. Readers like to hold a magazine. Advertisers like to see themselves on glossy pages that customers read again and again and pass along to colleagues along the way.

But that won’t always be the case and we need to be more creative and aggressive in building a business around the future of content. We can’t ignore it when things are great with the status quo. Likewise, we can’t put it on the back burner during tough times, when we struggle just to stay above water. We must always keep our eyes and balance sheet focused squarely on the near future.

Sound familiar? During the boom years, did you stop marketing your business because, “We’re so busy we can’t even meet current demand”? Only to find out during the bust years that your brand wasted away and you would have to rebuild it from scratch?

Do you run your business as if … the bubble will burst? As if ... your employees will leave? As if … the high-end will disappear? As if … you will need to take out a substantial loan? As if … the owner will tire of ownership?

In the case of the owner retiring, it’s never too early…

Posted by Julie Jacobson on 09/26 at 07:19 AM
News, Blogs, Business Resources, (0) Comments, Permalink


Monday, September 22, 2014
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WyreStorm Enado control solution shown above


By Joe Whitaker

While I have had my eyes on Wyrestorm for many years, and even have offered up some ideas in the past, during CEDIA 2014 I was honestly in awe of a couple product developments within their line.

First up is Enado. Wyrestorm’s very own control/automation system, Enado had an awesome user interface, friendly design, and ease of of use/configuration. While I stand by my earlier statements that this is truly not the right time to get into the control system space with every bob and their sister offering a control system and the big guys doing so well, Enado does a good job of showing something fresh with a clear eye on the WWW of things.

  • Total A/V distribution and control solutions for electronic systems integrators
  • Integrator and user-friendly solution for end-to-end control and support of HD AV distribution systems and its electronics
  • Intuitive browser-based user interface compatible with any Internet-enabled device, paired with 1U, 19” rack-mounted WyreStorm Enado Controller
  • 16 assignable IR ports, integrated IP ports and array of contact closures with built-in secure Wi-Fi
  • Browser-based configuration tool requiring no programming
  • Comprehensive IR database and built-in device editor and IR learner
  • Live video streaming previews on the control device
  • Enado Control Solution scheduled to ship October 2014
  • MSRP of under $2,000.00 with no limit to connected devices

Next is a trio of products. The Modular Design PoH 8x8 & 16x16 Matrix Solutions, Super Slimline HDBaseT Extenders and Receivers, and 4x4 HDBaseT Matrix + receiver KIT. While this is another group of products that were shown in many booths during CEDIA, Wyrestrom may have a leg up on the competition due to loyalty and…

Posted by Joe Whitaker on 09/22 at 10:44 AM
Blogs, Home Automation and Control, Control Systems, Events, CEDIA, (1) Comments, Permalink


Tuesday, September 16, 2014
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Works with a popular brand of wireless speakers and learning thermostats.


By Julie Jacobson

It’s not the best idea in the world to integrate home automation systems with third-party products and services that don’t want to be integrated. It doesn’t take much to render useless these unsanctioned add-ons.

Case in point: Control4 buys Extra Vegetables, developer of third-party drivers such as Sonos. Now former EV partner (and Control4 competitor) URC no longer has access to Sonos drivers.

It will take time for URC to fill the gap because Sonos is not meant to be integrated with home automation systems. There is no open API or SDK to simplify driver development, so someone has to spend time backward-engineering the Sonos service.

No doubt URC will get there (every other home-control provider has done it), but not overnight.

And once URC does create an integration module, it could all be for naught. Sonos could change one little thing in its database structure to effectively disable all third-party drivers. Or it could demand developers cease and desist with the hacking, although I don’t know if such demands are legally enforceable. (Even so, Nest got software developer HouseLogix to stop selling its Nest/Control4 drivers last year.)

Certainly, Sonos has the legal authority to demand non-partners stop using the Sonos trademark. Indeed, Sonos’s protected brand and logo appear in numerous places it shouldn’t be—just like Nest, Apple TV, Pandora and other popular brands.

Online music services routinely change up their delivery methods, so unauthorized streamers can go dark until the hackers catch up.

Granted, playing mean is not good…

Posted by Julie Jacobson on 09/16 at 12:28 PM
News, Blogs, Home Automation and Control, Control Systems, Events, CEDIA, (4) Comments, Permalink


Monday, September 15, 2014
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This Madison Fielding Terracotta series planter speaker was the “best sounding pot” in Colorado last week.


By Jason Knott

With all due respect to any other CEDIA Expo 2014 attendees last week in Denver, I found the best pot in Colorado… the land of legalized marijuana.

It was in the Madison Fielding sound room at the Colorado Convention Center. The venerable company’s booth was being manned by principals Art Powers, Sr. and Art Powers, Jr. Using an array of its outdoor planter speakers disguised at flower pots, the duet entertained attendees with a combination of tunes ranging from Frank Sinatra to Pink Floyd.

The company’s terra cotta/granite planter speakers are made of durable U/V rated polyethylene from custom molds and imported from Italy. They look like the real thing. The high quality weather-proof 6-inch marine speaker is concealed from view. The company’s high-end speakers range as high as $3,995 per pair for its Flagstone units with a 10-inch woofer on the bottom, a 4-inch mid-range and a 1-inch tweeter.

Its Mini Flagstones ($2,595/pair) are similar in design to the larger version but with an 8-inch woofer and smaller mid-range. The company also makes a Terracotta Series that has an Italian design and comes with an ornate stand, and several wood box versions of the Planter Speakers.

So, yes, it was the “best sounding pot” I have ever had. 

Posted by Jason Knott on 09/15 at 01:40 PM
Blogs, Audio, Speakers, Events, CEDIA, (1) Comments, Permalink


Friday, September 12, 2014
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By Richard Fregosa

Richard Fregosa is part of CE Pro’s Blog Mob at CEDIA Expo 2014. He hit the show floor to find the cool products to share with you.

During CEDIA Expo 2014, Sarah Fleishman from Access Networks poses with the newest addition to the company’s custom Foundation packages, Foundation-Q. This offers integrators a quiet alternative for projects where the network should be completely invisible.

The Foundation Q is comprised of the following hardware:

  • Fanless Cisco Catalyst 24 Port Partial PEO Gigabit Switch
  • Cisco Enterprise Grade Router
  • Ruckus Wireless 1106 Zone Director
  • Ruckus Wireless 7372 access points (2)

The plug-and-play, pre-programmed system includes Access Networks HELIX custom support warranty and three years of service, support, and advanced replacement services for $8,459.00 MSRP.

Posted by Richard Fregosa on 09/12 at 08:30 PM
Blogs, Events, CEDIA, Network, Networking, (0) Comments, Permalink


Thursday, September 11, 2014
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Steinway Lyngdorf P200 Processor shown above


By Richard Fregosa

Richard Fregosa is part of CE Pro’s Blog Mob at CEDIA Expo 2014.

Press duties continued with one of my favorite events of CEDIA, the “Media Preview.” This is a more relaxed setting where vendors set up either static or active displays and demos and have the opportunity to chat before the noise and bustle of the show floor can be distracting. Several exhibitors from this year’s “Rookie Row” were getting their first opportunities to tell their story.

Steinway Lyngdorf: Katherine Spiller poses with the new P200 Processor. Slated for Q1 2015 release at $18,000 MSRP, the successor to the P1 comes with full support of Dolby Atmos, AURO-3D, video scaling, 4K and 3D video, HDCP 2.2, and advanced HDMI switching. Steinway Lyngdorf will be demonstrating the unit in the High Performance Rooms (Room 710/712).

TiVo: Jeff Pedersen gave me a few minutes to talk about TiVo’s new behemoth, the TiVo Mega. At $5,000.00 MSRP with 6 tuner capability and 24TB of RAID5 storage, they “created a monster.” Control interfaces include a RF “QWERTY Slide Remote,” IP control interfaces for popular automation controller (Crestron, Control 4, etc.) and a dedicated app. They will be showcasing the unit and accessories at Booth 570.

More from the CE Pro Blog Mob: Jeremy Burkhardt is Ba-ack

GoRave: Rachel Rivest and Nathan Smith of GoRave (Booth 1226) showed off some key features of their self-contained wireless audio streaming solution. At $2,000 for their starter kit, they provide the transceiver/amplifier, a pair of stereo speakers, and a…

Posted by Richard Fregosa on 09/11 at 01:55 PM
Blogs, Displays, Audio, Video, Events, CEDIA, Processors, (0) Comments, Permalink


Wednesday, September 10, 2014
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Jeremy Burkhardt shown above at CEDIA Expo 2014


By Richard Fregosa

Richard Fregosa is part of CE Pro’s Blog Mob at CEDIA Expo 2014.

One of the first press conferences on Wednesday saw Origin Acoustics’ Jeremy Burkhardt and the rest of the gang (Dave Donald, Ed Humphreys, Ed Haase) return to the friendly halls of CEDIA Expo.

20 years after Jeremy launched SpeakerCraft, they introduced to the press assembled here to show off their new line. Starting with “The Original” their “From the magnets up, to the surround down” new speaker that represents their completely custom designed re-entry into the market they invented.

The Original will be showcased as part of over 200 products they’re bringing to market and revealed on the CEDIA show floor starting Thursday.

The message continues to be, this is a dealer-driven company. A substantial amount of effort (over 14 months in the making) has been invested into building a business to business dealer portal, and that will offer an unprecedented level of transparency between a manufacturer and it’s dealers.

Welcome back guys. One thing is for certain: it’s never boring with you around.

Posted by Richard Fregosa on 09/10 at 01:14 PM
Blogs, Slideshow, Audio, Speakers, Events, CEDIA, (2) Comments, Permalink


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Crestron’s Pyng solutions will redefine how homeowners interact with their home systems, and provide dealers with an easier-to-install and program line of products.


By Robert Archer

Crestron, a company synonymous with high-end home automation is helping to push the category into the mainstream.

With the introduction of its iOS-app based Pyng system, installers now have a turnkey, Sonos-like setup process that eliminates the “who owns the code” debate and empowers dealers to have complete autonomy over their system installs.

Sitting through a preview of the platform prior to the CEDIA show this past August in the company’s Rockleigh, N.J. headquarters, it is easy to think that dealers like Nick Tamburri of Newark, N.J.-based AHA & Design, who has had more battles with his programmer than Jon “Bones” Jones has had matches as a UFC champion, will be happily informing his programmer that he will no longer be in need of his or her services thanks to Pyng. 

CLICK HERE FOR MORE ON PYNG

Going into the development of Pyng, Crestron had several areas of design it wanted to address to ensure the system’s ease of use and programming. They boiled it down to five steps:

1. Build house (define rooms: bedrooms for example)
2. Pair devices
3. Shade groups
4. Scenes
5. System configuration and scheduling

“We tried to get away from industry jargon. It’s designed to be human readable,” explains Evan Ackmann, technology manager, lighting and energy management, Crestron Electronics, Inc. “People shouldn’t have to figure out the blink patterns on LEDs. Everywhere you will see a question mark on the app. What this does is provide descriptions on why you need to do this or that…

Posted by Robert Archer on 09/10 at 11:37 AM
Blogs, Home Automation and Control, Control Systems, Events, CEDIA, (0) Comments, Permalink


Wednesday, September 03, 2014
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Amazon.com’s #1 selling “home automation” device: Bose SoundLink Mini Bluetooth Speaker


By Julie Jacobson

Amazon opened its “home automation store” one year ago, selling everything under the sun that even resembles a smart device or system.

There are TVs, Blu-ray players, tablets, routers, GoPro cameras, run-of-the-mill security cameras and more.

Of course, the store also includes a huge selection of legitimate “home automation” products including more than 100 items launched exclusively by Amazon.com: SkyBell Wi-Fi Doorbell with Motion Sensor, SmartThings Know Your Home Kit, Okidokeys Smart-Lock System and Ankuoo NEO Wi-Fi Light Switch, to name a few.

Now Amazon.com rounds up its top 5 “home automation” sellers, of which only one (Nest) could be considered a connected-home device. Maybe give a half-point to Dropcam since it has a cloud service and some integration with third-party control systems.

1. Bose SoundLink Mini Bluetooth Speaker
2. Nest Learning Thermostat - 2nd Generation
3. SONOS PLAY:1 Compact Wireless Speaker for Streaming Music
4. Foscam Pan & Tilt IP/Network Camera
5. Dropcam Pro Wi-Fi Wireless Video Monitoring Camera

Posted by Julie Jacobson on 09/03 at 06:28 AM
Blogs, Home Automation and Control, (2) Comments, Permalink



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