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Friday, October 17, 2014

By Grant Clauser

If you satisfy your craving for 4K (Ultra HD) TV programs with Netflix, prepare to start paying more for it. Netflix is raising the price of its service from $8.99 to $11.99 for people who want 4K video.

This, according to an article posted on Variety, is because producing and acquiring 4K video content is more costly than HD content. Of course, that 4K content is now extremely limited. If you sign up for Netflix’s premium “Family Plan” for 4K, you can watch Breaking Bad (in case you haven’t already seen it twice), House of Cards, The Blacklist, and Hollywood blockbusters like Smurfs 2.

Is $3 more a reasonable amount to pay for the ability to watch 4K content, especially when there’s so little of it? That’s a difficult question. Back in the day, cable companies also charged more for HD service packages even when there was barely anything to watch (they still do, but now their package options are so complicated there’s no apple to apple way to compare). Back then, the difference between SD and HD was pretty dramatic. Not only did programming go from 4:3 aspect ratio to 16:9, it also offered dramatically better picture and sound quality.

Is 4K streamed from the internet as dramatic a difference as 1080p streamed from the internet? Honestly, no. It is, maybe, if you have a very large screen (70 inches and up) but for the average 55-inch TV, the 1080p picture you get from a Netflix stream will be pretty close in quality to the 4K one, especially if you’re sitting the typical 10 feet away…

Posted by Grant Clauser on 10/17 at 08:20 AM
News, Blogs, Video, Digital Media, (0) Comments, Permalink

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

This diagram from Dolby depicts how discretely installers can setup a 5.1.4 system with Atmos-enabled speakers or modules residing with the same footprint as standard main and surround speakers.

By Robert Archer

A recent assignment to review Onkyo’s TX-NR636 A/V receiver sparked my interest in learning more about Dolby Atmos. Before writing the article, I requested a visit with a company local to CE Pro, Atlantic Technology, and its president and founder Peter Tribeman.

Meeting Tribeman at his company’s facilities, we discussed Atlantic Tech’s new Dolby Atmos speaker modules and the impact of Atmos on the home theater market before hearing the demo. Tribeman, as expected, proved to be wealth of information on the topics of Atmos, speaker design and market trends.

Spending an afternoon with him, he explained how Atmos delivers his “acoustic bubble” of immersion, which the home theater market has been trying to hone for decades he says.

“Atmos produces something that is three-dimensional,” he points out. “It’s as close to a commercial theater as I’ve ever heard.”

Sitting through a series of Atmos-encoded clips that are a part of a Dolby Atmos demonstration disc, I have to admit that any skepticism I had about the technology quickly evaporated. Best of all is the point that Tribeman makes on the Atmos’ rendering engine, which is called Dolby Surround (Dolby Surround is a term Dolby is using once again). He said this technology is so good that it can take soundtracks embedded with other formats to produce Atmos-like soundtracks to add value to existing media libraries. “This is the remarkable hidden gem of the new Dolby technology,” he states. “It provides an added dimension to existing soundtracks. That is worth the price of admission.”

Related: Read More…

Posted by Robert Archer on 10/15 at 02:19 PM
Blogs, Audio, Receivers, Speakers, Video, Blu-ray, Digital Media, Home Theater, (3) Comments, Permalink

Friday, October 03, 2014

This space designed with Crestron SpaceBuilder?

By Julie Jacobson

Because we had so much fun with Pyng, let’s again play, “What is Crestron up to Now?”

I was alerted to a trademark application for SpaceBuilder:

System for designing and implementing a lighting control system comprised of interactive worksheets and computer software.

The registration was filed under Computer & Software Products & Electrical & Scientific Products.

See. Wasn’t that fun?
Follow us on Twitter!

Posted by Julie Jacobson on 10/03 at 07:49 AM
Blogs, Home Automation and Control, Lighting, (1) Comments, Permalink

Friday, September 26, 2014

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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