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Monday, July 26, 2010

By Steve Crowe
The AVC Group, formerly known as the Linear Group, created its management team last week, promoting executives from Elan, Niles and Speakercraft.

Mike Detmer was one of those executives, being promoted from sales and marketing VP of Niles to president of Niles. After the promotion, Detmer sent out the following letter to Niles dealers.

Dear Niles Dealer,

Upon joining Niles 12 years ago I had no idea that the company’s founder, Ivan Zuckerman, would ask me to lead his initiative to consolidate the sales and marketing departments as vice president. However my duties of overseeing corporate branding and worldwide sales seemed modest compared to those of Frank Sterns, the past company president. Yet after Frank’s recent retirement, when Mark Terry, president of the newly formed Audio Video Control Group, asked me to lead Niles through his consolidation effort to maximize the collective potential of Elan, Niles and Xantech I didn't hesitate to accept. The reasons are simple: my loyalty to the Niles brand, my belief in Mark's vision of a group of complementary companies whose sum is greater than its individual parts and my commitment to you, our valued customer.

So today I'm writing as your new Niles president with one simple purpose. To recognize your relationship with Niles, a singular brand that you in so many ways helped to build with your support. And to declare the intent to enhance our relationship as both our businesses and the markets we serve mature.

Over the past 30 years I've seen too…
Posted by Steve Crowe on 07/26 at 11:11 AM
Blogs, Audio, Permalink

By Julie Jacobson
It is true that we have been granted more fair-use privileges for copy-protected work. Unfortunately, you won't care much about those privileges unless you're a videogame troubleshooter or movie reviewer.

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington today issued his tri-annual ruling on the circumvention of access-control technologies.

Billington is the guy who examines DMCA Section 1201 to determine “whether the prohibition on circumvention of technological measures that control access to copyrighted works is causing or is likely to cause adverse effects on the ability of users of any particular classes of copyrighted works to make noninfringing uses of those works.”

This time around, Billington says it’s OK to copy movie clips for the purpose of reviews, education and documentaries.


Motion pictures on DVDs that are lawfully made and acquired and that are protected by the Content Scrambling System when circumvention is accomplished solely in order to accomplish the incorporation of short portions of motion pictures into new works for the purpose of criticism or comment, and where the person engaging in circumvention believes and has reasonable grounds for believing that circumvention is necessary to fulfill the purpose of the use in the following instances:
(i) Educational uses by college and university professors and by college and university film and media studies students;
(ii) Documentary filmmaking;
(iii) Noncommercial videos

Big whoop, right?

Although it’s important that these particularly harmless acts of copying are designated as non-infringing uses, we were hoping for something a little more magnanimous. Maybe something like:
Posted by Julie Jacobson on 07/26 at 10:26 AM
Blogs, Video, Digital Media, Permalink

By Joe Kane
As they have done with other video technologies, the purveyors of 3D must develop a critical eye as the format evolves and matures.

Making 3D video a success - in any venue - requires innovations in three categories: displays, delivery systems and standards for creating 3D content.

Each of these categories introduces a potential weakness in the system.

Display: Does the display show stereoscopic video at full resolution? For example, passive 3D displays, which use polarized glasses, show half-resolution (interlaced video) to each eye. Interlaced artifacts introduce a unique set of image quality problems when applied to 3D. The alternative, active 3D displays that use shuttered glasses, are capable of full-resolution imaging.

Delivery system: There are many compression systems used to transmit 3D video from source to display. Some require significant compression, which can result in artifacts that also create a unique set of image quality problems when applied to 3D.

Production standards: 3D technology forces the human brain to believe it is perceiving depth when none is actually present. How have the artists and producers created this content? In creating their 3D video artwork have they inadvertently forced the viewers eyes to move in a way that…
Posted by Joe Kane on 07/26 at 10:14 AM
Blogs, Permalink

Friday, July 23, 2010

“Consumer Technology Enthusiasts” can pay to play.

By Julie Jacobson
The Consumer Electronics Association is taking an unusual tack for a trade group: it is inviting consumers to join.

The organization is creating “a new category of membership for consumers designed to grow the CE industry.” That category is the Consumer Technology Enthusiast, or CTE.

Call me old fashioned, but I’m having trouble with this concept. Consumers pay $49 for membership, which entitles them to special offers from CEA vendors plus access to a members-only forum.

They will also have the privilege of providing feedback to manufacturers, and offering demographic information such that advertisers can target them more effectively.

“Real” CEA members can pay to tap into this community of enthusiasts.

I don’t have any special intelligence on this program, but based on the limited information available on the CEA site, I’m skeptical. It sounds like yet another enthusiast forum, coupled with a members-only shopping club. We already have enough lively enthusiast forums (free ones) and I’m troubled by CEA’s role in building a discount marketplace, where members pay to shop.

Am I being silly? I mean, sillier than usual?

CTE Program

Here’s how CEA describes the new consumer program:

CTE Partner Program

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) is creating a new category of membership for consumers designed to grow the CE industry. The Consumer Technology Enthusiast (CTE) membership category targets individuals who are fans of the latest and greatest innovations and technologies.
Posted by Julie Jacobson on 07/23 at 08:29 AM
Blogs, Associations, Permalink

Thursday, July 22, 2010

By Julie Jacobson

The new UFO-4X from Crestron looks to be a versatile little controller -- all the functions of a standard Crestron touchscreen, but with a flying-saucer form factor.

We believe Crestron has barely scratched the (touchscreen) surface of what this little saucer can do. Here are just a few possibilities:






OK, two more ...


Send your own illustrated ideas for posting: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Original UFO images here.
Posted by Julie Jacobson on 07/22 at 10:15 AM
Blogs, Home Automation and Control, Universal Remotes, Permalink

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

By Robert Archer
Building a case for its technologies, Salem, N.H.-based Laser Light Engines says that through the use of laser lighting, video projectors could someday produce as much as five times the amount of light as a traditional bulb-based projector to better illuminate the sometimes murky 3D movie experience.

Laser Light Engines tells The Boston Globe its technologies are a competitive alternative to LED technologies being used in residential products.

Over the past 18 months, starting with the debut of Luminus' Phlatlight LED technologies at 2009 CES, the consumer electronics industry has shown increasing interest in moving into the next generation of projector light engines.

Today, Luminus' LED technologies are used in products from LG, Samsung and SIM2, and the momentum for these LED products is growing as video experts discover the contrast and color spectrum capabilities available through the use of LED technologies.

The case for laser-based lighting is similar to the advantages offered by LED lighting in that both technologies eliminate the need to replace bulbs through longer life spans and energy efficiency, requiring half the power of traditional bulbs.

According to the Globe, the technologies used by Laser Light Engines were first developed for military purposes. But as the technology matures, its lighting capabilities could be used to enhance the grayscale and contrast capabilities of 3D projectors, which currently suffer from image problems due to the demands of displaying 3D content.

"With digital cinema, half of theatrical exhibition got modernized," Doug Darrow, CEO, Laser Light Engines, tells the Globe. "We replaced…
Posted by Robert Archer on 07/14 at 09:29 AM
Blogs, Displays, Projectors and Screens, Permalink

By Jason Knott
Integrators are leaders, by nature, in the area of technology. You discover it first, test it and live with it long before it ever sees the inside of a customer’s home.

So why are many integrators “anti-wireless”?

Consumers are embracing wireless in all forms, from mobile devices to wireless networks for computers to - dare I say the evil word - iPads. But there appears to be a “paradigm paralysis” taking place among many dealers in several categories, with control system wiring being one of them. Many dealers still believe their profit from a control system is in the labor to pull the wires. In new construction where the studs are open, yes. But in an existing home, I am not sure that still holds true. (Note: I am not talking about audio system cabling.) (Read: Hardwired vs. Wireless Lighting Control)

The profit in those lighting control and retrofit home automation systems is in the programming and service of the system. That's the area where integrators offer a strong value-add of expertise vs. their ability to lay down some wire across a ceiling joist.

I saw this years ago in the security industry. Some alarm companies waited over 10 years after the introduction of spread-spectrum wireless systems to adopt them, or even make then an option. Many of those slow movers were taken to the cleaners by the mass marketers. If they had moved into commercial or high-end residential, it would not have mattered, but they were trying to compete in low-end residential.
Posted by Jason Knott on 07/14 at 08:16 AM
Blogs, Home Automation and Control, Permalink

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

By Julie Jacobson
Images: 2008 Fashion Week from

We already noted the movies we don’t want to view in 3D. So how about the dresses?

The Stéphane Rolland watermelon-parachute dress (left) and the Georges Hobeika hula-bow number (right) are two examples of haute couture best viewed in two dimensions – at the very most.

Yet, Rolland and Hobeika are two of the designers featured in Looping Productions’ forthcoming 3D fashion show, which promises to make “the world’s most beautiful clothing and accessories … even more stunning!"

Looping teamed with Xpand 3D to film cadaverous models floating down the runway during Paris Haute Couture Week, July 5-8. Select TV viewers can enjoy the spectacle later this month when it is broadcast in 3D somewhere, somehow – the press release doesn’t say.

What it does say is: “At XpanD, fashion is a religion—we aim to not only make 3D content look fabulous, but to make the people wearing our glasses look fabulous as well.”


To prove its point, Xpand includes an image of “stylish” pink 3D glasses, noting, “Now, more than ever, XpanD 3D is truly ‘in vogue!’”

I'll tell you what. If I was wearing these hot-pink specs, I'd definitely look better than the queen.

My husband would happily wear…
Posted by Julie Jacobson on 07/13 at 11:25 AM
Blogs, Permalink

Monday, July 12, 2010

By Julie Jacobson
The Queen & I: Separated at Birth?

How come when the Queen of England dons 3D specs, she (still) looks like a classy lady, but when I wear them, I look like a complete doof?

This is why:
  • The queen had a professional photographer, makeup artists and quite possibly someone to retouch her photo. I'm just me.
  • I’m wearing unflattering active glasses from Sony, while the queen appears to be wearing passive lenses with a sleeker, face-fitting design.
  • Sure, anyone can look good wearing a fancy hat, pearl earrings and a pretty necklace.
  • I’ve got those evil devil-eyes, while Queen Elizabeth II looks positively angelic.
  • The Sony eyewear makes my ears stick out unnaturally. Yeah, that’s it.
  • I never had lessons on how to smile in front of a camera.
  • Honestly, the right side is my better side

Posted by Julie Jacobson on 07/12 at 06:48 AM
Blogs, Permalink

Friday, July 09, 2010

By Robert Archer
AIX Records founder, chief engineer and president Mark Waldrep has always been ahead of the technology curve when it comes to adapting recorded music and emerging technologies.

Waldrep's latest effort shows that he's once again willing to get out in front of the technology curve.

The audiophile music label recently completed three days of high-definition music shooting - audio and video - using four prototype Panasonic 3D A1 cameras.

"These 3D music albums will be the first of their kind; the next level of intimate one-on-one music enjoyment in your home theater," Waldrep says. "These are not live concerts with thousands of screaming fans, but rather personal, private performances with our award-winning, audiophile quality sound."

AIX Records is planning on making the performances, which include artists like singer Rita Coolidge, country crooner Mark Chesnutt, flutist James Walker and Free Flight, and acoustic guitar player Laurence Juber, available for commercial broadcast and for purchase as 3D Blu-ray discs.

"Imagine having Rita Coolidge or Mark Chesnutt singing 10 feet in front of you in the comfort of your own home," he points out. "I might listen to a live concert DVD or BD [Blu-ray] disc one time, but an incredible sounding, surround, music album is something that can be enjoyed over and over again with or without the video."
Posted by Robert Archer on 07/09 at 01:24 PM
Blogs, Audio, Permalink

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