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Tuesday, June 08, 2010

By Julie Jacobson
Integrators didn't need a tweet from DirecTV to learn about an an automatic update that crippled HD DVRs overnight.

By morning, frantic customers and loved ones were calling installers with tales of woe.

"My wife called as I was on the way to work this morning. Kids were up and couldn't watch Curious George," wrote FINS on

On the same site, edizzle reported: "It is the update for 3D. all 5 of my boxes were frozen and i have already fielded dozens of calls. most were fine after one RBR (red button reset), some required two. 3D on 6/11 channel 106. get your goggles ready."

And this from an integrator with the user name Fiasco: "I'm going out to a house tomorrow afternoon to fix their DTV boxes (they have 7). "

Meanwhile, industrious integrators recognized an opportunity when they saw one.

Marioamp recommended: "Bottom line, call your current and old clients and offer a fix; it may spark a conversation about some upgrades. At the very least, you'll come out looking like a concerned CI, that's calling to help client with an issue that's obviously not caused by you or any equipment you sold."

DirecTV posted this message on Twitter earlier this morning:

HDDVR customers: If your HDDVR will NOT power on, unplug the unit from the wall, wait 15sec, then replug, & repeat 1x to restore service.

That seemed to do the trick, except for SignatureSV, who got a "gray screen of death lol" even after four RBRs and…
Posted by Julie Jacobson on 06/08 at 04:47 PM
Blogs, Video, Permalink

Monday, June 07, 2010

By Tom LeBlanc
Comedian Aziz Ansari, host of the 2010 MTV Movie Awards, made fun of the 3D movie craze during his monologue.

“Now some people don’t like 3D. I love 3D. I love 3D. But full disclosure: I also think that headaches are dope so I’m a little bit biased.”

3D at CEProLive!

Join CE Pro editor Jason Knott on June 17 at 3:00 PM EDT to understand how to maximize the excitement and sales potential of 3D. Learn more
He joked that it’s annoying how people marvel at how “real” 3D movies look, given that most movies look real. “You know what doesn’t look real though? ‘Clash of the Titans,’ ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and ‘Avatar.’ Those movies look like video games.”

Check it out (after a short ad). The 3D references start at about 35 seconds into the video:

Posted by Tom LeBlanc on 06/07 at 02:35 PM
Blogs, Permalink


By Julie Jacobson
The government wants to bail out journalism.

Good news for me, right?

Not so fast. To save journalism, Uncle Sam may punish money-grubbing consumer electronics companies – the very CE companies that pay our bills here at EH Publishing.

The FTC is proposing reviewing a proposal to impose a 5% tax on consumer electronics to mitigate the “challenges faced by journalism in the Internet age.”

It’s only fair, right? Profiteers who make TVs, cheap computers and smart phones should be punished for turning reporters and readers into slugs.

Such is the wisdom of the FTC, author of a 47-page document called “Potential Policy Recommendations to Support the Reinvention of Journalism (pdf).” (CORRECTION: While the FTC authored the document, the commission did not propose all of the ideas, including the CE tax, contained therein.)

Here’s how government segues from bad journalism to CE sales tax (stay with me):

Studies show that newspapers provide the largest quantity of original news. >> Advertising is down >> Newspapers respond by cutting staff. >> Staff downsizing causes “significant losses of news coverage.” >> Newspapers struggle to find a sustainable business model “and there is reason for concern that such a business model may not emerge.” >> U.S. Government has always subsidized journalism in one way or another. >> Tax consumer electronics.

The FTC document refers to a “Citizen Media Fund” that could be financed through:

Tax on consumer electronics
. A…
Posted by Julie Jacobson on 06/07 at 08:51 AM
News, Blogs, Permalink

By Julie Jacobson

Proving that CE Pro editors aren't perfect ... In fact, Lutron founder Joel Spira invented lunch.

(And no, that wasn't our worst typo. This is.)
Posted by Julie Jacobson on 06/07 at 06:14 AM
Blogs, Permalink

Friday, June 04, 2010

By Julie Jacobson
Crestron is shoring up its Prodigy product line, and distributor AVAD is upping its training and support for the entry-level control system.

In the course of a recent AVAD Webinar, the presenter used this slide to compare a typical Prodigy system with a comparable solution from Control4.

Now dealers are all in a tizzy debating the accuracy of the table.


Kevin L comments:

The HC300 comes with a remote control so we can remove SR250 $199 off the price, the TSE-3.8C2-W is not 699 its 599 so take off $100, the LOZ-5S1 is an outlet switch. DIM1-Z should of been the product suggested which is 774 so theres 6 dollars, the KPZ-6B1 shows a price of 1794 which is ridiculous, 6 KPZ6B1 is 1074 so take off $720 Total price difference in the false pdf vs the real world is $1,025. That brings the total of the Control4 system down to 5,839.95 which makes it $516 dollars cheaper then the Crestron package.

We'll let you be the judge, but ... does a $500 price difference really matter?

I hope so. Nothing amuses us more than watching Control4 and Crestron dealers go at it!
Posted by Julie Jacobson on 06/04 at 01:31 PM
Blogs, Home Automation and Control, Permalink


By Stephen Hopkins
June 4, 1977. Jimmy Carter has been in office less than six months. Star Wars has just been released in theaters. Kanye West will be born in four days.

Oh yeah, and VHS is about to hit U.S. shores at CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Chicago.

Betamax has been kicking for over two years now, but VHS creator JVC is about to drop a series of bombs on the consumer electronics world. The first is two-hour record time, doubling that of Beta and establishing enough room for a feature-length film on one tape. The second was porn (not an official announcement, but JVC had no problems with porn, while Sony banned it on Beta).

Within two years, VHS had stolen over 40 percent of the U.S. home video market. By 1987, around 90 percent of the VCR market belonged to VHS. Regardless of image quality supremacy (a component video system with more lines of resolution), Beta’s shorter recording time and JVC’s willingness to a flood of other manufacturers led to a bitter format war that Beta just couldn’t win. Even with improvements in recording time pushing five hours, VHS kept the record-time edge with over 10 hours in SLP on a T-210 tape.

VHS lived a long life. JVC manufactured the last VCR in 2008, and DVD+VHS combo players are still produced. DVRs have replaced tape with hard-drives for television recording, and with DVD and Blu-ray we’re already on our second post-VHS pre-recorded medium. Video stores, however, are a fading relic of the…
Posted by Stephen Hopkins on 06/04 at 12:22 PM
Blogs, Product News, Permalink

By Julie Jacobson
“We can’t compete with Best Buy. They’re doing $99 installs.”

Have you heard that before? Said it?

Guess what: Best Buy and Geek Squad are not doing $99 installs.

The price for mounting a 42-inch-or-larger TV starts at $350. For that, the geeks will mount the TV, conceal the wires in a wall (assuming single stud bay), hook up two video components, program a satellite or cable remote to operate the TV, and teach you how to use it.

Add $50 to connect to the network, and $99 each for anything special, like an additional component, unusual mounting surface, motorization, remote control programming … you get the picture.

So that ends up being, oh, maybe $600 or $700 for a hang-and-bang install. Toss in a few upsells like cables and power management, and you’ve got an $800 sale on a three-hour job performed by junior technicians.


Now, let’s talk about product. You’re not going to make money on the TVs. You know that.

Gary Montagna of Dallas-based Stereo East remarked recently at an HTSA meeting that his TV pricing is “as good as Best Buy. When the customer is pricing, he can price us. It’s the same price as Best Buy. We show them online.”

Then: “Now that I’ve eliminated that [TV shopping], we sell speakers, Integra and other gear at list.”

HTSA executive director Richard Glikes says the organization did a price analysis…
Posted by Julie Jacobson on 06/04 at 09:43 AM
News, Blogs, Business Resources, Big-Box Retailers, Permalink


By Jason Knott
3D will not only change the way you watch TV, it will also change the way broadcasters shoot TV.

We should be prepared for lower camera angles, less camera panning/zooming and fewer "live edits" when you watch sports in 3D.

Those are just three of the changes live-action 3D broadcasters will have to make, according to Sandy Climan, CEO of 3ality Digital.

Climan also predicts:
  • Sports, concerts and kids programming will be the "killer apps" for 3D
  • Within five years, every sports programming broadcaster, all the major TV networks and many non-sports programming TV stations will have parallel 2D and 3D channels, like ESPN3D and DirecTV3D
  • In five years, many scripted dramatic TV programs and reality TV programs (not sitcoms) will be shot in 3D
3ality has been leading the way in helping broadcasters move to 3D. The company has already chalked up several "3D firsts," including:
  • The first live-action movie shot entirely in (U2 3D)
  • The first live 3D simulcast of a concert (Black Eyed Peas)
  • The first 3D telecast of an NHL game (N.Y. Rangers vs. Islanders)
  • The first live 3D broadcast of an NFL game (Raiders vs. Chargers)
  • The first 3D episode of a scripted network program (NBC's "Chuck")
3ality Digital is spanning the globe to help broadcasters shoot everything from cricket to soccer to rugby in 3D.

"We all know sports is the killer app for 3D," says Climan. "Once you see it in 3D, you don't want to go back. The sports-fan demographic will go crazy for 3D."

He mentions…
Posted by Jason Knott on 06/04 at 08:47 AM
Blogs, Permalink

Thursday, June 03, 2010

By Julie Jacobson

It seems the fine folks on the sitcom “Modern Family” just can’t get their technology right.

First, Phil can’t get his universal remote to work. If that’s not life-threatening enough (we’ve all read about remote-related violence), Phil’s father-in-law Jay makes a potentially dangerous mistake with his security system: the keypad is installed outside, next to the front door!

Generally, we recommend that security keypads be installed inside, and out of sight of would-be intruders. It’s bad enough that criminals can see the green ready-to-arm light from a distance. Imagine the secrets they can unlock when they get their grimy hands on the controls.

10 Reasons NOT to Install a Security Keypad Outside
  1. Rain and extreme temperatures can damage the product.
  2. Bad guys can quickly ascertain if the alarm system is armed or disarmed.
  3. Visitors can determine which zones are shunted via the LCD read-out: “Bedroom Window Open.” So much easier than casing the joint!
  4. The neighbor kids might mistake the keypad for a an intercom, doorbell or plaything.
  5. The security installer can enter your password and head straight to the cookie jar.
  6. Other visitors can try security defaults like 1-1-1-1 or 1-2-3-4.
  7. Homeowners have to go outside to arm the system for the night. In the case of Jay on “Modern Family”, the neighbors really don’t want to see him in boxers. His wife Gloria is another story.
  8. A decent security keypad – this one looks like a GE Security – sells for about $150 and a bad guy could hawk it for…
  9. Posted by Julie Jacobson on 06/03 at 07:18 AM
    Blogs, Home Automation and Control, Security, Permalink

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

By Arlen Schweiger
I spent too many hours of my youth in front of the TV playing the original Nintendo gaming console, so many of those games and graphics are etched in my mind.

With all of the talk of 3D entertainment these days, especially the potential of 3D gaming, I couldn’t help but pay homage to a 3D game that was a big part of my NES experience more than 20 years ago - Rad Racer.

The company that produced the game, Square, had offered another such game, 3-D WorldRunner, but I have to admit I never played that one. Rad Racer came out in the fall of 1987, and in true gimmicky style it came bundled with thin plastic 3D glasses.

You could also send in a mail-in rebate for a pair of yellow 3D glasses (see image below, courtesy of

I played those eight levels of driving over and over again, but I don’t really believe the Ferrari road racing was more fun in 3D. If it were a better experience, perhaps more of Nintendo’s games would have been released in the format.

imageThen again, 8-bit probably was not the best graphical way to introduce 3D into our formidable entertainment minds. We were more interested in finding the cheat codes than slipping on the groovy glasses and looking at each course in a muddied mix of red and blue instead of more colorful non-3D imagery.

So 23 years later, video games are…
Posted by Arlen Schweiger on 06/02 at 08:35 AM
Blogs, Permalink

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