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Thursday, April 15, 2010
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By Arlen Schweiger
People are gaga over 3D TV these days, but it may not be all fun and games.

Samsung, which recently began shipping its new 3D HDTVs, has posted a medical warning on its website, “Viewing TV Using the 3D Function” (PDF link) to read before you or your child engage 3D.

According to the safety information, for example, “Pregnant women, the elderly, sufferers of serious medical conditions, those who are sleep deprived or under the influence of alcohol should avoid utilising the unit’s 3D functionality.” So you may not want to fill your eyes with that double vision and 3D vision, to paraphrase Foreigner.

The initial warning from Samsung states: “Children and teenagers may be more susceptible to health issues associated with viewing in 3D and should be closely supervised when viewing these images.”

If you’ve ever been through a 3D demonstration, it’s easy to see why Samsung (and presumably other manufacturers that may post similar warnings) wants to ensure it has covered its bases and offered such safety information. Slipping on 3D glasses, plus the initial vision immediately after taking them off, can be rather uncomfortable or headache-inducing if you’re not used to it. I know a demo from Mitsubishi a couple of years ago, while very cool to see, left me a tad queasy afterward.

The ramifications can be very serious. Under the “Photosensitive Seizure Warning and Other Health Risks” section, Samsung points to those who have history of epileptic seizure or stroke…
Posted by Arlen Schweiger on 04/15 at 12:21 PM
Blogs, Displays, TVs, (4) Comments, Permalink


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

By Julie Jacobson
It wasn’t mentioned in a presentation today by CEA analyst Chris Ely, but it did show up in a survey: Do people prefer specialty A/V retailers because they’re fun?

Nope.

In a long laundry list of reasons to shop at specialty retailers, the “fun” factor ranked just about last, after pricing, knowledgeable staff, etc. Ely presented the study at the Home Technology Specialists of America (HTSA) spring meeting.

Come on. This industry was founded on fun, so if your place isn’t a great place to hang out … how about adding some fun.

Chicago-based Abt Electronics has just about the most fun destination of any integrator I’ve seen. Why not add a bubble machine to your store?

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Posted by Julie Jacobson on 04/14 at 08:34 AM
Blogs, Events, Hybrid Dealers, (2) Comments, Permalink


Monday, April 12, 2010
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Meridian’s DSP7200 loudspeakers were part of a Meridian audio/video system that was featured in the movie “Date Night.”


By Robert Archer
Lately the specialty audio/video manufacturer Meridian Audio Limited has found more success in the movie industry than Tom Cruise and Bruce Willis.

The U.K.-based company with its U.S. office in Atlanta, has recently starred in several highly publicized movies, including the number one movie at the box office this weekend, "Date Night," which stars Tina Fey and Steve Carell.

Sharing the big screen with Fey and Carell in "Date Night" is a Meridian A/V system that includes the company's DSP7200 active loudspeakers, a Reference 800 DVD player and a G68 Surround Controller.

"Date Night" joins a growing list of recently released movies that includes "Jumper," "Bride Wars," "Alvin & the Chipmunks 2: the Squeakquel," "Cop Out," "Percy Jackson and the Olympians: the Lightning Thief" and "Our Family Wedding."

Looking ahead, now that the company has established itself as a desirable entity in Hollywood, how long will it be before Meridian's co-founders Bob Stuart and Allen Boothroyd, take their fame to the next level by starring next to Megan Fox in the next installment of the "Transformers?"

Posted by Robert Archer on 04/12 at 05:38 AM
Blogs, Audio, Amplifiers, Speakers, Video, Home Theater, (1) Comments, Permalink


Friday, April 09, 2010
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Consumer advocate Clark Howard advises his listeners: “Don’t let your wallet get burgled by the burglar alarm companies.”


By Jason Knott
TV advice personality Clark Howard, who has a syndicated Web radio show and also appears on CNN, has got it all wrong about home security systems.

For those not familiar with him, he is a consumer advocate whose motto is "Save more, spend less and avoid getting ripped off."

His show for today was teased with commercials saying things like (I am paraphrasing here), "Don't let your wallet get burgled by the burglar alarm companies."

Among his "sage" advice on security systems:
  • Do not sign "long-term" alarm monitoring contracts, adding that they open homeowners up to "the danger of hidden rollover provisions."
  • Never pay more than $20 per month for monitoring
  • Get a pared down system that costs only $600 to $800. His advice is to "pay what it is worth." Unfortunately, most homeowners believe alarm systems are worth only $99 based on entry-level mass-marketed system costs.
He even insinuates that alarm sales staffs are not on the up and up, saying, "Burglar alarm salespeople often read local police reports and may show up with an emotional sales pitch seeking to capitalize on your fear and anxiety."

Dealers across the country are starting to get negative feedback from customers based on Howard's advice. One dealer describes how a customer says Howard believes no one should pay more than $9.99 per month for alarm monitoring.

Dear Clark ... I believe your advice is off the mark.

First, you are incorrect to malign security companies. Alarm companies are owned and run by hard-working men and women. They are…
Posted by Jason Knott on 04/09 at 09:35 AM
Blogs, Home Automation and Control, Security, (14) Comments, Permalink


Thursday, April 08, 2010

By Julie Jacobson
VidaBox may be the first server manufacturer to take advantage of Escient’s demise, but others will surely follow.

This just landed in my inbox:

VidaBox Announces Discount & Trade-in Programs for Former Escient, Axonix, and Xperinet Dealers

For dealers who want to trade in their existing equipment, VidaBox will be offering a $500 credit for any VS-100 or VS-200 system, or a $250 credit for any VC-1 system for up to 3 units. Alternatively, former authorized dealers of the three brands who need media servers for upcoming projects can receive an 10% discount for the first system order, on top of VidaBox's already generous dealer margin. The credit and discount incentives are not stackable. Proof of dealership will be required.

The discount isn’t the interesting thing, though. What’s telling is the number of media-server companies that have closed shop lately – OK, Escient just isn’t making products under its own brand anymore.

Are we nearing the end of dedicated custom-friendly media servers?

VidaBox makes nine different models of Windows Media Centers, servers and extenders. For more information visit http://www.vidabox.com, or call 516-730-7500.

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Posted by Julie Jacobson on 04/08 at 11:11 AM
Blogs, Video, Media Servers, Media Center, (0) Comments, Permalink



By Julie Jacobson
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Best Buy, Walmart, Amazon … all old news when it comes to selling high-end A/V gear.

But K-Mart? Who knew the company was even alive?

The folks at RemoteCentral.com alerted us to some great blue-light specials at your neighborhood K store – apparently there are six in my area.

Here are some choice items:

Adcom GFR-700HD 7.1 channel receiver: $2,899.99
Panamax 7500-PRO 11-outlet power manager: $1,999.99
Vutec L110-MW 100-inch Lectric 1 16:9 motorized projection screen: $950.99
OmniMount RSF.5 16U rack mount: $529.99

Here’s the strange thing: K-Mart has some of the highest prices of any retailer on its high-end gear. So they think their customers are savvy enough to buy a $2,900 (+$22 shipping) 7.1 receiver but not smart enough to Google it?

Here’s a shocker: No K-Mart shopper has rated the product.

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Posted by Julie Jacobson on 04/08 at 05:53 AM
Blogs, Big-Box Retailers, (9) Comments, Permalink


Tuesday, April 06, 2010

By Julie Jacobson
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SpeakerCraft's Jeremy Burkhardt has made some lofty claims in his day, but none loftier than this: "I am scrabbel king!"

He even misspelled "Scrabble," can you believe it?

Well, Mr. Burkhardt, I can tell you that I eat Scrabble letters for breakfast and you are going down. I will whack you with a Nirv wand and launch you into a mine field.

Consider yourself challenged. How about a CEDIA Scrabble Smack-Down?

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Posted by Julie Jacobson on 04/06 at 09:53 AM
Blogs, (18) Comments, Permalink


Monday, April 05, 2010
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By Julie Jacobson
I feel like such an idiot.

I really don’t know a thing about X10, just like an X10 exec told me.

He said, “I am always amused by your total lack of knowledge of X10. … Julie, how can you be so out of touch with an industry that you cover and are supposed to be an expert on?”

Well, now I am fully educated. Indeed, X10 is way better than Control4.

The education comes courtesy of X10.com and the X10 Home Automation Store, both of which have Web pages comparing X10 to Control4.

Yes People, I'm Joking!
Um, since a couple of people (who don't know me or CE Pro) have asked ... yes, this is sarcasm. It is true that X10 and the reseller make these claims about X10's superiority over Control4. I am mocking those claims because they are silly and CE pros will laugh with me. Laughing is good.
The store asks, "Why pay for a Control4 Wireless Outlet Dimmer? We make practically the same thing better for 15% of the Control4 price!"

The verdict? Control4 is overpriced. It uses borrowed technology. And you can’t even install it yourself!

Top 10 Reasons to Use X10 Instead of Control4


1. Straight from the source
“Control4 uses the relatively new Zigbee technology to create their own products. With us, you know you're getting the technology straight from the source.”

2. No problems
“Since our…
Posted by Julie Jacobson on 04/05 at 12:30 PM
Blogs, Home Automation and Control, (52) Comments, Permalink



By Julie Jacobson
I'm no fan of college hoops -- or TV sports of any kind -- but the NCAA finals is one game I want to see after watching tiny Butler beat Michigan State. (What can I say? I went to University of Michigan.)

My local theater is showing the game in 3D for $20 a pop, but I won't be there.

It's not that $20 is too much to handle. It's just that the show starts at 8:00 central, which means I wouldn't get home until well after 10:00, which is way past my bedtime.

So ... who is going? Please give us a full report.

Also: is there any non-Duke-Alum that isn't rooting for Butler?

A partial list of theaters showing the game in 3D can be found at Cinedigm.com.
Posted by Julie Jacobson on 04/05 at 08:57 AM
Blogs, (0) Comments, Permalink


Friday, April 02, 2010

By Jason Knott
Of all the home control manufacturers, does Control4 have the least to lose from the introduction of the iPad?

Most existing whole-home automation manufacturers have dedicated touchscreens as an integral part of their systems. In some cases, those touchpanels are expensive because they are loaded with bulletproof control software.

But Control4 has always touted the TV as the primary user interface, not touchpanels. Its base system is a controller and an SR250 hand-held remote. Control4's 4-, 7- and 10-inch touchscreens are add-on upgrades, not part of the base package.

For many homeowners (and dealers), the iPad may be positioned as upgrade interface to an existing Control4 system, not a replacement of a Control4 touchscreen. So it likely won't be a situation of a homeowner downgrading to a less-expensive touchscreen in place of a Control4 unit.

"We don't think of iPad as cannibalizing any of our existing product," says Control4 COO Glen Mella. "It truly is an augmentation."

That doesn't mean an iPad will never replace a Control4 touchscreen. Mella admits a touchscreen is usually one of the first upgrades purchased by clients. He also foresees "a lot of $400 touchpanels coming on the market" in the near future from third-party manufacturers in reaction to iPad.

Mella advises dealers to take the new Control4 iPad app icon and put it on their own Web sites, marketing collateral and email newsletters. He also thinks integrators should pick up the phone and call all their existing customers to talk about it.
Posted by Jason Knott on 04/02 at 01:17 PM
Blogs, Home Automation and Control, Control Systems, (3) Comments, Permalink



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