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Tuesday, July 06, 2010

By Jason Knott
Sidney Harman, Harman International chairman emeritus

There are several media reports out saying that 91-year-old Sidney Harman, founder and current chairman emeritus of Harman International, is one of the final bidders for Newsweek magazine.

According to an article in the Washington Post, which also owns Newsweek, Harman says the magazine has some "very, very appealing assets." He is quoted also as saying that Newsweek is "part of national culture" and says that he would love to revive it. The publication was put up for sale about a month ago.

Harman International (NYSE: HAR) has well-known custom audio brands such as JBL Pro, Harman Kardon, Infinity and Lexicon.

Harman stepped down as chairman of the board in July 2008. His wife Jane is a member in the U.S. House of Representatives. (My former representative when I lived in Redondo Beach, Calif.)

Posted by Jason Knott on 07/06 at 06:28 AM
Blogs, Audio, Permalink

Friday, July 02, 2010

By Julie Jacobson
Sony is on a 3D rampage, trying the format on a number of genres, including games, sporting events, original movies, old 2D films … and game shows.

Recently, Sony Pictures Entertainment swapped out some 2D cameras on the “Wheel of Fortune” set, replacing them with 3D models.

It’s not that Sony has plans to make the wheel fly off the screen, but the company continues to experiment at its 3D Technology Center to see what works and what doesn’t.

As for “Wheel,” Sony was concerned that any changes to the (stale) old format might alienate the game’s rabid fan base. Instead, Sony research reveals that 3D “puts a fresh finish” on the game, much to viewers’ delight, according to Buzz Hays, executive stereoscopic 3D producer at Sony’s 3D Technology Center.

“This [3D] brings that experience in,” he adds.

All I can say is … thank goodness Sony didn’t have the technology 18 years ago!

Posted by Julie Jacobson on 07/02 at 11:34 AM
Blogs, Video, Permalink

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Sherbourne’s PT-7020A includes balanced and RCA outputs, RS-232, Dolby Digital, Dolby TrueHD, DTS MA and a choice of other options. For just about $3,000 this pre/pro stacks up to be a nice unit for installers to offer to clients that want a higher level of home theater performance.

By Robert Archer
It's amazing how this year has flown by so far. Between family time, work and everything else it's shocking that we're heading into the July 4th holiday weekend.

Over the past few months here at CE Pro we've been occupied with our typical magazine stories, Web content and special packages like our commercial and retrofit content that have run in the June and July issues respectively.

After the July 4 holiday we'll be heading into our annual CEDIA Expo build up. Knowing how much time we'll be dedicating to everything CEDIA I decided that I wanted clear the decks of some things I've been working on or at least thinking about working on:

Starting with some educational opportunities that I think could help installers is the series of Webinars that Key Digital has been conducting. The N.Y.-based company has been offering educational classes on its line of video switching and processing products for a few months and its next one is scheduled for Friday July 2, 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. EST. During the one-hour seminar the company will cover products like its KD-MSW8X4Pro, KD-MSV8X8 and KD-MSA8X8 Fat Boy Series switchers, as well as its KD-MSCAT8X8 and KD-HDMS4X4 Hercules Series products.

Anyone interested in learning on how to implement matrix series switchers in a residential and/or commercial environment could have their questions answered by Key Digital's staff members.

Moving on to some product opinion items. I've been slowly working on some product…
Posted by Robert Archer on 07/01 at 09:26 AM
Blogs, Video, Audio, Wire and Cable, HDMI, Commercial, Home Theater, Switchers, Video Processors, Permalink

By Arlen Schweiger
Before you get ready to enjoy the visual fireworks on July 4, treat yourself to some audio fireworks on July 1.

Today is the second annual “DTS 7.1 Day,” following California’s (where else but the state Hollywood studios call home) celebration of the holiday a year ago, honoring the company's "cutting-edge 7.1 surround sound audio technology."

The only true way to celebrate would be by making it a Blu-ray movie night in your dedicated theater, so you can fully immerse yourself in DTS’ HD Master Audio 7.1 uncompressed audio soundtracks. We’ll let it go if you can only do 5.1-channel DTS-HD MA for now ... but may we recommend a good room-rattling concert, sports movie, horror flick or animated film on Blu-ray (or maybe a romance movie if you’re trying to twist your wife’s arm to join you)? Warning: not every title on those lists include DTS soundtracks.

DTS also lists “Grab some popcorn, nachos or chips and your favorite beverage” and “crank up the volume so you can enjoy the rich, sonic waves of DTS High Definition Surround Sound” on its priority schedule for partaking in the 7.1 Day festivities. We couldn’t agree more, except for perhaps adding pizza to the mix.

DTS is actually extending the festivities to celebrate 7.1 throughout the month. You can check out some messages from “celebrities and industry heavies from the movie and music world” on its website, plus go to DTS’ Facebook page to vote for favorite DTS-HD Master Audio titles and…
Posted by Arlen Schweiger on 07/01 at 07:57 AM
Blogs, Audio, Permalink

Thursday, June 24, 2010

By Julie Jacobson
When I take off my CE Pro editor's hat, I'm just like everyone else.

I had a task that was slightly out of my comfort zone, but I thought I could do it myself. After all, YouTube makes it look so easy.

Alas, after a good 20 minutes of effort, I finally gave up trying to take the stitches out of my right elbow using some nail clippers.

So I turned to the experts at my local big-box retailer, where the nearby Stillwater Medical Group runs The Clinic at Walmart. There was no line. I breezed right through the forms, paid my $15 co-pay and saw the nurse practitioner right away.

After a brief lecture on why a right-handed person shouldn't try to do a DIY suture removal on the right elbow using nail clippers and the bathroom mirror, she went to work. As it happened, my stitches were particularly tight, and even this trained professional had difficulty removing them. The wound bled a little, opened up a bit, and required some special strips to close the gap (TMI?).

The whole thing took about 20 minutes -- twice as long as it would have taken if my stitches were looser. Plus, I picked up some place mats while I was at it.

Even if Walmart didn't take insurance, I would have paid $62 for the service. Gladly! It was far more convenient than setting up a doctor's appointment, arriving early, waiting in the lounge, dodging errant coughs, praying the nurse was on schedule ....

And guess what? The…
Posted by Julie Jacobson on 06/24 at 07:31 AM
Blogs, Permalink

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

By Julie Jacobson
Even the priciest audio cables aren't always perfect.

Writing on, Kevin Becka tells of a $250 audio snake he used to test some pro audio gear.

When mixing the audio material, Becka reports, "it sounded great albeit a bit weak in the center which I thought was due to the spacing of the players and my mic placement. I compensated for the weak center with panning and levels and it sounded fine."

But all that time, it turns out, one of the channels (number two) was out of polarity. The culprit turned out to be the audio snake. When a tech pulled the sealed XLR connector apart, "sure enough, Pin 3 was 'hot' on channel two."

Becka reports, "After discovering the polarity flip, I went back and compensated with a “backatcha” polarity swap on the center channel of my mix and WOOOSH! the center image bloomed beautifully."

Lessons learned?

1. NEVER trust any cable, no matter how expensive
2. ALWAYS check polarity during tracking and mixing

Thanks for the tip, Ernie
Posted by Julie Jacobson on 06/23 at 11:51 AM
Blogs, Wire and Cable, Permalink

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

By Rachel Cericola
There isn't a ton of at-home 3D entertainment currently available. Hustler plans to do something about that.

The porno mag has announced plans for a 3D movie based on the mega-hit Avatar. Apparently, when James Cameron was out touting the benefits of 3D, the magazine took note - as well as his movie idea.

According to Screen Junkies, the movie will be called This Ain't Avatar XXX, and should be available this September. Hustler also says this will be the company's most expensive production to date.

I have to figure that a lot of that money will go to the 3D, as well as blue makeup.

Does this sound a little creepy? Well, Cameron had mentioned before that a Na'vi sex scene had been clipped from his version of Avatar. Something tells me this version will be slightly more explicit.

This "film" comes after Hustler's successful release of This Ain't Star Trek XXX. Other upcoming releases in the series include This Ain't Curb Your Enthusiasm XXX (love Larry David, but ew), This Ain't Glee XXX and This Ain't CSI XXX: Chatsworth.
Posted by Rachel Cericola on 06/22 at 09:58 AM
Blogs, Product News, Permalink

Monday, June 21, 2010

By Tom LeBlanc
On display at InfoComm 2010 - besides the 925 exhibits - was a convergence of residential and commercial integration.

Attendance was up 10 percent to 32,002, making it the second largest InfoComm ever after two years of depleted shows. The surge is a reflection of 80 percent of CE pros doing some commercial work and earning about a quarter of their revenues from commercial projects.

With both those figures trending upward, it seems many CE pros made their first trip to the commercial trade show.

Visiting InfoComm is a good start, but CE pros need to recognize that although most should complement their business with commercial clients, it is a different market - and their businesses need to reflect that.

Consider that Remote Technologies Inc. (RTI) and URC, two companies embedded in the custom residential market, just announced new-hires in positions dedicated to supporting the commercial market.
  • RTI: Brian van der Hagen, commercial market general manager
  • URC: Jamie Finnegan, commercial division national sales manager
  • URC: Robert Durbin, commercial division systems integration engineer
The hires reflect that commercial and residential are two different animals, says van der Hagen.

“I think the most notable difference is project demeanor,” van der Hagen says. “In the commercial space, we are sometimes more about selling steak instead of the sizzle. Commercial integrators are all about using product for their intended use and are less concerned about flashy features or fringe benefits. The majority of systems I see today are very straight forward, almost simplistic, designs.”
Posted by Tom LeBlanc on 06/21 at 11:06 AM
Blogs, Home Automation and Control, Universal Remotes, Permalink

By Jason Knott
The lousy track record of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should have all U.S. taxpayers asking for a housecleaning of the agency.

Where do I start? The oil spill. Actually, the response to that disaster is a culmination of shoddiness we've all seen in the residential integration business.

Finally, the agency got something right for a change by extending the deadline for its lead paint certification to December 31. The "Lead: Renovation, Repair and Paint Rule" went into effect April 22, 2010. It requires those who work in homes built before 1978 to be EPA certified. Integrators not in compliance face fines of $37,500 per day.

From the outset, the EPA has done a horrible job touting the fact that the new rules even exist. Even when integrators heard about the program, the training was administered horrendously. CEDIA did its best to get the word out, but even at EHX Spring 2010 there was a limited number of individuals who could take the training because of EPA guidelines.

Have you ever seen any signs about the lead paint certification law in Home Depot or Lowe's? Have you ever received anything from your licensing entity? A pamphlet in the mail? An email? My gosh, I thought we paid trillions in taxes for government brochures!

I recently spoke with several contractors and none of them had heard about the new law.

Meanwhile, EPA's…
Posted by Jason Knott on 06/21 at 10:23 AM
Blogs, Permalink


By Julie Jacobson
I admit it, until yesterday I had only seen snippets of 3D TV in showrooms and at trade shows. Toy Story 3 was my first real exposure to the format.

It was a wonderful movie ... this coming from someone who rarely goes to movies, let alone raves about them.

My husband Duane, step-daughter Maggie and I caught the film at Marcus Theatres in Oakdale, Minn. I know for sure that Maggie cried at the end, and I think Duane suppressed a tear or two. But I digress.

I agree with Duane, who also was a 3D virgin, that "it wasn't tacky. There was not a gratuitous use of 3D."

Stuff wasn't flying at us or raining down upon us. We didn't have to take treacherous rides on roller coasters or anything. Really, 3D seemed to be more of a tool for ultra-depth perception -- the characters and activity in the foreground really popped.

Repositioning myself around the theater -- our seats were in the sweet spot -- I still was able to get a good 3D picture.

For me, though, the RealD glasses were uncomfortable layered over my own specs. They really needed to be tight up against my prescription glasses to get the optimal picture, so I kept having to push them up, like a geek might (no comments here, please).

I can say definitively that 3D added an element of fun and depth to Toy Story. I liked it a whole lot. If there were no price premium, I'd…
Posted by Julie Jacobson on 06/21 at 08:50 AM
Blogs, Permalink

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