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Friday, April 23, 2010

By Julie Jacobson
Sad but true. With the analog sunset nearing, manufacturers are phasing out component video, and it's easy to forget.

On, a dealer tells of an older couple that gets "very confused by technology." They wanted to upgrade to Blu-ray but didn't want anything fancy -- didn't even want to be confused by a Netflix splash page.

So "Tweetymp4" thought he found something simple enough with the Panasonic DMP-BD45.

By the way, neither of the two TVs had HDMI. And when the Panasonics arrived -- surprise, surprise -- no component outputs.

It may seem obvious, but we're just not in that mindset yet: If your client's TV doesn't have HDMI, make sure to check the specs for component video.
Posted by Julie Jacobson on 04/23 at 06:26 AM
Blogs, Video, Blu-ray, Wire and Cable, HDMI, (23) Comments, Permalink

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

By Julie Jacobson
HD Guru Gary Merson tells me he visited a few A/V retailers recently and – surprise, surprise – he found some issues with their 3D displays.

Most notably, the Samsung 3D TVs and Blu-ray players on display had not been updated with the latest firmware. As he says in his blog:

Every model 2010 3D TV examined to date requires a firmware update. The Samsung 3D HDTVs in particular are multiple updates behind when unpacked. We observed display models at two regional chains and at a Best Buy demo using the earliest firmware version.

As he tells me, the so-called “firmware updates” aren’t just bug fixes and a few shiny new features. There are some very critical elements that are locked out in earlier software versions, such as – oh -- controls for contrast and gamma.

Magnanimous guy that he is, Merson took it upon himself to perform the firmware upgrade on his own at Best Buy and make some tweaks to the picture.

He says the sales associate walks up and says, “Wow, that looks a lot better.”

Specialty A/V retailers: You wouldn’t DARE sell or demo 3D gear – or any firmware upgradeable products – without performing the updates, would you?
Posted by Julie Jacobson on 04/21 at 10:39 AM
Blogs, Displays, Video, Blu-ray, Big-Box Retailers, (3) Comments, Permalink



By Julie Jacobson
Handsome? Check

Sense of humor? Check

Kind and gentle
? Check

Loves his mother? Check

Owns an iPhone? No

Next …

Good news, iPhone-owning single guys. According to a UK survey of 1,500 women, 54% of chicks would be more likely to date a man if he owns an iPhone.

According to one respondent, "If he has an iPhone then he's obviously intelligent and well-off."

And more reliable, evidently, as 37% of those quizzed say that owning an iPhone makes a man seem more reliable. Nearly all of those women said a second date would be likely with an iPhone-toting guy.

So then why do 35% of women say that what a man does for a living would affect their chances of a first date?

Ironically, another study says that men who own iPhones have on average GBP 3,750 (about $5,800) less disposable annual income than those sad creatures who do not.

I, for one, prefer men who own Scrabble boards.
Posted by Julie Jacobson on 04/21 at 06:19 AM
Blogs, (14) Comments, Permalink

Monday, April 19, 2010

False advertising? The Masters in 3D shows the swales and undulations, but does not immerse you in the action because of the camera positions.

By Jason Knott
After catching a bit of The Masters in 3D, one thing is very clear: In order for golf to become the "killer app" for 3D, there will need to be different camera angles put in place.

In the movies, 3D is especially compelling because the film director can use camera angles that bring the images "toward" to audience. The obligatory jumping snake or shooting arrow in an action movie, for example.

But in golf, that camera angle coming "toward you" is not possible in many cases. While 3D golf allows the viewer to see the swales and undulating contours of the golf course terrain, it does not enable the action to come toward the viewer. Indeed, most camera angles--especially when putting on the green--are from right to left or left to right on the TV screen. Nothing coming right at you.

The only golf shots "coming at you" are when the camera is behind the green and in those cases, the cameraman is usually tracking the golf ball in the air. That's cool, but not compelling for 3D. It's going to take some time to get it right.

The problem is that many golf courses, including Augusta National, have stationary camera positions. That is not going to allow the action "to come at" the audience. I was convinced that golf was going to be the "killer app" for 3D... now I am not so sure.

Football might end up being much more compelling if they can use the floating camera over the field more effectively for 3D.

What do…
Posted by Jason Knott on 04/19 at 06:08 AM
Blogs, Video, (3) Comments, Permalink

By Julie Jacobson
When I suggested in my January Industry Insider that home automation has never succeeded at retail, I received a harshly worded response from 35-year industry veteran Dave Rye.

The senior VP of X10 wrote, “Quite frankly Julie you haven't a clue what you're talking about.”

He went on to recount the impressive history of X10 – a pioneer in powerline-based control – and concludes, “X10 doesn't just ‘try’ sell to the masses, we do it, and do it very successfully.”

I concede that X10 does a wonderful job of selling gadgets and covert cameras, but not home automation to the masses. I don’t mean masses of gadget freaks, but masses of ordinary people. And by home automation, I mean integrated lighting and thermostats and maybe a macro or two.

Rye rattles off a litany of X10 private-labeled solutions for the likes of IBM, RCA, RadioShack and Stanley -- all of which were very capable solutions back then, but none of which succeeded. True, as he says, they were all “sold at retail, to the masses.”

Sold, perhaps, but not purchased.

We see the same phenomenon today, despite boasts from numerous home-control vendors that their products have been picked up by RadioShack, Lowes, Best Buy and other mass marketers. Picked up by retailers, but are they being picked up by consumers?

On a recent trip to my local Shack -- the corner store formerly known as RadioShack -- I found a very brisk cell phone kiosk. But not a single person…
Posted by Julie Jacobson on 04/19 at 05:13 AM
Blogs, Home Automation and Control, Spotlight, (3) Comments, Permalink

Friday, April 16, 2010

By Tom LeBlanc
While 3D TVs and Blu-ray players are trickling onto the market, 3D content is lagging behind. This presents problems for CE pros looking to demonstrate 3D.

The only 3D Blu-ray title currently available is Dreamworks’ “Monsters vs. Aliens.”

As the 3D community waits for DirecTV and Verizon Fios to join Comcast in carrying 3D channels, there are some other 3D options, said Mark Spector, AVAD Region East 2 (Woburn, Mass.) branch manager, during a two-day 3D event hosted by the distributor at its 26 U.S. and two Canadian branches April 13-14.

AVAD showed attending dealers the Samsung 3D starter kit and offered advice on how to demo and sell 3D. “Monsters vs. Aliens” is part of the 3D starter kit along with two pairs of 3D shutter glasses.

Spector also showed dealers some 3D clips he downloaded from, a Swedish site. The site notes that the video clips are optimized for viewing using Nvidia’s 3D vision technology.

“Most of the clips are pretty bad, but they’re worth knowing about,” Spector said, adding that the 3D effects are “nowhere near as dramatic” as the ones in “Monsters vs. Aliens.”

I can confirm. Spector showed me some “Monster vs. Aliens” clips in which the 3D elements were very powerful. Then he showed me a clip — not so much.
Posted by Tom LeBlanc on 04/16 at 09:11 AM
Blogs, Displays, TVs, Video, Blu-ray, Digital Media, Distributors, (5) Comments, Permalink


As part of the National Record Store Day promotion, Mike Portnoy, drummer for Dream Theater, says that as a young music fan growing up in Long Island, record stores allowed him to discover new emerging artists. Why can’t CE pros get entertainers like Portnoy to provide testimonials for the electronics market as part of a marketing promotion?

By Robert Archer
My colleague Arlen Schweiger reminded me that this Saturday, April 17, is National Record Store Day, and it got me thinking about why our industry isn’t doing something similar to promote itself.

Over the past several years, the independent record store business has been dramatically affected by the migration of media from physical to digital technologies. When you combine this change with national retailers like Best Buy and Walmart stepping up their sales efforts, these small businesses have been put in a vicarious position.

The specialty and custom electronics market has, in many ways, been put in a similar position. Between the Internet and the growth of mass-market retailers, many independent electronics retailers and CE pros are facing the same problems as their record store cousins.

Since first coming up with the idea back in 2007, the forces behind the record store marketing concept have earned the backing of several national record labels, as well as many prominent musicians.

It’s certainly within reason to think the electronics industry could establish a similar marketing campaign with celebrities, music labels and Hollywood to help its members compete in a globalizing marketplace.

It’s also not unreasonable to think that the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), CEDIA and popular media outlets like CE Pro and Electronic House couldn’t brainstorm something to help grow this industry through the education of the public.

Using the creative forces within this industry, why can’t this market leverage the power…
Posted by Robert Archer on 04/16 at 06:48 AM
Blogs, Audio, Video, Digital Media, (1) Comments, Permalink

Thursday, April 15, 2010

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?


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?

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

Monday, April 12, 2010

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

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