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Friday, May 28, 2010

By Robert Archer
In the world of consumer electronics geography, areas like Boston, Southern California, and Japan have been longstanding hotbeds of manufacturing activity.

A strong case could be made that Montreal should be added to that list. Recently CE Pro editor Jason Knott and I took a trip to the large eastern Canadian city to visit Audio Plus Services (APS), the U.S. distributor of brands like Focal, Cambridge Audio and Dream Vision, as well as the companies Totem Acoustic and D-Box Technologies.

In addition, to the companies we visited, the region is also home to other manufacturers like Sim Audio, Verity Audio and Sensio Technologies. Beyond the wealth of A/V manufacturers in the province of Quebec, we also discovered how passionate the city is for audio, video, live music and of course its Montreal Canadians NHL franchise.

Prior to the trip I’ll admit that I wasn’t sure what to expect. My perception was that its hockey-rabid inhabitants felt entitled to another Stanley Cup and all things A/V.

What we saw instead was a hockey fan base that was friendly and respectful to CE Pro’s most vocal Boston Bruins’ fan, and how helpful its residents were with helping a pair of English speaking Americans make their way around their city.

If you visit Montreal, APS, Totem and D-Box Technologies are always glad to host custom installers, just give John Bevier of APS, Lucy Lentini of Totem and Mario Thibeault of D-Box…
Posted by Robert Archer on 05/28 at 08:28 AM
Blogs, Permalink

By Julie Jacobson
Exactly how cheap are Web cameras these days? Pretty darn.

So why not give one to every client as a lovely parting gift? It’s the perfect tool for remote troubleshooting, suggests Robert Durbin, technical training manager for URC.

Back in his integrator days, Durbin would leave wireless cams with customers so they could show him what was wrong rather than try to describe it. Durbin himself could better explain how clients could fix their own problems, avoiding such dialogs as:

See the receiver?
There’s 10 black boxes in the rack. Which one is the receiver?
I don’t have the diagrams with me. Look for a box that says Denon.
I don’t see Denon. There’s Crestron and ReQuest and Tivo and Onkyo …
Yeah, Onkyo, that’s it. Now, locate the HDMI cable.
What does an HDMI cable look like?
It has sort of a flat connector on it, like a USB.
I can’t see the connector if it’s plugged in. And all the cables are so crowded in there. What color is the cable itself?
That would be black. …

And so on and so on.

How much easier would it be for the integrator to say, “Pan down your rack with the camera … stop. The third box down -- it says Onkyo. See the second cable from the left? Unplug it. Now plug it back in ….”

Durbin notes:

Today, most every home has a wireless network. And cameras cost less than your time is worth. Do…
Posted by Julie Jacobson on 05/28 at 07:40 AM
Blogs, Business Resources, CCTV, Permalink

Thursday, May 27, 2010
Avatar 3D Blu-ray

By Rachel Cericola
Well, finally, Fox is putting Avatar on 3D Blu-ray. Isn’t that what this whole 3D thing is about?

Don’t get too excited, though. The rumor has not been confirmed by 20th Century Fox. Also, if those rumors are actually true, Hollywood in HiDef says the 3D Blu-ray will only be available with the purchase of Panasonic 3D equipment.


Add that to what you already spent on the 2D Blu-ray, and it’s no wonder why James Cameron’s epic is the biggest money-maker of all-time.

The good news is: After a few months, the 3D Blu-ray of Avatar should hit shelves as a stand-alone purchase. Again, not confirmed, so there are no details, no list of extras (if any), no pricing and no release dates.

Sony is supposedly working on a similar deal, using a 3D Blu-ray of Alice in Wonderland as bait. That is expected sometime this fall.

Fox and Disney have yet to make any official 3D Blu-ray announcements for either title. Stay tuned!
Posted by Rachel Cericola on 05/27 at 12:25 PM
Blogs, Product News, Permalink


The first 25 people who bring a vintage car to the opening of AVI’s new showroom in Draper, Utah on June 5 get extra raffle ticket to win prizes.

By Jason Knott
Honk, honk! Beep, beep! Awoooga!

In addition to some awesome audio demos, attendees at the grand opening of Audio Video Integrated Systems' (AVI) new showroom in Draper, Utah might also hear the sounds of vintage car horns.

As integrators look for more interesting ways to attract new customers, Jim Young, owner of AVI, is combining a classic car show with the grand opening of his new showroom.

Here's the twist. AVI is inviting the public to participate by bringing their own classic car to the event. The first 25 people who bring a vintage car get extra raffle tickets for prizes and a free T-shirt. Vintage car owners love to show off their vehicles, and they tend to be people who appreciate quality.

It's a perfect potential customer for a custom integrator. Throw in some free food, drinks and raffles for an HDTV and Blu-ray player and it could be worth the trip for local consumers.

The event takes place Saturday, June 5 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at AVI's new showroom on 11585 S State St. in Draper. AVI will offer specials on home theaters, electronics, flat-panel TVs, central vacuum and more.

Good luck Jim, and kudos on the creativity.

What's your hook to get people to your new showroom?
Posted by Jason Knott on 05/27 at 07:13 AM
Blogs, Permalink

Monday, May 24, 2010

By Julie Jacobson

There’s nothing funny about ZigBee dysfunction (ZD) … unless you’re Card Access, a ZigBee developer that recently launched a cheeky marketing campaign for networks that suffer from:
  • Small ZigBee mesh size
  • Poor ZigBee responsiveness
  • Reduced ZigBee performance

Thankfully, Card Access assures us that ZD is curable: “A variety of treatments can help you permanently eliminate the symptoms, discomfort and embarrassment of ZigBee Dysfunction.”

The company recommends these peripherals to extend a ZigBee mesh up to 300 feet:
  • ZigBee Pro Extender
  • Wireless Contact Relay External Antenna Version
  • Wireless Contact Relay Internal Antennal Version
  • Sensor Bridge
  • Heavy-Duty Power Controller
Card Access is dispensing ZigBee Extender Tablets – little blue pills that taste suspiciously like M&Ms – at all stops on the nationwide Control4 dealer road show. The two companies have partnered for many years to integrate Card Access’s ZigBee-enabled accessories with Control4’s whole-house control systems.

According to information plastered on the pill bottle, integrators should use the product at the first sign of ZD symptoms:
  • Purchase Card Access devices with ZigBee Extender Technology.
  • Insert one or more devices into mesh.
  • Watch mesh grow and see ZigBee performance immediately perk up.
  • Swell with pride and never worry about poor ZigBee performance again.
Card Access assures would-be sufferers that all calls will be handled “professionally, delicately, and with unbending confidentiality.” And, by the way, don't be alarmed if ZigBee signal enhancement lasts longer than four hours.

Get the facts about ZD (and some more guy humor) at

Posted by Julie Jacobson on 05/24 at 09:40 AM
Blogs, Home Automation and Control, Retrofit, Permalink

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

By Julie Jacobson
Trade shows should be free. That's what you all seemed to say when EH Publishing, the parent company of CE Pro, charged dealers a nominal fee ($50 to $100) to attend EHX Spring in March.

Although the value was undeniable - all the training you could consume, including otherwise pricey CEDIA courses and the industry's first lead paint removal certification - dealers still griped about the price of admission.

Why? Certainly not because of the financial burden, but because the model was different. Dealers are so used to getting free stuff from vendors and from the industry in general, that the notion of paying for the opportunity to network, get trained and discover new products is unfathomable.

But the pay-to-play model is not so new. Of course, most trade shows (CEDIA Expo, CES, etc.) charge attendees who don't register early. I suspect they, too, will eventually start charging everyone.

That's not all. Many manufacturers charge dealers for training - up to $1,000 for two or three days.

Get used to it. Content that used to be free … isn't anymore. Webinars … ditto. The same goes for a number of products and services that we previously enjoyed gratis. Once these things are free, we feel entitled to them. We often choose not to pay any price - even a fair one - on principle.

No Tire Kickers

Back to EHX. The entry fee helped to subsidize a very expensive show, including significant fees paid to the Consumer Electronics…
Posted by Julie Jacobson on 05/19 at 08:07 AM
Blogs, Events, EHX Spring, Permalink

Monday, May 17, 2010

By Stephen Hopkins
With 3D displays garnering more and more customer interest, where are all the 3D Blu-ray movie titles?

Full HD 3D displays and 3D-capable Blu-ray players started hitting stores in March. Displays are currently available from Samsung and Panasonic, with models from Sony, LG and others coming later in 2010.

3D is the biggest buzz-word in the industry right now, and consumer electronics manufacturers are hoping to ride it to increased sales as economic recovery slowly comes our way. Unfortunately, there's one major part of this equation missing: content.

No Reason to Adopt 3D

We're two months into the 3D revolution, and there's exactly one theatrical release available on digital native 3D Blu-ray. And that release, "Monsters vs. Aliens," isn't even available in wide release. The only way to get it is in Samsung's 3D Starter Kit.

Sadly, there have been more announcements of popular 3D theatrical releases that will not receive 3D Blu-ray releases than those that will. No "Avatar." No "Alice in Wonderland." My fingers are crossed for no "Clash of the Titans."

How can manufacturers, retailers and installers expect to sell 3D displays and players when there is so little content available? And why would studios produce digital 3D content when there's no installed equipment base? It's hard to sell 3D discs when no one has the equipment to use it.

The reasons for buying a 3D display are easier to rationalize. If you're buying a display, why not be ready for what's next? Comparing similar displays…
Posted by Stephen Hopkins on 05/17 at 06:53 AM
Blogs, Permalink

Friday, May 14, 2010

By Julie Jacobson

Hey Houstonians (I used to be one), I’ll be down there on May 19 for the grand opening of Wave Electronics’ super-branch.

The new 50,000 square-foot facility “is going to change how everyone looks at distribution,” says regional sales manager Bryan Stewart.

Inside the facility is a 3,000-square-foot home – very green, of course – for dealers to demo for their customers.

In addition, there’s a 20,000-square-foot self-pick area “that is for our will call customers, like Home Depot,” Stewart explains.

Here’s how WAVE explains it:

Dedicated Dealer Showrooms
The new Super Facility will offer two types of dedicated showrooms:

“Dealer only showrooms” are contained in the Wave Electronics distribution area that include a theater room, electronics and speaker auditioning room, and a myriad of lifestyle vignettes for audio video and automation products. These showrooms are designed to give you the dealer a complete understanding and direction on what products are a perfect fit for your next bid.

“My Showroom” housed in the new Super Facility next door to Wave Electronics, is a full 2500 sqft experience center home complete with a full array of automation and audio video products displayed in a real world environment. “My Showroom” is an exclusive approach for our dealers to bring in their customers by appointment only basis and use it as their own. Our dealers will now have a showroom separate from the distribution side of the business that can be used to…
Posted by Julie Jacobson on 05/14 at 02:43 PM
Blogs, Events, Permalink

By Jessica Camerato
From left, John Bishop, president of Bishop Audio Services, Jason Knott, and Tom LeBlanc shooting a video on how to take advantage of 3D and the iPad.

The CE Pro office was turned into a production studio on Thursday as videotaping began for CEProLIVE!, which takes place June 17.

Jason Knott, John Bishop, president of Bishop Audio Services, and Tom LeBlanc recorded "20 Things You Need to Know to Create Winning Strategies for 3D and iPad," which will be held at 3 pm EDT on June 17.

This presentation will help CE pros understand how and why they need to create a two-year rolling strategy to maximize the excitement and sales potential in both 3D TV and iPad applications.

Knott also recorded the "State of the Industry 2010 Keynote." He addressed growth expectations and opportunities by sharing an overview of revenue predictions for 2010 and insight into new business opportunities, from energy management to digital signage. Knott also broke down the CE Pro 100, which highlights the 100 highest revenue earning companies in the industry.

The State of the Industry 2010 Keynote will be held at 11:00 am EDT on June 17. All sessions will be available on demand for 90 days following the event.

Registration for CEProLIVE! is free to all custom electronics professionals. Click here to…
Posted by Jessica Camerato on 05/14 at 09:43 AM
Blogs, Events, Permalink

By Jason Knott
Everyone knows 2009 was a lousy year. CE Pro lost about 10 percent of its subscribers.

That means electricians, IT VARs, security dealers, and home automation and A/V integrators who all work in low-voltage integration went out of business.

In the long run, that dropoff is good for the industry. Presumably, those were the weaker companies. You know who I am talking about. The guys who are working without proper insurance or licenses, who don't belong to an association or who don't maintain general business integrity.

I am not including companies that work from home because there are plenty of high-integrity CE pros who operate from a home office. Also, I am not including one-man shops. There are many solo acts who run their business with integrity.

But many CE pros in the past months have told me the companies that folded in their area were not the "trunkslammers," but but were mid-sized integrators operating with a handful of employees and trying to make a go of it.

Guys who carry worker's comp, have competitive installation rates, offer warranty service, etc. Integrators with leases on an office, trucks, paying employees, not just using subs.

Why? It's because the trunkslammers are more nimble to react have no overhead. I was told they are "stronger than ever" in certain local markets. If that's true, heaven help us.

How's your local scene? Were they right?
Posted by Jason Knott on 05/14 at 06:32 AM
Blogs, Permalink

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