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Friday, June 04, 2010
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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.

[continues]
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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


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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, Displays, Permalink


Thursday, June 03, 2010

By Julie Jacobson
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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
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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 videogameobsession.com).

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


Friday, May 28, 2010

By Julie Jacobson
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No sooner did I put the new cult film Birdemic on my "Movies We Don't Want in 3D" list, when the producer announces the sequel to the "the best worst movie of all time" will indeed be filmed in 3D.

Birdemic: Shock and Terror tells the story of a town haunted by toxic, exploding birds. "The reason they explode is because global warming has made them mutant, and toxic and flammable," says director and producer James Nguyen, in all seriousness.

In a recent segment on CBS Sunday Morning, news funnyman Bill Geist explains:

Some film buffs are already calling Birdemic a cult classic, featuring wooden acting and some dreadful dialogue, when you can hear it; bad special effects, like the clip-art birds; clunky lectures on "damned global warming"; and finally, the secret ingredient: James Nguyen's sincerity.

If you thought there was no way to top the original Birdemic, think again.

According to the "production company" Moviehead, Birdemic: The Resurrection will frighten moviegoers in fall 2011 with exploding 3D birds -- frighten audiences probably because really bad special effects are really, really bad in 3D.

All the more reason to see a movie that promises (threatens?), "A platoon of eagles and vultures attack Hollywood, Calif."

And remember, another selection on my 3D no-no list, Jackass: The Movie has a 3D sequel coming soon.
Posted by Julie Jacobson on 05/28 at 11:20 AM
Blogs, Permalink



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 09:28 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 08:40 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.

Lame!

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 01:25 PM
Blogs, Product News, Permalink


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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 08:13 AM
Blogs, Permalink



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