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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

By Jason Knott
Limber up your fingers to throw out some slings and arrows ... and compliments ... as part of a live chat with controversial industry consultant Mark Sipe about his $20 million installation.

This Thursday, June 17 during CEProLive!, CE Pro's online learning event and trade show, Sipe will be available for a live chat to discuss the grand $500,000 installation in a $20 million Arizona home.

Sipe, along with CE Pro's web editor Steve Crowe, will be online for a live chat from 5:30 to 6:00 p.m. to discuss "Tracking a $20M Install: Debate the Project and Its Social Media Aspects."

Sipe has been sharing his experiences with the readers for the past six months. We have watched him select the control equipment (Control4), manage 67 motorized shade controls, see the architect shut down, have the foundation guys pierce his wiring conduit multiple times and most recently select his four integrator finalists.

It's been exciting.

So Thursday will be your chance to ask Mark how it's going and find out how he feels, and how the homeowner feels, about the project being documented in such an open way online.

While you are at it, ping Crowe with some questions about why decided to track this project.
Posted by Jason Knott on 06/15 at 07:50 AM
Blogs, Installations, Permalink

Thursday, June 10, 2010

By Julie Jacobson
We reported today that FTC chairman Jonathan Leibowitz thinks it's a "terrible idea" to subsidize journalism through a tax on consumer electronics.

He was responding to recommendations put forth in the FTC's recently published document, "Potential Policy Recommendations to Support the Reinvention of Journalism."

The FTC has come under fire for considering such silly ideas as bailing out journalism by taxing technology, cellphone data plans and advertising.

But the organization wants everyone to know that the document in question is not a proposal by the FTC, rather a discussion of recommendations put forth by various parties.

The recommendation for a 5% tax on CE was "an idea submitted to the FTC's staff as part of workshops we've been holding since last year," writes FTC Deputy Public Affairs Director Peter Kaplan in an email to CE Pro. "It was never FTC's proposal or recommendation ...."

He adds, "The FTC hasn't even finished holding the workshops yet, much less made any recommendations. We hope to release a report in the fall, which may or may not include recommendations."

Kaplan points to a press release (below) that was distributed on June 4.

See, no wonder we need to reinvent journalism! Damn reporters got this story all wrong. (I got it mostly right, careful to report that FTC was considering recommendations, but have clarified some of the language in my two stories.)

FTC Corrects Misinformation…
Posted by Julie Jacobson on 06/10 at 09:42 AM
Blogs, Legal, Permalink


By Julie Jacobson
It looks like the Federal Trade Commission won’t subsidize newspapers by taxing technology after all.

They must have read my memo (followed by CEA chief Gary Shapiro’s plea in the Huffington Post).

In a ridiculous proposal to bail out journalism, the FTC had considered a 5% tax on consumer electronics, which could raise about $4 billion per year. (CLARIFICATION: The proposal was not created by the FTC, just considered by the commission.)

The money would be used to subsidize poorly run news outlets suffering the “challenges … of the Internet age.”

That idea, as well as other silly schemes to guide journalism “through a significant transition in which business models are crumbling” are spelled out in a 47-page FTC document called “Potential Policy Recommendations to Support the Reinvention of Journalism (pdf).”

In a hearing yesterday, however, FTC chairman Jonathan Leibowitz said a CE tax was a dumb idea:

Recently, we released a Discussion Draft with a number of proposals. Some of these may not be advisable policy recommendations – for instance, it would be a terrible idea to tax electronic equipment to subsidize newspapers. We are examining these issues and will be holding a roundtable next week and issue a report in the fall.

The comment was merely an aside to a question about newspapers and antitrust, during yesterday’s meeting of the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The hearing was…
Posted by Julie Jacobson on 06/10 at 08:34 AM
Blogs, Permalink

Wednesday, June 09, 2010
Savant In-Wall iPad Dock

By Jason Knott
Consumers have gone gaga over the iPad. No news there.

And custom integrators are salivating at the prospect of selling these highly functional, sleek touchpanels to homeowners looking for a stable wireless control interface. Totally groundbreaking.

As one integrator told me: "I've sold my last dedicated wireless touchpanel." He says all his wireless touchpads will now be iPads. They are much less expensive and, he says, much more stable.

Savant has followed up the hoopla with another big announcement: the first in-wall iPad dock. Savant's $500 in-wall cradle aims to take iPad adoption to the next level as these ubiquitous devices become part of a home's décor that will replace a more expensive dedicated in-wall touchpanel.

Dealers I have spoken with believe the iPad will never replace the need for an in-wall touchpanel located near a home's entry point for activation of lights and arming/disarming the alarm system. But that's exactly why there is a need for an in-wall version of the iPad. (I won't get into any discussions about in-wall iPad patents.)

Here's the question: in the future, will integrators prefer dedicated in-wall touchpanels or in-wall iPads?

Savant believes that for about $1,000, consumers will get a powerful in-wall or desktop touchpanel that is five times less expensive than other solutions, offering increased functionality and better customizable graphics.

I guess when you put it that way, the in-wall iPad could be revolutionary.

What do you…
Posted by Jason Knott on 06/09 at 03:04 PM
Blogs, Home Automation and Control, Control Systems, Permalink

By Julie Jacobson

CE Pro broke the news about Crestron's forthcoming Prodigy "3 Series" but details are just trickling in.

This photo taken at Infocomm 2010 appears to be the new PMC3 controller with video outputs for an OSD.

Also, VP technology Fred Bargetzi clarified a few points after our original PMC3 story:
  • In version 1, the on-screen display is component only, no HDMI (as confirmed by image).
  • The OSD in the first release is not an overlay; it consumes the entire screen.
  • "Timing is tight on the parallel development schedules," so Crestron isn't sure yet if the PMC3 will be launched before or after the new IDE software for the flagship 3 Series.


So now that Crestron has posted the press release, we know that this is the MC3, not the PMC3, although we wonder if there's any distinction. The specs mesh with our initial intelligence on the Prodigy version of the box.

Here's what Crestron has to say about the product:

Today's buildings comprise more technology than ever before, and all these systems need to be networked, managed, and controlled in fundamentally new ways. The 3-Series Control Processor from Crestron delivers a network-grade managed infrastructure server designed for intelligent building management and modern media distribution.

More than a mere AV controller, the 3-Series provides the core for a total integrated system solution. Providing a pronounced increase in processing power and speed, increased memory, rock solid networking and IP control,…
Posted by Julie Jacobson on 06/09 at 09:50 AM
Blogs, Product News, Home Automation and Control, Permalink

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

By Julie Jacobson
Integrators didn't need a tweet from DirecTV to learn about an an automatic update that crippled HD DVRs overnight.

By morning, frantic customers and loved ones were calling installers with tales of woe.

"My wife called as I was on the way to work this morning. Kids were up and couldn't watch Curious George," wrote FINS on

On the same site, edizzle reported: "It is the update for 3D. all 5 of my boxes were frozen and i have already fielded dozens of calls. most were fine after one RBR (red button reset), some required two. 3D on 6/11 channel 106. get your goggles ready."

And this from an integrator with the user name Fiasco: "I'm going out to a house tomorrow afternoon to fix their DTV boxes (they have 7). "

Meanwhile, industrious integrators recognized an opportunity when they saw one.

Marioamp recommended: "Bottom line, call your current and old clients and offer a fix; it may spark a conversation about some upgrades. At the very least, you'll come out looking like a concerned CI, that's calling to help client with an issue that's obviously not caused by you or any equipment you sold."

DirecTV posted this message on Twitter earlier this morning:

HDDVR customers: If your HDDVR will NOT power on, unplug the unit from the wall, wait 15sec, then replug, & repeat 1x to restore service.

That seemed to do the trick, except for SignatureSV, who got a "gray screen of death lol" even after four RBRs and…
Posted by Julie Jacobson on 06/08 at 04:47 PM
Blogs, Video, Permalink

Monday, June 07, 2010

By Tom LeBlanc
Comedian Aziz Ansari, host of the 2010 MTV Movie Awards, made fun of the 3D movie craze during his monologue.

“Now some people don’t like 3D. I love 3D. I love 3D. But full disclosure: I also think that headaches are dope so I’m a little bit biased.”

3D at CEProLive!

Join CE Pro editor Jason Knott on June 17 at 3:00 PM EDT to understand how to maximize the excitement and sales potential of 3D. Learn more
He joked that it’s annoying how people marvel at how “real” 3D movies look, given that most movies look real. “You know what doesn’t look real though? ‘Clash of the Titans,’ ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and ‘Avatar.’ Those movies look like video games.”

Check it out (after a short ad). The 3D references start at about 35 seconds into the video:

Posted by Tom LeBlanc on 06/07 at 02:35 PM
Blogs, Permalink


By Julie Jacobson
The government wants to bail out journalism.

Good news for me, right?

Not so fast. To save journalism, Uncle Sam may punish money-grubbing consumer electronics companies – the very CE companies that pay our bills here at EH Publishing.

The FTC is proposing reviewing a proposal to impose a 5% tax on consumer electronics to mitigate the “challenges faced by journalism in the Internet age.”

It’s only fair, right? Profiteers who make TVs, cheap computers and smart phones should be punished for turning reporters and readers into slugs.

Such is the wisdom of the FTC, author of a 47-page document called “Potential Policy Recommendations to Support the Reinvention of Journalism (pdf).” (CORRECTION: While the FTC authored the document, the commission did not propose all of the ideas, including the CE tax, contained therein.)

Here’s how government segues from bad journalism to CE sales tax (stay with me):

Studies show that newspapers provide the largest quantity of original news. >> Advertising is down >> Newspapers respond by cutting staff. >> Staff downsizing causes “significant losses of news coverage.” >> Newspapers struggle to find a sustainable business model “and there is reason for concern that such a business model may not emerge.” >> U.S. Government has always subsidized journalism in one way or another. >> Tax consumer electronics.

The FTC document refers to a “Citizen Media Fund” that could be financed through:

Tax on consumer electronics
. A…
Posted by Julie Jacobson on 06/07 at 08:51 AM
News, Blogs, Permalink

By Julie Jacobson

Proving that CE Pro editors aren't perfect ... In fact, Lutron founder Joel Spira invented lunch.

(And no, that wasn't our worst typo. This is.)
Posted by Julie Jacobson on 06/07 at 06:14 AM
Blogs, Permalink

Friday, June 04, 2010

By Julie Jacobson
Crestron is shoring up its Prodigy product line, and distributor AVAD is upping its training and support for the entry-level control system.

In the course of a recent AVAD Webinar, the presenter used this slide to compare a typical Prodigy system with a comparable solution from Control4.

Now dealers are all in a tizzy debating the accuracy of the table.


Kevin L comments:

The HC300 comes with a remote control so we can remove SR250 $199 off the price, the TSE-3.8C2-W is not 699 its 599 so take off $100, the LOZ-5S1 is an outlet switch. DIM1-Z should of been the product suggested which is 774 so theres 6 dollars, the KPZ-6B1 shows a price of 1794 which is ridiculous, 6 KPZ6B1 is 1074 so take off $720 Total price difference in the false pdf vs the real world is $1,025. That brings the total of the Control4 system down to 5,839.95 which makes it $516 dollars cheaper then the Crestron package.

We'll let you be the judge, but ... does a $500 price difference really matter?

I hope so. Nothing amuses us more than watching Control4 and Crestron dealers go at it!
Posted by Julie Jacobson on 06/04 at 01:31 PM
Blogs, Home Automation and Control, Permalink

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