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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

By Steve Crowe
Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the CEA, doesn't seem fazed by the lack of 3D content.

Or by how expensive 3D systems are. And he certainly isn't worried about "Avatar" losing the Oscar for Best Picture and the impact that will have on 3D.

In CE Vision Magazine, Shapiro says "3DTV will be a hit. Gamers will embrace the 3DTV experience. Many events, sports and movies will be enhanced by 3DTV."

He does admit there are many challenges to overcome.

3DTV is not HDTV. 3DTV is a wonderful feature that many consumers will want - but it is not in the HD league.

It is early and many challenges must be overcome. We must agree on standards so consumers can invest in glasses. We must understand that those with eye issues, monovision or susceptibility to motion sickness may not appreciate 3D. We need to qualify customers and set their expectations to avoid 3DTV returns. We need to understand the benefits and any potential harm from 3D viewing.

Many CE pros seem to have a different take on 3D, saying they haven't talked with clients about 3D and that they're taking a "wait-and-see approach."

Who do you guys think is right?
Posted by Steve Crowe on 03/17 at 10:51 AM
Blogs, (2) Comments, Permalink

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

By Jason Knott
Lock up the booth babes, tear off that Obama bumper sticker and get ready to learn, network and party in Orlando next week.

There was almost a cataclysm of convergence in the central Florida community from March 25-27.

Early reports had Tiger Woods ending his self-imposed hiatus from the PGA Tour at the Bay Hill Invitational in Orlando, just a few miles from the Orange County Convention Center where EHX Spring will be taking place. Late word is he has decided to skip the tournament.

Booth babes across Orlando are breathing a sigh of relief. Or, on second thought, maybe they're disappointed.

Meanwhile, controversial conservative commentator Glenn Beck is swooping into town for one night on March 27 to hold one of his “American Revival” events at the OCF Arena in downtown Orlando.

And EHX Spring will be taking place March 25-27 with 60-plus educational seminars and 125 vendors, plenty of networking and even the debut of the CE Pro All Star Band.

I went to both Woods' and Beck's Web sites and personally invited both to stop by EHX. I will let you know if I get any response.

By the way, tickets to Beck's all-day event are $135 and tickets to the Bay Hill Invitational are $45 plus parking. So EHX is by far the best bargain of the three.
Posted by Jason Knott on 03/16 at 11:33 AM
Blogs, Events, EHX Spring, (7) Comments, Permalink

Thursday, March 11, 2010

By Julie Jacobson
It's official, according to AppleInsider: iPhone's new 4.0 software update will support multitasking. So, presumably, will the iPad.

According to the article:

Today's iPhone 3.x software is a fully preemptive multitasking operating system, but it artificially restricts apps (other than specific ones bundled with the system by Apple) from running in the background.

Controversy over "multitasking" within the iPhone OS has been brewing ever since Apple launched iPhone 2.0 with the ability to run third party software titles. While often reported as begin a technical flaw, the iPhone OS really has no problem with multitasking.

The system's phone, SMS, email, iPod, voice recorder, Nike+, and certain other bundled apps can continue in the background while the user launches another app. However, third party titles obtained from the App Store (including apps from Apple, such as Remote or iDisk) can not be launched at the same time.

This behavior is prevented by the iPhone OS' security model, which is designed to close the current app whenever the user returns to the Home screen or accepts an incoming call. This design prevents apps from being able to run in the background without the user knowing, and therefore erases any real potential for spyware, adware and viruses. ...

Among these apps begging for background execution are: Pandora-style Internet radio; third party instant messaging features that are available at all times just like SMS or email; and Loopt or Google Latitude type apps that report the user's location at regular intervals.

Will that convince home-control purists that the iPad…
Posted by Julie Jacobson on 03/11 at 10:16 AM
Blogs, Home Automation and Control, (3) Comments, Permalink

By Julie Jacobson

We thought we’d seen all the “green” certifications out there, but Stewart Filmscreen alerted us to yet another: GreenGuard Children & Schools Certification.

A leading manufacturer of video projector screens, Stewart has just earned the GreenGuard designation for its framing systems and screen materials.

According to the company:
The GreenGuard Children & Schools Certification indicates that a product has met the highest standards for clean indoor air and contributes to healthy work, home, school and other indoor environments. GreenGuard Children & Schools Certification establishes strict chemical emission limits to define low-emitting materials for environments where people spend an extended period of time. Children, in particular, are vulnerable to airborne toxins, as they have higher inhalation rates per pound of body weight than adults.

GreenGuard Certification is recognized and accepted by a number of "green" building programs, including the United States Green Building Council's (USGBC) LEED Rating System. The not-for-profit GreenGuard Environmental Institute oversees the GreenGuard Certification Programs and establishes acceptable indoor standards for indoor products, environments and buildings.

We’re delighted for Stewart but … really … another green certification?

Anyway, the company is proud of its green achievements. Stewart earlier received a Smart Business Recycling Award from L.A. County for clean manufacturing.

Stewart VP and CFO Tom Stewart says that award trumps even the prestigious A/V industry awards the company has won.

“We have won numerous awards over our…
Posted by Julie Jacobson on 03/11 at 07:20 AM
Blogs, Displays, Projectors and Screens, (2) Comments, Permalink

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

By Julie Jacobson
I never miss an opportunity to promote the idea of cookie-cutter systems as a viable business model for custom integrators.

And this recent article in Builder magazine, gives me another excuse to proselytize.

The article profiles several heretofore custom-only builders that are now turning to semi-custom home building.

Steve Kendrick of Structures Building Co. in Charleston, S.C., used to build million-dollar made-from-scratch homes, as well as high-end spec homes. Now he's launching HouseSimple, a build-on-your-lot program offering a variety of luxury plans with preselected, pre-priced base packages, as well as upgrade options for lighting, fixtures, hardware, appliances, and exterior paint selections.

Kendrick says:

A lot of people get scared off by the custom building process because the design meetings and selections are so time-consuming. ... The idea behind HouseSimple is to give buyers a blueprint as a starting point. From there, they can keep it simple with the finishes and schemes we’ve preselected, or they can fully customize. Or they can customize just one part of it, such as the lighting package. The overall idea is to simplify the process and make it less overwhelming for those who want something that looks and feels custom, but don’t have the time to pick every little detail.

The article highlights several other business models related to semi-custom building ... a good read for custom integrators who are exploring new directions.
Posted by Julie Jacobson on 03/10 at 04:05 PM
Blogs, Builders, (0) Comments, Permalink

By Julie Jacobson

TiVo is serving up some might tasty new features on its forthcoming Series 4 Premiere DVRs.

So it's no surprise that consumers and resellers alike will be pawning off their Series 3 products leading up to the April release of the newer models.

Today, Woot! is offering refurbished TiVo Series 3 TCD648250 250GB THX-certified DVRs for $170 plus the usual $5 for shipping.

Is that a good deal or not? The 320GB Premiere model has an MSRP of $300, and the street price will no doubt be lower after a month or so after the product's release.

Currently, used (not refurbished) TCD648250 DVRs start at about $245 and new ones are going for $475 and up.

So what do you think. Is Woot's offering a deal ... or no deal?
Posted by Julie Jacobson on 03/10 at 08:41 AM
Blogs, Video, Media Servers, (2) Comments, Permalink

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

By Jason Knott

Like many people, I was shocked "Avatar" did not win the Oscar for Best Picture at the Academy Awards.

It has everything: grand scale, great story, action, sentiment and, of course, 3D.

Maybe it just means "The Hurt Locker" is a super movie (haven't seen it). But does the Oscar result signal something deeper regarding the future of 3D? Is the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) saying it believes 3D is just a passing fad?

Remember, AMPAS includes the word "sciences," meaning it takes into consideration the technology behind movies.

It certainly would be ironic if that was the case, especially since Samsung inundated the broadcast with commercials for its 3D TVs. Samsung certainly doesn't see 3D as a fad.

The loss for "Avatar" comes at the same time we heard a lukewarm reaction (at best) to 3D from integrators.

What do you think?
Posted by Jason Knott on 03/09 at 02:55 PM
Blogs, (7) Comments, Permalink


On his new album “Songs and Stories,” George Benson tackles jazz, soft rock and R&B without missing a beat.

By Robert Archer
Just prior to the holiday season Monster Music and the Concord Music Group released the latest recording from the legendary jazz guitar player George Benson.

The new album entitled “Songs and Stories” is available on Monster’s SuperDisc format, which bundles together DTS’ high-resolution audio, along with Dolby Digital and the iPod friendly Dolby Headphone Surround audio format all within a single release.

“Songs and Stories” was produced by John Buck and Marcus Miller, who is one of music’s great bass players, and together they crafted an effort that’s mainstream by jazz standards.

The album features songs written by Bill Withers and Rod Temperton, as well as covers of artists like James Taylor and Tony Joe White, and guest musicians such as Steve Lukather, Lee Ritenour, Lalah Hathaway and David Paich.

I listened to the album’s various mixes and felt that the best version was the surround mix. It was spacious, detailed and I think it best represented the production goals of Miller, Buck and Benson.

As a whole, the production does take some of the organic feel out of the music that some purists may crave. Personally I would have liked to hear more weight and thump in Miller’s bass tone, but considering what the trio were trying to accomplish with this record I think it’s understandable.

Characterizing those production values; it’s a lush, slick recording that comes off as modern and smooth. Benson’s playing…
Posted by Robert Archer on 03/09 at 09:40 AM
Blogs, Audio, Video, Digital Media, Digital Rights, Home Health, (0) Comments, Permalink

Friday, March 05, 2010

By Julie Jacobson
There's a little tiff going on about the merits of selling Sonos and similar self-contained systems.

Among the 50-plus comments on an article about the Sonos architecture, the "against" argument can be summed up by this blurb from Sanfransoxfan (who isn't an integrator, but a manufacturer of integration-friendly subsystems):

"Why would a systems integrator offer something that can't easily integrate with other systems? If I were to ever be a dealer, I would really avoid products like this and stick to those that understand and support the industry."

A dealer named Roetman and I are in the minority that sorely disagree with this viewpoint.

Roetman writes: "It was hard to change my attitude toward a lower margin, but the system has opened up so much more to us. In addition to our A/V baseline, being able to charge more for truly valuable labor literally saved our bacon last year."

I'm probably getting a little tedious pointing to Jamiesons Audio Video in Toledo, Ohio, as a stellar example of an integration company that understands the value proposition of Sonos and other systems of its ilk.

The company sells a couple of systems nearly every day. Each system takes about 2.5 hours to install, including network configuration, music loading and customer training.

Jamiesons charges about $500 for labor, makes margin on the product, and usually sells an upgrade or two, like speakers or a NAS.
Posted by Julie Jacobson on 03/05 at 07:56 AM
News, Blogs, (2) Comments, Permalink

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Micah Sheveloff, a PR professional that represents manufacturers such as THIEL and Bryston has gone online with a new blog that enables him to draw upon his musical training to bring a songwriter’s perspective to the audiophile hobby.

By Robert Archer
I have to admit that I am pretty much anti-audiophile. Even though I enjoy music and I enjoy turning on my modest home theater/two-channel system, I pretty much have no use for the elitist audiophile crowd that takes much of the enjoyment out of music listening at industry events.

That general statement may be a bit harsh, but as a whole it's a problem that permeates from the audiophile crowd and deep into show rooms across America where it turns off a large group of potential consumers who simply want to enjoy their favorite music and not the opinionated perspective a jaded hobbyist market.

Recently Micah Sheveloff, the public relations executive for THIEL Audio, Bryston, Savant, as well as several other companies asked me to take a look at his new music blog.

Sheveloff, a classically trained musician (his father is a professor of music at Boston University) is active in the New England music scene and he's bringing that background to his blog where he analyzes pop music.

What true music fans will appreciate about the site is that while it looks at music through the eyes of a songwriter/musician, he's not falling into the audiophile trappings of attributing the quality of a song or recording to the equipment that's being used for listening, and he appears to appreciate the effort that goes into writing, performing and recording a song.

The site is educational for those those interested in learning about…
Posted by Robert Archer on 03/03 at 10:45 AM
Blogs, Audio, (0) Comments, Permalink

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