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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

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

By Julie Jacobson
My, my, a lot of negative comments on the “big” news that Kaleidescape is adding Blu-ray support to its movie servers … with the caveat that the disc must be in the tray in order to play it.

OK, so it’s not ideal. You think Kaleidescape is happy about it?

The really big news in the announcement is that Kaleidescape does in fact have a road map.

What is the most worrisome thing about a Kaleidescape system? That the courts will rule its DVD servers illegal and the company will fold, leaving a bunch of rich people stranded. Or that Kaleidescape would never touch Blu-ray because it already has the wrath of the studios.

They had to show the world that they do have a solution. It’ll just take some time – possibly more than a year. Will that be too late? Possibly, but for now it will appease nervous dealers and consumers.

As for the argument that the need for multiple disc changers and lots of expensive, proprietary hard drives would be a deal killer … Kaleidescape is for rich people. It’s expensive already. Why should another $50,000 matter?

If there’s anything damning about the Kaleidescape news – as many dealers have suggested – it’s that there is really no discussion about streaming content from the Internet or over the home network. That could be a problem. Open up the system to iTunes and generic storage … now you’re talkin’.

Can't CEA Help?

Posted by Julie Jacobson on 05/12 at 07:58 AM
News, Blogs, Product News, Video, Blu-ray, Digital Media, Media Servers, Permalink

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

By Robert Archer
To be honest over the past couple of months I've run into some wireless connectivity products that frankly have surprised me.

The source of my surprise is the fact that these products actually work and they work without losing a half a day waiting on the phone for customer service to run you around in circles.

This was the exact situation I ran into with recently with Plaster Networks' PLN3 powerline carrier (PLC) adapter kit.

This past winter the company, which is a fairly new networking company, sent me its PLN3 kit along with IX2 power isolator power strip to prove to me that its retrofit-friendly network adapter works as easily as it says.

After unpacking the boxes I ran a short Cat-5 cable, which was supplied in the kit from my network switch to one of the adapters and plugged the power strip into my wall receptacle in the downstairs of my home. Next, I plugged another unit into a wall socket in my bedroom and connected the another Cat-5 cable to it and a Vidabox TouchClient 20 television/media center console.

That was the extent of my installation. I quickly verified a network connection with the Vidabox device (which is very cool by the way) and started to run through the Vidabox's Media Center functions like metadata retrieval, the sports update information, as well as some other features too that included me leaving the Media Center environment to surf the Web with the TouchClient 20's Internet Explorer browser.

Friday, May 07, 2010

By Tom LeBlanc
eLifespaces, a Charleston, S.C.-based integration company, has developed three Apple iPhone apps -- a home control app, a home theater space calculator and an energy monitoring app.

A free version and a $170 expanded version of its eController is available in Apple’s App Store; the Home Theater Assistant (HTA) costs 99 cents; and the eNergy is in the final stages of development.

In general, eLifespaces is an Apple-friendly integration company. On its Website, the company touts itself as Apple Product Professionals and Apple iPhone Developers. In his CE Pro of the Week interview, president Fred Fabian says eLifespaces’ integration of Apple products sets it apart from the competition.

Fabian says he realizes many integrators fear Apple’s iPad will redefine home automation standards and kill hardware profits.

“Why fight it?” he says. “Customers are already introduced to the interface. We can sell them the eController, which works well in the do-it-yourself world.”

Where's the Benefit?

Even though eController is a good fit for do-it-yourselfers, Fabian is quick to add eLifespaces is a custom integrator and doesn't target the DIY crowd. “The folks that engage us aren’t price-conscious. Our customers are looking for a specific custom solution.”

As such, he names Crestron and Vantage as home automation solutions that eLifespaces provides. So why bother developing apps?

It’s not because the apps make money for eLifespaces, Fabian says. “They…
Posted by Tom LeBlanc on 05/07 at 07:12 AM
Blogs, Home Automation and Control, Permalink

By Julie Jacobson
While my conversation with Crestron VP Technology Fred Bargetzi was mostly about Prodigy, I did have to ask: What can you tell me about the forthcoming 3-Series?

Besides the typical oohing and aahing and claims that the new platform is revolutionary, Bargetzi gave me this:

"Control systems today typically are used only to control other devices, not to actually play audio or video. Why shouldn't control systems render A/V instead of just control it?"

As he puts it, Series 3 will "play into A/V distribution."

When we think about A/V rendering, we usually think about DLNA, the standard than enables compatible devices to render content streamed from DLNA sources, without the need to create drivers or interfaces. The interface is built into the DLNA server, and simply presented via the rendering device, such as a PS3, Xbox, compatible Blu-ray player and perhaps a Series 3 controller?

"With the new platform, that [DLNA] will become more relevant," Bargetzi says.

It's not surprising that Series 3 was codenamed Logos, as in the principle of order and knowledge in the Universe.

Details on the new platform will be revealed at Infocomm.
Posted by Julie Jacobson on 05/07 at 06:03 AM
Blogs, Home Automation and Control, Control Systems, Permalink

Thursday, May 06, 2010

By Robert Archer
OK, so we're a day late on this. But we were just too busy yesterday dressing up in Star Wars garb and cruising around the office on our Landspeeders.

To hardcore “Star Wars” fans, National Star Wars Day should be May 25. That's the date 33 years ago the landmark science fiction franchise hit the theaters.

But May 4 is the official date. May the 4th be with you … get it?

Feeling the spirit of the movie franchise washing over the office, we wondered how the movie would have looked if we were cast as these legendary characters.

Posted by Robert Archer on 05/06 at 08:52 AM
Blogs, Permalink

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

By Julie Jacobson
Crestron's Series 2 (or 2 Series) processors have been the staple of Crestron controllers for about seven years.

Now it looks like the company is coming out with the next-gen 3-Series processor. In a teaser for Infocomm, the company invites the press for a tour of the booth:

This exclusive tour will reveal next generation DigitalMedia products; QuickPacks complete classroom systems and V-Panel HD touchpanels just for starters. You'll be amazed by our new 3-Series Control Systems that propel the industry forward with a faster processor architecture, leading edge networking and security protocols plus advanced data management and media processing capabilities.

The notice goes on to promote Crestron's commitment to building automation:

Our latest initiative to grow the industry, Crestron IBT (Integrated Building Technology), demonstrates our vision and commitment to fully integrate AV control with commercial building design.

CE Pro will be at Infocomm to bring readers the latest news from the commercial world.

UPDATE: Is DLNA Coming to Crestron Series 3?
Posted by Julie Jacobson on 05/05 at 08:07 AM
Blogs, Product News, Home Automation and Control, Commercial, Permalink

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