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By CE Pro Editors
by Jon Sienkiewicz, Director of Corporate Communications, URC
Forgive us for using the industry’s most popular newsletter as a bully pulpit, but we’re selfish. URC employees drive thousands of miles every year in the course of doing their job. They drive thousands more for personal travel. We love every one of them, and we want every mile they travel to be safe.
We all know it’s wrong to drive while distracted, but many people do it anyway. Either they think they’re better than everyone else and won’t cause an accident, or they’re just plain irresponsibly stupid, it’s hard to say. The fact is that sending or receiving a text message takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent—at 55 mph—of driving the length of an entire football field, blind.
“Statistics aside, if the employer does not operate in one of those states that have banned the practice, does that mean there is no liability? Not at all. Whether a driver is negligent in his or her driving is a question of fact to be determined in court, regardless of whether it’s legally permissible or not.
Ironically, the rapid enactment of these laws actually makes the situation worse for employers. Not only is it easier to prove negligence in those states, these laws banning texting while driving make it much easier for plaintif fs to claim – and get – punitive damages. The violation of such laws goes to show reckless and outrageous indifference to a highly unreasonable risk of harm, greatly increasing the chances that punitive damages will be awarded.” - Read entry
By Jason Knott
This is an open letter to all manufacturers of Ultra HD/4K flat panel displays: Please do not forget the custom electronics installation channel as you roll out this new high-end, super-dynamic technology. Don’t repeat the same mistake you made with the 3D roll-out just a few years ago.
You must know by now that integrators are the primary servicers for well-heeled, affluent customers and videophile first-adopters. No other channel is more able to sell $15,000 flat panel TVs than this one. Do you really believe that online websites, warehouse clubs and major retailers like Wal-Mart will be able to attract the right clientele for these very expensive displays?
Integrators are by far the best in-the-field salespeople to explain the nuances of 4K and properly demo Ultra HD TVs. As such, integrators are absolutely the ideal channel to be the first to carry and resell Ultra HD/4K TVs.
But at the CEDIA Expo this past fall in Denver, where were you? Other than JVC and Sony (which is now re-igniting its CIS program for the custom channel), the only presence for Ultra HD flat panel TVs was sprinkled among a few distributors. The Ultra HD/4K TVs were there but got the same amount of fanfare (or less) than the new Internet radio products, furniture, seating, etc., in distributors’ booths. Oh yeah, and the biggest distributor in the channel didn’t even exhibit at the show.
Didn’t you learn your lesson with the disastrous debacle that was 3D? Let’s remember what happened just a few short years ago. 3D was all the rage. Led by the release of James Cameron’s blockbuster hit movie “Avatar,” flat panel…
News, Blogs, Displays, TVs, Events, CEDIA, (9) Comments, Permalink
By Julie Jacobson
You know all of those “smart” LED bulbs like Philips Hue with their wireless technology and apps for controlling brightness and color?
Not a fan.
But this Kickstarter project called SmartCharge is a different kind of smart. The bulb, which screws into a standard light socket, packs a lithium ion battery for four hours of “on” time in the event of a power outage. And it can tell the difference between an outage and an “off” command.
Here’s how the company describes the technology:
It works like a normal light bulb even during power outages. With proprietary patent pending Grid & Switch Sensor technology, the SmartCharge Bulb senses a power outage, recognizes the ON/OFF position of your light switch and allows control of the light even with no utility/grid power. …
The heart of the SmartCharge Bulb is our patent pending Grid & Switch Sensor technology. It is capable of distinguishing between a loss of power due to opening of the line switch and a loss of power resulting from a grid failure when the line switch is either open or close. …
It works like a normal light bulb even during power outages. With proprietary patent pending Grid & Switch Sensor technology, the SmartCharge Bulb senses a power outage, recognizes the ON/OFF position of your light switch and allows control of the light even with no utility/grid power.
The current version of the SmartCharge enables a single switch to control a single bulb. Two- and three-way switches work, but can only control one of the lights on the circuit.
Bulbs are available for preorder on Read entry
News, Blogs, Home Automation and Control, Lighting, (2) Comments, Permalink
By Julie Jacobson
Bjorn Dybdahl, owner of the iconic Bjorn’s store in San Antonio, Texas, is an unabashed fan of 3D – always has been.
“I love 3D. I grew up with it,” he told me on Black Friday 2009.
During my Black Friday visit to the store this year, Bjorn was still touting 3D with his artful story-telling.
In the shop’s 10.2-channel theater – designed by Tomlinson Holman himself – more than a dozen customers watched a clip of “Man of Steel,” but not the 3D version.
“I kept that one at home for myself,” he said.
He asked the customers, “How many have seen 3D outside of a theater?”
Only three people raised their hands.
Then he told of the mistakes that manufacturers made in the early days of the format, “so people haven’t really been able to enjoy 3D.”
Back then 3D was a feature on higher-end sets, but within a year most decent TVs supported the technology out of the box.
Now that many of the original problems of 3D have been fixed and good 3D content such as “Life of Pi,” “Gravity” and “Man of Steel” are enjoying rave reviews in the theater, folks are taking another look at the much-maligned format.
“A lot of people who bought those TV,” he says, “they discovered they liked 3D. All of the sudden, the ‘problem’ with glasses disappear.”
He says his 3D-bashing neighbor discovered “The Masters” in 3D and now tells Dybdahl, “I want more.”
As Dybdahl says, “It all boils down to what you like to watch.”
In other Bjorn’s news ... 4K Ultra HD has been great business at…
By Jason Knott
Is being an audiophile today the equivalent of having leprosy centuries ago? It’s starting to feel that way. Audiophiles everywhere, it seems, are going underground and hiding their heads in shame. When they are “outed,” they apologize.
Instead of being commended and admired for their fine taste and pursuit of the ultimate audio experience, they find themselves being attacked and ridiculed as nothing but people who wildly over-spend on electronics when there are perfectly satisfactory, less-costly solutions. They get confused stares when they glorify the time they spent compiling top-of-the-line components and then tweaking them to perfection. Inviting guests to their home has become a painful experience for audiophiles knowing that ultimately the conversation will steer to the question, “How much did this stuff cost?”
The anti-audiophile trend is never more apparent than in the commentary of a recent blog from Paul McGowan, president of PS Audio, entitled, “I Admit It. I Am an Audiophile.” In the blog, McGowan laments that he and other audiophiles no longer show off with pride their new audio equipment acquisitions (like many people do with a new car or a new watch) except to their fellow audio enthusiasts who will “understand.”
“It’s taken me years to come to grips with the label ‘Audiophile,” says McGowan. “When people ask about my hobbies, passions and interests, I would talk about food, skiing, hiking, family and oh, yes, stereos. Good stereos. “Oh, like Bose?” Right, just like Bose. I had to actually work on my answer to include being an audiophile. Like someone announcing ‘I am an alcoholic.’ This isn’t a good situation. It’s one I…
By Julie Jacobson
My mom Susan Jacobson is in her mid-70s. She doesn’t watch much TV and she barely knows her way around a computer.
She uses her flip phone for … phone calls.
Besides her sewing machine, electric blanket and security system, she doesn’t use much technology. But she loves her CD collection and really wants to listen to her music in at least three rooms of her 2,000-square-foot house.
She’s tried Pandora and other streaming services but doesn’t like them. She wants to listen to her own collection, which numbers about 200 CDs.
She won’t spend more than $1,000.
It seems like there would be a wireless multiroom audio system for her – and millions of others like her – but I can’t seem to find it.
What she needs is a simple way to get her CDs onto a hard drive (she has space on her PC), and then a simple way to create playlists and distribute the music. There’s no need for independent streams – just a single stream to one to three speakers simultaneously.
She doesn’t mind going to her computer to select songs, albums or playlists. She certainly can’t use her flip phone to control the music. It would be nice to have a few buttons on the speakers to select a list, skip a track, etc., but these features aren’t critical.
A bonus would be to have an inexpensive Android tablet or some other touchscreen device for easy access when she’s away from the computer.
Does such a thing exist? Sure, I could put something together for her but why should I? Seems there should be a $750ish three-zone wireless audio kit…
News, Blogs, Audio, Distributed Audio, Wireless A/V, (30) Comments, Permalink
By Julie Jacobson
You’ve heard me complain long enough about my Time Warner Cable DVR: The Worst TV Interface Ever.
I lived with it for almost two years because, well, I was just too lazy to make a switch.
So I finally bought a TiVo Premiere and some multiroom and streaming accoutrements. After a long tech-support call and two visits from the cable guy, we finally got the CableCard + digital tuner working and I’m pretty sure I smelled rose petals and heard the Hallelujah Chorus from somewhere in the ether.
Strangely enough, the worst part of the TWC interface is video-on-demand, so I was looking for a better experience with TiVo. Sadly, my new box doesn’t support Time Warner VoD.
It also won’t stream Amazon Prime, which is a bummer.
RELATED: Oh, TiVo How I’ve Missed You!
Even so, navigation is so seamless, and the iPad-as-remote is so elegant, I can stand to lose VoD and Amazon streaming.
The best thing? When I came downstairs this morning, my husband had a huge grin on his face.
He proudly proclaimed, “Look, I turned the news on all by myself!”
I look forward to the days when he no longer calls me in the middle of the night, sobbing because he can’t work the DVR.
Life is too short for bad UIs. Do consumers know what they’re missing?
Replacing Time Warner Cable’s worst DVR UI ever with the elegant TiVo.
Blogs, Product News, Video, Media Servers, (6) Comments, Permalink
By Jason Knott
Most integrators are successful individuals. You run high-tech companies that contribute to society. You employ others who rely on you for their livelihood. You coach your kids’ soccer team. You bring pleasure to your clients by fulfilling their home entertainment dreams and utilitarian needs. You mom and dad would be very proud.
But is it enough? Is there something more? When you look at yourself in the mirror every morning, do you ask yourself if you are doing something that is significant? Are you leaving your mark on this planet? Are you making a substantial difference in the lives of others? Are you living a life and running a business that will carry a successor long after you depart earth? Do you have true satisfaction in life?
The answer for most people is “no.”
“Success does not mean happiness,” says Robert Owens, a former military man and current triathlete and leadership counselor with HelpingLeaders.com who spoke at the CE Pro Summit. Owens showed attendees his “Levels of Life” pyramid that has three layers of achievement above success: Significance, Successor and True Satisfaction.
“Success is more than having stuff,” he says. “Significance means you are making a difference in the world to more than just your family. Successor means you are mentoring someone to take over for you and enabling them to live larger than you.”
Owens challenged integrators to be more than just successful business owners, but he cautioned that it is very difficult for any person to move up more than three levels in his life pyramid. He noted that it is “difficult to change spots,” adding that the main…
By Julie Jacobson
Yesterday, I received a press release from Sears promoting a 55-inch 4K Ultra HD TV from Seiki on sale for $850, or $650 off the original $1,500 price (the PR said the sets go on sale on Thanksgiving day, but the Sears Website already shows it on sale.)
Granted, the Seiki 4K set is inferior to name-brand displays, and $1,500 was cheap enough to begin with, but it got me thinking about the perils of selling new technology to your clients too soon.
When it debuted just one year ago, the 84-inch 84LM9600 LED display from LG retailed for $17,000. Today, it sells for about $9,000.
Earlier this year, Sony debuted 55- and 65-inch UHD sets for $5,000 and $7,000, respectively. LG’s same-sized sets came in at $6,000 and $7,000.
Today, a 55-inch LG sets retail for $4,000; Sony’s 65-inch with built-in speakers costs $4,000; Samsung’s 65-inch sells for $5,500; Toshiba has a 58-incher for $2,800; and Sharp has a 70-inch 4K LED for $4,950.
And that doesn’t even factor in the Seikis of the category.
At the recent CE Pro 100 Summit, Jim Shapiro of Audio Video Intelligence talked about his early entry as an integrator into the 4K category. When asked by an audience member about how fast and how far the margins would fall for UHD sets, he responded, “There is a small window of opportunity. That’s why I wanted to be an early adopter.”
I’m genuinely curious: Do customers resent you for selling a product that drops in price so quickly and precipitously? The earliest adopters bought when there…
News, Blogs, Product News, Displays, (18) Comments, Permalink
By Julie Jacobson
It’s just so easy to send salespeople on the road and have them visit as many people as possible.
But have you ever seriously evaluated how much it costs to knock on each door?
“In the old days, we used to say a sales call cost $500,” said Ron Rothman, president of Honeywell Security Group, during the recent Honeywell Connect conference of some 1,000 dealers. “What does a sales call cost?”
He suggested that dealers in the audience share with sales people some of the metrics of the business so they can recognize that “time is money.”
He said, “It’s important for everyone to know where the money is and how we can continue to drive it harder.”
Every sales call should have a clear objective, according to the president, who was a full-time salesperson for 15 years back in the day.
“It’s hard to execute if you don’t know what the goal is,” he said. “If you don’t know why you’re on a sales call, you probably shouldn’t be going.”
Bottom line, according to Rothman: a sales call is “very expensive. If you work for Honeywell, you better know why you’re going.”
The same should be true for CE pros.
Blogs, Business Resources, Home Automation and Control, Security, (0) Comments, Permalink