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2008- 2009 News Articles

12/31/09

[New Years is Here!]

        I was in NYC a couple days ago and decided to check out Radio City Music Hall to see the Rockettes. The show was great, one part I particularly enjoyed was the 3D show. For this portion, an enormous screen dropped as we put on our glasses. We followed Santas’ Sleigh all over the city while gifts fell and snowflakes seemed to land right in our laps.

         I haven’t seen many 3D showings but I have been a fan since my first viewing at Disney World when I was about 7-years old (something starring Michael Jackson).  For this year, I’d love to see some type of widespread domestic evolution for 3D TV. Unfortunately, I’m guessing we’re about three years away from this. In the meanwhile, we’ll be watching greener TVs while swimming in internet streams.   

Happy New Year!

11/11/09

[Article]

 <-Click to View Article.

      A "Neat-O!" article was just published covering one of our recent wiring jobs.

      See page 83 of CEPro magazine (November issue), or click image above. It's a great magazine, if you aren’t a subscriber, click HERE to sign up for free!

10/30/09

[Games To Follow]

         There are some very interesting and major renovations to certain video games we should all be keeping a close eye on. Some features of these upcoming games are mind-boggling. 

 

         Xbox has been working on their “Project Natal”. This is code for “controller-free gaming” = no wires, no hand-held controls, no step-pads, or anything but the player themselves.        

 

         With voice-recognition and 3D motion cameras in place, these games seem to come right into your natural environment. Project Natal was first announced on June 1, 2009. Since then, thousands of software development kits have been shipping to game developers. The first release date is expected to be out late 2010. Check out this link for a quick preview of what’s really going on – PROJECT NATAL

        On a closer note… Next month Netflix will make its online video service available through Sony’s PlayStation 3 console (currently Xbox is the only other game offering this service).

        With Blu-ray player & online video service capabilities, what else could you ask for from the PS3??...

                      How about a Wii-like controller?...

Xbox is already working on their version of the controller, now this is what PS3 seems to be working on as well. PS3s' “Wii-like” controller will either be called “the PS3mote or Waggle”.  I haven’t found any release dates, however, CEO Jack Tretton announced that “this controller would be available in spring 2010”.

 

..."Pacman is still one of the best games around."

10/16/09

[Nevo Remotes]

          For years we’ve been very successful with two lines of remotes (RTI & URC). At a current training session with NEVO Remotes, I was impressed with what they had to offer (especially for the price). It looks like we just added a third remote line!

        Their latest Remote, the S70, is very similar to RTIs T3-V. They both communicate with: Z-wave (or Zigbee for RTI), RF, and with the IP browser, you can browse web-content on websites optimized for mobile devices.  This includes control and viewing IP based security cameras and monitors.

 

         Functionality all put aside, I like the designs of either remote most. Check out more on these sleek remotes by clicking HERE for NEVO & HERE for RTI.

       If you’re interested in purchasing a NEVO remote, we (as a new dealer) have some incredible deals going on until the end of the month. After this, we'll still have great deals for all our remote lines, so don’t worry.

 

- Not to be left out... click HERE to link with URC's product line.

9/13/09

[New TVs, New Sources

        When the setting calls for it, I’ve always been supportive of plasma displays over LCD TVs. Black levels, color, motion display, just about everything is superior with plasma. Now that the high-end plasma manufacturers are out of the picture (Fujitsu & Pioneer), what’s the best?

         Last week I would have still said Plasma, preferably Panasonic. However, after viewing some crisp new “LED” LCD’s I may be coming around to LCD (the LED-based ones). Samsung’s new “LED” line at 240Hz, stunning colors, millions-to-one contrast, & great design (at about an inch thin), may have won me over.

 

 

         So what’s next? Besides the frame design and picture quality, the next TV’s will be gaining attractiveness with functionality. It’s about time! Seeking out displays based on looks seems so superficial (half joking):

         - Samsung will soon be offering Blockbusters’ Digital Library. Oh yeah, Blockbuster is stewing up a new online video rental service... to launch this Fall. New Samsung HDTVs, Home theater systems, and Blu-ray players will include this Blockbuster digital entertainment library (Existing Samsung products will gain access with a free firmware upgrade).


       - LG Electronics, Samsung, & possibly other CE products will be teaming up with “Best Buy Digital storefronts by the end of the year.” With the partnership between Best Buy, Sonic Solutions, & CinemaNow, their online library is claiming to offer over 14,000 DVD-titles.

        - Sony Bravia HDTVs will be Netflix-ready coming this Fall.  Their internet-ready devices can also access: Amazon Video On DemandYouTube, Sports Illustrated, Sony Pictures, CBS and other content providers.

       - Vizio will be partnering up with VUDU. This service currently offers over 1,000 DVD titles at HDX 1080p. Yes Vizio. Surprisingly enough, this “entry-level” television company will have Wi-Fi enabled TV sets coming November. These sets will feature web applications such as Pandora Radio and include a full keyboard!

7/30/09

[Right Now]

     Summer is full bloom and the outdoors are the great place to entertain. I found a nice solution for outdoor grilling with limited space, perfect here in Southern California. This is the new folding barbeque by Rocal, the PLEK 66.

     We don’t sell this piece but feel free to browse the website, click HERE.

 

    And a couple days away, August is expecting some products to look forward to:

- Panasonic has been "Crowned King of the Plasmas", their newest line will be releasing a 58” and 65” sometime next month, click HERE.

- A new 1080p projector for only $999! Vivitek will be releasing their new H1080FD.

6/24/09

[Again.]

    I wrote about it last time, so here we are again. The new iPhones are out! The new phones are faster, have a video recorder, compass, better camera, better control, larger hard-drive, voice control, cut-copy-paste, longer battery, and they’re cheaper!
    If you already have an iPhone 3G, the latest 3.0 software release will add cut-copy-paste as well as some other features, for 100 bucks more, the new phones are here. Apple 3G[s].   

5/20/09
[FREE installation!]
    If your whole-house music system choice brand is Russound, I’ve got some good news. You will now be able to control your music system, zones, volume, sources, & view all your cover-art and metadata right from your iPhone or from the iPod touch.
    Russound has just released a new product to make this happen… the Touchpoint will be shipping mid June. The past few years we’ve been able to control our computers' audio files and other home systems with our Apple devices, now Russound is right in the game.
    As a celebration of this new product, we’re offering free installation to all our customers who are quick to order. This offer stands so long as this article is the newest article here on the website, don’t miss out! (You see that button to the left < labeled contact? that’s where you should be).

4/10/09
[Have you been to Babcock Ranch?]
    It isn’t built yet, but Babcock Ranch is located in Florida. This “Ranch” is planned to be the “first city in the world powered by clean, renewable solar energy.”
    Every building, streetlight, grocery store and gas station (ha), will be powered by solar energy. By “gas-station” I really mean there will be community-wide recharging stations for electric vehicles. These stations will be powered by, that’s right, solar energy.
    Once this city is built, it should be a groundbreaking example for builders and communities throughout the country. I actually passed my first electric vehicle heading southbound on the 5 freeway two days ago. The car was followed by a larger truck (with lights for protection) and it wasn’t the best looking vehicle, but it shows the technology is alive and ready to spread.
    Shaun Woods, our main collaborating electrician for Wave Connects, is right in the game and has already been offering alternative energy. Talk to us about your solar project, OR… click below and link to Shaun's website –

3/30/09
[New Decals!]
    The title says it all, we got a new logo to work with. Keep your eyes peeled for this logo on our work vehicles, they'll be out there!
    I've grown up near the beach and surfing my entire life so this logo is that much more satisfying. Thanks to: Our lead technician Robyn Finchum for drawing up the design, Joel Deskin for laying it out to a printable file, and Matt Kriegel for hooking up the prints. Thanks everyone!

2/20/09
[Pioneers Exit]
    Pioneer recently had a surprising announcement of its plans to exit the plasma production. They have spent close to a Billion dollars on four plasma TV manufacturing plants and have been the leader in picture quality among flat-panel displays.
    Last year (see below article from Jan/2008), Fujitsu, another high-end Plasma manufacturer, decided to exit the market and leave Pioneer to carry strong. Soon after, Pioneer launched its premier “Project Kuro” line promising total black levels and hand’s down consumer choice for picture quality. 
    Pioneer will now be buying its plasma panels from Panasonic, a former competitor, and its LCD panels from Sharp. Both Panasonic and Sharp have been on top of the technological edge in these two departments so this move will be exciting to watch. 

1/11/09
[The Greener the Better]
    Energy Star labels energy efficient TV’s based on the amount of electricity they use when the display is off (standby mode). Energy Star qualified TV’s use about 30% less energy than standard units.
    Recently the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released new standards for Energy Star certification. If you’re looking for a new TV that meets current standards, the Energy Star certification is version 3.
    Because of the technology involved in illumination (when the TV is on), plasma displays traditionally use more energy than do LCDs. Plasma screens are made of pixels, each of which has an individual light source that gets illuminated as needed. An LCD always has a backlight illuminating the entire screen. To create a picture, LCDs block light from getting through to certain pixels, and this steady source of power explains the energy consumption difference (it also explains the better black-levels found with plasma).
    Plasma energy ratings have been steadily increasing for the better. Although LCDs still are reputed to be more energy efficient, there are in fact some plasmas that meet the latest Energy Star specs. These include models by Hitachi, LG, Panasonic, and Pioneer.

11/14/08
[What Else Can These Remotes Do?]
    Universal Remote Control has just added a few new products and a few new features to their entire professional product line. I’m not sure where to start, how about lights?
    Lutron Electronics and URC (Universal Remote Control) have paired up to establish native lighting control from URC’s line of remotes. Scene setting, away modes, dimming presets, RF-control, its all here! If you’ve been tentative about installing whole-house lighting control because of it’s initial exorbitant costs, this is a great starting solution, one dimmer at a time.
    The new remote, the MX-6000:
    This thing is much more than just a theater remote… Paired with the new iPod integration media dock, we now will be streaming right from your computers' hard-drive directly to your entertainment center, display, speakers, AND to the touch-screen remote you’re holding in your hands! (so long as it’s the MX-6000). “Everything you’ve downloaded, from podcasts to music videos, movies and TV shows is selectable on the screen of the MX-6000”.
    For a personal music server, all your cover-art displays on the remotes screen, there’s a click-wheel (like your iPod), and there’s extra features I’m sure Apple would have included on their iPod had the “screen real estate” been there for it. 
    Yesterday, at the training session I was lucky enough to win the raffle for this iPod media docking station (which isn’t being sold yet). This is one of those fun things I need to install ASAP. We hope to have it set up somewhere, before it’s even on the shelf for other installers. 

10/15/08
[A Solar Creation]

    Open Energy Corporation of Solana Beach yesterday released an innovative solar panel solution for homes running solar power. A four-foot 48-watt roofing panel was designed to overcome one of the biggest hurdles people face when deciding to switch to solar power… aesthetics.
    The panel is available in three colors: slate gray, brown, and terra cotta. “The tiles and the frame can be matched with the roofing tile to blend seamlessly to provide an elegant solution to a solar installation.”
    Besides the aesthetic appeal, these panels claim to be easier to install and maintain. They are lightweight, have fewer electrical connections, AND provide more wattage and higher installed efficiency.    
    Open Energy is also in the midst of developing a dedicated touch-screen device for tracking solar panel and home energy usage, including gas and water usage. Click HERE to visit Open Energy’s website.

9/1/08
[Newspaper TV]
    (Sometimes) it would be nice to be able to roll up your television like a newspaper and bring it with you wherever you go. The next generation televisions may just have the answer, not so far off and still in the making,  there’s potential for… Newspaper TV.
    CRT Televisions have stepped aside to LCD and Plasmas, who’s next? OLED, “the future of television”. OLED stands for organic light-emitting diode. The same natural biological phenomenon that puts the fire in fireflies, plankton and many sea-creatures will be the same phenomenon lighting your TV!
    This phenomenon, or now… technology, has many benefits over LCD and Plasma displays: Brighter, faster, cheaper, thinner, environmentally friendlier, lighter, shock repellant (and they could be rolled up like a newspaper).
    They are brighter than any back-lit passive technology and react faster to changes in signal than plasmas or LCDs (full-motion video shouldn’t be much bothered by motion blur). They are lighter, virtually impervious to shock and twisting forces, they have a much greater operating temperature range, thinner (much thinner), and much better for off-axis viewing. 
    Their biggest issue is the limited lifetime of the organic materials used. OLED’s typical lifetime is around 14,000 hours. This translates to five years at eight hours a day. The average LCD lifetime is currently around 60,000 hours.
    Sony currently has up to 27” models (claiming 1,000,000:1 contrast ratios) and Samsung has developed a 40” prototype. Still some hurdles to leap and some time to come, but this ancient phenomenon will be sure to make a stunning comeback, just imagine the applications (or scroll down to the “Electric Paper” article from 6/1/07 below).

7/15/08
[Newer is Always Better Usually.]
    The new iPhones are here! They were released three days ago at half the price of the last version. I still have the original iPhone I purchased for $400 a year ago. New and improved, the latest ones offer faster network connections, real GPS, and are priced down to $200. The question I ask myself is… should I have waited? Without a doubt, NO!
    With technology, everything is constantly evolving. Blu-ray players, HDMI components, Satellite TV, Internet, you name it. This past year I’ve had with my iPhone by dishing out a couple hundred dollars more has saved me time, gained me user knowledge, organized my contact lists, made things much easier, everyday. (plus I had an iPhone).

- Anyone waiting for even the next iPhone? ... Don't.
- Waiting for the next Blu-ray players? Right now you’re missing out on             valuable high definition movie watching experiences.
- Waiting for the next, better, simpler satellite dish solution from Direct TV?     Oh wait, it was just released has many problems right now.
- Waiting for the next, cheaper, flatter, flat-panel? Maybe wait ten years, and then it will just be a fiber-enriched paint on the wall. In ten years, we’ll be waiting for 5-d, screen-less, movie rooms with scent effects (I’m just making things up now).

- Anyhow, the new iPhones are out. The next ones will probably be better.

5/12/08
[New Product = Nice Keypad]      
    Russound just started shipping it’s new Elite Sphere product line. This system offers many new customizable features and some good-looking keypads. We are one of the few proudly certified dealers for this new product line. Click on either above keypad, or HERE to view more.

4/16/08
[Cyberspace-Cadets]
    Since it’s launch in 2003, Apple iTunes Music Store has become the largest U.S. music retailer. They’ve sold over 4 billion songs to more than 50 million customers. Internet speeds are accommodating and consumers seem to be migrating to digital downloads while companies try and keep with the pace. Last week, MySpace formed a joint venture with three major record companies. Universal, Sony BMG, & Warner Music will all make their entire catalogues available for downloading on a “revamped MySpace Music site later this year”.
    Other news: Blu-ray has won... period. Or comma? Their next defeat, which may not be a fair or far off battle, will be against VoD (Video on Demand). Once Internet TV comes to stage, this new era of cyberspace consumers will undoubtably be yearning for more.

  -   Battling on, HDMI vs. Component vs..

    HDMI has been struggling for years with flaws, formats, and copyright protection issues. As version 1.3 nears a soluble climax for this cable, a new contender may be entering the scene. DisplayPort, a cable developed primarily for the PC sector, has recently injected its way into the Consumer Electronics world. There’s some skepticism as well as some future for this alternative as companies such as Dell, Pioneer, and Samsung all appear to be “toying with the idea”. Component Video still stands strong…

2/15/08
[Click and Link]
    Lutron has a new addition to their website. Click HERE and link to their new interactive energy-saving calculator webpage. Controlled lights and lights on dimmers saves the environment, and your money…

2/11/08
[Blu-ray’s Battle]
    After years of debate, we may finally have a clear picture of where the DVD industry stands in the high definition format battle between Blu-ray and HD-DVD.
    A couple hours ago, Netflix, Inc., the world’s largest online movie rental service, has taken Blu-ray’s side for battle. From now on, they will be exclusively stocking high definition DVD’s in the Blu-ray format.
    Blu-ray, created by Sony, is backed by Warner Bros, 20th Century Fox, Buena Vista, and others. Netflix hoping on the wagon isn’t surprising. Currently HD-DVD (created by Toshiba), still has Universal and Paramount Pictures on its side.

1/5/08
[Farewell Fujitsu]
    Fujitsu has been manufacturing top-of-the-line plasma displays since it introduced the first color plasma display monitor in 1992. Recently, Fujitsu released to the public that they will be exiting the plasma display market coming March of 2008. Intense competition from LCD TVs and increasing price pressures can be blamed. The company isn’t going out of business, instead they will be focusing on “heating and ventilation equipment instead”, they will still be honoring their three-year warranty.
    If you are interested in purchasing a Fujitsu, let us know sooner than later (like right now), we still have a limited amount in stock. If you are looking for comparable quality, it seems as though Pioneer is the only company pushing the plasma envelope anymore.

- Paul T. James

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