Custom and home theater gear from across the pond
By Mark Fleischmann
Liberty fries notwithstanding, America and Europe have always had a mutual fascination. Many Europeans wear Levis, drink Coke, listen to OutKast, and deplore the excesses of Hollywood (while enjoying them to the hilt). Americans, likewise, are fascinated by Europe's arts, cuisine, and most of all, Euro style.
Until recently Europe was decidedly the junior player in the home theater and custom install games. After all, when you can guzzle espresso in a café, or spend an evening at the opera, who needs home entertainment? America has also had the advantage in being a nation that constantly reinvents itself. In lieu of historic properties protected by heritage laws, we have exuberant rounds of fresh homebuilding, and that definitely includes prewiring.
But just multiple generations of Americans have discovered the blues by listening to Eric Clapton, we might also learn something from the European take on electronics. Euro-style home tech is more sleek, less utilitarian; more high-end, less mass-market; more, well, stylish. And our fascination begins anew.
Product with a British Accent
In a trans-Atlantic marriage that bridges the worlds of convergence and high-end audio/video, the B&W Group—which includes Bowers & Wilkins loudspeakers, as well as Rotel and Classé electronic components—has acquired exclusive rights to I-Command, a new brand based on software from Utah-based In2 Networks. The i-Command Integrated Control System uses standard Cat5 wiring or 802.11b wireless networking to control A/V components, multi-room systems, lighting, projectors, screens, motorized drapes, and peripherals. An i-Node device no larger than a pack of cards
attaches to RS-232 jacks and communicates with an i-Command touch panel—or a wireless PDA, tablet/laptop/desktop PC, or pretty much anything with a browser. For devices without an RS-232 jack, there's an ir-Node which sends the infrared equivalent of an RS-232 command to each component.