April 2005 Issue


A Modular Approach to Sales

Integra's build-to-order home theater receiver system could lure DIY customers to your showroom By Erik Caplan Customized home theater components were once the sole domain of the wealthy and serious hobbyists. Such prized possessions were only designed and built by specialists for specialized installation applications at high costs, or laboriously soldered together in the home workshops of studious electronics enthusiasts. The only way to get one's hands on a custom piece was to drop a ton of cash on one, or spend ages analyzing circuit boards and wiring schematics in order to build the piece at home. That's all changing now. The copy on

Business as Better Than Usual

A look at how two of the industry's major acquisitions are playing out By Nancy Klosek One match pairs a home networking systems/structured wiring market leader with an electrical distribution giant. The other marries a duo of high-profile loudspeaker companies with equally rich but diverse legacies. Two separate situations and two unique sets of motives, to be sure, spurred these respective acquisitions. But the duenna supervising the courtships, in both cases, was one and the same: necessity. The acquisitions of On-Q Home by Legrand and Jamo by Klipsch have raised myriad issues, prompting Custom Retailer to examine the whys and wherefores of these

Digital Stream HD 3150

DTV receiver By Ron Goldberg Since the inception of the DTV transition, over-the-air (OTA) reception via an antenna and ATSC tuner has been the most immediate way to get HDTV, and in some cases, the only way. With the cable and satellite providers offering more high-def programming each month, HD set-top boxes have become a niche category, but an increasingly important one. The Digital Stream HD 3150 is a simple but powerful DTV tuner that gives excellent bang for the buck. DESCRIPTION About the size of typical digital cable TV box, the HD 3150 is an unobtrusive and undemanding addition to the rack. It

HES Dealers Launch Branding Strategy

Brand Source offshoot seeks to "dominate the high end" By Grant Clauser The value of branding was the overriding theme at this year's Home Entertainment Source (HES) Summit, held March 18 to 22 in Dallas—specifically, the HES brand and its potential as a national draw for the group's network of local, homegrown A/V dealers. HES is the A/V offshoot of the Brand Source network of retailers, which consists predominantly of mom-and-pops that offer appliances, electronics and furniture. The Brand Source buying group consists of over 1,800 members that run over 2,500 stores. Intensified efforts to create a national retail brand for Brand Source have

Hifi Is Dead, Long Live Music

Make digital audio files soung great, and make money doing it By Mitchell Klein Herman Cardenas was convinced digital was the way of the future. He knew that delivering encoded audio in its native digital format was the most logical means of sending music to remote locations around the house, and IP (Internet Protocol) was the way to get it there. His flush-mount IP concept was introduced at CEDIA Expo four years ago, drawing all kinds of quizzical looks. MP3 streamed direct to a speaker? How absurd! Who would ever want to do something so silly? Herman stayed his course, spending the next four

Home Theater Squared

As the products we sell become commodities, C-tailers will look to manufacturers for differentiating innovations. By Krissy Rushing The home theater category is advancing at breakneck speed, resulting in unprecedented industry growth and, of course, corresponding challenges for A/V retailers. However, the not-so-obvious by-product of all of this activity is the shift in industry economics swirling in its wake. For the dealer, sizing up a potential customer was once a relatively simple matter—customers were most likely enthusiasts. Home theater, however, isn't just for enthusiasts anymore. As a result, a retailer must often adapt itself from one type of customer to another, juggling competing interests

Hot for Teacher

Bedrock Learning moves into the custom install sector By Mike Llewellyn Incorporated in late 2004, Bedrock Learning is very much a newbie in the custom installation field. The training company, which focuses on the foundations of residential systems installation, is the product of a collaboration between CEDIA member and home automation industry veteran Helen Heneveld and a veteran from the educational publishing field named Gareth Hancock. Heneveld has been doing installations for 15 years, and is a member of the Consumer Electronics Association's TechHome board, as well as that organization's Education Subcommittee. Hancock, who has done his time at McGraw-Hill and has focused especially

Interception or Completion?

Tips for helping customers without sending out a truck By Janet Pinkerton When a customer calls a C-tailer with a problem, the goal is to try to resolve it over the phone in order to avoid a service truck roll, which costs money. Custom Retailer recently interviewed five C-tailers about how to improve success rates for resolving service calls over the phone while keeping customers happy. Each retailer had its own way of handling customer problems, but there are some relative constants. The service call typically is first directed to the sales associate who sold the system or equipment. If sales isn't able

Internal Affairs

Sometimes a C-tailer's best business strategy is to get its organizational act together By Brian Hudkins Putting your house in order as a company is never easy. It takes time, commitment and, sometimes, outside help. But it's worth it. In 1996, we were reviewing plans for our 20-year-old business, Gramophone. We wondered whether Gramophone would still make sense in the market in the future. We tried to look 10 years forward and realized the answer was no. It was time to change, and we became committed to making the company fully professional in all areas. The overhaul was gradual. It started with our showrooms

Parasound 7100 Preamp-Processor

By Ron Goldberg While Parasound's successful Halo series has been the statement lineup from this longtime A/V specialist, the rest of its line has been undergoing a major update. The Model 7100 is the pre-pro in the company's "New Classic" series. DESCRIPTION The 7100 is a 7.1-channel preamp-processor that incorporates much of the thinking behind the Halo lineup, only scaled down for setups where the extensive feature set of those products isn't really necessary. Given its intended market position, it's hard to call the 7100 a budget model, but in essence, that's what this new series represents for Parasound. The 7100 sports a

The Death of TiVo?

Will the DVR pioneer go belly up, or has it just begun to fight? By Cliff Roth When TiVo announced last month that it had signed a deal with Comcast, America's largest cable TV operator, to offer TiVo-equipped set-top boxes, the stock price of the struggling PVR/DVR innovator shot up by almost 50 percent, from about $4 to $6. Talk about lowered expectations: back in 1999, two years after TiVo began operations, its stock price peaked at $75, and regularly traded between $30 and $45. What happened? Although it arrived in the era of the dot-com boom, TiVo was a different animal, a consumer

Unique Autosports Whips the Competition

Will Castro and his team are the kings of obtaining great cientele By Brett Solomon You gaze outside and you just know it: this is going to be one of those great days. A customer in a brand-new luxury vehicle just pulled into your store's parking lot. You don't know what the customer even needs just yet, but you can easily tell this new ride is fresh from the dealership; you can even see the residue of the sales sticker on the rear side window. You chat with the customer for a bit and it's just as you suspected: the customer's needs were not

VC HD-52Z575 Rear-Projection TV

By Ron Goldberg While plasmas and other flat-panel displays gather all of the headlines in today's video market, rear-projection TVs (RPTVs) still command center stage in terms of overall sales and bang for the consumer buck. JVC has adapted the D-ILA technology it has long used in its pro-level front projectors into a line of HD-ready RPTV models that offer compelling alternatives in a world of me-too big-screen products. DESCRIPTION The HD-52Z575 is a 52-inch widescreen set with a depth of about 16 inches. Its underlying technology is JVC's D-ILA (direct-drive image light amplifier), which is a variant of LCoS technology. While LCoS