December 2002 Issue

 

Competing With Office Superstores

After years of preaching the virtues of residential home networking to a market that wasn't ready for them, custom installers can finally take heart that the technology has gone mainstream. For many jobs, particularly new constructions, a network isn't even questioned anymore. But for existing constructions, the market opportunity that installers have waited for all these years may be changing at Internet speed. Consumers are being told that setting up a network in their home is an easy business. Broadband providers are sending them self-installation kits to route DSL and cable modems. CE manufacturers are promising plug-and-play capabilities through simple, affordable devices that can


Control Spotlight - Home Theater Master MX-700 Remote

By Steven Kramer For all the complexity that goes into a custom-installed home theater, end users are always interested in simplicity. But simplicity isn't just for the consumer, its an important aspect for installers too, because they usually spend so much time setting up the remotes for their customers, sometimes long after the job has been completed. Over the past few years, remote controls have come a long way, particularly through the advent of PC-programmable models. But setup for these models can still be a time-consuming task. The Home Theater Master MX-700 remote is positioned as a solution that will make both consumers and


December Buzz

Worthington Expands Dealer Training Program Worthington Distribution recently launched Worthington University, a four-day, hands-on seminar designed to provide advanced training in the installation and marketing of home systems. The first of the new training sessions is slated for Orlando, Florida in May 2003, followed by a second Las Vegas session in October. Worthington University joins the company's longstanding, one-day TechHome Basic Training courses offered at EHX Spring and EHX Fall shows, as well as the regional training classes held in as many as 20 cities each year. www.worthdist.com DBL Gets New Sales/Mktg VP DBL Distributing Inc. has announced that Bruce Kuperman has been promoted


December Gear Guide

Pet-Friendly Motion Detectors by GE Interlogix GE Interlogix has announced a new advanced technology for motion detectors that helps prevent false alarms caused by pets. The AP Mirrored Optic PIR line features microprocessor-controlled "4-D" signal processing with gliding focus mirror optics. This technology analyzes size, speed, shape and an adaptive alarm threshold, providing maximum resistance to false alarms. The AP100PI ($12.95) is designed for applications in which household pets move around the protected area while the system is armed, and is immune to pets up to 44 pounds. Solid curtains of detection provide 33-foot coverage. The AP950PI ($24.95) features two sensors in one box.


Hardware Spotlight - Sunfire Preamp/Processor and Amp

Sunfire Theater Grand III Preamp/Processor Sunfire Cinema Grand Signature Power Amp By Ron Goldberg Sunfire has always positioned itself at the "pro-sumer" end of the home theater spectrum, and as a result, the company has made a natural transition into the world of products for the custom install market. The new Theater Grand III preamp/processor and Cinema Grand power amplifiers come in an "Architect's Choice" version for these applications, and can easily be said to be among the most powerful products on the market for custom-installed home theater. THEATER GRAND III The control center for Sunfire's home theater offering is the Theater Grand,


Hardware Spotlight - Zenith 50-inch Plasma Monitor

By Ron Goldberg Zenith has embarked on an aggressive campaign to establish itself as a key brand of the DTV age. Most consumers (and probably most professionals) don't realize what a pivotal role the company played in the technical development of HDTV, not to mention other TV milestones like the remote control. The company's new 50-inch plasma display, the P50W26, bids to appeal to both the consumer and custom installer markets by a combination of performance, styling and value. In a crowded market, it offers C-tailers an interesting option for their customers. OVERVIEW The P50W26 is a 50-inch widescreen display with a native resolution


Hooked Up - Upgraded Cable

Increased Profits in the Pipes: Selling and Installing Upgraded Cable Can Enhance Your Bottom Line By Joe Paone A solid, profitable custom installation isn't just about getting the right margins on the electronics. In many cases, the connectivity infrastructure can actually be the critical issue toward the bottom line. From a C-tailer's standpoint, selling upgraded cable can not only improve the performance of the components that you install and your customer uses, it can also be a great margin bolster. Unlike A/V components, which some customers can be rather finicky about, cabling is not a comparatively hard sell. Most clients are more inclined


Marketing Toolbox

Looking Good for Your Customers You're standing in a million-dollar home, adrenaline pumping. The owner is interested in a comprehensive whole-house system, and you know you're the right person for the job. You have a great conversation, and the two of you seem to be on the same page as to what the possibilities are. You shake hands before leaving, and the customer — prospective, since he's not a customer yet — asks for some information on you and your company. You pull a business card out of your pocket, and suddenly all your experience, all your ideas, and the entertainment that you


MP3 On Wheels

Audio Compression Goes Mobile By Brett Solomon Specialty mobile electronics retailers often have customers that are technologically savvy in other areas. One of the best ways to service these early adopters is to offer them mobile source units that are as up-to-date as the audio equipment they have at home. Even though Napster is deader than last year's hit single, and other file "sharing" services are under increasing pressure from the entertainment industries, the MP3 compressed audio format is alive and well — very well. Moving MP3 into the mobile sphere not only makes sense, but cars may actually be the perfect venue for


Power to the People

AC Treatments are a Smart Sell By Mark Fleischmann The most colorful come-on for the latest in power-line accessories comes from Richard Gray's Power Company: "Have you ever been in the shower when a so-called 'loved one' flushes the toilet resulting in a few seconds of scalding hot water pouring from the showerhead?" Ouch. A correctly installed home theater or networked audio system should do no harm to any part of the anatomy. But power-related problems — not all that different from Gray's water-based scenario — can still plague your customers' AV systems with uneven performance and disappointment. A new crop of


Rep Distribution - A Puzzling Landscape

By Deborah Smith Executive Director, Professional Audio/Video Reatilers Association (PARA) Wherever CE specialty and custom dealers gather these days, the most widely discussed and highly charged topic of conversation can be summed up in one word: distribution. Over the past several years, dramatic changes have rocked the traditional rep and distribution practices for the regional marketplace. As a result, the new landscape that determines how products are sold, by whom, to whom and for how much, is demanding a complete rethinking of brand positioning, brand loyalty, and market strategy. All four cardinal points of the CE chain — dealers, reps, distributors and vendors


Shopping for a Home Network

Competing with Office Superstores After years of preaching the virtues of residential home networking to a market that wasn't ready for them, custom installers can finally take heart that the technology has gone mainstream. For many jobs, particularly new constructions, a network isn't even questioned anymore. But for existing constructions, the market opportunity that installers have waited for all these years may be changing at Internet speed. Consumers are being told that setting up a network in their home is an easy business. Broadband providers are sending them self-installation kits to route DSL and cable modems. CE manufacturers are promising plug-and-play capabilities through simple,


Software Spotlight - Premise Systems SYS Software

Premise SYS Automation Software By Ron Goldberg Residential control and automation systems have traditionally been built using proprietary technologies. Dedicated hardware/software systems from companies like Crestron and AMX have long dominated this space. As a result, integrators and installers have always needed specialized training on these specific platforms, and once the consumer bought into a product line, he or she was locked in to that system. Premise Systems "SYS" software can create and control highly sophisticated home automation systems that operate off a simple home server running the standard Windows platform. As a result of this switch from closed operating system to a relatively


Tales from the Trenches - Bringing on Help

For many installers, it's the best of times and the worst of times. The good news is that custom work is finally getting mainstream recognition from builders, manufacturers, and most importantly, consumers. As a result, there's more work now than ever. Unfortunately, for many companies, that's the bad news, too. In a business based on service, the difference between a prospering company that can deliver jobs on time, and another that struggles to keep up with demand (never mind growth) can come down to one factor — employees. For C-tailers in today's market, finding qualified, professional installation personnel that can not only turn around


Tech Talk - Optimizing Cabinet-Mounted Speakers

By David Smith These days homeowners want invisible loudspeakers. For applications like distributed audio, in-wall speakers are the norm. But for higher performance, the home theater will often have non in-wall systems hidden away in wall units and equipment cabinets. Many high performance loudspeakers may sound great when mounted on stands and well away from the room boundaries, but special steps are required to get the best sound when a speaker will end up mounted in a cabinet. There are several issues that must be taken into consideration when cabinet-mounting a loudspeaker: • Boundary effects cause a heavier balance than with free


Trainer's Room - Web-Based Training

ADI's Web-Based Training In the custom business, knowledge is capital. Having the right knowledge at the right time in the right situation not only saves time (which is money), but improves the potential for sales, the quality of installations and most importantly, the bond of trust with the customer. For manufacturers, training tools are a longstanding aspect of everyday business goals. But distributors? Aren't they simply suppliers? ADI, a wholesale distributor of low-voltage and security products based in Melville, NY, thinks not. The company has put considerable efforts into computer-based training (CBT) for its clients, and now has ported its CD-ROM tutorial modules into


Vendor View

Beam's Clean House For C-tailers looking to expand their array of products and services for customers with new home constructions, central vacuuming systems should be a natural, though they're usually overlooked. That's a shame, because upon closer inspection, adding central vacuum service and installation to the business offerings can translate into a quick and relatively easy revenue stream. Or so says Beam Industries, a central vac manufacturer based in Webster City, Iowa. The company offers custom install businesses what it claims is a sure-fire way of extending their scope of services into the realm of central vac sales and service. For a relatively small


Who Gets It? A/V at the Furniture Store

Bose Does Jordans Bose has been something of a sleeping giant in the custom business. In many ways, the company's line of smaller, "lifestyle"-oriented systems are both the essence of the custom concept and at the same time, its antithesis. On the one hand, the concept of "invisible" systems is very much what many consumers have in mind when they think about an integrated home entertainment system. On the other hand, the custom world is still largely a high-end specialty business, and traditionally speaking, Bose products aren't necessarily at the top of the recommendation list for these types of dealers. Jordans is a Boston-area