January 2005 Issue


Howard vs. Opie and Anthony

Satellite radio has leapt to the forefront, as two of the major forces in the shock-jock arena have decided to pit themselves against each other. Opie and Anthony, known for their outrageous antics on a WNEW-FM show that was syndicated across the Infinity broadcasting network, were fired from the station about two years ago. Now they've found a new home on XM. And Howard Stern, known for his drive-time segments of prurient interests for the last quarter-century, is leaving FM for Sirius. Whether these shows suit your tastes or not, it's a fact that the demographic listening to these two shows (males aged

I Spy the Lost Demo

Over the last few decades, our industry has undergone some radical advances. Start with the products, of course. We've gone from stereo receivers, tape decks, turntables, speakers and CRT televisions in six different sizes to an almost limitless number of products and technologies in dozens of product categories and sub-categories. The source content has grown from LPs and a few network television programs to hundreds of options. To a large degree, the industry's selling practices have kept pace with the speed of new technologies. Retailers and suppliers now build libraries of knowledge about their customers and can target-market to them with pinpoint precision.

Mitsubishi WD-52825

We've seen quite a few DLP rear-projection sets over the past year or two, both in our testing area and at retail. While the viewing angles and form factors of these sets are a welcome improvement over traditional CRT-based rear-projection technology, we've more than once been turned off by the picture artifacts frequently seen on single chip models, including unnatural, oversaturated colors that stand out on a fluorescent showroom floor, but can look cartoonish and offputting in a home theater setting. Mitsubishi's WD-52825, however, is an exception to what we've come to expect from this category. It's unquestionably one of the best implementations of

Petra Industries Evolves With Its Market

These days, starting a business often involves incorporating concepts like "exit strategies" and "acceptable losses" into the very foundation of the company—often before it even begins to function. Risks are assessed and profits are projected on tight schedules with little flexibility or room for error. The company's actual mission sometimes seems to be only of secondary concern, and this unflinching, often harsh formula has led to the rapid creation and destruction of many businesses—frequently within their first year of operation. But things were a little different 18 years ago. In the late '80s, it was still possible to build a company from the ground

Ready to Play is Ready to Rip

Complementing the rise in digital media servers and hard drive portable players is a potential consumer headache: time spent ripping a massive music collection. That's the opinion of Jeff Tedesco, CEO and founder of Ready To Play, a Palo Alto, Calif., company that is working with retailers and integrators to offer its service of encoding music files for consumers. "For the retailer, it doubles the price of the ticket," says Tedesco. Ready To Play has been offering its services to consumers via its web site, but now it is extending its reach as a service sold in the retail channel. Tedesco sees a larger

Screen Gems

Front projectors, offering top-shelf video once considered appropriate only for the super-elite, are gaining wider acceptance in media dens and living rooms, thanks to better value and improved projector brightness. But with most of the attention focused on the projector side of the equation, it's easy to forget that front projection is a two-piece system. The screen—the projector's oft-neglected partner—plays a crucial role. A superior screen can brighten the image, improve contrast, and allow people watching off-center to see a brighter picture. The screen also becomes part of a client's home décor, with its frame providing a crucial role both in screen performance and

Selling the Right Home Theater Solution

The good news for custom retailers is that everyone wants a home theater. Even better is the news that home theaters continue to be a "solution sale"—assessing wants and needs, addressing physical and time constraints, and finally selecting and delivering a complete solution. Unfortunately, many salespeople focus only on part of the solution—the electronics—and ignore or leave until the end the one item that significantly defines the rest of the solution—the actual home theater interior. A home theater interior includes the acoustical performance of the room, the type and placement of the seating, how well the room is sound-insulated from the rest of

What's Your Plan if Disaster Strikes

So your business is not in hurricane country or sitting on the San Andreas Fault. How can you say it's completely immune to major disruption? What about flooding or storm damage? Computer viruses? A lasting, regional power outage? Fire? Chemical spills? Or violence? What's your company plan if a disaster strikes? "Everyone needs a plan," says Philip Jan Rothstein, president of Rothstein Associates Inc., a management consulting firm and publisher specializing in business continuity and disaster recovery. Buying insurance does not constitute a plan, Rothstein says. "Insurance comes after contingency planning." Most people feel, "We've got insurance. We don't have to worry about this."