January 2008 Issue


At Your Fingertips

After rigorous testing, Vantage/Legrand’s WebPoint 2.0, an evolution of WebPoint 1.0, has proved to be an invaluable software system for homeowners and campus installations. Its reliability and user-friendly features made it an obvious choice for CEDIA’s Manufacturers’ Excellence Award. WebPoint allows the homeowner to schedule events, set scenes and access the Vantage/Legrand system via the network or Internet. This flexibility is provided without compromising the programming created by the Vantage dealer. Homeowners can control, monitor and schedule lights, thermostats, scenes and automation via the Internet from computers and handheld devices. Peace of mind is enhanced as homeowners monitor surveillance cameras, including motion-recorded video,

Carpe Diem—Seize the Day

Another year begins and with it comes thoughts of new beginnings, new challenges, new opportunities and new chances for victory, dominance, growth and the illusive desire to achieve the goals you have set for yourself and your business. Many of us have burned the midnight oil in December trying to wrap-up the year strong and make a fresh start. Every one of the last couple hundred days has had us focused on the falling value of the dollar, the war in Iraq, gas prices and housing foreclosures. The world would have us concentrating on all of the fears, obstacles, financial woes and concerns. The


CustomRetailer has been blessed with some terrific editors in the past few years. Joe Paone and Grant Clauser are two that I have worked with who have been significant in growing CR to its present stature in providing great information for the custom retailer. This month, a new Editor-in-Chief takes over, Maureen Jenson. This is a special change and here’s why. Maureen comes to us with a long background in the home theater arena. As the Editor-in-Chief of Home Theater Magazine, a consumer magazine, she existed in the world of the custom installer, dealing with consumers, their needs and desires as well as

My New Year’s Resolutions

When I got my assignment for this month’s column, I groaned. “We want you to write about New Year’s resolutions.” Jeez. I stopped making New Years resolutions years ago. It seemed they never lasted more than a week. “I’m going to go to the gym.” “I’m going to write a book.” “I’m going to learn to dance.” Blah, blah, blah. So it might surprise you to see the list below—eight resolutions I plan to invoke from high atop a mountain in the Tetons on midnight December 31st. What’s changed you ask? I’m not really sure, but this year feels different. Maybe I’m just getting

Projections Look Promising

Planar Scott Hix What are the most significant recent developments in the front projection business? The most recent significant developments are twofold. First is the migration to 1080p resolution. Second is improved aspect ratio control such as Runco’s industry-first CineWide 2.35:1 technology, which we’ve incorporated in our projectors. Super-wide 2.35:1 really brings the movie-house experience to home theater. We’ve since seen a myriad of manufacturers adopting similar solutions—a true indicator of how the industry and end-users have embraced true 2.35:1 viewing. What can a dealer do to better educate and demonstrate the benefits of a projection system over a flat panel display? The problem

Seeking Alternatives

“The real estate situation has had a definite impact here.” So said Wilshire Home Entertainment president Mike McMaster, a local L.A.-area hybrid custom retailer who offered the understatement as he was buttonholed in the corridors of the Long Beach EH Expo. McMaster’s remark was in sync with stats presented at a morning seminar that showed West Coast housing starts January through September down 27.1 percent—more than in the Midwest (-26.5 percent), South (-25.7 percent) and Northeast (-14.5 percent). But he is optimistic that builders, who he said are “throwing in value-added extras like flooring” in order to break the pattern of buyer ennui,

Serving the Network

Amid the juggling that is running a custom retail business, Leon Soo Hoo, president of Paradyme Inc. in Sacramento is researching the media server market, specifically Windows-based media centers, for new products and services to sell. It’s not easy. “I just see this like the Wild West right now,” Soo Hoo said. “Everyone is coming out with different technology.” Paradyme customers aren’t demanding media servers. But as an A/V specialist, Soo Hoo wants to position his business correctly as the market shifts deeper into networking and storage of digital media. Soo Hoo pointed to Pioneer’s advocacy of the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) standard,

Social Networking—We Get It!

A year ago, I wrote about ramping up our annual game plan in January and laid out the exciting plans we had in store for CustomRetailer in 2007. Our main goal was to step up the energy in this vibrant publication and welcome you to our recently re-launched Web site—www.CustomRetailer.net—chock full of unique content that takes you beyond the headlines. We also encouraged you to take advantage of the fresh news available through our weekly CustomRetailer e-newsletter—email.customretailer@napco.com—to keep you up-to-date in this fast-paced industry. Funny, when I look back, the first thing that hit me was a description of us as “publishers of content”.

Tough Economy Yet?

As I am flipping through my DirecTV news channels, I can’t help but notice the trend in today’s business news. News anchors and analysts can’t stop talking about how the slow housing market and increasing gas prices have dramatically affected our economy. As we begin 2008, some economists and business experts predict that conditions are growing even worse. A variety of factors contributed to the housing slump and the spike in gas prices, the majority of which are beyond our control. However, I firmly believe we have control over the future of the custom electronics industry, regardless of conditions in the rest of the

Using Your Prospect’s Input

Part 6: There are certain aspects of the project you decide: 1. Products 2. Process There are aspects of the project you may allow your client to help design: 1. Aesthetic issues 2. Interface Avoid the Puma You choose the products. You choose how they’re installed. That’s not up for discussion. If the prospect has product suggestions, steer them to your choices. Why is this important? Because you cannot control the project unless you control the products. It’s that simple. Like the trail guide, you choose the path. If a hiker asks to go up the north side of the hill, and you know

Viewing IP

Hardware manufacturers and software developers who have invested in IP systems and in the growth of the market for them would have you believe that the alternate spell-out of this acronym beyond its primary meaning of “Internet Protocol” is “Infinite Possibilities.” And those custom integrators who were among the earliest adopters of the many viable approaches to IP that have come down the pike in the past few years tend to agree with that interpretation. The statistics certainly prove them right. ABI Research data cited at a recent trade show presentation by Specialty Electronics Nationwide executive Jeannette Howe show the worldwide home automation category,

Who Said Change Is Difficult?

Change can be exhilarating, and that’s what I feel right now, shear exhilaration. After 17 years of producing magazines for the consumer electronics end user, I have moved over to the business side of our industry as the new editor of CustomRetailer magazine. Over the last five years, I have watched CustomRetailer grow into the must-read publication for the residential audio/video and automation integration electronics professional. And I’m eager to build on this proven success and take the book to the next level where we will further our commitment as a business strategy magazine for the business owner and manager. The core purpose of CustomRetailer

Widening the Market With Wider Screens

Residential home theaters that feature a two-piece front projection system continue to grow as the price for high-quality HD projectors drops below $3,000. Todd Hockenmeyer, residential training manager for Da-Lite Screens, talks about the current trends in projection systems and how Da-Lite works side-by-side with its dealers to accommodate the flourishing home theater market. According to Hockenmeyer, one of the more recent and significant developments is a 2.35:1 aspect ratio screen, otherwise known as Cinemascope. The majority of feature-length movies are shot in 2.35:1 and many of the HD-DVD and BluRay discs being released are in the original aspect ratio. “Using a 2.35:1

Windows Everywhere

There aren’t many advantages in this business when you’re young. No experience. No cadre of current customers to market to. And you’re just beginning to make the mistakes most of your competition has already committed and learned from. But there’s one distinct advantage Tyler Jennings and his team of fellow twentysomethings at Imperium Smart Systems in Herriman, Utah, have: Starting from a clean slate, the group can adopt the latest technology earlier than anyone else, and install it quickly. This fall, the company was rewarded for its ingenuity, winning the Windows Media Center Ultimate Install Competition. Announced at the 2007 CEDIA EXPO, the