July 2004 Issue


A Show Their Own

Elan Takes a Chance at Hosting Its Own Dealer Conference By David Dritsas Elan Home Systems wagered that it could host a two day conference for its network of dealers, hoping that many of them would make a trip off the beaten path to Lexington, Ky., home to horse racing, bourbon and Elan's corporate headquarters. The bet paid-off in spades, as approximately 380 people attended, beating the company's most optimistic expectations. The population ranged from owners to salespeople to technicians. "I was hoping for 150," said Cat Fowler, director of marketing for Elan, "but by the the end I was unfortunately turning people

Athena Micra 6

Home Theater Speaker System By Ron Goldberg Probably the most enduring complaint heard from C-tailers is that after customers have sprung for the pricey video gear, they don't have enough budget left over for a decent audio system to complement it. It's true that nowadays, audio is quite frequently an attachment sale. You can fight against it and possibly jeopardize that big plasma sale. Or, you could give the customer what he or she wants—a respectable little speaker system that looks good, sounds good and comes in at an attachment-sized price point. In the Micra 6 system, Athena thinks it has the answer.

Beyond TiVo

DVRs Go Mainstream By Cliff Roth TiVo deserves mucho credit for popularizing the concept of digital disk-drive video recording, and giving it a friendly face and name that has become almost as synonymous with what it represents as Kleenex was to tissues and Xerox was to photocopies in a bygone era. But TiVo has never been the only game in town, and these days name recognition alone isn't going to cut it in an increasingly crowded market. Personal video recorders, or PVRs—also known as hard disk recorders (HDRs) and digital video recorders (DVRs)—are becoming an integral part of home entertainment systems everywhere. It's a

Building Builder Relationships

Access to Clients One Project at a Time By Janet Pinkerton For C-tailers, growing the builder business means negotiating a myriad of issues: What type of builder is the best fit? How do you approach them? Do you pay the builder a commission? Do you require an exclusivity contract? How do you bill to best circumnavigate homebuyer sticker shock? C-tailers who are experiencing success within the builder channel say that the most successful strategy boils down to the relationship thing: committing the necessary time and resources—from the initial sales call through the completion of each project—to understanding and catering to each builder's needs.


When Bad Install Goes Good By Natalie Hope McDonald In the animal kingdom, they're called predators. In the custom installation business, they're the wayward technicians who wreak havoc on legitimate installers by undercutting estimates and walking away from botched jobs. While these proverbial bloodsuckers can drain business dry, they also pose significant risks to clients who open their doors to a series of problems, debt, and in some cases, suspicion about the custom market in general. It's often up to legitimate installers to do the seemingly impossible, to pick up the pieces and set the record straight. "Unprofessional installers threaten the custom installation

Harmony SST-688 Remote Control

By Ron Goldberg Intrigue Technologies had scored a series of hits with its Web-enabled, "activity-based" Harmony remote line. For many C-tailers, the Harmony is the poor man's Pronto (which in turn, would be the poor man's Crestron or AMX). This is a bit misleading, as the Harmony can be just as powerful in practice as the Pronto, not to mention simpler to operate, easier for the dealer to program and priced better. The company's latest model, the SST-688, offers convenient DVR control and features a slightly altered form factor, but retains the impressive combination of power and simplicity that has characterized the lineup. As

Make Mine Music

The Personal Studio Comes of Age By Khat Brooks The digital age has brought on a lot of new forms of interactive entertainment, but not all of them center on game consoles and joysticks. The oldest interactive entertainment of all—making music—has also entered the digital age. The advent of inexpensive desktop recording hardware and software has made any spare corner of a bedroom or garage a potential hit factory, or at the very least, a place where your customers can unwind and have fun. Because today's music-making gear is now so powerful and affordable, some of your customers will want you to help

TAW Digilink II DVD Player and Rock Pro Processor

By Grant Clauser The TAW DigiLink II DVD player and Rock Pro video processor together probably cost more than many of the plasmas and projectors they get connected to, but what they bring to the table is going to be worth it to the video extremist. TAW started several years ago by buying B-stock Barco projectors and hot-rodding them for better performance. Now the company offers a line of processors, digital projectors and the DigiLink DVD player. Although available separately, together these products make a unique combination. The DigiLink II sports a Serial Digital Interface (SDI) output jack (a 75 ohm cable with BNC

The 2004 CEDIA Expo

A sneak peek at the big show. By Mike Llewellyn Bill Skaer has got a lot to talk about. He's chairing the CEDIA Expo this year, and from where he's sitting, it looks like the custom install industry's biggest show is going to continue building steam as this segment of the CE category expands as a golden child of the CE business. This year, the show is scheduled for September 8-12. It's going to be held in Indianapolis at the Indiana Convention center and RCA Dome. "We've got 450,000 square feet of show floor, 500 manufacturers, and we're experiencing a very brisk response from

The 600-Pound Gorilla

Can Furniture Be Monsterized? By Marshall Lager Monster Cable is arguably the most compelling success story of the CE industry. Few companies, regardless of size, goods or approach, have been able to satisfy dealers and consumers the way Monster has for 30 years. As a result of the company's ambitious dealer programs, canny marketing strategies and extensive product mix (not to mention margins), Monster has developed an intensely loyal dealer base at all levels of the industry, from mass to specialty. Possibly more than anyone else in the industry, Monster makes money for its dealers. Naturally, this earns the company a lot of love.

The IAS/MERA Connection

By Brett Solomon From May 21-23 the International Auto Salon (IAS) was held by SEMA, the Specialty Equipment Market Association, at the Atlantic City Convention Center. SEMA represents the $29 billion specialty automotive industry, and is composed of over 5,200 member companies. IAS is a unique show because it's designed for both trade and consumers, with specific days for each. Each day had amazing attendance—particularly the consumer days. Aisles of sport compact performance and vehicle personalization products in manufacturer's booths were juxtaposed against consumer-owned show vehicles. This set up was light years ahead of the ill-fated FUSE show (run by the CEA) held

Was Plasma Just a Moment?

Is Today's Hottest Technology Already On The Way Out? By Joe Paone Until very recently, it seemed every vendor wanted to offer plasma just because of the legitimacy it lent to its whole line, even if it wasn't actually selling a lot of them.There's no question that plasma TVs have been the most important driving force in the A/V industry for several years now. They've not only spurred TV sales, but accompanying audio sales. They are probably also the driving force in the custom install business—what consumer wants to hang one himself? Frankly put, they're probably the most important item in today's product