June 2005 Issue


Amplified Competition

The Russound/LeisureTech dispute settled, A-BUS faces a booming builder market, new competition and Ohm's Law. By Janet Pinkerton Early last month, Jeff Kussard, Russound's vice president of strategic development, was working with suppliers, distributors and dealers to restore the flow of Russound's A-BUS products in the channel by the first half of June. Russound is restarting its A-BUS business after hammering out an agreement with LeisureTech Electronics, the technology's Sydney, Australia-based owner, settling a protracted dispute that some feared would bring a Beta-versus-VHS-type format war to the distributed audio market. Russound was LeisureTech's first (in 2000) and most successful A-BUS licensee in the

Art Imitates Lifestyle

The journey from the racks-and-stacks of the traditional CE retail showfloor to the deliberately designed lifestyle rooms and vignettes of the 21st-century C-tailer is one of mind as much as it is of matter. By Nancy Klosek Strategizing a showroom space these days requires tactical skills on par with those of the best generals in any major conflict. The challenges in the battlefield have been amplified lately by the influences of that landless-but-growing territory known as cyberspace. It's hard enough in 2005 to draw foot traffic into brick-and-mortar stores. But once clients are within the boundaries of your "theater of war," coming up

CEA Lends a Guiding Hand

New standards and guidelines for multi-room audio, connectivity and amplifiers By Ron Goldberg As CE products and technologies continue to grow more complex, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) has been running at breakneck pace to maintain a semblance of order and unity. While its most visible information and training efforts have been aimed at the consumer side, vital technical standards and guidelines are being created for the industry's back end. Some of CEA's latest endeavors are of particular interest to custom installers and C-tailers, and another new initiative that's just getting off the ground will soon make its mark. COLOR CODING STANDARD

Connectivity's New School

Digital A/V connectors like HDMI and IEEE 1394 simplify hookups and improve signal transfers. But are they future-proof? When a federal court this spring put the nix on an FCC requirement that video equipment start implementing a broadcast flag copy protection scheme, the sighs of relief among consumer electronics manufacturers were not just an affirmation of the consumer's right to record. From a purely pragmatic standpoint, manufacturers were also relievedthat they would not need to re-design their products' connectors. By Cliff Roth Digital video and audio connections have numerous inherent advantages over analog connections. They're virtually impervious to noise pickup, and signal quality doesn't

Elan's Trio Summit

Work hard, sell hard, play hard By Ron Goldberg Elan Home Systems' Trio Summit has become an annual event for its dealers, gathering the faithful from all ends of the country for a weekend in Kentucky to talk business, the market, the latest techniques and, of course, Elan. This year's event built on last year's success with a full house of training, sales and marketing seminars held in the company's hometown of Lexington. In essence, the Trio Summit is like a mini trade show for Elan dealers and integrators. New products are showcased, seminars by industry experts are delivered throughout the event, and

Harmony 880 Remote Control

By Ron Goldberg It's been a year since Logitech acquired Intrigue Technologies, makers of the web-based Harmony Remote system. Since then, all eyes have been on the company to see how the Harmony might be modified and/or improved (not always the same thing) by the accessories giant. The new 880 is the first Harmony remote credited to Logitech's design team. DESCRIPTION Similar to previous Harmony models, the 880 is a one-handed remote based on hard-button operation, rather than an LCD touchscreen. While many of the handset's buttons are dedicated to global tasks (volume, transport, numeric entry, et cetera), some are also soft, in that

Much More Than a Map

Dynamic Route Guidance systems are helping drivers stay out of traffic jams—and they're only available hard-wired By Brett Solomon Portable navigation units are increasing in popularity as prices erode and compelling new features are added. As a result, it almost has become a necessity for the specialty mobile electronics retailer to stock a few of them. It's obviously difficult to compete against internet pricing of portable navigation units, but having a few on display allows the specialist to show the customer the awesome improvements in hard-wired installed navigation systems. John Francioso of UltraSounds, a specialty dealer in Lynbrook, N.Y., sums it up best. "The

Paradigm Cinema 110 CT

By David Dritsas A lot of A/V professionals view home-theater-in-a-box (HTiB) as a plague on the ears. They wonder why consumers would want such systems when they can spend more money on bigger and better speakers. If you're wondering such things, then you're way out of touch with what customers desire. Not everyone wants a large-and-in-charge 5.1 system, especially people who aren't living in McMansion suburban homes. Across the board, however, people do want plasma televisions, and HTiBs can be a good way to up the sales ticket if the customer isn't going for the audio install. To be fair, a lot of cheap

The Great Outdoors

Summer, when customers are drawn outdoors, presents a unique opportunity for the C-tailer. By Krissy Rushing It's not necessarily any of your business what your customers are doing this summer. What is your business, however, is that with each passing sunny day they spend outdoors, sales opportunities are passing you by. Give your clients what they need: entertainment outdoors. When the consumer thinks of outdoor A/V, images such as a weathered print of Jaws III projecting on a worn drive-in movie screen come to mind. Such memories fuel the prevalent misconception that you can't get quality audio and video outdoors, and that the forces

The Price of Innovation

Kaleidescape pays its dues in court to keep its video digital server legal By Joe Paone The Kaleidescape system, the next logical step after a DVD jukebox, allows users to rip—the company prefers the term "import"—countless DVDs to its enormous hard drive, and then view content, or segments of content, whenever and wherever they want in their homes. Once a DVD is uploaded, the user doesn't really need it anymore. What would stop a user from renting DVDs from Netflix or another rental service, importing them, and returning them to Netflix? What about users who buy discs, import them, and then resell them on

The Price of Oblivion

No news is good news, right? Wrong. Very wrong. By Bjorn Dybdahl Over the last year, our entire management structure at Bjorn's Audio-Video reorganized—and not by choice. The shake-up began in early 2004, with an exodus of relatively new employees in our custom division to a competing business founded by a former salesman of ours. Losing more than half of our custom installers in a matter of weeks taught us we were dangerously out of touch with that part of our business. Then, as we rebuilt our custom division, other internal issues—not the least of which was the unexpected death of my partner Bob