May 2005 Issue


B&W 805S Speaker System

By Mark Fleischman Loudspeaker technology is inherently conservative, bordering on dull. New twists have emerged over the years—surround sound, the sat/sub set, electrostats, ribbon drivers, flat panels—but most speakers are still cones and domes built into the front baffle of a rectangular box. Bor-ing! B&W, however, has long departed from design convention, reshaping the box and realigning the drivers. Experience brings expertise, and its 805S monitor, HTM4S center and ASW825 sub are polished performers; in fact, they're eye-openingly, ear-ravishingly, soul-stirringly listenable. But before we discuss how they sound, let's explain why a client might want to pay extra for an irregularly shaped speaker with

Deconstructing Builder Relationships

Home contractors are a prime source of revenue for C-tailers, systems integrators and manufacturers willing to understand the landscape By Nancy Klosek One's destined for the kitchen and the other for the living room floor, but the similarities that exist between Corian countertops and carpeting are self-evident to any home contractor. Both figure prominently on the list of needs that can be met by trusted and familiar suppliers who know the ropes in house-building. Builders can work seamlessly with such providers in an opportune fashion and then move on. But what does it take for consumer electronics integrators to make the subcontractors "A" list

DLP 5 Million Chips and Growing

The winner by acclamation? By Cliff Roth In less than a decade's time, DLP has advanced from laboratory curiosity to mass market commodity, built-into millions of big-screen TV sets, and this extraordinary imaging technology keeps getting bigger and better. Last December Texas Instruments—the inventor and sole supplier of DLP microdisplay chips—announced the sale of their 5-millionth DLP chip. Don't bother trying to decipher the acronym—DLP originally stood for Digital Light Processor years ago, but like DVD, it is now a non-acronym. Anyone remember the Digital Versatile Disc? Five million of anything is a milestone indeed, but looking at it that way is a bit

Electronic Home Improvement

Smarthome taps growing consumer acceptance of home automation By Janet Pinkerton "Let's not talk about 'home automation,'" says Rajeev Kaur, vice president of sales and marketing at Smarthome. "Let's talk about 'electronic home improvement.'" Why the change in phraseology? Kaur posits that in most consumers' minds, "home automation" means "robots all over your house" and lots of alienating technology. Instead, he suggests "focusing on improving the value of the home" by adding smart lighting, security and home control. Just as remodeling a bathroom or kitchen will increase a home's value, Kaur says, "these products pay for themselves." The home automation market isn't new, notes

Installations to Go

InstallCard enables mobile installers to pick up business from non-installing retailers By Erik Caplan Consumers who are interested in mobile electronics usually have three installation options. They could take a trip to a congested big-box retailer. They could patronize an unknown independent installer. Or they could open door number three, which entails picking up a screwdriver and taking a whack at it themselves—an option that could end in disaster for the mechanically challenged. On the other side of the sales equation, some electronics retailers—both large chains and small businesses—have trouble selling 12-volt mobile electronics if they don't have an installation department. InstallCard, a program

Let's Interactive

Introducing CTPG Online By Ron Goldberg Information is the lifeblood of today's economy. In regards to your own C-business, that's probably more true than in most places. Think of how much information you and your co-workers acquire and communicate in a day's or a week's work. Some of it is highly exacting; some of it subjective; some of it time-sensitive; all of it potentially business-critical. Communication—with vendors, tradespersons, employees and, most importantly, with customers—makes your business go 'round. Custom Retailer magazine has (hopefully!) been a useful source of communication for our sector of the CE industry, but now we're taking it further with a

National Footprint, Individual Focus

EDGE Group's national ad campaign trumpets its boutique approach to custom distribution By Nancy Klosek A dozen regional distributors comprise the EDGE Group (, which serves custom installers and retailers. EDGE was formed in 1999 as "friends getting together to share professional advice and bring different information to the table," says Chet Flynn, EDGE's treasurer, and president of Norwell, Mass.-based distribution company (and EDGE member) Necessities. Today, the group boasts around $50 million in annual sales of its 10 commonly shared product lines. It's now mounting a national awareness campaign, making big noise about how small (or rather, how individual-dealer/installer-focused) it is. "Other

Pay Now, Save Later

Negotiating better deals with vendors By Janet Pinkerton Last year, Steve Hayes, past president of CEDIA and co-owner of Custom Electronics in Falmouth, Maine, stood up in front of a group of fellow Elan Home Systems dealers and encouraged them to ask manufacturers for pricing discounts beyond standard terms if they had good histories with their vendors. Hayes' candid discussion of how and why his company successfully negotiated prompt- and pre-pay vendor discounts occurred during a dealer forum within Elan's 2004 TRIO event in Lexington, Ky. "I about jumped out of my chair," remembers Paul Starkey, Elan's executive vice president of sales and marketing.


XM Tuner By Ron Goldberg While several custom-centric vendors have previously released home components for satellite radio, Polk is one of the first mainstream audio companies to jump into this market. The XRt12 is a stylish piece designed as an "audiophile" offering—satellite radio taken seriously. DESCRIPTION About the size of a traditional low-profile audio component, the XRt12 features slick black cosmetics with a vivid blue readout display for music info. The unit also features a composite video output so the info can be displayed on a TV screen. Both front panel and remote operation are simple, as is characteristic of the format. You can

Process Makes Perfect

Better video at the Chip Level By Cliff Roth And then, a small revolution in video processing occurred. Instead of offering a tweak on picture tube performance, or an optional frill (like on-screen graphics that disappear after a few seconds), suddenly advanced video processing was required to generate the picture, constantly. Fixed pixel displays—that is, practically everything that isn't a CRT, including LCD, DLP, PDP, LCoS and so on—are the reason. Fixed pixel displays could handle only a single resolution—the display's "native resolution"—without video processors capable of scaling. Video Scaling Scaling is arguably the most important, and visually apparent, task that today's video