October 2002 Issue


Hooked Up - Wired or Wireless?

Home networking looks to embrace both. By Joe Paone What customer wouldn't want a networked home? The ability to share broadband Internet connections, control HVAC, security and electricity, and send audio and video to different nodes around the house at the touch of a button or from a remote location—it all sounds pretty tantalizing to today's CE-savvy consumer. What homeowner wouldn't welcome the opportunity to not only gain complete control over various automated functions, but also increase the value of the property? Home networking, at least for customers of relative means, has almost become a slam dunk proposition for the C-tailer. It's not a

I-Spy - Can Big Chains Do Custom?

By Ron Goldberg There's a lot of buzz in the custom business about impending competition from CE chain retailers who want to get into the custom market. Depending on who you talk to, the thought of competition from the likes of the "big box" stores is either laughable or terrifying. Those chains have spent the better part of two decades refining the price-driven, warehouse-type shopping environment that has come to dominate the CE retail landscape. Smaller chains may differentiate themselves with knowledgeable service or different product lines, but on many levels, they still have to compete on the big chain's playing field. Can any

Lessons to Learn

Custom Installation Education Diversifies By David Dritsas The front line of any custom retail business is the employee. Because the employee—whether a member of the sales, design or installation team—is the primary contact to the customer, it's essential that employees genuinely know what they are talking about. They are the ones that must convincingly convey to the customer the value of what the customer is buying—or could be buying. That's not an easy task in the increasingly complex landscape of custom CE. There's a lot to know, and classes aren't taught on college campuses. Manufacturers, retailers and installers unanimously agree that the need for

Means of Access

Today's Cars are Waiting for the Bus By Collin Keefe As with time and space, technology and innovation are constants. Regardless of the sector or context, someone somewhere is always developing something to surpass the limitations of a predecessor. This is certainly the case in the current state of mobile electronics. The rate at which new automotive consumer electronics have emerged and been adopted in recent years—everything from navigational systems to satellite radio—has been truly inspiring, and in keeping with the rapid pace of other CE evolutions. Unfortunately, over in the automobile manufacturers' world, time moves much more slowly. As a result,

Origin of the Species

The Evolution of the Modern C-tailer By Jessica Millward> Meet John Q. Public. John loves the idea of a custom-installed home theater in his den. He's also interested in connecting his household PCs into a single networked system. If he was aware of the options, he'd also be a prime candidate for automated lighting and a security system for his home. In shopping for these technologies, John will want to personally experience a broad selection of components and configurations, and will require well-informed advice from an experienced specialist. Being the quintessential one-stop shopper, he'd like all this, and maybe a pair of headphones,

Selling Home Security

Home Safe Home Inside Web-Based Security Systems By Natalie Hope McDonald It's Tuesday night and Sandy Roy's flight arrives in Florida. Even before he picks up his luggage, the lights have been activated and air conditioning has been turned on several miles away at his house in Valrico. Because Roy spends much of his time traveling for business, he has installed a Web automation system that not only secures his house, but also allows him to navigate it while he's on the road. This eastern regional sales manager for HAI (Home Automation Inc.) believes that a good security system requires a two-prong

Software Spotlight - D-Tools Systems Integrator

By Ron Goldberg As anyone in the custom CE business can tell you, big problems are often traceable to small details. A single digit off in a measurement, a last-minute part substitution, an extra run of cabling not originally spec'd—all of these seemingly minor changes can often result in disproportionate problems. The solution, of course, would be an accurate flow of updated information, available to everyone that needs it. But with so many details and individuals involved over time on the typical job, it's often difficult for everyone to stay on the same page for very long. D-Tools of Concord, California, is

Strange Tales from the Trenches

Every line of work has its share of occupational peculiarities, but the world of the custom installer can easily lay claim to more than its share. Once the power tools come out and the work begins, a secret, unseen world opens up. If it's a new construction, there may be non-stop surprises from other tradespeople and their schedules. If it's an existing construction, the infrastructure may have been assembled decades ago, or by people working well outside their trade expertise. In either situation, unforeseen problems can come from any direction, including the customer. Like combat veterans, every CE installer has