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July 31, 2009

New Bluetooth Streaming Audio Module for Marantz Recievers

Marantz is having Bluetooth streaming audio capability for it's new, 004 series receivers, such as the SR-5004 and SR-6004. It is an extra cost option on the 5004, but included with the SR-6004. To make this magic work you need the just announced RX-101 streaming audio module for Bluetooth.

Now you can send the MP3 music from your phone or black berry to your audio system or home theater. Very cool.

From Marantz

"Based on the success of the IS301 and its Bluetooth audio streaming feature, we are pleased to officially begin accepting orders on the new RX101 Bluetooth Audio / IR Receiver module. When connected to the new M-Xport (Marantz eXpansion Port) on the back of the SR5004, the RX101 enables compatible Bluetooth devices such as the iPhone, iTouch, Treo, Blackberry, PCs, etc. to wirelessly stream audio to the RX101 and play it back through the SR5004.

With the ability to pair up to 8 devices, the RX101 is perfect for any system where music is stored on multiple devices. Because the RX101 is also an IR Receiver, an entire system can be hidden behind closed doors and be seamlessly controlled. Like the SR5004, the optional RX101 is scheduled to begin shipping in September."

Sumsung Debuts New 8500 Series of LED Backlit LCD TVs

Just ahead of September's CEDIA Expo in Atlanta, Samsung is unveiling a new line of premium, thin, LCD TVs for home theater, media room, and family room applications. What's different about Samsung's new 8500 series? Well, an advertised 7,000,000 to 1 dynamic contrast ratio for one thing. How Samsung was able to best the Sun is a question for another time, but the new TVs promise spectacular images.

The 8500 series TVs use LED clusters for illuminating the screen. These can be individually dimmed to control the light at exact points on the screen, when the image dictates the areas should be dark. This is superior to a traditional edge lit LCD or CFL back lit implementation, because LCD has traditionally had difficulties completely eliminating light where it is necessary. That elads ot black level problems on most LCD TVs, although newer sets are much improved over those from a few years past.

Another advantage of modulating the backlight is lower energy consumption than sets with CFL or coinstant illuminating LED systems. That helps the 8500 series achieve their Energy Star v3.0 certifications, so you can install your new TVs and get that warm feeling inside because you're so environmentally concious.

Other performance features on these sets include Samsung's 240Hz refresh rate technology implementation, dubbed Auto Motion Plus.

Naturally, the sets have network connectivity as well. This allows streaming content from Flickr, Yahoo Video, YouTube, and USA Today sports. You can even get tweets on these TVs, so you don't have to crack your laptop, or look at your mobile.The connectivity suite is replete with 2 USB 2.0 ports for connecting thumb drives, digital cameras, and camcorders

Dealers and custom installers will receive the 46-inch ($3,600 suggested retail) and 55-inch ($4,500) screen sizes in September.

July 29, 2009

New Plasma TVs From Runco

Proving that the death of plasma as a TV technology has been greatly exaggerated, Runco yesterday introduced a slew of new plasma TV models. Known for their high end video displays, Runco has been a pioneer in the home theater video arena. 

Runco cut their teeth by combining high end video processing and advanced displays, then charging a premium price for their products. As can be seen from their latest efforts, things haven't changed much. Their new plasmas include the CinemaWall XP-OPAL50 and CinemaWall XP-OPAL65, both with integrated vidfeo processing. The PlasmaWall XP-OPAL50 DHD and PlasmaWall XP-OPAL65 DHD feature Runco's VIVIX DHD 3 external video processor and switching unit. The DHD 3 incorporates Runco's new generation VIVIX III processing.

What does Runco consider premium pricing? If you have to ask how much the Ruinco plasmas go for, you know what they say.....

In this case, the sets are definitely premium priced. The PlasmaWall XP-OPAL65 will set you back a hefty $15,495, while the least expensive / most value oriented unit, the CinemaWall XP-OPAL50 conmands only $6,995. It wasn't long ago that those were pretty representitive prices for flat panel displays, but those days are long gone. Runco has a well deserved reputation for delivering the goods with regard to picture quality, but these must be some pretty spectacular pictures.


July 28, 2009

Vizio to Introduce New LCD TVs at Aug 4th Press Event

TRU LED LCD TV from VizioVizio, a leader in LCD TVs, volume wise, is set to introduce some new LCD TVs that incorporate several high tech features, such as variable LED backlighting. At their August 4th press event in San Francisco, Vizio will debut some tasty, new TVs. Among the sets and products rumored to appear are:

• XVT LCD Line including Backlight TruLED with Smart
Diming, 240Hz SPS, Slim Bezel Designs and VIZIO
Internet Apps (VIA) Connected HDTVs
• New TVs with Designer Frame Finishes
• EcoHD “Green TVs”
• Audio Sound Bar System w/Wireless Subwoofers
• VIZIO’s first Blu-ray player


July 23, 2009

Info On the Marantz SR-5004 Surround Receiver

It's that time of year again. Manufacturers are getting ready to release new home theater gear. Here is one of the new surround receiver offerings from Marantz, the SR-5004. The SR-5004, naturally enough, replaces the SR-5003 this fall. There are a host of changes and improvements in the new model, and a slightly higher price to go along with them.

Among the new features included on the SR-5004 are:
  • Dolby ProLogic IIz
  • Audyssey Dynamic Volume
  • 1 component video output instead of the 2 found on the SR-5003
  • 3 optical digital audio inputs, instead of the 4 found on the SR-5003
  • A new, GUI based on screen display for the SR-5004, rather than the text based OSD found on the SR-5003
  • Optional Bluetooth connectivity

Look for the new SR-5004 to be released in September, just about CEDIA time.

Update - The Marantz SR-5004 has been released and is selling well. It has been well received by consumers and custom installers alike.


July 17, 2009

Crestron Introduces New POE Touch Panel Control - The TPMC-4SM

Crestronm TPMC-4SM tiouch panel remote controlCrestron has announced they are introducing a new touch panel remote control, the TPMC-4SM. This new touch panel is very thin, and iks targete3d at the retrofit market, where running large or multiple cables can be difficult or impossible. The new control features full color, high resolution graphics and these features as well:

  • Compact, ultra-thin, stylish design
  • High-speed Ethernet and PoE single-wire connectivity
  • Tabletop, glass mount, flush mount and tilt mount options
  • Direct network connectivity to RoomView™ software
  • Direct connectivity to GLS-Series occupancy sensors
  • Green and red back lit LEDs indicate room availability
  • Crestron IP intercom
  • Streaming video
  • WAV file feedback
  • Built-in proximity sensor

Although the unit is whown with illuminated side buttons, it is also availab le without buttons.

Crestron is betting the market for thin, stylish control interfaces is still going strong, despite the sour economy. No word on pricing and availability, but watch this space for further updates.


July 14, 2009

Samsung to Offer Blockbuster Streaming Movies on BluRay Players

According to an announcement today by Samsung Electronics and Blockbuster, the two will team up to incorporate the Blockbuster interface on new Samsung TVs and BluRay disc players starting this fall. That means that a simple point and click will be sufficient to watch streaming content from Blockbuster's huge video library. Samsung has agreed to give blockbuster prime real estate in their menu system, virtually guaranteeing the video pioneer many thousands, possibly millions of rentals and downloads to Samsung customers.

Thanks to the wonders of that little bit of electronic wizardry known as the firmware update, owners of existing 2009 model Samsung 650 series TVs and above  will be able to simply download a Blockbuster widget to get the Blockbuster streaming. BluRay owners need only update their firmware to receive the Blockbuster functionality. The update is free of charge, but then why would they charge you for the abil;ity to participate in their market? That would seem stupid, and neither company has shown themselves to be that. Yet another reason to make sure your TV is connected to the Internet.


July 08, 2009

LG Cancels Some LCD TV Models But Adds Others

LG has made some changes to its LCD model line up for the rest of 2009. Some models were deemed to have insufficient demand, and have been canceled.


The LU55 series launch was cancelled.  A few units shipped out last month but the
demand for this series did not justify carrying the models any longer.
The planned 32" and 37" sizes of the SL80 series launch have been canceled in order
to focus on 42" and above.

The SL90 series launch has been added for late October. These TVs will be 1080p, 120Hz units with LED back lighting. Models include the 42SL90 and the 47SL90. They are expected to launch in mid October, 2009.


July 06, 2009

Dish Network DVRs Living on Borrowed Time

On Thursday, July 2nd a new ruling issued by a Texas court of appeals upheld the previous court opinion that Dish Network's DVRs were, in fact, infringing on TiVO's DVR patent. What did this mean for Dish Network? They had but 30 days to disable their DVRs (yes, if you have one of the 4 million units affected by the court's decision, that means yours too!) rendering all recorded content unwatchable. From a business standpoint, not only would Dish be forced to forgo the ongoing rvenue provided by their DVR service, but they'd have to pay TiVO some $103 million in fees and interest. This is in addition to the money that was previously ruled on.

Dish Network filed an appeal as the decision was rendered, causing the court to issue a temporary stay of execution for the satellite provider. Papers are due for the appeal no later than July 17th, giving Dish, and their subscribers at least a few more weeks of baseball before the curtain comes down.

Dish Network does have the option to settle the case with TiVO. Technology agreements withDish  rival DirecTV, and cable providers Comcast and Cox Communications are already in place, allowing them to use TiVO's time shifting technology without fear of legal action.

Here is the U.S. District Court order on TiVO's lawsuit:



July 03, 2009

Industry Leading Companies Missing the 2009 CEDIA Expo

Atlanta - Host of the 2009 CEDIA EXPOIs the CEDIA Expo shrinking? Of course it is, as are many trade shows in the current economic climate. What's stunning about CEDIA are the recent announcements that so many pillar manufacturers are not going to be at the show this year. Some have made noises about possibly having some off site presence, but they will not have booths on the show floor or have an official CEDIA presence. First the move from Denver to Atlanta, now this?

So, what manufacturers are playing hooky from the 2009 CEDIA expo? The following manufacturers have already officially announced they will not be there, or there are credible rumors to the effect: Denon, Marantz, McIntosh Laboratory, Boston Acoustics, Snell Acoustics, Escient, Elan, Sunfire, Planar, Runco, and Xantech. Those are some of the real leaders in the custom residential electronics installation industry, and it will not be the same without them, and their opulent booths on site.

Xantech, Sunfire, and Elan are part of the Linear Group. Linear also owns Linear, a leader in the security industry, who is also typically exhibiting at the CEDIA Expo, but the real shocker is the other Linear companies Niles Audio, and Speakercraft. Could they be absent from the show this year as well? That would mean the core of the custom installation industry would be eviscerated, with a solid number of key players choosing to sit it out for at least a year. Even with only the confirmed absences, the Expo won't have the same import as in years past.

If Speakercraft isn't there, who will replace Jeremy's incessant blathering over the venue's PA system? Hey, it's a custom A/V installation show. At least make sure the announcements aren't driven to the point of distortion and (for many attendees) pain.