News / Media

Transparent Displays become a Commercial Reality

07 February 2011

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As transparent displays inch ever closer to commercial reality, designer Michael Friebe has been shortlisted for the iF Concept Design award for a product based on LCD and TOLED technology. Elsewhere, LG Display was generating a lot of interest at Amsterdam’s ISE show with a prototype model of its 47” transparent panel. The company was tipping the display for use in digital signage where it does not require a backlight in daylight conditions.

Friebe’s design is called the Loewe Invision and is primarily designed for residential applications where it remains unobtrusive while switched off. However, LG’s ISE push, clearly shows that transparent displays have a massive future in the DOOH market where they can be integrated into shop windows or overlay products and models.

On the Loewe Invision product Friebe told Yanko Design: “As the first of its kind, the Loewe Invisio introduces technical innovation, combining conventional LCD and the latest TOLED display technology. This allows to create non-transparent / solid moving pictures with rich colour reproduction and full contrast range from solid black to pristine white.”

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Posted by chantal Thu, 17 Feb 2011 19:42:00 GMT

Netflix Button Coming to Remotes in Spring

The new feature will provide streaming services to subscribers with one click.

By Rachel Cericola January 06, 2011

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Still not sold on Netflix? Your remote control might think differently. Netflix announced they will soon become a part of every day remote control use, by getting their own button.

Starting this spring, a few manufacturers will include a Netflix button right on the remote. Haier, Memorex, Panasonic, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, Toshiba, and Best Buy’s Dynex brand are all planning to put the button on new (and applicable) Blu-ray players. Sony, Sharp and Toshiba will feature the button on remotes for web-enabled TVs.

Set-tops are not immune to the Netflix button. Boxee, Iomega and Roku are all planning to add the button to remotes that are included with their web-enabled set-top boxes….

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Posted by chantal Thu, 27 Jan 2011 00:54:00 GMT

DM 8G - Go Digital with Crestron

Learn about the 2nd generation DigitalMedia (DM 8G) distribution solution. Understand the future of analog, specifically what the AACS says and means.

Posted by chantal Fri, 14 Jan 2011 17:13:00 GMT

Review: Integra DTR-80.2 A/V Receiver

You’ll reap the latest high-tech rewards by setting up the DTR-80.2 A/V receiver to fuel your home theater.

November 30, 2010 by Arlen Schweiger

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Here’s a novel thought: Setting up your home theater can be fun!

With a component such as the DTR-80.2 9.2-channel THX Ultra2 Plus A/V receiver from Integra, you can spend a day tweaking your system’s sound and still not discover all of this beast’s capabilities. It may take a day just to sift through the 120-page manual.

Integra components are typically obtained through custom electronics (CE) professionals, who should be versed the DTR-80.2’s ins and outs, as its setup and operation can be daunting. But if you do install this receiver yourself, chances are you’re a techie—and you are about to have a blast.

The rear panel is very busy, but also well marked, so making all of the A/V connections is more tedious than difficult (go wild with eight 3D-ready HDMI 1.4a inputs). Integra is considerate with its speaker connections: terminals for a surround-sound setup are color-coded, and included in the instruction manual are corresponding stickers for your wires.

There are front-panel niceties, too, like USB, HDMI, analog audio, video and digital optical ports.

The first thing I did was update the firmware. I connected an Ethernet cable from the rear port to my Linksys router, and followed the menu steps. The manual noted that the process could take up to 30 minutes, but it didn’t take half that before the onscreen display told me it was “complete.”

Fortunately, my PC is in my theater room and I had it on while updating the receiver’s firmware. Almost instantaneously, the notification popped up on my desktop saying that a DLNA-compatible device had been found on the network (good sign). By going through the NET/USB button on the receiver’s remote, I verified that the DTR-80.2 quickly discovered my PC’s Nero Media Home network software (better sign).

Using the onscreen display, I played some of my high-quality 256 and 320 kbps (kilobits per second) MP3 files. They sounded superb, and changing tracks was simple via the RETURN button; you can also use traditional FAST FORWARD buttons to go to other tracks or move within a song, as well as PAUSE it.

Next I tested Pandora. It took a few tries, as inputting the email address and password is rather clunky. It’s worth it, though, because having a networked, multizone receiver with Pandora access will make you golden for hosting parties. Options include creating a new station, playing a “quickmix,” playing one of the customized stations I’d already created, or signing out. I picked a station I’d made for jam-band music.

After brief buffering, Pandora delivered, and the sound quality was impressive for streaming, much better than through my computer and its speakers. You can drill into Pandora functions to give songs a thumb’s up or down, delete selections, bookmark and more. One thing I couldn’t find, though, was artist and song title info.

Network access is only part of the DTR-80.2’s charms. Other highlights include Audyssey MultEQ XT32 room correction and speaker setup, as well as a wealth of listening modes to suit your sources (I found “all channel stereo” quite enveloping). Surround sound from Blu-rays and DVDs was expansive and detailed through the DTR-80.2, whether it was Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio or regular Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1—I did not try out the Dolby Pro Logic IIz “height channels” application, but you can wire your system for that extra front-channel configuration too.

Plus don’t forget about the strong video processing, which comes via HQV Reon-VX for processing and upscaling, so all of your sources can get the HD treatment, like the much-improved standard-def channels I watched through the DTR-80.2 that I’m still waiting on my cable provider to add to our HD lineup…

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Posted by chantal Thu, 13 Jan 2011 19:20:00 GMT

Bird Rock Surf Cam

Web cam installation and service by Audio Impact.

“Bird Rock Surf Cam is a local run grass roots organization committed to keeping our waters clean, community safe and beach preserved. ”

Posted by chantal Mon, 10 Jan 2011 17:35:00 GMT

5 Decades of CES Hits and Epic Flops

by Julianne Pepitone, Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Consumer Electronics Show is the tech industry’s annual gadget lovefest. It’s launched some history-making devices – and some major disasters.

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1970: VCR

The Consumer Electronics Show spans five decades: It launched in New York City way back in 1967, mainly as a spinoff of the Chicago Music Show. The show experimented with different cities and twice-a-year schedules until 1998, when it moved permanently to Las Vegas and became an annual extravaganza.

In the 1970s, CES was still largely a trade show, with little mainstream media coverage. The first CES of the decade brought the commercial debut of the Videocassette Recorder, which was first marketed as an easy way to record TV shows for later viewing.

VCRs had been around since the mid-1950s, but they cost around $50,000 and were used mainly by TV networks.

An awestruck audience at the 1970 CES loved the VCR’s convenience – but Hollywood battled back, warning that piracy would run rampant and kill network television.

The VHS remained on top until the late 1990s, when the DVD (unveiled at the 1996 CES) began to take over. By the early 2000s, the DVD was king of pre-recorded releases. But even today, blank VHS tapes are a major medium for recording content – and VCRs are still big sellers, though they’re now most often found in DVD player combo units.

1976: Cheap Digital Watches

Texas Instruments was slogging through a tough decade. The company invented the single-chip microprocessor, which revolutionized small devices like calculators. Then it got caught in a price war that decimated its sales in the very market it created.

But TI turned itself around with a product that seems almost silly in retrospect: an electronic digital watch that sold for just $19.95. The trend took off overnight and became a bona fide craze – much to the chagrin of classic watch manufacturers, who saw their market share decrease rapidly.

TI was so successful, in fact, that it dropped the price of its digital watch to $9.95 less than a year later. But ever-cheaper knockoffs from Asia arrived in 1978, and TI’s digital watch sales plummeted in 1979. The company left the digital watch business in 1981, though the devices live on as a throwback symbol of nerdery everywhere.

1996: Apple Pippin

Apple’s a hotshot tech company now, but the mid-’90s saw the company fighting for relevance after several failed products. The Pippin launched at CES 1996 as a network computer that could also be used to play games. Apple licensed the technology to Japanese toymaker Bandai, and the pair launched the multimedia device as a team.

The San Jose Mercury News called the Pippin the “future of cyberspace,” but consumers were confused by the half-computer, half-console branding. The Pippin’s 14.4 kpbs modem made the device super-slow, and few games were available for the Mac operating system.

The Pippin cost $600 – almost double the price tag of consoles from rivals Nintendo and Sega. It’s estimated that only about 10,000 Pippins were purchased in the U.S. The device is now considered one of the Apple’s biggest flops.

PC World named the Pippin No. 22 on its list of the 25 worst tech products of all time. In their words: “Underpowered, overpriced, and underutilized – that pretty much describes everything that came out of Apple in the mid-90s.”

2001: Microsoft Xbox

Bill Gates unveiled the highly anticipated Xbox, Microsoft’s first video game console, in a keynote speech at the 2001 CES. The sleek black box included an Ethernet port, a built-in 8GB hard drive and the capability to play movie DVDs.

Professional wrestling star The Rock joined Gates on stage for the announcement of WWF’s “Raw is War” Xbox game. The unlikely pair bantered for a few minutes in front of the audience.

“To the untrained eye, it just might appear that The Rock and Bill Gates don’t have a heck of a lot in common,” The Rock quipped. “That can’t be further from the truth. Both The Rock and Bill Gates stand on top of their industry. And both The Rock and Bill Gates are bestselling authors.”

The Xbox was released a few months later to long lines and waiting lists. Some of the platform’s games that have become legendary, including the “Halo” series, various NFL titles and “Dead or Alive.” In 2002, Microsoft launched its Xbox Live online gaming service.

The next generation of the console came in 2005 with the launch of Xbox 360. But the original Xbox is still beloved, and video game sites including IGN have named it one of the top consoles ever launched.

2003: Blu-Ray Disc

The Blu-ray Disc, unveiled at CES 2003, was supposed to be the David to HD DVD’s Goliath.

Both formats offered improved picture and sound quality over the regular ol’ DVD. But HD DVD, developed by Toshiba and NEC, had already attracted the big players. Its supporters included Microsoft, Intel (Nasdaq: INTC - News) and Warner Bros – and the format was backed by the influential DVD Forum industry group.

USA Today dismissed Blu-ray as an also-ran in an article touting HD DVD’s quality: “Sony has developed the competing Blu-ray DVD, but hasn’t signed up any studios beyond its own.”

Despite HD’s major leg up, the Blu-ray Disc Association soldiered on as a joint venture between Sony and Philips – and slowly slowly garnered support from content manufacturers and major retailers.

A mere day before CES 2008, Warner Bros. announced it would drop HD DVD for Blu-ray. That signaled the end for HD. Less than one month later, Toshiba conceded defeat and discontinued its HD DVD business. Once again, a tortoise triumphed over the hare.

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Posted by chantal Fri, 07 Jan 2011 17:11:00 GMT

Home Theater for the Holidays

Author: Robert Schlecht,

Once you choose your room, decide between hanging a flat-screen HDTV or a video projection screen and corresponding video projector. The most popular aspect ratio is 16:9 widescreen. A projector/screen combo will help provide that authentic movie theater experience and is the recommended solution for a dedicated home theater. If you plan on watching lots of television in addition to movies, then a HDTV may be the better option, as projector bulbs have limited lifespans and are expensive to replace.

Images provided by Audio Impact, San Diego

Holiday time is all about families, and what better place to spend family time then in your own home theater! If you received new home theater AV components over the holidays, then now is the perfect time to begin. Use your holiday vacation time to have the whole family work together on this project. Not only will owning a home theater be fun for the whole family, but it will also add resale value to your house.

Room Considerations:

First, choose what room you will use. A dark basement room with no windows is ideal, but any existing room from a spare bedroom to a rec room can be converted into a home theater. Some considerations to keep-in-mind include room location, ceiling height, ambient lighting conditions, and the overall shape of the room. For example, locating the home theater next to an infant room might not be the best location when deep booming explosions are going off during a movie. High ceilings are ideal if you are planning on putting back rows of seats on riser platforms and/or hanging a video projector from the ceiling. Block out any ambient light by removing highly reflective objects, and covering windows with blackout drapery. A long rectangular room, similar in shape to an actual movie theater, is preferred. This will allow good viewing angles from all the seating positions, and dialogue from your center-channel speaker will also have greater impact down the middle of the room.


Ideally you want a dark room, especially on the end with the screen. Black is a safe-bet, but you can mix in other dark colors such as navy blue, dark green, burgundy, and grays. These colors come into play when considering theater seating, theater carpet and wall color. Keep your walls a dark shade to avoid reflecting light from the screen that has the undesirable effect of reducing the screen contrast. It is therefore important that the room is dark when the lights are off, so you feel like you are in a theater and there are no visual distractions. Also, make sure your screen frame is black and absorbs any light that hits it. And, you can paint your outlet covers to match your room color.

HDTV or Video Projector:

Once you choose your room, decide between hanging a flat-screen HDTV or a video projection screen and corresponding video projector. The most popular aspect ratio is 16:9 widescreen. A projector/screen combo will help provide that authentic movie theater experience and is the recommended solution for a dedicated home theater. If you plan on watching lots of television in addition to movies, then a HDTV may be the better option, as projector bulbs have limited lifespans and are expensive to replace.

AV Components:

Set up your audio components including a minimum 5.1-channel surround sound system. If Blu-ray movies are a top priority, then you may want to opt for a 7.1-channel system. You can save some money and get matched components by selecting one of the readily available Home-Theater-In-a-Box (HTiB) systems. Make sure the Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) of the AV Receiver (AVR) is very low… much less than 1% for clear sound at high volume levels. AV equipment can be hidden away in a cabinet, or placed on a rear shelf that also has the benefit of breaking up sound reflections from the front speakers. Room acoustics can be further improved by adding curtains and acoustic panels to the side walls, and carpeting the floor. Conceal your speaker cords behind baseboard or inside plastic cable concealers. Make sure to add surge protectors and/or battery-backup (UPS) systems to your sensitive electronics gear. Finally, you need to calibrate your AV system, so the picture and sound are set at their optimum levels for your environment. To calibrate, you can hire an expert or pick-up one of the many calibration DVDs for the DIY approach.


Home theater seating is another important consideration as you will be spending lots of time sitting, especially during epic movie marathons. For seating you have lots of choices from standard sofas and recliners, to authentic cinema chairs. If you have children, don’t forget to add some kid-friendly chairs, such as Video Rockers. With most of the cinema seats, you can also select the chair width and back height. These are important factors that can maximize comfort for your home theater guests, so be sure and take body size into consideration. If you plan to have multiple rows, it’s a good idea to place the rear rows up on a higher floor riser. Once you find the perfect seats for your room, you need to make sure that you arrange them at the correct distance from the screen. Depending on the size of the screen, there is an optimal seating distance.


Lighting is not only functional, but decorative as well. Consider standard wall sconces for a traditional theater look, or custom wall sconces featuring your theater name to set your theater apart from the rest. Adding subtle lighting effects such as rear-lit poster cases and LED edge-lit marquees can really add to the realism of an authentic movie theater experience. Aisle lighting and step lighting will not only add a nice touch, but make the room safer upon entry and exit. You can spice up the room lighting further by adding a dimmer switch.


Now for the fun part… the decor… it’s all about the trimmings, and this is an area where your personal taste can really shine through. Many people spend a lot of time thinking about the audio and video components, but forget the room aesthetics. If you are going to spend a lot of time in your home theater and have friends over for movie parties, then you want your media room to show off your love of movies. While decorating your home theater, you may want to consider a room theme based on your favorite movie such as Star Wars or Gone with the Wind. Or, a genre-based theme, such as Sci-Fi, Mystery, Action-Adventure, etc. You could also go with a generic movie theme, and add some film reels, movie clapboards, and wall sconces with movie themed logos and motifs.

If you are planning a specific theme, then scout out local flea markets, garage sales, and go online to find decorations, action figures, toys, props and collectibles that will complement your theme. You do-it-yourself types may even give a try at making a few custom props of your own. Framed posters of your favorite movies will also make nice decorations. If you want to give your room a unique look, then you may want to consider a personalized movie marquee or wall plaque. If you are going for that old-time, vintage look, then you may want to add an Old Fashioned MovieTime Popcorn Machine or Retro Hot Air Popper. Over the holidays, you can add some seasonal decorations for special occasions like Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. Don’t forget to make your room comfortable as well. Movie-themed blankets and pillows are not only comfortable, but look great too!

Let The Fun Begin:

Now it’s time to pop-in that favorite film or holiday DVD and enjoy watching movies in your own home theater!

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Posted by chantal Tue, 04 Jan 2011 17:15:00 GMT

Pioneer Ships Three 3D Blu-ray Players

All three include an iPhone remote control feature

December 22, 2010 by Grant Clauser

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Pioneer Electronics just got the memo that this week is kinda important for shoppers. Today the company began shipping its first line of 3D Blu-ray 3D players. The BDP-430 and two Elite models, BDP-41FD and BDP-43FD were all shown at the 2010 CEDIA Expo in Atlanta and will be hitting stores soon.

Among the features of the three models are HDMI 1.4a (single, not dual outputs), 1080p upconversion, Wi-Fi compatibility (with a Wi-Fi USB adaptor), online content partners (Youtube, Netflix and Pandora) and an iPod control feature called iControlAV App.

The Elite model BDP-41FD features an RS-232 port for connection to custom control systems. Model BDP-43FD adds to that an armored chassis and higher grade parts.

The three models support the latest audio formats including DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD in addition to Pioneer’s own Precision Quartz Lock System (PQLS) for jitter-free reproduction of Blu-ray Disc, DVD and CD content when matched with a compatible Pioneer receiver…

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Posted by chantal Mon, 03 Jan 2011 19:23:00 GMT

Apple confirms it's sold one million new Apple TVs

By Donald Melanson Dec 27th 2010 on

Apple said last week that it expected its new Apple TV to cross the one million mark in sales before Christmas, and it’s now quietly confirmed that it’s managed to do just that. For those keeping score, that means it’s sold a million in three months, which is certainly impressive for something Apple still describes as a “hobby,” although that description does have the peculiar tendency to lower expectations somewhat. As you may recall, Roku also announced last week that it expected to sell a million units before the end of the year, and its CEO noted that the introduction of the new Apple TV actually seems to have led to a spike in sales of its own media streamers.

Posted by chantal Tue, 28 Dec 2010 17:07:00 GMT

Test Report: Onkyo TX-NR1008 A/V Receiver

Powerful and packed with features without the flagship price tag.

By Daniel Kumin December 2010

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A check of Onkyo’s Web site shows no fewer than 17 different A/V receivers on offer, an almost General Motors-like profusion of models. (I’m pretty certain, however, the U.S. government won’t be stepping in on Onkyo’s behalf should the consumer elec- tronics industry go south.) To be fair, a half-dozen or so are last year?s models, but still. C’mon, guys, 17???

However you want to count them, Onkyo’s new TX-NR1008, which is a couple hundred dollars cheaper (and some 10 pounds lighter) than the identically powered TX- NR1007, lies pretty much squarely in the middle of this embarrassment of riches. Its lighter weight suggests that Onkyo is exchanging a bit of power-supply copper for silicon-based features, most obviously the seven HDMI inputs (one on the front panel!) and dual outputs, all in the gloriously 3D-capable version v1.4 being more or less forced on all manufacturers by the 3D police.


Visually, the TX-NR1008 is indistinguishable from the model it replaces, at least on the outside. But upon con- necting my tangle of HDMI cables, audio and video in- terconnects, and speaker wires and then powering up, I observed a subtly updated GUI, with new, translucent overlays and menus as well as readouts that, while slightly more graphical than the previous generation’s, remain mostly text-driven, straightforward, and logical…

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Posted by chantal Mon, 27 Dec 2010 19:33:00 GMT