Monday, February 28, 2005

Apple's AirPort Express - The Future of Whole House Audio Distribution?

Whether or not you like the MP3 audio format - it's here to stay.

Sure, there's no doubt that the MP3 format leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to audio officianados or so-called AudioPhiles. But the fact is, people love it. Want proof?

Well, in mid-2004, Apple Computer introduced a product called the AirPort Express and touted it as the world's first 802.11g mobile base station for sending audio wirelessly to any room in the house. Using Apple's market leading software player and web site, iTunes, the Airport Express allows you to play audio from your Mac or PC (yes, PC) and stream it via a wireless (or wired) network (using both wireless standards) to any room - or even all the rooms - in your home. All for less than $200. Take it to the next level and for less than $1000, you can build a system to get streaming MP3's to every room in your home - and do it yourself.

Still not enough proof? Well, consider than Apple sells more Airport Expresses in one day than Niles and Russound sell audio distribution systems in a year - combined.

OK, these are not totally apples-to-apples comparisons, but the fact is that on my block alone, four of the eight houses use the Airport Express to do exactly what I am using my Crestron 6Pak system to do. Sure, my Crestron system blows them out of the water in functionality as I can also use it to switch video from room to room and even browse the Internet, but for audio distribution, it's a basically a wash. I can send music all over my house and they can send music all over the house. One clear advantage i have, however, is that I can also send music from a CD player or my XM Radio tuner via my home network to any room in the house - they can't. But they also haven't needed to. Every song they want, so they claim, is in iTunes.

And it's rumored the next version of AirPort Express will incorporate that functionality too - or, at least the functionality to stream other audio sources via the same network.

If that's true, I will truly be impressed.

But for now, it's doesn't. Although the AirPort Express is an impressive product and does work as advertised, it's NOT a whole house audio distribution system.

But, then again, maybe it kind of is...

16:9 projector around $5K?

When will we see a bright, 16:9 projector in the $5,000 range? We have plenty of 4:3 aspect ratio projectors for the traveling presenter that are in the 3K to 5K range that carry lumen outputs in excess of 2400 ANSI. But, no 16:9 projectors in that range - at least none below 8K.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

EPSON Projectors on Sale!

Go to the home page for EPSON USA (http://www.epson.com/cgi-bin/Store/index.jsp) and check out what's at the bottom right hand corner. 

Projectors on sale!

Yep, a manufacturer selling projectors, direct, at 40% off list price.  Sure, it's a discontinued projector model, but watch this carefully as it could become a trend - projector manufacturers selling at dealer-level pricing to the end-user.  Good or bad?  I guess it depends on who you are - and, of course, the support that's backing it.

Friday, February 18, 2005

A Novel Idea

Not long ago, I had an idea for a projector with a DVD player built right in. Seemed like a logical product idea. Optoma thought so too and beat me to the punch with the introduction of one at CES. It has a fantastic design. Check it out at www.optoma.com -- it's called MovieTime.

--Denise Harrison, Editor-in-Chief, rAVe

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

AMX is Sold!

AMX is Sold

An investment group has purchased AMX. Although rumored for some time now, we thought the purchase would actually be from inside the market. We'll have to wait and see what happens, but if they keep the same management team intact, AMX will still be a MAJOR factor. Bob's team has done more for AMX in the past two years than anyone did in the previous six years, combined. They are a strong number two in control and pursuing Crestron's dominance. So, for all your AMXers out there, pray that the team stays. And, for all you AMX dealers out there, write, call and e-mail Duchossois to let them know what you think...

Gary Kayye, CTS

Monday, February 14, 2005

A Digital Signage Standout

While writing the news for the next issue, I found out a bit more about a new product called ChyTV from Chyron. So many digital signage systems have been introduced the last few years that it's rare to find one that stands out. This one does. Be sure to read the story in this week's issue -- it looks like a very cool system with tons of flexibility and a cheap price. If you haven't yet subscribed, go to http://www.kayyerave.com -- for both the residential and professional/commercial free AV eNewsletters.

--Denise Harrison, Editor-in-Chief, rAVe

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Finally! Mitsubishi's 14 oz. "PocketProjector"

Mitsubishi finally announced its PocketProjector. I'm still waiting for final lumen and contrast specs, but so far it looks like a very cool toy -- 14 ounces and fits in the palm of your hand.

It's due for a July delivery at $699 retail. They're billing it as a professional projector and they claim it can project a 20-inch image from about a foot away, or a 40-inch from less than a yard. Not really all that bad. It has SVGA resolution, by the way.

What I find almost as interesting as the projector itself is that Mitsubishi actually trademarked the PocketProjector name, much to the dismay of anyone else producing small projectors.

-- Denise Harrison, Editor-in-Chief, rAVe

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Welcome!

Welcome to the rAVe blog. Here, we will post commentary on news as it happens. We'll also publish from tradeshows so that those who aren't able to attend can read about what we saw during the day.

Today, the big news is the resignation of the HP CEO, Carly Fiorina. According to ZDNet:

HP's board said the change is effective immediately. Robert Wayman, HP's chief financial officer, has been named interim CEO and has been appointed to the board. Ultimately, Fiorina's attempts to translate her vision of IT's future into profits and growth for her company failed to meet post-merger expectations. News.com's Margaret Kane reports.

-- Denise Harrison, Editor-in-Chief, rAVe