Archive for May, 2008

AVAD Expands Presence in Canada with New Ca??ary Facility

Monday, May 5th, 2008

Distributor of Custom Home Electronics’ Second Canadian Location Opens May 5th in Ca??ary

Van Nuys, Calif. – May 5, 2008 – AVAD, LLC, the industry’s leading distributor of custom home electronics, has expanded its presence in Canada with the opening of its Ca??ary facility—its second Canadian location. Scheduled to open Monday, May 5th, the new Ca??ary facility will bring AVAD’s unique blend of best brands, in-depth training and superior service to western Canadian custom installers and retailers. (more…)

Omnimount Re-launches Commercial Division Website With New Enhanced Features

Monday, May 5th, 2008

Interactive Product Tours, Featured Product and Announcement Sections Highlight New Website

PHOENIX, Ariz. – May 5, 2008 – OmniMount, dedicated to being a one-stop-shop for professional-grade products, has announced the re-launch of its commercial website, The site has been revamped to include useful tools, such as interactive 360 degree product tours on select products, featured product and announcement sections and comprehensive product sales content, for dealers and distributors. (more…)


Monday, May 5th, 2008

If you have a relatitively new satellite receiver box from DirecTV or Dish Network, it probably has a USB port on the back.

What’s it for?

Well, if you don’t already know, these ports are for connecting an outboard hard drive so you can store recorded movies (recorded from satellite programming) once the hard drive inside the satellite box is full. It’s also useful to archive movies or programs that you plan to keep for a long time. This is especially important since the satellite box sometimes fails and you either have to get a replacement satellite box or reformat the hard drive, either of which will cost you the recorded programs that you want to keep. Think how nice it would be to have a 1 TB hard drive to store those movies that were only broadcast once at 3 am in high definition (like The Guns of Navarone).

Problem is, DirecTV’s USB port is not active at this point, while Dish Network’s USB port is indeed active (you have to pay a $40 fee to be able to use it though).

Recently, one of my DirecTV satellite boxes had a problem, and when I called them up, they said I could try reformatting the hard drive before requesting a replacement satellite box. When I asked about using the USB port on the rear panel to protect my recorded programs, they told me the USB port cannot be used at present. They didn’t know when DirecTV will make it a usable feature.

Well, I ended up just pulling the AC cord out and then putting back in, which rebooted the satellite box software. That seemed to work fine, but operation is a bit slow. I think something may be getting ready to blow on this sat box. But, I can’t move my recorded programs to an outboard drive to save them before the box crashes for the last time.

I am looking into switching my satellite service to Dish Network. The capability of using an external USB hard drive to back up prized recorded programs is a critical feature to me.

So, DirecTV, get that USB port feature working.

VizionWare Signs Distribution Agreement with Smarthome

Friday, May 2nd, 2008

Leading Active HDMI and DVI Manufacturer Partners with World-Wide Leader in Home Electronics Distribution

AUSTIN, Texas – May 2, 2008 – VizionWare, the leading manufacturer of high performance, active HDMI and DVI products, has announced a distribution agreement with Smarthome, Inc. to offer VizionWare’s entire line of digital interconnects and accessories. As part of the agreement, VizionWare’s complete product line, including its award-winning Hi-Wirez Series HDMI interconnects, will be available for purchase through Smarthome’s extensive sales catalog and online store. (more…)

Daily Blog – Sunit Chawla – May 2, 2008: BRIGHT LIGHTS AND CE DEVICES.

Friday, May 2nd, 2008

I purchased a Media Center Extender recently.  When I powered it up, I was reminded of a problem with many CE devices: a bright light to indicate its power-on status.  I can understand the need for a visual cue to indicate a device’s status, but it should not draw attention to itself.

The device mentioned here is not alone.  My RPTV has a red LED right underneath the screen which gets lit when its powered up.  Our telephones have an LED which gets lit when it sits in the charging cradle.  It is bright enough that you could use it as a night light in our bedroom, but we have chosen to cover it.

SSPs range all over the map too in this regard.  Many do offer options to control the brightness of the front panel display, some including a complete off option.  But in some cases, there are other lights, such as the standby indicator, which cannot be altered.  We added a section in our SSP benchmark to report on this.

Yes, masking tape offers a solution, but there is an aesthetic aspect to consider in non-dedicated spaces where this option may not fly with your significant other.  Manufacturers really need to start providing a sub-menu which offers the end user some configuration options.

At the very least, offer an “All Lights Off” option.

Practical Guide to Turntable Set-Up DVD With Analog Expert Michael Fremer

Thursday, May 1st, 2008

Wyckoff, NJ—May 1, 2008—Originally released in June, 2006, vinyl guru and analog expert Michael Fremer ‘s DVD entitled “21st Century vinyl: Michael Fremer’s Practical Guide to Turntable Set-up” has sold more than 7000 copies and continues to sell as it reaches a younger demographic now getting into vinyl for the first time. The disc has been translated into German and Italian with Japanese and Mandarin Chinese Language editions currently in production. (more…)


Thursday, May 1st, 2008

My cable company giveth, my cable company taketh away. The good news is that I am getting more HD channels. The bad news is that putting more HD into the pipe means something’s got to give to make room for the new channels. The technical details (compression, reduced bit-rate, etc.) are less meaningful than the end result: loss of detail, video artifacts, and macro-blocking. The picture just doesn’t pop like it used to on certain channels.

I’ve gone back and forth between satellite and cable over the years, most recently based on the quality and quantity of HD programming, especially my local HD networks. I cannot get over-the-air, even though I live in a major metropolitan TV market, because of the long distance from the transmitter and several inconveniently located mountains.

So the question is whether to put up with the reduced quality, or put the dish back on the roof. The satellite providers have their own picture quality issues, so it’s not as though there is a clear answer for someone wanting the most channels of high-quality HD programming. The competition between cable and satellite (with fiber-based services playing catch-up) has accelerated the number of available HD channels, but the quality of HD programming seems to be headed in the opposite direction. As more consumers purchase HD sets, I expect (hope?) that the market will insist on higher video quality so we can get the most out of our new HDTV’s.

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