Product Briefs: ProSource, Herman, iPoint; AudioControl adds GRAY; DTS Virtual:X; Tablo DVR Update
So many product news items come across the CE Pro desks, and we don't want to miss them. Neither do our readers. This is the place where we tell you what's now shipping, which reps and distributors picked up what new products, which products are newly compatible, how public companies are faring, and other briefs in custom electronics.
ProSource, a national audio, video, and integration buying group, has announced the addition of Herman Integration Services and iPoint Business Management Software to the ProSource member suite of services designed for the AV industry.
Herman Integration Services specializes in providing install labor for AV systems integrators nationwide, driving more business by eliminating the time and expense of hiring installers directly. By hiring just the labor resources needed, when needed, Herman can lower overall payroll expense, cut down on unutilized labor hours, reduce the hours spent hiring new employees, and eliminate the time spent on training.
iPoint is a full-service business management solution that provides the most comprehensive toolset available to create processes and procedures guaranteed to streamline business operations and deliver better business results. Areas of expertise include workflow process, cash flow management, marketing, inventory, communication automation, business process management, and documentation.
"The addition of Herman Integration Services and iPoint Business Management Software to the ProSource suite of services rounds out the variety of assets that support a member's financial, marketing, and business processes and operations," says Dave Workman, CEO and president of ProSource. "We encourage our members to sharpen their focus on running their businesses with tools that provide a measurement of their success."
AudioControl, a manufacturer of audio solutions for the residential, commercial and automotive markets has announced that European speaker manufacturer GRAY has been added to its Sound Partners Program (SPP). The AudioControl SPP was established as a cooperative initiative with industry-leading architectural speaker manufacturers in order to implement optimized performance profiles as defined by each brand’s engineers. These profiles, when stored in the DSP onboard the AudioControl Director M-Series high-performance 8 and 16-channel amplifiers, as well as the new D-Series D2800 and D4600 that will become available during the first quarter of 2018 help integrators create state-of-the-art whole-house entertainment/commercial audio systems.
DSP profiles are now available for the GRAY C40, C50 and S80 architectural loudspeakers and subwoofer. Integrators using both AudioControl DSP-enabled Director M-Series amplifiers with any of these Graysound loudspeaker models will be able to take advantage of the profiles, as well as the fine-tuning capabilities of these amplifiers to deliver a superlative entertainment experience for their clients states AudioControl.
DTS, a global developer of high-definition audio solutions and a wholly owned subsidiary of Xperi Corporation, has announced the integration of DTS Virtual:X post-processing technology in a wide range of MStar Semiconductor’s smart TV system-on-chip (SOC) platforms. MStar’s adoption of DTS Virtual:X technology allows TV vendors to deliver stunning virtualized immersive sound to consumers from any content. Televisions with DTS Virtual:X technology are expected to be available in early 2018.
“We are excited to partner with the number one TV SOC provider, MStar, to allow TV vendors to include DTS Virtual:X technology in their products through MStar’s SOC chipsets,” says Joanna Skrdlant, general manager, home audio, Xperi. “DTS Virtual:X technology continues to be adopted by leading brands who wish to provide consumers an immersive sound experience through sound bars, A/V receivers, and now, TVs. We look forward to continuing this collaboration and working with TV OEM partners to deliver the DTS Virtual:X experience to consumers.”
Tablo Over-the-Air DVRs, including its two-Tuner, four-Tuner and Tablo DUAL will be eligible for a firmware update (2.2.18) rolling out over the coming week which brings more flexible scheduling and recording management capabilities to its Tablo apps.
The Tablo firmware release adds some customer requested advanced recording management features such the ability to set recordings on episodes or full series to start up to 10 mins early and end as much as three hours after the scheduled program end-time.
Tablo’s new advanced recording features can be applied to single airings, or to an entire series and, as part of Tablo’s continually expanding advanced feature set, are available to all customers with an active Tablo subscription.
“Industry experts have already singled Tablo out as the best OTA DVR for most cord cutters, yet we remain focused on making our Tablo app experience even better through performance and feature-set improvements,” says Grant Hall, CEO at Nuvyyo, the makers of Tablo. “With these powerful advanced recording features, we believe Tablo now offers best mix of feature set, ease-of-use, and cross-device support of any antenna DVR solution.”
Once updated to the latest firmware (2.2.18), owners of Tablo products can access advanced recording settings via the Tablo Channel on Roku and Tablo apps for Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV, NVIDIA SHIELD TV, PC/MAC, and mobile devices. Over the coming months, these features will be made available on additional Tablo-supported devices and Tablo platforms including the Tablo DVR ENGINE for NVIDIA SHIELD TV.
Home Technology Specialists of America (HTSA), a hybrid retail and custom integration buying group, has partnered with Plantation, Fla.-based RoseWater Energy Group (RoseWater) to offer its members a special program on the company’s residential power management hub solutions.
Azione Unlimited buying group announces the addtion of Atlona as a new vendor partner. Atlona is a global manufacturer of A/V and IT distribution and connectivity solutions. Atlona provides products that can help Azione dealers stay ahead of the curve, delivering simple yet robust solutions for any residential or light commercial application. The company’s award-winning line of matrix switchers, converters, and extenders pair easily with any control system, giving Azione dealers more options for whole-home AV connectivity, smart home systems, and more.
Intelligent Audio Products (IAP), makers of branded and OEM indoor and outdoor speakers, speaker cabinets and audio furniture has taken on a new project for VPI Industries of New Jersey, producing rosewood bases for its Prime Signature turntables.
“Our family-owned business producing these Rosewood bases in our U.S. factory for another family-owned high-end U.S. audio manufacturer just feels right, and adds another dimension to the ultra-premium Prime Signature turntable,” says Art Powers, president of Intelligent Audio Products. “This is a perfect project for IAP, and the kind of assignment we’re now taking on.”
RTI, a control and automation manufacturer for residential and commercial settings, has announced a two-way driver for the Yamaha MusicCast wireless multiroom audio system. Developed by RTI, the new driver allows dealers to easily integrate the complete lineup of MusicCast-enabled audio components into RTI automation and control systems, providing customers with convenient control over their home audio experience.
The driver can now control all MusicCast products introduced since 2015 — more than 50 models in total. In addition to wireless speakers that can be used as standalone streaming audio systems, the MusicCast platform includes AV receivers, a wide range of soundbars, wireless streaming amps, Hi-Fi receivers, and powered network speakers. With the new driver, users can select rooms and sources, and browse their music library and streaming services, all from the RTI interface of their choice. For integrators, the driver makes it easy to provide this functionality with the auto programming capabilities of Integration Designer® APEX software.
"Yamaha has long been a favorite brand for RTI integrators, and with MusicCast, the company has brought high-end media player functionality into a new range of products," says Mike Everett, vice president of global sales, RTI.
ProSource, a national audio, video, and integration buying group, has announced the addition of a new program available to ProSource members that features remote monitoring, networking, power and surveillance solutions from the Araknis, Luma, OvrC, Visualint, and WattBox SnapAV brands. Each of these categories represents growth for ProSource group members, and the buying group will cover the news during its upcoming ProSource Summit in March.
"All of these brands are best-in-class assets that put our members out front in a competitive marketplace. Systems monitoring and surveillance are projected to be two of our highest growth categories in 2018," says Dave Workman, CEO and president of ProSource.
Fusion Research has added U.S.-based iHeartRadio stations to its Summit Music Servers. This brings back many of the local radio stations that used to be available through the TuneIn service that Fusion also supports.
To get the service, dealers need to download the latest configuration utility, which will be available shortly from Fusion’s website.
“We are excited to have this service available for our client’s customers who want to listen to US based radio stations”, says Robert Lew, audio product manager, Fusion Research, “this is just the first of several new services we will be adding in this first quarter of 2018.”
ADT revealed at CES 2018 that it will expand its voice control offering of ADT Pulse to Google Home. This means customers will be able to utilize Google Voice Assistant to integrate ADT security automation skills on the platform. Functions that customers can perform through the ADT Pulse app include arming and disarming their alarm system as well as control of lighting, locks, thermostats and cameras.
Custom AV Distribution is now offering its dealer network JVC projectors to complete a total home cinema package.
The latest offering from EnGenius allows users to design, analyze, and optimize their wireless networks. This intuitive and easy-to-use site-design tool is offered license-free to EnGenius partners, setting it apart from comparable industry tools.
"We are thrilled to offer this exciting new tool to our valued business partners," states MC Leo, general manager at EnGenius Technologies. "This complimentary tool will increase efficiency and boost business results, at no cost to registered partners."
The ezWiFi Planner is ideal for designing optimal performance with indoor and outdoor projects. The ezWiFi Planners algorithms intelligently calculates optimal coverage area with ideal access point choice and placement. The ezWiFi Planner offers color coded heatmaps to visualize signal strength and coverage of your deployment.
DISH has announced that its customers will have the ability to watch Hands-Free TV using the Google Assistant in the coming months. This marks the first time that DISH customers with a Hopper, Joey or Wally can use voice to control their TV in multiple languages, including English and Spanish.
“Throughout 2017, DISH took major strides toward building a suite of voice control options for our customers, including a new DISH voice remote,” says Niraj Desai, vice president of product management, Dish. “We’re pleased to be working with the Google Assistant to offer our customers the ability to control Hopper’s video experiences through the Assistant on speakers and phones.”
Starting in the first half of this year, DISH customers with a broadband-connected Hopper DVR (all generations), Joey client (all models) or Wally single-tuner HD receiver can use the Google Assistant to control their TV when paired with the Assistant on speakers like Google Home, Android phones or iPhones.
The Google Assistant will be able to help you navigate, play, pause, fast-forward, rewind and search TV content based on channel, title, actor and genre.
Luxul, has announced that its KRACK firmware updates are now complete and available for its lineup of wireless routers and access points. Security patches that fix this Wi-Fi vulnerability on the following products can be found under Firmware Updates on the company's website.
Wireless access points:
Luxul explains that KRACK is essentially a weakness in the WPA2 system, which secures the Wi-Fi connection between a router and a computer. KRACK enables attackers to eavesdrop on unencrypted traffic or slip malware into otherwise legitimate websites when the WPA2 system breaks down. For an attack to happen, the attacker would have to physically be within Wi-Fi range to carry it out. Even though nearly every device that uses Wi-Fi is vulnerable, an attack would require a lot of preparation and be targeted very specifically, dramatically reducing the risk for an average person to be affected.
Upon hearing about this vulnerability in early October, Luxul's engineering team held meetings to determine a plan of action and quickly developed a solution to protect its customers. An elite team of Luxul engineers worked on all security patches keeping its dealers informed of all progress.
Klipsch, a wholly-owned subsidiary of VOXX International Corporation, has announced that its wireless speakers and amplifiers will support the Amazon Alexa Connected Speaker APIs (Application Protocol Interfaces), allowing users to control their speakers and multi-room audio systems from any Alexa-enabled device, such as the Amazon Echo or Dot.
The company has incorporated the latest technologies into its speakers so listeners can access, enjoy, and control their music and movies in one room or throughout the home. Any of the Klipsch DTS Play-Fi equipped speakers in the Klipsch Stream wireless multiroom audio system: Reference RSB-14 and RSB-8 sound bars, Heritage Wireless speaker The Three, RW-1 wireless speaker, and Gate and PowerGate amplifiers.
Current owners of any products in the Klipsch Stream series will require a free firmware update through the Klipsch Stream app to enable functionality of Alexa voice control. The firmware update will be available early 2018.
Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs Accelerator, powered by Techstars, is now accepting applications for its first class scheduled to begin this July in Philadelphia. This is a core component of Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs’ mission to cultivate founders and teams who are serious about developing the next generation of media, entertainment, and connectivity companies. Startups from around the world are encouraged to apply by visiting https://techstars.com/comcast.
Startups selected for the 13-week accelerator program will receive one-on-one mentoring from Techstars, a worldwide entrepreneur network that supports entrepreneurs through access to mentorship and capital, and will work directly with mentors and product experts from across Comcast NBCUniversal’s businesses, including the NBC and Telemundo broadcast networks, film studios, cable networks, and Xfinity products and services. Approximately 10 startups will be selected for the program.
“We look forward to bringing some of the world’s brightest entrepreneurs to Philadelphia and working side-by-side with our partners at Techstars, while leveraging Comcast NBCUniversal’s unique set of assets to help take their businesses to the next level,” states Sam Schwartz, chief business development officer, Comcast Cable.
"We are thrilled to pair up Techstars' proven mentor-driven accelerator program and worldwide network with Comcast's deep vertical breadth and expertise,” adds Techstar's Maya Baratz, who serves as the managing director of the accelerator.
“We believe this unique combination will extend the reach of our ongoing commitment to fueling the growth of the most talented teams around the country and the world who will join us."
Klipsch, a wholly-owned subsidiary of VOXX International Corporation, has
announced that its next generation of Heritage Wireless tabletop speakers will have the Google Assistant built in. New Klipsch Heritage Wireless speakers
The Three and The One with the Google Assistant built in blend nostalgic mid-century modern design, award-winning acoustic performances, and robust connectivity with the addition of a personal, helpful assistant.
The Klipsch Heritage Wireless speakers The Three and The One with the Google Assistant built in are designed to make daily tasks faster and easier. Functionality includes: the ability to ask questions and get information, stream music, hear the news, weather and traffic, add to shopping list, control smart devices, make a phone call, and more.
Fusion Research has announced that it has a Creston approved free music server driver that utilizes Crestron’s SmartObject Media Player interface as well as their recently released Generic Media Server Symbol.
This driver is available for use on all of Fusion’s line of Summit music servers, which were first introduced in August 2016. Fusion’s current line-up of audiophile-grade music servers include the Solo, a single source piece with a Burr-Brown DAC for $499 and the Duet and the 1U rackmountable two-source piece at $799. Music services include Spotify, Pandora, Tune-in, the commercial music service Sound Machine and soon, SiriusXM. Fusion also features AirPlay and an automatic iTunes integration that synchronizes and backs up client’s iTunes collections onto any USB hard drive attached to the music server.
“Having Fusion’s line of music servers available for easy integration into Crestron systems is great for our dealers,” says Robert Bavolacco, manager, partner programs, Crestron. “their products are sold only through the integration channel and it gives our dealers yet another quality choice when meeting their customer’s music requirements.”
Sigma Designs, a provider of intelligent system-on-chip (SoC) solutions for smart home IoT, has unveiled its new 700-Series Z-Wave platform, which include numerous performance and technological enhancements in energy-efficiency and RF performance, while being cost-effective, built to power the context-aware smart home.
Z-Wave 700-Series is a long range, low power and future-proof hardware platform with integrated software tools and building blocks enabling a whole new generation of Z-Wave sensor devices. 700-Series will drive the battery-powered device trend, empowering Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning systems to utilize sensor data and make smart homes smarter, safer, and more connected.
"Sigma’s Z-Wave 700-Series chip will completely reshape the meaning of smart home. It solves for many of today’s technological barriers, while being the most flexible, interoperable platform, bringing smart home functionality to a new level,” says Raoul Wijgergangs, vice president of Sigma Designs' Z-Wave Business Unit. “700-Series opens opportunities for new classes of sensors that weren’t possible before, while making remarkable improvements to existing device categories. 700-Series is creating a path to full home installations, moving from tens of Z-Wave devices to hundreds of Z-Wave devices per home. Our new platform assures the environment that will take homes from smart to truly intelligent.”
Funai Electric Co., LTD, the exclusive North American licensee for Philips consumer televisions and home video products, has announced that Technicolor HDR will be integrated into U.S. market 2019 Philips televisions in conjunction with the launch of the ATSC 3.0 broadcast standard.
HDR technology delivers brighter highlights, deeper blacks and more image detail to provide a more realistic TV image. Currently, HDR content is available via streaming and on some Ultra HD Blu-ray discs. Work is underway to include HDR in the ATSC 3.0 broadcast standard, expected to be commercially available in late 2018 or early 2019, which will allow over-the-air broadcasters to deliver HDR content, including live events such as sports.
AudioControl, a manufacturer of residential, commercial and automotive markets has announced that Dynaudio has been added to its Sound Partners Program (SPP). The AudioControl SPP was established as a cooperative initiative with industry-leading architectural speaker manufacturers in order to implement optimized performance profiles as defined by each brand’s engineers. These profiles, when stored in the DSP onboard the AudioControl Director M-Series high-performance amplifiers, as well as the new D-Series D2800 and D4600 that will become available quarter one (Q1) 2018 create the whole-house entertainment/commercial audio platform for professional integrators.
DSP profiles are now available for Dynaudio Studio Series custom installation products, which include the S4-C65, S4-C80, S4-W65 and S4-W80. New speaker models from Dynaudio, available Q1, 2018, will also be profiled as part of the Sound Partners Program. Integrators using both AudioControl DSP-enabled Director M-Series and D-Series amplifiers with any of these Dynaudio Studio Series loudspeaker models will be able to take advantage of the profiles as well as the fine-tuning capabilities of these amplifiers to deliver a superlative entertainment experience for their clients.
“The fine-tuning potential afforded via the Sound Partners Program and Dynaudio's collaboration with AudioControl will ensure that our incredibly high-performance architectural loudspeakers can realize their utmost performance capabilities in any installation, even in the most challenging environments,” states Michael Manousselis, vice president operations, Dynaudio North & South America.
“We’re simply thrilled to be part of the SPP and to be able to offer this extreme level of engineered system optimization to our dealer and integrator network.”
Tile, a smart location company, has announced expansions to the Tile Platform with several new partnerships that includes the large consumer and professional audio company Bose.
“With the Tile Platform, we’re extending the finding power of Tile and its global community to leading brands spanning audio, travel, transportation and even digital health management,” says Mike Farley, CEO and co-founder of Tile. “Whether it’s a pair of wireless headphones, a suitcase filled with precious memories, or a life-saving connected inhaler, we want to make sure consumers can find their items no matter where they are, whether under the couch or halfway around the world.”
Beginning late spring 2018, Bose SoundSport Wireless and QuietControl headphones will come with Tile technology embedded inside, allowing users to ring their headphones when misplaced or tap into the Tile community when truly lost.
DTS, a developer of high-definition audio solutions, and a wholly owned subsidiary of Xperi Corporation, has announced the first DTS Play-Fi-enabled wireless speakers to support the Works with Amazon Alexa functionality. Initial products supported include the Pioneer Elite Smart Speaker F4, Onkyo Smart Speaker P3 and the Phorus PS10. Additional DTS Play-Fi-enabled products, including the Klipsch Stream wireless multiroom audio lineup, as well as McIntosh Laboratories, MartinLogan and THIEL Audio, will add the capability by the end of Q1 2018.
Available via a Works with Amazon Alexa over-the-air firmware update, consumers can now control audio playback on select DTS Play-Fi products from another room using an Amazon Echo, Dot or Show. This functionality allows users to verbally ask Alexa to play a song in a specific room, groups of rooms or the whole house, adjust volume, skip the track forward, mute, pause and stop the music.
“We continue to expand our range of Alexa voice control solutions available to licensees, making DTS Play-Fi the first open wireless multi-room audio platform to offer both integrated Alexa Voice Services (AVS) and Works with Amazon Alexa,” says Dannie Lau, general manager, DTS Play-Fi, at Xperi. “We look forward to continuing to forge a strong relationship with Amazon, the most widely recognized and adopted voice service on the market.”
Hisense, a global manufacturer, has announced that Alexa capabilities will be available on select models of Hisense 4K Smart TVs for the first time. This is part of Hisense’s larger initiative to make interacting with Smart TVs easier and more intuitive than ever before. Alexa will be available on select models of the 2018 Hisense 4K Smart TV lineup, including the Hisense 100-inch 4K Ultra HD Smart Laser TV.
Hisense’s Smart TV platform makes accessing built-in apps like Netflix, Amazon Video, YouTube, TikiLIVE and others easy, according to the company. In addition, Alexa-enabled Hisense 4K Smart TVs will now offer a wide variety of voice features right out of the box. Alexa will help users control certain primary functions, including voice commands, changing inputs and controlling volume.
Additionally, the Alexa voice service seamlessly connects to music services like iHeartRadio, Pandora, as well as thousands of Alexa skills. Skills allow Alexa-enabled Hisense 4K Smart TV users to do everything from shopping for groceries and gifts to even ordering a pizza. Alexa will also enable users to connect to other smart home products so that they can control the lights, turn off the air conditioner, operate other IoT devices that work with Alexa and more.
Metra Home Theater Group, a provider of home theater products and accessories for the integration community, has announced a partnership with AiN (Authorized Integrators Network) Group, providing AiN dealers with access to products and technologies from Metra Home Theater Group.
AiN Group will offer Metra Home Theater Group’s line of home theater products and accessories to its valued dealers. AiN Group was built by and currently made up of consumer electronics dealers serving the residential and commercial building industries.
“We’re thrilled to partner with AiN Group after years of work and development,” says Jessy Crabb, general manager for Metra Home Theater Group. “One of our goals at Metra Home Theater Group was to become a manufacturer partner for AiN Group and we’re so pleased to be able to accomplish that goal. Now, AiN dealers will have access to our entire line of home theater solutions, including the award-winning M3B, Helios and Velox Cables and much more. We look forward to forming a long, prosperous partnership with AiN Group.”
Azione Unlimited announces training meetings for members in 2018:
- The Science of Selling, April 3-4, 2018, Dallas, led by Dave Chace of Training Allies.
- Key Leaders Meeting, June 4-5, 2018, Chicago, for operations and management.
According to Catalyst AV, its A/V accessories are experiencing a 20 percent growth rate and this growth rate has occurred within the last five years.
“Catalyst AV is about to start our 6th year in business, and the development has been incredible. We are ending 2017 with a 20 percent growth rate and we consist of 11 members with 27 warehouses; 2017 saw additions of 4 warehouses, including Pioneer Music Group’s opening Missouri and Nebraska, Allnet Distributing opening Minneapolis and Custom Plus Distributing opening in Southern California,” says Wally Whinna, Catalyst AV member and principal of Allnet Distributing.
Catalyst AV adds its popular accessories include bulk wire and Rapid Video Mounts and Racks.
Russound, a manufacturer of multiroom audio systems, has announced that Amazon Alexa voice control is available for its MCA-series and XStream series products.
Consumers may now use Amazon’s Echo or Dot to control any of Russound’s most popular products, making it easy for consumers to control their whole house audio systems with simple, intuitive voice commands.
“To my mind, the growth of voice control is one of the most important developments, if not the most important development of the past 10 years,” says Charlie Porritt, CEO, Russound. “It’s changing the way our customers interact with technology, and Amazon clearly is in the forefront of integrating voice control capabilities into nearly every connected consumer product.”
iPoint LLC, a full-service business management software provider serving the home technology market, has announced a new update to the iPoint Control platform that adds a marketing module within the business automation tool. The module provides dealers and distributors with the advanced capabilities they need to design and manage an effective marketing campaign.
"The biggest struggle that our users have right now is staying in front of customers and gaining market share, attracting the best help, and continuing to operate efficiently as the company grows," says Brian Good, vice president of sales and marketing at iPoint. "The new marketing module gives users access to everything they need to easily leap over these hurdles, all within the same comprehensive platform they're already using to efficiently and productively run their growing business and meet new goals."
CE Pro magazine is the leading trade publication for professionals involved in the custom electronics business. Our readers specify and sell technology-related products to homeowners, home builders and SMB owners.