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Creative Solutions for Smart Home Design

We're going to take a leap at this point and hope that if you're still with us, you are genuinely interested in the concept of systems integration. (past being just mildly curious). It's a fascinating subject, for sure, and one that is currently in a tremendous state of fluidity. With the changes and evolution taking place so rapidly, all of the elements in systems integration seem to have captured the fancy of the popular press.

For as much as we'd like to think that you believe and agree with everything we've said thus far, we think you might also be interested in what the critics at large have to say. We'll do our best to constantly scan, read and study, and always be on the lookout for articles that are pertinent to the subject, to give another perspective, a different opinion. (which we may or may not agree with).

In assembling the current cross-section of articles, the common denominator that seemed most prevalent is how advances in technology have genuinely affected LIFESTYLE, and in that regard, we are in complete agreement that the changes are ALL for the better.

Grasping the intricacies of the technology can sometimes make even the experts a bit bleary-eyed. For the end user, the home owner, all that really matters is what it can do, and not how it does it.

We enjoy reading what others have to say on the subject, and hope that you do as well.



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What the Media is Saying:                            Archives Archives
Excerpts...

Wall Street Journal 2-1-07'
"Inconspicuous Consumption: Hiding the Plasma TV"
By Andrew LaVallee

Homeowners Begin to Treat Flashy Electronics as Eyesores;
Speakers Disguised as Sconces

Big home-entertainment systems and flat-screen plasma television sets may remain status symbols for some, but as prices continue to drop- and the devices become ubiquitous - an increasing number of consumers are downplaying their living-room gadgetry.

A handful of manufacturers have previously offered "lifts" - devices that let TV sets flip down from ceilings or emerge from furniture - but this next generation of devices attempts to hide electronics in plain sight.

Plasma doesn't carry the prestige that it used to," Dave Froerer says. Hanging a $ 20,000 TV on the wall, there was something to be said for wanting people to see it. The thing right now is to hid electronics."

World-wide sales of flat-panel television sets nearly doubled last year to 48.5 million units, from 25.6 million in 2005, according to iSuppli Corp., a market-research firm in El Segundo, Calif. The average selling price for plasma TV sets dropped to about $ 1,700, from nearly $ 2,500 in 2005.

Other companies are reintroducing wood, a material more evocative of antique armoires than contemporary design, to home electronics. At the Consumer Electronics Show in January, LG Electronics displayed a prototype wooden frame for a large plasma screen, and Chief Manufacturing Inc., of Savage, Minn. unveiled a line of decorative pine frames for 32-, 42- and 40-inch flat panel TVs that retail for $ 699 to $ 879.




Wall Street Journal 1-3-07'
"Flat-Panel TV Jam"
By Evan Ramstad

Can Profits Last as Prices Fall?

Now that flat-panel television sets are the biggest hit in consumer electronics, manufacturers are wondering how to put off the forces that could turn them into low-margin commodities.

Prices of flat-panel TV sets fell almost 40% in 2006, far more than manufacturers expected.

Over the past 18 months, manufacturers have been scrambling to meet demand by building more assembly plants or changing production lines in old ones.

In Summary
The Situation: Makers of flat-panel TVs want to avoid rapid commoditization that has cut prices of other goods.

The Background: World-wide sales of flat-panel TV sets doubled last year.

The Outlook: A cut in number of production lines coming on-stream could slow price decline.

U.S. electronics retailers - whose margins of 30% to 40% represent the biggest element of the final - price - are now using flat-panel TV sets for their own strategic discounting.

In the coming year, more price barriers are likely to be cracked.

A 42-inch LCD TV will carry an average selling prie of $ 1,283 in the fourth quarter of 2007, down 37% from $ 2,036 in the fourth quarter of 2006, according to a forecast by iSuppli, a market-research firm in El Segundo, Calif.




Wall Street Journal 1-8-07'
"New Dolby TV Feature Aims to Level the Volume"
By Don Clark

Television watchers have long suffered from a big annoyance - some channels, programs and commercials are much louder than others. Dolby Laboratories Inc. believes it has the answer.

The differing volume levels can be jarring. "I don't think there is a human on the planet that doesn't hate the volume inconsistency," said Danielle Levitas, an analyst at research firm IDC. If a noise-leveling technology would be added to TVs at a reasonable price, "I think you could get people to buy in," she said.

Other companies have attempted to solve the problem by using compression techniques of their own. But compression can create unwanted noises of its own, including a pumping sound that is noticeable during quiet moments of programs.

Dolby, as part of a long-term research effort called Project Monterey, attempted to model the way the human ear works. Besides the energy of sound waves - measured in decibels - people perceive changes in loudness because of factors such as the pitch and tone quality of sounds.




Wall Street Journal 1-2-07'
"Resolve to Turn Your iPod Down"
By Lee Gomes

....turn down the volume in your life.

There are three main causes of hearing loss. One is that we get older. Another involves certain of the medicines we take. The third involves sustained noises, like from a Walman or an iPod.

Once that damage is done, it will get progressively worse.

It's pretty clear that if you don't take care of your hearing, you're going to have problems later on.

If you do it moderately, it's probably OK. But if you really make it too loud, it's not healthy.




Wall Street Journal 11-21-06'
"Talking Tech"
By Lee Gomes

A Peek Under PlayStation 3's Hood Shows Sony Is Selling Units at a Loss

iSuppli Corp., a technology-research outfit in San Jose, Calif., took apart the PlayStation 3 to estimate how much it cost to make. The conclusion: despite the game player's high price, Sony will be losing as much as $ 240 a unit at least at first, on account of all the console's specialized chips and other components.

The motherboard has so much silicon on it, with so much heat coming off of it, that they had to make a custom enclosure to draw heat off the chips.

The new Xbox 360 has an external power supply that is 200 watts. But the PlayStation 3 has a 400-watt power supply, but it's internal. So in addition to the motherboard with all those chips, they've also jammed a high-density power supply, something that also creates its own heat.

Remember, you have a relatively long life cycle in games, so you've really got to shoot for the bleeding edge if you want your product to be relevant over a four-year life span. As a result, you end up using new technologies that tend to be more expensive upfront. But if we were to redo this analysis a year from now, it will be very different.




Wall Street Journal 12-14-06'
"Why You Can't See the Game in HDTV"
By Jon Weinbach

Buyers of High-Tech Screens Find Many Pro Sports Events Are Still Shown the Old Way

A warning to fans who plan to buy a TV before Christmas: Watching sports in HD is no slam dunk. Many nationally televised sports events are now available in HD, but most games are still beamed by regional cable sports networks or independent stations that don't yet broadcast in high definition.

The amount of HD coverage varies widely depending on the team and region, but many popular sports franchises remain tough to see in HD.

Sports is a big part of the HD pitch.

Contrary to what many consumers are told, there is no deadline for networks to begin broadcasting in HD.

....going digital doesn't mean going HD

There are several factors limiting the amount of HD content. HD broadcasts contain far more lines of picture resolution and audio information than regular programs, so they're more expensive to transmit and tax the existing bandwidth of cable systems and satellite providers.

An HD sports broadcast is up to 30% more expensive to produce than a standard telecast, according to TV executives. There is also an industrywide shortage of high-definition broadcast trucks, so during busy periods it's nearly impossible to broadcast every desirable game in HD.

In baseball, both the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox are widely available in HD, largely because both clubs own TV networks.

"I'll tune into a sport just because I see it in HD."




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