Scheduled to be available later this year, NextGen’s latest remote control extending device is a hockey puck-like device that receives signals from a smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth and blasts out the corresponding IR code so you can control your AVR gear using NextGen’s smartphone app. Pricing is expected to be $79.95.
Of all the cool stuff at CEDIA 2012, by far – for me, at least – the most impressive and most cool thing I saw/heard/experienced was the voice-controlled home automation add-in for a Control4 system from Houselogix, called voicepod, that will be available later this year. Any number of voicepod “pods” can be used to allow you to control a virtually unlimited number of functions that may be available in your particular Control4 system. A voicepod is a small, flat device that looks somewhat like an electric hot plate for a coffee cup. Built into each voicepod is a microphone and speaker that allows the system to talk back to you in order to confirm commands or ask for additional commands. In order to keep the voicepod from responding to random conversation in the room, communication with the system has to be woken up by saying, “Hello, voicepod,” after which a female voice asks you what you would like to do.
During the demonstration, Theodore Rosenberger, the President and Founder of Houselogix, turned lights on/off, raised/lowered Lutron wireless shades, selected preset angles and panned a security camera, and even programmed the system on-the-fly to respond with specific phrases. I’ve seen quite a number of voice-controlled devices and systems over the years, and this one from Houselogix is by far the most exciting I’ve come across. Even though it’s only in beta testing now, I’ve already begun begging Houselogix to let me get my hands on a voicepod or two to integrate into my Control4 system.
NuVo took some of the wraps off of the company’s new multizone wireless/wired digital audio distribution system that consists of two wireless/wired amplifiers (20 watts x 2 or 60 watts x 2), a three-zone rack-mountable component with three built-in stereo amps, an optional dedicated NuVo remote (similar in size and shape to an iPhone), iOS and Android control apps, and a special NuVo router. The NuVo router is only required for wireless installations, otherwise each of the zone amplifiers can be connected to your home LAN. The control app is beautifully designed, easy to use, and changing/linking zones is super intuitive. Pricing hasn’t been officially set yet, but product should be available beginning later this year. This is definitely one of the most impressive multizone wireless audio systems I’ve found so far at CEDIA.
I could have really used this when I installed and reviewed SunBriteTV’s 4660HD 46-inch weather-resistant outdoor flat-panel HDTV several months ago. In fact, I looked everywhere for (at least I thought I had) and asked anyone who would listen about a surge protector for the HDMI connection going from the system inside my house out to the HDTV on the back patio. Having gone through the pain of a relatively extensive surge from a frighteningly close lightning strike, I’m slightly more aware of the potential downside of too much electricity. As far as I can tell, Ethereal is the first company to offer an in-line surge protector specifically for HDMI connections. The Ethereal HDM-SP is available now for $159.99 – a price that could wind up saving you a lot more if you live in lightning-prone locales like I do.
There’s been a lot of talk lately about the end of the man-cave era. I’m not sure I could find a better example of anything that would be more proof of the existence of a trend away from the dedicated, tech-dominated home theater room in favor of a new emphasis on stylish integration of the home theater into people’s homes and lifestyles than this very interesting credenza from Adrian Lifestyles Furnishings. In most ways the Lila Pearl Credenza is a very traditional home entertainment cabinet with media drawers, adjustable shelves, and back panels that provide easy access to components and cables. But it’s also one of those pieces of furniture that you will either immediately hate or absolutely love. The company says the finish is “lacquer finish on Lila veneer”. I’m not quite sure what a “Lila veneer” is, but the color was an extremely interesting combination of purple and rose and mother of pearl. It’s not the sort of thing I’d have in my house, but I know several people who would gladly use it for their TV and associated gear. Adrian Lifestyles Furnishings offers a lot of other cabinet designs, including traditional wall unit style furniture, in a variety of domestic and exotic woods, finishes, sizes, and door types. Pricing was not available.
Security and convenience are two big benefits of having a home automation system. Unfortunately, the various door, window, and motion sensors that are the “eyes and ears” of the system are often big and ugly. At Control4’s mega-booth, NYCE Control was introducing “the smallest Zigbee home automation devices in the world”. And these gizmos certainly are small. The $89 door/window open/close sensors shown on the left of the NYCE display pictured above are not much larger than a quarter. Coming in the very near future will be a garage door sensor ($89) and a special device NYCE calls an “asset protector”. Basically a small white square just like the larger of the two parts of the window sensor, the $89 Asset Protector can be discretely attached to just about anything. The sensor is designed to immediately signal if it senses a large amount of motion. NYCE says you can attach this to the back of an HDTV, for example, as an additional security device that can notify your Control4 system that major movement – as in, someone is trying to take the TV off the way – has been detected.
Truth be told, the only reason most AV journalists come to shows and conventions is for the free swag. Tough times in the economy and shrinking promotional budgets have done some serious damage to the quality and amount of swag a savvy journalist can accrue over the course of three or four days of press conferences and meetings. While not the best swag ever, Universal Remote Control’s Mitch Klein scored big points with surprise offerings like these which he presented to a select group of bacon-enthusiast journalists. No word on whether URC will ever begin manufacturing a remote control that looks like a large slice of crispy, delicious bacon – even though many of us have begged them to do it.
Normally known for making high-end indoor seating, CINEAK’s new outdoor collection features hand-crafted seating made with marine-grade materials so they can take a beating and keep on seating. While you’re enjoying your outdoor view, you can soon listen to one of CINEAK’s customizable outdoor entertainment systems that look like attractive outdoor storage consoles – but inside they hide marine-grade speakers and subwoofers and integrated LED lighting. The entertainment systems are available in a multitude of finishes including a variety of woods, painted aluminum, carbon fiber, and acrylic, as well as custom finishes by request. Interlocking panels can be removed, replaced, or mixed and matched for a truly unique look.
Remote control and home automation company URC introduced two brand new remote controls to CEDIA. Yawn…I know. The world needs another remote control as much as it needs another set of $20 earbuds. But the URC TRG-100 and TRG-200 have built-in gyroscopes and use motion-based technology so all you have top do is move and point the handheld remote to control the cursor directly on the TV screen. The basic TRG-100 has a minimalist design with very few buttons. The TRG-200 has direct numeric keys along with other direct function buttons. The new remotes are designed to work with URC’s Total Control whole-house systems with the company’s new MRX-20 Advanced Onscreen Network System Controller.
The MRX-20 offers a simple as well as a more elaborate on-screen user interface that is very cleanly overlayed on top of the HD picture on the TV so the user can summon direct TV controls – or, more interestingly because it’s done so unobtrusively, access controllable features provided by other URC control devices throughout the house. Pricing and availability for the new TRG remotes and the MRX-20 have not been announced.