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.
Mohu’s original paper-thin indoor HDTV antenna – the $44.99 Leaf – is descended from a special antenna designed to do double-duty as a mudf flap on military Humvees. Soon to come from Mohu is the $120 Sky HDTV amplified outdoor HDTV antenna. Mohu says the sleek Sky HDTV antenna is omni-directional, very lightweight, and extremely easy to install. Mohu also showed the $49.99 JOLT Amplifier that can be used with any HDTV antenna to boost performance.
Soundcast Systems’ awesome wireless, portable, weather-proof speakers are amazing in terms of both sound quality and wireless range. But the Outcast and Outcast Jr suffer from the same problem. They’re both basically white cylindrical towers with no visual personality other than “blah”. Now Soundcast is partnering with Skinit, Inc to provide skin adhesive wraps for the two speaker towers. Soundcast says the skins are easy to put on and feature a “residual-free removal”, so you can remove old and apply new skins whenever your heart desires a new look. Skinit offers a large online library of colors, patterns, photography, art, professional sports leagues, colleges, and universities from which to choose – or you can even customize your own design. Pricing is $49.99 per wrap for either the Outcast or the Outcast Jr, and they’re available from Soundcast Systems’ or Skinit’s websites.
dotz Cuts Cord Confusion
According to dotz, the average U.S. household has 40 cords, which adds up to 4.5 billion cords cluttering and choasifying homes across the country. dotz’s Cord Identifier Kit comes with 24 clear, round identifiers that snap along both ends of up to 12 HDMI, component, audio, video, power, and etc cords and cables. Different colors make the cords immediately identifiable when digging around behind AV racks, HDTVs, desks, or nightstands. In addition to different colors, each identifier can be further identified by using pre-printed or “write-your-own” punch-out inserts. Kits sell for $16.99.
Onkyo’s RBX-500 iLunar Dock Music System is a mini-system that’s designed to give you the sonic runaround thanks to six full-range drivers positioned above a down-firing subwoofer and a special processing chip from Sonic Emotion that creates the impression of stereo sound regardless of the listener’s position in the room. The RBX-500 includes a top-mounted iPod/iPhone recharging dock plus a USB port for charging other types of portable devices. The system is also Bluetooth enabled for wireless streaming from those portable devices, too. The iLunar is anticipated to be available in October for $249 MSRP.
Arthur C. Clarke famously said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Some of the automation systems on display at CEDIA are so technologically advanced that they certainly do seem like magic. But not far from the convention center, I found a clue to what’s really going on. If there’s an entire area just for elves to park their cars, what other fantastical creatures might be working behind the scenes? Leprechauns? Fairies? Now I understand why so many of the presenters talk about using wizards to program their systems.
Crimson AV primarily makes mounts for big flat-panel TVs and projectors. And while I was impressed by the company’s attention to even the smallest details of the largest mounts, one of Crimson AV’s smallest devices was getting the largest attention. The $39.95 pocket-eAzl is a cleverly designed stand for iPads and other tablets that folds up into a small brick-like package that’s about the height and depth of an iPhone but only half the width, so it easily fits in a shirt, pants, or jacket pocket when not in use.
Antennas Direct is really into antennas. That’s all they seem to want to talk about, which is not surprising since antennas are what the company makes. However, they may have gone too far with this prototype antenna for the person who likes to watch TV while cruising down the highway in his sidecar motorcycle. So far no one seems to make a mount suitable for use to install one of Sony’s new 84-inch 4K flat panels in the sidecar.
Price: $10/month DVR fee (Joey or second Hopper $7/month) At A Glance: 2 TB of storage • Records up to six prime-time HD channels simultaneously • Remote control locator
I have a great deal of empathy for the cable, satellite, Internet, and cell-phone service providers. After all, this is a tough economy, and competition for subscribers is fierce. At the same time, technology keeps evolving, with startups lurking on the fringes, waiting for a chance to be the next big thing. I mean, really, my heart bleeds for the grossly underpaid civic-minded people running these companies. All they’re trying to do is feed their families and put gas in their cars by offering the ultimate in customer service and satisfaction for ridiculously low subscription prices. You know, at the negligible rates they charge, I’m surprised they’re able to make any profits at all.
Price: $2,795 At A Glance: Built-in multifan airflow cooling system • Discrete IR input • Watertight cable entry compartment cover
A number of years ago, I wrote an article about putting together a backyard home theater using an inflatable front-projection screen from Sima. It was a blast—and more than just a blast of air from the pump that inflated the Michelin-Man-dream-date, 72-inch-screen-covered blimp in less than 6 minutes. I took the setup to a friend’s house one Saturday during my “research” where we had a three-family movie night on the patio in his backyard. Sodas and margaritas flowed freely that evening. Much popcorn was popped. I don’t think any of us remember the actual movie, but to this day none of us has forgotten how much fun we had—more fun, as a matter of fact, than we’d ever had watching a movie the proper way inside the house.