Released from the boxes of thousands upon thousands of plasma and LCD TVs was a nasty disease that's induced feverish thoughts of flatness and smallness in the minds of otherwise good and decent people, making them forget how important audio is to a home theater system. (That rumbling sound is Paul Klipsch rolling over in his grave.) For these poor, deluded folks, speakers are not much more than a flat-panel-TV accessory.
Somfy makes a blinding array of motors and automatic control solutions for window coverings, and the company’s new TaHomA total home automation system aims to take over the rest of the house – not just the shades. In addition to providing comfort and sweet, sweet convenience, TaHomA is designed to manage what Somfy calls the home’s “Energy Triangle” (consisting of shades, lights, and thermostats) to ensure that the home is running as efficiently as possible. The current iteration of the TaHomA user interface has been nicely improved since the first prototype version I saw at CES in January of this year, and it makes both usage and programming control very easy the homeowner via the PC, iPad, iPod touch, or other handheld device. Motion sensors, remote controls, in-wall switches, and wireless thermostats are all available parts of the system to extend its reach. Participating suppliers include Cooper Wiring Devices and Leviton. Currently the system is not capable of a great deal of AV system control, but stay tuned – this looks like it could be the beginning of something especially nice in the world of home automation.
Spit happens. So do spills, sloshes, fizzes, and squirts. Sometimes you simply feel a little dirty after opening that umpteenth spam e-mail about male enhancement meds. Belkin’s new washable optical mouse takes a licking and keeps on clicking. All the important parts are sealed for your protection, so you can wash off any foreign substances that might find their way onto your mouse. Belkin was promoting this a great mouse for kids’ computers, but I think there are plenty of adults who could use one of these, too.
Movie Gallery wants to get inside your house and put a movie-renting remote control in your hand. The self-described "second largest North American video rental company", purchased - not rented - MovieBeam, Inc., the on-demand movie rental service, last week. Movie Gallery says it already operates over 4,600 stores in the U.S. and Canada under the Movie Gallery, Hollywood Video, and Game Crazy brands. Now it will have little electronic MovieBeam stores generating revenue around the country.
Sometimes an idea is so appealing—world-shaping concepts like communism, capitalism, free love, or spandex clothing—that it blinds believers to shortcomings that are otherwise glaringly obvious to those on the jaded, dispassionate periphery. We may look down our noses and scoff, yet it's hard to dismiss the power of simple belief.
Bigger is always better, at least when it comes to hard drives - or so thinks Interact-TV. The Linux-based digital-entertainment-device and media-server maker is introducing the company's new T2 Media Server that boasts over 2.25 Terabytes of storage capability. The T2 is a Linux Media Center that includes 720p component video output, new MPEG2 video encoding, as well as DVD and recorded video upscaling to 720p.
Jazz fans will have something to sing about on October 24th when Giving' It Up, a collaboration of singer/guitarist/songwriter George Benson and vocalist/songwriter Al Jarreau - both multiple GRAMMY winners, will be released as a Monster Music SuperDisc.
At A Glance: Robust wireless communication between devices • Supports most audio codecs except Apple FairPlay DRM-protected and WMA lossless • Access to numerous online audio-subscription services • ZonePlayers can stream local analog sources to other zonesI’ve often thought it would be nice to have music in multiple rooms of the house; but, as I’ve alluded, my home is not custom install friendly. I decided that a wireless multiroom system would definitely be the best bet. Sonos, a company that focuses exclusively on wireless multiroom audio, has a system that’s designed to do just thatŃand moreŃin up to 32 independent zones without breaking the bank or tearing down any walls. After I read the endearing tag line, “Wireless that works like magic,” I thought, what better time or place could there be to check out Sonos’ latest system incarnation? So I asked Sonos to send out its Bundle 150 two-zone package ($999 ) plus a ZoneBridge and let the fun begin.