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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Oct 04, 2012 3 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
Price: $10,000 (23 shade system) At A Glance: Up to three-year battery life • Extremely quiet operation • Simple installation

Of all the “this is the coolest damn thing I’ve ever seen” things a home theater/wholehome automation system can do, the one that is consistently the most mesmerizing, most envied, coolest “coolest damn thing” is the control of motorized window treatments. (Although it sounds like something a doctor would prescribe for sick building syndrome, window treatments is the term people in the know use for what you and I would call curtains, blinds, and shades.) If you’ve never experienced motorized shades (or drapes or blinds)—and I mean experienced in the sense that you’ve seen them in action in someone’s home and not in a too-clean-to-be-believable picture-perfect designer’s showroom or a slickly edited online video—it’s difficult to grasp the enchanted feeling and quasi-mystical pleasure that even the least gadget-savvy person can get from being in a room in which some hidden electronic sorcery conjures the shades to obediently open and close (or stop anywhere in between) on command or makes the curtains part like the Red Sea as if Moses were holding a remote control in his hand instead of a staff. Even the reticent Wizard of Oz, himself, would rush out from his hiding place behind the curtain to watch it open and close by remote control if it were motorized.

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 20, 2012 0 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $3,499 At A Glance: Automatic speaker discovery and channel assignment • Uncompressed 24-bit wireless digital audio • No AVR needed

Not long ago, FedEx deposited a 7.1channel HTIB from Aperion Audio outside my door. It’s not really fair to call it a home theater in a box because the system actually comes in seven boxes and sells for $3,499. But since it includes source switching and amplification, it technically qualifies as an HTIB, albeit a rather unusual one. Aperion Audio prefers the term preconfigured home theater system. Normally, setting up this sort of home theater package would entail speaker wires crisscrossing the floor accompanied by the requisite grumbling, stripping of wires, and fumbling with speaker terminals. In this case, though, the Aperion speakers—a pair of towers, a center channel, a subwoofer, and two pair of satellite speakers—come out of their boxes, get placed in their appropriate spots in the room, have each one’s power cord plugged into the nearest AC outlet…and that’s it.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 17, 2012 1 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
Price: $950 At a Glance: Folded Motion tweeter • Custom five-way biwire/biamp binding posts • Aluminum cone drivers

For the first 20 years or so, MartinLogan was just a geeky, tweaky speaker company that made electrostatic speakers—that’s just as in Stephen Hawking is just a physicist—with a few very serious (and very hexagonal) subwoofers in the lineup to take over the job of reproducing the lowest bass frequencies that even the best electrostatic panels simply don’t have the wherewithal to generate on their own. During that time, admission to the MartinLogan electrostatic club was never cheap. That, as you can imagine, put the dynamic, open, and airy sound that is a signature aspect of an electrostatic speaker out of reach for lots of people.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 09, 2012 0 comments
StealthCoverArt is a subsidiary of invisible speaker manufacturer Stealth Acoustics. StealthCoverArt makes it possible to choose a frame that fits over your flat-panel TV and then pick from a large selection of Stealth’s artwork, provide your own photo to be printed, or commission an original painting to use as the image that fits inside the frame and hides the TV. When you’re ready to watch TV, the canvas rolls up inside the frame, revealing the flat-panel behind it. Stealth Acoustics’ Image Series includes two-way customizable on-wall loudspeakers with completely flat front radiating surfaces that can be covered by an “Image Wrap” laminated finishes designed to match the screen image used in the StealthCoverArt frame. Pricing varies depending on size, style, and choice of image.
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 09, 2012 0 comments
Lutron used CEDIA 2011 to announce the company’s ground-breaking wireless, battery-powered, insulating honeycomb cellular shades that could be remotely controlled through handheld remotes or when integrated with Lutron RadioRA 2 lighting control systems. This year, Lutron announced additions to the wireless shade lineup, but these shades have wires – guide wires, that is. In most respects identical to the original wireless honeycomb shades, the new cable-guided shades have a thin cable running from top to bottom along the left and right sides of the shade. The cable prevents the shade from swaying, so it’s ideal for use on French doors or windows with heavy airflow. The cable guides also allow the shades to be used to cover skylights or angled windows. (Lutron says the shades will work in situations with angles as shallow as 30 degrees off horizontal.) The new shades will begin shipping in January of 2013. Pricing was not immediately available but was not expected to include a significant premium over the original shade configurations.
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 09, 2012 3 comments
But only if you have the world’s largest bookshelf to put it on. Pro Audio Technology isn’t a common household name, partly because the company’s speakers – capable of “producing the bone-jarring explosions or visceral slam found in today’s high quality recordings” – are rather big, designed to usually be built-in or hidden behind acoustically transparent screens or wall panels, and are pretty darn expensive. This speaker was on display, no doubt, to generate plenty of “wow” buzz, which it did even though it was not hooked up. Inside Pro Audio Technology’s booth, however, several of the company’s new, smaller, less-expensive speakers were put together in a multi-channel system that was amazingly clean and articulate at regular, keep-my-hearing-intact listening levels. They did let the system out of its cage, though, for a brief moment at the end of the demonstration; and it simply took everyone’s breath away with it’s dynamic and powerful sonic output.
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 09, 2012 0 comments
For folks who don’t want to put extra holes in their walls when adding a soundbar to a flat-panel TV, SnapAV offers a $79.95 universal bracket that attaches the soundbar directly to the HDTV. Depending on the height of the table stand that comes with your TV, you may be able to use the same bracket to mount your soundbar to the TV even if you don’t plan on wall mounting the TV. Fake fireplace is optional.
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 09, 2012 0 comments
The new WATTBOX line of rack-mount and standalone power surge/conditioners and power strips from SnapAV got the VIP treatment in the SnapAV booth at CEDIA. WATTBOX models utilize compact chasses with greater spacing between individual outlets, and the rack-mount models can even be angled and recessed when installed in a component rack. Optional 1 RU front-mounted faceplate units are connected to the outlet bank by an RJ45 cable along with a separate power cable. The front faceplate displays voltage and current along with dual conveniently located charging ports. SnapAV says the new metal chassis products start at $59.95 (up to $489.95 MSRP). The optional display sells for around $120.
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 09, 2012 0 comments
Although it’s not something that’s specifically used for home theater, mount-, bracket-, component rack-, and furniture-maker OmniMount says anyone who works in front of a desk for any length of time longer than about 15 minutes will stand a chance of staying at least a bit more fit than they would otherwise using the company’s awesome adjustable-height workstations. The $699.95 OmniMount DESK65 is a freestanding lift/lower desk (available in Birch or Cherry) that has approximately 20 inches of instant, tool-free height adjustment. The adjustable height feature is designed to allow the user to sit or stand at any time while slaving away in front of a computer screen – or, in the configuration pictured above, in front of two computer screens. The $399.95 WORK20 is an add-on desk mount that supports two monitors (or a laptop and monitor side-by-side).
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 09, 2012 0 comments
Almost as popular as in-ear headphones were various mounts for tablets – well, specifically, iPads. Sanus was demonstrating a special under-cabinet tablet mount, while OmniMount showed off a prototype wall mount device that held the iPad snug against the wall using powerful magnets. iPort’s cable-free mounting and charging system called LaunchPort requires a special $149 AP.3 Sleeve for your iPad – but the benefit is that you can magnetically attach your iPad to either iPort’s BaseStation or WallStation and simultaneously charge the device without needing to plug in a sync/charge cable. The $199 BaseStation is an angled block which is designed to sit on a desk or recliner’s arm rest. The $199 WallStation is a relatively small and unobtrusive in-wall installed device that snugly holds the iPad against the wall – and, as does the BaseStation, inductively charges the iPad when on the wall.

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