Control4 continues its dominance in affordable home theater and whole-house automation with a huge presence at CEDIA. While the main central components - the $599 Home Theater Controller and the $1499 Media Controller - remained basically unchanged, the company announced a new in-wall touch panel (approximately 10") and ugrades to its 4Sight subscription service that allows a homeowner to both monitor and change the status of lights, garage doors, and other household gadgets via the Internet using any browser.
Accell thinks it's little HDMI 2 to 1 Switch is going to be a big hit. The diminutive $99 switcher - 2.1" wide x 2.1" long x 0.6" high - is fully HDCP compliant and supports high definition (HD) video in resolutions of up to 1080p as well as multi-channel digital audio. Switching is done via a built-in push button or the included infrared remote. The small gadget doesn't need an external power supply and comes with an infrared extender that allows the switch to be installed out-of-sight behind your gear.
Vogel's has an alternative to standard projection screens. It comes in a can, and it's called Mighty Brighty. Vogel's says the process is as easy as picking a wall and picking up a paintbrush. The screen paint comes in three different packages: the MPW 10 with enough pre-mixed paint and base coat to cover five square meters; the MPW 20 with enough material to cover up to six square meters plus ContrastBooster and BrightnessBooster paint components that can be used to customize the performance of the screen to match your projector; and the MPW 30 that contains enough paint to cover an entire wall so the screen is invisible when you're not watching TV.
CoolIT Systems is now offering a liquid cooling system for Home Theater PCs that will keep the CPU cool, improve performance and reliability, and significantly reduce fan noise. The Home Theater PC (HTPC) Cooler system will fit any media center PC case that has dual 8cm fans. It comes with all the necessary installation hardware and is pre-plumbed, factory-sealed, and maintenance free.
I really like the look and simplicity of ELAN's new ole' Film Interactive Touchpad (F.I.T.), and at $390 it's priced more like a keypad than a touchpad. The new in-wall controller uses predesigned thin film overlays on top of the touchpad surface. Since the button layouts are preset, it's extremely easy to program the pad to control the gear in your system. When installed in a full-blown ELAN multizone system, the pad displays system status info on an OLED window near the top of the pad - but it can also be used as a standalone touch pad controller in any system. (You won't get system status info, though.)
SpeakerCraft gave us a naked look at the company's TIME speakers that descend from the ceiling anytime you're ready to hear music or watch a movie. Although they all use a one-inch tweeter and an eight-inch woofer, the individual drivers in each of the three models are made from different materials. When used with SpeakerCraft's TIME Controller and Remote, up to eight TIME in-ceiling speakers can be programmed to descend from 15 to 45 degrees and rotate to any position within 320 degrees. Memory settings can be programmed for different listening requirements, such as two-channel, multi-channel, and party mode. Pricing for the speakers starts at $350 each. The TIME Controller and Remote is $400.
After giving out sales percentages that show Harmony remotes have almost taken over the world, Logitech showed off their newest Harmony remote control, the Harmony 1000. The design is a departure from that of the current models, which are the traditional long and skinny shape. The Harmony 1000 is rectangular, less than 1/2 inch thick, and has a 3.5-inch color touch screen that's very bright - the Logitech folks said they're using a screen originally designed for car GPS navigation systems - and extremely sensative to the touch. They've redesigned the screen layouts, too, making using the new remote even easier than any of their other models - which I wasn't sure was possible. It'll be available for $499 in October. Infrared extenders are $149.
In a 2,000 square foot house filled with HP gear and PCs that was built specifically on the parking lot outside the convention center, Exceptional Innovation demonstrated the company's Life|ware 1.0.2 home control software that's designed to create a fully integrated electronic home based around Media Center PCs. The new Life|ware software builds on Media Center features and, based on direct connection with Life|link Devices-enabled devices, can control things like motorized shades, motorized mounts for plasma or front projection TVs, lighting, and even your oven. You can even schedule things by astronomical time.
NuVo Technologies showed off the company's new Grand Concerto multiroom audio system. The coolest part of the system is the new control pad that uses an OLED display that the NuVo people say can show up to eight readable character lines. The character height for each line is selectable, and different lines can have different character heights. The NuVo folks say that, in addition to being bright enough to be readable in rooms with lots of sunlight, the control pad display has a 180-degree viewing angle.
Two new Architectural Speaker Series (otherwise known as in-wall and in-ceiling speakers) models are coming from Definitive Technology this fall. The Reference Ceiling Speaker UIW RCS II is designed for use as in-ceiling front main left, center, and right speakers or as rear or side speakers. Built like a brick house, the RSC II uses a non-resonant, sealed, medite enclosure. The sealed enclosure helps the speaker to provide nearly identical performance regardless of the available air space above the ceiling. The new model is a serious in-ceiling offering. With outer dimensions of 15.5 inches by 15.5 inches (and 5 7/8 inches deep), the RCS II is large enough to hold a forward-angled D'Appolito driver array using two 5.25-inch bass/midrange drivers and a one-inch pure aluminum tweeter plus a pair of 6.5-inch pressure-coupled planar low-bass radiators.