Control4 Acquires Pakedge Device & Software

Control4 Corporation (NASDAQ:CTRL), a leading global provider of smart home solutions, today announced the acquisition of Pakedge Device & Software, Inc., a leader in advanced networking products and cloud network-management services for both wireless and wired networking solutions for the connected home and business.
"The connected consumer, connected home, and connected business opportunity is expanding along with the complexities of supporting thousands of different devices and services in homes and business around the world," said Martin Plaehn, Control4 Chairman and CEO. "By embracing networking as an expanded core-competency, integrating it tightly with our entertainment and automation capabilities, and delivering a single cloud-based reporting and management solution, Control4 will be able to harness the expanding opportunity, bring more simplicity to the complicated, and increase satisfaction for our end customers."   Full Press Release... 
 

AUDIOFluance Announces Fi70, First Wireless Speaker With Dual 8″ Woofers

ByJustin Jelinek for Techaeris:  Fluance continues to raise the bar on audiophile-quality wireless speakers. They started with theirbookshelf Fi30, and later upgraded that to the Fi50. They’ve recently announced their Signature Series floor speakers, a pair of powerhouse speakers. Today, Fluance has announced a new wireless Bluetooth speaker, the Fluance Fi70. The Fi70 is sure to start a conversation before silencing that conversation with powerful music.

Based on what we’ve seen from Fluance, I’m confident the Fi70 is going to sound fantastic, but even more so, anyone who sees it is sure to comment on its looks first. This is a uniquely shaped speaker, but it’s got more than enough power that people shouldn’t focus on its looks for too long.

The Fi70 is the first wireless speaker with dual 8″ woofers, meaning this thing is going to move some air for sure. Backing up those 8″ woofers are 5” woven glass fiber midrange drivers and 1” neodymium tweeters. Couple all of those speakers with a 280 watt amplifier, and you’ve got yourself a party waiting to happen. You can read more about the Fluance Fi70 in the full press release below, or you can head directly over to Fluance.com and order one of your very own for $499.  Cont'd...

Shrinking Space in RF Poses Challenges to AV Integrators

By Kelleigh Welch for AV Network:  Picture your desk—you have a computer, a phone, a few folders with information about your latest project, a photo of your dog, all carefully arranged in their own designated space. Now cut the size of your desk in half—you can still fit everything in the space, it’s just a lot more cramped.

Such is the case with the wireless spectrum as the FCC continues to auction off pieces designated for TV broadcast and wireless microphone systems. Currently, wireless systems have access to the 470 to 698 mHz frequencies, but on March 29, 2016, this range will get smaller as pieces are auctioned off to mobile broadband companies.

So what does this mean for integrators? To start, with fewer frequencies to work with, integrators need to future proof their systems by choosing reliable and efficient wireless systems.

“Right now, if you are designing or putting together a concept for an install, you need to choose systems that are spectrally efficient. You have to look for attributes that can serve your install, with a wide tuning coverage,” explained Nick Wood, category director for wireless systems, Shure.  Cont'd...

SmartThings And Samsung Team Up To Make Your TV A Smart Home Hub

Jordan Crook  for TechCrunch:  Samsung and SmartThings are buddying up to introduce Samsung’s latest line of Smart TVs, complete with SmartThings platform integration so folks can use their TVs as an interface to control the home.

There is no shortage of internet-connected devices out there, from standard security systems and smart lighting systems all the way to the connected kettle. But a connective language that unifies those devices is harder to come by. SmartThings is aiming to introduce that by teaming up with potential interfaces, including the Amazon Echo and this most recent foray into Smart TVs.

With this latest move, owners of the new 2016 Samsung SUHD TVs will be able to use their television as a controller for more than 200 SmartThings-compatible devices.  Cont'd...

Chromecast Audio Is Now An Inexpensive Hi-Res Wireless Home Audio System

By Leo Markus for ImmortalNews:  Google’s Chromecast Audio just became the inexpensive solution for wirelessly streaming music throughout a home or office with its latest update’s incorporation of multi-room streaming support, Google announced on Thursday. As if multi-room support wasn’t enough for one update, the small WiFi enabled device–which plugs directly into a speaker, allowing it to wirelessly stream music over the radio waves–now offers support for high-resolution audio up to 96KHz/24bit lossless audio playback. Google launched Chromecast Audio just a couple of months ago as an inexpensive way to connect speakers to streaming music services such as Spotify, Pandora and obviously Google Play Music.
The device, which costs $35, now allows you to blast the same song throughout multiple rooms — effectively grouping speakers together to create an expansive listening environment. In order to do so, users employ the latest Chromecast app, which allows for groups to be setup.  Cont'd...
 

Apple Said to Suspend Effort to Develop Live TV Service

From Bloomberg Business:  Apple Inc. has suspended plans to offer a live Internet-based television service and is instead focusing on being a platform for media companies to sell directly to customers through its App Store, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

While Apple isn’t giving up entirely on releasing a live-TV service, its plan to sell a package of 14 or so channels for $30 to $40 a month has run into resistance from media companies that want more money for their programming, said the person, who asked not to be named discussing a prospective product.

CBS Corp. Chief Executive Officer Les Moonves said at a conference earlier Tuesday that Apple had put its live TV plans “on hold.”

The struggle highlights the difficulty new entrants face in trying to persuade media companies to overhaul the conventional pay-TV bundle, which costs about $85 a month. To break the logjam, Apple would either have to charge more, or the media companies would have to accept less.  Cont'd...

Study - Smart Home Technology Will Have Greater Impact Than Wearables

New GfK research shows that half of US consumers believe smart home technology will have a major impact on their lives – a higher level than wearables or cloud computing and equal to mobile payment systems.

The study, which covered seven countries, asked consumers to choose which of 11 leading-edge technologies – from 3D printing to augmented/virtual reality to Internet of Things -- would be important to their lives. (Respondents could choose as many technologies as they wished.)

In the US, 51 percent of consumers picked smart home, versus 50% for mobile payments – a statistical tie; these compare to global levels of 54% for mobile payments and 51% for smart home. (The global figures cited here represent five of the seven countries in the full survey – US, UK, Germany, Brazil, and South Korea; data for China and Japan will be released later.)

Four in ten (42%) US consumers cited wearables – significantly higher than the global score of 33% -- while cloud computing came in at 41%.

Full Press Release:

Slick New Wireless Speakers Reimagine Your Home Audio Setup

TIM MOYNIHAN for Wired:   Libratone is reimagining what a home-audio setup should be in the modern world. Portable wireless speakers aren’t just a handy vacation accoutrement; Libratone thinks they’re also the cornerstone of our future home systems. The company is clearing its entire slate of products and replacing them with their next-generation Zipp and Zipp Mini speakers, which support everything from Bluetooth to Wi-Fi to DLNA to AirPlay to Spotify Connect. They’re nice-looking wireless speakers with great sound blasting out of them in every direction, and they get up to 10 hours of battery life.

The Zipp and Zipp Mini aren’t just grab-and-go portable speakers—although the Zipp Mini’s small size, strong sound, carrying strap, and washable cover lend themselves to that scenario. With its new speakers, Libratone is intent on creating a wireless multi-room sound system for modern living, built for open floor plans and rooms with several purposes. It wants to make a system that’s just as modular as a loft without being overly complex.  Cont'd...

Apple TV review: Big steps forward, but not a revolution

Susie Ochs for MacWorld:  Apple finally updated its Apple TV set-top box, which had remained virtually unchanged for years, since going 1080p in 2012. The new version is faster, easier to use, and less frustrating, at least most of the time. What it isn’t is a revolution—everything Apple added already existed in its competitors.

An App Store and a microphone-equipped remote for voice search are both excellent features to have, and they bring the Apple TV closer to the Amazon Fire TV and Roku. But Apple still has a ways to go. The Remote app for iOS doesn’t work with this new model, for example, so we’re back to entering passwords one letter at a time by clicking with the remote—that’s actually a step backward from where we were. You still can’t enter your cable-provider credentials in one place and see a list of all the network apps you could log into. Without categories in the App Store, you can’t even find a list of all the games.  Cont'd...

Dolby Atmos and DTS:X explained

Theo Nicolakis for TechHive:  Have you ever seen a presentation explaining the difference between the second and third dimensions? If you were to step into a 2D world, it would be like living inside a piece of paper—an entire universe completely flat in its existence. Objects could exist only on a single plane, left, right, straight ahead, or behind. In mathematical terms, you would have only an X axis and a Y axis. In a 2D world, the concepts of “up” or “down” do not exist. There is no Z axis.

Jump back over to the third dimension and you’ll encounter an entire world of sights and sounds above and below in addition to all around. Step into a 3D world and you’ll immediately feel as though things are more realistic, more natural, more true-to-life. Imagine how difficult it would be to explain to a person living in a 2D world what the 3D world looks like, feels like, and sounds like.  Cont'd...

Sonos To Open Up API To Simplify Integration With Smart Home Systems

Wireless multiroom-audio pioneer Sonos will open up its API to make it easier for home-automation suppliers to integrate with Sonos speakers and soundbars without having to reverse-engineer Sonos software.  But Sonos isn’t saying when.

The “next big thing for us” will be “opening aspects of our platform so other companies [home-automation suppliers] can work with it,” Michael Papish, platform strategies director, told TWICE during the CEDIA Expo.

Sonos wants to provide home-automation users with “the right amount of control without compromising sound quality and ease of use,” he said, without saying when the API would be available.

For years, home-automation suppliers have reverse-engineered Sonos technology to create applications enabling their home-automation systems to control Sonos systems, and Sonos “won’t cut them off,” Papish said. But when Sonos makes software updates, the reverse-engineered solutions “might not work,” he said. Creating a “standardized protocol” will prevent that problem, he said.  Cont'd...

CEDIA Announces 2015 Best New Product Award Winners

CEDIA has announced the winners of the 2015 Best New Product awards. The winning products were selected by a panel of home technology professional judges and were selected for the innovation they represent and the value they provide to both the integrator's business and the end user.  This year's honorees are:

Digital Projection - INSIGHT 4K Dual-LED

D-Tools, Inc. - System Integrator 2015 (SI 2015) featuring Mobile Install

DynaQuip Controls - WaterCopPRO Integrated

Future Automation - HSE - Large Motorised Wall Mount

IC Realtime - C720 360-degree x 360-degree 4K Virtual PTZ Camera

ihiji, Inc. - ServiceManager

Kaleidescape, Inc. - Strato Movie Player

Savant - Savant App

Séura - Storm Outdoor TV

Sonance - DSP Amplifiers with SonARC

CHROMECAST AUDIO COULD ARRIVE SEPT. 29, WILL WI-FI ENABLE YOUR HOME SPEAKERS

By Chris Leo Palermino for Digital Trends:   While we reported about the Chromecast 2 earlier today, it sounds like that’s not the only Chromecast that Google will be debuting on Sept. 29. The tech giant is also working on Chromecast Audio, a separate device focused on “Wi-Fi-enabling the speakers in your home,” according to 9to5Google. Allegedly called “Hendrix” internally, the music-focused Chromecast will attach to speakers via a standard 3.5mm headphone cable.

The new device will allow users to listen to music and other audio like podcasts (and maybe even online radio?) via wi-fi from Android devices or the Chrome browser. Chromecast currently supports Google Play Music, Pandora, Rdio, and — as of recently — Spotify. It will have ‘multi-room support,’ which means that it may have the ability to play the same audio through multiple speakers.  Cont'd...

Wireless Multiroom Audio: Room For More?

By: Joseph Palenchar for Twice:  Sales growth is slowing in wireless multiroom audio even as more companies enter a market whose top brand – Sonos — enjoys almost a 90 percent dollar share of the market at the retail level.

So you’d think the market would be in the midst of a shakeout, shrinking margins, and a downward spiral in average selling prices. But you’d be wrong, at least for now.

Some audio suppliers see ASPs and retail-level margins holding steady or rising as high-performance audio brands begin to play in a market established by Sonos 10 years ago. And they aren’t too worried yet about slowing growth because the household penetration rate is still very low. Only 2 percent, or 3 million, of the country’s 116 million households have wireless multiroom-audio speakers, according to estimates from Yamaha, which entered the market in August.  Cont'd...

Apple Said to Delay Live TV Service to 2016 as Negotiations Stall

By  Peter Burrows, Lucas Shaw and Gerry Smith for Bloomberg:  Apple Inc. customers waiting for the company to revolutionize live television as it did for music and phone service will have to keep waiting, at least until next year.

The company wanted to introduce this year a live TV service delivered via the Internet, but is now aiming for 2016, said people familiar with Apple’s plans. Talks to license programming from TV networks such as those owned by CBS Corp. and 21st Century Fox Inc. are progressing slowly, some of the people said. Apple also doesn’t have the computer network capacity in place to ensure a good viewing experience, said some of the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private.

Without enough content deals in place, Apple has scrapped plans to announce the service at a Sept. 9 event in San Francisco, which would have coincided with the beginning of the new network TV season, the people said. The Cupertino, California-based company still plans to introduce a more powerful version of its Apple TV set-top box at the event, said the people, but customers -- for now, at least -- will need a cable or satellite TV subscription or an antenna to watch live network television.  Cont'd...

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