When it comes time to connect your shiny new sound bar or AV receiver, your two main choices are HDMI or optical digital audio.
The simplest advice is to go with HDMI when you can. But if you can't it's not the end of the world.
Here are the pros and cons of each.
Both HDMI and optical pass digital audio from one device to another. Both are better than analog (the red and white cables). Both can pass multi-channel audio, like Dolby Digital. Both cables can be had pretty cheap.
The biggest difference is that HDMI can pass higher-resolution audio, including the formats found on Blu-ray: Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio. These formats can't get transmitted across optical.
In terms of simplicity, HDMI also passes video signals. So if you want just a single cable between two devices, HDMI is your pick.
Sonos Inc., the maker of multiroom speaker systems, said revenue almost doubled to $535 million in 2013 as consumers increasingly used wireless technology with music services like Pandora in the home.
The closely held maker of high-fidelity speakers and streaming software is disclosing its revenue for the first time. Sonos is attempting to expand from its base of music enthusiasts to grab a bigger share of the $10 billion home-audio market, said Tom Cullen, a company co-founder, in an interview. The Santa Barbara, California-based company, which raised $40 million in 2012, is operating at break-even, he said.
“We’ve set ourselves up as the best-kept secret in electronics, but the scale of everything we’re trying to achieve really requires us to do things differently,” Cullen said.
Nine years after the company pioneered the whole-home wireless stereo market, it faces competition as bigger consumer electronics makers build products for the fastest-growing category in home audio.
Samsung Electronics Co. (005930), based in Suwon, South Korea, in October introduced the Shape music system, while closely held Bose Corp. developed its SoundTouch speakers. Bang & Olufsen A/S (BO) has released new wireless systems developed under an audio standard known as WiSA, in which Sharp Corp. (6753) and Pioneer Electronics Co. also are members.
Best Buy's share of the U.S. specialty electronics market remains around one third, but Apple has gained into double digits for the first time. That's according to data from Euromonitor International, as cited by MarketWatch.
The top five- Best Buy, Apple, RadioShack, hhgregg and Micro Electronics- remains intact from 2009 and 2011, but Best Buy's share has slipped from 33.5 percent to 31.3 percent, with Apple jumping from 5.9 percent in 2009 to 10.8 percent in 2011 to 15 percent in 2013. RadioShack's share has dropped from 5.5 in '09 to 4.5 percent four years later.
Home Energy Management Systems Will Reach $2.8 Billion in Annual Revenue by 2020, Forecasts Navigant Research
Until 2012, home energy management (HEM) systems, which help residential customers monitor and adjust their energy use, struggled to gain market traction. More recently, however, non-utility stakeholders have moved into this segment, increasing awareness of new tools and helping to drive steady growth. Click to tweet: According to a recent report from Navigant Research, worldwide revenue from home energy management systems will grow from $512 million in 2013 to $2.8 billion in 2020.
"Companies like Comcast, ADT, Verizon, and AT&T in the United States have added energy management as an option that can be bundled with home security, automation, or internet access," says Neil Strother, senior research analyst with Navigant Research. "The uptake of home energy management by consumers is still relatively low, but these service providers are seeding a market that has reasonable potential over the next several years."
The primary driver for HEM systems is consumers' desire to reduce their electricity bills. At the same time, the advent of smart thermostats - which include two-way communications capabilities that can take advantage of demand response signals - is creating new appeal among consumers and utilities alike. The acquisition of smart thermostat maker Nest Labs by Google, for a reported $3.2 billion, is seen by many industry observers as a potential watershed moment for the overall HEM market. Cont'd
HomeSeer announces the release of the world's first and only Android tabletop touchscreen for home automation! The new WFTT07 performs like a tablet but is free standing, has impressive sound quality and boots automatically to the company's HSTouch home automation app.
Setup is quick and easy. Simply connect the included power adapter, configure the WiFi and HSTouch server settings and you're done! A rechargeable lithium ion battery enables the unit for portable use, if desired.
WFTT07 Touchscreens are in stock and ready for purchase now through HomeSeer and its worldwide network of dealers and distributors.
HomeSeer automation systems are designed to work seamlessly with industry standards and products from leading Z-Wave manufactures such as Cooper, Schlage, Kwikset, Baldwin, Yale, GE, Honeywell, Leviton, Linear, Everspring, Evolve, Fibaro, FortrezZ, Aeon Labs, RCS, and many more.
Savant Systems introduced the Smart Series control and automation product line. Smart Series products utilize the brand's award-winning technology to bring the Savant experience to a broader audience. Complete packages start at $1,599 MSRP and include the new Smart Host ($799 MSRP), remote and controller. Deployed over multiple rooms within the home, this brings the cost of a Savant solution as low as $1K per room. The new Smart Series product line will be offered through Savant's network of over 1,500 authorized integrators spanning 35 countries.
You can no longer walk through a shopping mall, airport or museum without seeing video screens and digital signage technology on display. It is no surprise that industry analysts continue to predict double-digit growth in the digital signage market, and that industry events are attracting widespread attention.
We require so much more of public displays than we do of our televisions. Commercial-grade digital signage displays must stand up to the demands of a 24×7 environment. They must have sophisticated mechanical designs and connectivity to allow for the management of signage networks. And they must also be rugged.
Here are three reasons why ruggedness matters as well as how to evaluate digital signage solutions for this important characteristic: Cont'd
Game-Changing Bluetooth(R) Smart Solution Enables Whole Home Control from the Smartphone for the First Time
Crowdfunding has been a boon for connected home technology gadgets. Canary was quite the hit on IndieGoGo, exceeding its $100,000 goal by about 1,860,000 to fund its development. Now, the $199 box is almost ready to start protecting homes around the world. Canary is a sensor you can place anywhere in the room that combines video, heat, humidity, and motion-sensing capabilities into one box that’s connected to your home network. An app on your smartphone or tablet alerts you to changes in your home.
Intel dropped a Google-sized rock in the digital signage pond in the middle of today's opening keynote at the Digital Signage Expo in Las Vegas.
Intel's Jose Avalos, the company's director of digital signage, embedded and communications group, announced that, on the heels of the release of Google's Chromeboxes last week, the search engine and Internet services behemoth would be turning at least some of its focus to digital signage.
The Chromeboxes could become very inexpensive digital signage media players, and the Chrome platform itself could make the back end cheaper as well, Google's Rajen Sheth, director of product management, Chrome for business and education, told Digital Signage Today in an interview following the keynote.
"So really what it is is the Chrome platform and a few things that we're doing with the Chrome platform," Sheth said. "First is to make the hardware itself lower and lower cost and affordable — for example the new Chromebox we released with ASUS last week is only $179, and it's coming down and down and down in price — but then the bigger thing is, even if the hardware is low cost, it's very tough to maintain this kind of a distributed network of hardware, and that's what we really make possible with the Chrome platform."
From the entry-level DIY smart home products that seem to be flooding the marketplace to the more sophisticated and comprehensive (not to mention expensive) automation systems, the home automation business is experiencing a boom right now. Somewhere between the two ends of the spectrum is URC, which offers a mid-level automation with it’s Complete Control and Total Control systems.
Today URC announced it’s ccGEN2, which means Complete Control Generation Two, a two-way, Internet-based automation system scheduled to roll out through select distributors starting early next month with distributor Volutone, located in California and Nevada.
The ccGEN2 line will include 12 different products, including two wand-style remotes, two in-wall keypads (one is a touchscreen), mobile apps and network system controllers. Doug Cole, senior vice president and general manager of URC, says:
“… we’re excited to offer ccGEN2 through our distribution partners as a newfound opportunity to make the most of the growing awareness and marketing for home automation in a simplified, yet powerful way. We expect this next generation line to take the Complete Control brand into the whole house and the future.”
ccGEN2 products, with few exceptions, are not compatible with URC’s one-way, RF/IR Complete Control system or with Total Control products. The base system starts at about $ 1,000 with the main controller and the top of the line remote control with video capability. For the main controller and an app it is about $800. You can scale from there to add keypads and other things.
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