At its event at COMPUTEX Taipei today, the HomePlug® Powerline Alliance announced support from Germany's major car manufacturers - Audi, BMW, Daimler, Porsche and Volkswagen - for its HomePlug Technology.The HomePlug GP specification, finalized in June 2010, is a low power, highly reliable and cost-optimized powerline networking specification which targets "Smart Grid" applications such as appliances, smart meters, climate control, and plug-in electric hybrid vehicles. Utility companies and manufacturers are looking to adopt communications and networking technologies, such as HomePlug GP, to help consumers and businesses monitor and reduce their energy consumption. HomePlug GP is a key component of the HomePlug technology portfolio, along with HomePlug AV broadband powerline technology and the upcoming HomePlug AV2 specification. HomePlug AV is the baseline technology for the IEEE 1901 powerline standard. All three specifications are fully interoperable with each other and with IEEE's 1901 powerline standard, and they are designed to make it easier for multiple chip suppliers and manufacturers to deliver products to support IP networking.

Vizio's Vudu Button Highlights Race to the Remote Control

Consumer electronics manufacturer Vizio is adding a Vudu button to remote controls for its connected TVs and Blu-ray players, adding one-click access to the video-on-demand service. The button provides easier navigation to an increasingly popular streaming service, but it also highlights the struggle video publishers face when they want to reach viewers on connected devices and differentiate their services in a rapidly growing ecosystem of TV apps. Nearly a dozen new Vizio models will come with a remote control that features the Vudu button. Like the Netflix button announced earlier this year, clicking on the Vudu button will instantly launch the video streaming service. That will give users instant access to more than 20,000 titles for rental or purchase from the Vudu store.


In a ruling on Thursday, May 19, 2011, Judge Edward F. Harrington of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts denied a Motion to Dismiss by Crestron Electronics, Inc. in a suit filed by Savant Systems LLC charging Crestron with violations of the antitrust laws and with other claims of unfair competitive practices. Among other charges, Savant asserts that Crestron has unlawfully coerced and/or induced dealers to refrain from carrying Savant's products. This is the second time that Crestron has attempted to dismiss Savant's suit and the second time that the court has refused to do so. In the May 19 order, Judge Harrington noted that Crestron's arguments for dismissal of the complaint were "without merit". Crestron will now be required to file a substantive response to Savant's complaint and the case will then proceed to formal discovery.

Legrand to Acquire Middle Atlantic Products

The completion of the transaction is anticipated for mid-June and is subject to the satisfaction of certain requirements, including regulatory approval. Prior to closing, Legrand and Middle Atlantic will continue to operate as separate, independent companies. The acquisition will help Legrand to fulfill one of its key objectives to establish a leadership position in the fast growing markets for AV infrastructure products, systems, and solutions, according to the company. Middle Atlantic has a sales relationship with more than 3,500 integrators in the U.S. and Canada. Once this transaction is completed, Middle Atlantic will offer an expanded product lineup, access to enhanced specification services and tools, and more complete AV infrastructure solutions. The combined offerings of the firms would include more than 5,000 AV products and services. After closing, Middle Atlantic would operate as an independent business within Legrand. Mike Baker, president of Middle Atlantic Products, would lead a new, fifth division - commercial AV - for Legrand in North America.

Boxee Box survey floats the possibility of premium channels, PPV sports

If you're wondering in which direction the developers over at Boxee may be thinking about heading you can consider the questions in the latest survey mailed out to users. The second round of questions gauges the interest people may have in subscribing to premium channels over the internet, like HBO or Showtime and how much they would be willing to pay, with another question focusing on the possibility of pay-per-view football games. Of course, actually negotiating for access to premium channels (HBO Go works through the browser after the v1.1 update) or anything NFL Sunday Ticket-related is a more complicated issue, but it is a possibility. Previous polls checked the temperature on features we've seen added like Netflix or a $199 price tag for the Boxee Box, and things that haven't shown up so far like CableCARD / OTA support or a version for videogame consoles. Get your opinion counted at the source link and yes, there is a write in portion for you to request updates for the PC version.

Elan Expands Controller Options For IP Control Systems

Elan will expand the selection of controllers for its g! System series of home-control systems with the June shipment of a 10-inch in-wall color LCD Touchscreen. Elan's $2,200-suggested TS10 controls home systems connected to the company's g! series of IP-based home-control systems.The $2,200-suggested TS10 will join 7- and 4-inch touchscreens, the HR2 handheld remote, g! control apps for Apple's handheld devices, and user interfaces appearing on PCs and TVs. All deliver a standardized interface. The controllers work with Elan's $3,000 HC12, $2,400 HC8, $1,950 HC6, and $1,100 HC4 IP-based home-control systems to control security, climate, lighting, entertainment, irrigation, and other home systems. They also manage music, photos, and stored security-camera video. The 16:9 widescreen TS10 features composite video for viewing TV sources or security cameras, backlit hard buttons for frequently used functions, built-in speaker and microphone for messaging, non-volatile flash memory, and a screen saver mode that displays photo. It is available in white, almond, light almond, ivory, and black.

Will Standalone Streaming Media Players Continue?

Providing further evidence that consumers are moving toward streaming content is a new study by In-Stat that finds shipments of streaming media players to reach 3.6 million worldwide in 2011. However, the firm notes that streaming appears to be following a direction whereby it is a function within a more common consumer electronics products versus being a central function of the device. In-Stat, thus, is quick to warn that the road ahead for standaone streaming players will be "bumpy." Consider devices like the Sony PlayStation 3, which can serve as a video game console, Blu-ray player, and streaming devices for services like Netflix. With the increasing availability of Internet-connected TV sets and hybrid set top boxes, this will also impact the long-term viability of the streaming media player market. Nevertheless, Apple TV, a product developed solely for streaming, remains the leading product on the market.

LG Display, Samsung see depressed LCD market turning

Samsung Electronics Co. and LG Display, the world's top two flat-screen makers, expect the depressed LCD market to start rebounding as demand rises in China and new TV models are rolled out. Global LCD makers are hoping China, widely expected to become the world's biggest TV market this year, pulls the sagging flat-screen industry out of a year-long downcycle when oversupply pushed prices lower. European demand is faltering due to the region's debt crisis and U.S. consumers are showing little sign of significantly boosting their spending on big ticket items. After falling by one third over the past one year, TV panel prices are finally showing signs of bottoming out. Prices of 40-42 inch panels have edged up 1 percent since late April, industry data shows. In interviews with Reuters this week, Choi of LG Display and the head of Samsung's LCD business sounded upbeat on the outlook for an industry that posted widespread losses in the first quarter. Both companies control around one quarter of the flat panel market, although Samsung has a marginal advantage in revenue terms.

Report: Netflix Largest Single Source of Web Traffic

The streaming beast that is Netflix just got bigger. The Los Gatos, Calif.-based service now represents nearly 30% of peak down streaming traffic in North America, according to a new report from Sandvine. The Ontario, Canada-based online traffic management service said Netflix accounts for 29.7% of peak traffic, compared with 21% last fall. Noteworthy is that Netflix also bests file-sharing website BitTorrent (10.37%) and YouTube (9.85%). Social networking site Facebook generated 1.91% of peak downstream traffic, while Hulu generated 1.09%. Sandvine found that "real-time entertainment," which includes video and radio streams, accounts for 49.2% of peak traffic, followed by file-sharing (18.8%) and Web browsing (16.6%), among others. The report forecasts that the real-time entertainment category will represent 55% to 60% of peak aggregate traffic by the end of 2011.

Dish, NCR Spar Over Blockbuster Brand for Rental Kiosks

Dish Network Corp., the U.S. satellite-TV provider that acquired Blockbuster Inc. last month, told NCR Corp. that its contract to license the Blockbuster name on movie-rental kiosks is invalid. Dish rejected the contract as part of Blockbuster's court- ordered bankruptcy proceedings and sent NCR a termination letter, expressing its intent on ending the pact, NCR spokesman Jeff Dudash said. NCR disagrees with Dish's conclusion that the contract is void, and plans to continue to brand its movie kiosks with the Blockbuster Express name, Dudash said. "There will be legal proceedings to address this that will come up at the end of the month," Dudash said. No lawsuits have been filed yet by either company. NCR builds kiosks, often placed in grocery and convenience stores, that allow customers to rent and drop off movies. The company pays Blockbuster for the use of its brand and collects all revenue from rentals. NCR says the Blockbuster Express name, design and related trademarks are held by a trust that wasn't part of Blockbuster's bankruptcy filing. Duluth, Georgia-based NCR has branded more than 9,000 kiosks with the Blockbuster name, Dudash said. If Dish successfully voids the contract, the Englewood, Colorado-based company will decide whether it wants to own the kiosk business, renegotiate deal terms with NCR or find another company that makes kiosks to license the name.

Bang & Olufsen's 85-inch 3-D TV sells for $85,000

Bang & Olufsen's new 3-D TV has an 85-inch screen and a $85,000 price tag. That comes out to about $1,000 per inch of display real estate for the high-end consumer electronics firm's BeoVision 4-85 plasma television, which Sound & Vision magazine described as an aspirational product. "The massive, anodized aluminum -encased set -- all 359.6 pounds of it -- rests on a similarly massive motorized stand (the whole package weighs just north of a half ton), which raises and lowers the screen from a floorbound rest position and conceals an integrated BeoSound 10 center-channel speaker, which emerges gracefully from beneath the screen as the motor lifts the set to viewing height," Sound & Vision's Michael Berk wrote of the new TV. "The actuators used have built-in sensors that automatically stop the stand from parking should they encounter an obstacle, preventing you from crushing an unwary guest's foot." To see any 3-D images on screen, 3-D glasses that sell for $149 are needed, Berk said. The picture displayed on plasma TVs tends to fade as the set ages, he said. But Bang & Olufsen has added what it calls an Automatic Colour Management system to offset the problem. The system includes a "tiny camera-bearing robotic arm, concealed above the center of the screen" that "emerges every 100 hours of use to calibrate the device. No user input is required (though you can run the routine as often as you like)," Berk said. The robotic calibration should allow the TV to attain a life of about 60,000 hours, he said.

Google to Control Your House With Android@Home

Today Android may live only on your tablet and smartphone and interact as mostly a standalone device, but Google has plans for its mobile operating system to take over your home. Android@Home was announced today at Google IO, which opens the door for what many imagined to be defining features of "the home of the future." Google will release open source libraries so that anyone can create an Android-compatible device that will allow Android to interface and control it. In a full Androidified home, that would mean using your smartphone or tablet to control the lights or the operation of the sprinklers outside. This functionality could also extend to music, where users of Google Music (Beta) will be able to stream the collection to any compatible device in the house.

Drop in TV Ownership May Signal a Change In Consumer Electronics Purchases

Nielsen has a new report out showing that television ownership has dropped for the first time in 20 years. There are a few guesses at why this is the case, even in our TV-obsessed country, and it just might mean not only a shift in how we watch media but also on which gadgets we consume our favorite shows. TV ownership has dropped from 98.9% to 96.7%. It doesn't look like a huge drop, but the 2.2% represents about 1.2 million households that don't own televisions. There's a few possible reasons. First, Nielsen suspects that when the big switch to digital happened a couple years ago, many lower income families decided not to spend the bucks on a new television and instead are just going without. But another possibility is that with the rise of streaming shows and movies online, many people have decided a TV is just an unnecessary item.

Samsung builds 75-inch 3D TV

Samsung's flagship D9500-series 3D TVs are now available in Korea. For an estimated US$17,570, you'll get the world's largest 3D Smart TV bundled with a QWERTY remote. This massive 75-incher also sports a new "secret" design promising a larger-than-life 3D experience. While this is something yet to be proven, we do know this model is quite well-equipped out-of-the-box. The TV includes a Smart TV function, 240Hz-processing and an LED-edgelit panel with micro (local) dimming capability that promises to reproduce deeper blacks. Price-wise, do note that 60-inch and larger panels usually command a huge premium, especially for a 75-inch giant such as this. The D9500 is expected to launch in the second half of 2011 for the rest of Asia.

Study Finds Little Difference Between Active, Passive 3DTV Glasses

A new study by TCO Development found little difference between 3DTVs that use active shutter or passive glasses, at least when it comes to the visual experience. "As a certification body with a long history in the field of visual ergonomics for displays, it is important for TCO Development to evaluate the visual ergonomics of these new technologies and to assess any possible impacts on the user experience. TCO Development will further investigate the need of a TCO Certification for 3D," said Niclas Rydell, product and certification director at TCO Development. Cross-talk, or ghosting, was low for both types of glasses, though proper height and distance placement was more important for a set using passive glasses. White luminance was three times lower for active shutter glass sets compared with passive sets. And the lower resolution available for a passive 3DTV (1920-by-540 vs. 1920-by-1080 for active shutter) is noticeable, but not too much of a drawback, the study concluded.

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Automation & Control - Featured Product

Light sockets; Not just for lights anymore

Light sockets; Not just for lights anymore

Smart Bulbs are out there and they can do far more then just provide light. Speakers, projectors, wi-fi extenders and more. The standard light socket that is wired up and ready to go in nearly every home in North America is now providing an easy and affordable option for home owners and renters alike to enter into the world of the "Smart Home". Here is a look at some of the Smart Bulbs and Smart Lighting options out there, and this list is just the beginning. In this ongoing article we hope to continue to add to and grow this list, so stay tuned!