Leviton Acquires Home Automation, Inc.

Leviton today announced the acquisition of Home Automation, Inc. (HAI), a leader in home automation controls for residential and light commercial applications. HAI enhances Leviton's current home automation offerings by providing homeowners with solutions that combine security, energy management and entertainment controls, in user-friendly applications. Integrating HAI products with Leviton's solutions provides homeowners with a smart choice for automation and remote access capabilities. HAI has a wide-ranging product offering, from systems that allow homeowners to control their automated video surveillance system and audio devices over the Internet to programmable thermostats and light switches accessible directly from a smart phone. "Leviton's acquisition of HAI represents a significant expansion of our offerings in the residential market, and furthers Leviton's commitment to providing customers with the latest technologies as affordable, easy-to-use solutions," said Daryoush Larizadeh, Chief Operating Officer of Leviton. "Leviton and HAI are two established brands coming together to offer a complete whole home automation solution that customers can trust."  

HuluPlus now on AppleTV - How to get a 2-month free trial.

Cord cutters rejoice. Hulu have just announced that HuluPlus is now available on AppeTV. For $7.99 a month, billed to the subscriber's iTunes account, users can get access to content from top broadcast channels, such as ABC, NBC, FOX, The CW and Univision as well as many other content partners. Unfortunately, paying $7.99/month does not excuse you from advertisements; although, the shows claim to have “limited ads”. Prior to the announcement, the only TV content available on AppleTV was via the iTunes store or Netflix. I’m sure Apple is getting a cut of the subscription revenue, but it’s bound to hurt sales of TV content on iTunes. Eagerly, I fired up my AppleTV and gave it a try. Quality wasn’t bad: Hell’s Kitchen wasn’t quite as good as my over the air HD, and I can now get BBC America content, so I’m sold. For those who want more than the paltry one week free trial on offer on AppleTV, follow this link to get two months free. Sign up and then simply select “I already have a HuluPlus subscription” when prompted on the AppleTV Apple has long treated AppleTV as a hobby. Maybe things are changing in Cupertino.

Retail tech heats up to beat holiday shopping lockdown

While the holiday shopping season doesn't kick off till the fall, the behind-the-scenes tech preparations for the season are already heating up this summer — and those technology deployments should be even bigger and better this year. And a recent study suggests that retailers will be spending even more on high-tech this year in an effort to steal a march on competitors and surf the bleeding edge of customer engagement technologies. From basic POS system repairs to digital signage installations, retailers are tackling a variety of tech projects now in order to prepare for the holiday rush in Q4, according to tech service company OnForce. Because when the rush starts, these repairs and upgrades will mean downtime they can't afford, especially at the register. And their deadline isn't Black Friday — it's Halloween, which generated almost $7 billion in retail revenue last year. And according to new research from the Computing Technology Industry Association, 63 percent of retailers expect to increase their spending on technology solutions in the coming year.

Will the DLNA Premium Video Platform Change the Set Top Box Landscape?

It's almost a decade since the conception of DLNA. Over half a billion devices support it, but none of these are able to play DRM content. The DLNA Premium Video platform changes this, by allowing premium content to be streamed within the home without a set-top box in every room.

VPN vs Port Forwarding: Which is Best for Delivering Remote Access to Home or Small Office Networks?

There are several methods for implementing a remote network connection. The two most common methods are Port Forwarding and Virtual Private Networking (VPN). In this article, these two methods will be discussed and compared. Which method an installer elects to use may depend upon the features supported by the equipment being installed

Novel Home Automation Projects That Don't Break the Bank

When we think about Home Automation Systems, we tend to think of things like lighting control, HVAC control, energy monitoring, whole house audio and video and security. A good integrator can help you solve many other everyday annoyances without breaking the bank. Our friends at DSI Entertainment Systems shared some interesting projects with us.

SunBriteTV Outdoor TV Interview

Installing a TV in an outdoor environment involves a little more than keeping it dry and in a location out of direct sunlight. We asked SunBriteTV's Tom Dixon, Vice President of Marketing, what makes a good outdoor TV and how it should be installed.

In Wall Speaker Placement: Five Simple Rules For Great-Sounding 5.1

It's classic Mars and Venus: one of you craves the thrill of 5.1 surround-sound in movies, music - even many television shows today. But the other half of your relationship is definitely not excited by the idea of five large speakers in the room. Enter in wall speakers, a sleek option for great sound without taking up any floor space. Modern in wall speakers aren't restricted to just white anymore - you can get them in paintable finishes that help them really blend into the room. Paint the speakers before you install them for the best finish.

Being a Technology Leader Means Staying Focused on the Goal

Innovation has got to be one of the most used, overused words in the 21st century. No one simply produces a new, better product...they innovated, changed the entire industry. They totally reshaped your universe while you were asleep last evening. Innovation doesn't necessarily mean a new product/solution that will turn the earth on its ear. It's a new, better way of looking at what you're using, doing in a totally different way. Sometimes - ok lots of times - you look at what Apple, Samsung have done and you say "big deal." But it's the elegance of what they achieved that you can use immediately and it feels as though you've always done it that way...that's true innovation at its best

XPAND 3D Poises For Huge Push in Home Theater 3D Market With Establishment of New Home Theater Division

In a significant and strategic move to address the growth of the home theater 3D market, XPAND 3D, the world leader in consumer and professional cinema 3D solutions, today announced that it has established a new Home Theater Division to better serve the needs of systems integrators and customers in home theater. The division is led by Philippe Coissac, Head of Global Home Theater Sales. "Since our beginning, XPAND has been committed to providing the best and most technologically advanced 3D products to consumers, and 3D has become a major part of the home theater experience," said Maria Costeira, CEO of XPAND 3D. "We saw that the time was right to create a dedicated Home Theater Division to focus specifically on the requirements of dealers, custom installers and retailers who service the home theater space. We are here to accommodate their needs, give them a direct line of communication and enable them to provide optimum 3D solutions to their customers!" "Movie enthusiasts want to enjoy the excitement of a true cinema-quality environment in their home theaters, and XPAND YOUniversal 3D Glasses and products deliver the ultimate in 3D viewing," Costeira continued.

BTX Goes All In at Resorts World Casino New York City, Providing Gefen Digital Signage

BTX Technologies, a value-added distributor and manufacturer of interface, integration, and system products, today announced that the company has supplied 40 Gefen Digital Signage Media Players with Wi-Fi™ for use at the Resorts World Casino New York City. Purchased and installed by systems integrator The Integration Factory, the high-definition players are being used to deliver up-to-date dining information to digital menu boards located in the casino's food court and Aqueduct Buffet. Resorts World Casino New York City is the Big Apple's first casino. Adjacent to the Aqueduct Racetrack in South Ozone Park, Queens, the two-story property offers 4,468 video lottery terminals and 550 electronic table games. For hungry guests, the casino features 17 dining options, including a full food court and the 400-seat Aqueduct Buffet. 40 digital menu boards provide patrons with current information on the availability and pricing of breakfast, lunch, and dinner items. Each display features a Gefen media player mounted directly behind it, which is connected to the casino's food court network server. This allows Resorts World technicians to access all local players remotely with ease from the digital and A/V media office.

Roku Receives $45m in Funding

Roku has just closed a $45 million Series E round. Investors include News Corp and British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB). News Corp’s chief digital officer, Jon Miller, has also joined the Roku board. Mr Miller commented: “Roku's significant technology advantage, coupled with a strong market position, places them in a unique position to be an integral part of the television landscape for years to come.” According to Roku, The money will be used for expansion, as well as for other initiatives. No doubt, some of the money will be used for the completion of the Roku Stick, which is due to launch this week. It’s not clear whether any will be earmarked for commercial applications, such as digital signage. (Roku Founder and Chief Executive Officer Anthony Wood is also the Founder and Chairman of the Board of BrightSign, whose players are based on Roku technology.) With entry level devices, at half the price of an AppleTV, this will surely give Apple a further run for its money; although, having sold 1.3 million units, AppleTV is still a hobby for the company, so they may not even care. On the media front, News Corp already has several apps available on the Roku Channel Store, including Fox News, WSJ Live, and X Factor and will no doubt add more. BSkyB’s Now TV streaming service is available on Roku boxes.

Remodelers forecast positive outlook on business

The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) is revealing the latest from the NARI Second Quarterly Business Review-and it is positive news. The second-quarter research, which measures remodeler's assessment of business conditions, shows NARI members believe the current business climate is slightly more positive than the same time last year. "There are clear indications that some of our NARI members believe that they have weathered the storm, and expect consumer confidence to return in a more consistent pace going forward," says Kevin Anundson, CR, CKBR, NARI National Secretary and president of Owner Assisted Remodeling based in Elm Grove, Wis. In fact, data shows that NARI members forecast stronger sales growth in the next three months, based on three key factors: Postponement of projects (80%), growth due to low interest rates (50%) and 35% believe improving home prices are also a significant factor. Remodelers say consumer confidence has a different tone this time around. "People are aware that that their home values may not be as high as they once were, yet that only affects those that are forced to sell," Anundson says. "Many homeowners have made the decision to remain in their home and are choosing to make improvements and increase their comfort and long-term living accommodations. This thought process allows them to be much less concerned about returns on investment and resale values."

LG Electronics Teams Up With Fry's To Bring 'EzSign TV' Display Solution To More Small Businesses

LG Electronics USA has joined forces with Fry's Electronics Inc. to offer the popular LG EzSign TVs in all Fry's retail stores nationwide, in addition to the retailer's website, www.frys.com . A turnkey digital signage solution for small- and medium-size businesses (SMBs), EzSign TV offers high-quality picture and contrast ratios combined with customizable content running simultaneously with live TV or another external media source, attracting attention while delivering messaging to consumers. Now available for purchase in all 34 Fry's retail locations and online, the 32-, 42- and 47-inch class sizes (31.5-, 42.0-, 47.0-inch diagonal, respectively) of the EzSign LD452B LCD TV series include an internal media player, complete software package with custom signage templates and commercial-grade display settings to optimize power savings and product lifespan. Fry's Electronics is the first retail outlet to both sell and display the commercial EzSign TV product in-store, providing the opportunity for small business owners to learn more about the product and "test drive" it in a retail setting. First introduced in 2011, EzSign TV has grown in popularity and expanded sales channels to include Direct Market Retailers (DMRs), IT integrators, professional/custom A/V dealers and installers and digital signage resellers.  

Silicon Valley Says Step Away From the Device

Growing movement in Silicon Valley aims to get people to log off once in a while. Stuart Crabb, a director in the executive offices of Facebook, naturally likes to extol the extraordinary benefits of computers and smartphones. But like a growing number of technology leaders, he offers a warning: log off once in a while, and put them down. In a place where technology is seen as an all-powerful answer, it is increasingly being seen as too powerful, even addictive. The concern, voiced in conferences and in recent interviews with many top executives of technology companies, is that the lure of constant stimulation — the pervasive demand of pings, rings and updates — is creating a profound physical craving that can hurt productivity and personal interactions. “If you put a frog in cold water and slowly turn up the heat, it’ll boil to death — it’s a nice analogy,” said Mr. Crabb, who oversees learning and development at Facebook . People “need to notice the effect that time online has on your performance and relationships.”

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