Peer Products Review Guide 2009


December 4,2009


Dispatch From The Field

Why Peer Product Reviews Can Make The Difference

Information defines the new millennium, and yet, it’s still a chore to find what we need, when we need it. There are as many comparison shopping websites as there are Gmail addresses, and searching for flights, new restaurants, or services, is a job in itself.

Fortunately, Web 3.0 technologies are being designed to make information retrieval more customized and simplified. Tim O’Reilly, a technology writer with a special interest in Web 3.0, says that the goal of the next Internet decade is to: “tailor online searching and requests specifically to users’ preferences and needs.”

In the meantime, one tried-and-true way of getting the information you need to make buying decisions is as old as the commodity market itself ask for suggestions.

The second annual Residential Systems Peer Product Review Guide was designed to do exactly that. It is a digest by installers, for installers; it shares their personal experiences, first-hand user accounts, and thoughts on how to make custom products even better. You will find no PR puffery or crafty sales pitches in these reviews just honest reflections by dealers who work with these products every day.

And these choices matter. Custom technologies become part of your clients’ homes enhancing their lifestyles in myriad ways so it’s important to choose wisely. As Stephen Merola of Futuristic Homes reflected, “[The HAI touchscreen] is very useful for me in my assisted-living client-base, where I often have patients with limited abilities. The screen and mouse control allow me to use interfaces such as Eye Gaze for clients with little to no mobility; it gives them control of their home’s utilities.”

So, dive into this guide and enjoy the reviews by dealers who made time in their busy schedules to share their knowledge.

One dealer was so busy, he submitted a peer review via Skype from the jobsite of a massive, whole-house installation in Seattle.

APC BY SCHNEIDER ELECTRIC
Symmetra Products

How do you rate this product?
A-plus. From various sizing options, including scalability to final installation and set-up, the APC Symmetra units are first class. The units are easy to install, maintain, and service.

APC BY SCHNEIDER ELECTRIC

For what types of installations is it best suited?
If possible, in all of our new projects that we engineer from the beginning. We are able to protect all of the equipment from one centralized UPS instead of multiple units spread out on the project. We recently completed a large project where the Symmetra protected the Crestron controls, Lutron processors, phone system, network, AV equipment, all video displays, DSS system, security panel, and CCTV system.

Describe the feature set of the product.
It delivers the highest level of clean, uninterrupted power protection and reliability in a single box. The Integrated Network manageability feature allows us to monitor the unit ourselves and let our clients know of a potential problem or a power outage. When our service team receives an email from the Symmetra, and we contact our clients to let them know that power was out or they had some sort of power interruption, they know that we are keeping a close eye on the systems that we installed.

John W. Predham

Product Specs
Highly available, redundant, and scalable double-conversion on-line power protection
Modular architecture can scale power and run time as demand increases 4Integrated network manageability
Real-time status updates of UPS health and environmental conditions
Hot-swappable, user replaceable power, battery, and intelligence modules

The Reviewer
John W. Predham is the president of both EPI (episi.com) and Elite Electrical Enterprises (eliteorg.com) based in Pawling, New York. He has been designing and installing residential systems for over 20 years. Predham began his career in the electrical field in 1988 and merged into the electronics industry in 1993. His specialty is large, high-end residential projects; he has been an APC dealer for four years.

CRESTRON ELECTRONICS
DM-MD16X16 DigitalMedia (DM) Switcher

How do you rate this product?
10 out of a 10. There is nothing in the industry like this. Crestron poured millions into investing in the DigitalMedia product.

DM-MD16X16 DigitalMedia (DM) Switcher

For what types of installations is it best suited?
Large residential projects, and commercial projects, too. We do a lot of Silicon Valley projects; we recently used the 16x16, and every switch was taken.

Describe the feature set of the product.
The system design is fluid with amazing flexibility. It resolves the delays and dropped signals associated with HDMI switching. It also offers an effective trouble-shooting tool that saves us so much time.

What features would you like to see changed or added?
I’m sure there is a reason, but the output cards are not field-configurable. Other than that, DM is incredible.

Scott Laird

Product Specs
Modular and expandable 16x16 DigitalMedia matrix switcher
Low-latency digital video and audio switching
HD lossless multi-room signal distribution for all types of AV sources
Distributes all analog and uncompressed HD digital signals, and manages embedded data such as HDCP, EDID, and CEC
USB HID signal routing, integrated Ethernet switch, simultaneous 7.1 and stereo audio
Selectable input and output types

The Reviewer
Scott Laird, owner of the Redwood City, CAbased Enjoyable Home Systems (408.823.7209), has been working in the residential systems industry for 12 years, and a been a Crestron dealer for eight years.

DIGITAL PROJECTION
TITAN Reference 1080p Projector

How do you rate this product?
An “A.” The performance of the TITAN Reference is in a class of its own. Stunning detail, amazing contrast, and enough light output for any screen size. The series is flexible, with lots of lens options available.

TITAN Reference 1080p Projector

For what types of installations is it best suited?
Large-screen, client critical on color fidelity and high contrast. A recent install at a private residence features a 130-inch wide Stewart 2.35 Cinecurve screen with side masking.

Describe the feature set of the product.
Colormax is one of our favorites, featuring seven-point color correction for broader color space and precise color alignment. There is nothing like a product that actually delivers.

What features would you like to see changed or added?
The product is close to perfection. We don’t have any feedback at this time of items to be improved.

Sound & Vision

Product Specs
Lumens: 5,000 (4,000 - 6,000 lumens, depending on the lens selected)
Contrast ratio: 5,000:1
Resolution: 1920 x 1080 pixels

The Reviewer
Sound & Vision, based in Illinois (soundandvision.net), was started by Eric Schmidt in 1992. In 2004, they opened their state-of-the-art Design and Experience Center in Willowbrook, Illinois. A dealer of the TITAN Reference 1080p for one year, the company is passionate for all things electronic and specializes in unusual, sometimes challenging projects that require creativity and imagination.

DVE DISTRIBUTION INC.
Joe Kane/ Samsung SP-A900B

How do you rate this product?
A 9.8. As one of ISF founding members, we’re particularly picky about picture quality (both subjectively and objectively). With the projector measuring close to perfect out of the box, aside from minor blacklevel tweaking, and the flexibility of various color spaces including SMPTE-C, HD or EBU, it truly deserves this rating. With the best source material, the black level, color, depth, and picture quality is quite breathtaking.

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For what types of installations is it best suited?
Any installation where the client wants to see what the absolute state-of-the-art reproduction of HD material in both detail and color, and does not need a screen size much greater than 100 inches for proper SMPTE lumens output.

What features would you like to see changed or added?
I would like to see a better built-in video processor for standard definition material (although the one it currently possesses is fairly good). At this level, remote lens shift and focusing would be a welcome addition.

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Product Specs
Single-chip DLP 1080p projector utilizing TI’s newest DarkChip
412,000:1 contrast ratio
1,000 ANSI lumens
Quiet operation 4
Full-bandwidth HDMI

The Reviewer
For 26 years, Don Krasen, president of Dallas, TX-based Krystal Clear Audio-Video (kcaudio.com) has been bringing the magic of systems integration to clients and specializing in top-of-the-line service (display calibrations, acoustic consulting, and turntable set-up). He has been a dealer for the Joe Kane-endorsed Samsung line for six months.

HAI
OmniTouch 10p Touchscreen

How do you rate this product?
An eight. What would make it a 10 is an inwall dock feature in an eight-inch version allowing my clients to have the best of both worlds at an affordable price.

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For what types of installations is it best suited?
It is very useful for me in my assisted-living client-base where I often have patients with limited abilities. The HAI screen and mouse control allow me to use interfaces such as “Head and Mouse” or “Eye Gaze” for clients with little to no mobility; it gives them control of their home’s utilities.

Describe the feature set of the product.
It has all of the touchscreen features I was looking for, along with the ability to access WAN and LAN addresses.

What features would you like to see changed or added?
I would like to see an eight-inch version with in-wall docking. Also, intercom features in the 5.7e would be nice. At first when mouse control wasn’t available, it took only a few emails and phone calls until I was assured it would be in the very next release. Once again, HAI has proved that they are willing to listen and implement beneficial features.

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Product Specs
Portable 10.4 inch Ethernet-based Wi-Fi Touchscreen.
Charging docking cradle
Comes standard with HAI Omni- Touch Pro and is also customizable using HAI Automation Studio (1126) software

The Reviewer
An electrician by trade, and a HAI dealer since 1999, Futuristic Home’s Stephen Merola says that being a custom installer lets him create “out-of-thebox designs and wow clients with the product lines made available to us by our vendors.” Futuristic Homes (fhihome.com; 516.965.8520) has a New York office and a Colorado office.

JVC
DLA-RS35 Projector

How do you rate this product?
Honestly, a nine or 10. The image is extremely accurate, beautiful across the whole screen. With D-ILA technology, colors are about as accurate as they can be. And the contrast ratio on the DLA-RS35 is amazing.

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For what types of installations is it best suited?
I recently used the JVC DLA-RS35 for a home theater installation. Complete with a Da-Lite Pro Imager Screen Masking system and a Panamorph anamorphic lens, the project impressed a very demanding, knowledgeable client. It’s amazing to see a home theater with this kind of quality at such a reasonable price point.

Describe the feature set of the product.
This is a very “installerfriendly” unit. Its horizontal and vertical lens shift help make it easy to install. Plus, it’s a really easy projector to operate, and the menu is straightforward.

What features would you like to see changed or added?
I think D-ILA is a terrific technology. You can’t find a better picture. But I’d like a little more light output from the projector.

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Product Specs
0.7-inch D-ILAx3
Resolution: 1920x1080
Lens: 2x motorized zoom and focus
Projection Size: 60-200 inches (screen diagonal)
Brightness: 900 lumens
Contrast Ratio: 70,000:1

The Reviewer
When he built a media room into his dream house almost 30 years ago, neurologist Helge Frank, M.D., (630.542.3169) became hooked on AV system installations. Since that time, as president of Hi End Video, he has provided his expertise to close to 500 churches, schools, commercial, and residential installations, all while maintaining his medical practice. Hi End Video has been featuring JVC equipment since the 1990s and buys through AVAD. Frank finds AV system design and installation to be very satisfying, and by installing systems for other people, he gets to enjoy the experience on a regular basis.

MONITOR AUDIO
C380LCR In-Ceiling LCR Speaker

How do you rate this product?
Ten is impossible in my book, so I'd give it a 9-plus. It's the best affordable in-ceiling product on the market.

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For what types of installations is it best suited?
The C380LCR's primary use is as the left/center/right ceiling mount speaker in a home theater installation, but may be used at all ceiling locations of a 7.1 system, in an upscale distribution system, or in a high-power commercial installation for restaurants, bars, etc. The C380LCR is the ideal center channel for use in any projection system as the audio image is localized mid-screen from all seated positions.

Describe the feature set of the product.
It is easy to install with beveled dogs of a highstrength resin and a large three-point landing pad, and since only three dogs are used they are quick to install. The PC board and all crossover components are also protected by a three orange plastic covers. The speaker is also moisture resistant with aluminum or stainless steel hardware for use in saunas, outdoors, or in marine applications. Pretty special.

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Product Specs
Sealed module housing an inverted four-inch midrange
One-inch dome tweeter mounted at the center of the cone
Woofer basket is cast-aluminum and the cone is C-CAM, a dimpled ceramic-coated aluminum magnesium material
Midrange and tweeter also utilize C CAM

The Reviewer
Michael Bonetti of Home Theater & Beyond (hometheaterandbeyond.com) based in Bedford, New Hampshire, has been integrating audio and video systems since the seventies, before CEDIA even existed. He started working with Monitor Audio in 2003 and says that this is one of his favorite products lines and that the Monitor team truly supports their dealers.

LITETOUCH
Hybrid Technology

How do you rate this product?
A strong eight-plus. The Hybrid wall stations are a great answer to retrofit lighting control. The units look great and are very stable, especially for such a new release. Upgrades and slight adjustments are being made, both hardware and software, but it has been great for us from the inception. The units are a challenge to install into a wire crowded box, but be patient, and allow for appropriate installation time.

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For what types of installations is it best suited?
Retrofit control is a great fit for this product but new construction for smaller homes would also fit. With the Hybrid, the electrician can wire as normal and the system can be installed at the end. This would work well in the spec home market so that lighting control can be sold as an upgrade option.

Describe the feature set of the product.
The LiteTouch processor is one of the systems strongest features with the cuttingedge programming qualities of the Lite- Ware software and very useful real-time load adjustment tools. I have always referred to the LiteTouch product as a truck; ‘once you’re up to speed it is hard to stop,’ and the Hybrid seems to be following right in line.

Product Specs
Integrate with other home automation subsystems
Programmable via LiteTouch Lite- Ware Software: system layout/ design; programming; vacation mode; billing; load level adjustment; troubleshooting
Rack-mount design Metropolitan Hybrid Wall Box Dimmers:
Includes dual technologies of Wireless RF/Wired Cat5 4Wall-box dimmer/relay

The Reviewer
After 20 years (15 of them as a LiteTouch dealer) why does Charley Dearmin, integrated systems designer with Mountain Heritage Systems (mhstechnologies.com), still love custom? “The game never gets boring. Being diversified in today’s market is the difference of surviving or dying. We must adapt to the market and find a means to find the customer, connect to the customer, and maintain the customer.”

NUVO TECHNOLOGIES
Essentia G System

How do you rate this product?
Nine out of 10. NuVo’s good, better, best approach offers the best value for multiroom audio at every pricepoint. Its packed full of features for the price. All of the NuVo systems are so simple to use; one of our client’s eight year-old son was playing his iPod playlist in no time and with no training.

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For what types of installations is it best suited?
Essentia is the perfect solution for a client that needs an elegant solution, but is working with a limited budget. We just completed a project that included 12 zones, the AM/FM/Sirius tuner and the Music Server. The client was blown away at all of the features NuVo offered for much less money in comparison to the competition.

Describe the feature set of the product.
It’s 40 watts of digital amplification for each zone sounds fantastic and our customers appreciate Essentia’s Energy Star rating so they save on their electric bill. It’s very easy for our installers to set up and a breeze for the end user to operate.

What features would you like to see changed or added?
We occasionally run into the need for more than six sources, so expanding the number of inputs would be nice.

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Product Specs
A six-source, six-zone (expandable to 12 zones) multiroom audio system
RS232 interface for third party control
Single-gang OLED keypads provide control with metadata for any NuVo source

The Reviewer
Homelife Systems in Longmont, Colorado, has been in business since 2007, and offering NuVo for one year. Ryan Murphy says that their best-selling NuVo system is the Essentia.

OMNIMOUNT
VideoBasics Line

How do you rate this product?
When matched with the appropriate flatpanel TV, I’d give the VideoBasics mounts a rank of nine out of 10. They get you in the game at an entry level price point when that’s what the customer is looking for. VideoBasics fixed mounts are not only extremely low profile, they are the simplest install of any mount on the market today.

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For what types of installations is it best suited?
The entire VideoBasics line is really installerfriendly, yet intuitive enough for a do-ityourselfer. Because of its thin profile, this mount works particularly well with the Samsung LED line up of flat panels. There are few mounts that will mount a flat panel closer to the wall than a VideoBasics mount, but it’s important to note that while this OmniMount line is super lowprofile, they still allow for proper TV cooling, which helps extend the life of the TV.

Describe the feature set.
The VideoBasics mounts are all UL listed, which means that they’ve been tested and approved to hold more than four times their published weight capacity. With a mounting profile of a mere 0.75 inches, these three mounts set flat panels just far enough from the wall to allow for easy connectivity of a standard HDMI cable and still allow proper cooling to protect and prolong the life of the TV. Convenience is another key to the VideoBasics mounts.

What features would you like to see changed or added?
Spec these mounts with panels that have right angle power plugs and side-facing HDMI connections (due to the low profile design). But OmniMount includes spacers in the box, if you need extra space.

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Product Specs
The VFM, VFL, and VFX accommodate most flat panels from 23 to 42 inches up to 80 pounds, 37 to 63 inches up to 150 pounds, and 42 to 70 inches up to 200 pounds
Convenience features such as Lift n’ Lock and sliding lateral on-wall adjustment

The Reviewer
Passion for innovation, nearly two decades of experience, and vendor support from companies like OmniMount, have helped David Glassman make IQ Home Entertainment (iq-av.com) a prominent specialty retailer and installation specialist on the Fairfax, Virginia landscape.

PANAMAX
MX5102

How do you rate this product?
An eight since it offers most features I would look for, but it would have been nice to have a USB input on the front panel.

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For what types of installations is it best suited?
Since most applications only require two battery backup outlets, the MX5102 meets the price point and demands of many customers who need a UPS. I believe that the MX5102 is great choice for someone who is going to have a front projector in their system. When the power goes out, a projector will not be able to keep its fan running to cool the bulb without a battery backup. With replacement bulbs costing $200 to $900, it only takes a couple power outages to recoup the initial investment of the MX5102 and MIW-XT. Another reason to use this model is if someone owns an Xbox360 or Playstation 3. Both game consoles warn against disconnecting the power while firmware updates or downloads are installing.

Describe the feature set of the product.
At 10 feet, the power cord can reach a wall outlet in almost any application. The unit offers a voltmeter on the front panel that toggles to show how many minutes are left for the battery back-up outlets.

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Product Specs
Two 600VA UPS outlets
Two 15A high-current outlets
Four 12A switched outlets 4Two 12A always-on outlets
12V trigger to remotely power on/off equipment
LAN in/out, a telephone in/out
Three sets of bi-directional COAX jacks with 2.2GHz output and less than 0.5dB signal loss
Two IR outputs that can be programmed to send a standby or shut-down command

The Reviewer
New England Hi Fi has specialized in A/V equipment sales and custom installation since 1965, and has been at the Scarborough, Maine, location since 1984, says Damon Loucks, A/V sales. The company has carried Panamax products for more than a decade.

PLANET WAVES
RGB 3-Wire HD Coax

How do you rate this product?
A 10 out 10 based on the time it saves on termination, the ends can be reused, and the confidence of a good connection every time you terminate an end.

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For what types of installations is it best suited?
Planet Waves cables are suited for both custom and retail. Aurant has started using the CXDCHD Dual Cable and RGB 3-Wire HD Coax for our custom racks. Installers have given nothing but good feedback on how fast the termination process goes along with the flexibility of the cable with in the rack. They also like how the cable is dressed out by using the RGB end-caps.

Describe the feature set of the product.
The great feature is the connector itself. No special tools or wire strippers, after terminating 3-4 for wires and testing for continuity you have great confidence in termination of all wires.

What features would you like to see changed or added?
Aurant has already made many suggestions to Planet Waves. And the response has been well received and results have been great. Some of these issues were the lengths of Cable on a spool being offered. Robert D’ Addario has been very open minded and great to work with.

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Product Specs
Bundled three conductor HD finishing wire in a black jacket
Bulk coaxial cable
Precision manufactured in the USA to 75-ohm HD standards
All cable features In=Out Technology for signal transparency

The Reviewer
Mark Gudac, with Aurant, in Salt Lake City, Utah (aurant. com; 801.746.6190), has been in the custom industry for 15 years. His specialty is putting together Install and design standards for Aurant. The Utah team has been using Planet Waves products for more than one year

AVIELO BY PROJECTIONDESIGN
optix

How do you rate this product?
A 10. If I could use just one word for the optix, it is “performance.” As a custom house, I can cherry pick from every brand in the industry. I look each year to see which products deliver top performance, good price points, strong margins and that are an overall value for my clients. In the front projection category, avielo by projectiondesign is our choice brand for the past three years and running.

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For what types of installations is it best suited?
Suited for large screen theaters, the optix works best in a dedicated theater room. We regularly use the avielo optix on 12- to 15-feet wide screens. The optix contrast, sharpness, color saturation and clarity performance deliver an image that cannot be beat.

What features would you like to see changed or added?
It is not critical, but I would like to see opportunity for the projector mounting to be placed standing up or upside down. It helps the offset with the ceiling mounted installations.

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Product Specs
DLP Home Theater 0.95-inch 1080p DC4 DMD
Motorized lens shift horizontal/vertical
Motorized focus and zoom
Contrast Ratio: >7500:1
Adjustable dual iris and lamp settings for colorimetry from 300 - 2500 ANSI Lumens
Optional anamorphic package using digital cinema widescreen lensing

The Reviewer
Robert Bliss, founder and CEO, Bliss Home Theaters and Automation (BlissHTA.com), Westlake Village, California, started working in the car audio business in 1995, before migrating into residential entertainment. Avielo by projectiondesign has been a top brand for Bliss for three years.

REMOTE TECHNOLOGIES INC. (RTI)
Two-Way Communication Platform

How do you rate this product?
An “A” for the simple reason that two-way communication is now here and affordable. First time hook-up of a sophisticated wireless meshed network had a learning curve involved. However, once the system was properly setup it worked well.

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For what types of installations is it best suited?
An installation that we just finished happens to have many of RTI’s two-way integration partners. Included on the list are Escient, Marantz, Lutron, Parasound, and hopefully soon Jandy Pool control. In this system we have Escient DVD and CD Libraries controlled by a DVD-M100, as well as a FP-1 Docking Station. Because of this we have three different opportunities to show off the two-way video and music lists along with cover art.

Describe the feature set of the product.
Hidden two-way features like buttons with a “visible” variable add details that were not possible before.Forexample,wecan now have a full-page button reading: “please wait while system starts” covering the home page, while the start-up macro is doing its job.The important thing: the client doesn’t get confused as to when he or she can push buttons.

What features would you like to see changed or added?
We'd simply like to see more two-way drivers so we can integrate with a wider range of products.

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Product Specs
Platform includes new two-waycompatible ZigBee versions of the T2-C, T3-V, and T4 handheld system controllers
Connect to compatible RTI processors using the ZM-24 ZigBee transceiver module
Firmware updates add two-way functionality to many existing RTI devices

The Reviewer
Custom LA (customla.com), based in Los Angeles, is led by Mark Schafer, president, and Marc Stewart, VP. Together, Custom LA has a combined 22 years of experience integrating high-end A/V systems, and they’ve been using RTI automation since 1996.

SCHLAGE
LiNK Home Management System

How do you rate this product?
A 10. If you are within reach of an internet- enabled cell phone or computer, you can remotely manage your locks and monitor entry.

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For what types of installations is it best suited?
Schlage LiNK provides an economically priced solution for home or office where the customer prefers an automation system for lighting, HVAC, and access control without paying the price for a full automation system.

Describe the feature set of the product.
Allows secured remote access to lock and unlock the home or office through web-enabled devices. Enables HVAC, lighting, access, and camera control.

What features would you like to see changed or added?
Revisit the monthly fees.

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Product Specs
Set up a Z-Wave wireless ecosystem that gives homeowners 24/7 control from any computer and most Web-enabled cell phones
Control includes: locking / unlocking doors
Receive email/text alerts when a specific access code is entered
Keep a 90-day log to keep track of home entry
Create temporary entry codes for maintenance workers, such as a plumber
Conserve energy and save on utility bills by remotely controlling climat

The Reviewer
With 20 years of the industry experience, Mark Harris of Electronic Custom Distributors (ecdcom.com) knows how to find new opportunities and solve new challenges. He says, “Every day there is an opportunity to solve an installation problem, which makes an installer more profitable.” He’s been carrying the Schlage LiNK system for five months.

SENCORE
Lumagen Radiance

How do you rate this product?
I can't give it anything less than 10. As a custom installer, I need a product that does exactly what it says on the tin with no failures. This it delivers in spades with lightening-fast input switching and worldwide support. In terms of the picture quality I have not seen better video scaling in a consumer product, nor a more comprehensive tool for color and gamma management.

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For what types of installations is it best suited?
Any installation where picture quality is a high priority requirement.

Describe the feature set of the product.
Reference video deinterlacing (Gennum) and video scaling (Lumagen's own). Reference color management of primary and secondary colors, color error correction, video level adjustment, colorspace conversion, output dithering. Reference gamma adjustment with 21-point adjustment for manipulation in 5IRE steps, and more. As a tool to manage your entire video signal your multitude of sources are connected in and for each different signal type and resolution and refresh rate the Lumagen Radiance can automatically load the correct profile for the most perfect output possible to your display(s).

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Product Specs
Temporal noise reduction
MPEG mosquito and block noise reduction
Six HDMI inputs, two HDMI outputs, each with dedicated HDMI tx/rx chips for instant switching and picture in picture options
18 total video inputs including SD/HD component, RGB/RGBS/ RGBcvS/RGBHV
Audio signal management for multiple sources to multiple displays
RS232 two-way control

The Reviewer
Liam McLaughlin, Progressive AudioVisual (progressive-av.com), based in Kent, England, has been a Sencore dealer for six years. He’s passionate about new technology but the real satisfaction of custom is working with clients. “It's the satisfaction on handover day of doing another beautiful custom installation and that grin on the client's face when he's holding his fancy touchscreen controller, navigating his movie collection, on the projection system that just came out of his ceiling.”

SPEAKERCRAFT
AIM Cinema In-Wall Speaker

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How do you rate this product?
An “A.” AIM Cinema has been a great product line for us. It provides our clients superior performance in almost any type of room without the need for big box speakers. The margins make me smile.

For what types of installations is it best suited?
We use AIM Cinema for locations where the speakers must sound above average and be off the floor or out of the ceiling. We like to use them in theaters with bedrooms directly above (staying out of the ceiling is simple way to help keep the sound from waking up a sleeping family member). Having the sound come at you from behind a perforated screen is the perfect scenario.

Describe the feature set of the product.
Three levels to match to your client’s needs, dipoles for side placement, Bi-ampable and timbre matched to all SpeakerCraft speakers at that same level. Can you say options? It gives us so much flexibility; we can tackle any room properly. It has really helped us close deals.

What features would you like to see changed or added?
ANEAT bezel grill (like they offer on their round speakers) so there is no flange visible to paint.

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Product Specs
Available in three models
Independently pivoting midbass/ midrange and tweeters
Unique three-way design
Flush-mounted installation
Durable construction with a lifetime warranty

The Reviewer
Steve Ambrogio of At Home Theater Systems (athometheatersystems. com) in Carlsbad, California, has been in the custom industry for 22 years, with the last six years as a SpeakerCraft dealer because, “they treat their dealers as partners not customers.” What excites Ambrogia about custom work is sharing the joy of music and movies with clients. “We recently gave an iPod to an older client and…she sent us a long letter about how it improved her life by giving music back to her. She listens to her music throughout the house on a SpeakerCraft MZC 64 and MODE.”

VUTEC
Fixed Wall Projection Screens with SilverStar

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How do you rate this product?
A 9.5 (because no one’s perfect). The build quality is excellent. The screen provides a very uniform image. The company, our sales contact, and their local representation are excellent to work with. They provide shipping info and provide solid protection of the product for shipping safety.

For what types of installations is it best suited?
We have used this product in high-end home theaters and sports bar applications.

Describe the feature set.
The fact that this screen has such a high gain and rejects off axis light results in it working well in the theater scenario whereby the client may have ambient light issues or doesn’t want to view their entertainment in extreme darkness. The sports bar applications worked very well with a wide viewing angle and our clients could keep their lights on and still run their business.

What features would you like to see changed or added?
Larger screen options without a seam.in case you need a little extra space.

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Product Specs
High gain (6.0)
High contrast
Light control is not critical
Wide viewing area
Panels can be multiplexed for large presentations
Screen is fully assembled and shipped in wood crate

The Reviewer
A Vutec dealer since 2005, Mickey Valletta, owner of Towne TV (townetv.com), in Rotterdam, New York, loves making a difference in people’s lives through entertainment. “We continue to make many friends through our business relationships.”

WATERFALL AUDIO
Victoria EVO Floorstanding Loudspeakers

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How do you rate this product?
The Waterfall line of products sound and look amazing. I would rate them at least a nine out of ten.

For what types of installations is it best suited?
They sound excellent in a theater application.

Describe the feature set of the product.
Aesthetics and accurate musical imaging sets them apart from other competing products that cost more.

What features would you like to see changed or added?
I would like to see some type of bookshelf, or possibly a longer on-wall speaker that would be better matched with flat panel HDTVs.

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Product Specs
Three-way, four driver design
Down-firing, 8.5 inch passive woofer
Recommended amplifier: 40-250 watts
Peak power: 500 watts
Impedance 6 ohms 4Efficiency 89 dB
Frequency response 40Hz - 28kHz
High-density Krysta-Line glass for transparency
Acoustic damping tube muffles vibration

The Reviewer
Taki Pappas, president of WAVE (Whole-House Audio Video Electronics) WAVE-designs.com has been a Waterfall dealer forone year, and has a specialty in home integration, distributed audio and video along with designing high quality home cinemas.

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