The Art of Design
Residential Systems Names Top Product Industrial Designs
Residential Systems presented its third-annual Resi Awards, honoring the most innovative product designs in the custom installation industry, during a September 13 ceremony at CEDIA EXPO in Denver. Taking home the magazines first Product of the Year honor was Class Audio, which won for its elegantly designed CDP-300 DVD player.
The Resi Awards master of ceremonies was RS editor Jeremy Glowacki, who explained why the magazine created an award that focuses not only on engineering but also on the aesthetic appeal, problem-solving capabilities, and ergonomics of a product design. Having a sophisticated industrial design is of increasing importance for product manufacturers in the custom installation channel, Glowacki said. Products that create a strong brand image for a company can really stand out from the crowd in a frenetic show like CEDIA EXPO.
Class vice president for brand development, Dave Nauber, added that the Resi Awards unique focus provides acknowledgement to companies that invest in more than just whats inside the box. Residential Systems has taken a leadership role in our industry by formally recognizing those companies who place a high value on industrial design, he said. We are honored to receive these Resi Awards among a field of talented competitors.
In addition to Classs Product of the Year and Best Source Component or Power Amplifier prizes, 11 other products were named Resi winners. This years esteemed group also includes: Best A/V Controller/Receiver – Denon Electronics AVR-4306; Best Combined Product Family – Niles IntelliControl ICS; Best Custom Installation Accessory – Planet Waves Cable Station; Best Flat-Panel Wall Mount – OmniMounts UCL – X Wishbone Series; Best Home Networking or IT-based Product – Kaleidescapes Kaleidescape Music; Best Speaker – Stealth Acoustics Model B1630; Best Power Management Product-Panamaxs EX Family; Best Touchscreen or Handheld Remote Control System – Remote Technologies Inc.s T2-C; Best Video Display – Optoma Technologys BigVision; Best Video Projector – Optoma Technologys HD81; and Best Wall Keypad Controller – Remote Technologies Inc.s RK3.
Product of the Year & Best Source Component or Power Amplifier
In the first year that Residential Systems magazine has named a Resi Awards Product of the Year, the B&W Groups Class Audio CDP-300 DVD player earned the honor as this years top vote-getter and as the Best Source Component or Power Amplifier.
With Classs commitment to design quality, its really no surprise that the brand has received such an acknowledgement. The awards are a testament to the mission described by Class vice president for brand development, Dave Nauber. At Class and by extension, the B&W Group, we believe that the industrial design of our products should be consistent with whats inside, Nauber explained. It should tell the story of innovation, attention to detail and beauty. And theres no question that todays sophisticated customers respond well to that approach.
The Class design team includes long-time Class designers as well as the former head of electronic design for Linn and former senior design engineer for Mark Levinson. Design concepts were created by Morten Warren of Native Design (www.nativedesign.co.uk). Mortons client list includes such famous brands as Motorola, Compaq, B&W, Boeing, and Mercedes Benz.
As the first Class Delta series DVD player, the CDP-300 shares the beautiful industrial design and elegant control screens found throughout the range. The front panel of the CDP-300 (MSRP $6,500) is made of extruded aluminum, which uses thickness to communicate strength, while soft curves give it an approachable, quality that ties in well with the touchscreen user interface. The choice of a slot-loading DVD ROM drive fits perfectly with the industrial design as well as the performance and reliability objectives of the design. It is, in fact, the first DVD Player to offer touchscreen control and video preview on the front panel. This provides a quantum leap in ease of use, providing a user-interface unrivalled among audiophile designs today for direct, intuitive operation.
To capitalize on the new, higher resolution capability of 1080 video displays and projectors, the CDP-300 DVD Player utilizes newly developed video processing circuitry, making it the worlds first DVD player to offer a full implementation of all HDTV resolutions. Digital video on HDMI is available at 480i, 480p, 576i, 576p, 720p, 1080i, and 1080p. A preview feature allows audiophiles the option of enjoying a pure music listening session without the noise often associated with projectors and other display devices. A customer can simply navigate DVD-Audio (or DVD-Video) discs from the front panel and listen under quiet, ideal conditions.
Best Power Management Product
Designed by the Panamax engineering team, along with the industrial design firm, Studio RED, Panamaxs Resi Award-winning EX Family of home theater power conditioners features silver highlights on a black chassis complemented by blue power status indicator lights.
Dave Keller, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Panamax, commented on his companys recent award. We are honored to receive the Resi award for our MAX EX component family , he said Our team of engineers, salespeople and marketing professionals work hard to ensure top-quality protection for the end user, and this award demonstrates our dedication to the superiority of our products.
Panamax offers an optional silver bezel to allow the product to blend with other silver A/V components in a system. The 5100-EX features a blue LED voltmeter, while the M5300-EX ($549.95), M5400-EX ($749.95), and M5500-EX ($999.95) showcase digital voltmeters with blue readouts. Additionally, the M5400-EX and M5500-EX also feature a digital ampmeter.
Panamaxs Automatic Voltage Monitoring Circuitry (AVM) circuitry continuously monitors the incoming power displayed on the LED voltmeter. A red lightening bolt below the voltmeter flashes to indicate an under or voltage condition, allowing the consumer to see when there is a power problem. Power Status Indicator Lights also visually indicate the status of the power supply.
All models in the new EX Home Theater Power Conditioner family feature high-current outlets that are designed to allow amplifiers and powered subwoofers to work to their full potential. The High-Current Outlets are built to provide clean, filtered power to amplifiers but have no current limiting components to impede performance.
All five components also employ Panamaxs leading Protect or Disconnect Circuitry, which safeguards equipment from catastrophic surges such as lightning by completely disconnecting the AC power to the connected equipment.
Clearly laid out and labeled, the back panel offers adequate space for all connections. Each comes with a generously long 10-foot, detachable, shielded power cord. All are rack mountable, with the rack mount kit being included with the M5500-EX, M5400-EX and M5300-EX. Optional rack mount kits available for the M5100-EX and M4300-EX. Well designed, detailed manuals are provided. A dedicated Installer Zone website is maintained for instruction and support on all Panamax products, as well as a live, toll-free telephone support line.
Best Combined Product Family
Based on a concept by Niles Audios product manager Jim Novak, the companys team of designers, electricians, and programmers created the Resi Award-winning IntelliControl ICS (Integrated Control Solutions) product family.
Im thrilled that Niles IntelliControl ICS system has been recognized for its outstanding industrial design, said Niles president Frank Sterns. At Niles, we believe that good industrial design includes more than just the look of the chassis; it must include intangibles that make a product easy to install and use. To have others recognize this approach to product design is both gratifying and encouraging.
IntelliControl ICS is designed like a luxury sports carsimple, sleek, and stylish with a generous engine under the hood. Its powerful GXR2 modular six-source/six-zone 55 watt/channel receiver ($2,799.95) is the heart of ICS. It features a clean, sophisticated look and is the only receiver of its kind that doesnt have a multitude of buttons and knobs on the front panel; the GXR2 has only one. It also boasts interchangeable source card modules that can be used in any combination, accommodating all of todays popular sources, including iPod, XM and Sirius satellite radio, satellite and cable TV, media servers, CDs, and DVDs. This allows consumers the ability to access and integrate all of their favorite sources in one unified system, eliminating the need for multiple audio systems scattered through a home, saving valuable interior space.
Small, clean, and inconspicuous, ICS controllers are aesthetically elegant and visually appealing, blending seamlessly into their environments. The ergonomically designed and intuitive wireless iRemote sports a high-resolution two-inch LCD with bright LED backlighting; the Contact color display is a wall-mounted, high-resolution, 3.5-inch color touchscreen display with LED backlighting. The Display is a sleek keypad that displays source metadata, allowing for total system operation from a discrete wall-mounted location and the Single keypad features just the right amount of buttons highlighted by bright LED backlighting.
IntelliControl ICS is the only audio distributed system on the market that features Zigbee two-way metadataincorporated on the revolutionary iRemotean easy to configure set up, intuitive system navigation, a smart receiver and a low price point.
ICS also features an RS-232 interface that allows the transmission/display of meta-data from other manufacturers products such as the Fireball products from Escient.
Best Wall Keypad & Best Handheld Remote Control
One of three multiple winners at the 2006 Resi Awards, Remote Technologies Inc. was honored for its RK3 Universal System Controller and T2-C Universal Controller, both the work of John Demskie (product concept design and hardware engineering) and Kevin Marty (product software and firmware design).
At an MSRP of $999, the RK3 is an open architecture, compact color LCD touchpanel designed for flush-mount in-wall installations. Every detailperformance and aesthetichas been carefully evaluated and incorporated into the design of RK3, integrating both form and function for intuitive in-wall control. The result is a powerful controller that delivers the ultimate experience through an elegant interface.
The RK3s design maintains a balance between display size and resolution. With just the right assortment of hard buttons, the brightly lit, high-contrast 3.5-inch full-color display is small enough to blend into any rooms interior while still providing the necessary resolution for displaying detailed graphics such as digital photos, web pages, MJPEG video, and metadata like album covers, song titles, artists name and more.
The TFT LCD displays custom buttons, text, graphics and animation, allowing installers to completely customize the GUI for each clients lifestyle, taste, and technical literacy.
The RK3 is the most powerful in-wall universal system controller in its class. Its highly-stylized design, user-friendly ergonomics and intuitive operation work together to provide the richest possible experience.
At $799, RTIs T2-C is a compact, full-color LCD controlleran enhanced color version of the companys T2+ monochrome handheld touchscreen controller. Form, function, performance, and aesthetics have been carefully evaluated and incorporated into the design of the T2-C. The result is a balanced full-color touchscreen universal controller available.
The T2-C features a blend of hard buttons with a large 2.8-inch full-color TFT LCD display, which is capable of providing custom buttons, text, graphics and animations. Featuring a powerful 200MHz 32-bit MCU, 16MB of flash memory and expandable architecture, the T2-C defines state-of-the-art touchpanel control.
The T2-C can be used as a handheld device or as part of an expandable central control system. The use of bi-directional Zigbee RF communications allows transmission through walls and cabinets. When used with other RTI accessories, the T2-C communicates via RS-232, provides relay control, monitors and reacts to the power status of components and stores macro sequences within the controller or central processoror both.
Both the T2-C and RK3 interfaces can be programmed and completely configured using RTIs exclusive TheaterTouch Designer drag and drop Windows-based programming software. The software offers the installer a wide open platform for the look of the interface with completely customizable GUIs to match a clients unique style.
Best Custom Installation Accessory
Created by Jim DAddario, CEO of J. DAddario and Company Inc., the Planet Waves Cable Station is designed to provide an easy, solder-free, crimp-free, custom interconnect system with reusable connectors. The cable is a small diameter HD coax that is flexible while maintaining its 75Ohm spec. The connectors are black, nickel-plated with gold-plated contacts. The cables can be cut to size and finished with clean connections and no peel back of braid/foil to worry about. This cable system creates a visually appealing, jewelry finished look to the otherwise unappealing interconnect, while maintaining performance integrity.
As a new player in the CI market we knew the core to the design features of the system had to offer several advantages over our competitors by eliminating time-consuming steps, and offering a simpler installation technique, said Planet Waves custom installation product manager Robert DAddario. Winning the Resi Award confirms that we have succeeded in these goals and impressed the industry in just one year in the market.
The solderless cable and connector solution allows an installer to create interconnects for home audio/video components with one type of cable for analog audio and video, and digital audio and video. The assembly process is simplified, compared with other products in the marketplace, by eliminating the need to strip the cable or use compression tools to affix the connectors to the cable. The connectors go on the cable with a simple cut, twist, and screw technique using a common 10-cent razor blade and flat-head screw driver. The solution provides an effective way to make installations clean and organized and take far less time to create and install. The connectors are also completely reusable.
Best Video Display and Best Video Projector
Wing Chung is Optoma Technologys lead in-house designer, and this year he was honored twice with Resi Awards for his efforts. At an MSRP of $29,999, Optomas Best Video Display winner is the BigVizion DLP, which features a sleek design that requires less than 30 inches of depth for millwork or in-wall installation. BigVizions bezel is also fully customizable, allowing it to match the dcor of any room. Technical features include 30-inch depth for the 100-inch model, a 1080p (1920 x 1080) native display with any signal source displayed as 1080p, a contrast ratio of up to 10,000:1, and advanced connectivity, featuring three HDMI inputs and 11 analog inputs with discrete IR and RS-232 control for home automation applications.
Optomas second Resi Award winner is its HD81, also designed by Mr. Chung, which took home the prize as Best Video Projector. At an MSRP of $8,999, the HD81s sleek design includes Optomas wind tunnel shield design that lends itself to quieter operation and ensures that there will be minimal extraneous light leakage. It features true 1080p (1920 x 1080) resolution with Texas Instruments BrilliantColor color technology and DarkChip DMD chipset. A 10-level BrilliantColor color-processing system enables this projector to deliver higher brightness and more vibrant scenes while providing truer colors.
Best Home Networking Product
Designed by Michael Malcolm, Dan Collens, Lawrence Kesteloot, and Paul Rechsteiner, Music for the Kaleidescape System is the 2006 Resi Award winner for Best Home Networking Product. The trophy is Kaleidescapes third Resi Award in three years. Priced at $3,000, the Kaleidescape Music Server and Music Player evolve the award-winning industrial design concepts of the original Kaleidescape System. The Music Player has an innovative chassis incorporating detachable snap-in side bezels that give the product a polished look in either a standard 19-inch rack or sitting on a shelf or table. The signature Kaleidescape white bezel with blue glow gives a rich porcelain look to the products face and sides. The Music Player can be combined with other Kaleidescape components to create a complete solution for both music-listening and movie-viewing from anywhere in the house. Control systems using these new programs developed by Kaleidescape allow customers to easily navigate and access their music and movie collections through Kaleidescapes on-screen display (OSD) user interface on any video display in the home. A user can control every music listening zone in the home from any video display using the OSD user interface. Music can also be selected and controlled using text-only touch pads in locations without video displays.
Best A/V Controller/Receiver
Led by Jeff Talmadge, director of product development and systems integration, Denons AVR-4306 7.1-channel home theater/multimedia A/V receiver follows in the footsteps of the companys award-winning AVR-5805. The 2006 Resi Award winner was designed as a flexible custom install solution for multiple room distribution and other capabilities. For an MSRP of $1,999, Denon engineers included advanced technologies such as MultEQxt by Audyssey Laboratories, advanced video switching capabilities, along with XM compatibility, iPod integration, and streaming media capability over ethernet. The AVR-4306 is distinguished visually by its sleek lines, high-tech face, and overall clean aesthetic. It is available in classic black or dark silver, and all controls are located on the front panel, hidden behind a flip door. Controls can also be accessed via onscreen menu, keeping only necessary controls such as volume and source selector on the front. Additionally, with HDMI inputs/outputs, Denon Link, and other digital single cable solutions, the traditional wire clutter is virtually eliminated, keeping the back organized.
Best Flat-Panel Mount
Designed by OmniMounts Zach Eyman, the Resi Award-winning UCL-X Wishbone Series features a cantilever design that allows an extra-large flat-panel television to be extended away from the wall for multiple viewing options. Each cantilever includes tilt, swivel, and pan adjustment to add to the products viewing flexibility. Utilizing die-cast aluminum construction the UCL-X Wishbone Series model features a dual-arm configuration with dual-stud mounting brackets for added strength and reliability. To coincide with the Wishbone Series outward appearance, a double-capacity cable management system has been integrated into the mount, allowing for twice as many wires to be tucked away with the cantilevers housing.
Paul Hagman, president of Stealth Acoustics, is the visionary behind the companys line of wallboard- like in-wall speakers. The Resi Award-winning Model B1630 Invisible Flat-Panel Subwoofer Speaker System is designed to be installed and finished in the same manner as any other section of wallboard in a wall allows the homeowner, designer or system integrator to create the result they want to see (or not see). These finishes can be paint, light texture, wallpaper, fabric, or even custom natural wood finishes. The technology behind the speaker utilizes the principals of the acoustic lever, by taking high-power eight-inch cone woofers (two per panel, two panels per system for a total of four, eight-inch woofers) and mounting them firing into an air gap created between the baffle board and our flat front panel face. While the precise low-frequency output of the Stealth panel is predicated on the wall loading of the stud bay, typical performance reaches down to 35Hz.