Residential Systems recently awarded 30 worthy products with trophies in its 10th-annual Resi Awards competition to honor the most innovative residential electronics product industrial designs (judging external aesthetics, ergonomics, and manufacturability). The awards are the only ones to honor exhibitors of CEDIA EXPO 2013 solely for their industrial designer excellence. Here’s a look at the winners.
Artison’s RCC Nano1 is a Reactance Canceling (vibration-free) freestanding subwoofer eliminates the classic large forward-firing driver that typically requires a big grille and enclosure for performance.
AudioXperts’ VIEWS on-wall speakers feature a curved design and a knob on the woofer/tweeter bridge that can be used to adjust a proprietary gear mechanism that positions the tweeter up to 30 degrees and the woofer up to 10 degrees.
Autonomic’s Mirage Audio System MMS- 5A media server offers a modern-looking single rack-unit chassis for six independent streams of content from a compact form factor, and the M-800 amplifier is based on the same visual cues.
Basalte’s Eve is an on-wall mounting frame that is precision milled out of an extruded block of aluminum, allowing for a very thin border that is only 2mm to hold an iPad.
Clare Controls’ CLIQ Modules are interconnected technologically via the ClareBus, a concealed connection that is made automatically when units are stacked.
Control4’s Wireless Lighting features elegantly designed adaptive phase dimmers and combination keypad/dimmers.
Designed specifically to integrate with existing AV receivers, the low-profile DVDO’s Quick6 6 x 2 4K Ultra HD HDMI Switcher upgrades most installations to the latest video connectivity technologies.
GoldenEar Technology’s SuperCinema 3D Array incorporates left, center, and right channel speakers within a 2.5-inch aerospace-grade extruded aluminum soundbar-style enclosure.
IOGEAR’s Wireless 5x2 HD Matrix is a two-tone grey and black with glossy top finish wireless HD matrix capable of sending separate full, uncompressed HD 1080p content between two HD displays or projectors from up to five sources.
Lutron Electronics’ The Lutron Coulisse Collection brings a more ornate look to the roller shade and offers a broad range of distinctive materials for Venetian blinds.
Metra Home Theater Group’s EHD EVOLV cables combine new design techniques and the latest silicon and system-specific custom programming to provide a previously unavailable cable solution for long-run, ultra-HD video applications.
Middle Atlantic Products’ PowerCool Series is a single-rackspace power and cooling solutions meant to reduce installation overhead by combining components.
Monitor Audio’s super slim Airstream A100 wireless amplifier combines wireless streaming technologies with the latest audio system design, bridging the divide between a world of digital music and your hi-fi speakers.
NAD’s D 7050 digital network amplifier can be combined with a computer or smartphone running iTunes and a home Wi-Fi network to create a stylish and simple package. And, NAD’s VISO 1 AP takes the audio performance of the original VISO 1 and adds the versatility of Wi-Fi and Apple AirPlay.
Pakedge Device and Software’s S24AV fully managed 24-port gigabit switch features front-panel LEDs that provide ready indication of the status of connected devices and is constructed with a heavy-duty metal housing and premium-quality parts.
PSB’s M4U 1 stylish headphone is a more affordable version of its predecessor M4U 2.
Savant Systems’ Universal Remote 500 communicates over existing Wi-Fi networks to deliver two-way control and features a customizable color display.
Simplified Acoustics’ 3D Fiber Frame offers customizable starfield designs that the end-user can tweak to their own tastes.
Soundcast Systems’ Melody is a portable Bluetooth speaker based on a circular weather resistant design made for indoor and outdoor use.
TruAudio’s SAT3 Satellite Series can be mounted to the wall, ceiling, shelf, or matched to a single-gang box.
URC’s TRC-1080 remote features a vivid, 2-inch full-color, high-resolution LCD screen, a sleek, ergonomic design, and two-way feedback for temperature, lighting, and IP cameras.
Vantage’s Equinox 73 touchscreens with complementary mobile apps provide a single-layer interface for managing luxury interior environments with a widescreen glass-to-the-edge LCD touchscreen.
Stealth Acoustics' StingRay
Stealth Acoustics’ StingRay is a hermetically sealed outdoor speaker that can literally operate underwater.
The industrial design of StingRay features a solid, grille-less, flat-front radiating surface, elegant radius corners, smooth lines, thin profile, and clean modern appearance. StingRay was designed from the very beginning to also be a high-performance speaker canvas that is ready for architectural and aesthetic creativity, allowing the speaker to be fully customizable in appearance to match any architectural design.
“Our StingRay speaker represents a truly unique advancement in an environmentally protected outdoor speaker,” said Stealth Acoustics VP Steve Olszewski. “StingRay is hermetically sealed, fully immune to the elements and environmentally stable from 0 degrees F to 150 degrees F, while sporting an unprecedented Ingress Protection Rating of IP-68. This means that snow, rain, sun, dust, and even critters that can get inside and damage a typical ‘weatherized’ speaker have no effect on the StingRay–even the connection pigtail we supply with the speaker is sealed. Add to this a very wide 170-degree sound dispersion at virtually all audio frequencies and a smooth and natural full range sound that extends between 35 hertz and 20kHz and one begins to realize how powerfully different StingRay is as outdoor speaker.”
StingRay may be ordered wrapped in UV-protected graphics material using any digital photo or image imaginable. The speaker may be specifically coordinated to match an in-situ location by just snapping a picture of the surrounding area. Stealth then works with the customer to crop the image to proper scale and aspect to perfectly blend in. Images of foliage, wood, brick, stone, art, family photos, polo horses, carbon fiber, or rockets, as well as corporate logos or personal branding are just a few examples of StingRay's unlimited finish options.
On the performance side, StingRay incorporates an 8-inch two-way speaker utilizing a patented hybrid of traditional and modern speaker technologies. The speaker drivers consist of a traditional 8-inch high-power cone woofer and a 30mm 25W neodymium-magnet directly coupled tweeter. Together, the driver-set energizes the speaker’s weatherproof and highly durable proprietary Fidelity Glass flat-front panel face radiating surface. This creates a decoupling of the driver-set point sources, homogenizing the sounds into a unified blend of highs, mids, and lows which then radiate equally and without on-axis beaming or off-axis changes in response.
“This award certainly validates our efforts and gives us some very cool energy to build upon, both internally motivating our design team to keep the creative juices flowing, and in precious marketplace recognition,” Olszewski said. “We believe innovative product design–both in form and function–is important to the customers in their desire to have unique things, which is much of what our company is about. It also provides new tools for dealers to keep their portfolio fresh and exciting, as well as profitable.”
Arlington's Low-Profile TV Bridge Kit
Arlington’s low-profile TVL2508K TV Bridge Kit includes everything needed to install a flat-screen TV close to a wall and connect to additional components: two recessed, 5x8-inch boxes, 7 feet of non-metallic cable, a flexible cord device, and an outlet device.
There's no need to run power from a panel box or cut into framing members. Just cut two openings in the wall, one over the other, near a power source. Low-voltage wires run behind the wall, and the boxes are recessed, so the plug stays inside the upper box for a flush-mount installation.
According to Arlington president Tom Stark, the inspiration behind the kit was finding a way to cater to the popularity of wall mount TVs while providing better aesthetics. For installers, the low-profile design allows it to be used in almost any installation.
The recessed boxes were designed for use on half-inch or 5/8-inch drywall with wall cavity depths as shallow as 3/4 inches. New or retrofit applications, including those with furring strips on concrete block, 2x2, 2x3, and 2x4 or larger studs can be accommodated. The product’s low-profile attribute is also helpful when installers encounter plumbing or other obstructions behind the wall.
Although low profile, the kit’s roomy 5x8-inch boxes can accommodate multiple cables with mounting wing screws holding the boxes securely in the wall.
“It's always satisfying to learn that our R&D efforts are appreciated by those installing and using our products–end users and installers,” said Stark about receiving recognition with a Resi Award. “We are always happy to receive the positive feedback that receiving this award implies.”
Niles Audio's Cynema Soundfield System
The 2013 Resi Award-winning Niles Audio Cynema Soundfield System is the industry’s first in-wall soundbar. It installs flush below any flat-panel TV without the need to cut or drill wall studs to line it up perfectly below the display.
A flexible rail-mounting system creates a very straightforward installation process that enables the system’s three self-contained speaker modules to be laterally adjusted along the rails for the best possible placement–regardless of stud locations–resulting in seamless audio performance and streamlined visual appearance. The active models feature a digital preamp/amplifier that provides power for all three channels of audio, and includes Dolby processing.
“The Niles Cynema Soundfield is the first soundbar designed to go into the wall. It is intended for ease and speed of installation, and in the Niles tradition has several subtle features that make the installers’ job easier,” explained Mitch Witten, director of the audio segment for Core Brands. “For example, the speaker and amp modules have retractable arms that fold out to allow the installer to hang the modules on the rail, freeing up both hands to make all the connections. Then they
simply fold the arms back and snap the modules in place. And the installer doesn’t have to cut or drill studs to complete the wiring. All wires are passed in front of the studs behind trim plates that are integrated into the design. When the grille goes on, the Cynema Soundfield virtually disappears.”
The Cynema Soundfield system is available in three active models and one passive model in lengths of 48, 55, and 65 inches to match the most popular display sizes. The in-wall soundbar consists of left, right, and center self-contained speaker modules and includes a preamp/amplifier module for the powered models. Powered models also include a separate low-voltage power supply–easily mounted in a stud bay adjacent to a wall outlet or behind the display–to eliminate the need for high-voltage wiring in the wall and the electrician required to do it.
Cynema Soundfield’s speaker and amplifier modules snap in from the front into rails mounted on the wall’s studs, and can be adjusted between the studs as needed to achieve the best soundfield. The speaker and amplifier modules have small foldable L-shaped brackets on each side to enable the installer to temporarily hang the modules on the in-wall mounting system’s rails, freeing up both hands and making the speaker and amplifier connection terminals easy to see and connect. Wiring is run through specially designed spaces in the mounting system to eliminate the need to drill holes in the studs. Included spacers can be inserted to cover any empty areas between modules for a clean installation. A low-profile, magnetically attached, and paintable MicroPerf grille makes the entire assembly virtually invisible to end users for a clean look.
“It is always rewarding when products that are designed for installers are recognized by an industry publication dedicated to informing its readers about the custom installation channel,” Witten added. “Winning a Resi Award for Cynema Soundfield lets us know that our efforts to design products that resonate with installers are on the right track.”
RTI's KX2 In-Wall Controller and T2x Remote Control
Multiple Resi Award winner RTI was honored this year for the industrial design excellence of its KX2 in-wall controller and T2x remote control.
The T2x features a completely customizable 2.8-inch color TFT LCD touchscreen interface. The flush-mount, edge-to-edge touchscreen is designed to provide users with improved gesture support, while integrated grip sensors keep the T2x awake during use, and an accelerometer provides the convenience of instant-on control. For the ultimate in reliability, the T2x includes three built-in wireless modes. In addition to integrated 802.11b/g wireless Ethernet, the controller features RTI’s dual-RF platform, which supports both 433- MHz RF for one-way control and 2.4-GHz ZigBee for bi-directional communication.
The elegant KX2 features a 2.8-inch QVGA LCD display with a completely customizable interface and engravable hard buttons, while multiple bezel options allow it to seamlessly blend into any décor. The controller’s sleek design is complemented by a host of features such as direct IR control, integrated 10/100Base-T Ethernet port with Power over Ethernet (PoE), and two-way control when incorporated into an RTI control system. To enhance the user experience, the KX2’s ambient light sensor adjusts its back lighting in accordance with its surroundings, while a proximity sensor automatically brings the controller to life when approached by a user.
“The T2x and KX2 feature an updated industrial design, setting the stage for our new series of handheld and in-wall controllers,” said RTI director of marketing Pete Baker. “We made a significant investment into the new industrial designs to make professional control devices more appealing to the consumer. We have also added several exciting new features such as built-in ambient light sensors, as well as grip sensors and tilt switches to conserve battery strength by only activating the display and backlight when the devices are in use. The T2x also features an accelerometer for motion-based control, while integrated Wi-Fi allows the user to access IP addressable devices or view instant weather information.”
The KX2’s graphic interface is fully configurable using RTI’s Integration Designer software. The device’s 12 hard buttons ship with a selection of common control tasks, or they can be custom engraved using RTI’s LaserShark service. In addition, the flexibility provided by its 10/100Base-T Ethernet port with PoE allows them to incorporate the unit into any installation. The built-in IR port provides direct control of devices, or an RTI control processor can be added to expand the KX2’s capabilities to include infrared routing, relay control, power sensing, and two-way communications via Ethernet and RS-232.
“We are very proud to receive the awards from Residential Systems,” Baker added. “This adds validity to the efforts we made to provide a sexy and aesthetically appealing industrial design. This also punctuates our belief that the dedicated control category is not dead; it is just getting better.”
Crestron's AIR Speakers and TSW-1050 Touchscreen
Crestron was recognized with Resi Awards for both its AIR 6.5-inch two-way surface-mount speakers and TSW-1050 10.1-inch HD touchscreen.
Weatherized construction, 150-watt power handling, and extended frequency response make AIR speakers appropriate for music on the deck or around the pool. A new QuickBall mounting system, using a tool-free ball-and-socket mechanism, allows these speakers to mount in minutes to any solid flat surface. A security screw is included to deter theft by preventing the lever from being released.
Speakers can then be aimed and orientated, by hand, in virtually any position whenever desired. This feature makes it easy for homeowners to reposition speakers and acoustical coverage when a room’s design or furniture layout changes.
The QuickBall bracket can be mounted over a one-gang U.S., UK, or European electrical box, allowing wiring to be run through the wall and exit cleanly through the cover plate. It can also be securely mounted to a light pole or similar structure using pole-mounting straps.
“Crestron spent a significant amount of time designing our new AIR outdoor speaker line to meet the needs of our dealers and customers,” explained Delia Hansen, Crestron residential marketing manager. “Great sound quality is, of course, paramount. But the aesthetic needs to equally please the homeowner, which led us to a clean, contoured design that will be at home in any upscale environment. Weatherized construction, high power handling, and extended frequency response make AIR speakers an ideal choice for enjoying music out on the deck or around the pool.”
Featuring rigid ABS plastic construction with powder coated aluminum grilles, Air speakers are designed to stand up acoustically with other leading brands in its category, boasting 6.5-inch polypropylene woofers for deep bass and 1-inch titanium dome tweeters for crisp highs.
Highlighted by edge-to-edge glass and interactive smart graphics, the thin, tablet-sized TSW-1050 touchscreen are meant to make an elegant statement on any wall. An ultra-bright 10-inch high-definition touchscreen display, color graphics, H.264 video support, and SIP intercom make TSW-1050 bolder than its inconspicuous footprint. All control, video, intercom, and power signals are transmitted over a single Cat-5/6 wire with one connection, presenting an ultra-clean appearance in any space.
With a single connection point, PoE connectivity can provide a hassle-free installation for integrators on new and retrofit applications. TSW-1050 installs cleanly over a 2- or 3-gang box or can be attached directly to drywall and other surfaces.
Without being a master programmer, using smart graphics, installers can make the user interface come alive in half the time of traditional programming platforms with fluid gesture-driven controls, kinetic effects, animated feedback, full-motion video metadata, and embedded apps.
The TSW-1050 is designed to be as easy to use as an iPad or smartphone. Users can interact with animated and 3D-like GUI effects with gesture navigation to swipe, scroll, drag, and drop through music and movie libraries, TV/radio stations, and home control apps. Five soft-touch buttons provide instant access to commonly used functions. Pre-labeled with icons for power, home, lights, up, and down functions, each button is programmable for custom functionality and added one-touch convenience.
“The TSW-1050 touch screen was meticulously engineered with beauty, usability, and ease-of-installation in mind to deliver a one-of-a-kind home control experience,” Hansen added. “We are especially proud of receiving accolades for this product as our tablet-style touchscreens featuring smart graphics represent the future of touchscreens.”