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AV from the Cloud

Last month at CEDIA EXPO, VidaBox introduced its LC-300 LiivController, which is the latest multiroom audio control and automation system powered by the manufacturer’s vAutomation control platform.

VidaBox’s President Weighs in on Streaming vs. Disc-based AV

Steven Cheung, President, VidaBox

Last month at CEDIA EXPO, VidaBox introduced its LC-300 LiivController, which is the latest multiroom audio control and automation system powered by the manufacturer’s vAutomation control platform. The iPad-compatible product combines automation controls, multi-room audio, and a Drop-n-Rip Blu-ray drive in one unit, and provides four zones (expandable up to 20) of synchronized multi-room audio without the need for additional matrix switchers. Running on only 36 watts, the LC-300 plays music from its built-in internet radio streams, stored music collections across the network, and auxiliary sources such as iPod docks, complete with two-way feedback. Here’s more from VidaBox president Steven Cheung on the simplicity of his new media distribution product, the direction of the company, and his view of streaming media versus disc-based AV content.

With so much focus on streaming media and cloud-based systems these days, how has your business evolved when it comes to media distribution?

Streaming media is becoming more and more important to our clients, so we’re definitely embracing the trend. In fact, our media centers and extenders were among the first in the media server category to support Netflix right out of the box, as early as Q1 2008. New products like our iPad-controlled LiivController systems support streaming music from free and subscriptionbased online services, as well as stored collections. By next year, you can also expect VidaBox hardware specifically designed to access even more content online through services such as Hulu and Vudu in the U.S., or Sky and other IPTV services. However, as convenient as streaming content is, the platforms offer a limited selection and their playback quality pales in comparison to Blu-rays in 1080p and 7.1 HD lossless audio. So we are seeing two different markets emerging, one that satisfies ease-of-access and another that emphasizes quality. With that in mind, disc-based media will still be relevant for the immediate future.

VidaBox’s LC-300 LiivController and menu of music organized by album art.

What is unique about the LiivController?

There are three main factors that really set LiivController apart from the pack. The first is its lower cost. LiivController combines a dedicated music server, matrix switcher, plus built-in sources that eliminate traditional radio tuners, as well as built-in software to replace a traditional automation and control system. All of this is offered in one unit at a fraction of the cost of purchasing all these elements separately. The second factor is fast installation. Since there’s only one box, there’s also minimal wiring, simpler installation, and less programming, which translates into time and cost savings. The third factor is LiivController’s ease of use. With a single unified interface for music, movies, and remote control of AV devices–using an iPad as the ultimate touchscreen– users will love the simplicity and how easy it is to transition between accessing their media and controlling their entertainment experience.

How are you incentivizing dealers to try out your system?

Accepted VidaBox dealers qualify for our demo unit program, which allows them to purchase any standalone media center or server and extender kit at a very generous discount off the MSRP. Having and using these solutions will provide dealers with the experience they need to understand our products properly, and provides them with the opportunity to showcase the products to their clients.

Finally, what do you see as future trends in media distribution, and what does VidaBox have in the works in this regard?

We see a continued convergence between disc-based and streaming content, and the key to success for companies like ours is to provide a seamless, integrated experience for the end user, allowing them to access whatever they want, whenever they want, wherever they want. The upcoming LiivController with its single, unifying touch interface for control over any AV device is the first step in fulfilling this vision, and we’re excited to bring it to market for integrators and end users alike.