Head-Turning Designs

One need look no further than the ubiquitous iPhone or almost any other product from the Steve Jobs-led design team at Apple to understand that industrial design sells a lot of product.
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One need look no further than the ubiquitous iPhone or almost any other product from the Steve Jobs-led design team at Apple to understand that industrial design sells a lot of product.


One need look no further than the ubiquitous iPhone or almost any other product from the Steve Jobs-led design team at Apple to understand that industrial design sells a lot of product. Proper engineering, of course, is essential to any successful product in the custom installation business, but what turns heads and overcomes objections from heads of households is a beautifully crafted product that, if pulled out of its element, could almost be a work of art.

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Residential Systems magazine’s editorial director, Jeremy Glowacki, announced the winners of the 2008 Resi Awards during a ceremony at CEDIA..
Those are the types of product designs that the Resi Awards, sponsored by Residential Systems magazine, looks to honor every year. During an awards ceremony held last month at CEDIA EXPO in Denver, Residential Systems magazine's editorial director, Jeremy Glowacki, announced the winners of the 2008 Resi Awards. The awards honor the top industrial designs of products in the CEDIA channel.

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Mounts used to be utilitarian, but designs like OmniMount’s Resi Award-winning Motion40 combine engineering muscle and simple elegance.EXPO last month..
'I was truly amazed this year when the entries started pouring in. Even in a down economy we had a record number of entries,' Glowacki recalled. 'It said to me that not only is our awards program really taking off, but that there is an increasing emphasis on industrial design in the consumer electronics/custom installation channel. Manufacturers understand that first impressions do matter when it comes to their designs.'

This year's winners, which are profiled within the pages of this section, were: Best AV Mount - OmniMount's Motion40; Best AV Processor/Receiver - Class' Audio's SSP-800; Best CD/DVD Player - Samsung's BD-P1500; Best Combined Product System or Family - Sooloos' Sooloos system; Best Custom Install Accessory - Sanus Systems' VF2022; Best Media Server - Niveus' Pro Series n9; Best Power Amp - Marantz's MM8003; Best Power Management Product - Panamax's MAX PM Family; Best Projection Screen - Beamax's X-series Dellegno; Best Remote Control (Handheld) - RTI's T3-V; Best Speakers (Bookshelf) - Sunfire's HRS; Best Speakers (On-Wall or In- Wall) - Wisdom's Sage L75i; Best Speakers (Tower) - B&W's CT8.4 LCRs; Best Touchscreen Control Panel - AMX's MVP-5200i; Best Video Display Device - Samsung's Series 7 LCD HDTVs; and Best Video Projector - SIM2's Grand Cinema C3X 1080.

Classe Audio's SSP-300

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Classe Audio’s SSP-300..
Based on design concepts from Morten Warren of Native Design this 10- channel preamp/ processor features a thick and solid-looking chassis, yet offers a broad radius on the front corners to give it a softer, more contemporary feel. Design details such as chassis heights, widths and depths, control strip location and control panel location were executedto maximize the visual impact of using Classe components together in a system. Whether they are set side by side or stacked vertically, they will form a complementary and coherent system. The rack-mountable SSP-800 offers both balanced and single-ended connections for all channels. Superior audio performance is achieved by combining powerful DSP with balanced topologies, advanced component parts and meticulous circuit layout.

Samsung's BD-P1500

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Samsung’s BD-P1500.
Featuring Samsung's traditional piano-black finish, the BD-P1500 is a fourthgeneration Blu-ray Disc player designed to blend perfectly with any Samsung HDTV. Epitomizing the idea of combining form and function, the award-winning player features BD Profile 1.1 Bonus View and being BD Live Ready. It also provides Full HD video playback capabilities while offering the ability to upconvert standard DVDs to 720p, 1080i, and 1080p resolutions. Designed with fans of multimedia technology in mind, the BD-P1500 easily connects to other digital devices through an HDMI 1.3 port with CEC for expanded color delivery and easy home theater control. True audiophiles will love the BD-P1500 for going beyond standard Dolby Digital audio playback to include Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TruHD and DTS-HD High resolution (scheduled to available later this year via firmware update). With its built-in Ethernet connection and USB input users can quickly upgrade their BD-P1500.

RTI's T3-V

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RTI’s winning T3-V sports a VGA-resolution, highcontrast LCD display that allows it to showcase graphics, photos, and web pages in clear detail.
'The goal, quite simply, was to create a very sexy and elegant user interface,' said Remote Technologies Inc. VP of marketing, Pete Baker, about his Resi Award-winning remote control.

The T3-V, which won the award for Best Handheld Remote Control, is a powerhouse universal remote wrapped in a stylish, ergonomic design. More than just a handheld controller, the T3-V sports a VGA-resolution, high-contrast LCD display that allows it to showcase graphics, photos, and Web pages in clear detail. Wireless Ethernet capabilities and a built-in Web browser allow the user to access Web pages as well as IP control for integration applications. When used with available RTI automation devices, the T3-V is capable of RF transmission through walls and cabinets, power sensing for reliable operation, and RS-232 communications for advanced control.

'I just think that it's a very sleek device with great ernomonics. The new full VGA display is extremely crisp and clear and I think that it complements the look of the new industrial design quite well,' Baker added.

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Pete Baker (left), RTI VP of marketing, picks up his Resi Award from Residential Systems publisher Phil Holtberg.
RTI, which won its first Resi Award two years ago, turned to founder John Demskie for the product's original conceptual design and hardware engineering, while lead software designer Kevin Marty, handled software and firmware responsibilities. Baker explained that while his company has always paid a great deal of attention to detail when designing its products, a couple of years ago it decided to revamp the look and feel its entire line of control products. The goal, he said, was to pay the same amount of attention to the industrial as they always have on the engineering.

'We feel that we've always created exceptional control devices,' Baker said. 'We invested an excruciating amount of time and money into the design of our products, but we felt that we needed to revisit the industrial design and bring that up to the same level as our functionality of our devices. I think that we've accomplished that goal, so the repeat Resi Award does definitely validate that we're on the right track.'

The challenge, according to Baker, is balancing an ultimate design objective with the engineering department's goals for the product and even more importantly the end users ability to use the product effectively. 'Whenever you're designing a product you have to put aside to some extent what you feel is important on the product and think about what's important to the dealer and the people that are going to be using the product,' he explained. 'Sometimes those things align and sometimes they don't. Being a repeat Resi Award winner tells us that we're on the right track and that all of the time and money that we put into these products was worth it.'

—Jeremy J. Glowacki

OmniMount's Motion40

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The Resi Award-winning Motion40 is the creation of OmniMount's in-house Industrial Design and Engineering (ID&E) team, led by chief of design, Zach Eyman. The winner of the Best AV Mount category, the Motion40 is a motorized wall mount that allows users to tilt, pan, and swivel medium flat panels with the touch of a button. The product stands out in its category as the only single stud motorized mount on the market, and its streamlined aesthetics, easy installation, and super quiet motor have made the product a huge hit with retailers, integrators, and end users.

The design goal for the product, according to Hal Truax, director of the company's Commercial Division, was to deliver a lower cost, completely automated mount to the market. 'We noticed there was demand for it after the Motion52 (our large motorized cantilever mount) hit stores, so expanding the successful line was an easy decision,' he said.

 The Motion40 is compatible with all flat-panel brands ranging in size from 23 to 40 inches and is remote controllable via IR and RS232 with two programmable memory positions. This virtually silent, motorized solution is equipped with a safety mechanism smart enough to stop motion when obstructed. The Power40 comes with all the features expected in an OmniMount product including a cable management system and Lift n' Lock for easy installation.

 The Motion40 is designed to be a perfect complement for a medium flat-panel display. Stylishly designed in black, the it comes equipped with extruded aluminum end caps to conceal mounting hardware and ensure a sleek, finished look. When not in use, the Motion40 returns to its locked position at only 2.7 inches off the wall.

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.Residential Systems publisher, Phil Holtberg (left), presents the Resi to OmniMount’s VP of marketing, Brett Stenhouse.
The enhancement of automation to a cantilever mount provides users with the flexibility and convenience of tilting, panning, and swiveling of their medium-sized flatpanel televisions with the touch of a button. This provides them with the ability to reposition displays accordingly for the best viewing angle from the viewing position. This motorized solution features a safety mechanism that employs a no-pinch design with a clutch that eliminates danger to wandering fingers and stops motion when obstructed.

As an added bonus, the Motion40 is extremely quiet'at a distance of five feet it emits less than 40dB when in motion. With the Power40, OmniMount brings excitement to a whole new automation category, delivering an innovative mounting solution that offers quality, safety and convenience'all in one affordable package.

According to Truax, winning a Resi Award shows OmniMount that its 'right on target' when it comes to product design and marketing in a very competitive category. 'The honor also gives our customers added security when it comes to purchasing a brand new product they don't have familiarity with. And knowing that industry critics have put faith in our quality design and engineering makes us feel good, too,' he said.

Marantz's MM8003

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The Marantz MM8003 is closely related to Marantz’s SM-11S1 stereo amplifier.
When Marantz set about creating its MM8003 140- watt x 8-channel power amplifier, the company wanted to uphold its reputation for creating some of the best-sounding and best-looking components in the industry. The end result is an exquisitely designed, beautifu component that sounds as good as it looks, and is equally 'at home' in a custom rack as it is on display in a living room.

'While sound quality is always the most important factor in a Marantz component, the look and feel of the product is a close second,' explained Marantz vice president of marketing and product development, Kevin Zarow. 'For all of our new products, we took stylistic cues from our award-winning Reference line and based our entire line of new AV products, including the MM8003, on these incredible looking cosmetics.'

With the exception of a power button and Marantz's trademark blue power light, the MM8003 is completely void of clutter and logos. Because it is less than 16 inches deep, it also fits nicely in virtually any equipment cabinet, regardless of whether it's custom-made or ready to assemble.

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Marantz’s Kevin Zarow (left) receives his company’s Resi Award from Residential Systems publisher Phil Holtberg..
Even though the MM8003 is an eight-channel home theater power amplifier, it is closely related to Marantz's SM-11S1 stereo amplifier. Inside the massive copper-plated chassis is eight-channel flexibility that makes the MM8003 ideal for use with virtually any type of multi-channel home theater, including both 7.1-channel as well as 5.1-channel (in which case the additional channels may be used for 'vertical biamping'). With its XLR input terminals, output channel relay on/off control, and slow start to power-on, the MM8003 is ideally suited to meet the demands of any multi-channel home theater system. For accurate tonal and image balance, speed and dynamics with very low distortion, the amp features an audiophile-grade toroidal transformer, custom filter capacitors, hand-selected customized components throughout, and ultra-wide bandwidth current feedback technology. The MM8003 is even flexible enough to serve as a four-zone stereo amplifier for wholehouse audio distribution.

According to Zarow, winning the Resi Award for Best Power Amp simply validates what Marantz originally set out to do with the launch of the MM8003'create the best-sounding, best-looking and most flexible amplifier for the money. 'Based on this award and the feedback from dealers and end users, we feel we have achieved and exceeded those goals,' he said.

Sooloos' Sooloos System

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Sooloos’ Control:One interface and sleek source components..
Sooloos' Resi-winning digital media system combines an innovative user interface, creative and comprehensive use of metadata, and lightningfast operation to provide a gamechanging home entertainment experience. Sooloos is a fun-to-use, completely approachable home media appliance that people of any age and any level of technical fluency can easily enjoy. The extensive Sooloos product line integrates complex storage, media import/export, front-end interface and networking technologies and shields all of the underlying complexity from the user. Sooloos installers and dealers laud the system's reliability,ease of setup and flexibility. The system's stunning 'Control:One' user interface allows users to flip through huge collections of content and metadata simply by tapping and scrolling on-screen elements. Metadata includes large album covers, record reviews, credits that are all searchable, sortable, and instantly accessible. In addition, all Sooloos storage and source components are stackable and feature smooth and sleek designs.

Sanus Systems' VF2022

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Sanus Systems’ VF2022 on-wall component shelf
Conceived by in-house design engineer Scott Russell, Sanus Systems' winning VF2022 is an on-wall component shelf that allows AV components to be placed on the wall underneath a wallmounted TV, for a clean organized appearance. The VF2022 offers a modern look with two smoked, tempered-glass shelves that support up to 75 lbs each. Easy-touse post-installation height and leveling adjustments ensure the entire unit is perfectly positioned below a wall-mounted TV. The shelves have infinite adjustmen along their tracks to allow any size component. Each pillar has two cable management channels that separate power and signal cables to preserve signal quality. An unobtrusive design and decorative back panels allow the VF2022 to easily blend in with any home decor. The glass shelves are adjustable to accommodate any size component.

Niveus Media's Pro Series n9

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Niveus Media’s Pro Series n9.
Under the direction of Tim Cutting, Niveus CEO, cofounder, and acting CTO, the n9 was designed by the Niveus engineering team and Dan Harden, Principal of Whipsaw Inc. Based on the Windows Media Center platform, this media server provides the power, compatibility, and connectivity to perform as the central media hub in multi-room scenarios and is designed for discreet, rack-mount installation. Each rack-mountable n9 is housed in a sleek and durable 3U Media Server chassis and is designed to look and perform like a high-end AV component. With unique design elements, a lustrous black finish, an the signature Niveus logo emblazoned on the front panel, the it valiantly stands out in an AV rack much like the engine under the hood of a luxury car. Engineered for the most discerning home theater aficionado and simplified for use by the entire family, the n9 provides a powerful and straightforward way to access, store, manage, and distribute digital collections (CDs, DVDs, TV & Photos) throughout the home.

Panamax's MAX PM Family

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Panamax’s MAX PM Family..
Specifically designed to improve the audio and video quality of home theater components, the MAX PM Family of power management solutions features sleek, contemporary styling. With silver highlights on a black chassis, complemented by blue power status indicator lights, the PM Family offers elegant, low-profile solutions that integrate easily into any home theater setting. The M4300- PM and M5100-PM offer blue digital voltmeters to provide a clear indication of system performance, while the M5300-PM and M5400-PM feature a blue digital ammeter. The family features Panamax's Automatic Voltage Monitoring (AVM) circuitry, which continuously monitors the incoming power displayed on the voltmeter. A red lightning bolt below the voltmeter flashes to indicate an undervoltage or an overvoltage, allowing the consumer to see when there is a power problem.

Beamax's X-series Dellegno

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Beamax X-series Dellegno
The electrically ascending projection screen, designed by Beamax's founder Otto Tromm in Belgium, is housed in a high gloss piece of furniture. At the press of a remote, the 80-inch diagonal screen rises from its cabinet. The design of the cabinet makes it unobtrusive, yet distinct enough to make it stand out if necessary. The consumer can choose to make it stand out by choosing a bold color, or rather make it blend in by choosing a color matching the design of their living room. The cabinet is made without a single nail, making sure the high gloss finish is truly perfect. The lid of the cabinet is pre-tensioned, making sure the cover remains perfectly straight, despite being very thin. And, even though vertically ascending screens are not a world novelty, this level of product has never been available at this price point. The unit comes completely assembled and pre-set. All that's required is to plug the power cord into a socket and the screen is ready.

Sunfire's HRS

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Sunfire’s HRS
Building on its expertise in producing big sound from small places, Sunfire's HRS Sat-4 and HRSSAT4C center-channel speakers feature the company's core technologies such as High Back-emf and long-throw woofers and handle up to 200 watts per channel. The HRS cabinet boasts contemporary curved styling, wrapped in a handpolished, nine-layer, gloss-black finish. Each cabinet is sealed, resulting in ultra-tight bass and high output, ideal for both music and movie soundtracks. A cast-aluminum front baffle is clamped to the cabinet from the rear rather than glued onto the front baffle. This produces a stiffer, more inert enclosure for resistance to vibration, resulting in tighter, cleaner bass with minimal distortion. A cloth grille rounds out the system and attaches via magnets that are installed to the rear of the aluminum baffle. This extra care taken in design and production results in a minimalist front baffle design, free of visible screws, grommets and speaker baskets.

Wisdom Audio's Sage L75i

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Wisdom Audio’s SC-1 System Controller and Sage L75i.
The suberbly designed 7.3 channel SC-1 System Controller is the heart of this award-winning system. It provides the active crossover between bass and midrange/treble as well as Audyssey MultEQ XT room correction for consistent, no-compromise performance every time. The unusual shape of the Wisdom Audio's Sage Series speaker derives from the physical nature of the planar magnetic drivers. Tall and slim, these loudspeakers offer sophisticated, understated elegance that can either complement or virtually disappear from the room as needed. The in-wall speakers' slim design can easily be incorporated into decorative columns or into any standard wall construction. The on-wall models mount securely on the wall surface, similar to a flat-panel television, and complement the television's appearance. The freestanding (in-room) versions of these loudspeakers eliminate the need for elaborate installation in a slim, small-footprint design.

B&W's CT8.4 LCRs

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B&W’s CT8.4 LCRs..
B&W's winning speaker addresses the limited space constraints that many custom installers find in real-world applications. The CT8.4 LCRS packs the power to function excellently in front-, side- and rearchannel duties within a complete 800-series custom system. As with the entire CT800 family of speakers, the CT8.4 LCRS is designed to completely disappear into its environment behind front, side, and rear recessed panels typically covered by acoustically transparent cloth. The tweeter is anodized black. The Kevlar midrange unit is dyed a dark blue and the cabinet features a light absorbing finish so it doesn't reflect any light back from a front firing projector. The fit and finish is typical B&W quality, but designed in a very benign mode for high-end custom installations.

AMX's MVP-5200i

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AMX’s MVP-5200i..
The MVP-5200i Touch Panel combines a stylish, sexy design with high-resolution graphics, wireless mobility (802.11b/g), digital intercom functionality and industry- leading battery life (eight hours of continuous use/four days standby). The MVP-5200i can be used in conjunction with any AMX NetLinx Control System. It supports JPEG and PNG images, a well as streaming motion-JPEG video, and can play MP3 and WAV audio files. For maximum convenience and usability, it features an integrated kickstand and incorporates the highest wireless network security standards (WEP, WPA, WPA2, EAP-TLS, EAP-TTLS and PEAP). The MVP-5200i is available in gloss white or gloss black.

SIM2's Grand Cinema C3X

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SIM2’s Grand Cinema C3X..
SIM2's C3X 1080 is the smallest and highest-performing Full HD 3-Chip DLP projector. Every component in the Resi Award winner speaks of attention to detail, from customized glass optical components (lens and prism), to the ultra- resistant gloss cabinet featuring the same paint used in the automotive industry. It is one of the first projectors to feature 3x 1080 Darkchip4 DMDs, and a three-chip SIM2 design further exploits improved all-glass optics in SIM2's proprietary ALPHAPATH light engine to form a system able to deliver full-HD, 1920x1080 progressive video of stunning clarity and definition. The combination's contrast (greater than 10,000:1, typically) matches its impressive color depth and remarkable brightness capability, for a net result of breathtaking, almost three-dimensional picture performance from high-quality source material.

Samsung's Series 7

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Samsung’s Series 7..
With it's awarding-winning Series 7 LCD HDTVs, Samsung unifies the visual and audible presence of a movie theater, with the beauty of a modern work of art, right in consumer living rooms. Featuring the company's Touch of Color (ToC) bezel, this series immediately breaks free from traditional television designs. By controlling the density of the injected transparent and opaque material, the resulting bezel mimics a sunset with distinct red and black gradation. Nature's inspiration is also apparent in the effect that ambient light can have on the red hue's brightness, offering an ambience reminiscent of crystal or blown glass. The latest technical innovations, such as Samsung's 120Hz Auto Motion Plus technology and InfoLink RSS connectivity, bring home entertainment to new levels with Full HD, lifelike picture quality, and superior user convenience and control.