Control4: Amazon Alexa, Sonos, Z-Wave, Motorized Shades

CEPro has a great writeup on the new announcements Control4 made yesterday but two bullet points are much larger than the others.

First up is voice control via Amazon Alexa which should be interesting to see how works. This is the first product or feature that Control4 allows the end user to completely install themselves -- no dealer truck roll, no dealer installation. And it's pretty easy to see why. After you link your Amazon and 4sight account Control4 'publishes' everything to Alexa making every device in your home 'discoverable.' 

The bigger story is Zwave. Control4 embraced Zigbee out of the gate with their own equipment. Zwave has steadily increased in market share is very popular in the DIY and security communities. This initial rollout is very small (only 13 devices supported) but  they'll soon be supporting many more.

Monoprice Debuts Monolith Home Theater Products at CEDIA

Here's an interesting one. Monoprice is debuting a home theater and whole house audio line at CEDIA this year. I've seen Monoprice at the show but they are usually showing off accessories and cables. This time it looks like they are breaking out the big guns and the prices look very nice. 

Monoprice does have a dealer program available for those who are interested.

Source: Blucora, Inc.
September 13, 2016 08:00 ET

Monoprice® Debuts Monolith Series at CEDIA™ 2016

New collection includes high performance bookshelf speakers, cinema speakers, multi-channel amplifiers and planar headphones for professional and commercial applications

DALLAS, Sept. 13, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Monoprice, an online retailer offering high-quality and affordably priced consumer electronics and accessories, unveils today the Monolith Series, a new line of home theater and personal audio products, at its booth—#8030—at the Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association Expo (CEDIA). Through this launch, the company continues this year’s mission to deliver great-sounding audio at fair prices for audiophiles, musicians, and music lovers. Developed to deliver a premium sound experience, the Monolith Series line expands to include high performance bookshelf speakers, cinema speakers, multi-channel amplifiers and planar headphones. Monoprice will also showcase new stereo tube amps, HDMI® cables and many more A/V, personal audio and commercial audio offerings.

“We always look forward to CEDIA as it gives us the opportunity to formally introduce what we’ve been working on, and show the audio community we’re committed to bringing excellent sounding audio solutions to consumers and businesses at accessible and affordable prices,” said Bernard Luthi, president of Monoprice. “This year, we’ve focused on stepping up our game to revamp existing, best-selling lines and offer more products across categories. Professional and commercial audio were two areas we felt needed a refresh to prove to our customers that our products can hold their own against offerings from brand names that cost four-to-five times as much.”

From headphones to Bluetooth® speakers, bookshelf speakers to cinema speakers as well as powerful amps, Monoprice has been working tirelessly this year to develop products that don’t cut corners on quality and deliver dynamic sound. The Monolith Series represents a carefully crafted suite of state-of-the-art, high-performance speakers, amplifiers and headphones that are capable of reproducing the most dynamic soundtracks, while also articulating all the subtle sonic details found in music.

All products on the CEDIA show floor will start shipping in the fall.

Monolith K-BᾹSTM Series Bookshelf Speakers
Delivering powerful bass, an impressive soundstage, and pristine detail and articulation in a bookshelf design, the Monolith Reference Series Bookshelf Speaker ($249.99) utilizes K-BAS (Kinetic Bass Amplification System) technology to provide listeners with low end bass extension unmatched by any other competitive product at this size or price.
Monolith Air Motion Speaker Series
Comprised of two-way compact bookshelf speakers ($199.99) and a three-way center channel speaker ($299.99), this series touts air motion transformer drivers for accurate and full high-frequency extension, low distortion, and a precise imaging of sounds. Each speaker comes fitted with magnetic grilles and rigid cabinetry internally braced for minimum cabinet vibration and acoustic coloring.
Monolith Multi-Channel Amplifier Series
In May 2016, Monoprice launched the Monolith 7 Multi-Channel Home Theater Power Amplifier. Building off the 7 channel platform, Monoprice unveils three new offerings: the Monolith 2, 3, and 5 200 watt multi-channel amplifiers ($999.99 - $1,299.00). Dynamic, clean audiophile grade power for the best in home theater.
Monolith M560 Planar Headphones
Monolith M560 is the only $199.99 planar headphone on the market, sure to deliver clear, balanced sound for critical listening. Providing comfort and long-wear by way of its well-built and durable design, listeners can tailor sound to specific tastes by switching between an open or closed back configuration.
Monolith M1060 Planar Headphones
The Monolith M1060 Planar headphones ($299.99) offer listeners a premium, rich, high-quality listening experience. Powerful bass, rich midrange, and delicate top end coupled with an open back design delivers an engaging, true audiophile experience.
Monoprice will also have on display various commercial audio, home audio, and A/V offerings including, but not limited to, the following products:

Stereo Tube Amp Series: The perfect trifectas of great-sounding, great-looking and convenient, these Stereo Tube Amps are designed to add warmth and richness to digital music that other amps can’t compare to. Shipping with a Bluetooth 4.0 receiver, listeners’ music libraries will sound better than ever.
Stereo Hybrid 50W Tube Amp with Bluetooth and Preamp Out ($199.99)
Compact Stereo Hybrid 15W Tube Amp with Bluetooth ($99.99)
Stereo Tube Headphone Amp with 24bit/96kHz USB DAC, Bluetooth, and Preamp out ($139.99)

HDMI® Cables, Blackbird™ Matrix, and HDBaseT™: For AV aficionados, Monoprice releases a new selection of reliable, premium AV products.
HMDI:
Certified Premium High Speed HDMI Cables ($3.99 - $14.99)
Luxe Series CL3 Active High Speed HDMI Cables ($34.99 - $104.99)
SlimRun™ AV Cables for HDMI Enabled Devices ($129.99 - $269.99)
Blackbird:
Blackbird 4k 8x8 Matrix, with EDID, RS232, IR, Coaxial, and Audio Out ($1,099.99)
Blackbird 4x4 HDMI Seamless Switching Matrix ($599.99)
Blackbird 4k 6x2 HDMI Matrix with Audio, HDCP 2.2 ($119.99)
HDBaseT:
Blackbird 4k HDBaseT 4x4 Matrix with PoC, 4K@60Hz ($999.99)
Blackbird All to HDMI Converter with HDBaseT Extender ($599.99)
100m, Blackbird 4K HDBaseT 1x2 Splitter, 100m ($329.99)
If interested in scheduling a meeting or demo, please contact Monoprice@HavasFormula.com or call 619.234.0345. For more information about Monoprice and its category offerings, please visit www.Monoprice.com.

About Monoprice, Inc. (DBA Monoprice.com)
Located in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., Monoprice, Inc. is an e-commerce leader specializing in providing more than 6,500 high-quality yet affordable electronics and tech products. As an industry innovator, Monoprice fills a void in the consumer technology market by delivering exceptional products that are on par with the best known national brands at prices far below the retail average with incomparable speed and service. Maintaining a business philosophy that focuses on the needs of its customers, the company strives to bring simplicity, fairness and confidence to consumers and businesses shopping for big-ticket electronics and tech accessories. For more information about Monoprice, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and YouTube. Monoprice is a subsidiary of Blucora, Inc. (NASDAQ:BCOR).

Media Contact:
Havas Formula
619-234-0345 / Monoprice@HavasFormula.com
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Source: http://globenewswire.com/news-release/2016...

TiVo Announces 6-tuner, black chassis, 4K DVR at CEDIA

The BOLT+ looks amazing on paper. If not for cutting off the cable I have I'd have moved to this box to replace the aging Romaio Pro I had (and still have). The only unfortunate spec in this product is we are still living in a CableCard world with this one and the FCC is recommending the cable companies just create apps for the their next generation of 'boxes.' One would hope these apps get created for TiVo which has the best streaming/live TV experience hands down.

Also 👍👍👍 for making the chassis black! Rack builders everywhere rejoice! 

Source: http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/2016...

Kaleidescape is rises back from the ashes

The rumors were true! A letter sent out to dealers from Kaleidescape's CEO Cheena Srinivasan says the company has restarted operations with a leaner, more efficient company. He blames the company's downfall on pre-announcing their 4K Strato player which suffered a number of production delays over the past year. These delays compounded and eventually pushed back the ship date for many of the promised features giving the impression to dealers and customer that the company was in trouble. 

I can completely understand how easily you can get into this situation. Sales always wants to brag about the next big thing but that's simply not how product development works. Pre-Announcing products is very dangerous for a company and has been the downfall of many both in and outside the CEDIA space. The rule still stands:

"If you cant touch it, it doesn't exist.

Remember that rule walking the CEDIA show floor or reading press releases next week. Its very common for companies to bring fake or non-working product to the show floor to gauge interest, take sales, or simply get feedback. The products they show may never see the light of day. Simply put you should never attempt to sell or purchase something you haven't personally seen in action and used.

Best of luck to Kaleidescape moving forward. The letter sent to dealers is below.

Dear Kaleidescape Stakeholder,

On August 19, Kaleidescape temporarily ceased operations because we ran out of money. As the news spread, we were overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from our shareholders, employees, suppliers, other luxury A/V component manufacturers, the major motion picture studios, distributors, dealers, and (most importantly) our customers. Our customers passionately communicated their desire for us to continue providing the very best platform for movie playback.

Our team at Kaleidescape became energized and inspired to continue this journey. We spent the past 16 years carefully building a valuable technology, excellent products, and a highly respected brand in the worldwide custom channel. Our customers and dealers told us that Kaleidescape is the only luxury movie experience for the home, and they do not want to go back to watching movies from discs and streaming services.

We are delighted to announce that we have restarted operations. We restructured the company, slashed expenses, and obtained the investment needed (with no change of control). We are manufacturing and shipping a significant backlog of products that were ordered during the past two weeks. We are confident that our restructuring combined with this new investment will enable Kaleidescape to quickly return to growth and profitability.

Kaleidescape’s stumble began last October when we launched the Kaleidescape Strato movie player. We made the mistake of pre-announcing software features that were not finished. One of those features – Blu-ray disc support for the Strato player – was a monstrous project that required certain critical software components from third-party suppliers. When third-party schedules slipped, we applied more of our own engineering resources to compensate, but we simply did not have enough engineering resources to remove schedule uncertainty and finish Strato’s Blu-ray disc support in a reasonable period of time. Because almost all of our engineering resources were focused on this Blu-ray project, other features we had promised for Strato were delayed, including HDR, Terra support for large numbers of players, DVD playback, and playback from a Premiere system. Strato is an amazing award-winning product, even without these additional software features. Unfortunately, we created the perception that Strato was an unfinished product, and our sales suffered accordingly.

The “new Kaleidescape” will take on fewer projects, and we will not pre-announce a product or feature until it is completed – especially if completion depends on a third party.

Kaleidescape will continue to sell and support both Premiere and Encore products. We expect to release kOS 7.3 in the near future, without Blu-ray disc support for Strato. It will include HDR playback, Terra support for large numbers of players, and Strato playback of DVD discs from a Disc Server. A number of HDR movies will become available in the movie store at that time.

We have decided to focus our precious development efforts on forward-looking technologies that will enable our movie store to offer even more titles, with even higher quality, in earlier release windows. To enable our engineers to focus on these exciting new technologies, we have re-prioritized Blu-ray disc support for Strato, which we hope to introduce in a 2017 release of kOS.

We wish to thank all those who have shown us their support, and helped us to achieve this positive outcome.

Please email me directly if you have any questions relating to the “new Kaleidescape.”

Sincerely,

Cheena Srinivasan, CEO
Kaleidescape, Inc.

Josh.ai Launches at CEDIA 2016

Amazon Echo isn't the only voice control product showing up to CEDIA this year. The long awaited Josh.ai whole home voice control solution sets up a few isles over at CEDIA 2016. Even more interesting Josh.ai also looks not only to be a voice control system but a custom interface for your home automation system. 

I can't wait to see this system in person. 

Kaleidescape is Out - Plex is All in

Out with the old and in with the new. In the wake of Kaleidescape's sudden departure from the market it is being reported by CEPro that PLEX is launching a Pro Service program. PLEX has certainly been gaining steam in the DIY space for some time but now it appears they will be targeting the CEDIA channel for sales.

The only problem I can see PLEX having in our market is the Bluray ripping process and database maintenance. How files are organized makes a huge difference in the way they appear on the PLEX interface. Maybe this is an avenue of income for Home Tech Professionals as the move into uncharted territory. 

The market for these types of media players is certainly very small and it will continue to get smaller as we move into the streaming era. 

Source: http://www.cepro.com/article/plex_to_launc...

Just Add Power Enhances 4K over IP Platform

The bigger story that keeps getting glossed over in these press releases is the price. 4K with HDR is still expensive but Just Add Power will now be offering one of the more affordable systems that actually works. The new 3G products are rumored to be around the price of a 2G (not 2G+) system which brings the total cost of a large system below the cost of a standard HDBT matrix.

VoicePod shutting down ahead of CEDIA

After years leading the industry in voice control VoicePod will be shutting down and canceling their planned integration with Amazon's Alexa platform.

In his post, Ted Rosenberger, also mentions an upcoming integration between Control4 and Alexa. Amazon Echo has a large booth at CEDIA this year and could be displaying much more than we imagined.


All:

As many of you know, we’ve been testing our VoicePod for Alexa app for many months and the feedback has been very positive on our sophisticated cloud-based app solution. Yet, you have probably noticed that there doesn’t seem to be much movement on it.

Unfortunately, as of today we have decided to close the voicepod business and all servers and services have been shut down. The venture was never profitable and all principals have moved on to more promising ventures. We also believe that Control4 is going to be releasing their own support for Alexa soon and this discouraged us from investing further.

We are proud to have been pioneers in voice controlled home automation. But at this time, with the “big boys” including Apple, Microsoft, Google and Amazon all working on this technology, it’s hard to know how and where to invest. R&D for cloud-based solutions can be very expensive and selling drivers for a few hundred dollars can be a difficult business model.

We’ve had a good run with VoicePod but we’re not investing further in it at this time. If any of you have serious interest in acquiring our code base and taking over the VoicePod legacy, we’d be happy to chat about that topic. The tabletop product will continue to function but the mobile products and Alexa beta programs are shut off and closed as of today.

Thanks for understanding.

Ted Rosenberger

Co-founder

HouseLogix and VoicePod, LLC
— http://www.c4forums.com/topic/20512-voicepod-shut-down-out-of-business/

Ted was the first guest we ever had on the show and its unfortunate he has to pull back his product. I have no doubt he'll move on to creating something even better.