New, Now and Next in Technology
Lou Kings, Business Development Manager for New Services, Magnolia A/V: One company whose technology we’ve adopted in the last few years that has really come around is Control4. They’re clearly going after the traditional brands in the business and gaining some serious momentum. Sonos, too, has been a success story as a convergence/distributed audio product. The user interface really does a good job at integrating Rhapsody and Sirius satellite radio into their source menu. Also, TV technology is really turning the corner, with the big companies, on their high-end SKUs, embedding more control technologies right into the panel.
The other direction I’ve seen is exemplified by what Denon is doing. They’re going very aggressively toward centralizing everything in their A/V receiver, taking a kind of Media Center approach where all content flows through the component. In many ways, it already does that, with four or five HDMI inputs, doing video and audio switching. Now it’s also streaming audio from sources, and they’ve also improved the user interface on it. That type of product can make a lot of sense for a user, where the A/V receiver can do all the traditional A/V switching as well as this connected, online digital content and control. They’ve really gotten it, with the user interface, in terms of its being intuitive. Consumers want an easy-to-use interface and availability of what they want to see and listen to—and they don’t care how they get there. With higher-priced solutions, if consumers have the budget, they can get it, but it’s reserved for five percent of the population. Some suppliers, however, are trying to bring the technology to a broader audience. (For a look at Denon’s latest product please see our Vendor Department on page 54.)
Yacoubian: Denon is one CE company that’s boldly forecasting growth this year. They’ve done a terrific job of integrating technologies into their more expensive receivers to make those choices something customers should consider. One thing I was banging my drum about a couple of years ago was that people are not going to spend any more money for these receivers if they don’t do anything more interesting than the less-expensive ones. And I think Denon and Yamaha both have done a terrific job of driving the higher A/V receiver price-points successfully by including cool technology features in them.