Monday, June 30, 2008

AOL Keynote provides insight into new media, video search, and online advertising at CONNECTIONS™

Fred McIntyre, SVP, AOL Video, AOL, presented the opening keynote for CONNECTIONS™ on Thursday, June 26, at the Santa Clara Convention Center.

In his presentation “New Media and Advertising,” Mr. McIntyre addressed the new opportunities related to video search for consumers. As the number of online videos increases, so do user frustrations when trying to navigate this space. He discussed AOL’s solution to the challenges of locating user-generated content as well as other video content and the new business opportunities open to video publishers and marketers in this growing area.

Parks Associates forecasts that user-generated content will account for 9% of video streams online by year-end 2012, up from only 1% of streams in 2007. “As consumers consider connected TV experiences, delivering on-demand premium content will be a critical factor,” said Kurt Scherf, vice president and principal analyst, Parks Associates . “Key business opportunities exist for companies in this space to provide more personalized content and targeted advertising. AOL, with its expertise in creating an appealing online user experience, has valuable insight into this space, and we are excited to provide our CONNECTIONS™ audience with AOL’s vision.”

Verimatrix, Learn More!

Verimatrix is rounding out its suite of content security solutions by addressing the 3 screen paradigm with its latest announcement, VCAS for Mobile TV. VCAS for Mobile TV is the only solution designed to take full advantage of the hybrid nature of commercial mobile video platforms, where a mobile TV broadcast network can be combined with an IP data connection via a mobile data network or local WiFi access.

A hybrid mobile network not only supports cost-effective content security, but also creates a compelling platform for interactivity and video to e-commerce linkage. Content owners and pay-TV operators can how generate further revenue or customer interest. For example, when watching a mobile broadcast a consumer can be directed to a website for further product information, to participate in a contest, or to make a purchase.

What makes this solution really interesting for operators is how it can truly enable new business models, rather than inhibiting them (like we’ve seen in the music industry). The software-based solution allows for transparent rights management across a range of off-the-shelf devices with different native DRM support. For example, a mobile phone with Open Mobile Alliance (OMA) DRM would be authenticated to play specific content by in parallel with VCAS-enabled clients. We are committed to creating transparent multi-screen experience for operators and subscribers.

As a content security provider, our biggest challenge will always be staying one step ahead of the pirates, who are continually developing new ways to steal content.

Verimatrix is leveraging its success in IPTV to penetrate other pay-TV networks. Based on our core VCAS technologies, Verimatrix now offers solutions for IPTV, IPTV Wholesale/Retail, Hybrid, Cable and Mobile. Plus we have solutions that address the set-top, PC, and mobile devices – which include mobile phones, game consoles and other mobile internet devices.

Our long-term, 3-dimensional strategy is based on enabling service providers to deliver competitive services that cross the boundaries of network type and device format, and address the full spectrum of content security threats.

Verimatrix has been independently audited as the global number one leader in IPTV content security four times in a row! (by MRG). VCAS for IPTV is the most widely-deployed content security solution with the highest number of supporting subscribers on a global basis. We now have more than 150 customers in 32 countries, which include numerous tier one telcos. Plus we have won several industry awards including IPTV World Series award, InfoVision Award and China Outstanding IPTV Solution Award.

Verimatrix has been successful by focusing in a few key areas – 1) Continually pushing the innovative standard on how content security can enhance the value of pay-TV networks 2) Developing an unmatched partner ecosystem that provides operators with the widest system choice and interoperability 3) Ensuring successful adoption of our solutions with world-class customer care support.

Neerav Shah, VP, Business Development for Verimatrix will participated on Motorola's Special Session: Media Mobility and Content Protection held on Wednesday, June 25th.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

SingleClick Systems Unveils Playback of Video Content on iPhone and Blackberry With Remote Access Software

Santa Clara, Calif., June 24, 2008 (Connections 2008, Booth # 403) – SingleClick Systems, the leading provider of networking software for consumers and SMBs, today announced that its SingleClick Remote Access technology is capable of remotely playing personal video content directly to the iPhone, Blackberry and over 7,000 other mobile devices.

Without needing to unlock or alter their devices in anyway, iPhone and Blackberry users are now able to access their entire personal content library of music, videos and documents stored on their home network anytime, anywhere.

In order to enable users to play video and music from their home network directly on the iPhone and Blackberry, SingleClick integrated advanced device detection intelligence from the open source Wireless Universal Resource File (WURFL) database, which contains information about almost every registered mobile device on the planet. This allows the software to detect the file formats and transfer speeds a device can support, then transcode and deliver the media in real time, tailored for the device’s specific capabilities.

“SingleClick Remote Access works seamlessly with the installed software on the iPhone, as opposed to other solutions requiring the user to download a third party application which may violate their user license agreement and warranty,” said Scot Zarkiewicz, CEO of SingleClick Systems. “Because SingleClick Remote Access is a dynamic software application residing on the home computer, iPhone users can safely break out of the iTunes stranglehold and stream their entire content library anywhere they happen to be.”

In addition to playing music and video content, SingleClick Remote Access serves as an easily configurable Virtual Private Network (VPN) to access all shared content and resources on the home or SMB network from any computer or Web enabled mobile device such as an iPhone, Blackberry or Windows Mobile PDA. The VPN functionality enables small business customers to access and share business critical documents through a simple e-mail based messaging service.

SingleClick Remote Access is aAvailable as a stand-alone product or integrated into SingleClick’s HomeNet Manager Networking platform. SingleClick will be providing demonstrations of its remote access technology live from the floor of Connections 2008 in Booth # 403 at the Santa Clara Convention Center.

About SingleClick
SingleClick Systems provides individuals and SMBs a simple and powerful way
to manage and maintain their networks and retrieve digital data securely from any PC or mobile device. The award-winning suite of products includes HomeNetManager™, OfficeNetManager™ and Wireless Network Ignition™. SingleClick software is installed on 20 million computers and available in 22 languages. Additional information is available at:

Editorial Contact:
Michael Kelly
Nadel Phelan
(831) 440-2403

Saturday, June 21, 2008

22 Tips to Obtain Better Sound

by Steve Oksuz, NoName HiFi

One accepted tenet in the audiophile world is that it almost impossible to achieve the best sound by simply combining the best equipment. A much cheaper but properly selected and tweaked system may sound better than its expensive counterpart. This is called system synergy in audiophile world. System synergy is not only about combining the best equipment, but it is a kind of long and enjoyable way to maximize its performance.

The precautions and principles may seem absurd and meaningless for someone who does not have solid understanding what hi-end is.

Within the last twenty years, I spent considerable time, money, and effort to achieve the best sound (whatever the “best” is). I wrote a couple of important points from my own perspective. Many audiophiles may already know most of these points. More importantly, the below points in this article consist of my own observations. There are so many different tweaks and techniques. I avoided including here the points that I did not try and/or the points that did not work for me. I believe below-mentioned points will improve someone's system to a higher level without having to make radical equipment changes.

The only certain truth I learned after twenty years is that "there is not one absolute truth in Hi-End." Most of the truths in Hi-End cannot be proven by scientific measures. The human ear hears a lot, interprets, evaluates, and decides. In a listening session with three audiophiles, one will find the bass insufficient, the other may find it excessive, and the system owner will think it is perfect. That phenomenon is called "brain reference." Brain reference is a kind of prejudice that comes out of our own system's timbre and tonality. This phenomenon sometimes causes conflicts with someone who compares better equipment versus their own and may not like the sound of the former in spite of its clear superiority.

Most of the points stipulated below will depend on the capabilities of the system, but more importantly, they will depend on the experience of audiophile. A poor system will not differentiate the points, and less experienced ears may not “hear” them either. That's why some of the points below may not be relevant to everyone. I would be delighted if someone who reads this article picks up just one or two points.

1. Listening at Night - Critical listening or equipment testing should be done in the night hours. This rule applies especially to one who lives in a big city. City noise affects our hearing, and we are basically not able to hear what our system delivers to us during the day.

City noise is several times lower in the night, so hidden aspects in the hi-end come out at night and the system delivers its full potential.

2. Heat and Humidity - Humidity and heat have serious influences on sound. Systems cannot generate their best sound, power, and dynamics in warm and damp weather. There may be two reasons: Damp air is heavier, thus the loudspeakers are not able to pull enough air into the room. Or the loudspeaker materials may soften and behave differently in warm weather. Cooling the environment before the listening session eliminates this effect.

3. Darkness - People should listen to music in a dark room. The loudspeakers and the system should be kept in the dark, and the original recording venue should be imagined while listening.

The main objective of a good quality hi-end system is to depart from the hardware and go into the recording environment. Listening to music while watching the hardware will spoil the virtual environment that we want to experience. The most inconvenient part of a hi-end system is the inexistence of visual imaging. The reality sense is different when participating at a live concert or watching a DVD player via a surround system.

If the listening environment is not dark, the listener will perceive the speakers as the sources of the original sound.

4. Find the Correct Listening Distance - Sound is spread in waves called frequency. The volume of every frequency is different depending on the distance from the speakers. In terms of volume, frequencies will be up and down when the distance is changed. Higher mids and treble sections will vary between 20-25 centimeters. The human ear can easily recognize these frequency peaks.

a – To find the correct listening distance, put in a test CD that contains different test frequencies. Start with mono 1000 Hz at the listening chair. Then stand up and walk very slowly around the room (preferably with your eyes closed). You will realize that the signal will have ups and downs in volume while you are moving as if somebody was turning on and off the volume control.

b - The main frequency of the music and the one which is closest to human sound is 1000 Hz. 1000 Hz is your starting point, and you should find the closest distance to your current listening chair where the 1000 Hz is at peak. The ups and downs in that band should be changed around 50-70 centimeters. This is the best location to hear the middle frequencies, but it is not the best location yet to achieve the best frequency spectrum. It is just the starting point.

c - Stick a rope to a back wall and pull that to your shoulders. Now close your eyes and listen at different frequencies such as 300, 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, and 10,000 Hz, etc., while moving the top of your body (while sitting) back and forth. Mark the peak points of every frequency you listened on the rope. Our aim is to find a particular point that most of the frequencies are at their peaks. If you are not successful and these points are not close enough to each other, move your speakers (or your listening chair) 10 centimeters forward and repeat the same exercises till you find a certain point where most of the frequencies are at their peaks.

It is not an easy task. It is time consuming but free of charge. Once you have the point, you will be surprised with the improvement of the sound of your existing system.

5. Room Acoustics - Room Acoustics is the most known but the least considered part of Hi-End. A conventional speaker may throw 40 percent of the sound directly to the listener; the rest of the sound comes through the walls by reflections. Reflection means the timing difference of the original signal, hence it is an additional acoustic which does not exist in the original record. Within such a complexity of reflections, a part of the original signal will come late due to the front wall or ceiling, or a part of the original signal from the left speaker will sound as if coming from the right speaker (or vice versa). Such a complex listening environment will demolish the stereo imaging and channel separation.

Some audiophiles are happy with this case because the speakers seem to have disappeared and the soundstage is wider and deeper. Some producers even add additional mid/treble units to the back side of the speakers (dipoles) to emphasize such effects.

But one thing should be considered - these reflections do not exist at the original sound. If something is produced by the system/room in addition to the original sound, it should be named coloration.

If the aim of a good hi-end system is to reproduce the original sound, such reflections should be avoided as much as possible. Ribbon and electrostatic speakers especially will suffer a lot from such reflections.

Carpet on the floor is a must to lower the reflections (standing waves) between the floor and the ceiling. Thicker curtains will help to lower the reflections of the windows. Glass-covered photos and stiff furniture should be avoided.

This article is not intended to give recommendations on how to soundproof your room. Information on this topic is already prominent on the Internet. The purpose of this section is to emphasize the importance of room acoustics.

6. Precise Focus and Loudspeaker Placement - This is also another known but often ignored part of Hi-End. It is critically important to locate both speakers at the exact same distance to achieve precise focus. Distances should be carefully measured, and both of the speakers should be placed at exactly the same distance from listener.

Why is this step so important?

Sound signals are distributed in waves, as explained in section five. The people who tried the settings in section five will realize that the peaks of frequencies vary in conjunction with the distance from the speakers. Especially the treble frequencies will vary a lot with only one centimeter of a change. In such cases, if one speaker is just one cm closer to the listener, some frequencies will be heard from one speaker but not from the other. If the upper harmonics of the human sound consist of such upper frequencies (they do!), then the sound will move from the middle to left or to right. Moreover, within that case, some frequencies will collide in full phase and will be exaggerated with others will collide in inverted phase and thus are destroyed.

This effect is exactly the same as losing bass when connecting one speaker out of phase.

7. Mechanical Vibration of Electronic Units - Several products exists that absorb vibrations (feet, platforms, etc.). They are to be placed under the electronics/speakers. Such materials have two intentions:

a- To eliminate the external vibration coming through the unit

b- To eliminate the vibration of the unit itself (CD driver motor, speaker cone vibrations)

Most-popular solutions are the cones (spikes). I believe the proper usage of spikes is not known very well. Rather than being a vibration absorber, a spike is a kind of transmission material that transmits vibration from one point to another point. Vibration is condensed to one point and mechanically carried to another platform by the spike but not eliminated. If the connection surface is stiff (e.g., marble or granite), such vibrations are passed to that surface. The area underneath this stiff platform (marble, MDF, glass, granite) must be covered by an elastic material such as cork, mouse pad, neoprene rubber, or similar.

The vibration cannot pass from a stiff platform to an elastic platform and will be transposed to heat.

The direction of the cone is also critically important. The direction should be in conjunction with the intention of the vibration transmission.

The last point about the cone is the cone should be in touch with the chassis of the component directly. If any kind of rubber, double-sided band, blue tack, or other such elastic material is put between cone and the unit, that material will try to transpose the vibration, and the cone will not work.

8. Marble under the Loudspeakers - A marble platform under the speakers eliminates most of the unwanted resonances of the speaker. The thickness of the marble should be at least three centimeters, and the size should be at least 10 centimeters bigger then the edges. The area underneath the marble has to be covered by an elastic material such as cork, mouse pad, or neoprene.

With this arrangement, you have more powerful but clearer and tighter bass, with relaxation at the mid and top frequencies.

The speaker has to be connected to the platform via a cone, not by elastic feet. The sharp end of the cone has to direct to the marble but not to the loudspeaker.

9. Grounding the Metals for Static Electricity - Static electricity can be an issue, especially in wet weather and in fully carpeted listening environments. The carpet is charged with static electricity, which can be passed through the electronic equipment via the rack and/or human touch. Static electricity on the carpet is so powerful that if one checks the carpet in the morning, before anyone walks on it, one can see the static electricity through simple tools sold at RadioShack.

In order to eliminate the effect, the loudspeaker stands and the equipment racks should be connected to earth by a thin wire. Moreover, the loudspeaker cables and interconnects should be lifted away from the floor due to the same effect.

Through this tweak, one will benefit with less-blurry and lower bass.

10. Loudspeaker Distance from the Front Wall - Loudspeaker manufacturers generally recommend the correct distance of the speaker from the front wall (the wall behind the speakers). Generally speaking, the speaker should be located as far as possible from the front wall (and side walls as well). If they are too close to the wall, bass standing waves will be reinforced, and the excessive bass energy will compress the mid/treble band.

Some audiophiles find the desired bass volume by placing speakers closer to the front wall, which is not correct. One thing should be considered – that such bass increase is not due to the original sound, but it is a consequence of the room response, called coloration.

11. Auto former / Transformer Passive Line Stages - New technologies in the hi-end industry could make pre-amplifiers obsolete – at least make their purpose questionable. The purpose of a preamplifier is stipulated in four basics tenets:

a- To connect more then one unit together

b- To record to tape from some sources

c- To provide low volume output and inverted polarity signal of turntables (as the only source component)

d- To fulfill bass and treble adjustment requirements

Nowadays, CD and SACD units can provide 5-8 Volts of output, which is more than enough for the power amplifiers. Audiophiles are not interested in tone adjustments but focused on simplicity. Dedicated phono stages are in common usage; hence, the majority of the requirements are not valid anymore.

The main and the only basic job of a modern pre-amplifier is to lower the volume level, not step it up!

Just try to imagine a pure signal from a CD or DAC through the power amplifier, then cut this link, add four plugs, four female plugs, a pair of interconnects, and lots of resistors, capacitors, tubes, transistors, and all that stuff. How can you keep the signal purity?

An active line stage demolishes the neutrality and the purity of the original sound. Such a corruption may not be so evident in most of the lower resolution systems – or some people may disregard this issue. Every active line stage has its own tonality and coloration. As a matter of fact, audiophiles generally use line stages to balance their tonality problems in systems. For instance, a tube line stage is used to calm down a firm-sounding solid-state power amplifier, or a treble-rich line stage is used to compensate the treble-poor power amplifier and vice versa. If this is the case in a system, the audiophile is not worried about achieving a fully natural line stage or lack of coloration.

For me, the consideration should be to change the power amplifier until one finds the desired sound, rather then playing with a pre-amplifier. In other words, you should deal directly with the original problem rather then trying to mask it.

It is almost unanimous that using a simple volume pot adds neutrality and purity to the sound. But in such cases, other problems appear. A volume pot, which is either a potentiometer or a stepped alternator, works with the resistance principals. Every volume step adds a different resistive path to the signal, thus lowers the volume. Due to the complexity of the music signal (20 Hz – 20 kHz), such a resistive load will act like a barrier for different frequencies. For instance, when turning down the volume level, the treble is lowered, and the bass is condensed – or when you increase the volume, the mids are excessive or vice versa. There can be a lack of dynamic range as well. A line stage eliminates these problems.

Due to these facts, volume control pots or analogue volume-controlled CDs cannot be used stand-alone as line stages. New auto former and transformer passive line stages are developed for volume control. Such units do not work with resistance principals and do not add resistance to the signal path. The only resistance of such amps is approximately 200 Ohms due to the cable in windings.

Transformer passive line stages consist of two transformers, one for the left channel and one for the right. They have one primary winding and multiple (12-24 steps) secondary windings. Their principal is to lower the volume by changing the volts, rather than adding resistance. So far as I know, there are only three producers of such line stages, and I have used two of them. Both of them are providing extraordinary natural, calm, and undistorted sounds.

I heavily modified the Antique Sound Lab myself, which is a very good product and quite inexpensive too (but don't underestimate its price), but Audio Consulting's Silver Rock, made of pure silver, is something else.

It should be also mentioned that such passive line stages are not be suitable for every system. In such a case, input impedance of the power amp should be driven directly by the output stage of the DAC or CD player. Input impedance of the power amp should be as small as possible. The best way to learn this case is to send the impedance values to the producer and request assistance prior to purchasing.

12. Good Tubes (NOS Tubes) - Is it logical to pay 100 € for an old tube when a new one costs 10 €? I believe it is. A good tube can change the characteristics of a tube electronic as if you replaced the entire unit. NOS tubes are not easy to find and quite expensive, but they are worthwhile to use – especially the upper frequency hiss is quite lower with NOS tubes.

13. Very Easy Polarity Finding Method - Generally speaking, European (German) standard AC plugs do not have the signal direction. U.S., U.K., and Swiss AC plugs have one way to connect to AC. So in some cases, it is not easy to find out the correct polarity.

Electronic components, including our televisions, refrigerators, bulbs, and computers, can work properly regardless of the polarity. Why is the AC polarity so important in Hi-Fi?

Electricity arrives from (+), passes the electronic circuit, and departs from (-). Generally the main current arrives in the power supply of the unit first then is reduced to the desired voltage by the electronic circuits. In this case, the power supply section automatically filters the mains. The transformer of the power supply section behaves like an isolation transformer - input and output currents are physically separated. If the polarity is not correct, the mains will arrive to the system directly from the back door and will carry all the pollution, like RFI/EMI, into the unit. So it is important to find out the correct polarity.

Most of a unit’s polarity is similar. If the unit has a detachable power cord and IEC kind of input, the right hole should be the (+) mains, when you look at the plug front at the front.

Another simple method is to check the mains fuses. If the unit is equipped with an exterior protection fuse, release the fuse and check it by an electricity check pen while the unit is connected to the mains. It should be a (+) signal. If not, reverse the AC plug from the wall.

14. Listening Volume Level - No one can tell you that what the correct listening volume setting is. Some audiophiles like a very low listening level. Some turn the volume till the windows break.

If the outcome is to achieve the ambiance of the recorded venue, volume level should be adjusted accordingly but not more or not less. This case is applicable to acoustic instruments only and not to electronic music, jazz, or disco.

Whatever the listened record is, the correct volume setting should be the one that does not enlarge or shrink the original instrument. For instance, a guitar should be played within the original volume of the guitar, at the correct volume setting. If the volume level is increased too much, the body of the guitar will become bigger in obsolete terms. On the other hand, a full Mormon chorus would not be so realistic at low volumes.

15. Warming Up the Speakers and Cables before Critical Listening - Apart from the theory that "solid-state electronics provide their best sound for those few minutes before the transistors became warm,” practically all audio equipment needs some time to warm up. The proper time is at least half an hour or even one hour despite the manufacturers’ recommendations. The reason behind this requirement is the specifications of the resistors, capacitors, and tubes, which can vary in output if they are cold or warm. Manufacturers make final settings when the units are warm - otherwise the equipment would play perfect for the first half an hour and get worse after warming up.

Audiophiles apply this principal for their electronics but not always for their speakers and the cables. Speakers are quite important since their passive components such as crossover resistors should be warmed up. Their voice coils should be warmed up as well. The cables are also important. The term “warm up” may not apply for the cables, but the cables should be run for some time until their dielectrics are charged.

As a result, the warming-up time should be completed by playing (not necessarily listening to) the entire system.

16. Proper Loudspeaker Selection for Listening Room - Loudspeakers should be selected in conjunction with the listening room dimensions. Unfortunately the general tendency in audiophiles, particularly in the U.S., is "the bigger, the better."

It is like a starting skier picking out the best skiing equipment prior to learning and facing multiple problems afterwards.

Big loudspeakers are difficult to position, difficult to drive, and are affected the most by the room boundaries. If the speaker is too big for the room, excessive bass energy will diminish the rest of the sounds. A bigger speaker means bigger problems. Driving big speakers is challenging and requires experience, sources, time, and money.

17. PS Audio Power Plant - On principle I avoid giving specific brands in my non-commercial Website. But PS Audio Power Plant is such a special product that it is incomparable. It is a kind of power regenerator powered by electricity. P300 actually regenerates new AC for the audio gear. This regenerated AC is of much better quality than filtered AC because of the stable voltage and near-perfect AC waveform. It also removes 70 dB of EMI and RFI noise from the AC line!

Not all my friends agree, but in my opinion, it is very special equipment that lifts up the entire system to a higher level.

What you would expect from it is a much more relaxed sound, a more layered deep and wide soundstage, crystalline treble, and more inner details. Improvements are immediately apparent. Be sure to use it with power-hungry amplifiers.

18. CD Surface Treatments - There is several kinds of CD surface treatments in the market. They shine the surface of a CD so that the laser picks up more information. A surface treatment should produce high frequencies that are cleaner and more extended. The easiest and cheapest method of CD surface treatment is the one used by pipe lovers .That is the human oil on the skin of face. I apologize for that ugly tweak, but our systems are personal and private anyway, aren’t they? Human oil has the perfect thin viscosity and can be absorbed by a CD surface very easily and effectively. Listen to your CD first, then smear the CD across your forehead and spread the oil with your finger and listen to it again.

Don't forget to spread the oil with your finger every time prior to listening to that greased-up CD.

19. Objective of the Third Dimension - The objective of a stereo system is to achieve a third dimension via two channels. All hi-end or hi-fi equipment have their own character, timbre, and tonality. For instance, a titanium tweeter will have a different tonality then a silk dome tweeter. Two different brands of loudspeakers will have different tonalities even if they use the same drive units. The tonality of hi-end equipment mostly depends on the listening preferences of the designer. Most people prefer their own equipment as opposed to the different tonalities of another system, even if that other system sounds better. Most audiophiles have a bias to their own system – they don't like the sounds of somebody else's system regardless of its qualtiy. This case is also evident when buying or testing new equipment at home. We sometimes test better equipment at home but feel something is still missing when compared to our own equipment.

I remember very well, when Sony introduced the first 20-bit CD player, most of the people found the sound harsh, edgy, and colored. People were used to dark-sounding CD players at that time and hearing more inner details disturbed them.

I also remember very well that when I modified my old B&W 801 Matrix II monitor speakers and cancelled their protection units. The new sound disturbed me at first. I was so unhappy by the new sound that I could not listen to my system for several days. At that time, the manufacturer said that "the protection units were needed because the speakers were designed mainly for recording studios.” They also told to me that the new sound would be better because the system lowered crossover resistance, which affects especially the lower, mid, and upper bass ranges. After several days of listening, the sound became better and better. Eventually the sound was surprisingly perfect. Actually the sound was the same, but my perception was changing.

If this type of incident is often the case, how do we distinguish the better unit? There are several ways, but for me the main method is its third-dimension capability. This is not the only case for sure, but generally speaking, if two units are compared, the better one is the one delivers bigger soundstage, more depth, and more height.

This theory is shared with Peter Quodrup from Audio Note UK, and I am agree with him 100 percent.

The distortion of an electronic device does not affect the tonality of the equipment but mainly affects the inner details. Soundstage, depth, and height are such hidden factors in inner details that they will be affected first. If the unit provides lower distortion, more precise soundstage, especially more depth, will be provided.

20. The Least Powerful Ring of a Chain - Hi-Fi is a kind of chain. Strength of a chain depends on the least powerful ring. Picture a water hose that varies in width. Its water capacity will be in accordance with the thinnest part.

A system should consist of similar level of equipment throughout. If you add the best CD transport to a standard level of system, there will be some changes, but they won’t be as good as expected. A poor digital cable will compress the entire sound quality of a very good system.

The buyer should prepare a long-term plan before setting up a system, and the pieces should be purchased after at least some deliberation. Hurried purchases may become replacement expenses within one or two years.

21. Don't Immediately Judge a Unit, Give it a Chance - Every system can sound well in time. System synergy is a time-dependent factor that sometimes takes months, even years, to develop. Sometimes we make quick decisions, creating quick prejudices for good products, and immediately make unfair observations. From my perspective, the main element of the hi-end chain is the loudspeaker. If tonality and characteristics of the speaker are generally fine, or if the overall tonality of the entire system is generally fine, the system can be scaled up several more steps by playing with cables, tweaks, locations, and tubes, among other things.

22. Critical Adjustments should be done by Listening to Symphonic or Choral Music - Once we decide on the main components of our system, we can play with the cables, tubes, tweaks, and other accessories to find the desired tonality. But adjusting the tonal balance of a system by listening to a single instrument or jazz trios may mislead us.

Upper mid and the treble bands of a sound can easily disappear if somebody is far away from the original signal. This circumstance is the case if we listen to a live concert or hi-end system. If this is the case, such instruments like a saxophone, guitar, violin, or even the human voice are darker and more distant if we listen to a very good live record. Whenever we increase mid/treble band of the system by tweaks, these instruments will become more open, detailed, and dynamic. But one thing should be kept in mind - we may add a subtle amount of coloration to sound unconsciously. If a system is trimmed by listening to small trios, single instruments, or single voices, this risk is big. Such an adjusted system may not play classical music performed by a big orchestra. The owner should listen to symphonic music, and the system may reveal heretofore hidden harshness and brightness.

It is often said that somebody's system plays well in classics but sounds quite dark in jazz, or somebody else's system is quite revealing in jazz but very bright and glazing with classical music. These issues with system adjusts are the main reasons for those phenomena.

Hi-End is such a passionate field that many opportunist firms and persons are added every year. Despite this market growth, the hi-end community is not growing enough. Prices are multiplied by threes, five, or tens every year. Every producer pretends to be one of the best in the world or at least within a particular price level. Manufacturers issue their own review reports.

No testing equipment in today's technology can prove that their claims are correct or incorrect. Equipment cannot compare two units and prove that one sounds better than the other. Self-proclaimed best-in-the-world equipment and cables often fail to impress in blind testing. But it is easy to claim to be the best in the world if nobody can objectively prove the opposite.

The price of valuable equipment can fall down to one-third of the purchasing price within few years by the additions of MK-IIs, MK-IIIs, Special Editions, and Signature Versions.

While the best speaker in the world was sold for 7,000 € twenty years ago, the best speaker nowadays is more than 200,000 €. A poor line stage which is used to lower the volume is sold at 40,000 €.

Hi-End technologies do not mature for several years. Most of the hi-end producers are part of a small family of entrepreneurs that target a small population of very rich people. They don't have proper research and developmental laboratories. Design and aesthetic properties are the priorities.

I believe that Hi-End is digging its own grave with this policy. We will see what happens to hi-end after 30 years.

It is a deep, possibly bottomless hole. My humble recommendations are to go with secondhand products and buy reasonably priced equipment to minimize your losses over the next few years. Never look for the perfect sound, which does not exist for any amount of money. Keep in mind that an amplifier sold for 300,000 € may be only 2-3 percent better than a 5,000 € unit. In the long run, it would be worth it to buy the smaller brother.

This article was published for the 2008 CONNECTIONS™ Conference Industry Insights, the official publication of CONNECTIONS™.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

CONNECTIONS™ 2008 to Feature Keynote Address by Comcast Interactive Media Executive Amy Banse

Comcast Keynote to discuss on-demand content and multiplatform delivery

Parks Associates and CEA® announced that Amy Banse, President of Comcast Interactive Media, will be the luncheon keynote for CONNECTIONS™: The Digital Living Conference & Showcase, where she will discuss Comcast’s role in the evolving on demand distribution models.

CONNECTIONS™: The Digital Living Conference and Showcase will take place at the Santa Clara Convention Center, June 24-26, 2008. The event, produced by Parks Associates in partnership with CEA, brings together 900+ executives to examine all issues critical to the converging digital living industries.

Banse will deliver her keynote “Entertainment in the Multi-Screened World” on June 25 at 12:15 p.m. She will discuss content delivery and media consumption across platforms as consumer demand puts more emphasis on the “On Demand” model and on providers to provide content over the most popular platforms.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Premium Technical Support Services Lead to Broadband Value-added Services Revenue

...White paper encourages service providers to use remote and automated digital home customer support solutions for cost savings and as tools to drive new services revenue.

Broadband service providers will benefit significantly from the deployment of premium technical support services that not only contribute to cost savings but allow them to use analytics to better target additional value-added services revenue, a new white paper from Parks Associates reports. Parks Associates, author of Customer Analytics to Drive Value-added Services, predicts that premium technical support services will grow from $400 million in 2008 to $900 million by year-end 2012, accounting for 70% of value-added services revenues.

Customer Analytics to Drive Value-added Services includes industry forecasts, consumer data, and data from premium support programs by HiWired Inc., a company specializing in customer support and marketing campaign support technologies.

Customer Analytics to Drive Value-added Services is a free white paper available for download at Parks Associates will discuss customer support value-added services in a special panel of industry experts at the upcoming CONNECTIONS™ leadership conference in Santa Clara, California, June 24-26, 2008. More information on the panel discussion can be found at

Premium Technical Support Services Lead to Broadband Value-added Services Revenue

White paper encourages service providers to use remote and automated digital home customer
support solutions for cost savings and as tools to drive new services revenue

Broadband service providers will benefit significantly from the deployment of premium technical support services that not only contribute to cost savings but allow them to use analytics to better target additional value-added services revenue, a new white paper from Parks Associates reports. Parks Associates, author of Customer Analytics to Drive Value-added Services, predicts that premium technical support services will grow from $400 million in 2008 to $900 million by year-end 2012, accounting for 70% of value-added services revenues.

Customer Analytics to Drive Value-added Services includes industry forecasts, consumer data, and data from premium support programs by HiWired Inc., a company specializing in customer support and marketing campaign support technologies.

Customer Analytics to Drive Value-added Services is a free whitepaper available for download at Parks Associates will discuss customer support value-added services in a special panel of industry experts at the upcoming CONNECTIONS™ leadership conference in Santa Clara, California, June 24-26, 2008. More information on the panel discussion can be found at

Newton Peripherals to Offer Speakers at CONNECTIONS a Way to Improve Presentations with Device that Enhances Mobile Productivity

Company’s MoGo Presenter Mouse X54
Selected as First and Only Gift for Event Speakers

Newton Peripherals, the developer of the revolutionary MoGo™ family of Bluetooth-enabled products, today announced that its MoGo Presenter Mouse X54 will be the exclusive speaker gift at CONNECTIONS: The Digital Living Conference & Showcase, hosted by international research firm Parks Associates in partnership with the Consumer Electronics Association.

The newest product in the award-winning MoGo Mouse family, the MoGo Presenter Mouse X54, a combination Bluetooth-enabled wireless mouse and presenter, is the perfect device for business travelers who frequently use PowerPoint and other presentation software. The speakers participating in CONNECTIONS 08, a who’s who of executives from technology companies advancing consumer lifestyles, are sure to appreciate the novel design, ultra portability and functionality of the MoGo Presenter Mouse X54.

The MoGo Presenter Mouse X54 offers the same functionality as a conventional, laser wireless mouse – scroll, right click, left click – in a sleek, ultrathin form that stores and charges in a laptop’s ExpressCard/54 slot. With the push of a button the mouse becomes a presenter, allowing users to move up and down between slides and use the laser pointer feature so one can illustrate key points, all from up to 30 feet away. Each Mouse received by speakers at the event has been personalized with their name and the CONNECTIONS logo.

Newton Peripherals LLC designs, develops and manufactures a complete line of patented products designed to enhance productivity for mobile computing users, including the award-winning MoGo Mouse products which are wireless, Bluetooth-enabled, rechargeable mice. The MoGo Mouse family includes the MoGo BT, a business card sized mouse that stores in a laptop’s PC card slot; the MoGo Media Mouse X54, a combination mouse and media remote; and the MoGo Presenter Mouse X54, a two-in-one mouse and presenter. The company’s other products include the MoGo Bluetooth® Adapter and the MoGo Headset. For further information and product photography, please visit

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

HomeGrid Forum Press Briefing at CONNECTIONS™: Tuesday, June 24th at 2 pm

The HomeGrid Forum is hosting a 40 minute press briefing on Tuesday June 24th at the Santa Clara Convention Center, Room 202 in conjunction with CONNECTIONS™: The Digital Living Conference and Showcase.

HomeGrid has launched three work groups: a Contribution Work Group, a Compliance & Interoperability Work Group and a Marketing Work Group with the goals of helping to establish industries' technical requirements, ensuring interoperability, branding and marketing of HomeGrid Certified Products.

In addition, HomeGrid Forum is recruiting additional members from leading silicon providers, service providers, CE companies, PC companies and others. To join, please visit

“HomeGrid Forum Press Briefing at CONNECTIONS” -- This Press Briefing will include an update on activities since the April 29th launch including liaison agreements, membership, etc.

Tuesday, June 24th, 2 pm

Santa Clara Convention Center, Room 202
5001 Great America Parkway
Santa Clara, California 95054


Press Registration:

To confirm your attendance and/or to arrange a meeting with HomeGrid, please contact Agnes Toan at +1(408) 503 - 2587 or

About HomeGrid Forum
HomeGrid Forum supports the development of a next-generation single coax, powerline and phone line standard for home networking, promotes its wide adoption, and ensures compliance and interoperability.

HomeGrid Forum has 11 founding members. Infineon, Intel, Panasonic and Texas Instruments will serve on the board of directors. Aware Inc., DS2, Gigle Semiconductor and Pulse~LINK will serve as Promoters; and Ikanos Communications, Inc., Sigma Designs and Westell will serve as Contributors.For more information on The HomeGrid Forum, please visit:

Parks Associates analysts present insights on broadband, digital content, advertising, home systems, and digital health at CONNECTIONS™

Parks Associates’ leading analysts will explore the implications of high-speed connections and the exponential growth of digital devices in homes as a kickoff to CONNECTIONS™: The Digital Living Conference and Showcase.

The session Analyst Roundtable: Top Trends to Watch, Tuesday, June 24, will feature analysis of the digital living industry and focus on trends in broadband and access services, video delivery, online content services, advertising, digital health, and home systems.

The session will feature Kurt Scherf, Vice President, Principal Analyst; Bill Ablondi, Director, Home Systems Research; John Barrett, Director, Research; Yuanzhe (Michael) Cai, Director, Broadband & Gaming; and Harry Wang, Senior Analyst.

Consumer habits in entertainment are changing in accordance with this surfeit of new devices and services. As of 2007, 50% of U.S. Internet households were watching short video clips online, and 25% were downloading short video files. DVR household penetration reached over 40% of the U.S. online population in 2007, further increasing the place-shifting aspect of video consumption.

Parks Associates designed Analyst Roundtable: Top Trends to Watch to offer a complete and coherent presentation of these digital markets as well as the perfect primer for CONNECTIONS™.

Monday, June 16, 2008

CONNECTIONS™ speakers to address TV and bundled services, mobile technology and applications, social and digital media, and home and lifestyle managem

Parks Associates and CEA® announced the speakers for CONNECTIONS™: The Digital Living Conference & Showcase. The CONNECTIONS™ conference will take place June 24-26 at the Santa Clara Convention Center and provides high-level research, knowledge, and analysis to 800+ executives from the converging consumer technology and service industries.

Parks Associates research finds that there are over 300 million households worldwide with residential broadband and over 150 million households with a data network. “We are rapidly approaching an ignition point for converged services and networked products,” said Kurt Scherf, vice president and principal analyst with Parks Associates. “What is particularly exciting to see is how the market is connecting content and applications to access networks and making them accessible on numerous devices. We are looking forward to addressing all of these issues at this year’s conference.”

The speakers for the twelfth-annual CONNECTIONS™ Conference include:

Amy Banse, President, Comcast Interactive Media
Rebecca Jacoby, SVP & CIO, Cisco Systems, Inc.
Paul Liao, CTO, Panasonic North America
Fred McIntyre, SVP, AOL Video, AOL
Phil McKinney, VP & CTO, Personal Systems Group, Hewlett-Packard

Timo Auer, VP, TV, Content & Digital Home, TeliaSonera Group
Saul Berman, Media & Entertainment, Global & Americas Strategy Leader, IBM Global Business Services
Scott Birnbaum, VP, Samsung LCD Business
Stephen Blum, President, Tellus Venture Associates
Richard Brand, Co-chair, IPTV Interoperability Forum, ATIS; Director, Video Solutions, Nortel
William Knox Carey, Director, Technology Initiatives, Intertrust
Brian Chamberlin, VP, Interactive, NDS
Jim Chase, Director of Business Development, Ubicom, Inc.
Rick Cnossen, Technical Working Group Chair, Continua Health Alliance; Manager, Medical Device Interoperability Standards, Digital Health Group, Intel Corp.
Patrick Cosson, VP, Marketing, VUDU
Kelly Davis-Felner, Sr. Manager, Wi-Fi Alliance
Martin DeBono, VP, Sales and Business Development, Pure Networks
Ray DeRenzo, SVP, Product, Programming and Marketing, MobiTV
Nick Desai, CEO, Juice Wireless
Pat Dunbar, Director of Mediaroom & Connected TV Advertising, Microsoft Corp.
Martin B. Dunsby, President & CEO, Vollee Inc.
John Edwards, President and CEO, Move Networks
Kirk Edwardson, Director, Marketing, Espial Group Inc.
Mike Ehlenberger, VP, North America Channel Sales, Actiontec
Thomas Ellsworth, CEO, GoTV Networks
Milan Erbes, Ambassador, HGI; Business Development & Standardization Manager, DS2
Gil Eyal, CEO, Enure Networks
Thierry Fautier, Director, Telco Solutions, Harmonic Inc.
Doug Fikse, President, On-Q/Legrand
Meredith Flynn-Ripley, CEO, Integra5
Rob Gelphman, Chair, Marketing Work Group, MoCA
Chano Gomez, VP, Marketing, DS2
Marc Goodman, Director, Alcatel-Lucent
Prof. Dr. Hans-Joachim Grallert, Managing Director, Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications, HHI
David Haadsma, President and CEO, Bsecure Technologies
Ken Haase, Sr. Director, Product Line Management, Motorola
Barry Haaser, Sr. Director, LonWorks Infrastructure Business, Echelon Corporation
Dalen Harrison, CEO, Ensequence
Matt Harrison, General Manager, Medical Business Unit, Texas Instruments
Brian Henrichs, VP, Business Development, Actiontec Electronics
David Henry, Sr. Director, Product Marketing, Home Products, NETGEAR
Chris Hock, SVP, Product Management, BlackArrow
Ben Huang, Director, Product Management and Marketing, Microsoft TV
Brad Hunt, President, Digital Media Directions, LLC
Amit Jain, VP and GM, CDMA Femtocell Business Unit, Airvana
Jim Johnson, President, uControl
Jim Jones, Managing Director, Scale Venture Partners
Dave Kamalsky, Program Manager, Virtual Worlds Research, IBM Almaden Research Center Bradley A. Kayton, COO, 4HomeMedia
Samir Khazaka, Sr. Director, Technical Marketing, Qualcomm
Fred King, VP, Sales and Marketing, PlumChoice
Eiji Kobayashi, President, HD-PLC Alliance
Keith Kocho, Founder & President, ExtendMedia
John LeMoncheck, Co-Founder, WirelessHD; President & CEO, SiBEAM, Inc.
Lou Lenzi, SVP, AudioVox
Michael Liddle, Chief Executive Officer, Home Director
Ellis Lindsay, Director, Strategy, Americas, Alcatel-Lucent
Amy Lipton, Director, Global Marketing, Media & Entertainment, IBM
Brian Mahony, VP, Marketing, ZeeVee
Tara Maitra, General Manager and VP, Content Services, TiVo, Inc.
Steve Mannel, IBM Cable & Broadband Solutions Executive, IBM
Joy Marcus, General Manager, US, Dailymotion
Keith McCurdy, President and CEO, VIVATY
Kevin Meagher, CEO, Intamac Systems
Eric Miller, Executive in Residence, Mohr Davidow Ventures
Jeff Miller, President and CEO, ActiveVideo Networks
Steve Mitgang, CEO, Veoh Networks
Henry Muyshondt, Sr. Director, Business Development, SMSC Automotive Infotainment Systems
Patricia Nakache, General Partner, Trinity Ventures
Tim Napoleon, Chief Strategist, Media & Entertainment, Akamai Technologies
Ashwin Navin, President and Co-founder, BitTorrent, Inc.
Hung Nguyen, General Manager and VP, Wireless Products Division, Sigma Designs
Cynthia Pacheco, General Manager, Philips Telehealth Solutions, Philips Home Healthcare Solutions
Frank Paniagua, Jr., CEO & Founder, Green Plug, Inc.
Buno Pati, Co-Founder and CEO, Sezmi Corporation
Petr Peterka, Distinguished Member, Technical Staff, Advanced Technology, Home & Networks Mobility, Motorola, Inc.
Michael Peveler, VP, Corporate Development, AMX
Adam Powers, Principal Engineer and Architect, Macrovision
Sterling Pratz, CEO, Autonet Mobile
Len Rand, Managing Director, Granite Ventures
Tandhoni Rao, Founder and VP Product Strategy, Radiospire Networks
Ron Renjilian, CEO, Peak8 Solutions
Michael Robkin, Principal Enterprise Architect, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals
Anthony Rodio, EVP, Worldwide Operations,
Dan Salmonsen, Director, Product Management, DivX, Inc.
Anil Sawe, Sr. Director, Marketing, Quartics
Tushar Saxena, Director, Technology, Verizon
George Schweitzer, President, CBS Marketing Group
Neerav Shah, VP, Business Development, Verimatrix
Tony Shakib, CEO & President, Zensys
Dan Simpkins, CEO, Hillcrest Labs
Melissa Simpler, CEO, Affinegy
Greg Smith, VP, Marketing and Business Development, Movea, Inc
Jordan Socran, Sr. Director, Business Development, Radialpoint
Singu Srinivas, President, HiWired
Reuben Steiger, CEO, Millions of Us LLC
Brian Steel, CEO, VoloMedia
Dean Takahashi, Lead Writer, Digital Media, VentureBeat
Brian Thomas, SVP, Client Services, Acceller
Floyd Turner, Director, Customer Care, Wild Blue Communications
Ryan Tykwinski, Director, Home Entertainment Experience, Best Buy
Yoav Tzruya, CMO, Exent Technologies
Hervé Utheza, VP and GM, TV Properties, ORB Networks
Oded Vardi, COO, Superna
Mark Vena, VP, PC Business, Synaptics
Tony Wan, Director, Marketing, Cisco Systems
Bruce Watkins, Co-Founder and President/COO, Pulse~LINK, Inc.
Bryan Watts, Business Development Manager, DSC
Lior Weiss, VP, Marketing, Celeno Communications
Will West, CEO, Control4
Stephen White, VP, Product and Content Management, Gracenote
Rusty Williams, SVP, Social Media Product Planning, Prospero Technologies, LLC (acquired by Mzinga)
Michael Wilson, CEO, Makena Technologies
Daniel Wong, Director, Product Management, D-Link
Simon Wynn, VP, Products, Devicescape Software
Marc Yi, Director, Intel Capital
Russell Zack, VP, Product Management, Anystream
Scot Zarkiewicz, CEO, SingleClick Systems

Parks Associates Workshop, Speakers for Special Lunch Session
Robert Eisses, President & CEO, Icron Technologies Corp.
John Gildred, President, SyncTV
Robert Rodenbucher, Director, Business Development, AwoX
Rick Schwartz, Product Manager, Consumer Software, PacketVideo (PV)
Loren Shade, VP, Marketing, Allegro Software Development Corporation

Parks Associates
Bill Ablondi, Director, Home Systems Research
John Barrett, Director of Research Michael Cai, Director, Broadband & Gaming
Tricia Parks, CEO
Kurt Scherf, VP and Principal Analyst
Stuart Sikes, President
Harry Wang, Sr. Research Analyst

Visit, contact, or call 972-490-1113 for registration information.

About CONNECTIONS™CONNECTIONS™: The Digital Living Conference and Showcase, hosted by leading research firm Parks Associates in partnership with the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA®), is the premier executive event focused on the market developments and growth factors for advanced digital lifestyle solutions.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The home management market – is the search for the killer application dead?

Supplemental Article by Intamac

The market for integrated home systems and controls has always been seen as attractive, but I’m coming to the opinion that it’s being held back by a fruitless search to find the holy grail of the sector, a “killer” application that will finally define the market.

Less glamorous though it may seem, I’m increasingly convinced the correct route to realizing the potential of the market is through simple, measured steps.

This view is supported by history. Remember those who don’t know their history are doomed to repeat it! Take the case of electricity. Modern life would be unthinkable without it, yet when electricity came along it was received initially with a muted response.

It was expensive, not least because the size of the infrastructure needed and the investment required to pipe electricity to properties made it difficult to roll out. Even where businesses were willing to make the investment, customers questioned the value. Consumers had gas and paraffin for light and generally went to bed when it got dark so they perceived it to be of little value.

So what made electricity an essential utility in every home wasn’t the fact that electricity could produce light. The market took off when companies like General Electric helped develop a mutually dependent ecosystem based on an increasingly pervasive network, reduced cost of service supply, and produced comparatively inexpensive electrical appliances that added value and made an electricity supply desirable to the consumer. It was initially refrigerators, heaters, irons, and cookers and later food mixers, air conditioners, and entertainment devices that made electricity essential in any home.

The point is that there was no single killer application; it was the availability of a wide range of applications that spurred growth in the whole ecosystem. In this respect the parallels with the growth of broadband are striking as it moves from being an access point to a network of networks to becoming an essential utility in any property.

Broadband did not appeal to everyone initially when it was only providing faster access to web pages on a PC. It has been growth in the applications and their associated devices - the equivalent of the electricity market’s appliances - and the associated fall in cost of access and the ability to pipe broadband around the property - particularly through wireless LANs - that has driven broadband to reach more homes.

In particular, it has been the ability to use broadband for entertainment applications that has been the real driver to date. Now, home networking and e-commerce applications are further building the ecosystem. There is, however, another phase of growth to come with pervasive low-cost broadband - the advent of inexpensive devices that will exploit broadband to deliver convenience, comfort, and care in the home. This is the phase in which home management will finally realize its potential.

Internet platforms will provide the key building blocks in the ecosystem needed to enable this new phase of growth. Creating the platform to do this is the difficult bit, but it’s what Intamac has devoted itself to, so I’m seeing the impact close at hand. Intamac’s work with partners such as BT, IAG (Australia and New Zealand’s largest insurance company), and Cisco Linksys to develop and bundle a new range of innovative and affordable products and services for home suggests that this approach can work and the market is ready.

For example, using the platform with BT, we have developed a broadband home monitoring service that can be installed by the user with a complete system retailing for under £200. This provides the consumer with new levels of protection in the home and the ability to remotely manage their systems for low monthly fees. It is possible to integrate easily cameras and have pictures sent to mobiles with online video storage capabilities. Companies such as BT are able to scale up offerings with attractive support packages that generate recurring revenues from a mass market customer base.

Enabled by the platform approach, these products and services are a first step in a huge growth market. Intamac is working to network a wide portfolio of partner products and to help add features that will allow them to be deployed into new and attractive segments such as telecare and utility and appliance management.

For an infrastructure point of view, while it is clear that web platforms like Intamac’s are being recognized as key nodes in the new ecosystem, it is the advent of low-cost wireless networking with technology such as Z-Wave and ZigBee, low-cost IP cameras at under £100 retail, and solutions for remote management of routers that will also drive the market. That’s’ what we’ll need to get to grips with when we all meet at CONNECTIONS™ in June.

This article was published for the 2008 CONNECTIONS™ Conference Industry Insights, the official publication of CONNECTIONS™.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Chris Ballard and other speakers to outline business drivers for device management

Chris Ballard, who leads the TM Forum’s Device Management interest group, will be joined by Abraham Joseph of the Device Management Forum to outline business drivers for device management and the scope and direction of the TM Forum’s own interest group.

The Device Management Summit will be held Tuesday June 24, 2008 at Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara from 8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. in the Great American Meeting Room.

The speaker panel lineup also includes:

Paul Coxhead from Coxhead Consulting who has spent a long career working for BT
Dr. Plamen Nedeltchev from Cisco’s internal IT organization
Chuck Trent, VP Information Technology, Cisco Systems
John Fisher from Peak8 Solutions
Robin Mersh, COO from the DSL Forum
Frank den Hartog, Chair of the Remote Device Management Group from the Home Gateway Initiative
Stan Moyer, President of the OSGi Alliance
Chris Albano, Director - Home Networking and CPE - Office of the CTO from Comcast
Jim Thomsen, Product Line Manager at Westell
Jim Hunter, CTO, 4HomeMedia
Matthew Herdein, Executive Director at Telcordia

More info at

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Icron President & CEO Speaks at Connections Conference Topic - Home Connectivity, Keeping it Simple

Robert Eisses, President & CEO of Icron Technologies Corporation (TSX Venture: IT), the developers of ExtremeUSB(R), will be speaking at the Connections Digital Living Conference & Showcase on June 24, 2008, at the Santa Clara Convention Centre. This is the largest executive conference and showcase for advanced digital lifestyle products, services, and solutions. Industry leaders from around the world will be focussing on advancing consumer lifestyles through technology services, applications, and devices.

Mr. Eisses will be a part of an expert panel discussing whether current home networking solutions are following the K.I.S.S. (keep it simple, stupid) rule in media sharing. With over 20 years of experience in the technology industry, Mr. Eisses will be talking about simplified device connectivity solutions that use standard interfaces, such as USB, to connect PC/Mac to TV in the most cost effective way. These solutions provide true plug and play capabilities, use no new wires, are easy to install, and are highly reliable, secure with excellent performance in extending the computer benefits to any room.

By 2010, U.S. consumer spending for home technical support services will reach nearly $1 billion, with much of this growth based on the current product and service innovations that will be on display at Connections.

For more information about Home Connectivity solutions, read Icron's Home Connectivity whitepaper at:

Founder & VP of Product Strategy at Radiospire Networks Speaking at CONNECTIONS, plus Company Insights

Tandhoni Rao, Ph.D, Founder and Vice President of Product Strategy at Radiospire Networks will be speaking at the CONNECTIONS Conference this June 26th at 11:15 AM at the Santa Clara Convention Center. Rao will be participating on the Wireless Networking Panel called "Fun Without Cords: Wireless Networking for Multimedia."

Radiospire Networks newest initiative...

Several standardization initiatives for in-home high-definition wireless connectivity have already been proposed, but history has shown that industry consortia aimed at furthering standardization tend to slow progress when it's being driven or initiated by a single vendor. Real progress happens when an open standards body, such as IEEE, is involved in helping find the solution that is in the best interests of advancing the technology itself rather than serving a single vendor's agenda.

Right now, Radiospire is actively involved with the standardization process via IEEE's 802.15.3c working group, and is focused on bringing the best possible product to the consumer as quickly and efficiently as possible via the standardization effort, regardless of the technology vendor initially behind it.

Radiospire Networks' biggest challenge...

Radiospire is currently in the process of scaling its supply chain to adequately handle the transition to mass production and distribution on the world scale next year. Successful and speedy development of this full supply chain will present the company with the most difficult challenge for 2008.

Long Term Goals...

Radiospire sells chips directly to consumer electronics manufacturers, with the eventual goal of product incorporation within digital home systems. Radiospire also currently markets products to branded CE companies, with plug-and-play AirHook-branded products such as home theater and gaming hubs, and a dongle pair for the television and set-top box. Ultimately, however, the company aims to have its technology embedded in televisions and other digital peripherals to wirelessly connect the entire home theater system without the need for any additional products.

Successful Product...

Radiospire is the first wireless HD chip manufacturer to integrate the consumer electronics control (CEC) functionality into its products.

Increasingly important to television and home theater manufacturers, the CEC channel allows AV products to communicate with one another over an HDMI system, enabling single-remote system control and simplifying the home theater experience for the consumer. Manufacturers are increasingly coming to value this capability, and have shown tremendous interest in Radiospire's unique solution with its integration.

Greatest Strengths...

Unlike its competitors, Radiospire's wireless solution was built from the ground up and specifically designed for high-definition video.

While others have rushed to re-purpose existing solutions (WiMedia, 802.11n, etc.), Radiospire has built an entirely new chip optimized for streaming HD applications. By utilizing a 1.7 GHz link, Radiospire can deliver completely pure data without the addition of expensive equipment or other special techniques to manipulate the stream, at a rate up to 40 times that of its competitors'. And unlike all other competing technologies, Radiospire's solution is spectrum agnostic, and fully scalable for the future. Ready now for the 3.1 - 10.6 GHz unlicensed spectrum, and engineered for future use at 60GHz, AirHook has been created to solve the wireless HD conundrum today, and specifically designed to leave room for the more sophisticated content and advanced radio technology of tomorrow.

SingleClick Systems CEO Scot Zarkiewicz to Present on Place Shifting and Content Storage Panel at Connections 2008

Scot Zarkiewicz, CEO of SingleClick Systems, will be speaking on the Place Shifting and Content Storage panel at the Connections Digital Living Conference and Showcase.

Dates: June 26, 2008
Time: 2:15 – 3:00 pm

At the event, Scot will discuss how SingleClick Remote Access provides consumers and SMBs with the ability to remotely control and connect to all the devices in the SOHO network from anywhere in the world through the use of a web enabled computer or mobile device. By integrating device detection intelligence from the open source WURFL database, SingleClick is able to provide a seamless, tailored mobile experience on over 7,000 mobile devices including PDAs, cellular phones, handheld game consoles and mp3 players.

“The breakneck pace of modern business has seen the explosion of various mobile devices designed to enhance productivity and make life easier, but they won’t provide their full benefit if they cannot be properly accessed,” said Scot Zarkiewicz, CEO for SingleClick. “Our focus is to streamline the integration and convergence of the home and mobile network to allow consumers and businesses to take full advantage of their modern technology through an easily managed network that can be accessed from anywhere. We look forward to speaking at the conference and listening to other industry thought leaders who are shaping the future of advanced digital lifestyle solutions.”

About SingleClick
SingleClick Systems provides individuals and SMBs a simple and powerful way to manage and maintain their networks and retrieve digital data securely from any PC or mobile device. The award-winning suite of products includes HomeNetManager™, OfficeNetManager™ and Wireless Network Ignition™. SingleClick software is installed on 25 million computers and available in 22 languages. Additional information is available at:

SingleClick will be exhibiting and providing demonstrations of it's remote access technology from the floor of Connections in Booth #403. Scheduled briefings are available for interested Press and Analysts. Interested parties should contact Mike Kelly at the email below.

Media Relations Contact:
Michael Kelly
Nadel Phelan, Inc.
(831) 440-2403

CONNECTIONS™ 2008 to Feature Keynote Address by HP PSG Chief Technology Officer Phil McKinney

HP Executive to Address Technology Innovation and Future of Content Consumption

Parks Associates and CEA® announced that Phil McKinney, vice president and chief technology officer of the Personal Systems Group at HP, will present the opening visionary keynote at CONNECTIONS™: The Digital Living Conference & Showcase.

McKinney will address conference attendees at 4:30 p.m. on the first day of the event, which will take place June 24-26 at the Santa Clara Convention Center. The keynote address is titled “20 Years into the Future” and will discuss the technological innovations that will define the media and entertainment landscape over the next two decades, as well as what issues businesses and consumers can expect as the physical and virtual worlds collide.

“The world of media and entertainment continues to undergo radical change, and will continue to do so over the next 20 years,” said Phil McKinney. “As people adjust to a world of always-on connectivity, and ubiquitous and personal content and devices, it is important to understand the challenges that will arise and what businesses are doing to help consumers respond to them.”

The CONNECTIONS™ executive conference and showcase provides high-level research, knowledge, and analysis to 800+ executives on the converging consumer technology and service industries. It provides the ideal venue to learn, network, share ideas, and gain a greater understanding of new business models, industry trends, and market forecasts.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Comcast’s Amy Banse to Discuss Content Delivery June 25 at the Lunch Keynote

Amy Banse, President of Comcast Interactive Entertainment, will present the Keynote on June 25 at CONNECTIONS. Hear Ms. Banse present Entertainment in the Multi-Screened World around Noon, following lunch.

With Comcast's recent announcement of Fancast, this should be an interesting Keynote to attend...

Recent News about Comcast, Comcast Tries to Break Some Windows


Autonet Mobile’s CEO Sterling Pratz will speak at Parks Associates’ CONNECTIONS: The Digital Living Conference and Showcase on a panel examining digital lifestyle solutions aimed at the automotive environment. The Digital Home on Wheels: Lifestyle Enhancements for the Automotive Environment takes place Wednesday, June 25 at 6:45 p.m. at the Santa Clara Convention Center.

Moderated by Kurt Scherf, vice president and principal analyst at Parks, the panel will focus on how the in-car entertainment experience has expanded beyond sophisticated audio systems and video players. Panelists will address what the future holds for the automotive environment and what role home networks, advanced communications, diagnostics, and entertainment will play in delivering a sophisticated, safe, and entertaining driving experience. Panelists include: Henry Muyshondt, senior director, Business Development, SMSC Automotive Infotainment Systems; Stephen White, vice president, Content Management, Gracenote; and Sterling Pratz, CEO, Autonet Mobile.

Autonet Mobile turns the car into a WiFi hotspot allowing seamless access to the Internet while the car is in motion. Half the cost of a cell card, the service connects multiple passengers to the Internet to surf the web, check email, make dinner reservations, view movie schedules, perform secure on-line banking, IM, chat or download online games. Autonet Mobile is sold nationally through automotive dealerships at MSRP $595; service $39 per month.

About Autonet Mobile
Autonet Mobile is the world’s first in-car Internet service provider. Founded by a corporate executive and former race car driver and a leading network architect and designer, the company is dedicated to enhancing the in-car experience, by bringing the power of the Internet to the 200+ million cars on the road in the U.S. Autonet Mobile currently provides Avis Rent a Car with the Avis Connect service and is continuing to roll out the service nationwide. For more information about Autonet Mobile visit

Submitted by Cheryl Delgreco, Media Strategies, Inc

Pulse~LINK Showcases Whole-Home HD Video Distribution at CONNECTIONS™

“No new wires” solution moves HD content
throughout the home

Parks Associates and CEA® announced Pulse~LINK as a gold sponsor of CONNECTIONS™: The Digital Living Conference and Showcase. The Ultra Wideband (UWB) semiconductor company will demonstrate its CWave® networking solution for whole-home HD video distribution in booth #501 of the CONNECTIONS™ Showcase. Devices enabled with the CWave chipset allow HD video content, multi-channel audio and high-speed data located anywhere in the home to be shared room-to-room across the existing coax backbone and wirelessly within a room.

The CWave® UWB chipset extends HD connectivity to a variety of devices in the home, including set-top boxes, HDTVs, DVRs, DVD players, gaming devices, Media Center PCs, and other multimedia equipment.

Pulse~LINK will demonstrate CWave® Wireless-for-HDMI and CWave® Ethernet-Over-Coax solutions at the show. With the integration of CWave® Wireless-for-HDMI, digital displays can be mounted anywhere in a room without needing to run data cabling from the TV to the content source. Pulse~LINK’s CWave® Ethernet-Over-Coax platform networks up to nine HD multimedia content source and display devices throughout the home with end-to-end Quality of Service over existing coax cabling and splitters, eliminating the high expense of re-wiring a home with Ethernet cables. Pulse~LINK’s demonstration of its Ethernet-Over-Coax solution will also showcase CWave’s coexistence with other signals, such as MoCA technology, on the same coax cable.

Bruce Watkins will also participate on the panel “Fun Without Cords: Wireless Networking for Multimedia” on June 26, moderated by Parks Associates analyst, Harry Wang.

HiWired’s Co-Founder Singu Srinivas to Address Tech Support Challenges for the Digital Home at Parks Connections™: The Digital Living Conference and S

HiWired’s co-founder Singu Srinivas will participate in a conference panel at CONNECTIONS™: The Digital Living Conference and Showcase, held at the Santa Clara Convention Center, June 24-26.

Srinivas will participate in the panel “Metcalfe’s Law or Murphy’s Law? Customer Support for the Digital Home,” moderated by Kurt Scherf, vice president and principal analyst at Parks Associates, on Wednesday, June 25th at 1:30 p.m. in Ballroom F. The session will focus on digital home technical support from a holistic perspective, from simple deployments to complete trusted advisor support services.

Srinivas co-founded HiWired following 12 years of leadership experience in consumer electronics, telecommunications and media, where he witnessed the pain and frustration felt by personal technology users who lacked convenient access to support. As part of the panel discussion, Srinivas will share his perspective on the types of issues that are most troubling for end-users as well as best practices for providing tech services in the digital age.

Founded in 2004 by IBM services veterans Singu Srinivas and Michael Wexler, HiWired provides retailers, broadband providers, OEMs, small businesses and consumers with immediate, expert support for the PC and any technology that integrates with the PC including wireless networks, iPods, digital cameras, and smartphones. HiWired offers incident-based and ongoing remote technical support for customers struggling with technology tasks ranging from setup of new computers and digital devices to problem solving with more complicated technology and networking configurations. For more information visit,

Submitted by: Cheryl Delgreco, Media Strategies

Monday, June 9, 2008

HD Video Drives Next-Generation Wired Networking Technology

The market for home networking products has been traditionally dominated by wireless products based on the IEEE 802.11 standard (with its 11b, 11g and the latest 11n versions). Wired alternatives, which make use of power lines, phone lines and coaxial cables, have had a smaller share of the market. In my opinion this has been caused by two factors:

- Lack of awareness: many consumers do not even know that there are other networking alternatives in addition to 802.11 wireless

- Wireless was “convenient” and “good enough”: although wireless in general is not capable of guaranteeing perfect reliability for video distribution applications (common problems such as dropped packets or interference from other wireless networks in the neighborhood, can affect video performance significantly), most users of 11g and 11n networks do not notice these problems when sending e-mails or browsing the Internet.

This situation is now slowly changing, and the major reason is that there is a new generation of multimedia applications for which 802.11 wireless is not “good enough” anymore. In general, most application that require sending high-quality video are too sensitive to packet drops and cannot work reliably over wireless networks.

There are two major drivers for video distribution applications:

• IPTV Service Providers (like AT&T here in the US or British Telecom or Telefonica in Europe) are providing video content in both SD and HD format using their existing fiber and DSL access networks. All of them need a reliable way to deliver the IPTV content from the Residential Gateway to one or more Set-Top-Boxes somewhere else in the home.

The vast majority of IPTV Service Providers today are choosing wired options (power lines, phone lines and coaxial cable) for in-home IPTV distribution, as wireless is usually not capable of satisfying the strict QoS requirements demanded by IPTV Service Providers.

One of the most popular options is using DS2 200 Mbps technology (based on the UPA standard) to deliver video over existing power lines, of which British Telecom, Telefónica or Portugal Telecom are good examples.

• A new generation of devices capable of receiving HD video (Apple TV, Microsoft XBOX 360, etc) are rapidly becoming popular in many homes. Most of the times, wireless solutions do not have the bandwidth and the reliability to carry HD streams to every room in consumers’ homes, so many users are being forced to look for alternative wired networking solutions. DS2-based Powerline networking adapters from well-known consumer brands such as NETGEAR, D-LINK or BUFFALO are also good examples of products that address these needs.

The powerline industry is working hard to develop products that provide even higher data rates. UPA has recently announced its effort to develop a 400 Mbps standard (called PowerMAX), while individual companies (like DS2) are already demonstrating technology capable of achieving that data rate.

Market Fragmentation

Even if wired networking products are becoming more popular, in the long term the industry still needs to address a significant challenge before it can achieve the same market size as wireless: market fragmentation.

Today, consumers and Service Providers have to choose between at least five different incompatible options for wired networking: MoCA (using coaxial cables), HomePNA (using phone lines and coaxial cables) and three different powerline standards (UPA, HomePlug and HD-PLC) which can also be adapted to operate over coaxial cable and phone lines. Having so many non-interoperable options is negative for the industry, and has also been one of the reasons why the market for wired networking has not grown as fast as wireless.

The industry is now taking its first steps towards solving the fragmentation problem. While some groups seem to forget that the ultimate goal of standards is achieving full interoperability (go read “How to Kill the Home Networking Industry” for a controversial discussion on this point), other efforts to achieve a unified standard seem to be going in the right direction.

As I recently wrote in “Towards A Converged Home Network”, ITU-T G.HN today provides the most promising path to achieve a single-PHY/single-MAC standard that can work over any wire (power lines, phone lines and coaxial cables):

"The trend to use more than one wire has already started. ITU-T (the standardization organization responsible for creating all DSL and VDSL standards) has created a group [G.HN] with the goal of designing a specification that will work over any wire [power lines, phone lines and coaxial cables] with a target PHY data rate of 1 Gbps. Actual throughput will be medium-dependent (today's tentative targets are achieving 400 Mbps in 99% of coaxial cable connections and 250 Mbps in 98% of powerline connections), to reflect the fact that some lines are "cleaner" than others."

HomeGrid Forum, an organization founded by DS2, Intel, Panasonic, Infineon, Texas Instruments and six others companies, plays a role which complements ITU-T G.HN.

HomeGrid Forum has three major goals:

1. Accelerating the creation of a "single-PHY/single-MAC" standard at ITU-T G.HN for powerline/coaxial/phoneline

2. Ensuring fast market adoption, and

3. Ensuring interoperability.

During the Closing Keynote on June 25, 2008, at CONNECTIONS™ in Santa Clara, Paul Liao, CTO, Panasonic, will discuss the efforts of HomeGrid Forum to promote a single, worldwide standard and will outline the benefits of the initiative in driving worldwide adoption of networked multimedia products.

Chano Gomez, VP Technology & Strategic Partnerships, DS2, will be a speaker in the panel “CONNECTED DEVICES: A Grown-up Home Network: Imagine the Possibilities!”

Submitted by Chano Gomez, DS2

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Virtual Worlds: Real Opportunities

by Michael Cai, Director of Broadband & Gaming, Parks Associates

Virtual worlds, despite all the press attention of late, are still in the early stages of development. Virtual worlds came into existence several years before YouTube, MySpace, and Facebook, but their adoption rates pale in comparison to these services. According to a recent Parks Associates survey of Internet gamers ages 13 and older, only 7% visit a virtual world on a weekly basis, compared with 37% who visit social networking sites and 41% who watch short videos online with the same frequency. Even more alarming – among the people who have ever visited a virtual world, only about 28% are active visitors (visiting on a weekly basis), much lower than the 62% and 52% for social networks and online video sites, respectively.

Our survey did not capture the high-growth part of the industry. Kid-oriented worlds, such as Neopets, Habbo Hotel, Webkinz, and Club Penguin, are attracting tens of millions of children, sometimes along with their parents, to log on daily. BarbieGirls, a virtual world Mattel launched in April 2007, signed up 3.5 million users in less than three months. Several kid-oriented worlds are already raking in millions in revenue. Last year Disney (NYSE: DIS) acquired Club Penguin for $700 million. Although Habbo Hotel has not released its revenues, it has recently surpassed 100 million registered avatars worldwide.

Everyone’s jumping on the bandwagon; more than 100 kids worlds will launch in the next 12 months, including several with significant brand equity such as Cars from Disney, SpongeBob SquarePants from Nickelodeon, and Lego.

Two big success factors for child-oriented virtual worlds are that they are structured and provide interesting things to do for their participants. The number-one reason for visiting virtual worlds is to play games, and this is especially true for kids. For instance, more than 50% of Webkinz and Neopets users go there mainly to play games. In contrast, visitors to 3D virtual worlds such as Second Life cited “Escaping Real Life,” “Being Someone Else,” and “Creating and Managing Avatars” as their top three reasons. In our view, such motivations lack sustaining power. In order for 3D virtual worlds to grow their active resident base, they need to provide more organized and engaging activities. Many newbies to 3D virtual worlds feel overwhelmed and bewildered when they first enter the wild, seemingly vast and unstructured virtual world. Some industry pundits are making the argument that whatever you can do on the 2D Internet; you can do it better in 3D virtual worlds. Such vision may prove true ten years from now, but currently the technology is not mature enough and mass-market consumers simply don’t see enough value to migrate to 3D Internet. Another key success factor is to better leverage the social aspects of virtual worlds, and the industry is moving in the right direction. Several companies, including Vivaty and Scenecasters, recently emerged to bridge 3D virtual worlds and 2D social networks such as Facebook.

Despite technology and business challenges, backers of 3D virtual worlds are marching along. Large media companies such as Viacom are investing heavily, believing that the medium promises real opportunities. MTV already operates more than ten virtual worlds, including Virtual Laguna Beach, Virtual Pimp My Ride, and the upcoming Virtual Lower East Side, a world devoted to indy music. Large technology companies such as IBM, Intel, and Cisco Systems are promoting 3D virtual worlds for obvious reasons. In addition to media and technology companies, financial institutions, service providers, universities, and pharmaceutical companies have shown significant interest in the medium. In 20 years there will be no debate about the utility and importance of virtual worlds; they will be an indispensable part of consumers’ connected life, similar to today’s Internet.

However, most of our readers are likely to be more interested in what will happen in the next 12 months than in the next twenty years. We hereby offer the following near-term predictions:

  • Sony Home will finally launch and create lucrative opportunities as content providers deal and negotiate premium placement and marketing opportunities within the world.

  • Another 6-8 million Internet users will try a virtual world in the next twelve months, and weekly active users will grow.

  • Increasing stickiness and trial conversion rates remain top priorities for virtual world operators.

  • Competition for eyeballs is heating up, especially in the child-oriented worlds; new worlds without significant IP will find it difficult to survive.

  • There will be many experiments with platform interoperability and universal avatars. Several efforts are already underway, including IBM and Linden Labs’ collaboration in pushing an open standard and the China Recreation District initiative to build a virtual platform that can host millions of avatars.

  • Social networks will add 3D virtual world features, and 3D virtual worlds will leverage Web 2.0 lessons, including enabling more user-generated worlds. An Aussie start-up MyCosm aims to provide robust tools for any consumer who wants to build a high-quality virtual world.

  • 3D virtual worlds will become more user friendly and compelling.

  • There will be more private virtual worlds or firewalled virtual worlds from large international corporations

This article was published for the 2008 CONNECTIONS™ Conference Industry Insights, the official publication of CONNECTIONS™.