Friday, June 29, 2018

Now That’s How You Make Millions on Custom-Installed Technology

CE Pro 100 integrator Just One Touch / Video & Audio Center earns 45% of total revenues from custom installation by incorporating home automation into every part of the retailer's new high-end L.A. mall location.

By Jason Knott

Los Angeles-area integrator Just One Touch - Video & Audio Center might have built the magic formula for incorporating custom installation services into a retail location. The Santa Monica, Calif.-based company, which has multiple retail locations across Southern California, has just opened its new “technology showcase” location in the upscale Westfield Century City mall adjacent to Beverly Hills and other affluent areas. 

The Video & Audio Center location has the fingerprints of the company’s custom installation division (Just One Touch) in multiple ways.

Boxed Displays Strategically Placed in Store

The cornerstones of the space are three store-within-a-store set-ups featuring the three top TV brands -- LG, Sony and Samsung. “These are high-touch areas and we have knowledgeable salespeople who can help,” says owner Joseph Akhtarzad.

For each TV brand there is a dedicated vignette with an array of their impressive displays, but the most striking area is a giant LG Electronics “display tree” that stretches high to the ceiling. “I wanted to use the vertical space of the store,” says Akhtarzad, who personally designed the giant circular LG display tree, as well as the layout of the location.

Akhtarzad also incorporates a subtle but effective display technique into each flat panel area. Sony, LG and Samsung TV boxes sit openly in the store in each vignette, right at the feet of the wall-mounted TVs. At first blush, it seems contrary to see shipping boxes sitting out on a retail floor.

“We discovered that displaying boxed units openly in the store subconsciously lets customers know that the TVs are available for immediate installation," says Akhtarzad. "It shows them that we are ready to bring it to their home and install it without having to retrieve anything from a remote warehouse somewhere."

Dedicated Custom Installation Area Next to Appliances

There is one vignette solely dedicated to the company’s custom installation division, Just One Touch. The area includes multiple images of finished projects, including lavish home theaters, multipurpose rooms, outdoor areas and more.

The Just One Touch space is also situated adjacent to the company’s new appliance area, featuring Samsung and LG.

“The reason we got into appliances is because they are very smart today. They need to be integrated with every Just One Touch home,” says Akhtarzad.

Platinum Membership Club with $150 Home Site Survey

Video & Audio Center has developed a special membership program aimed at enabling custom installation more easily. “We have created a platinum black card membership program that enables customers holding a membership card to waive the $150 fee for a home site survey,” says Akhtarzad. Members also receive same-day delivery and set-up service, special invitations to Video & Audio Center’s private technology showcase events, and special product pricing in some cases.

Dedicated Vignettes for Niche Custom Products

Not only does Video & Audio Center showcase well-known mass-market brands like Ring, AudioQuest, Google Home and Nest, but the company made an extra effort to show off many of the niche custom installation brands it carries.

Visitors can find specialty brands like SunBriteTV outdoor televisions, Origin Acoustics speakers and audio systems, Screen Innovations video projection screens, IC Realtime surveillance systems, and BDI furniture.

“We have become a technology destination point," says Tom Campbell, corporate director/chief technologist at Just One Touch/Video & Audio Center. "This is a ‘technology showcase.’ It is not a retail store.”

He adds that shoppers are "just mesmerized" by the technology and they "want it now."

The retailer has Just One Touch representatives at each location, "so customers can talk to someone who really knows integration, installation and custom design," Campbell says.

The custom installation formula appears to be working well for the company, which is No. 6 on the CE Pro 100 list of highest-revenue home-technology integrators.

Jason has covered low-voltage electronics as an editor since 1990. He joined EH Publishing in 2000, and before that served as publisher and editor of Security Sales, a leading magazine for the security industry. He served as chairman of the Security Industry Association’s Education Committee from 2000-2004 and sat on the board of that association from 1998-2002. He is also a former board member of the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation. He is currently a member of the CEDIA Education Action Team for Electronic Systems Business. Jason graduated from the University of Southern California. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about?


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Monday, June 25, 2018


A few week's ago Video & Audio Center looked at Samsung's expansion of smart TV technology that's evolved the traditional refrigerator into an informational "Family Hub" and also how today's 2018 Samsung QLED TVs are more than simply TVs—how they’ve become a reflection of you and your family's lifestyle, and now thanks to Samsung's AMBIENT MODE, that's not only the case when their turned on!

Samsung has effectively said goodbye to the empty black screen, and whether you prefer seeing your own family photos, evocative art, or news/weather headlines, we at Video & Audio Center agree that Samsung’s Ambient Mode is an easy, entertaining and ideal way to transform your environment by making your TV the centerpiece, or simply having it completely fade into the background. 

According to Matthew Thackrah, Deputy Managing Director and Head of Consumer Electronics at Samsung Electronics South Africa, “What consumers want is art in the living room – a beautiful TV that fits seamlessly with their living space and furniture” and now in addition to Samsung models such as The Frame, which Video & Audio Center thinks personified the concept of television as art, they have taken the television and has made it as visible or invisible as suits your ever-changing needs.

Complete Your Home’s Design
You decorate your home to suit your life, and a TV should fit right in whether it’s on or on standby. Most TVs are a blank space, harshly contrasting against your clean walls. With Ambient Mode, QLED TVs display what you want to see, so you can decide how you enjoy your TV, even when you’re not watching.

The Simple Aesthetic Solution
Ambient Mode takes your QLED TV screen from black to color like a screensaver, blending it in with your TV wall design when your TV isn’t in use. The TV’s sensors adjust to different lighting to conserve energy and turn off after a preset amount of time. Activate it with the click of a button on your smart remote—you’ll just need SmartThings to set it up.

Hide Your TV in Plain Sight and "See Nothing Else"
When your QLED TV is on, you’re captivated by breathtaking picture; but when it’s off, you only see a thin frame as if it’s simply hanging on the wall. Once Ambient Mode is set up, you can enjoy a sleek rectangle décor that easily harmonizes with the room. And a TV wall mount like No Gap Wall-Mount keeps your TV hung close to the wall to conceal it even further. So your QLED TV is there when you need it and “disappears” when you don’t.

Interiors to Match Your Mood
But mimicking the wall is only the beginning. Make the most of Ambient Mode by changing your screen to reflect your mood with these three settings: 

Deco: Decorate your walls with elegant art skins. 
Info: Keep up with the time, weather, or news headlines.
Photo: Use memories from your gallery to create a digital picture frame. 

More settings mean even more ways to create a home that’s “you”. 

All it takes is a click of One Remote Control to transform your screen—and your home; and with Ambient Mode’s easy setup, your wall now becomes your canvas.

These exciting new changes come on top of the moves we discussed a few weeks ago in this very blog detailing Samsung’s efforts in utilizing today’s cutting-edge technologies to further integrate the television into a "Family Hub". 

We at Video & Audio Center wish you and yours a very happy and safe Fourth of July holiday, and if you feel the need to see some more fireworks, please stop into any of the five LA-based Video & Audio Center technology showrooms to see and experience the 2018 Samsung 4K QLED TVs—and the complete line of Samsung 4K HDR TVs— for yourself, or click this link and view them online.

Video & Audio Center is an Authorized Samsung Dealer .

Tuesday, June 19, 2018


I know, I know—we just talked about Sonos a few weeks ago, but big things are taking place at the Santa Barbara-based Sonos Headquarters as earlier this month they unveiled Sonos Beam, a game changing smart speaker that delivers incredible sound for virtually any streaming content in the rooms people spend the most time in. With the goal of providing a simple, rich sound experience for all the sonic content that matters – from movies and TV shows to music and podcasts – SonosBeam supports 80+ music services, multiple voice assistants and Apple AirPlay2 and will be available at all Video & Audio Center Technology Showrooms, as well as online at around mid-July and we’re taking pre-orders online.

Like all Sonos speakers, Beam is part of the Sonos home sound system, meaning owners have options like adding two Sonos Ones for surround sound, a SUB for more bass, or integrating Beam into their existing Sonos multi-room set-ups. Owners can also control Beam the way they choose, whether it be with voice, the Sonos app, third-party apps like Spotify, Audible, Pandora and Tidal, their existing TV remotes, and smart home gadgets like wall switches and remotes made by Sonos-certified partners. 

We at Video & Audio Center previewed the “game changing smart speaker” earlier this year with Sonos executives and representatives and as an Authorized Sonos Dealer, we have been looking forward to adding the Sonos Beam to our complete line-up of high-performing Sonos products and making it available to our loyal customers for quite some time.

Out of the box, Beam comes with Amazon Alexa in the US, UK, Germany, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and soon, in France. Beam will support additional voice assistants as they become available on Sonos around the world and won’t lock owners into specific streaming boxes or services. 

“In a smart speaker category increasingly filled with tech clutter, poor audio quality and ulterior motives, Beam is the best example yet of what makes Sonos different,” said Sonos CEO Patrick Spence. “Our open approach, obsession with design, maniacal focus on quality and commitment to building a system that’s easy to use and gets better over time are at the heart of everything we do. We believe we’ve created the best, most versatile, smart speaker in the world.”

Sonos Beam was tuned by a team of world-class acoustic engineers collaborating with leading sound experts from the worlds of film, music and television. The result is a product that faithfully represents the artists’ work and delivers an unparalleled listening experience. Beam produces a surprisingly wide soundstage for a speaker of this size, with four custom-built elliptical full-range woofers and three passive radiators delivering deep, warm bass and superior mid-range performance, while a single tweeter ensures crisp and clear dialogue. 

Sonos Beam Product Details:
  • Low profile and compact size, Beam was designed to fit on credenzas or under wall mounted TVs, providing versatility. At only 25.6 inches long, Sonos Beam won’t hang off furniture, block the TV or overwhelm your space.
  • Five linear far-field microphone array used for advanced noise suppression and multi-channel echo cancellation for both music and home theater content.
  • Beam has three ports – power, Ethernet, and HDMI-ARC.
  • Use the HDMI cable to connect Beam to the TV’s HDMI-ARC port. If your TV doesn’t support HDMI-ARC, use the included Optical Audio Adapter to connect Beam to the TV’s optical audio port
  • Comes in black and white fabric with matte finishes.
  • Adding an Amazon video streaming device like Fire TV unlocks voice control for Alexa-enabled streaming services. Ask for a specific movie or show, get more info about a favorite movie director or control playback, all with voice. 

AirPlay comes to Sonos in July
AirPlay 2 will be available on Sonos in July via a free software update. With AirPlay 2, customers can play music and podcasts from their iOS devices directly on their Sonos speakers, including the new Sonos Beam, Sonos One, Playbase, and the second generation Play:5. And, with a single supported speaker, AirPlay content can be streamed to other Sonos speakers in the system. Customers enjoying AirPlay 2 on Sonos will also gain a new voice experience with the addition of Siri. Ask Siri to play any track, album, or playlist on Apple Music by using an iOS device to start playing on Sonos.

About Sonos: Sonos is the leading multi-room wireless smart home sound system. As the inventor of multi-room wireless home audio in 2002, Sonos innovation helps the world listen better by giving people access to the content they love and allowing them to control it however they choose. Known for an unparalleled music listening experience, thoughtful home design aesthetic and simplicity of use, Sonos is headquartered in Santa Barbara, where creativity, culture and innovation come together without Big Tech legacy thinking.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018


After a $71 million investment, years in development by 103 engineers and over 1,000 miles of test hair (that’s right, I said test hair), the Dyson Supersonic has been touted by its inventor as being “the hairdryer rethought” and the merits of the “rethought” Supersonic will be in full display this Thursday and Friday as Video & Audio Center’s newest Century City Technology Showroom will be hosting The Dyson Showcase featuring two professional hair stylists giving out FREE style blow-outs using the Dyson Supersonic.
To set your own appointment, please register first online here: REGISTER, then call (310) 277-8282 to book your FREE Professional Blowout & Style from a certified celebrity hair stylist. Appointments will run this Thursday, June 14th from 11am to 2:00pm and then again on Friday, June 15th from 11am to 8pm. Appointments are going fast, so please register and call fast.
But I digress; the Supersonic hair dryer is certainly unique in style, technology and impact. “We realized that hair dryers can cause extreme heat damage to hair,” said company founder Sir James Dyson in a press release. “So I challenged Dyson engineers to really understand the science of hair and develop our version of a hair dryer, which we think solves these problems.”

Conventional hair dryers can be bulky and difficult to maneuver, can blast air at high temperatures, which can cause extreme heat damage, all with the risk of hair being sucked into and trapped in the  filter. Yet despite these well known limitations hair dryer design has not advanced in more than 60 years.Frustrated with the limitations, Dyson engineers set out to solve these problems. The Dyson Supersonic™ hair dryer uses a fast but focused airflow, is engineered for balance in the hand and intelligently controls the temperature to help protect hair from extreme heat damage. 

According to Dyson, “Hair dryers can be heavy, inefficient and make a racket. By looking at them further we realized that they can also cause extreme heat damage to hair. I challenged Dyson engineers to really understand the science of hair and develop technology which helps overcome the problems of hot, bulky and unintelligent hair dryers.”

Dyson has invested over $71 million in the development of the Dyson Supersonic™ hair dryer including creating a state of the art laboratory dedicated to investigating the science of hair. Dyson engineers studied hair from root to tip, understanding how it reacts to stresses, how to keep it healthy and how to style it. Over four years they tested the product on different hair types and built test rigs, which mechanically simulate hair-drying techniques, which can differ around the world. To date over 1010 miles of real human hair have been used in testing. 

The Dyson Supersonic™ hair dryer is powered by the patented Dyson digital motor V9, created in-house by a team of over 15 motor engineers specifically for this machine. It’s Dyson’s smallest, lightest, most advanced digital motor and is up to eight times faster than other hair dryer motors and half the weight. In addition, because the Dyson digital motor is engineered to be powerful yet compact it is small enough to be positioned in the handle rather than the head; because of this the machine is engineered for balance. Most conventional hair dryers have the motor in the head of the machine.

Some conventional hair dryers can reach extreme temperatures, especially when held close to your head. This can cause extreme heat damage to your hair. The Dyson Supersonic™ hair dryer has intelligent heat control, helping to ensure hair isn’t exposed to excessive temperatures. A glass bead thermometer measures the temperature 20 times a second and transmits this data to the microprocessor, which intelligently controls the patented double-stacked heating element. 

The Dyson Supersonic™ hair dryer uses Dyson’s patented Air Multiplier™ Technology where the volume of the air drawn into the motor is amplified 300% due to this technology, producing a high pressure, high velocity jet of air. Traditional hair dryers can sometimes have a weak airflow, meaning they are slow. Others can have strong airflow, but it is not necessarily controlled. The Dyson Supersonic™ hair dryer creates a focused jet of air, angled at 20° for controlled, precise drying and styling. Allowing you to dry and style at the same time. 
A team of Dyson aero-acoustic engineers sought to understand how the acoustics of this machine could be optimized. By using an axial flow impeller inside the motor they have simplified the pathway of the air reducing turbulence and swirling. And by giving the motor impeller 13 blades instead of the usual 11, Dyson engineers pushed one tone within the motor to a sound frequency beyond the audible range for humans. Also, because the motor is small and compact they have been able to embed it in the handle, surrounded by acoustic silencers to further reduce sound. The Dyson Supersonic™ hair dryer is a hair dryer engineered to reduce noise, without compromising on speed.

The Dyson Supersonic™ hair dryer has four heat settings, three airflow settings and a cold shot too.  Dyson engineers have created three precisely engineered magnetic attachments, with 16 patents pending, to further control this airflow allowing you to achieve a range of different styles.

·      The Dyson engineered smoothing nozzle dries hair gently, using smooth, wide air, allowing you to dry and style at the same time.

·      The Dyson diffuser is engineered to disperse air evenly around each curl. It simulates natural drying, helping to reduce frizz and improve definition.

·      And the attachments remain cool to the touch. Using Heat Shield technology the hot air is contained within a sandwich of cold air meaning the surfaces of the attachment stay cool.

·      Being magnetic, each nozzle is easy to attach and adjust.

·      There are multiple settings including constant cool to set your style; four heat settings, three airflow settings and a cold shot too.
The Dyson Supersonic™ hair dryer has a unique heating element. In order to fit the format of the machine Dyson engineers needed to  develop a double stacked, inter-wound heating element with a hole through the middle. Competitor machines often use flat sheets of Mica slotted together in a Christmas tree shape, wire is then wrapped around this structure.

Like their vacuums, air purification fans and even lighting products, Dyson’s Supersonic hair dryer sets the standard in terms of both style and functionality; looking forward to see you at our Century City showroom on June 14th-15th 2018 so you can view these trend-setting products in operation for yourself in relaxed, informative, low-pressure (and quite possibly, hair-raising) demonstrations by Dyson representative.

See you there!.

Monday, June 04, 2018

The Evolution of Samsung’s Intelligent TVs, Making Your Home More Connected

Last year, more than 7 out of 10 TVs sold by Samsung Electronics in the global TV market were smart TVs, at Video & Audio Center our percentage of smart TV sales was even higher. According to market researcher IHS Markit, smart TV sales in the global market has exceeded 60 percent, which is a significant leap from 35 percent in 2013, demonstrating the growing demand for easy and convenient smart functions.

Samsung Electronics is one of Video & Audio Center's manufacturers that are leading the change by strengthening the intelligent function of its 2018 QLED TVs with artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT). This year’s QLEDTVs have dramatically simplified the consumer process for utilizing their TV, from the first set-up to connection with other devices. What’s more, the TVs are now able to share content with, and control, connected devices. These are the result of Samsung’s efforts to innovate the user experience based on the company’s understanding of consumer usage and by incorporating the intelligent assistant Bixby and the SmartThings IoT platform.

Effortless Set-up Once You Install the SmartThings App on Your Mobile Devices


The first step, of course, is to get the system set up – by taking just a few simple steps. When setting up for the first time, the TV will automatically connect to a user’s Samsung smartphone, or any mobile device with the SmartThings app installed, and take the user to the set-up step. The network information on the user’s smartphone will be shared, instantly connecting the TV to the Wi-Fi network it is connected to. If the user’s mobile is already linked to a Samsung Account, that information will also be shared with the TV.

Users can also select their apps of choice from their smartphones to enjoy them on Smart TV, and their favorites can also be added to the launcher for easy access. Once set up is complete, users won’t have to worry about it again. Unlike in the past where users had to sign in to each app on the TV, the Effortless Login feature will share and store the login information from a users’ mobile in the 2nd half of this year. The QLED TV allows users to instantly access their favorite social networking or music streaming apps.

IoT Devices Connected by a Single App

 According to a survey by business solution provider CSG, 9 out of 10 consumers already own IoT devices, and half of consumers expect IoT to make tasks easier around the home. But, the process of connecting the TV to the peripherals tends to be a hassle for many. The 2018 QLED TV has tackled such challenges once and for all with ‘SmartThings,’ an integrated IoT platform that’s available now.
Users can run the SmartThings app on their smartphone and click ‘Add Device’ to automatically find all the IoT devices in the house that users can connect to. When turned on, SmartThings detects IoT devices at home ranging from traditional home appliances like washing machines and air conditioners to baby-cam, lights, doorbell, and locks. Device information in these connected homes can be viewed at a glance on the TV using the SmartThings Dashboard. The TV immediately becomes the control tower of the living room. Users can, for example, operate the air conditioner after checking the home temperature. Or check the remaining laundry time on the washing machine. Users can also choose to take a look at what ingredients are in the Family Hub refrigerator.

New Family Messenger in the Living Room

TV has made it easier than ever to review the pictures and videos taken on a smartphone through the Gallery app. Photos and video clips can be uploaded on Samsung Cloud which is connected to the user’s Samsung account, ready to be viewed on a big screen. When you take a picture on your mobile while you are traveling, you can immediately share your memories with your family as soon as a notification is uploaded to the TV. The Gallery app enables users to share the same content on the family hub.

No More Multiple Remote Controls. Just Speak to Bixby.

The QLED TV has been equipped with ‘One Remote Control’ function, which can control various peripherals with one remote control. In particular, this year it not only supports game consoles, OTT (Over the Top) boxes and speakers, but also audio products connected with optical cables.

Bixby Voice also helps make navigating the QLED TV easier. By pressing and holding the remote control voice recognition button, it is possible to search content as well as set up a TV without having to operate it several times. It’s a strength that users can find various VOD (Video on Demand) contents such as Amazon, Hulu, and HBO as well as the contents of the set-top box. Users can also get additional information like the soundtrack while watching TV. For example, say “What is this song” to find out what music is playing in the background.

Also, devices connected on SmartThings are voice-controlled. With Bixby, users can have a home IoT experience where everything flows smoothly.
“This year’s smart features of QLED TV have made it easier for users to enjoy the TV experience more conveniently.” said Heeman Lee, Vice President of Samsung Electronics’ Visual Display Business. “We will realize home IoT that changes the lifestyle by various connected devices communicating organically.”

Video & Audio Center, last month named California's #1 Video & Audio Retailer/Integrator for 2018 (and #3 in the Country) for the 18th year in a row, carries a complete line of Samsung's latest  entertainment and smart home technologies, including the QLED TVs and SmartThings applications mentioned above—and for less than on Amazon or Best Buy, see stores for details.