Hosts: Tom Kraeutler & Leslie Segrete
(NOTE: Timestamps below correspond to the running time of the downloadable audio file of this show. Text represents a professional transcriptionist’s understanding of what was said. No guarantee of accuracy is expressed or implied. ‘Ph’ in parentheses indicates the phonetic or best guess of the actual spoken word.)
BEGIN HOUR 2 TEXT:
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And this very special edition of The Money Pit is coming to you today from the floor of the Las Vegas Convention Center where hundreds of thousands have gathered for the granddaddy of technology shows. It’s the 2009 International Consumer Electronics Show and it’s our very first visit and it’s an amazing wealth of technology for your home.
LESLIE: That’s right and we decided to bring The Money Pit here because we think that homes are going more and more high-tech. In fact, according to the Consumer Electronics Association – and they’re the backers of this show – American households now have an average of 24 electronic gadgets; 50 if you’re Tom. (chuckles)
TOM: (chuckling) Yeah, that’s right. And if you’ve got an old-fashioned television right now, the one with the rabbit ears, you might be getting one more gadget within the next few weeks because those broadcast signals are going to switch from analog to digital next month. You’ll need a converter or a digital TV.
LESLIE: What? I’ve never heard of that. (laughs)
TOM: Really, to be able to watch anything whatsoever.
LESLIE: Well, if you’ve got a newer TV, like an LCD television, you are safe. And guess when LCD TVs sell the most. Well, right now; right about, you know, that big football game that’s going to happen; that Super Bowl?
TOM: (chuckling) I bet, right?
LESLIE: Maybe you’ve heard about it. So if you’re thinking of upgrading your TV, you’re going to want to hear what our next guest has to say.
TOM: He’s Bruce Berkoff. He’s the chairman of the LCD TV Association and author of HDTV Buying Guide, the 2008 edition.
BRUCE: Hi, Tom. Great to see you.
TOM: Now you have captured everything in this book that we need to know if we’re going to go shopping for HDTV.
BRUCE: Well, actually, it started as a letter to my parents, so …
TOM: Really? (Leslie chuckles)
BRUCE: (inaudible at 0:02:01.0) And so I expanded upon that just to help them buy their new TV last year. They said, ‘You know all this. Help me’ and …
TOM: Alright, well why don’t you help some of our listeners here? If you’re thinking about buying an HDTV, what are some of the things you ought to be looking for?
BRUCE: Well, it’s really a question of just not to be confused by the specs. It’s really just three simple things. In any TV, but especially in a flatscreen LCD TV, there’s the image quality.
BRUCE: There’s the overall design. I like to call it at home the wife acceptance factor. (Tom and Leslie chuckle) Light, fits in with the furniture. And then the greenness, which can be power – power consumption lower, lower, lower; which we want – but also things like no heavy metals, no waste, good supply chain, small packaging; the overall logistical issues that people put in to make sure it’s green for the environment. And those three things are being addressed by the major manufacturers like LG Electronics and VIZIO, et cetera, so that you have better products that cost less and just more value every year.
TOM: And you have the opportunity to not sort of get confused with all the data that’s being thrown at you.
BRUCE: Correct. There’s so many needs and feeds and specs …
BRUCE: … like the viewing angle and contrast and much more. And so the …
TOM: I couldn’t believe how many different jacks and receptacles and slots were in the back of the last TV I bought.
BRUCE: Well, and that’s why I tried to write the HDTV Buyers Guide for my folks, so that they can realize what’s important to you. Do you need five HDMIs or is one OK and does it fit in with your furniture?
BRUCE: Just you have to be happy with it in your room.
LESLIE: And I have to tell you, Bruce; I mean, really, when my husband and I went to get this ginormous television, which I look at everyday and think, ‘Gosh, it’s enormous,’ (Tom chuckles) for me it really was, ‘Whatever you like and as long as it’s just not ugly.’ So how do you make the choice?
BRUCE: Well, that’s getting better and easier because, again, what we’ve done at the LCD TV Association is help work with the whole supply chain; from the initial people that make the liquid crystals – like Merck, KGAa (sp) and Corning, which makes a lot of the (inaudible at 0:03:51.0) to the vendors that make the panels – things like LG display and vendors like AmTRAN that make things for our LG Electronics, VIZIO, et cetera – so that you have – the design element is not forgotten and the usage elements from day one. As they get thinner and lighter, you can hang them on the wall; put them next to furniture. You don’t have to start pushing furniture out of the room the way the old (inaudible at 0:04:10.9) projection sets made you do. (Leslie chuckles)
TOM: Right, right. Yeah. And we just heard about something called ArtScreen where you can actually cover them when they’re not being used.
BRUCE: Correct. There are so many interesting things that can be slid in and out. You can cover them. ArtScreen is a beautiful design that slides over the front with your choice of art, actually. It’s quite beautiful signed art.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Right, of course. Yep.
BRUCE: And there’s even the digital art: your family photo pictures.
BRUCE: Photo frames now, which we’ve seen in [seven and ten-inch] (ph) versions. Again, LG displays introducing a low wattage 42-inch version; so it’s really a TV screen but then it goes into a standby low-power mode (inaudible at 0:04:42.6).
TOM: (overlapping voices) Well, with so many televisions available, how do you kind of shop before you shop? What are sort of the questions you should be asking yourself before you actually go into the store or go online, in terms of deciding how much TV you really need?
BRUCE: And again, I like to tell people that there’s – you can get the whole Geek Squad to (Tom chuckles) (inaudible at 0:05:01.0). It’s really up to your individual – I like to tell people, ‘Don’t worry about it. Do what feels best in terms of the room, the design that you have to live with.’
BRUCE: It has to look as good off as it does on. So first, look at the design then decide – there’s lots of websites: the individual vendors’ websites as well as things like Consumer Reports, et cetera; listen to your great show. There’s lots of – do the thing that feels best to you and don’t get blown away by too much detail. And again, the HDTV Buyers Guide was written for my folks (inaudible at 0:05:29.1) to make it easy. Just see what’s best; what are the (inaudible) what do you need …
BRUCE: … for your legacy things – cable or VCR — or your new things like Blu-ray.
TOM: Bruce Berkoff, Chairman of the LCD TV Association and author of the HDTV Buying Guide, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit. Where can we get the book?
BRUCE: Amazon.com; any places like that. And again, there’s things like our new green TV logo out there so you know that it’s tested, certified the lowest power and things. It’s like IPS technology for best viewing angle, response time, colors, et cetera.
TOM: Fantastic. Bruce, thanks for stopping by.
BRUCE: Thank you. Take care.
LESLIE: Alright, Bruce, thanks so much.
You are listening to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com and we are coming to you direct from the 2009 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
TOM: Up next, the high-tech wired home. Want to know what’s going on when you’re not there? You can, from any PC, find out all about that, next.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show coming to you from the Las Vegas Convention Center where hundreds of thousands of folks have gathered to check out what’s new in consumer electronics.
LESLIE: That’s right. Electronics vendors from around the world have come to the 2009 International Consumer Electronics Show to announce and unveil the absolute latest and greatest in technology and consumer electronics that they’ve got to offer, including innovations and wireless communications, digital video, high-performance audio and our favorite, home networking.
TOM: And in fact, this is the first time The Money Pit is broadcasting here from the Consumer Electronics Show and it’s because we think high-tech home is making its way into the mainstream.
LESLIE: That’s right. For example, there’s a product that we want to tell you about. It’s called Archerfish. And we think this would be great for those of you who like to direct it yourself; you know, hire somebody to do your renovations for you. Imagine sitting in your office looking at your computer and being able to watch the renovations as they happen. (Tom chuckles) Or how about being able to keep an eye on your dogwalker or your babysitter? And this will definitely put a damper on those teenage house parties that happen when mom and dad are out of town.
TOM: Oh, man. I am just moments away from those starting to happen up in my neighborhood, too. (Leslie chuckles) We’re talking about a home monitoring system that goes way beyond the standard security system. Here to tell us more about it is the Cernium Company CEO, Craig Chambers.
CRAIG: Hi, how are you?
TOM: Now you guys have a background in commercial security and this is the first venture into the consumer market. How’s it going?
CRAIG: It’s going very well. The technology has come a long way since we first started in the industrial space. Since computers have gotten a lot more powerful, we’ve been able to take things that used to sit in big stacks of equipment and take it down to a single chip.
TOM: And you’ve done just that. Tell me about Archerfish and how it makes it easy for people to really keep an eye on their homes and their home offices and their kids and all that.
CRAIG: Well, people are probably familiar with nanny cams; so they’re taking cameras and scattering them around their houses or other locations. What’s happening, though, is they’re using more and more cameras …
CRAIG: … and they can easily use all of their time up just watching to see what’s going on. So we make it possible for them to just get the information they need from those cameras.
TOM: Now what’s cool about this is you’ve actually defined the event that triggers the camera and the example you gave to me is that when we’re at the airport and we’re going on the out – we got off our flight and we’re leaving the airport, you walk by that point of no return that you can’t turn around and go back. Your technology is actually used in a place like that to tell the TSA if someone actually is reversing and walking in a different direction. So you can basically program the event. If somebody walks into a particular zone, for example, it can trigger the camera or if they make a different action.
CRAIG: Exactly, and what we’ve done is train the – basically, the computer, the device that sits on your premises, to do exactly what you would do if you would there.
LESLIE: So are we talking about having cameras in every, single room? Are these small where they’re disguised? Is this sort of the most sophisticated nanny cam in that it’s hidden in something that we look at everyday?
CRAIG: Well, in the first instance, we’ve actually just got small, regular, analog cameras; there’s nothing special about them. And what we’ve done is create an appliance that sits behind those that has all the intelligence in it.
TOM: And the cameras are so small today; I mean they’re really the diameter of your thumb.
CRAIG: We call them lipstick cameras. You can get them through pretty much any catalog. We’ve specified a few different vendors that supply them.
LESLIE: Now, I understand – so you’re able to then go to a secure website and monitor what’s going on? Is that how this works?
CRAIG: Exactly. And what we found is that people have really complicated lives these days. They’re in a lot of places. You might be at your business and you’re worried about what’s happening at home or you’re home and you’re worried about what’s happening at Grandma’s house. So this gives you the ability to tap into the information from those cameras, wherever you are, over at your own personal web portal.
LESLIE: And because I’m able to access this camera at any time that I want, there’s not, say, a third party somewhere monitoring what’s happening in my home at all times. I control or an action controls the access of the cameras.
CRAIG: Exactly. You decide who has access to the portal through a regular password but the flexibility you have can be like a friends-and-family type of arrangement where say you were expecting a package to be delivered while you were on vacation; you could very easily set up the system to notify your neighbor next door that someone was on your porch. They could go look for the package, pick it up and make sure it was waiting for you when you got back even though you were a thousand miles away.
TOM: Well, it’s an incredibly smart monitoring system. Craig Chambers, CEO of Cernium, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
If you want more information on this product, you can go to their website at MyArcherfish.com.
CRAIG: Thank you, Tom.
TOM: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show coming to you from the Consumer Electronics Show.
Up next, Holland Cooke is The Money Pit’s media consultant. You know, with so much to see here, he’s another set of eyes for us.
So Holland, what do you see and hear for home sweet home?
HOLLAND: Not surprisingly, mobile devices are very big here because we’re all so darned busy these days. And because we are so busy, our time at home is so precious and according to brand, new research from the Consumer Electronics Association, our time at home is increasing because of the down economy. There is an expectation …
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Because we can’t afford to go anywhere.
HOLLAND: (overlapping voices) Yeah, we’re going to cocoon – to use the buzzword. And obviously that’s good for business if you’re making HDTVs, Blu-ray players …
TOM: Yeah, the whole staycation concept.
HOLLAND: The staycation concept. And a lot of the radio stations that The Money Pit Home Improvement Show is heard on are advertising for businesses that are called custom installation companies.
HOLLAND: You bought the TV, you bought the surround sound and they come in and install it all for you …
HOLLAND: … so you don’t have a rat’s nest of wires showing.
TOM: Yeah, and a lot less aggravation that way. One call, it’s in. These guys do it everyday and it’s the way to get it done and then you can really get off to enjoying it.
HOLLAND: So we expect a cocoon. In terms of sheer home improvement, there are a lot of tools here and for years you’ve been reviewing laser levels and CO detectors and other gadgets that are digitally powered. We take this stuff for granted now and you’ve got to chuckle. If you think back, 1969, that first lunar landing craft …
HOLLAND: … that set man down on the moon the first time had 33K of computing power in it. (Tom laughs) There is more computing power in your microwave today (Leslie laughs); in a remote control.
HOLLAND: So we’ve learned to take all this stuff for granted. The two coolest gadgets I’ve seen are going to sit right there on your nightstand. One of them is called Powermat.
TOM: Yes. We’re going to hear about that, actually, coming up in just a few minutes.
HOLLAND: It’s going on sale this fall. No wires necessary. You just put your phone and all your gadgets down on it …
HOLLAND: … and they recharge. How cool is that? And Howard Stringer, the chairman and CEO of SONY, showed us a prototype of – for lack of a better term – a clock radio.
HOLLAND: It’s really a clock radio-sized screen and you program it. It’s always on; it’s always online. So if you want the Manchester United soccer scores, Sonny and Cher songs (Tom laughs) and the weather for Phoenix or whatever you want it serves it up when you want it, right there. So you really have taken control of the information right there on the nightstand.
TOM: Well, it’s interesting because we’ve all become our own program directors; you know, those folks …
TOM: … from the radio stations that do such a great job of programming the great music and talk that we listen to. We’ve actually taken on a lot of that ourselves with our choices and these devices are going to help us do that.
HOLLAND: IPod was just the beginning.
TOM: Absolutely. Holland Cooke, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit, filling us in on the trends that you think are going to be big in consumers’ homes over the coming year.
HOLLAND: Viva Las Vegas.
LESLIE: You are listening to The Money Pit direct from the floor of the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show. You know, one of the really cool things about the Consumer Electronics Show is the products that are unveiled here often go on to become a household staple; you know, things like DVDs, HDTVs, even the VCR were all unveiled here first.
TOM: How about a remote control that fights germs? We’ve got one. Here to tell us all about that and some of the other new, cool products from Audiovox is Lou Lenzi, the senior vice president of product development.
LOU: Good afternoon.
TOM: Now, you know I had the opportunity to take a vacation recently where we were on a cruise ship. And every time you went from room to room they had these little wipes where you could wipe handles and all these things that you touch. The one thing that we touched probably almost more than anything else, by so many different people in a house, is that remote control.
LOU: That’s correct.
TOM: And if there’s germs on that, boy, that is the quickest way to spread it. We can wash our hands but you can’t wash your remote control. (Leslie chuckles)
LOU: So, to that end, we are introducing a kid’s remote, actually.
LOU: Designed for young children. It is targeted for Direct TV households because there are eight preprogram buttons on the remote and they’re all tied to children-related programming.
LOU: It’s the Cartoon Network, et cetera. We went so far as to add an antimicrobial material into the plastic cabinet itself so that when the kids come in from outdoors and they grab the remote and turn on the TV, the surface of the remote is actually killing the bacteria, the fungus and the mold.
TOM: What a tremendous technology. Now why don’t we see this in more products?
LOU: You will. In fact, we’re developing, for the spring of this year, a spray-on solution that is based on silver – a nanotechnology material – that will be introduced in our surface line that will allow you to provide that same kind of protection, killing that bacteria.
LESLIE: Because I tell you, Lou, I cringe every time my little guy gets his hands on the remote control and it immediately goes right towards his mouth.
LOU: That’s correct. (Tom chuckles)
LESLIE: And it’s like I think about how many times I’ve touched it, did I wash my hands, was I eating; and especially if I go and stay at a hotel. You know, Tom and I are on the road a lot and I think about that remote control and if you accidentally wake up in the middle of the night and it’s like touching your mouth you’re like, ‘Aagh!’ (Tom and Leslie laugh)
LOU: Well, this product will be available in May of this year …
LOU: … and it’ll be 24.99.
TOM: Wow, it’s a great price, too. And distributed nationally?
LOU: Nationally, yeah.
TOM: That’s great.
Now before we let you go, you’ve got a couple other products out. You’ve got an indoor digital TV antenna and an outdoor digital TV antenna.
LOU: That’s correct. We have the digital TV transition coming up, as you know …
LOU: … February 17th; although President-Elect Obama may push that date out.
LOU: But we designed a line of antennas specifically for those frequencies so that you have the ability to pull in that crystal-clear, off-air digital TV picture.
TOM: That’s perfect timing. Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit, Lou Lenzi, Senior Vice President of Product Development for Audiovox.
LOU: Thank you very much.
TOM: Well, television viewing has changed in a way no one could have imagined with digital recording devices making it possible to watch shows when you want.
LESLIE: Well, now you can take that to the next level and watch those shows where you want. We’ll tell you about that, next.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And our show today is coming to you from the 2009 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. This show covers the area of 30 football fields, so it’s definitely the biggest show of its kind and I’ve got to say, I’m glad I brought my sneakers.
LESLIE: (chuckling) Yeah, and you know there are 2,700 exhibitors here; 300 of them are here for the first time just like me and Tom. You know, Team Money Pit figured it’s about time to cover this show; after all, Americans have an average of two dozen consumer electronics in their homes and we are expected, as Americans, to spend $170 billion on a few more electronic gadgets this year alone.
TOM: Well, maybe you like to splurge on entertainment. Our next guest has info on an innovative way to watch your favorite TV shows whenever and, most importantly, wherever you want. Welcome Brian Jaquet from Sling Media.
BRIAN: Hey, how you guys doing?
TOM: Well, talk to us about Slingbox. It’s an amazing technology. How does it work and what’s new?
BRIAN: Yeah, so Slingbox is – we’ve been around for a few years. But the product is essentially – it’s a piece of hardware that connects to your satellite receiver, your digital cable set-top box, whatever you have that’s giving you television at home. It also needs to be connected to the internet.
BRIAN: And then you – basically, once it’s installed you can watch and control your living room TV on your PC, on your Mac and on a number of mobile phones anywhere in the world. So I can be – you know, I can be here in Vegas but I’m watching Bay Area television; all the local channels from the Bay Area, all my local sports teams, all the shows off of my DVR that I have recorded. And it’s a really, really powerful product.
LESLIE: And you know what, Brian? I have to tell you, last year for Christmas I gave a Slingbox to my brother-in-law who travels quite extensively all over the globe for work – you know three, four weeks at a time in India – and was always complaining how he missed his favorite shows – 30 Rock, Lost, whatever. And for not a ton of money – and I have to tell you, it was a little confusing in the store but the folks who worked at the place where I bought it really sorted out which one I needed based on how they got their cable at home. And he loves it. It was the greatest gift I think I’ve ever given anyone.
BRIAN: Yeah, that’s great to hear. We hear stories like that all the time; where people are like, ‘Oh, my gosh. I was in Sweden and I was watching a Colorado Denver Bronco game (Tom chuckles) the other weekend and it was awesome. Thank you so much.’ You know, your point about a little bit of complexity; this is a hardware product where we’re trying to – we’re trying to make it work with like over 5,000 AV devices that you might have in your home. And so we’re casting a very wide net.
One of the things we’re doing here at the Consumer Electronics Show is we’re announcing – with our parent company, EchoStar – an integrated Slingbox into their satellite receiver. So now you don’t have to go out and buy a Slingbox. You get – and the first customer is going to be Dish Network.
TOM: Oh, great.
BRIAN: So you get your new Dish set-top box with your DVR and all your great programming …
TOM: And it allows you to carry that programming wherever you are.
BRIAN: Yeah, it’s got Sling built in, basically. So now you just install software on your computer or on a mobile phone.
BRIAN: We announced support for the iPhone and BlackBerry this week, as well. You can watch all your great programming anywhere.
TOM: It’s like Intel inside. (Leslie chuckles) You’ve got Sling inside.
BRIAN: (chuckling) We’re calling it Sling-loaded.
TOM: Sling-loaded. (chuckles)
BRIAN: Yep, yep, yep.
TOM: That’s fantastic. Now how hard is, actually, if you don’t have it built in? How hard is the install? Is there tech support to help you out if there’s any questions?
BRIAN: Yeah, we have a pretty extensive tech support. We have both online and we actually have this thing now where someone can log into your computer, with your consent, and actually configure it for you.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Set the whole thing up? Oh, fantastic.
BRIAN: Now you know, you need to plug in some cords. We say it’s no harder than setting up your VCR. But people still have blinking (Tom laughs) 12s on their VCR display.
LESLIE: (chuckling) (overlapping voices) They can’t – it’s 12:00.
BRIAN: And so sometimes that’s not the best example. But you plug in the red and the yellow and the white cord from your DVR or your cable box …
TOM: Right, and you’re good to go.
BRIAN: … into the Slingbox and you plug in your TV and you’re good to go.
LESLIE: And I have to tell you, Brian, the Slingbox themselves; they are sleek, they are beautiful, they’re nonintrusive into the plethora of items we’ve already got in our entertainment system. And they truly – you know, as somebody who’s away from home a lot and just enjoys the comfort of comedy, it really is a fantastic item.
BRIAN: Yeah, well thank you for that, Leslie. We get a lot of awards for our design, actually. We take a lot of pride in the design of the product. So it’s got to fit in well …
BRIAN: … with your home AV system.
TOM: Yeah, it does. It fits in well with your d