2012: The Best is Yet to Come

Happy New Year from your friends at URC! We’re excited to turn the page to 2012. Total Control is on course for a full rollout shortly, and we can’t wait to see the creative ways you, our dealers, deploy this versatile new home control system. And of course, our CCP remotes, including our three new models, will continue to lead the custom industry in quality, ease of programming and functionality.

Next week is CES, and if you’re going, please stop by our booth and say hi—and sign up for a chance to win your own MX-450. We’ll be in the South Hall, ground level… Booth 21322.

Control the Universe is written for residential and commercial custom installation professionals. How are we doing? Don’t be afraid to say what’s on your mind. Please drop us a quick e-mail at editor@universalremote.com and let us know what you like or dislike.

Here’s to a happy and profitable 2012!

— Your friends at URC

Know Your Industry Journalist: Jason Knott
Jason Knott
Editor-in-Chief, CE Pro
Editorial Director, Commercial Integrator

Jason Knott is one of the custom installation industry’s most tireless advocates. As editor-in-chief of CE Pro, Jason has chronicled both the obvious and not-so-obvious issues that those in our industry face on a daily basis. Beyond coverage of the hot new products available, Jason and CE Pro regularly dive deeper, investigating what challenges custom installers face as businesspeople. We challenge you to read an issue of CE Pro and not learn something valuable. Jason and his team know what makes our industry tick, and share it with us in their magazine, on their terrific website, and through some extremely valuable live events, such as the recent CE Pro 100 Summit.

We spoke with Jason recently to learn what makes him tick.

How and when did you enter the custom installation industry? What did you do before that?
I joined CE Pro in 2000 after spending the previous 10 years also covering low-voltage electronics as the editor and publisher of trade publication Security Sales, so I have been writing about low voltage installation for 21 years. Man, I am old!

Not old... more like very experienced! What’s your favorite aspect of the custom installation industry?
By far, it's the entrepreneurial spirit of small companies. I have worked on publications for governmental entities (school bus fleets and transit fleet administrators) and it’s not the same.

What do you feel is going to be the big story of 2012 in the custom installation industry?
It will be most interesting to see how much the low-cost, entry-level “home automation” offerings from ADT, Time-Warner, Xfinity, Verizon and others will affect custom installers...either positively by introducing more consumers to integrated control of lighting, HVAC and security, or negatively by bringing more price pressure.

What’s the biggest challenge that CE pros currently face?
Adapting to cloud-based content and mobile source components that could make it harder to sell “black boxes” in racks. This, in turn, affects profitability.

Why should CE pros feel optimistic heading into 2012?
Lots of reasons. Technology is changing so rapidly that consumers are going to be turning to professionals to make it all work. Plus, the economy is on the comeback, commercial A/V and IT needs are growing, and even new housing is starting to grow and builders are now much more educated on tech offerings.

URC was a proud sponsor of the recent CE Pro 100 Summit. What were some of the most valuable take-home points that resulted from that event?
We had two sessions that I heard the most buzz from attendees about. One was on building a recurring monthly revenue business model, and the second was on LED lighting/energy management offerings. Also, we learned that Mitchell Klein can do a mean drumroll. (He helped out during our awards ceremony.)

Tell us about your responsibilities at CE Pro and with EH Publishing.
I am the editor-in-chief of CE Pro and editorial director for Commercial Integrator. The editorial, art and web staffs on both publications/websites really do all the work. I am just a figurehead!

What’s your favorite part of your job (besides being very modest)?
Getting out in the field and meeting with integrators at their businesses or on jobsites. You learn so much!

What’s the most challenging aspect of your job?
Time. We have a lean-and-mean staff. We do all the interviews and write all the print news articles and features, post all the online stories, post tweets all day as well as other social media, plan and create all the webinars, etc., plus travel to events and conduct seminars on a local and national level. There is just not enough time in the day. We could all spend 24 hours a day doing what we do.

What story that you wrote was your favorite of all-time?
All those URC stories I have written!

How do you use social media in your job?
As mentioned, we are on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn all day, plus we push our stories out to slashdot and other services.

Tell us about you: Your hobbies, your interests.
I am a pretty simple guy. I enjoy spending family time with my wife and my two young daughters (ages three and seven), plus gardening, home construction and golfing.

How can dealers and integrators better engage you and CE Pro?
We are all very accessible and respond to all inquiries from dealers. Just call or email any of us.

Final self-serving question: What are your thoughts about URC?
It is great to see the company moving beyond being “just a remote control” manufacturer. URC has a loyal following, which is evidenced by their #1 spot for many years in our CE Pro Brand Analysis Studies. The integrators I have spoken to are excited to follow URC into these new control and security categories.

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DSI Entertainment Systems Lists Five Reasons Why iPads Alone Aren't Great Home Theater Remotes

Our company line about using iPads and iPhones as remote controls has always been that they’re great supplementary controllers (and yes, we’ve got an app for that). However, a dedicated, well-programmed remote control far surpasses iDevices in terms of convenience, availability and speed. Many people we’ve spoken to in the custom installation industry agree.

Eric Thies of URC dealer DSI Entertainment Systems recently expanded on this argument in a recent article for CE Pro. Check it out here!

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Vincent Bova's Customer Base Includes Dealers Like You

Vincent Bova of Total Control Remotes in Monroe, N.J., not only serves clients in his immediate area, but all over the country. And, like many dealers will enjoy when they use our IP-based Total Control system, he’s serving many of them from the comfort of his own office.

That’s because his client list includes not only homeowners, but also installers like you. “I have a different type of model, where I not only compete with installers, but also help them by programming URC remotes for them,” he says. “A lot of installers don’t do a lot of programming to begin with, so they use me.” His list of installer clients includes about two dozen throughout the country, with a dozen of those heavy regulars.

Vincent Bova

Although his own homeowner clients now comprise a much larger part of his business, his business started as pure B-to-B. In fact, his original work for other installers, starting in 2005, led to growing his own installation business, which opened in 2008.

As many installers do, Vincent came into our industry in an untraditional way. His past was in the financial industry, but when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2005 (thankfully, Vincent is fine now), he decided a radical life change was in order. “I decided I wanted to focus on something I really love to do,” he says. “I love this stuff. Today, I have a really great quality of life, and I love what I’m doing.” A self-described “big home theater guy,” he says, “It’s great to see something evolve from a blueprint to a full-blown system that the client really loves.”

Vincent doesn’t operate a showroom… unless you count his own home. “A showroom can be kind of an anchor,” he says. “It can tie you down from doing things out in field, keeping appointments. Instead, I’ll often bring clients to my own home, where I have a home theater room, a full keypad with different types of music systems, a media server, three racks, a lighting system—all told, $80,000 worth of equipment. It’s the best of both worlds. People come over and see things, pick them up in their own hands. It makes it an easier decision for them. With a high-end remote like a URC product, I just put one in the client’s hand, and they really appreciate it. It’s a really good selling point. They think, ‘If his family is using it, it has to be a good thing.’”

An example of Vincent's URC

Vincent agrees with us and many of you that control remains a highly underrated component of our industry. “In any kind of entertainment system, the control system—if done properly—should be a window on the customer’s personality,” he says. “It needs to be control at your fingertips. It needs to be easy enough that children can control it. I invest a lot in graphics and design, and make the remote a real showcase in any kind of entertainment system. It blows me away when I walk into some $100,000 or $200,000 theater rooms, and the remote is lousy because the installer didn’t do a good job programming it. I do a lot of cleanup work for clients.

“Of course, I also realize that, to program a control system well, installers normally don’t have the staff, bandwidth, training or hours in the day to do a job that accurately captures the quality of work they want to represent their company through the client’s interface. I always compare it to a restaurant and why there is a separate pastry chef: It’s to ensure the quality of the deserts is on par with the main course.” Vincent, in effect, is that pastry chef for his installer clients.

URC has always been a big part of Vincent’s business; in fact, URC was the first system he had in his own home. “The MX-3000 was a huge part of my business for a long time,” he says. “It was my magnet; it always seemed to find me. I programmed that remote more than any other.” Today, his big seller is the MX-980, while he also moves a lot of MX-5000s. He also plans to install more MX-6000s going forward.

URC is one of the cornerstones of Vincent’s business. “URC’s product is evolving in such a way that I’m thrilled to be part of this company,” he says. “The whole idea behind the new Total Control line is great. The 2-way feedback, the accelerated version of the programming. URC has been moving this way for a long time with CCP, and now Total Control takes it to a whole other realm of control. I love the media server, I love the amplifiers. I don’t think anyone understands yet just how different this product is. I don’t think anyone makes an amp that does what URC’s does.

“What I really like is that everyone at URC is very hands-on. It’s an upfront company. They do a great job of working with and interacting with installers. They recognize problems and address them. With other companies, you don’t know what’s going on, or what they’re thinking. URC has done a very, very good job. I have a lot of fun with them too; it’s just a very fun company. The newsletter is fantastic, the PR, just the entire culture.

“URC gives me a bag of tricks,” he says. “I’m happy to be able to offer something at all price points. I have something for every customer. With other remote companies, some customers get priced right out.”

Vincent, we are blushing! Thank you for your kind words. And installers, if you need programming help, give Vincent a call at (848) 333-7337, or email him at Vincent@Totalcontrolremotes.com!

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Product of the Month: MX-780 Remote Control

One of our newest Complete Control remotes, the URC MX-780 is an ultra-affordable ($299.95 MSRP) entry into superior RF home theater control. We’re proud to say that many URC dealers already are eagerly embracing it.

This wand-style hard button remote sports a gorgeous 1.5-inch color OLED screen that offers a higher contrast ratio and lower energy consumption than traditional LCD screens do. The MX-780’s screen features deep, vibrant color levels—especially in low light settings.

A great option for control in secondary rooms, the PC-programmable MX-780 can control up to 255 devices anywhere in the home via 418MHz Narrow Band RF. Its centrally located Menu, Guide, Info and directional buttons enable users to smoothly navigate cable/satellite and DVD menus; it also offers four color (Red, Green, Blue and Yellow) hard buttons for DVR playback functionality. 

The MX-780 uses four AA-size alkaline batteries, and employs a sophisticated pick-up sensor that preserves battery life when the remote is not in use.

The MX-780 is a hot product. Order some today to warm up your winter sales!

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Hank's Tip of the Month
By Hank Eisengrein
URC Regional Training Manager, East

As I write this, we are savoring the last days of 2011 and we look forward to a great 2012. URC has a host of new products for you, the custom installation professional, to offer when designing systems for your customers in the New Year.

Over the past few months, we’ve been training dealers live on three new CCP remote controls. Just released and shipping is the sleek new MX-1200 touch screen wand remote. This might be the best design yet from our Dale Crawford (online alter ego Darnitol), along with the URC product design team. The MX-1200 is the big brother (or sister) to our MX-880 and new MX-780 remote controls.

For those of you who’ve sold and programmed URC’s network remotes (KP-4000, MX-5000, MX-6000), the MX-1200’s CCP screen will be a familiar sight—just without the pull-down option for two-way. Everything else looks and feels the same. So there’s no learning curve; just jump in and design a customized MX-1200 today.

You’ll have no worries that your customer will push the screen instead of a button next to the screen icon, because there are no buttons at the top of the beautiful MX-1200. Its elegant tabletop charger base with a Li-Ion battery and automatic motion sensor with a hard-button REC key on the layout make for a compelling new product choice from URC. It’s one hot remote control at only $699.99 retail. Buy one today and see for yourself.

The new MX-780 OLED remote control, out for a couple of months now, is already a hit with dealers. This affordable ($299.99 retail) unit is perfect for guest rooms and secondary areas in a big installation, yet fits perfectly in a budget system. Its bright color OLED screen features the newest set of URC icons and color graphics for you to use in the CCP software program.

If you like the MX-450, you’ll love the MX-780. It’s faster to program using the popular CCP software program than a URC standalone remote control is. Buy one for your next job or, better yet, for your truck—program it for URC Lighting so you can show every new customer just how easy it is to add lighting control.

Finally, behold the MXW-920. Pick your favorite lawyer’s term (”splash-proof” or “water-resistant”) and you have a new model based upon the very popular MX-900 that’s designed for active lifestyles. Now when you’re in your hot tub après ski under the stars, your MXW-920 can float along with you to control your outdoor entertainment universe. Sure to become one of our hottest models, the MXW-920 even floats, as seen in this video. And don’t just think of the MXW-920 for wet conditions, but also for families with young children to eliminate the “juice box effect” of sticky keys on a standard (not sealed) hard button remote.

So URC has now expanded its popular 900 Series to three models: The installer’s workhorse MX-900, the “it ain’t got no numbers” KP-900 wireless RF keypad in Light Almond, and now the floating MXW-920. Mix and match all three styles for your customers.

We’re confident that our three new CCP remotes will quickly join our existing models in the hearts and minds of loyal URC dealers. Stay tuned to see more exciting new products (and systems) from URC in 2012.

Happy New Year to all of you from your friend Hank and from all of us at URC! I look forward to seeing you at CES 2012 in Las Vegas. We’ll be on the ground level of South Hall, Booth Number 21322.

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Mitch's Musings
By Mitchell Klein
URC Director of Business Development

Ah, the annual rite of passing the baton from last to this year. The worst thing about flipping the calendar from December to January is the self-induced pressure to find something—anything—I can resolve to change or actually do, and stick with it for at least a few weeks.

I’ve put a few resolutions together for myself. Feel free to use them as your own. Best of all, there’s no pressure!

Increase my IQ. According to a survey conducted by TNX Research and Hewlett Packard, I’m “suffering a greater loss of IQ” (as much as 10 points!) being distracted by emails and text messages than if I smoked pot (not that I’m suggesting one should smoke anything!). Apparently, interrupting my workflow to check electronic messages is making me dumber—something which I suppose could be considered a bad thing. So this year I resolve to maintain whatever intelligence remains and not allow myself to get distracted by e-stuff. Perhaps I’ll even structure my day and check these e-stractions on a schedule, not a random “bing.”
Invest in The Home Depot or Lowe’s. I admit to being a DIY groupie. Much to the dismay of my sons, I could wander the aisles of my local Home Depot for hours, dreaming of projects I’d never finish. Whenever I visit any of these warehouses, I run into installers hunting for tchotchkes—a lag bolt, tie wrap, perhaps an outlet or extension cord. Gosh, there are so many things they could be buying there and, best of all, they head out there several times per week! So I figure that if every one of our dealers is diverting their installers to the local Lowe’s that much, I can grab a piece of that business by buying a few shares, kicking back and enjoying the inefficiency! Of course, as dealers get smarter and begin to actually inventory these low-cost items, this strategy may not be as effective…

Change my local FedEx driver’s route. I hate to wait, especially when I know he’s supposed to be here by 10:30, the latest my early-morning delivery can be made before I get a full refund on shipping costs. The problem is that I know the route starts on the other side of town, so my “FedEx First Overnight” has me watching and waiting for hours. I know if I can get him to change his route, my last-minute orders will arrive earlier and I can get my workday started earlier—perhaps even on time! Of course, if I start planning better and don’t need these rush shipments, my driver will be pretty angry at me, but planning better is—well, I just don’t have the time for that…

Here are a few more resolution quickies I’ve been mulling over:

  • “I will read the manual. Once I can find it.”
  • Coming up with a more secure password than “password.”
  • Practicing my texting-while-driving skills. 
  • Procrastinating less. After I’m done checking my email. And Facebook.

What are YOU planning to resolve for 2012? Let me know at mklein@universalremote.com.

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Tech Tips
By Joe Salvatore
URC Technical Support Manager

With the holidays upon us, I thought I’d keep the chatter to a minimum and provide as much useful technical information as I could in one easy-to-read, informative gift column. Since we get tons of questions on cable specifications in URC tech support, here’s info on pin outs and voltage. Happy New Year!

Pin outs for URC cables
URC emitters:
Copper conductor = GROUND
Silver conductor = DATA

White – Data – Tip
Red – 5V – Ring
Black – GND – Sleeve

White – Data – Tip
Red – 5V – Ring
Black – GND – Sleeve

URC Video and Voltage Sensor Plugs:
Tip = Voltage Sensing +
Ring 1 = 5V + (power supply for Voltage Sensor – it buffers 3-25V AC or DC)
Ring 2 = Video Sensing +
Base = Ground

Thus, if you are:
Voltage Sensing – You need Tip, Ring 1 and Base Connected
Video Sensing – You need Ring 2 and Base Connected

URC MALE and FEMALE RS232 cables:
FEMALE                                   MALE
PIN 2: Transmit                          PIN 2: Receive
PIN 3: Receive                           PIN 3: Transmit
PIN 5: Ground                            PIN 5: Ground

Voltage and polarity for emitters (MRF units included)

Emitter Polarity:
Tip= IR data     SLEEVE= GND

Emitter Voltage:
MRF-250 -> 9 V
MRF-260 -> 9 V
MRF-300 -> 9 V
MRF-350 -> 9 V
MSC-400 -> 12 V

VS-1006 Voltage Power Sensor Specs

Polarity: Not critical on VS-1006
Rating:  3-25 V AC or DC
Wire Gauge: up to 14 AWG

I hope you find the information here useful. Happy New Year!

For further support on this tech tip, please email us at techsupport@universalremote.com.

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URC Tool Box
App of the Month
Symetrix Jupiter 8 via IP

This CCP template for the Symetrix Jupiter 8 DSP via IP is configured for our KP-4000 Network Keypad. It includes a Quick Start Guide and the associated Symetrix app file for importing into a Jupiter 8 unit. Great for commercial applications!

To access this app in the URC Tool Box, log on to the URC Control Room.

Haven't checked out the Tool Box yet? What are you waiting for? Do it today! Just log onto the URC Control Room and click "URC Tool Box" on the left side of the home page.

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Tip of the Month

“Yes, you can use your iPad with our award-winning URC PSX-2 Personal Server by adding CableJive’s dockXtender extension cable. Some dealers who design very high-end marine systems, such as our good friend John “Duct Tape” Krug, use the dockXtender cable to hide the PSX-2 from view, leaving only the cable for the customer to connect to the iPad. It creates a nice, clean look. P.S. Don’t forget to add the PSX-2 two way module if you’re using a URC Network remote such as the KP-4000, MX-5000 or MX-6000 for on-remote metadata feedback.”
URC’s Hank Eisengrein

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International News

Our master distributor for Europe, BMB Electronics, recently announced the signing of a new URC distributor in Israel: T.R. Electro Stereo.

In late November, BMB Export Manager Mark van Zon and Head of Technical Support Peter Schoon flew to Israel for an intensive week of training.

Mark and Peter set up the full range of URC products, including Complete Control and a fully operational Total Control set up, both with two-way feedback of the PSX-2. The Total Control system also featured a Pioneer AVR and Blu-ray player.

Peter and Mark delivered a 20-minute presentation to numerous audiences: two groups of installers, a group of journalists from TV, newspapers, magazines and internet sites, two dealers groups and one group of chain stores. All told, close to 250 people showed up for BMB’s URC presentation, and footage was shot for a TV program.

The BMB duo also trained the more advanced installers and programmers. “These very skilled people showed a great interest in the Total Control solution and saw many opportunities and solutions,” reports BMB. On the last day of the training, a special session for T.R. Electro Stereo employees, who BMB reports were all very enthusiastic to start selling URC products.

“The event was organized in a very professional manner,” said Mark. “And it was one of the biggest I have ever seen!”

Kudos to BMB and to T.R. Electro Stereo as they bring URC to Israel in a big way!

In other news, read about the key role that the MX-980i is playing on this very special yacht.

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Wish I'd Said That
"Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man."
- Benjamin Franklin

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