Home Cinemas of the Rich & (In)Famous - Reunification Palace Saigon

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Home Cinemas of the Rich & (In)Famous - Reunification Palace Saigon

This month on a visit to Vietnam for pleasure and work I had the opportunity to visit the Reunification Palace, or Independence Palace as it is also known, in Saigon.

 The Independence Palace in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh) City

The Independence Palace in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh) City

Independence Palace (Dinh Độc Lập), also known as Reunification Palace (Vietnamese: Dinh Thống Nhất) is built on the site of the former Norodom Palace in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam. It was designed by architect Ngô Viết Thụ and was the home and workplace of the President of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. It was here that heralded the end of the Vietnam War whilst during the Fall of Saigon - 30 April 1975 a North Vietnamese Army tank crashed through its gates.

 The Cinema at the Independence Palace

The Cinema at the Independence Palace

Once a seat of opulence and hosting some of the worlds top dignitaries the Palace featured an extravagant (for the time and location) home theatre which could fit nearly 40 people in it's plush velvet chairs.  The room is pure 70's retro, padded leather doors, red velvet and cold war era panelling finish off the room.

 Here the cinema is seen with different seating arrangement and carpet.

Here the cinema is seen with different seating arrangement and carpet.

 View towards the home theatre front stage

View towards the home theatre front stage

 Dual Projectors from the Cold War Era

Dual Projectors from the Cold War Era

 Retro Cinema seating 

Retro Cinema seating 

 Part of the Cinema Sound System

Part of the Cinema Sound System

The cinema screen was fed by twin projectors, preserved in museum like care and what must have been at the time a very sophisticated cinema sound system and including a very retro record player from the 1970's.

I can only imagine the stories that this room could tell, For the period it must have been very impressive and it had to be, the South Vietnamese and the United States were waging a war against communism and the palace was held up as a sign of how good things were under their regime and hosted visitors from around the world.

 

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SONOS make registration mandatory and go Public with IPO

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SONOS make registration mandatory and go Public with IPO

Multi room audio specialist SONOS is to make registration of products mandatory for all users.  SONOS is famous for it's Connect:Amp and Play series of speakers and the newly introduced SONOS Beam and Soundbar which pair with it's SONOS SUB.  

 The SONOS family of multi room audio products

The SONOS family of multi room audio products

If you update your iPhone, iOS or Android device to the latest firmware you will be asked to register your products if you haven't already.  Previously you only had to register if you wanted to activate advanced options like home automation or speech control through Alexa.

SONOS bills itself as the maker of the easy-to-use multi-room wireless home sound system, recently went public with an IPO through NASDAQ, raising nearly 100 million dollars and valuing the company at close to 3 billion dollars.

 Sonos Beam Home Theatre Setup with SUB and Rear Surrounds powered by Play1

Sonos Beam Home Theatre Setup with SUB and Rear Surrounds powered by Play1

We’re honored to join the Nasdaq family as we build a future where sonic culture is at the forefront, Sonos has spent the last 16 years building a high-quality easy-to-use wireless sound system designed to work with all of the streaming services, voice assistants, and smart home companies that those who care about great sound want in their lives. Today is an exciting milestone as we work to help the world live better through better listening.
— Patrick Spence - CEO Sonos
 Patrick Spence - CEO of SONOS

Patrick Spence - CEO of SONOS

Sonos debuted the world's first wireless multi-room home sound system in 2005 and has been a leading innovator in wireless home audio since its founding in 2002. Each thoughtfully designed speaker and component that makes up the Sonos system is built on a software platform that gets better over time and helps the world listen better by giving people access to the content they love, from the services they want. As a result, Sonos homes listen to an average of 80% more music, and a remarkable 93% of units ever shipped are still receiving software updates.

Sonos products are distributed in over 50 countries, with 100 streaming services available globally. Sonos continues to build for the long term, designing for the way customers live while prioritizing amazing sound. Sonos is changing the way people listen to music - one home at a time.

 SONOS Lists on the NASDAQ market with IPO

SONOS Lists on the NASDAQ market with IPO

In nearly two decades, Sonos has become a category leader in easy-to-use wireless home audio with more than 19 million products registered in 6.9 million homes around the world. We are thrilled to welcome Sonos to join our family of visionaries and look forward to forging a great partnership with such a revered company.
— Nelson Griggs - President, NASDAQ

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Control4 Hires Amazon Alexa Mastermind - Charlie Kindell

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Control4 Hires Amazon Alexa Mastermind - Charlie Kindell

In what most will seem must be a bit of a coup, Charlie Kindel - the Mastermind behind Amazon's popular Alexa technology and products has been hired by home automation supplier Control4.

The idea of the smart, connected home is decades old and has been poised to take off many times. It’s gratifying to see individual and industry persistence paying off as connected home solutions are finally hitting mainstream households. However, many products and systems are still too complex and don’t work well across an entire home. By being customer-obsessed, Control4 has become the leader in whole-home connected solutions that are highly-refined, reliable, and simple to use. I’m excited I now get to focus on leading the smart home revolution from this different perspective.
— Charlie Kindel - Control4
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Charlie Kindel spent five years at Amazon heading up what was originally a secret program to create the Alexa and Echo Smart Home products and systems for Amazon.  Prior to thios Charlie spent 21 years working at Microsoft creating Windows Media Centre and Windows Home Server so is well versed in the Smart Home and Integration space.

 Charlie Kindel - Control4

Charlie Kindel - Control4

During my time at Amazon, I witnessed the explosive growth in the Smart Home – voice, the most natural interface for the home, has driven consumer demand and acceptance. The problem is, getting all those individual products to work together – throughout the entire home is work typical home owners just don’t want to do. There’s too much fragility and complexity for normal folks to deal with.

For the past 16 years I did everything myself: multi-room audio, smart lighting, smart sprinklers, whole home security, and automation. Even for me, it was a second fulltime job to make all that really work. I’m absolutely convinced that the only way normal people will be able to really enjoy the benefits of a whole-home smart home is with professional help.
— Charlie Kindel

At Control4 Charlie is the Senior Vice President heading up Products and Services.  Control4 is a leading provider of personalized automation and control solutions, allows you to control virtually any device in a home or business, automatically. Founded in 2003, the company mission is to deliver an elegant and more affordable way to control and automate lighting, music, video, security and energy in a single room or throughout the entire home.

As part of his dedication to his new employer, Charlie set about upgrading his whole house to Control4 Smart Home Automation, including his Dolby Atmos home theatre setup and multi room sound.

 Control4 Smart Home Automation

Control4 Smart Home Automation

I went with 148 intelligent lighting loads controlled by Control4’s panelized lighting, 52 Control4 keypads, five rooms of Multi-room 4K video including an Atmos home theater setup, 10 zones of Multi-Room audio using Triad amplifiers and speakers, two Control4 door stations, 15 Pakedge cameras, 9 Control4 smart thermostats, five Pakedge wireless access points, a host of Pakedge gigabit switches, and more. My fireplaces and the air compressor in my garage are all controlled by Control4 too. My network has 98 IP devices 58 Zigbee devices.
— Charlie Kindel

We wish Charlie luck and it's great to see someone so passionate about technology involved with one of the big smart home companies, I'm sure it will be a very successful partnership for both of them.

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Home Cinemas of the Rich and Famous - Charlie Sheen / Kendall Jenner

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Home Cinemas of the Rich and Famous - Charlie Sheen / Kendall Jenner

This Mulholland Drive house was owned by by actor Charlie Sheen until very recently when it was bought by 22 year old Kendall Jenner for $8.55 million.  This 5 Bedroom, 6 Bathroom villa features two swimming pools, and two home theatres, one custom room and another cinema/bar area in the Master Bedroom.

 Charlie Sheen's old house now owned by Kendall Jenner

Charlie Sheen's old house now owned by Kendall Jenner

 Actor Charlie Sheen

Actor Charlie Sheen

52 year old actor Charlie Sheen who's original name is Carlos Irwin Estévez has appeared in films including Platoon, Wall Street, Young Guns, Eight Men Out, Major League, Hot Shots!, and The Three Musketeers. 

His breakout movie was the 1986, 4 times Academy Award winning, war movie about Vietnam, called Platoon.

 

 

 Kendall Jenner

Kendall Jenner

Kendal Jenner is an American model and television personality.

Originally appearing in the E! reality television show Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Jenner is now also a model in a movement dubbed "the Instagirl era" by Vogue magazine, or "Social Media Modeling" by Harper's Bazaar, where models are chosen for their online presence and social media following

 

The home cinema is decorated in a bold Blood Red design with crushed velvet seating and curtains with gothic inspired mouldings and sconces.

 The Design scheme of the Mulholland Drive cinema is Blood Red and a little Gothic.

The Design scheme of the Mulholland Drive cinema is Blood Red and a little Gothic.

 The bedroom also features a full cinema design and mini-bar.

The bedroom also features a full cinema design and mini-bar.

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Are Cinema Screens going LED - TV Style? Samsung Hope So!

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Are Cinema Screens going LED - TV Style? Samsung Hope So!

 The begining of cinema

The begining of cinema

If you go to the cinema, today, anywhere in the world to watch a movie - you will be watching a projected image, shone onto a white (or grey) screen.  It's been that way since 1895 when the first publicly screened movie was shown in Paris, in December.  Cinema's equal projectors, yes nowadays most of those projectors are digital,digital projectors were launched in 1999 to replace film, after all film is hard to move around, load, transport whilst data is not.

That's the Status Quo, except the large Korean electronics manufacturers aren't particularly well known for their projector technology, Samsung and LG are very famous for their LCD technologies (LED, OLED, QLD, ULED, MicroLED) and Televisions.  They also have a not-so-secret weapon in their armoury - Black Levels.

 Samsungs Giant 34 foot cinema screen

Samsungs Giant 34 foot cinema screen

Black Levels and Shadow Detail are two phrases that are used to describe how well a screen (or projected image) can work when showing darker images.  Black Levels refers to  the level of darkness of the black colors that can be shown, whilst Shadow Detail is just that, the level of detail in the image that can be made out in the darker areas.

A normal projector shines or throws an image onto a blank canvass which reflects back to the viewer. Looking at your projector screen in a darkened room with the projector off will immediately show you the very darkest level of black you will be able to achieve, now most screens are white or grey - so you can imagine this isn't very dark, certainly not black.

Samsung have made a leap with their Giant LED TV technology into the cinema world with a 34 foot LED TV that maybe set to change the way that movie theaters work forever.

 Samsung Cinema LED Technology

Samsung Cinema LED Technology

Named after the jet-black jewel, Onyx.  Samsung latest screen is a giant and it uses LED technology to display perfect black levels.  Each individual pixel can actually be turned on or off, so a true black is possible AND there isn't bleed from the next pixel along, as there often is with projectors.  The Giant 'TV' also offers a very bright, uniform color rendition.

Samsung are suggesting that the new screen is 10 times brighter than standard cinema projectors at 146 foot-lamberts (a measurement used to express luminance).  That's also about 4-5 times the brightness of the newer Laser projectors in cinemas.  The Onyx is currently only available in 4k resolution and can support 3D and HDR images.  Because it's so bright and made with materials to block reflection the screen can be used where you don't have so much light control.

Perhaps what might be the biggest change if TV screens take off in commercial cinemas and home cinemas (if the TV sizes keep growing) is that direct line of site to a projector (with all it's noise and light) is not required.  Movie theaters could save space with no projection room or line of site they would be free to have steeper higher auditorium style seating.

One important distinction between this cinema style TV and the TV you have at home is that the Onyx maintains picture quality from any viewable angle, and because of it's individual pixel control those perfect black levels mean that the contrast and colours really POP.

 IMAX Laser Projector - Huge

IMAX Laser Projector - Huge

Dolby and IMAX have competing Laser Projection technologies so it's interesting times in the cinema industry, we can expect display, screen and cinema images to keep getting better, brighter and more detailed, and thats good news for all of us.

 

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Home Cinemas of the Rich and Famous - Jordan Pickford

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Home Cinemas of the Rich and Famous - Jordan Pickford

Jordan Pickford - England Football squads Goalkeeper

Fresh off the plane from 4th place in the World Cup 2018 held in Russia, Jordan Pickford of the England Team (who plays for Everton in the Premier League) has purchased a new 2.2 million pound home in Cheshire.

Its a big step up from the 100,000 pounds Tyne and Wear terrace house he was brought up in. He Tweeted back in 2012 bemoaning his parents not having  provided Sky TV in his bedroom, to watch the football on.  That's all behind him now with a successful career as one of England's youngest Goalkeepers and now he's got a fantastic home cinema to watch all the football matches and replays on (or not).

 Footballer Jordan Pickford's Home Cinema in his new home in Cheshire.

Footballer Jordan Pickford's Home Cinema in his new home in Cheshire.

The Cinema room is decked out all in black and dark greys, it features a fibre optic starlight ceiling and plush sofas and deep pile carpets help to give it a real feeling of luxury.

 Plush Bedroom in Jordan Pickford's new Cheshire Home

Plush Bedroom in Jordan Pickford's new Cheshire Home

 Jordan Pickford's new Cheshire Home

Jordan Pickford's new Cheshire Home

 Multi Room Audio features throughout Jordan Pickford's new home

Multi Room Audio features throughout Jordan Pickford's new home

Jordan's new home also features multi room audio providing music all over his home, the bedrooms, kitchen, entrance, lounge and dining room.

 In-Ceiling Speakers provide music in the entrance to Jordan Pickford's new home

In-Ceiling Speakers provide music in the entrance to Jordan Pickford's new home

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H3 New Office Update

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H3 New Office Update

It's been a while, we've been very busy with a number of large home cinema and tons of audio visual installs here in Phuket, Chiangmai, Bangkok, Hua Hin and Yangon. We've hired some new staff to help manage the office build whilst we are all busy with installs, we've only got the floor, doors and then the electrics to do and we can start the process of moving in.

Cutting Container for our Office Door
Weld Cutting the container for our office door and windows
Action Shot
Beautiful Patina shows the decades of older paint schemes the container has gone through

Last week we were cutting holes in the container Steel for our office doors and windows, we will be in the top container next to the meeting area.  We were also tidying up some of the painting to the outside, When your building is made of Steel it's very important to make sure it's painted well to keep it from rusting out.

H3 Digital Office Front
Stairs next to cinema demo room

It's exciting times and we can't wait to have all the space to show off some of the incredible home cinema, audio and lighting systems.

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Home Cinema Install - San Kamphaeng (Chiang Mai)

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Home Cinema Install - San Kamphaeng (Chiang Mai)

Today I'm with Wirut our Installation Director (he's been with us for 15 years) on site in Chiang Mai installing a 75" LED TV and Surround Sound system for our clients Home Theatre room.  It features Nuvo In-Wall speakers, a 12" Subwoofer and Onkyo Surround Receiver.

 Planning and marking out the TV and speaker location carefully.

Planning and marking out the TV and speaker location carefully.

Planning is key to any good install, a good set of design and conceptual plans and wiring plans.  Here we mark out the locations of all speakers and the TV size to ensure it follows the plans and that it suits the feel of the room.  Sometimes what looks great on a CAD diagram or room render doesn't look the same in real life, this is where our experience and judgement can turn what may have been just a good install into an excellent one.

 Carefull marking up the TV and speaker positions.

Carefull marking up the TV and speaker positions.

It's also important to keep tidy and clean, we've always been very proud of the way our staff conduct themselves on-site and their overall professionalism.

 Tidy and organised is how we like to conduct our AV Installations.

Tidy and organised is how we like to conduct our AV Installations.

We are also installing a Ubiquiti Unifi home network and Nuvo multi room audio system including music in the lounge, master bedroom, gym, office, outdoors (pool side) and even in the master ensuite.  They will be able to listen to any music they want, in any area of their house, all controlled with their phones, iPads or tablets and with discrete in-ceiling and weatherproof speakers tucked away out of site, with no visible cables. It's going to be a really fun house to entertain in and the owner can't wait to move in.

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Sonos IPO - Yes or SoNo?

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Sonos IPO - Yes or SoNo?

Sonos, on track to do 1 billion dollars of sales this year plans to list shares on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol SONO.

With a reported net loss of $14.2 million on close to a billion dollars revenue ($992.5 million) is it a good time for the smart speaker company to be going Public?

Sonos family of Products

Some people think No, with James Titcomb from the Telegraph making a point that the smart speaker space is being invaded by Amazon, Apple and Google.  He has a point, If people are really interested in sound quality (And I mean really) then they won't be shopping for an all-in-one speaker/amp combo.  They will have a proper set of stereo speakers and an amp (perhaps a Sonos amp) but Sonos have been moving away from this market and more towards smart speakers.

The trouble with smart speakers is that Amazon and Google are effectively using their smart speaker products as a loss leader to grab market share on data, search, advertising and purchasing.  So not only are Sonos up against the biggest technology companies in the world, but those companies don't need to make a profit on their products, Sonos does.

Sonos IPO

Sonos currently makes a loss, but it has a great platform and a great product.  They need to leverage the relationships they have with distributors (Best Buy sells 1 in 3 of the Sonos units sold in the USA).  From their prospectus you can see that 61% of purchasers have more than one Sonos unit in their household with buyers on average buying a further 1.4 units.  So customer loyalty is high but...

Sonos white products

Sonos notes in regards to risks, customer dissatisfaction is a very clear and dangerous one if Sonos decides to stop supporting older versions of its products - furthermore they go on to say “that in the near to intermediate term, this backward compatibility will no longer be practical or cost-effective.”

Personally, for myself and many customers, Sonos shoot themselves in the foot if you cant use your older products anymore, or worse if they borked or bricked them with a forced firmware update.  It's good that they note the danger of this, however the very fact they made the above statement shows that it's likely at some stage, silly and pointless IMHO and just the way to alienate your customer base - Lets see if the bean counters win that war.

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Project Handover - U Time Fitness - Laguna, Phuket

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Project Handover - U Time Fitness - Laguna, Phuket

 UTime Fitness Studio in Phuket at Laguna.

UTime Fitness Studio in Phuket at Laguna.

U Time is a popular Fitness Studio where you can get 24/7 access to a premium gym and highly qualified staff for the price of a coffee per day.  Popular in Hong Kong they recently opened their first Thailand Gym in Phuket at The Plaza Del Mar in Laguna.

We were tasked by U Time to install a music system that sounded great and was capable of being controlled, turned on and off by customers entering with their keycard entry 24 hours of the day.

 UTime Gym with in-ceiling speakers

UTime Gym with in-ceiling speakers

The installation consisted of 4 pairs of Nuvo In-Ceiling Speakers powered by 2 Dual Stereo Power Amps and some added Oomph provided by a 12" Subwoofer tucked away discretely.

 UTime FItness in Laguna, Phuket

UTime FItness in Laguna, Phuket

 24 hour gym in Phuket, Laguna - UTime 

24 hour gym in Phuket, Laguna - UTime 

Working with h3-digital was a pleasure. I explained our needs and Rob and the team delivered the perfect product within budget and on time. Look forward to working with them again!
— Cathal Kiely
 UTime Gym Handover - Cathal Kiely from UTime meets with Rob Hobbs from H3 Digital

UTime Gym Handover - Cathal Kiely from UTime meets with Rob Hobbs from H3 Digital

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Tv's are still getting bigger, will be biggest in China.

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Tv's are still getting bigger, will be biggest in China.

 RCA 630 TS - 10 inch Television

RCA 630 TS - 10 inch Television

Television has been available in crude experimental forms since the late 1920's but it was RCA's 630-TS that was the world's first mass produced TV set, launched in 1946.  The TV had a huge 10 inch screen (Black and White of course) and had a smaller sibling with a 7 inch screen.  The RCA 630-TS had a starting price of $352 in 1946 so around $4,800 today.  It weighed almost 40Kg in tabletop form.

Recently an IFA Tech Trends report pointed out that the USA is no longer going to be the trend setter in terms of largest TV size.

 TV Size by Global Market

TV Size by Global Market

It expects that by 2020 the average TV screen size in China will be a massive 54.1 inch, 2.1 inches larger than even the USA at 52 inches, which is 3.1 inches larger than the European TV average size which is understood to be around 48.9 inches by then.  This is for new TV sizes, the Japanese are way behind on an average of 40 inches for their TV sizes, although this is likely to do with the size of their apartments and homes than a penchant for small Tv's.

 Smart TV sales are on the rise

Smart TV sales are on the rise

TVs are not only getting larger, but also smarter. 68% of all TVs sold are now “smart” TVs, while 32% can deliver Ultra-High Definition or “4K” images.

What is amazing is that you can just about buy an average sized TV now for exactly the same as the average sized TV cost back then in 1946 - some 72 years ago.

 

 

 

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Bangkok Sonos Install - Sukhumvit

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Bangkok Sonos Install - Sukhumvit

 Sukhumvit Rd Outdoor Speakers - Swimming Pool

Sukhumvit Rd Outdoor Speakers - Swimming Pool

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This Bangkok home located just off Sukhumvit Road in Bangkok is an entertainers dream, great for Dinner Parties and entertainment gatherings it features 7 zones of Sonos Audio including 12 pairs of Nuvo In-Ceiling and Outdoor Speakers, with Sonos Playbars and Sonos Subs for the TV's Audio Visual.

The living area is one large audio zone with 6.5" in-ceiling speakers in the entrance hall, corridoors, family, living and dining area, all powered by Nuvo Power amps and a Sonos connect (ZP90).

In the Living Room and Media/Home Cinema Room there are 84" and 75" 4K LED Televisions with surround sound and bass provided by the Sonos Playbar and Sonos Sub.

 Sukhumvit Rd In-Ceiling Speakers - Entrance

Sukhumvit Rd In-Ceiling Speakers - Entrance

The Pool Deck features 2 pairs of Nuvo outdoor speakers providing a great spread of sound over the swimming and deck areas.

The Master Bedroom has an additional pair of integrated ceiling speakers in the ensuite, a fun addition for listening to music whilst soaking in the bath.

Finally the Gym and fitness area is another Sonos zone with speakers tucked up into the ceiling, you can walk around the entire home and have music exactly when and where you want it.

 

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