Future Shop Closes Stores All it’s Stores Across Canada Today

Future Shop closed all it’s stores in Canada today much to the shock of dismay of employees and customers.  There was no advance notice given, employees were greeted with a sign behind locked doors that read “This Store is Permanently Closed.  We Thank You for your support and look forward to service you at a nearby Best Buy Store.

Best Buys is the parent company of Future Shop.  The company employs approximately 2000 worker across Canada, many who are now unemployed.  Best Buy plans to re-brand and reopen some of the Future Shop locations as “Best Buy’s” but the majority of Future Shop stores will remain permanently shut down.

Customers who have prepaid purchases and service booked with Future Shop will now be serviced by Best Buy.

The closure of FutureShop is just the latest shoe to drop in the fragile consumer electronics industry.

Earlier this month we reported tech giant Tiger Direct is closing all it’s retail outlets,  Sharp Electronics is pulling out of Canada and maybe even North America as it struggles to restructure and Target will close all 80 of it’s stores by Easter Weekend.

Now with Future Shop closing the next question will be what’s going to happen to some of their Exclusive Brands like Vizio, Martin Logan, Marantz and others.  Some of these brands are available at Best Buy right now, and the others may also become available now that Future Shop is no more.  The real question is “Are brands like Vizio now going to allow other Canadian retails to sell their brand … I think the answer is going to be yes”.

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1,240,000 Reported Fires in the United States

According to the most recent data from the National Fire Protection Association there were 1,240,000 fires reported in the United States in 2013.

3,240 civilian deaths occurred due to fires and 15,925 civilian injuries resulted due to fires.

The total property damage due to fires in 2013 exceeded $11.5 Billion dollars.

“Most people think about getting an alarm system to prevent property theft” say’s Doyle Serink from Ion Security.   “People don’t realize that alarm systems can do much more.  An alarm system can detect fire, smoke, water and low temperature conditions, notifying the homeowner and  authorities quickly at first signs of trouble, often minimizing the damage and loss.”

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50% of U.S. Homes Have a PVR

Does anybody watch Live TV anymore?

According to a survey by Leichtman Research Group (LRG),  Almost half (47%) of U.S. homes have at least one PVR and 23 percent have a PVR on more than one set.  PVR sales are beginning to level out after years of exponential growth.  Among households with a PVR, LGR’s survey found 70 percent also subscribe to Netflix or use Video On Demand (VOD) services from their cable company.

PVR’s have changed the way we watch Television and it’s clear from the numbers that North American’s are no longer content to simply abide by the TV broadcast schedule but rather control not only what they watch but decide when they want to watch it.  Most viewers with PVRs time shift programs and Skip through commercials.  The growth in Netflix indicates that North Americans want to be able to view and access their programming not only at home but on the road, mobile as well.  The popularity of Video On Demand also indicates that traditional TV viewing habits are changing  and services like VOD and Netflix have spawned a whole new method of TV viewing called Binge Watching.

Responding to changing viewer habits the CRTC recently ruled to make cable companies unbundle some services and even allow a la carte programming.  PVR’s, Video-On-Demand and Netflix have changed the way we watch conventional programming and Smart Phones and Tablets have untethered us from our couches and transformed Television to a mobile platform.  The recent announcements by Dish Network and Apple TV to provide traditional TV programming on their streaming media devices indicates the future direction traditional broadcast television will be going in the near future.  The transformation won’t be fast and the road will be bumpy – but the way we watch television and access media is slowly changing

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TigerDirect Closes 31 Retail Stores – Hires Kevin O’Leary as brand Spokesman

TigerDirect is the latest consumer electronics retailer to announce it will be closing all it’s brick and mortar retail stores but three to concentrate on B2B and online sales.  TigerDirect operates 34 retail stores in North America, six of which are in Canada.  The three stores remaining open will be Miami, Georgia and Puerto Rico.

Shark Tank celebrity investor Kevin O’Leary was hired this month by TigerDirect to become their Official Brand Ambassador.  O’Leary commented,  “I’m all about helping businesses increase productivity, and ultimately, cash flow. I’m excited to be working with TigerDirect to do exactly that by providing businesses with the best IT solutions available.”

The majority of TigerDirect’s 2.6 Billion dollars in sales comes from online while a scant  $891 million comes from retail.  TigerDirect will be laying off approximately 25% of it’s workforce but will continue to operate it’s online stores TigerDirect.com, TigerDirect.ca and TigerDirect.pr.

sources:  canadabuster, south florida business journal 

 

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Sharp Canada Pulling out of Consumer Retail Sales

Sharp Electronics Canada is pulling the plug on it’s consumer retail sales for Aquos LCD-TVs in Canada.

I spoke to a couple distributors this morning who confirmed that Sharp is ceasing retail sales effective April 1st, 2015 and stock is limited to what they have on hand in their warehouse.

John Thomson of Wifi-hifi Magazine reports the following:

“WiFi HiFi has received official confirmation from Sharp Electronics of Canada that the brand will cease the marketing of Sharp AQUOS LCD-TVs to the retail channel effective April 1, 2015.

What follows is a word for word letter sent to us by Sharp. Company executives have relayed this information to Sharp employees.”

Carmine Cinerari president of Sharp Canada states “This decision was made in the context of extremely challenging business conditions in the Canadian retail CE segment and as part our our regular local mid-term planning process”

While Sharp is a small player in the whole TV market, they are the leader in Large Format 70-90″ LCD/LED Displays and will truly be missed.  Two of my favourite large format HDTV’s are the Sharp Quattron Plus LC-80UQ17U and LC-60UQ17U.  These TVs have impressive picture quality and the vast majority of my customers have preferred the Sharp picture to similar TVs from Samsung, Sony and LG.

While Sharp is pulling out of retail in Canada they still will be selling their commercial panels and will support and warranty all products sold.

Sharp will be missed, especially the 80″ TV size where there are few competitive alternatives.  Samsung, LG, Vizio and Sony will fill the void left by Sharp, however the new sets offered by these manufacturers will be 4K and much more expensive than the current Sharp Quattron + lineup.   Sharp will continue to sell Quattron TVs U.S. so once stock runs out in Canada there will be the option to still buy Sharp from US retailers or perhaps Costco might bring some Sharp sets up from the US to sell in their Canadian stores.

The bottom line:  If you are in the market for a 70-90″ TV you may want to purchase one before retailers sell out of their stock.

Source: Wifi-hifi
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Speco Booth ISC West 2015 – Sneak Peek!

If you’re going to ISC West 2015 this year you might want to stop by the Speco Booth 20031 and check out their new products including new 1080p Intensifier Cameras which see FULL Color at night the new N16NSF, 16 channel NVR which includes a built in POE switch for an all in one IP Solution and the new Speco SecureGuard Plus VMS Software which will support IP, TVI and Analog camera viewing on one platform.

While Speco hasn’t formally announced if they are in the CVI or TVI camp … reading between the lines, one can assume that Speco will be manufacturing and releasing a new lineup of TVI Cameras since their SecureGuard Plus VMS Software will support TVI.

H2H Hands on Training?  Last year Speco had a training classroom set up in their booth which was incredibly informative and allowed for visitors to get some hands on with Speco DVR’s and NVR’s.  We don’t know if Speco will be offering the H2H Training once again at ISC West 2015 but if they do, you might want to sit in for a session!

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ISC West 2015 Preview

ISC West 2015 bannerIt’s hard to believe a year has almost past since the last ISC Show in Las Vegas but with five weeks to go ISC West 2015 is almost here.

Honeywell’s New Lyric Home Automation/Security System

Home Automation was a BIG at this years Consumer Electronics Show.  Several security companies including Interlogix GoControl, ADT, Swann and Honeywell all showed off a Home Automation and security system systems primarily geared toward the DIY Consumer.  For Honeywell, CES was just a teaser, they promised to introduce more products and officially launch the Lyric Home Automation and Security System at ISC West 2015.

Last Year 2gig showed a few interesting new products the GoBridge! and 2gig GoControl C3 panel.  Both products were hits at the show and drew a lot of attention but only the GoBridge! made it to market so far.  The 2Gig GoControl C3 panel is rumoured to be in beta testing right now so we anticipate 2Gig to announce their C3 panel will be out later this year, perhaps as early summer or fall.

Interlogix (GE) was another manufacturer showing off it’s Advisor Series of Touchscreen Panels at last years ISC West 2014.  Advisor One and Advisor Pro both look very stylish but after two years, neither product has made it to market yet.  Along with Advisor, Interlogix was promoting their new Advisor Sync interactive back end solution for remote monitoring and control.  Advisor Sync looked very BETAish at ISC West 2014 … it will be interesting to see what Advisor Sync looks like with another year of development.

Lutron Caseta:  Lutron is widely known as the industries preeminent Home Automation solution for Lighting, Temperature and Shade Control.  Lutron introduced Caseta, an easy to configure and affordable entry level home automation.  Caseta has been out for almost a year now and it will be interesting to see if Lutron adds more peripherals and devices to the Caseta lineup.

New Camera Technologies, 4K, HD-CVI, HD-TVI.  2014 saw the introduction of several new camera technologies.  IP cameras have been around for years now, but now with 4K on the horizon, camera manufacturers are upping their game to take advantage of the increased resolution of 4K.  While digital technologies seem to be the future 2014 say the introduction of two new analog camera technologies HD-CVI and HD-TVI.  Both these new technologies offer 1080P high resolution video using legacy coaxial cable.  CVI and TVI technologies where displayed at ISC West last year but only now are products being released and available for sale.

Alarm.com:  Last year industry innovator Alarm.com showed off some new interactive services and several products including a new outdoor camera, universal garage door opener, pet tracker and video server.  Most recently at CES 2015, Alarm.com showed off there new connected smart thermostat.  What’s in store for alarm.com at ISC West 2015.  Plenty,  first off Alarm.com will no doubt be showing off their new Apple Watch app along with a host of other new app features and hardware products.  The alarm.com video server is still not available yet but with another year in development the SVR recorder should be available this year.  Another anticipated product is the alarm.com water flow sensor which is rumoured to be in development but so far no ones seen it yet.

With all the innovations in Home Automation and Security, ISC West 2015 has become one of the most anticipated tech shows of the year.

I’ll be in Vegas during the show from April 15-17 so stay tuned ….

 

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Panasonic HJE120 In Ear Headphones, ErgoFit EarBuds – REVIEW

If your looking for an inexpensive set of earbuds to replace ones that came with your MP3 player you should checkout the Panasonic HJE120 ErgoFit Earbuds.

The Panasonic HJE120’s generally sell for under $20.  If you’re expecting audiophile quality sound at this price point you probably won’t find it,  I found the bass on these earbuds to be loose and muddy.  If you listen to dance, reggae or hip hop you’ll probably like the coloration of the bottom end while some listeners may find the bass coloration of these earbuds distracting. 

I’d give the Panasonic HJE120’s a Good grade on sound quality, but there’s definitely more accurate sounding earbuds out there even at this price point.

While the HJE120s may not have the most accurate sound they are definitely one of the most comfortable.  Looking at the earbuds the first thing you notice is their odd shape … How can these things fit my ears and be comfortable?   Panasonic brands these earbuds as Ergo-Fit and like the name says these earbuds fit snuggly in your ear, are very comfortable to wear and stay put when other earbuds fall out.   Another benefit of the Ergo-Fit design is superior noise isolation which makes these earbuds great for travel and noisy environments.

At under $20 the Panasonic HJE120’s are definitely worth a listen.  I really like the noise isolation and comfortable fit of these earbuds.  I found the bass coloration tiring, especially when listening for a long periods.  If you’re like me and prefer more accurate sound reproduction,  take a look at the Sony MDREX15LP, in-ear headphones.  The Sony’s are not quite as comfortable nor snug fitting as the Panasonic’s but the Sony MDR-EX15LPs do have a a smoother, more natural sound at a similar price. 

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Malware on Mobile Devices is up 45 percent in the past two years.

Philip Jägenstedt – Wikimedia Commons [CC0]

According to research by Alcatel-Lucent more than 16 million mobile devices were infected with some form of malware in 2014.  Malicious software on mobile was up 20 percent the previous year (2013) bringing the the total increase in malware attacks on mobile platforms up 45% since 2012.

Most mobile malware is spyware related which tracks the phones location, and monitors web browsing, email and text messages.  Android and Windows devices account for 99 percent of all malware attacks with infection rates split almost 50/50 between the two platforms.

Apple and Blackberry users are not immune to malware attacks however the infection rates on these devices is less than 1 percent combined. 

Most Android and Windows phone users don’t know all the risks associated with their mobile devices and more than 65% of those surveyed believe their service provider is taking measures to protect them from malicious software. 

While mobile network security is on the rise, most home users believe the computers in their home are Safe and virus free.  No true according another research survey by Motive, malware was found in 13.6 percent of personal residences up by 5 percent from 2013.

No computing platform is 100% safe so it’s up to users to take the proper measures to protect themselves.  Personally I use and recommend Apple devices to my clients.  Apple products are essentially a closed eco system and most software is vetted before being placed on the App store for download.  Likewise Android and Windows phone users can protect themselves by only downloading software from the Google Play store and other Android and Windows endorsed app stores.  Pirated software and jailbroken or hacked software sites often contain apps and software which may have malware embedded.  There are a host of Android and Windows phone antivirus apps and programs which can help protect your mobile and home device from malware.  Some popular antivirus apps include

With more and more personal data being stored on our mobile and personal devices maintaining security and taking the proper measures to protect yourself is vitally important.

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Nest Study Reveals More than One Million Households Exposed to Carbon Monoxide Per Year

Nest Protect Smoke Alarm & Carbon Monoxide Detector         with FireFighter Sensor

According to a Field Study by Nest Labs of Palo Alto California, more than one million households in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada are exposed to high levels of carbon monoxide each year.

Nest, makes of the innovative Next Protect Smoke Alarm and Carbon Monoxide detector conducted the field test for 6 months in the USA, Canada and UK.  Until now most Carbon Monoxide (CO) detectors were just local devices and researchers had to rely on self reported incidents to determine exposure threats and levels. 

Because the Nest Protect is a connected device, researchers were able to pull data from Nest detectors to more accurately determine CO alarm levels and risks.

The study’s data suggests that 0.9% of Nest homes experienced a CO event per year.  Peak CO levels ranged from 70 parts per million (ppm) to 1,964 ppm with a median CO alarm level of 142 ppm.

The average Carbon Monoxide Alarm lasted for one hour and 17 minutes with the shortest around 3 minutes and the longest more than 24 hours.

Each year more than 430 deaths occur in the United States due to Carbon Monoxide Poisoning.  Carbon Monoxide is called the silent killer because it is invisible and can sap the blood of its ability to absorb oxygen.

Nest Protect also comes in Black

The best way to protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning is to install a CO detector in your home or office.  “These devices can save your life say’s Doyle Serink, from Ion Security.  “CO detectors can be stand alone devices or like the Next Protect, built into a combination All In One CO and Smoke Detector.  Pets are especially susceptible to CO poisoning and a monitored CO detector can protect pets which are let at home when you’re away from the house.”

If you want more information on the Nest Protect Integrated Smoke Alarm and Carbon Monoxide detector call  Ion Security 780-489-5522

Source:  CDC,    CDC Data Link
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