Case Study: Home Theater

(POTOMAC, MD) Here’s an occasion where a family was already in the process of building a dedicated home theater when they found Bethesda Systems. After extensive online research, recommendations from friends, and even some equipment purchases, their search for the perfect filmscreen lead them to us. Once they met with our skilled staff, and toured our showroom, they saw possibilities beyond their initial vision.

We reassessed their needs and while still using some of the equipment they already purchased, recommended new
components and ideas to complete the job. What we didn’t use of theirs, we were able to re-sell for them. After managing the entire construction and electrical requirements, we provided top-quality design solutions including acoustical treatments, a star ceiling, seating riser, and custom lighting systems. Equipment and components alone are only pieces to the puzzle. The overall design of the space is what will ultimately give you the full cinematic experience — and that’s exactly what our clients wanted.

CLIENT QUOTE: “Bethesda Systems delivered more than they promised. They exceeded our expectations in workmanship, expertise, quality and customer service, and it was amazing how accurate their rendering was to the final product.”

Technician QUOTE: “A job like this doesn’t happen without an extensive amount of coordination. The services we were able to provide extended far beyond selling and installing the A/V & Control Systems. We designed and built the entire room, our Electrical Division took care of all lighting and power needs. Our Client did not have to lift a finger or direct any of the many contractors. This room was delivered turnkey.”, Tim G., Project Manager

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Thoughts from CES 2011

by Jonathan Stovall

Instead of simply reporting on the coolest new gadgets — and believe me there were plenty — I’d rather share with you the new products that will soon be entertaining us, and the technologies that will make our lives a little easier in 2011.


Although Apple didn’t officially partake in the festivities again this year, their products had tremendous influence up and down every aisle inside each convention hall. It seemed everyone had an iPad with their own app running on it. (By the way, Apple is closing in on 10 Billion App Store downloads!) Before the show even began, Apple announced they would open the Mac App Store on January 6th, allowing Mac users to use apps in a similar manner that they do on their mobile devices. This means even as we look to CES for the latest innovations in the wider industry, the computer world will be looking to Apple to see its future.

Also this year, the non-Apple mobile device manufacturers were stepping all over themselves to become the first ‘iPad killers’. In my opinion, few improve on certain things the iPad can’t do but fall way short on delivering a pleasant and simple overall experience.  Tablets operating on the Android OS seem to be picking up the most steam and the best of those appears to be the XOOM (see below).


I got a hold of the new XOOM tablet soon to be available through Verizon. XOOM offers a slightly larger screen than the iPad, and includes front and rear cameras, combining with Google’s own Google Talk video-calling software built in. That should be a step up from the third-party applications and services bundled by other vendors. Motorola said the XOOM tablet (available in February) will be the first to run Google’s slick new Android Honeycomb operating system.

Speaking of Android…

Smartphones continue to amaze me each year. While tablets of almost every size and shape dominated the media coverage, consumer-electronics makers also showed off the next generation of handsets. They will be smarter, faster, and more versatile than those in our pockets now. Motorola’s Atrix 4G phone, for example, has an Nvidia dual-core microchip—that’s more processing power than the laptop you owned four years ago—and can end the need to carry a separate computer by plugging it into a lightweight laptop with no processor of its own.

Many of you have been asking if Control4 will launch an Android app. All I can tell you is that it is still being worked on and we will hopefully see something by Summertime.

HDTV’s & 3D

2011 promises to be the year where we’ll finally see multiple manufacturers produce flat panel displays in the 65” – 72” range. So if you’re itching to get that large panel, we’ll have a few choices for you relatively soon.

For the large TV manufacturers, CES 2010 was all about 3D and this year it was no different. Toshiba and Sony showed prototypes of 3D televisions that dispense with the dorky glasses but oblige viewers to sit directly in front of the screen. It’s an early glimpse of a technology that the companies say is still several years away. It will be interesting to see which one makes it on the shelves first. Toshiba seemed confident that they will be ready by 2012. Before no glasses 3D is viable, it must allow for wider viewing angles and must also be affordable.

One of the problems with 3D is that there just still isn’t enough content. 3D Blu-Ray movies are becoming available, but at a snail’s pace. There is also some 3D content being supplied by cable and satellite TV providers but that’s slow going as well. If 3D is expected to grow, more content across all platforms needs to be accelerated.

Sony announced a new 3D camcorder. The most unusual characteristic of this double-lensed shooter is the touchscreen viewfinder that doesn’t require glasses for you to see its 3D effect. I laid my eyes, and fingers, on its remarkable 3.5-inch touchscreen and was impressed with its unencumbered view and depth. You’ll have to wait until April to pick up one of these bad boys, so get your $1,500 ready!

Green Technology

GE showed several products that will help bring us the power and potential of the smart grid. Residential wind and solar power generation products, electric vehicle chargers, and LED lighting to name a few. Folks across the country are using these products and several of our clients have shown interest as well. The LED light bulbs I saw are looking more and more like the softer lit incandescent products we all know and love, and by summertime they should be fully dimmable. Soon we’ll be replacing light bulbs with products that will last as long as a new TV!

Google TV

Despite the many poor reviews, I was still impressed with my first glimpse of Google TV. In particular, the Logitech Revue product. The interface basically allows you to watch what you want wherever it comes from – the Web or TV – on your HDTV. For $299 you get a small box and an intuitive wireless keyboard. We simply connect it to your TV by way of your CATV or Sat Box, along with an Internet connection. Add in a small camera and you now have your own personal video teleconferencing setup! We will have one on display here at our showroom. If we get it to work reliably enough we’ll be offering them with our systems soon enough.


Gaming systems have always been popular with our Clients and now many manufacturers are concentrating on new products with Gestures & 3D. There are two gesturing products out there that are competing with the Nintendo Wii. They are the Microsoft Kinect and Sony Move. The Kinect targets the same demographic as the Wii while the Move is aimed at hardcore gamers. The PS3 remains the lone 3D gaming console and 3D gaming may develop slower than the suddenly crowded gesture-based market. It’s a major task to design and program a full-length 3D game.

One last thing about Gesturing technology: I believe this will be huge! Not only for the gaming industry, but also for automation systems in general. Soon there will be sensors built into not only electronic devices, but into the walls and ceilings of our homes, motor vehicles and businesses—designed to entertain and automate our lifestyles beyond what we can ever imagine.

These are exciting times for us and we look forward to sharing these new technologies with you every step of the way!

Bethesda Systems Partners with Sandy Spring Builders’ New Classics Show Home


Bethesda, MD – October 4, 2010 – Bethesda Systems, a leading technology integration firm, announces its partnership with Sandy Spring Builders as the lead installer of audio/visual, home automation and energy management systems of the Bradley Green Home, a LEED®-certified show home.

Throughout the home —which features five bedrooms, five full bathrooms, three half-baths, and three finished levels — Bethesda Systems installations include a complete-home audio sound system, five televisions as well as climate and lighting control. All controllable remotely, or from the in-wall mounted iPad.

Located at 5312 Bradley Boulevard near the intersection of Goldsboro Road, the approximately 6,300-square-foot home was completed under 16 weeks from foundation. The home combines the architecturally rich custom construction that has defined Sandy Spring Builders with innovative systems.

“The project runs on the Control4 home automation system, an affordable, scalable solution making it possible for virtually any appliance or device in the home to intelligently communicate with another,” said Bethesda Systems partner Mike Wilson. “From locks to lights, doors to drapes you have the ability to control them, no matter where you are. Control4 boasts: a typical 3BR home powered by this system will eliminate more than 850 pounds of CO2 emissions a year. That’s like not driving a car for a month.”

The Bradley Green Home is open to visitors Friday-Tuesday 11AM to 6PM, or by appointment. For more information on Bethesda Systems’ wide array of services please visit

(Clockwise from TOP LEFT) 5312 Bradley Boulevard – the Bradley Green Home; Family room featuring flat screen television with custom-built speaker bar mounted below, and in-ceiling speakers; Wall-mounted iPad with Control4 system app; Meeting area and our display in the showroom on the basement level.


About Bethesda Systems – Located in Bethesda, Maryland, Bethesda Systems is regarded as one of the leading AV & Control Systems integration firms in the National Capital Region. With close partnerships with many leading product manufacturers and software developers for AV, Control & Energy Management Systems, we provide a broad range of design/build services for various residential solutions. For more information please visit

About Control4 – A leading provider of the operating system for the smart home, delivers intelligent control of consumer electronics products, appliances and networking systems through an easy-to-use and intuitive software interface. Founded in 2003, the company delivers affordable automation and control of lighting, music, video, HVAC, security, and energy management systems to the broad market through more than 1,600 custom integrators, retail outlets, and distributors in over 50 countries. Control4 delivers the platform of choice for major consumer electronics companies, hotels, businesses and utilities that require an intelligent, open and affordable control solution.

About Sandy Spring Builders, LLC. — A Bethesda, MD–based custom homebuilder, is widely considered to be among the finest high–end custom homebuilders in the metropolitan Washington, D.C., area. Their homes are distinguished by their exceptional design and craftsmanship and supported by unparalleled customer service.
Sandy Spring Builders has won numerous awards, including the prestigious Grand Prize in the National Association of Home Builders. The company has won Maryland National Capital Building Industry Association Custom Home Awards every year for the past 15 years, has been voted Bethesda’s Best Builder for the past four years, and in 2010 won two gold and two silver awards.

Our manufacturer partners include: Sonos, Control4, James Loudspeaker, Sonance, Middle
Atlantic Racks, Samsung, Apple and SÉURA television mirror.

Oh, the Places iPad Will Go

Steve Jobs and the iPadOr stay (?).

In January, Steve Jobs showed us all how his new 9.7 inch touch panel gizmo would change the way we view multimedia and web content. 80 days and 3 million units later we found out people really couldn’t live without it.

Another thing Mr. Jobs showed us was that the iPad was designed to be held in your lap. And it’s proven itself to be a truly revolutionary mobile device. And now we’d like you to consider…letting go. Literally.

Macintosh iPad Mods

Left) iPad encased in an old Macintosh Classic looks very cool. Right) Creative Director at the New York Frog Design office, Jonas Damon. Has created a retro styled iPad dock that resembles an old CRT TV.

People are certainly coming up with creative ways to house and display their iPads. And the folks in the custom electronic design and installation industry were immediately looking for innovative ways to embrace this ‘hand-held’ product and make it blend with our home and business lifestyles — and even mount it permanently inside a wall where it is always being charged.

Image above: Left) iPort’s In-Wall mount for iPad. Right) In-Wall iPad mount from Savant with system App.

And that’s where we come in.

We have already seen the iPad used in home automation. And Apple-based system Savant is using an iPad app to control it all — the TV, a whole entertainment system, remote control of house lights or HVAC, or even monitor cameras remotely with a video feed. Another in-wall dock and charger catching on is iPort.

A wall-mounted iPad in your kitchen gives you easy access to apps like these below and many more. Turning the busiest, and sometimes most social, room in the house, into your home’s command center.

iPad App Collage 2

Clockwise from upper left) Whiteboard, calendar, weather, and a photo screen saver showing all of the latest family photos.


Even more places it will go…

iPad App Collage 1

Clockwise from upper left) Aquarium clock, Scrabble, a darts game that uses both your iPad and iPhone/iPod Touch, and your stock portfolio.

iPad CrackedDon’t let this happen to you! With your in-wall mounted iPad it’s always safe, it’s always charged, and it’s always right where you left it.

Bethesda Systems