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interiors Audio The biggest advance in audio has been the emergence of the personal music player, or iPod. While we are not here to promote the products of any one manufacturer, it is a fact that this little device has revolutionised the way people collect, store, access and listen to music. With the early iPods, limited storage capacity dictated that the music files required compression ( MP3) to store an acceptable number of songs, and this resulted in a significant reduction in quality. But today, with drives up to 160 gigabytes ( GB), minimal data is lost during compression and thus the iPod is now the de facto jukebox system of choice. iPod docking stations can frequently be found in every cabin of a yacht, but servers can also exist in a centralised area, allowing guests to access a single music library from anywhere on the yacht. This is ideal in a charter environment. Video High definition ( HD) video may be the single most significant development in audiovisuals in the last ten years, not just because it provides enhanced picture quality, but because it has driven the transport of video to an all- digital platform and, with it, given the opportunity for content providers to rewrite the rule book on copyright protection. Enter High- Definition Multimedia Interface ( HDMI) and High- bandwidth Digital Content Protection ( HDCP). These innocent acronyms have turned the world of multi- room audio- video distribution upside down. For the yacht owner it's simple: if I can get HD television in my home, I want it on my yacht. Media- on- demand systems have been with us for a while, but there is still much confusion surrounding this concept. Current systems provide the means to store a DVD library on a central hard- disc drive server, which then gives the entire yacht access to the library. Fortunately, from a legal standpoint this has been accepted as fair use of the material by way of a back- up copy of a legitimately owned DVD. The emergence of Blu- ray as the disc format of choice for high- definition content brings with it some challenges. Firstly, due to the huge amounts of data stored per Blu- ray disc ( up to 50GB) the space required for server storage has increased considerably. Therefore you would need four or five servers ? WINTER 2010I sea& iI71 Above: screen entertainment goes alfresco on board Xanadu

72Isea& iIWINTER 2010 - each holding up to 28 terra bytes - to accommodate a sizeable HD library. Secondly, although Blu- ray has agreed that it is fair use to make a copy of your disc, this needs to be done under licence using an online authentication process called Managed Copy. The other sector of media- on- demand that is becoming more popular in the home is the downloading of paid- for content over the internet ( iTunes, Vudu, Hulu etc). Larger yachts with broadband VSAT ( Very Small Aperture Terminal) capability can use these services to some extent but due to bandwidth limitations, this is currently by no means a complete solution and will most likely co- exist alongside a local media library in the near future. As far as screens go, the latest generation utilises LEDs as the light source in place of the old CCFLs ( Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lamps). This has spawned a series of ultra- thin screens that are noticeably brighter than previous LCDs. The use of Dynamic LED technology has also improved contrast as light can now be delivered more accurately, and dark or black areas are deeper. The next evolution of these will be the organic light- emitting diodes ( OLED) screens, which will enable even greater control over colour and light. Some small OLED screens are emerging now but it may be some years before we see screens large enough for general entertainment use. While ultra- thin screens are an attractive proposition to the interior designer, all screens need a power supply, circuitry and a connection plate. Therefore, what you gain in millimetres for a wafer- thin screen on the wall, you are likely to pay for in an additional box in the cabinet to house all the above components that used to be built into the screen. Control Integrated control systems have been around for a while but they continue to receive bad press. Much of this ill- feeling is misdirected, however, as, simply put, systems the likes of Crestron or AMX are only as good as the professionals specifying, installing and programming them. The secret to turning what is, in essence, a collection of high- quality control devices into a reliable and simple- to- operate control system are: firstly, the selection of integration- friendly hardware, as not all brands speak Crestron or AMX; secondly, the correct specification of processors, as many installers overload a single processor and expect it to control the whole yacht; thirdly, accurate and well- constructed programming, which involves Above: the cinema room on board Cloud 9