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
WINTER 2010I sea& iI73 interiors using a code that has been tried and tested. And lastly, and most importantly, the design of a user interface ( GUI) that is simple to use and intuitive. The control systems mentioned above are not inexpensive and therefore a poor user experience has inevitably driven some clients to look elsewhere. Enter the iPod Touch. The latest generation of iPods sport a touch screen and the same system can be used for touch controls on a yacht, but it's important to appreciate that it is not the iPod doing all the work. You still need a Crestron processor, a well- written code and a WiFi network, among other things. All the iPod does is replace the touch- panel control with a smaller device with less buttons, less screen space and less battery capacity. They can make an attractive and fun addition to a Crestron control system but they will not make it less expensive or more reliable. Distribution Currently, the only viable solution for distributing HDCP-compliant HD video around a yacht is over fiber- optic cable using the Crestron Digital Media router. This is the Swiss Army knife of routing, and not only enables the distribution of high-bandwidth HDMI sources, but also works with all legacy sources as well ( Composite, SVHS, Component). One small problem built into HDMI is that the soundtrack travels with the video on the same cable that delivers the audio to the screen - not necessarily where you want it for sub- zone amplification. Digital media enables you to separate stereo audio from the source signal before it is sent to the room, allowing you to watch the movie in full blown 7.1 surround in the living room, while also sending the same audio in stereo to the aft deck or other sub- zones. Installation As always, any technical system installed on a yacht is to some degree reliant on the quality of workmanship employed. The tried- and- tested method is to use sliding or rotating equipment racks, individual room UPSs, protected cable looms and automatic thermostatically controlled fans. Designing and delivering a successful and reliable integrated entertainment system relies on a single fundamental principle: that is, to balance the budget across the five areas we have covered here. Failure to do so will leave one or more areas of weakness and the system will inevitably disappoint. n Icon Connect provides highly flexible, integrated systems covering all aspects of entertainment and control on board superyachts. For further information, visit www. iconconnect. com TUNING INTO THE FUTURE Three of the technologies discussed in this feature - Blu- Ray, Video on Demand ( over the internet) and Digital Media - all have a common denominator, and that is bandwidth. Video and audio content are now being made available at higher resolutions than ever before and this all places a strain on plumbing to the extent that, for most installations, it is time to rip out the old lead piping and install the new digital super highway that is fibre- optic. Many pundits are extolling the virtues ( and future domination) of TCP/ IP ( Internet Protocol Suite) and the use of a single- data network for the transport of all electronic signals, including AV. While the intrusion of the internet into our daily lives is undeniable, we are some years away from this being ready to manage and deliver the huge amounts of data required for today's high- definition entertainment. In fact, it will be several years before HDCP will be ready for implementation over IP as the specification has not yet even been written. For now, it is strongly advised that the IT and AV systems be kept separate. There is a distinct difference between high-convenience video ( You Tube, internet streaming, VOD ( Video on Demand) etc) and high- quality video ( Blu- ray, High Definition, Home Theatre) and the lack of HDCP support over IP is a defining factor in separating these two sectors of the audiovisual industry. More significantly, it doesn't make sense to take a perfectly good high- resolution video source and then compress and encode it, before decompressing and reconverting to video ( of lesser quality), just so that it can be distributed over the IT networks, especially when the technology exists to send the signal in uncompressed high- definition straight to the screen.