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SE2 Labs ITC One Home Theater Console Rollout Continues

Aug 18, 2008 12:01 PM, By Rebecca Day

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SE2 Labs has begun a slow rollout of its much-anticipated ITC One Home Theater Console. The company has shipped 12 systems for real-world testing before putting its distribution program in place next month. A home-theater-in-a-box on steroids for the custom market, the ITC One is currently starring in a dealer roadshow that will conclude in Denver at CEDIA Expo 2008.

According to Mike Pyle, president of SE2 Labs and former custom installer for 15 years, the ITC is a solution to many nagging issues that custom dealers have grappled with, while serving as a compact alternative to stacks of disparate electronics. Pyle says the turnkey ITC One offers dealers a known entity of high-end products that SE2 Labs has engineered, programmed, and integrated to work seamlessly inside a rock-solid aluminum chassis.

The 275lb. ITC One box includes modified Bang & Olufsen ICEpower Class D amplifiers; a Bryston digital surround processor; Vidikron video processor; Microsoft Xbox 360; Apple iPod dock; video DVR from DirecTV, DishNetwork, Comcast or Cox Cable; a Netlinx control system from AMX; a 4.3in. onboard touchscreen controller, a separate Zigbee-based remote control, and Transparent Audio cabling and power conditioning.

The $25,000 ITC One base model can be upgraded with a Nintendo Wii, Apple TV based on the Wadia iPod transport, second-room audio and additional amplification to create a $31,000 system. SE2 Labs has also inked distribution deals with Snell Acoustics for loudspeaker systems and Vidikron for video displays to create complete home-theater packages.

Touches added for installer convenience include remote monitoring, a front panel power outlet, RS-232 control, Ethernet jack, task light, and main power switch.

At the New York dealer event in early August, Pyle said he’s looking for a limited distribution channel of 100 dealers. The ITC One officially began shipping last month but the company is taking it slow to ensure bugs are worked out before the unit ships in volume. Company execs want to maintain a quality brand image at the onset and not have to recover later as so many other promising companies have done in the custom-installation market. As a former custom installer, Pyle says, “I’ve been the guy on the other end of that.”

SE2 has been talking up the ITC One for the past year but engineering issues delayed introduction. The toughest part of the development process has been creating a mechanical structure that can stand up to the challenges presented by heat, unpredictable power, and vibration, Pyle says. A vertical circuit board mounting design and airflow baffles were designed to promote natural cooling, and custom-designed Sorbothane “pucks” eliminate vibration inside and outside of the unit.

SE2 originally tagged the system at $20,000 but Pyle said dealers have asked for a higher margin. “We’re getting more pushback on being too low than too high because we’re replacing $45,000 worth of gear,” Pyle says.

The ITC One is backed by a five-year warranty, so the company has gone to great lengths to ensure the reliability and stability of the product. That includes separating the drive from the Xbox unit and placing it in a cooler section of the chassis. “The drive was right over the processor’s heat sink so they often fail because of the heat,” he says. “We have the drive sitting in a cool spot so it doesn’t overheat.” SE2 engineers also isolated the drive from vibration to prevent crashes. “We haven’t had one failure of electronics inside this unit,” he says.

Pyle had hoped to announce a Blu-ray Disc player add-on at CEDIA, but the undisclosed high-end supplier could not meet the September deadline.

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