News / Media

My Favorite (A/V!) Things From 2013

At Electronic House we are lucky to be exposed to the best new technology and most impressive. In the spirit of Julie Andrews’ rendition of “My Favorite Things” (or Carrie Underwood if you prefer) from The Sound of Music, we bring you our favorite things from 2013.

LISA MONTGOMERY:

Homes

Sophisticated Library Includes Hidden Lighting Controls I love it when custom electronics professionals get creative, and the book spine that was fitted with buttons for controlling the room’s lights is the epitome of thinking outside the box.

Smart Glass Creates a Home Office Hideout It’s not often we run across a home where smartglass has been integrated into a control system. Here, a curved wall of glass goes from clear to frosty when a button on a Lutron keypad is pressed.

Frosted office

NetZero Home Gets 600 LEDs Controlled by an Automation System To me, a story about an automated home is always more interesting when the owner of the house is intimately involved in the project. In this story, the owner was not only involved … he actually built a product that would expand the functionality of his professionally installed home automation system.

Trends

5 Up and Coming Technologies for the Home It’s fun to look into the future ball of home technologies, and this story does just that.

WiFi Strengthens its Position as a Home Control Protocol I always like cheering for the underdog, and in this story I do give a big hurrah to Wi-Fi, as it makes inroads as a very viable home control platform.

Integrated Control Vs. Multiple Apps for Home Automation Smartphone and downloadable apps have had huge implications in the home control marketplace. This story investigates the advantages and disadvantages of using apps to rule your house.

Products

Super Shading Solutions Get Motorized Of all the electronic systems available to the home, motorized shading is one of my favorites, mostly due to the fact that shades look about as low-tech as a throw pillow. Add a motor to them, though, and they can do some amazing things. This story discusses what’s possible.

High-Definition Artwork for Your TV This story came to my by surprise. I received a very well written email about a new technology that solves a very real problem facing anyone who owns a flat-panel TV: what to do with the screen to make it look better when the TV is off. This solution, unlike many others, is super affordable, easy to implement and lets you change the look of your static TV screen on a whim.

TV Art

To read the full article, click here.

Posted by ryan Tue, 24 Dec 2013 21:29:00 GMT

9 Overlooked Home Theater Features

Many home theater enthusiasts, especially DIYers (and I’m including myself here) tend to fuss all about the big picture and sound-in-the-round speaker approach, while neglecting many important details.

Sometimes installers are guilty of the same thing (though usually it’s the client’s taste or budget that’s to blame). A home theater is more than a room and more than a collection of electronics all tethered together. When done right, a home theater is a total experience.

A well-done home theater is inclusive, comfortable, and- most importantly- not noticeable once the movie's on.

To get to that sublime experience, you need to pay attention to all the details

The truth is that few rooms are perfect for a home theater before the gear arrives, and many still aren’t perfect after the gear’s been installed and connected. In fact, perfection is rarely achievable, but there are a number of features that any home theater enthusiast overlooks at their own peril…

To read about the impact of lighting, reflections, seating, and more, click here.

To read about the impact of lighting, reflections, seating, and more, click here..

Posted by ryan Tue, 17 Dec 2013 16:29:00 GMT

Why I Care More About Your (Inter)face Than Your Rack

Grab a handful of AV magazines and you’re sure to see some pictures of AV rack installs. Every week I’m sure to see articles about a rocking rack in my inbox, and each year at the CEDIA Electronic Lifestyles banquet an award is given for the best rack. Maybe us industry people get so excited about racks because we spend so much time with them—terminating, testing, and troubleshooting; we know that it is the brain, heart, and brawn of the system. Yet, I find our industry’s fixation on the rack to be misguided. It is the Interface that is the true soul of the system.

A Crestron Interface

It is the only part of the system the client actually touches. Racks tend to live in closets, basements, or equipment rooms. Maybe, the client will bring a friend into the space to show off the color-coded wires and fancy flashing buttons, but the rack is meant to be hidden. The remote, touchscreen, or app is what the client interacts with on a daily basis. It is where the magic really happens as far as they are concerned.

Recently, when walking through my clients framed house, the wife declared that she would not be using the system. She informed me that she was uncomfortable with technology and was only doing this for her husband. Their rack would live in the basement and their house was to be controlled via a remote and an iPad. After we finished the system, she called to tell me she was playing Pandora through the system using her iPad. It was magic to her and it had nothing to do with those boxes in the basement, no matter how nicely the wires were run.

If the system isn’t easy to use, it’s not worth the money. You can install the best receiver, the best speakers, and the most riveting flat screen, but if the wife can’t turn it on, the system is worth nothing. The interface must be intuitive. Think about how Apple designs its operating systems. Have you ever ended up on a new screen on an Apple device? You may think, I don’t know how to do this, but it should work like this, and BAM, that is exactly how it works.

Last night I was using the Apple remote app while watching a movie (ironically my remote was down) and wanted to fast forward (there is no fast-forward on the app). I decided to try swiping forward and guess what? The movie fast-forwarded. Swipe again and I had a faster-forwarding speed. No one had to teach me. No training had to be done. Our interfaces should be the same way. They need be so easy to use that the client can hand it off to the babysitter as they walk out the door to dinner.

Think you’ve done a good job programming? Use the “mom test.” Hand the remote over to your mom and see if she can navigate.

To read the full article, click here.

Posted by ryan Mon, 18 Nov 2013 17:12:00 GMT

Honeywell's New Voice-Activated Thermostat Brings Comfort to the Lazy

It never fails. The moment you finally get comfortable under your covers is the moment you realize that you haven’t turned down the thermostat. Rather than choose between a toe-stubbing trek through darkened halls or sweating through the night, check out Honeywell’s new voice-activated thermostat. You stay snuggled safely in bed and save energy—win, meet win.

Honeywell's new voice-activated thermostat

The Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat with Voice Control builds on the the company’s Smart Thermostat line that debuted in April of this year. Like its predecessors, the new unit features a color-customizable touchscreen display that allows the unit to blend in with the room’s paint scheme; an intuitive, interview-style 7-day scheduling function; Wi-Fi connectivity and a mobile app for both iOS and Android.

But unlike any other thermostat on the market, Honeywell’s employs powerful cloud-based voice recognition technology. Simply say “hello, thermostat” to engage the unit, then tell it how you feel—”make it cooler” lowers the temperature by one degree, “make it much cooler” drops the mercury by four degrees. You can also dictate a specific temperature or temperature change. Additionally, the thermostat utilizes far-field speech recognition to ignore ambient background noise and pick out your voice from across a noisy room. Plus it will only respond once you utter “hello, thermostat,” regardless of accent, so it won’t turn on the A/C whenever you play Nelly’s “Hot in Herre”.

Click here to view full article

Posted by ryan Thu, 19 Sep 2013 17:59:00 GMT

5 Smart Home Technologies That Save You Money

When looking for ways to save money, you might not think to look into home automation. In the past, the term “smart home” conjured up images of expensive home improvements and high-tech gadgets that were only found in celebrity mansions or grand estates. However, with the emergence of new wireless technology and more companies providing these products, these systems are now more affordable than ever. Additionally, they do not require any major renovations to your home and will actually start saving you money on your utilities costs. In fact, the savings you’ll realize in just a few years can pay for your whole smart home system.

Image credit: Nest

1. Programmable Thermostats

The largest portion of a home’s energy bill generally comes from heating and cooling costs. Furthermore, most homes have inefficient systems that waste large amounts of energy in heating and cooling unoccupied rooms or even the entire home. Smart home technology can solve this problem in two ways.

First, current home automation systems with programmable thermostats allow you to set the temperature of your home remotely from your smartphone, tablet, or other internet-enabled device, so you don’t have to heat or cool your home while you are away. Before returning home, you can reset the thermostat so that a comfortable temperature is waiting for you.

For other DIY energy saving tips, you can visit Energy.gov.

Find out more ways we can help you green up your home by clicking here

Posted by ryan Thu, 29 Aug 2013 16:02:00 GMT

Big, beautiful backyard with big, beautiful sound

A grassy, open area

We recently did a full home system featuring Control4 interfaces, an Apple Airport-based network, and a Sonos audio system- all of which extend out across the homeowner’s gorgeous backyard! Rock speakers surround the pool and patio to bring Sonos to every corner of the yard, and subtly, too- can you play spot-the-speaker in the image above?

The system can switch between all of the sources Sonos offers- including internet radio stations, Pandora, iTunes, Sirius, and more- via the homeowner’s iPhone or iPad app. Volume can also be controlled there, or with the built-in volume controls around the patio.

Television embedded in the loggia stone wall

And speaking of the patio, part of that is the loggia: its own music zone with a television nestled in the stone wall and a smart remote with dock, it creates a beautiful outdoor living area for relaxing in the San Diego weather. You’ll see it in the picture above- excuse the continued construction in the reflection!

See our video below for a better look:

http://youtu.be/LKv6f0awUZo

Posted by ryan Mon, 05 Aug 2013 16:25:00 GMT

Control4 Remote Recharging Station Makes Dead Batteries Obsolete

The Remote Recharging Station, which ships in April for $130, features a low-profile design and a charging indicator LED.

It’s a bummer when you go to use gadgets, only to find dead batteries. Imagine if you need that gadget to turn on lights! Something like that should always be ready at a moment’s notice, which is probably why Control4 has introduced the Remote Recharging Station.

The new Recharging Station is designed for use with Control4’s SR-150 and SR-250 System Remote Controls. Instead of having to replace batteries all the time, this option adds in a lightweight, high-power-density rechargeable lithium polymer battery.

Control4's new remote dock

Click here to view full article

Posted by ryan Mon, 22 Jul 2013 15:57:00 GMT

A Comfy Throne That Explodes Into Plush Stools To Seat All Your Guests

A king or queen is nothing without their subjects, so if you’re on the hunt for a comfy chair that’s worthy of your greatness while not leaving everyone else sitting on the floor, the Quartz marks the end of your search.

When fully assembled its modular cushions form the perfect nook to bury yourself in with a good book, just make sure all the change is out of your pockets before you plunk down. And when company comes a-callin’, the segmented cushions all pop out of the Quartz chair providing ample places for everyone to sit.

The Quartz throne explodes to make stools for many people

View full article here.

Posted by ryan Mon, 15 Jul 2013 15:29:00 GMT

We have been nominated for a Union Tribune Best of the Best Award!

Best of the Best Awards

Thank you for your support so far and getting us nominated! We are now a candidate for a Best of the Best award in the Home Electronics Store category. Please continue to help us out by making a profile and voting us to the top!

http://uniontrib.secondstreetapp.com/Best-of-San-Diego-2013/Ballot/FortheHome

Thank you again for all your support so far- it’s been monumental!

Posted by virginia2 Mon, 10 Jun 2013 16:47:00 GMT

Control4 Hardwired Centralized Lighting Control System is Here

New ‘panelized’ hardwired lighting control system is the first for Control4, best known for its wireless home automation systems.

Click here to view full article

It took a few years for Control4 —best known for wireless home automation—to perfect its first ever hardwired centralized lighting system but “it’s really here,” says Paul Williams, VP of security and communications products. The system, which Control4 calls “panelized” lighting, was shown in its finished form at ISE 2013 in Amsterdam in January. The solution is Ethernet-based, readily integrated into an IP-enabled automation ecosystem.

The panels and termination blocks are “ready to go,” says Williams, “so dealers can start spec’ing it.”

Control4 added a few niceties to the system since it debuted a few years ago, including some features you don’t see in every hardwired lighting control.

The new lighting system is available in both U.S.-centric panel configurations and European DIN rail mounting.

The system can operate from 120V to 277V allowing it to operate worldwide in commercial and residential applications.

Control4 Panelized lighting control system

Click here to view full article

Posted by ryan Tue, 02 Apr 2013 16:56:00 GMT