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

Seura Outdoor TVs - How it works

If you are considering a television for an outdoor space, think twice before you install an off-the-shelf TV. Outdoor technology is more sophisticated than simply waterproofing. Designed to withstand debris impact, weather conditions, extreme temperature changes, contaminants, and solar brightness, Séura’s Storm is a high-performance television ideal for the discerning homeowner.

1. Bezel Constructed of high-grade metal, the bezel is responsible for holding together and protecting the elements of the outdoor screen. Removable, the bezel allows front access to parts for maintenance and cleaning.

2. Anti-Reflective Safety Glass Coated with a specially formulated anti-reflective coating, the dual-layer glass refracts sunlight, so reflections and glares don’t interfere with the picture. Tempered safety glass is strong and resistant to impact.

3. Precision O-ring System Creates a tight seal, protecting internal parts from rain, snow, and moisture.

4. Ultra-High Brightness Panel With more than double the brightness of a typical HDTV (Storm boasts 700cd/m2), high brightness panels perform well in sunny environments. Conventional televisions are not bright enough to be viewed in daylight.

5. Air Refinement Intake Filter Dedicated for air intake only, this durable composite filter removes contaminates such as sand, smoke, dust, and insects before the air enters the product.

6. Airflow System External air takes a dual path, cooling the TV screen across the front as well as the electrical components along the back. As the air takes on heat from these components, it rises and is drawn out the back of the product through a bank of ultra-quiet fans.

7. Robust Housing Aircraft-grade, light-weight aluminum construction withstands impact and cosmetic wear and tear. Powder-coated with a durable finish. Whether tested by Mother Nature or a stray baseball, the rugged build will continue to perform unscathed.

8. Protected Media Compartment Spacious media compartment has room for media boxes and cable anchors with space for hands to comfortably manage. Removable cover for easy access.

9. Weatherproof Integration Connections Designed for robust integration, weather-appropriate adapters connect video sources and control systems to an extensive array of connectivity options.

10. Speakers Speakers are protected from the elements and offer robust sound in most applications. For a more encompassing audio solution, integrate the TV with an outdoor speaker system using the built-in amplifier.

Posted by chantal Fri, 13 Jul 2012 16:13:00 GMT

10 Reasons why Sonos is great

by John Sciacca at February 10, 2012



Click here to view the full article

http://www.technologytell.com/hometech/83384/10-reasons-why-sonos-is-great-1-way-to-make-it-greater/



1) Sonos understood the changing audio dynamic
For years, distributed audio was built around traditional – legacy – sources that involved CD changers, AM/FM tuners, plus maybe cable boxes or satellite tuners. These were mostly “dumb” one-way control items. Most systems offered only rudimentary play, stop, next disc, next station, preset 1 type of control. iPod changed all of that, with metadata becoming all-mighty, all-powerful, and all-important. Go on, try and control your iPod/Touch/Phone without looking at it. Not possible. You need that visual feedback. Sonos got that metadata importance early on and that network streaming – and feedback – was going to be crucial for house audio listening version 2.0.

2) It plays just about anything
When I first started ripping my audio files, I did it in Windows Media Center and turned everything into WMA files. I didn’t think anything of it. Until I got an iPod and found that I had to re-transcode everything into a format it would understand. There are lots of files types out there that aren’t MP3 and Sonos supports a gamut of them that includes just about any that a typical user is likely to encounter. All manner of lossy (MP3, WMA, AAC, OGG, Audible), lossless (FLAC, ALAC), and uncompressed (AIFF and WAV). No, it won’t play any DRM-wrapped files purchased from iTunes, but that is less of an issue since the store dropped DRM a while back. (However, if you have a large library of purchased music from the iTunes store, you should check out Autonomic’s Mirage Media Server. It can be an “authorized” Apple player and will handle all that stuff.)

3) It streams just about anything
The Cloud is a giant part of audio 2.0, and Sonos supports more Web streaming music services than any other system. (If you know of a system that supports more than Sonos does, please let me know.) While some manufacturers are all, “Yeah. We do Pandora. That’s right!” and others feel all tough because they add Rhapsody and then maybe go the extra step of adding Spotify, Sonos basically says, “Hey, we’re agnostic. We’re gonna do them all. You decide which one you like instead of which one we make you pick.” The list that Sonos supports includes: Spotify, Pandora, Sirius-XM, Tune In Radio, Slacker, Rhapsody, MOG, iHeartRadio, Rdio, last.fm, Wolfgang’s Vault, BBC, NPR, Aupeo!, Stitcher and all manner of thousands of Internet radio stations. The cool thing is that THEY KEEP ADDING SUPPORT. Maybe the next big thing hasn’t even happened yet. But chances are, when it does, Sonos will be there to support it.

4 It has the way-coolest interface
I have pretty much established my reviewer-ness based on looking at user interfaces over the years and then breaking them down and finding out what’s good, what works, and what blows. This is why I love Kaleidescape and Sooloos so much. Those guys developed an interface that is just way-cool and way easy to use. A homerun interface is one that you can just hand to someone and they can just intuitively figure it out and make it work. And I’m not talking about handing it to someone who spends their days living/breathing/sweating A/V gear, I’m talking someone like my mom. Who has trouble figuring out how to read a text message or charge her digital camera. Sonos interface is this interface. Oh, and the programming time it takes to make all that magic work? Zero.

5 Control: Can’t beat ‘em, embrace ‘em
Sonos offers a handy little controller called the CR200 that looks nice and works really well. Except, you’ll probably rarely sell one. Because Sonos realized pretty early on that they could A) continue making a controller that would cost more than an iTouch and DO way less or they could B) embrace the iTouch and make a killer interface for it. I’m sure this made for some painful, sitting around the board room conversations – “We’re going to just give up on selling controllers?! Are you mad? MAD?!?!” – except it was the right decision. They still offer the CR200 for people that don’t have a separate control option and there are still benefits to it (the dedicated hard volume buttons for one, and that it isn’t likely to walk-off like an iPhone/Touch/Pad), but Sonos has embraced iOS and Android controllers in a way that sacrifices or limits nothing. Even better? Using Sonos on an iPad. The larger real-estate provides a huge array of info at a glance.

Click here to view the full article

<strong><a href="http://www.technologytell.com/hometech/83384/10-reasons-why-sonos-is-great-1-way-to-make-it-greater/" target="_blank">http://www.technologytell.com/hometech/83384/10-reasons-why-sonos-is-great-1-way-to-make-it-greater/</a></strong></p>

Posted by chantal Mon, 27 Feb 2012 17:16:00 GMT

Review: Runco LightStyle LS-1 Home Theater Projector

This Runco DLP projector is an affordable home cinema luxury



January 26, 2012 | by Grant Clauser



Click here to view the full article

http://www.electronichouse.com/article/runco_lightstyle_ls-1_home_theater_projector1/



There are luxury brands that we all know—Mercedes, Louis Vuitton—and there are luxury brands that are known primarily among aficionado groups—Cohiba cigars, Sage fly fishing rods. Runco tends to be a brand that falls more in the second category. It has a reputation for offering spectacular, and spectacularly expensive, home theater projectors. For instance, at a CEDIA Expo press conference in 2011, the company spent most of the 40 minutes demonstrating a jaw-dropping projector that clocks in at over $200,000. That’s without the screen or the popcorn.

Why do I point this out—because alongside such extravagances, the company now offers a product that will get the Runco name, along with a lot of the Runco prowess, into homes for a lot less. Last year the company introduced the LightStyle line of projectors which tend to be less expensive than Runco’s other systems (though the three-chip models do get up there). They also don’t don’t look like industrial air conditioners. The LS-1 reviewed here carries an MSRP of $3,999.

Actually, being round and squat, they look a little like Roombas. That’s not a bad thing. These are stylish little projectors (you can also customize them with a color palette or team logo) that won’t look at all bad snugged up against your ceiling.

Click here to view the full article

<strong><a href="http://www.electronichouse.com/article/runco_lightstyle_ls-1_home_theater_projector1/" target="_blank">http://www.electronichouse.com/article/runco_lightstyle_ls-1_home_theater_projector1/</a></strong></p>

Posted by chantal Thu, 16 Feb 2012 17:10:00 GMT

HomeTechTell Review: Samsung UN46D7000 7000 Series Smart LED TV

by Dennis Burger at January 31, 2012 10:38 am



Click here to view the full article

http://www.technologytell.com/hometech/83021/hometechtell-review-samsung-un46d7000-7000-series-smart-led-tv/

I feel like I need to apologize. Perhaps to all the friends who’ve come to me asking for TV-buying advice over the past few years. Perhaps to the consumer electronics industry as a whole. Perhaps just to Samsung, I dunno. But my mantra when asked for flat-panel buying advice has consistently been, “Buy a plasma.”

“But I love how the pictures look so much better on the LEDs at Best Buy!” they always say.

Nope. Buy a plasma.

“But LEDs are so much thinner! And sexier!”

Nuh uh. Plasma.

“But…”

Plasma.

Why? Mostly the better black levels of plasma displays. There’s also the fact that the motion of any LCD-based TV (LED-lit or otherwise) has always bugged the snot out of me. But I have to admit, the plasma that usually hangs in my bedroom goes unused most of the time. Because, quite frankly, while my media room is all light controlled and curtained up and wonderfully, deliciously, manfully cave-like (the sort of environment in which plasmas truly shine), the missus has this annoying habit of letting sunlight into the rest of the house. The horror, I know, but that’s one battle I just don’t have the energy to fight anymore.

So when Samsung asked to send me one of its LED LCDs — a UN46D7000, to be precise — to test out in the south-facing solarium that serves as my boudoir, I figured what the heck. At least a jerky, uneven, unsatisfying image is better than no image at all during the day, right?

I’m joking.

Mostly.

Honestly, I really wanted to take a closer look at why, although we tech-advice-giving gurus almost universally prefer (and more favorably review) plasma displays, LCDs universally outsell their superiorly stygian counterparts. And there has to be something to that beyond mere notions of slimmer footprints and sexier designs. I wanted to see how the other half lives.

And apparently they live with the curtains open. Because that’s really the first thing that stands out about the UN46D7000. I knew that, of course, going in. In theory, at least. Brightness is the first thing about an LED LCD that anyone mentions. But until you’ve actually sat in a sun-flooded room and seen just how vibrant an image the UN46D7000 still manages to pump out, it’s hard to wrap your head around.

And it isn’t just a bright image that the set manages to display in such difficult conditions — it’s a really incredibly watchable one, at that. After hooking up the UN46D7000, I connected my trusty Sencore analyzer, fully expecting to walk away with the sort of results that require a “yeah, but…”

No buts about it, the UN46D7000’s color rendering, in Movie mode at least, can only be described as nearly dead-on balls accurate. The set also includes a number of surprisingly advanced calibration screens and tools for color and brightness adjustment, in the event that someone fiddles with your settings and you need to get them back. Or if you want to tweak to absolute perfection. Seriously, though, set it to Movie mode and you’re off to an incredibly accurate start.

Blacks are a little harder to measure, given that the set’s LED edge lights turn off in the presence of a fully black test pattern, but I think fussing about that is sort of missing the point: the average consumer probably doesn’t even know what I mean by “measuring blacks,” and the UN46D7000 is made to cater to consumers, not tweaky reviewers. So with that in mind I popped in some Blu-rays and started fiddling with picture settings. Because, really, 99% of shoppers aren’t going to crack open the manual, so why should I?



Click here to view the full article

<strong><a href="http://www.technologytell.com/hometech/83021/hometechtell-review-samsung-un46d7000-7000-series-smart-led-tv/" target="_blank">http://www.technologytell.com/hometech/83021/hometechtell-review-samsung-un46d7000-7000-series-smart-led-tv/</a></strong></p>

Posted by chantal Tue, 14 Feb 2012 17:19:00 GMT

Control4 New HC-800 Home Automation Hub is Powerful, Packed with Connectors

Better ZigBee performance, faster processing, lots of I/Os highlight $999 HC-800 home control processor from Control4, debuting at CES 2012; new HC-250 is Control4’s powerful new in-room controller.



By Julie Jacobson, January 10, 2012



Click here to view the full article

http://www.cepro.com/article/control4s_new_hc-800_home_automation_hub_is_powerful_packed_with_connectors/



Introduced today at CES 2012, the new HC-800 from Control4 is the company’s most powerful home automation controller yet, and it’s packed with connectors that were lacking in its predecessor, the HC-1000.

The 1U piece is “the most powerful processor we’ve ever delivered,” says product manager Kordon Vaughn, ticking off the list of features: on-screen Navigator (Control4 interface) and audio through HDMI, analog and digital outputs to deliver four independent audio zones, two RS-232 ports, six IR ports and more ….

“eSATA on the back panel is wicked! says Joey Ferrell of Tennessee Home Theater by HomeSecure, Murfreesboro, Tenn.

For seasoned Control4 dealers, the new unit could be described like this: “Take the power of the HC-1000, combine that with the features of the old HC-500 and you have a blazingly fast controller that can keep up just about anything you throw at it,” says Shawn Lemay, president of Sound & Theater, an integration firm based in Buffalo, N.Y.

In addition to its powerful processor, the HC-800 offers much better ZigBee performance than previous Control4 hubs, with an external antenna and a 20db amp to boost the wireless signal.

“Expect much faster performance,” says Vaughn. “It can process ZigBee packets much more quickly and offers much greater coverage.”

Complementing the HC-800 is the new HC-250 in-room controller with PoE for a “really clean install,” Vaughn says.



Click here to view the full article

<strong><a href="http://www.cepro.com/article/control4s_new_hc-800_home_automation_hub_is_powerful_packed_with_connectors/" target="_blank">http://www.cepro.com/article/control4s_new_hc-800_home_automation_hub_is_powerful_packed_with_connectors/</a></strong></p>

Posted by chantal Wed, 11 Jan 2012 17:08:00 GMT

Product Profile: Paradigm Monitor Subwoofer 12

Putting Paradigm to the boom test.



November 10, 2011 by Audioholics.com



Click here to view the full article

http://www.electronichouse.com/article/product_profile_paradigm_monitor_subwoofer_12/



Paradigm, one of the most loved names in home theater, has introduced three new subwoofers to their line-up. The Monitor SUB 8, SUB 10, and SUB 12. The number, of course, corresponds with the size of the driver. The specs and all the specifics (including the amps) are nearly identical, excepting low frequency extension, so we are going to focus on the largest of the group, the SUB 12 in this preview. You can find information on the others on the Paradigm website listed below.

The Monitor line of subs have been designed with two things in mind: compact footprint and uncompromising bass output and extension. This means that they are trying to get the most performance they can out of their driver in the smallest box possible. We think these are fairly admirable goals and should garner them a lot of buyers if they succeed. Given their track record, we expect them to.

Sub12_cutThe SUB 12 inhabits a small 15-1/8” by 13” by 14-1/2” box. While not the tiniest enclosure we’ve seen, it certainly is small based on the size of the driver. The 12” woofer features a carbon-loaded polypropylene cone, a non-limiting corrugated “Santoprene” surround, a 2”, 4-layer copper-clad aluminum voice coil, 2 Nomex spiders, a 6.5 lb ferrite magnet, and an AVS die-cast heatsink chassis. As the picture above clearly demonstrates, the driver takes up nearly all of the front baffle and the Santoprene surround has a unique ribbed (for your listening pleasure) texture which allows for a full 1.5 inches of excursion on the SUB 12 (slightly less on the others).

Click here to view the full article

<strong><a href="http://www.electronichouse.com/article/product_profile_paradigm_monitor_subwoofer_12/" target="_blank">http://www.electronichouse.com/article/product_profile_paradigm_monitor_subwoofer_12/</a></strong></p>

Posted by chantal Tue, 22 Nov 2011 17:09:00 GMT

2011 Custom Retailer Excite Awards Winner: Chief W1 Series Hinged Wall Racks

Click here to view the full article

http://exciteawards.customretailer.net/product/2011/Chief_W1_Series_Hinged_Wall_Racks-284.html



Chief’s W1 Series Hinged Wall Racks provide a hassle-free solution for storage needs. This versatile series allows users to load components without worrying about rack alignment. A reversible door can be installed to open left or right, and hinge-pin installation on either side makes preloading components easy. Additionally, the rack is hinged to the wall bracket, allowing easy access to the rear of the rack for installation and service. Includes adjustable front and rear rack rails and all necessary hardware.

Click here to view the full article

<strong><a href="http://exciteawards.customretailer.net/product/2011/Chief_W1_Series_Hinged_Wall_Racks-284.html" target="_blank">http://exciteawards.customretailer.net/product/2011/Chief_W1_Series_Hinged_Wall_Racks-284.html</a></strong></p>

Posted by chantal Tue, 18 Oct 2011 16:34:00 GMT

2011 Custom Retailer Excite Awards Winner: Autonomic Mirage Media Servers

Click here to view the full article

http://exciteawards.customretailer.net/product/2011/Autonomic_Mirage_Media_Servers-329.html



Autonomic introduced the world’s first cloud-based media server. Engineered for custom installation, the Mirage Media Server has become the standard for converging content for multi-room distribution from the most popular sources, such as iTunes, Windows Media, PANDORA® internet radio, Last.fm, Rhapsody, TuneIn Radio (RadioTime) and SiriusXM Internet Radio. Pre-built control modules for leading automation systems are included, and the Mirage Media Controller app is available for iPad and iPhone/iPod Touch.

Click here to view the full article

<strong><a href="http://exciteawards.customretailer.net/product/2011/Autonomic_Mirage_Media_Servers-329.html" target="_blank">http://exciteawards.customretailer.net/product/2011/Autonomic_Mirage_Media_Servers-329.html</a></strong></p>

Posted by chantal Thu, 13 Oct 2011 16:23:00 GMT

2011 Custom Retailer Excite Awards Winner: ClareHome Controls Home Automation System

Click here to view the full article

http://exciteawards.customretailer.net/product/2011/ClareHome_Controls_Home_Automation_System_-311.html



ClareHome is the first home automation system managed from the cloud and runs on a Mac. From the ClareCloud, integrators configure, deploy and monitor ClareHome, while end-users download and create their own interfaces. Absolutely unique to home automation, end-users can take control with ClareHome. No other solution allows users to download new home controls and make them functional within minutes all without the help of a programmer or a technician. It is simple to own and simple to change.



Click here to view the full article

<strong><a href="http://exciteawards.customretailer.net/product/2011/ClareHome_Controls_Home_Automation_System_-311.html" target="_blank">http://exciteawards.customretailer.net/product/2011/ClareHome_Controls_Home_Automation_System_-311.html</a></strong></p>

Posted by chantal Tue, 11 Oct 2011 16:13:00 GMT