Monthly Archives: February 2017

How big is too big? Well, that depends…

While we learned that going big with your screen allows for a phenomenal 4K viewing experience, it can only be truly taken in from the proper distance…and there IS a science to it!  Let’s consult Wikipedia for the concise, scientific answer.  “Optimum HDTV viewing distance is the distance that provides the viewer with the optimum immersive visual HDTV experience. Although opinions vary on the exact screen size to distance relationship, formal research and recommendations suggest closer is preferred to farther, to provide a more immersive experience.[1][2] How close? ‘As close as you can stand it’. Hmmm, not very scientific…but, it’s not exactly wrong either.

As with any viewed screen, flat panel or projection screen, residential or commercial, we consider content, viewing distance and viewing angles.  With HDTV, we understand that the increase in pixels means more details and, hence, a sharper image.  Increasing the size of the screen means more details and overall better picture but….only if the increase does not exceed the visual capabilities of the observer.  Yes, there really can be too much of a good thing!  A key component to the equation is the angular resolution, your eye’s ability to distinguish small details.  As explained in How to Calculate the Optimal TV Screen Size Based on Resolution and Distance, “everyone loses the ability to distinguish fine details once they’re a certain distance from the screen, and everyone can see individual pixels if they get too close.”  Here are the calculations as shared on tekrevue but, bear in mind, as stated so eloquently by Hector Barbossa, “the code is more like guidelines than actual rules.” Argh!  Just call us.

Let the sun shine in!

Welcome (almost) spring!  Time to store the sweaters, uncover  the mower and throw open the windows. And, well…maybe it’s time to update the window coverings. Time to consider integrating motorized shades or drapes?

Automated shades are offered in a stunning array of colors, textures and weaves.  They can either block out light (excellent for home theaters or sleeping in on a Saturday morning!) or lightly filter sunlight, allowing for pleasant, unobstructed views free from harsh glare.  They come in honeycomb….they can cover skylights and custom sunroom windows and even come in battery operated versions to cover doors.  Window shades can be controlled from remotes or incorporated into an automated home’s system and controlled via any touchpanel or control device.  As your integrator, we can walk you through your options and, if you’re working with a designer, we’re happy to work together!

Bonus, they offer great heat and UV blocking, saving you money on cooling costs and protecting your upholstery from fading.  They’re convenient with one touch programming control of scenes that can control individual window coverings or the whole house. And, for added security, just like you do with your lights, you can control your shades to open and close while you’re away, even remotely!

Take the Inside Out!

Enjoy outdoor living at its finest when you combine the conveniences of your home’s interior with the warmth and openness of your home’s patio or deck.  Your outdoor grill or pool area can become a welcoming extension of your living room.  Just add music!

Technologies for outdoor living have quickly evolved in recent years.  All-weather LCDs are now thin and sleek, offering extensive mounting options with excellent viewing angles and anti-glare features.  They are rated for grueling weather conditions and will offer years of enjoyment, displaying everything from gruesome thrillers for your teens’ parties to game-day excitement with your friends and sappy romantic comedies for you and your “better-half” around the fire pit on date night.

And don’t forget the background music.  Well-placed weather-resistant speakers will provide music without blaring. And for extensive yards, meandering gardens or even boat docks, additional ornamental speakers can provide music evenly throughout.  Audio comes disguised in varies forms from the well-known rock and mushroom styles to attractive planters and spotlight styles.

Now is the time to start planning! Maximize your outdoor living this summer. Put down those hedge trimmers and let’s get started!

Get Smart, Not Stressed

So, what is a SMART home or technology-enabled workplace?  And what makes it so smart to have?  It seems to be a lot of things, and for a variety of reasons.  To some, it’s an all-in-one remote (and we mean the whole house) control.  To others, it’s a mobile security system.  It’s a convenience, it adds to your home’s resale value, it supports energy efficiency, and the list goes on.  But what’s the common denominator?  What makes the home automation market worth a projected 78.27 billion dollar industry by 2022? It’s simple; it simplifies your life.  Granted, it’s elegant, it’s a solid investment, it enables you to be remote, it’s all those things, but what it really does is make life easier.  And isn’t that nice to come home to?

So, if you were to design your SmartHome or automated workplace, what features would you want?  Here’s some fuel for thought:

What’s important to you? What features would simplify your lifestyle or make your place of business more efficient and secure?

  • Enhanced security solutions
  • Access and control to lighting, motorized shades and security features from anywhere
  • Update the look of your home or business
  • Upgrade for resale purposes or to attract/retain today’s tech-savvy workforce
  • Incorporate energy efficiency
  • Improve the functionality

 

What would you want to control?

  • Comfort (HVAC/heating and cooling)
  • Home theater/entertainment or conference room control
  • Lighting, window treatments
  • Security and monitoring
  • Distributed music with integrated intercom and doorbell
  • Communications

 

Now consider compatibility.   Think about your favorite services such as Pandora, napster, Deezer …and your favorite tech- friendly products like Sonos, echo, Lutron – all can be integrated onto one platform.

So what’s the trick to get all these devices and services to work together?  That part you leave to the professionals.  No stress, remember?  Technology is quickly evolving and today’s home automation integrators stay on top of these cutting-edge technologies.  They have continuous training and proper certifications to get your disparate pieces to blend in unison.  Music to your ears?  We think so.

Now, don’t you feel smart?

Amazon Alexa. A Virtual Assistant and…Caretaker?

Alexa, open the shades.  Alexa, play music.  Alexa, ask fitbit what my resting heart rate is. Ahhhhh.

How smart is your smarthome? Can it order a pizza? If Alexa were your virtual assistant it could!  Now THAT’s a SMARTHOME!  Alexa lives in the cloud and is automatically updated.  She comes with Echo, a far-field enabled device that activates upon hearing a “wake word”.  Echo also happens to be a 360° omni-directional speaker.  Ok, it’s not whole-house audiophile quality, but it’s a pretty cool way to stream your favorites through a portable device.

So why do we, a systems integrator, love it?  We love simplified solutions and Alexa makes control of your home’s systems even easier. She’s compatible with your Crestron home automation system, with Lutron Shades and more. And while all that is convenient, there’s a key life-safety feature not to be ignored.  Imagine the peace of mind of having Alexa for those “aging in place” with limited mobility.  Voice-activated technology can restore freedom and grant a measure of security.

Alexa, close the shades.  Alexa, what’s my heart rate now?