Category Archives: Residential

Things we thought were COOL at CEDIA

As we closed our doors to attend the 2017 trade show for consumer electronics contractors, we came back newly educated on both products and technical skills.
Here are a few of the products we found interesting walking the show floor. While they may not apply to everyone, we felt it was worth mentioning them because, well…you just never know.

Stealth Acoustics
For those who don’t like the look of speakers in your walls and ceilings, Stealth acoustics makes a full-range of speakers and subwoofers that are fully invisible, hiding behind drywall. While they have a full range of speakers and subwoofers with varying sound quality, prices are a bit steeper than the grill-based speakers usually installed. But, if you are looking for a completely clean look in a room, then these speakers can fill your need.

Motorized Wall Mounts
If you like the idea of an articulating arm mount but don’t want to manually turn it in a direction, then you could get a motorized mounts. These mounts are not new, but they are gaining exposure. The best use of these would be for handicapped or elderly people who would find it difficult to adjust the TV. They are heavier than standard mounts, requiring additional bracing, but do the job.

Samsung’s Frame TV
When you’re not watching TV, Art Mode transforms The Frame into a beautiful work of art indistinguishable from the real thing. The Frame includes a free gallery of professionally curated art with 100 free pieces worth thousands of dollars* from 10 different categories. The consumer can buy individual pieces or subscribe to an ever-increasing library of established and emerging artists’ work. You can even upload and display your own personal pictures.

To be continued…

Is Your Network Ready For Back to School

According to an annual survey commissioned by the National Retail Foundation (NRF), the expected tech haul for back to school is $12.8 billion, up nearly 11 percent from summer 2016.
Consumer electronics came in second on back-to-school shopping lists (grades K-12), behind only clothing, and was cited by 60 percent of respondents who plan to spend an average of $204.33 on the category.

But electronics was No. 1 with the college crowd, ahead of clothing, and cited by 51 percent of respondents who expect to spend an average of $229.20 on the category.

While you don’t need to worry about colleges having enough bandwidth to handle your child’s electronics, you may want to evaluate your home’s network infrastructure.
• Is your child’s room wired so they can plug their laptop in to a hard-wired connection?
• Are there areas that your child might want to go wireless that don’t have a strong connection?
• Will multiple children be using the Wi-Fi at the same time? Will they all be multi-tasking? (watching Netflix while searching the web, texting with friends and printing at the same time)
• What will the rest of the household be doing while they are working on their homework?

Going back to school can be either an enjoyable or frustrating time. Be sure you nip any network issues in the bud early to keep everyone working and playing nice together.

How Smart Do you Want your Home

Do your homework before buying Smart Home products

I clicked on the latest email sent to me from Home Depot because it said Smart Home, and I had to see what they had to offer. The page I was sent to was quite impressive, as it should be from a large company like Home Depot.

They categorized Smart Home Technology by
• Safety and Security
• Home Access
• Lighting
• Automation
• Energy Management
• Appliances
• Electronics.

So, what to buy? The products that Home Depot sells are all considered to be products that any DIYer can install. But, just as I don’t know how to tile my floor or install carpeting, not everything within these categories may be a project I would want to attempt (leaving Lew out of the picture).

I encourage you to go to their Smart Home page to see what might interest you. I then, encourage you to dig deeper into the actual product, through that manufacturer’s page to see if there are other products needed to make it work (I guarantee there are) and to better understand the installation of the product.

For example, I have a Lutron control for my bedroom lamp, which Home Depot sells. You plug the lamp cord into the device that plugs into an outlet & that’s it. I love it, simple and inexpensive! However, when I wanted to control overhead lights in my bathroom and bedroom the same way, that was a whole different story. This was going to be costly as there were more pieces to make it work and the installation required an electrician in addition to Lew’s expertise.

My point is don’t buy first and ask questions later. There are some wonderful things you can do now to make your home “Smart”. But, be sure you fully understand the cost of ALL products and installation if you can’t do it yourself.

Is Your Home System User Friendly?

And what to do if it Isn’t

Do you have a lot of people using your home’s technology? If you do, then you want to be sure that your electronics are easy to use. If only one person in your home understands how to turn on the TV, speakers, lighting or camera system, that could be a problem at some point.

I say this because I am as guilty as many others. Lew set up our system and other than the remote control devices, and Bose system, I’m pretty clueless. I don’t even have the camera app on my phone, even though he and my daughter do. I have no idea how to reset the network. I always call him when something goes wrong.
If something (God forbid) happened to Lew, I’d have to hire a competitor to explain how all this stuff works in my house.
That said, here are some suggestions to get everyone in the know.

1. Create written instructions. Grab a pen and paper and write instructions on how to use the electronics in your home. That includes TV, Audio, Gaming, Cameras, Lights, etc.
2. Have a training session. Once your instructions are written, make some popcorn & have a training session. The kids will probably balk at this, as they will think they know it already, so have them be the ones to explain how things work. And, don’t just talk the talk, demo everything. Mess things up too and have them fix it.
3. Make things easier. If it takes 5 remotes to watch TV, perhaps it is time to go to a universal remote control system. You are, most likely, not going to be able to train grandma to push 15 buttons to watch a movie.
4. Get as much on the cell phone as possible. Everyone uses cell phones today and the new generation learns apps fast.
If you don’t want someone in the home to know how to use something, i.e. kids and cameras, then be sure to set up parental controls, such as passwords, to ensure they aren’t messing with something they shouldn’t, like turning off the cameras during the hours they are throwing that huge party with their friends while you are on vacation.

Beware of New Home Builders Going Wireless

Let them know YOU want cables!

If you are looking to purchase a newly constructed home, be sure to question them about their internal wiring structure. While wireless today is pretty awesome – it’s no way to prepare a home for the future.

In fact, we will need more cabling to ensure uninterrupted streams of high-resolution audio, video, and countless other services coming soon. Prewiring for wireless is a mere prerequisite for a future-ready home. It is a poor excuse, however, to eliminate other infrastructure cabling. In addition, it will only cause problems later when the homeowner is looking to sell their home to increasingly tech-centric buyers.

If the new builder isn’t running cables to every room, talk to them about getting it done BEFORE the drywall goes up. It is much less expensive to run cable during the framing stage than later. Even if you aren’t sure what wall the cable should run to, get at least one termination point into the bedrooms and multiple ones to the main level and basement rooms. It is easier to move the cable out to another location within a room than bring a new one into it from the basement structured wiring set up.