In the Market for a New TV?

I am. As of this weekend I have not one, but two televisions that need to be replaced. It’s a little embarrassing to admit this, especially given the industry I work in, but I am not always on the cutting-edge of electronics technology. I might be what you call a “late adopter.” I still have one of those big…no, huge, boxy televisions. The 48″ kind that actually hogs about 15 square feet of valuable real estate in my living room. I hate it, but it works like a champ and we’ve been trying to stall the complete redecoration of our living room as long as possible. Well, we just got an Apple TV (remember what I said about being a “late adopter?”) and it won’t even work with this beast because it’s so old. Finally! A catalyst for change! We might even get rid of the VCR at the same time. And then this weekend, the television in our bedroom croaked. It’s not as old as the other one, but it’s definitely not a top-of-the-line piece of equipment and we were kind of surprised it hung on as long as it did.
Market for TV
So now I’m in the market for two new televisions. Perhaps not the best time to be shopping for TV’s. I’ve been hearing that TV’s are a “commodity” so the prices are cheap, cheap, cheap. And then just today I see this article from USA Today “TV’s get bigger, fancier, pricier…”  Yikes. Pricier? This is the time when I’m really glad to have a dealer I can call!

They know exactly what questions to ask to help me get the biggest, fanciest, least priciest for my budget and my lifestyle. Do you want 3D? (no, gives me a headache) How big is the space? (I want a BIG screen, like the biggest I can hang on the wall, but maybe not that 10 thousand dollar one) Is the room bright or not? (dark., borderline gloomy) How much do you care about picture quality? (not much…whether I’m wearing my glasses determines picture clarity more than the TV I think.) Do you want LCD, LED, blah blah? (no clue. What do you think I want?) How much do you want to spend? (as little as possible, obviously) All good questions.

So we’re taking their professional recommendations to heart, happy that they know us and how we use our entertainment system. And, of course, we’re now thinking about all the other things we get to update on our Control4  system when the dealer comes to install the new TV’s. Getting that Apple TV working is just the beginning! And, of course, I’m balancing all the fun tech stuff with a new couch and entertainment center and maybe some new paint that makes the room a little less gloomy. Hey! Like most regular people, I have a budget to keep my dreams in check. Sorry, $ 10K TV. Maybe next time!

Let me know what TV you think I should get in the comments section!

Control4 Blog

Computer MusicMonitor®

Not only does Bose make speakers for your home theater, but now you can transform your office to sound like you’re in a theater. The Bose Computer MusicMonitor speakers are designed for the computer user with a taste. In the box you’ll receive the speakers, a power cord, power pack, an audio input cable, a remote control, and a demonstration DVD.  The speakers are compact, and constructed with high grade aluminum, finished in an elegant brushed finish.  Although they are small, these speakers deliver life-like, rich sound and are great to use on the go. ($ 299.95)

http://www.bose.com/controller?url=/shop_online/digital_music_systems/computer_speakers/music_monitor/index.jsp

The Bose Blog

A Case Study in Home Energy Savings

Here is a home energy savings great case study from a Control4 Guest Blogger: Eileen Komanecky

The unusually warm summer weather that most of us have been experiencing lately has caused quite a bit of discomfort. One of those discomforts is the crazy expensive electricity bill that results from cranking the air conditioning non-stop.  Receiving a big bill like that is often a wake up call to homeowners that they should take steps to save energy and use it more efficiently. The problem, however, is that we frequently hear about ways to save energy, but often times the specifics of the exact amount of savings in energy, and money, are vague estimates and difficult to measure in hard data. We thought we would present to you a real life situation along with the data to back up the energy savings claims.Home Energy1

In this example, simpleHome’s own Craig Heim was experiencing a frustration that many homeowners share. He would receive his electric bill each month that showed a big whopping amount of electricity usage. Being a family of four with both parents at work all week and the kids at school and busy with extracurricular activities, he wondered how could they be using so much energy. Fortunately, he was determined to answer that question and see what he could do to improve the situation.

What did Craig do? The first thing he did was address the lighting in his home. According to EnergyStar, lighting accounts for 15% to 20% of a home’s energy use. Since LED use about 75% less energy than incandescent, it was a no-brainer first step for Craig to swap out his most frequently used inefficient lighting with new LED bulbs and recessed fixtures. LED lighting produces 75% less heat and last 6 times longer than incandescent, and do not contain mercury unlike compact fluorescent (CFL).  By focusing on the kitchen, hallways, bathrooms, and exterior lights, he got the biggest bang for his buck, since LED fixtures are a substantial initial investment.

Next, Craig decided it was important to dig into his home and understand how the energy was being consumed. Since Craig’s home includes a home automation system, he was able to add Eragy’s Energy Monitoring onto his system. That allowed him to see where the power was being used on a per-circuit basis. He could view his energy usage in real time, and also view the historical data of his energy usage by circuit. That information showed him areas ripe for energy savings.  For example, Craig learned that the HVAC system and certain home electronics devices were using a significant amount of energy at times when they were not needed, like when the family was sleeping and when they were away from home.

Home Energy2

Home Energy3Armed with this information, Craig was able to make simple changes that do not affect his family’s lifestyle, but effortlessly save significant energy. He utilized his home automation system to automatically turn off unnecessary devices and adjust cooling and heating set points when the home is unoccupied and when the family is asleep. He did this by using simple house modes keypads and buttons on his touchpanels.

As a result, Craig and his family have seen over a 30% decrease in their electricity usage since these changes were implemented. He was able to decrease his monthly electric bill from an average of $ 267 to $ 173. Over the course of a year, that will put over $ 1,000 back in his pocket! In addition, his family likes being able to use the energy monitoring software to understand and see in real time how much energy they are saving at any given time. Saving energy without sacrificing lifestyle….who wouldn’t want that?

Eileen Komanecky is Director of Business Development at simpleHome, a custom electronics integration firm that serves greater Boston, mainline Philadelphia, and northern Vermont. Eileen is a CEDIA registered outreach instructor (ROI) and a LEED, Green Associate.

Control4 Blog

MIE2i mobile headset

The Bose MIE2i  head set is designed for people who want clear hands-free call quality, and the opportunity to listen to their favorite music on the go. These in-ear headphones set a new standard for audio quality, so you can hear every detail in your favorite music. Made with aluminum and durable plastic construction, you’ll feel like you’re wearing a quality product, and not have to worry if they get tossed around a little. As you can see, the buds sport a very unconventional tip. Bose’s StayHear rubbers will ensure that your headset stays where it’s supposed to be, even during strenuous exercises. Not only are they secure, but the tips are comfortable, and allow hours of listening. Overall, this is definitely a product to check out if you’re in the marked for a new set of headphones.

The Bose Blog

Commentary: “Top 10 Emerging Tech Trends That Will Change Your Home”

According to this post on Electronic House by Lisa Montgomery:

There’s a lot of innovative technology looming on the horizon, ready to change the way we use, live in and enjoy our homes. At the recent Consumer Electronics Association Line Show in New York City, journalists, including myself, gathered at a special reception co-hosted by CEDIA (Custom Electronics Design and Installation Association) and home control manufacturer Savant, to hear about some of the biggest up-and-coming technologies expected to shake up the consumer marketplace.

Her list included:

Emerging TrendsIPv6: Back in the 90s when IPv6 was first being discussed in earnest, those of us in the tech industry used to joke about “an IP address for every light switch.” But that’s child’s play … IPv6 provides an IP address for every molecule in the freakin’ planet. Can you imagine if every device’s MAC address was its IP address? Bye-bye NAT and DHCP, hello IPv6!

4K: It’s interesting, when you go to an NBA or NFL game you see more fans watching the jumbotron than the actual game play on the field or the court. I’m still getting used to 1080p … can you imagine watching everything (or everything that wasn’t already in some older format) at a resolution of 4096 x 2160?! What would we see if they re-digitized old movies in 4K? Do we really want to see every pore on Grace Kelly’s face?

Audio Everywhere: I can’t wait to add this in my own home. I have a pair of wireless headphones that I use when I’m composing digital music at night—to allow me to hear both my computer and keyboard (piano keyboard, not computer keyboard) in a single audio feed. These use some kind of radio-based system, and they really suck. IP audio that would give me full control over the stream would be an amazing enhancement to my own life.

Cloud Life: I’m still skeptical. Before I had my Boxee box hard-wired to my home network, I would often get “buffering” messages when watching digital media over a wireless connection from my home network server. And I’m supposed to expect this kind of stuff to go away when everything actually resides on someone else’s file server? Call me paranoid, but I personally suspect that the push toward cloud technology might just be a ruse to get people to re-purchase all the media they already own in yet another format…

Digital Home Health: This one worries me, mostly because of privacy concerns. It’s one thing if your home network gets hacked and someone steals your tax information. What if they steal your medical records? What if they steal your genome? (OK, maybe I really am paranoid.)

Energy Monitoring: Anything that helps us out when my kids leave the lights on in the basement is fine by me.

Gesture And Voice Control: Why not? We’re so used to Wii-like controls already, it’s just one more step in that direction. My Star-Wars-obsessed son used to try to “force push” the front door open back when he was playing Jedi; this would just make that kind of thing a reality.

Mobile Control and Mobile Connection: After my recent inter-state move, it took me two weeks to find the remote controls to my A/V equipment. No worries—I had a remote control app for my Boxee on my Android phone, and was able to function perfectly well, thank you very much. We’re getting closer and closer on this one.

TV Everywhere: I remember a flight I took to Hawaii with my boys, back when they were tiny. I had just bought a very early “Titanium” Powerbook laptop with one of the first integrated DVD drives. Took along some DVDs and let the boys watch them on the plane. We had a crowd in the aisle watching “Disney’s Dinosaur” along with my 4-year-old and 2-year-old, and not because they were particularly interested in the movie. On my trip to Europe last month most of the kids were watching video on their phones during the 11-hour flight to Berlin. We’re already there, folks.

Intuitive Home: Whatever. I’ll believe it when I see it, at least when it comes to homes for “regular people.” We’ve been conditioned to believe the Disney-esque/Jetson-ish vision of the future home, with reconfiguring walls, robot maids and self-cleaning floors and such. Notice that the image used in this slide is from Disney. Still waiting for my flying car!

Control4 Blog

Bose Active Sound Management Automotive Technology

Bose always has a way to improve something. Whether it’s a standard 2 speaker stereo, full entertainment systems, or cars, they always are a step ahead of the competition. One of their newest innovations is the Bose Active Sound Management Technology.  Bose has been doing this for years with simple headphones, because it was pretty easy to control sound levels in such a small area. Now, they have mastered some new turf: car interiors! Found on Porsche’s, Audi’s, and more, this system utilizes the car’s speaker system to “cancel out” the sound waves from the engine.  This is achieved through a microphone system, and an audio processor that monitors interior noise, and projects a sound through the car audio speakers that counteracts the sound waves inside the cabin. Pretty neat! The best part about this technology is that it can be used with music on, so no matter what you’re doing you can enjoy a nice peaceful ride. To see the full write up by bose on their Active Sound Management systems, check it out here!

The Bose Blog

Shavy Jones

Shavy1It’s that time of year again. The annual convergence of hot weather, empty schoolyards, busy water parks and snow cone stands—also known as summer. Working at Control4 comes with several benefits. Yes I have the opportunity to “get my geek on” with all of the cool electronics we have around the office but one of the best parts during the summer is Shavy Jones!

Every other Friday Control4 brings in a local snow cone company called Shavy Jones to help cool the employees off a bit. Today just happens to be one of those Fridays. I’ve discovered the best way to enjoy a snow cone is with “buried treasure”, which basically means the snow is thrown on top of vanilla ice cream so by the time you get down to the bottom it’s just a sugary mess of deliciousness. Now the only question is tiger’s blood or pina colada? I’ll probably do both.

Let us know your favorite summer treat in the comments section.

Shavy2

Control4 Blog

MainStreet America – A Shopping Mall for Homes

 

Mainstreet1

Like most women, I’m very well-versed in the shopping world. So when I heard about a super cool, exciting new project called MainStreet America, I was more than intrigued. MSA is currently under construction, and once completed, it will offer a hands-on, year-round consumer destination for the latest and greatest in home building products and services – for all those looking to build, remodel or update their home. To put it clearly to my people: A shopping mall for everything home-related. And – in other words – HEAVEN.

As we speak, I am personally in the beginning stages of finding and purchasing a new home myself. Oh, how I’d love to tour and explore this amazing place! Unfortunately, I’m not in Texas, so I won’t be able to go anytime soon. But rest-assured, I will make it one day…

For now, I’ll just have to stalk the building progress from MSA’s “Construction Cam,” at least until its opening this Fall.

If you want to know more about MainStreet America, or see how Control4 is teaming up with this innovative home design and technology center, just visit this link: http://www.control4.com/info/main-street-america/

Control4 Blog

Acoustic Wave® music system II

The Acoustic Wave music system from Bose is the big brother of the popular Wave Radio from past years.  This new model is ideal for larger rooms, and outdoor events where the Wave Radio would not supply enough power. With a CD player, and a FM/AM tuner, you can enjoy music whether you brought it with you or not. As usual, this system is powered by Bose’s patented waveguide speaker technology that allows life-like quality from quiet, all the way up to its max volume, with little to no distortion. Also, with the optional travel case and power case, you can bring beautiful music to wherever you are.

The Bose Blog

Close the Dang Door!

Close the doorI’ve only just begun to experience the wonder and goodness of home automation. As a four-month employee of Control4, I’m still just a newbie when it comes to taking control of my house. Most of what I’ve done so far has involved my growing home theater system, but last week I discovered what needs to come next as I add on to my system.
My family recently moved into a new house in a suburb of Salt Lake City. For the first time ever, we have a detached garage. With the garage door facing away from the house, it’s not easy to tell whether it’s open or closed.
Last Thursday evening my son and I had to drive all the way in to downtown Salt Lake, which takes about 40 minutes during rush hour. The rest of the family was out of town, so it was my teenager and me at home. I had asked him to mow the lawn and he had just stowed the lawn mower before we headed in to Salt Lake City.
It was half an hour later when I thought to ask, “Did you close the garage door?”
He couldn’t remember. He thought he probably had closed it, but couldn’t say for sure. And of course I began to panic. I mean, it’s a great neighborhood, but it would still be incredibly easy for all of my tools to grow legs and walk off. Luckily, I had one of my neighbor’s numbers programmed into my mobile phone. I pulled off the highway and idled at a gas station as the neighbor went over to check. Sure enough, my son had left the door wide open. The neighbor managed to get the garage buttoned up, and then snarkily asked, “Doesn’t your company make something to help with this kind of situation?”
Of course we do. Control4 sells both a Smart Garage Package and a souped-up Deluxe Package, both of which would have allowed me to not only find out whether my garage door was open (without the embarrassing call to my neighbor) but also to close it remotely from my smart phone.
Sure, it would be great if my son would always remember to close the door, but as a great man once said, “Trust, but verify.” So if I’m gonna keep both the house and the teenager for much longer, I guess I’m going to have to get the garage all “automated up.”

Control4 Blog