Some people love smart home technology, and some people love what it does for them. There’s plenty of overlap between these two categories, but a sizable group of consumers gravitates toward the simpler versions of today’s technology. Some homes are devoid of tech geeks, but their occupants still want the convenience and the savings that their gadget-savvy friends and neighbors have. These people are looking for the benefits of smart home technology without the hassle of learning a complicated new system.
The Easier the Better
Ease of use is more important to consumers than technical innovation, according to the 2015 State of the Smart Home Report, recently released by Icontrol Networks [www.icontrol.com/blog/2015-state-of-the-smart-home-report/]. These consumers may be behind the curve of cutting-edge technology (eg: the automated litterbox cleaner), but ahead of your grandmother by being willing to automate at least a few functions. The most popular among these tentative technophobes are automated thermostats, security cameras, lights and door locks. What could go wrong with those, right?
Seventy-two percent of surveyed consumers said they would like a self-adjusting thermostat. Although programmable thermostats have been available for a while, self-adjusting ones kick up the coolness a notch — not that these consumers care about cool (unless it’s summer). Nest is the innovator in this area of technology, being the first to create a thermostat that doesn’t need programming — it just learns what you like and remembers it. Now if only your spouse could do that …
Coming in at a close second with 71 percent yeas was doors that can be locked from a remote location. How many times have you gone to work, or worse, left for vacation, then tortured yourself with the idea that you may have forgotten to lock the doors? Now you don’t have to call your sister or your neighbor to check for you — you can just pull out your smartphone and do it yourself. And if you did forget, you can take care of it on the spot.
Sixty-eight percent of respondents said they would like a central master control device to adjust all automated functions in the home. This sounds more high-tech that you might think they would want, but really, everyone just wants like items grouped together for ease of use, and home automation is no different.
Tied for fourth place are home monitoring cameras and automatic adjustable outdoor lighting, with 65 percent each.
If you have been thinking about getting smart home technology, talk to the professionals at Theatron Home Theater & Smart Homes. They can help you get started with a basic system, and they can recommend one that allows you to add on when you get more comfortable in your new smart home shoes. Visit Theatron Home Theater in Northern Virginia, to find out everything you need to know about smart home technology and what it can do for you.
What is Video Distribution? In your typical home, you have a TV with a handful of video components plugged into it. You probably have a Blu-ray player, a Direct TV receiver, maybe an Apple TV and a game console. Hopefully you’ve got some kind of media cabinet to store all these items in, but there’s a good chance they’re all sitting out in plain site, and all the cables are out and attractive looking on the walls.
With Video Distribution, you centralize all the Video components; usually in some kind of media rack or closet. From there, you distribute the different Video content out to the different TV’s in the home. So instead of having all your components under each TV, and cables dangling everywhere, you conceal all the components out of site. The TV sits flush and clean on the wall, and there are no visible cables. An added convenience, is that you don’t need a Blu-ray player, or Apple TV for every TV anymore. You can feed all the TV’s in the home with the same Blu-ray.
In most instances, we run Cat5e, and preferably 2 Cat5e from the media rack out to every TV in the home. There’s a piece of hardware called a HDMI Matrix, or Video Matrix. It’s a fancy name for a switch. It’s kind of like a router for your internet, but it’s for the video components. It has a number of video inputs, and a number of video outputs. So lets say we have a 4×4 Video Matrix. That means you can pug in 4 Video Sources, and out put them to 4 TV’s or displays, including a projector. There’s a very small device that sticks to the back of the TV called a balun. These baluns convert the Cat5e coming from the Video Matrix, into HDMI. So you’re able to send HD content from the Video Matrix over Cat5e to every TV in the home.
A couple of tips on Video distribution. Most people want to have at least 2 satellite/cable receivers, and at least 2 Blu-ray players. If the kids want to watch the Disney channel, and you want to watch the news, you’re going to want two different receivers. The same is true for you Blu-ray players. Next, most people find they want 6-8 video sources. You can save money by buying a 4×4 matrix, but in our experience customers are always disappointed they can’t have 6 video sources. Pay the extra, and get a minimum 6 sources. You’ll use 2 receivers, 2 Blu-rays, and Apple TV or Roku, and a DVR for your surveillance system. Lastly, buy the Video Matrix that supports the number of TV’s you think you might use someday. If you’re only going to use 4 TV’s initially, but know you’ll have 8 TV’s down the road, then buy the 8×8 Video Matrix. It’s cheaper than upgrading later.The Video Matrix, allows you to select the TV you want to watch, and the Video source you want played to that TV. It does the rest of the switching and sourcing to give you the desired content. Now, if you have a Video Matrix, you have to have some kind of Controller like Savant’s Smart Host or Pro Host. This allows you to use a remote, or a smart phone to control the Matrix.