Entertainment Technology
Entertainment Technology Audio/Video Blog

TuneIn & Control4 Wireless Music Bridge

November 13, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

TuneIn provides Control4 customers direct access to more than 70,000 traditional and internet-only radio stations streaming from around the world, as well as millions of on-demand podcasts, concerts and interviews. TuneIn’s robust search capability helps people discover exactly what they’re looking for, whether it’s their favorite artist, song or radio personality locally or from across the globe. Control4’s integrated, intuitive and elegant user interface delivers station and show listings, filters available choices based on genre, location and language and guides consumers to new online media as well as to the content they already love. TuneIn is seamlessly integrated into Control4 audio zones so that everyone can listen to the same music, or every family member can enjoy their own personalized Favorites in different zones at the same time. TuneIn will be available on all Control4 systems running OS 2.4 starting on April 1, 2013.

 TuneIn & Control4 Wireless Music Bridge

The service has more than 40 million monthly active users listening to the 70,000 AM/FM, digital and internet radio stations whose streams it makes available. It notched up 227m listening sessions in March 2013 alone. TuneIn is now beating leading internet streaming services like Pandora and Spotify, according to recent statistics.

The Control4® Wireless Music Bridge

The new Control4 Wireless Music Bridge enables homeowners, family members and their guests to wirelessly connect to a Control4 system to enjoy all the music stored on or accessed via personal smart phones, tablets and computers. The Wireless Music Bridge also provides a convenient path for Control4 customers to connect to streaming music services such as Pandora or Spotify on their personal smart devices from a Control4 system – all while preserving full phone and smart device browsing and application capability. Additionally, the Wireless Music Bridge delivers available artwork and metadata directly into the Control4 environment for display within the Control4 “Now Playing” interface on touch-panels, TV on-screens and the MyHome app.

Zigby Sensing & Control Products

November 13, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

NYCE Control and Card Access are the leading providers of wireless ZigBee sensors to the automation industries. “Our ZigBee sensor products allow dealers to increase their revenue and bring true lifestyle functions to their customers,” says Brad Kelly, CTO for NYCE. “Our Ceiling Motion Sensor is complimentary to our existing Wall-mount Motion Sensor, another example of the many new products we will be introducing into the Control4 ecosystems throughout 2013.”

 NYCE Products

About Control4
Control4 is a leading provider of automation systems for homes and businesses that provides personalized control of lighting, music, video, energy and security. By delivering insightfully simple personalized control solutions that enhance the lives of individuals and families, Control4 is the automation platform of choice for consumers, major consumer electronics companies, hotels and businesses around the world.

About NYCE Control
NYCE designs, manufactures and sells wireless ZigBee sensing and control products into market leading Security, Monitoring and Automation ecosystems worldwide. NYCE’s leads its industry, selling products with the lowest possible power consumption, smallest physical size and simplest installation. NYCE’s mandate is to be “invisible” in the consumer’s life.

About Card Access
Card Access designs and develops an expanding line of ZigBee® wireless mesh networking-based contact sensors, motion sensors, contact relays and high-voltage power controllers-providing Control4 with increased event sensing, power-controlling and energy saving capabilities.

Voice Control

November 13, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

 VoicePod - Ultimate Automation

This post comes to us from Ted Rosenberger, Founder & CEO of HouseLogix, creator of VoicePod Mobile.

When Apple unveiled Siri for the iPhone 4S in 2011, the world changed. While decent voice recognition technology had been available for decades, Siri was the first service to integrate powerful speech-driven information retrieval and control functions into the core user experience of a mainstream mobile device.

Siri certainly has had its problems and issues, some of which have become the target of Saturday Night Live skits and entertaining Microsoft commercials. But in spite of its occasional hiccups, tens of millions of people, including myself, use Siri every day. Why? Because for certain tasks, there is no doubt that Siri gets the job done faster and with less effort than any other option. It’s also less distracting and more pleasurable to speak into your phone than to peck away at its small screen. With Siri, if you want to find the nearest Target store and navigate to it, you hold the home button down and say “navigate to the nearest target store”. In a few seconds, you’re on your way. Finding the store without Siri would involve a lot of “browsing and pasting” with your head buried in your phone.

For the last 4 years, my company has been creating novel voice control solutions for home automation. Our first VoicePod product was a small tabletop device that offers a nifty alternative to touching physical buttons. You simply say “Hello VoicePod” in any room with a VoicePod in it and then speak a simple command like “good morning”, “turn on lights”, “raise temperature”, or “TV Channel, ESPN”. VoicePod tells the Control4 system what you said and immediately handles your request. VoicePod can be used effectively from as far as 30 feet away in a quiet room. It recognizes a small number of simple commands spoken by a wide range of people and even understands Spanish.

As a follow on to our tabletop VoicePod, at CEDIA 2013 we just launched a groundbreaking new app version of VoicePod called VoicePod Mobile. This iOS app makes use of advanced speech technologies in the Internet cloud, merging VoicePod’s home control capabilities with the ability to speak naturally – it’s like Siri for home automation. VoicePod Mobile adds intelligence and “automation awareness” to Google’s renowned speech engine. It uses the iPhone’s built-in noise cancellation so it works extremely well, even at a party or with music blaring. Once set up by your Control4 dealer, VoicePod Mobile not only knows the name of each room in your house, but it also knows which voice controllable functions are available within each room. You speak into your iPhone or iPad, and your Control4 system responds to your requests like magic! Because VoicePod Mobile lets you include a room’s name in any command, the app literally puts every function throughout your home a single voice command away.

Consider some of example speech commands below. VoicePod Mobile will instantly handle any of these while you are lying in bed, sitting at the dinner table, or lounging on the couch. Imagine how much effort it would be to do these same functions “the old fashioned way” using your remote, touch screen or mobile app.

“Set the temperature to 72 degrees in the kitchen”

“I would like to watch CNBC in the bedroom”

“Disarm the security system – my PIN number is 1234”

“Close the west shades halfway please”

“What is the room temperature?”

“Put the pool waterfalls on.”

VoicePod Mobile understands hundreds of command phrases out of the box. Google tells VoicePod what you said and VoicePod figures out what you mean within the context of your house. Even better, right within the app you can define your own custom voice commands that let you use the same words your family uses everyday to control your home. Think “turn on Jane’s lamp”, “set up guys night” and “good night with guests in the house”. The possibilities are endless— you speak to your house like a new member of the family! If VoicePod Mobile is ever not sure about what you want, it confirms with you before acting.

Here’s a link to a video that shows VoicePod mobile in action. The app is a free download on the Apple Store (Android app coming in November). Out of the box, the app connects to a Control4 demonstration system on the internet so why don’t you install it now and give it a whirl? When you are ready to connect the app to your own home, contact Entertainment Technology to set it up. I predict your entire family will use VoicePod Mobile every day and you will be even more pleased with the investment you have made in Control4! And, yes, VoicePod Mobile can indeed “open the pod bay door” (as long as it has a Baldwin or Yale smart lock)!

Press Release: ETI now offers a “Surround Sound Chair”

October 7, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Entertainment Technology now offers a home theater alternative by “BodySound” that creates surround sound for you … not the room. Goodbye noise complaints, local company offers big theater sound for condos/apts without disturbing neighbors.

Loganville, GA (August 01, 2009) – Entertainment Technology now offers a home theater system designed for condominiums, lofts, and apartments, that dramatically differs from existing room surround sound systems. The problem with present day surround sound is that the sound is designed to illuminate the room and typically spreads to adjoining rooms. With the increasing popularity of home theater and condo living, concerns about noisy neighbors have become a bigger issue. Residents of condominiums and apartments must comply with bylaws causing them to exercise extreme care to avoid unnecessary noise when using radios, televisions, and amplifiers that may disturb others. This makes it impractical to use in-wall speakers and subwoofers, as the sound they produce spreads to adjacent rooms and units. But that doesn’t mean condo owners and renters have to give up on high quality sound.

An alternative to traditional room surround sound has been developed by BodySound Technologies, Inc. It’s the fusion of luxury seating and close-field acoustics. The sound comes from the headrest, arms, back, and seat so the sound is focused on each individual listener. Much less sound spreads throughout the room and adjacent spaces when using BodySound technology. “Using it in Condos and apartments is an excellent application for this novel technology”, says Joe Neese, CEO of Entertainment Technology. “It’s also a very interesting product that can be used to personalize the user’s sound space, when two users want or need different sound experiences.”

Each seat powers its 7-speaker array with its own multi-processor audio system. Seating arrangements include recliners, love seats, couches, and connected rows and curves of seats. Seats range in price from approximately $5,000 to $6,000 per seat depending upon the type of arrangement and options.

 BodySound - Surround Sound Chair

“Using a traditional surround sound system in a condo requires extensive soundproofing, costing about $8,000 to $10,000”, says Dan Cohen, CEO of BodySound Technologies. “You can’t take those improvements with you when you move unlike BodySound seating.”

Entertainment Technology is based in Loganville, GA. Our promise is a simple one. We’ll enhance your lifestyle bytransforming your home into a fun and exciting place to live, work and play. Our goal is to provide you the dream of a lifetime by designing and installing the most sophisticated home integration system and a world class home theater.

BodySound Technologies, Inc., based in Eden Prairie is the developer, manufacturer, and marketer of Experiential seating with BodySound technology used for entertainment and relaxation. www.BodySoundTheater.com

If you’d like more information about Entertainment Technology, or to schedule an interview with Joe Neese call Entertainment Technology at 770-554-9611 or email Joe Neese at joe.neese@etihometheaters.com.

If you’d like more information about BodySound, or to schedule an interview with Dan Cohen call Dallas at 952-943-4041 or email Dallas at dlepak@bodysoundsystem.com

ETI Works With Builders

July 21, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

We have been working with Madison Builders for 4 years. Madison Builders are Georgia’s premier Gwinnett and Newton County luxury building specialists sharing over 7 years of industry experience between them. Madison Builders has 3 main subdivisions with houses that range from $450,000 to $1,250,000. At Madison Builders they believe a real home is more than a roof over your head, it’s a foundation under your feet. They will build on your own lot or you may choose one of their exclusive neighborhoods. http://www.milescg.net/

We have been working with Stillwater Communities which covers Walton and Oconee counties for 4 years. They have 5 subdivisions with homes that range from $250,000 to $750,000. Service is the cornerstone of Stillwater Communities Realty. Their sales associates are experienced, knowledgeable, trustworthy and enthusiastic about helping you enrich your life with your new dream home. Stillwater Communities Realty, a division of Stillwater Communities, was created based on the fundamentals of hard work, quality and committed service and integrity. http://stillwatercommunitiesrealty.com/Default.aspx

Do you prefer a house with audio/video automation built-in? Let us know what you think …

8 Steps to a Quality Installed Audio/Video System

July 15, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

So, you’ve got a budget and some plans: How do you go about getting one of these things installed in your home?

Step 1: The most important step is to choose the source for the equipment and the installation. Your A/V system may be the most expensive “appliance” in your home and can easily be the most complicated to work. The right combination of products, properly installed, will provide you with years of enjoyment.

Step 2: Choose your television (s). What type? What quality? How big? How much? Where is it going to go? The rest of the system usually revolves around your decision on the television.

Step 3: Choose the speaker system. Of all the products you buy for your A/V system the speakers are the least likely to become obsolete in the next 10 years and beyond. How many rooms? How big? How much? Where do you place them? The speakers are the “soul” of your investment. Quality can be as much an issue here as with the television.

Step 4: Determine the proper amplification system. A tremendous number of long-term mistakes are made here by the uninformed and inexperienced, especially when multi-room audio and/or video is a factor. Quality amplification can make a tremendous difference in the sound quality and longevity of your investment.

Step 5: Don’t forget about the remote control. If you’re under 40 with 20-20 vision and you’re single, the type of remote used to operate your system may be irrelevant. If you fall under any other category then pay attention to the remote control. Can you use the remote without your glasses?

Step 6: Determine your sources. How will you be receiving your television signal? How will you watch movies? Do you have or need a DVD player? A VCR? Do you want a digital video recorder? Video Games? CD player? Turntable? iPod or another form of Internet media playback device? Do you have old equipment you want to use?

Step 7: Connectivity. In planning for a system such as this you must also plan for analog interconnect cables, digital cables, video cables, speaker wire, power management, connector plates, speaker brackets, TV mounting brackets, infra-red repeater systems, etc., depending on the design of the system and the components used. This is a variable that “package” oriented retailers often overlook…until you get the bill.

Step 8: Getting it installed…the right way. In a “cookie cutter” world, we could tag packages with a single installation number and we’d be right 99% of the time. In the real world, a “pre-fab” number is not likely to be accurate and more often than not, will subject you to unexpected and sometimes substantial extra charges. Allowing for unforeseen issues such as plaster & lath, purlins, hidden pipes, and other structural impediments is difficult to do in an “estimate”.

Entertainment Technology rarely offers the cheapest alternatives to a quality home entertainment system. What we can and do offer is an unmatched level of expertise and advice combined with a broad selection of quality products that will insure you of maximizing your home theater investment.

Do you feel these 8 steps lead you in the right direction? Let us know … please comment!

“Connecting the Wires” vs. Calibration

June 10, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

There’s a big difference between “connecting” a stereo and calibrating a home theater. The first produces sound, the second pulls you into the experience! If you’re investing in a home theater, you’ll be disappointed if the system is not calibrated.

Take cars as an example. Both a race car and a sports car have similar performance parts, yet one drives drastically better. Why? The race car is tuned so each part performs perfectly. The sports car has the parts, but may be simply assembled to function.

Selecting a Certified Installation Technician to design, install, and calibrate your system will guarantee that your home theater will exhilarate you!

Agree or Disagree? Let us know!

Air conditioning that closet? You might want to rethink that …

June 2, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

It’s not at all unusual for clients to have their home theater equipment installed in a new or existing closet. Located in or just outside the theater, it’s a logical place to put audio-video electronics, whether in a rack or on shelves. But – it may not be that easy. Whether it’s “coat” or “walk-in” size, some thought has to be given to ventilation, and this frequently leads to the idea of using air condtioning.

One way this can be done is to run a cold air supply or return duct, or both, into the closet. While this is one of those “seemed like a good idea at the time…” ideas, it may not be the best way – or even a good way – to solve the problem. There are several problems associated with using air conditioning to cool an equipment closet.

First, there is the question of wintertime operation. In most parts of the country, the system that delivers cold air in July delivers hot air in January because the same air handling and ductwork is used for both cooling AND heating the home, depending on the seaon. The damper in the closet (if one was installed) can be closed at the beginning of the heating season, of course, but —

1. The owner has to remember to do this, and
2. The closet now has no ventilation.

A second problem that goes along with air conditioning the equipment closet concerns temperature control. Unless the refrigeration system is dedicated to that closet, it is likely to be controlled by a thermostat located in the theater or elsewhere. The cooling will stop when the temperature at the thermostat is below the set temperature, but the amplifiers, cable box, satellite receiver, etc., in the closet will still be on, building up heat.

Locating the thermostat in the closet can solve that problem, but will cause the refrigeration system to run longer than necessary to cool the theater itself, resulting in frostbitten clients, not to mention a high electric bill!

Getting back to the details of providing air conditioning to a closet, there are several ways of doing this wrong. Having just a cold air supply duct without a way of recirculating the warmed air will keep any cold air from entering the closet; there must be either a return duct in the closet or a way for the air to recirculate passively, such as the use of a louvered door. Having just a return duct in the closet without a way for cool air from the surrounding area to enter is another mistake. The closet has to be able to “inhale” AND “exhale” for effective cooling.

Perhaps the single biggest problem of using air conditioning to cool any but the largest home theater installations is the cost involved. The first cost of running ductwork (especially in a retrofit situation), or increasing the size of the planned system (in new construction) can be substantial. Then there’s the never-going-to-stop cost of operation. Month after month, even in the dead of Winter, the owner will be paying for power to run the refrigeration — not very green!

The practical, cost-effective way to ventilate a closet, whether coat-size or walk-in size, is to use one of Active Thermal Management’s quiet cooling systems. The System 1, Cool-cube, or one of our many other products will do the job. Our white papers (written specifically for the systems designer/installer), our systems, and the applications assistance available by phone or e-mail make jobs that can be difficult as easy as possible.

Is your audio/video closet, cabinet, or furniture being vented? Let us know!

When 1080p Doesn’t Matter

June 1, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

TVs touting a 1080p resolution are everywhere. Since the introduction of the high-res technology a few years ago, TV manufacturers have slowly but surely all but replaced their entire existing lower-res products with 1080p units. But is 1080p absolutely essential? Should we toss out existing 720p TVs for 1080 displays?

The short answer is no. According to most custom electronic professionals, 720p (or lower) res TVs do have a place in homes today—a lot of places, in fact. I think it’s unwise to buy any 1080p TV below 40 inches. In most viewing environments the average consumer can’t see the difference between 720 and 1080p.

Lower-res TVs are just fine, many agree, for places like laundry rooms, kitchens, bedrooms and other spots where a super-size set isn’t necessary, you’ll be viewing the display from far away and you’ll only be watching broadcast programming or standard-def DVDs.

For a 20-inch TV, you’d have to sit 2½ feet away to really benefit from the resolution of the 1080p TV. And on a TV that small most people aren’t going to be watching Blu-ray anyway.

The consensus: Stick with the TVs you already own in casual viewing areas. However, if there’s a room that doesn’t already have a TV or if there’s a home theater in your future, go ahead and splurge on a 1080p unit. The price difference between 720p and 1080p continues to dwindle and frankly, it’s becoming more and more difficult to even find a 720p TV anymore, as some manufacturers have phased out their entire 720p lineups. Click Here for More Information.

Do you think there is a difference between 1080i and 1080P? Let us know!

Homeowners Loving Their Multiroom A/V Systems

May 28, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

According to a study from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), 82% of multiroom audio video (MRAV) system owners would recommend their system to others.

”Trends in Multi-room Audio Video Usage” also finds 85% of homeowners who have a MRAV system would want to install a system if they bought a new home.

Fifty-five percent of MRAV system owners use their system daily with entertainment the most common usage, according to the study. Here are the main reasons for owning a MRAV system:
* Enhancing the home entertainment experience (63%)
* Listening enjoyment (61%)
* Entertaining family and friends (48%)

“The MRAV market has blossomed as consumers demand access to content anytime and anywhere,” says Steve Koenig, CEA, director of industry analysis. “As the desire for multiroom solutions continues to grow, manufacturers must focus on a variety of solutions, including aftermarket products, to address the vast market of existing home owners who demand multi-room audio.”

Sixty-three percent of MRAV systems were installed after the home was built, the CEA says.

Do you love your Multiroom A/V System? Let us know!

What’s Next For Plasma TV?

May 23, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

Plasma TV. It used to be one of the luxury purchases that signaled you had made it. You were hip, rich, beau monde. How times have changed. Now LCD is king and high-quality plasmas are a steal at three figures from Costco.

When Pioneer announced earlier this year that it was exiting the TV market altogether–and taking its esteemed Kuro line of plasma TVs with it–many had to wonder if that was the death knell for the one-time technology king of flat-panel TV.

After all, there are far more LCD manufacturing plants than plasma factories, which has increased competition among the LCD suppliers. That won’t change since it has never been economically feasible to make a plasma for less than 37 inches (and even Panasonic no longer makes a 37-inch), while LCD TVs run the gamut from 5- to 65-inch screen sizes.

There are lots of people, consumers and TV reviewers alike, who hope the end of plasma is far down the road. Many still prefer the rich colors, deep black levels and dark-scene detail of plasma TVs compared with the relatively washed-out look of LCD TV. No question, LED backlights on newer LCD TVs are narrowing the delta when it comes to more accurate colors and black levels, but high-end plasma still rules when it comes to picture quality, viewing angle and motion response.

Consumers and reviewers aren’t the only ones still devoted to plasma. For now, at least, Panasonic, LG, and Samsung remain committed to plasma TV, although they all offer LCD TVs as well. For 2009, look for all of the companies to step up with higher end models to fill the void left by Pioneer’s Kuro line.

“As a leading provider of both plasma and LCD, including core panel technologies for both, LG sees LCD and plasma coexisting in the marketplace for years to come,” according to John Taylor, vp of public affairs and communications for LG Electronics.

Taylor notes that LCD sales have outpaced plasma to this point because industry sales figures include small screen sizes–where LCD owns the market–as well as larger sizes. When it comes to the high end, though, LG is all about plasma. “LG positions plasma as the ultimate home theater experience for large-screen viewing with a more film-like quality,” says Taylor.

Panasonic remains plasma’s most dedicated cheerleader. At its recent 2009 product rollout, the company showed five series of plasmas, ranging from 42-54 inches. The company’s new flagship Viera Z1 establishes a new plasma screen size at 54 inches and an advanced feature set for high-end plasma TV. Due in stores this summer at a suggested retail price of $5,999, the 1-inch-thick Viera Z1 takes on skinny LCDs, thanks to a two-box design. Panasonic engineers outsourced the tuner to a separate box that communicates with the display via Wireless HD at a distance of up to 30 feet.

The Z1 comes Internet-ready with Panasonic’s Viera Cast service that connects viewers to rentals from Amazon’s Video On Demand service, to YouTube for videos, to Picasa for photos and to Bloomberg for news and weather. To top it all off, the Z1 will communicate with an IP-based video camera Panasonic will introduce this summer, allowing owners to view feeds from the baby’s room or the poolcam over the home network via a dedicated TV channel.

Samsung, too, is remaining loyal to plasma, despite the company’s push into LED-based LCD TVs. According to Stuart Silloway, national training manager, “We believe plasma is still a very viable technology.” Silloway cites the cost value of plasma when compared inch-for-inch with LCD and says it’s still the preferred technology for larger screen sizes. “Plasma is more true to the original content when it comes to color, blacks and motion,” he says, “and you don’t have to correct plasma the way you do with LCD.”

Do you feel “Plasma” is the best flat panel technology? Let us know!

Dust Off Your Turntable: LPs Are Back

May 17, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Don’t throw away your turntable just yet.

According to Nielsen SoundScan, sales of vinyl LPs reached 1.88 million units last year. That’s more than double from just two years ago and up 89 percent from 2007.

LP sales have led to several trendy new record stores opening in the L.A. and Atlanta area recently. Moreover, some of the albums have price tags as high as $100. The record stores are thriving for collectors and casual audiences. Indeed, artists like U2 and Neil Young have recently released vinyl LPs.

Of course, LPs need turntables. According to the article, new low-cost units are popping up on the market, including several good/better/best models at places like Macys. If you’ve really got cash to spend, take a look at Goldmund’s Reference II unit that sells for $300,000.

Do you think LPs are back? Let us know!

Can you explain the differences between gray and white projection screens? – Larry

May 16, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

We recently got an email from a customer who asked: “Can you explain the differences between gray and white projection screens?” – Larry

Our response to Larry is:

White screens have been around for ages and are the old standard in projection screens.

Gray screens were introduced by Stewart Filmscreens around 2001, to combat contrast issues. At the time, projectors had few contrast improvements. Gray screens are also called “high contrast” screens because they boost the contrast. Since their launch, projectors with high contrast ratios have become more prominent.

Typically, gray screens are used in rooms which do NOT have total light control.

Consider a gray screen if you can’t completely blacken the room, or have problems with screen light bouncing off items in the room and reflecting back on the screen.

Do you prefer a gray or white projection screen? Let us know!

What Apple-Based Control System Do You Recommend?

May 14, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

We recently had one of our customers ask the following question in an email …

Question: I am an architect currently designing my own home. We are Mac/iPod/iPhone users and would love to have a simple to use and not too expensive integrated home control system. What would you recommend? – RMR

We responded: There is only one Apple based control system that I am aware of – Savant. The cost of this system may not be what you are looking for. If you are only looking for a system that has the ability to be controlled by an iPhone or iTouch then you have some more options. The best place to start would be to determine what you want to have in your new home and how much control you want. Do you want multi room audio and video, lighting control, HVAC control etc? Once you determine what items you may want then you need to consult us to discuss your options.

Many companies have come out with an app for the iPhone or iTouch. These systems are not based on an Apple platform but allow you to use your iPhone to control their system. Also, many companies have iPod docks that integrate into their system. This provides control of all your iPod audio along with song, artist, album and playlist information.

If you are looking for a music/video server or even a standalone multiroom audio solution then take a look at Request. They have an iPhone app as well. Also, Netsync for iTunes allows your server to sync with your computer. Any time there is a new album added, it would sync both systems.

The answer to the question all depends on how far you want to take things. If it’s all encompassing, meaning automation of lighting, shades, other electrical loads, irrigation, AND audio/video, it’s hard to beat Crestron hardware coupled with the iPhone interface. If it’s just lighting/shades etc, Lutron Homeworks has a great app. HAI also fits in here, with a slight advantage when it comes to incorporating A/V. If it’s just audio/video, use 4 Apple Airport Express with your choice multi-source multi-zone audio component in conjunction with the Apple “remote” application. This is a really slick solution on the cheap.

You may want to look into Control4. Although they do not use the Apple/Mac platform, they are “Apple-Centric.” We have a functioning Control4 set-up in our showroom running a typical surround sound system, iPod dock, and have also included an in-wall touch screen, thermostat, and lighting control system. We recently hooked-up an iPhone with the downloaded Control4 application, and we can control the whole system from the iPhone (or iTouch). In addition to this Control4 also has a web app, to control the system from a computer, although I don’t think this makes a difference if it’s a Mac or PC.

The beauty of the Control4 system is that it can expand. If you start with their basic processor and remote, you will not only be able to control your A/V system, but the processor is Wi-Fi ready, and has the ability to ‘talk’ to its Zigbee accessories such as wireless lighting switches & keypads, and thermostats. The processor will also aggregate music files stored on your home network.

In a nutshell, the Control4 systems are geared to the broader market, more affordable and easily expandable. Their built-in wireless systems allow for easy retrofits, require less programming time, and are easy to use and operate. I didn’t mean to sound like a salesman, but I’ve sold other systems (control & automation, lighting control, whole house audio, etc.) and just like Apple, Control4 seems to have a knack for knowing what is best for the end user.

How many of you out there are using an Apple-Based Control System and why? We would like to know!

How to Secure Your Wireless Home Network

May 12, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Now that wireless networks are everywhere, computer burglars, aka hackers, are having a field day, attempting to invade your privacy and worse yet, steal your identity. Believe me, you don’t want that to happen.

That is why we strongly suggest that you take the following steps to secure your network:

Almost all routers and access points come with an administrator password that is a weak default, like “password” or the manufacturer’s name. Replace the default passwords on every wireless router or access point you purchase with passwords of your own. Imagine, for instance, how many “dlink” networks there would be in the world if none of our customers renamed their routers? Hackers make it a point to know every company’s default passwords. By simply defining a new password, one that will certainly be easier for you to remember than the default, you will establish the protection you need to halt hackers from accessing your network or devices.

Most reputable vendors supply easy set-up wizards with their devices. Just follow the directions to rename your router or device with something unique and easy for you to remember. But be careful not to be so creative or simplistic that you provide sensitive information with the name you give your device. “Smith Family Router” is not the best idea. Be sure to write it down and keep it someplace safe for future reference. Without it, the only way to access the router or access point may be to reset it to factory default settings. which will wipe away any configuration changes you’ve made.

Don’t Broadcast Your SID
Most wireless network devices continuously broadcast the network’s name, or SSID (Service Set IDentifier). This may be convenient to locate WLANs, but it leaves your network visible to any wireless systems within signal range. By turning off the SSID broadcast, your network becomes invisible to neighbors and passers-by. It still can be seen by WLAN “sniffers”, however.

Further secure your wireless network by turning on the WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) or WEP (Wired Equivalency Privacy) security feature on your router or access point. Follow the easy instructions for the installation process, including choosing your level of security. WPA and the newer WPA2 provide better protection and are easier to use.

Remote Admin
Finally, you should disable remote administration. Most WLAN routers can be remotely administered from the Internet. As a rule, unless you absolutely need this capability, it’s best to keep it turned off.

How do you secure your network? We would like to know!

Awesome Outdoor Spaces

May 11, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

People like to entertain outdoors. This is according to the findings of research firm NPD Group. Shocking, right?

To be fair, though, NDP’s study also touched on consumer spending and how people seem inclined to spend on outdoor entertainment even amid a sluggish economy.
* 45% of outdoor entertainers have purchased some type of related products in the past year.
* 40% plan to purchase another item in the next year.

For NPD, outdoor entertainment products include fire pits and fountains, but it got ETI thinking about outdoor bars with full audio/video, Crestron-controlled outdoor aquariums and full-blown outdoor theaters.

With summer fast-approaching, it’s a good time to recall some staggering outdoor technology spaces. Click here for more information.

Do you plan to install an outdoor audio/video system anytime soon? Let us know!

Coming Soon: Green DVDs

May 8, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Can DVDs be more environmentally friendly? Sure, says EcoDisc Technology, which touts an environmentally friendly DVD that it says uses 50 percent less polycarbonate, uses 50 less in energy production, and can be easily recycled.
You may soon see 4.7GB EcoDiscs replacing single-layer DVD5s, which are used as promotional, educational, children’s, enterprise, government, IT bundling, and newspaper and magazine cover-mounts. The company says it has the same same data structure and the same data layer as a 4.7GB DVD5. EcoDiscs have been in use in Europe for two years.

An EcoDisc DL (Double Layer) is currently under development and will be comparable to a 8.5GB DVD9 used for many Hollywood movies with bonus material and various language tracks The EcoDisc DL is expected to hit the market in the fall of 2009. An EcoDisc CD is also planned.

EcoDisc Technology says the EcoDisc is thinner, lighter and more flexible (see image below) than a standard DVD, and entirely free of the non-biodegradable, toxic bonder that is used to bond the two halves of a standard DVD. According to the company, the EcoDisc is pure polycarbonate, but with 50 percent less polycarbonate than a standard DVD. Polycarbonate is an oil derivative used as the main material to form the disc. The company says that by halving the amount of raw material, the manufacturing of the EcoDisc requires 50 percent less energy in production and effectively reduces carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 52 percent. The thinner EcoDisc also reduces the transport volume, reducing freight cost and conserving fuel. And thanks to the absence of toxic bonder, it can be can be easily recycled by grinding up the polycarbonate.

“We’ve had a significant amount of interest in Hollywood because of the recyclability of the EcoDisc,” says spokesman David Langness. “It can be ground up and re-used. This has excited some of the home video divisions of the big studios, because they typically get about 20 to 25 percent returns that have to then be de-contented and sent into the waste stream and ultimately to the landfill—a big expense, and not green in any way.

Will you buy Green DVDs if they perform up to standard DVDs? Let us know!

What’s the Difference between Z-Wave and ZigBee, and Should You Care?

May 5, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

When selecting a home control system, should you care if it’s compatible with Z-Wave or ZigBee?

It depends.

Both technologies enable two-way wireless control of various electronic devices including remote controls, dimmers and thermostats.

Both employ mesh networking, which means that the more devices that are on the network, the more powerful the network becomes.

ZigBee has a higher bandwidth, so it can accommodate richer information, such as metadata from your music library.

Z-Wave has the benefit of being a real “standard,” meaning Z-Wave products from one manufacturer are interoperable with those from other vendors (with a few exceptions).

ZigBee is trying to get there, but currently you cannot mix-and-max ZigBee products from multiple vendors.

Proponents from both camps claim they will own the market for “smart meters” and therefore will become the de facto standard. We’ll see.

Price-wise, the common perception is that Z-Wave is cheaper than ZigBee, but that really is not the case. It just so happens that most of the ZigBee implementers in the home-control space (AMX, Crestron, Colorado vNet, for example) serve higher-end markets.

Yet a ZigBee dimmer from Control4 can cost less than a Z-Wave dimmer from Leviton.

Bottom line is this: For do-it-yourselfers, Z-Wave is really the only option. You can’t just go out and buy ZigBee products.

For higher-performance systems, it doesn’t really matter. I wouldn’t use Z-Wave or ZigBee as a litmus test for choosing a home-control system. I’d go with the system that had the best features for my needs.

In any case, it’s tough to make a mistake on this one since a variety of adapter products exist.

Do you prefer Z-wave or Zigbee? Let us know!

Spring Cleaning for Your Home Technology

May 3, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Have you dusted your A/V rack lately? Checked the batteries in your keyboards, remotes, fire detectors and other small devices?

You’ve already invested a lot of time and money for your kickin’ home theater. It would be a real bummer if your system crapped out during Game 7 because a simple little connector came loose.

ETI is a professional integration company that provides routine system maintenance for their clients.

Spring cleaning can prevent system outages, extend the longevity of the gear, and ensure your products are ready to be used as the snow thaws.

Following the check-up, ETI provides a detailed report of the tasks completed, potential trouble from iffy equipment, and (of course) suggestions on how to upgrade to the next best thing.

Here is the Spring Cleaning Checklist from ETI:
* Check batteries for all remotes and replace as needed
* Check batteries on battery back-up devices and replace as needed
* Turn on and test outdoor systems (music, televisions, etc.) that may have been dormant over the winter
* Blow out dust from all electronic components
* Wipe down all video displays and touch panels
* Verify all connectors are seated properly for head-end components
* Verify all external infrared (IR) devices are secured properly
* Clean out projector filters, if applicable
* Check lamp hours on projectors, if applicable
* Thoroughly test all ETI-supplied remote controls
* Check all channel presents on remote controls
* Adjust balance, bass, treble settings for multiroom audio system
* Test transport functions and motors for DVD and CD players
* Inspect motorized lifts and lubricate as needed
* Conduct a general clean-up at head-end equipment locations
* Do you really need a pro to do all of this for you? Maybe not. But will you actually do it yourself?

Call us today to schedule a yearly check up. Click here for more information.

Do you perform yearly checkups on your A/V equipment? Let us know!

Big Changes Coming to Electronics Stores

May 1, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

The way people shop for electronics is changing. No, we’re not referring to how people are increasingly buying electronics products online; we’re saying that the stores themselves are changing.

Consider Best Buy. Its competitive landscape has changed dramatically over the past year. The consumer electronics industry is watching the prolific big-box retailer closely, speculating on how it will react and how the customer in-store experience will change.

Meanwhile, leaders of the specialty electronics industry say big changes are afoot for the smaller stores that often offer better-performing products.

All this leads one to wonder what shopping for electronics will be like a few months from now.

For instance, with Circuit City and Tweeter out of the picture, Best Buy has indicated that it will reposition itself to take on Wal-Mart. Since nobody wants to enter a price battle with Wal-Mart, Best Buy supposedly intends to create differentiation by playing up its product demonstration ability.

Best Buy intends to reduce hourly wages from $17 to $12.56 for some experienced personnel in its Magnolia Home Theater division. It also closed seven of 13 Magnolia stand-alone locations and shifted executive management of that specialty chain to Best Buy corporate.

Moves like that have a way of encouraging experienced sales people to leave the company, worsening the customers’ store experiences. Just ask Tweeter and Circuit City, both of which tinkered with lowering sales staff salaries before ultimately going out of business.

For Best Buy, the writing is on the wall, according to Richard Glikes, executive director of Home Theater Specialists of America (HTSA), a buying group of specialty electronics dealers. He doesn’t see Best Buy shifting toward a more consultative or interactive sales model; in fact, he suspects that Magnolia is soon to be shut down.

Regardless of what Best Buy does, audio/video industry watchers expect the electronics retail landscape to look a lot different a year and a half from now. Given the economy and the cash flow challenges faced by small- to medium-sized companies, he speculates that specialty electronics dealers will experience a Darwin effect over the next 12 to 18 months.

The good news for electronics enthusiasts, if industry watchers are correct, is that only the strongest in-store experiences will survive. This is why Entertainment Technology has a brick and mortar store with a fully automated showroom that can demonstrate home automation and home theater capabilities. Come see our showroom! Click here for information.

Do you prefer to deal with a small privately owned A/V store or a corporate multi-chain A/V store? Let us know!

Help for Hooking up a Converter Box

April 30, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Are you ready for the switch from analog to digital? If not, a new website sponsored by Zenith can point you in the right direction. The site, http://www.ConnectYourBox.com, illustrates step-by-step how to connect a digital converter box to an analog TV.

“We’re taking thousands of phone calls each day from consumers who have purchased the Zenith DTT901 converter box but don’t understand how to best connect it to their analog TV,” says Zenith Senior VP Richard Lewis. “And while it’s not difficult to hook up a converter box to an analog TV, more than one out of four callers had connectivity questions, which is similar to what the FCC is experiencing with its DTV Hotline.”

The ConnectYourBox site provides step-by-step instructions, including color photos, on various ways to handle the hookup. The site shows how to connect a box directly to the TV by using either coaxial cables or standard audio/video cables, as well as making the connection through an existing VCR. If you’d rather hear how to do it than read about it, the site includes a video (less than two minutes) that walks you through the steps.

The information on the website is thorough, straightforward and simple enough for even the most non-technical person in your household to follow. Even if you don’t have a converter box yet, it’s a good site to click on before the June 12 conversion deadline.

If you need further help, Contact Us. Was this article helpful? Let us know!

Welcome to Entertainment Technology’s Audio/Video Blog

April 29, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

This is the first “Blog” entry from the folks at ETI. There is so much to talk about and discuss when it comes to the Audio/Video world. We would like to keep the blogs to residential questions since that is our main focus. We have from time to time done small commercial jobs. So, if your question does relate to a small commercial job, we will try our best to answer your question. Our brick and mortar store is open Monday – Friday from 8AM to 5PM. If you pose a question outside of these days or hours, your answer will probably not be answered until the next working day.

Here is a list of links your might be interested in:

ETI YouTube Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxHiEN5IfZk

ETI WordPress Blog: http://entertainmenttechnology.wordpress.com/

ETI LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/entertainmenttechnology

ETI Twitter: http://twitter.com/EnterTechnology

ETI MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/entertainment_technology

ETI Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Loganville-GA/Entertainment-Technology-Inc/101763200609

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