REMOTELY POSSIBLE

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Mar 25, 2013 6 comments
At first glance, you’d think a documentary about a defunct recording studio would have a hard time maintaining the interest of anyone other than a recording engineer for its entire 108-minute runtime. When I tell you that this documentary spends a great deal of those 108 minutes reverently reminiscing about the analog mixing console at the studio, it’s likely you’ll start wondering what insane, “analog forever”, diehard audiophile thought this subject would ever appeal to more than a dozen or so people. Frankly, it’s the sort of film you’d expect to find in the mosh-pit discount bins of DVDs and Blu-rays in the aisles of Walmart.
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jul 23, 2014 0 comments
Locks have been around ever since people starting accumulating stuff that they didn’t want other people to get their hands on. Over the millennia, various types of locks have been used to safeguard all kinds of things: stones (a.k.a. jewels), money, jars of Nutella, castle dungeons, the secret formula for the Krabby Patty, automobiles, and houses, just to name a few. Supposedly, there are 4,000-year-old clay tablets (probably locked away in a museum somewhere) from the Babylonian Empire that show an early form of keys on them. In ancient Greece, keys were large enough that they were carried on a person’s shoulder. (Although Leonidas might have said, “This is Sparta!”; he most certainly never said, “Where did I put my keys?”) Wealthy Romans didn’t have to worry about losing their keys, either, because they often wore their keys on their fingers as, well, key rings.

Today, of course, we have lots of ways of locking up things without resorting to the old-fashioned lock-and-key routine. When it comes to smart home technology, motorized, electronic door locks aren’t exactly the newest home automation device...

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 12, 2013 0 comments
They could have done it. The folks in the Forum could have chosen, as Brutus did with his one-time friend, Julius, to dig the knife in deep after we’d already been stabbed 1.2, 1.3, even or 1.4 times. That’s why, when the HDMI Forum announced last week that they’d come up with Version 2.0 of the HDMI Specification, I prepared myself for the pain of deciphering new nomenclature and figuring out which HDMI cables were good for what features and which gear. And, despite the fact that I know better, I couldn’t help but feel that the IOGEAR Wireless 5x2 HDMI Matrix Switcher I’ve been playing with for the last month or two was already out of date.

Such is the heartache that always comes with the announcement of any new specification or technology...

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Oct 27, 2014 1 comments
On Friday of last week (Oct 24 or “Devolve Friday” as it’s now known), visitors to the Revolv website were treated with the following headline: ”We want to share some exciting news with you. Revolv is now a Nest company.” Wow! Considering that Nest — the maker of the hugely popular Nest Learning Thermostat and the less-popular Nest Protect smoke/CO alarm — has one of the biggest corporate sugar daddies in the world (i.e., Google), that’s incredibly exciting news. As I stated in a recent review of the Revolv Hub Home Automation Controller: “The Revolv Hub is a powerhouse that looks to be relatively future-proof from a hardware standpoint. A great choice for a newbie.” With the crazy amount of money Google/Nest could throw at it, Revolv could evolve into the epitome of a smart home system hub.

Moving down the Revolv home page, however, readers soon discovered that the exciting news is actually...

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: May 04, 2015 0 comments
Sonos is one hell of a system. I’ve tested a lot of the wireless, multi-room, streaming audio systems over the years—including some of the latest “high performance” systems—and Sonos has remained my go-to system. It’s not because Sonos is the best sounding wireless streaming system, although it certainly does sound good. I use Sonos speakers in rooms where music is secondary (or tertiary) to the main activity, such as in the bathroom or kitchen. In these rooms, ease-of-use, convenient form-factor, and reliability trump ultimate sound quality—and Sonos is tops in each of those categories. But that doesn’t mean Sonos can’t be improved upon. And that’s where Flexson comes in.
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Nov 24, 2014 0 comments
If only my smart home could cook turkey without drying it out...
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jun 20, 2014 19 comments
My recent review of GoldenEar Technology’s newest speaker, the Triton One, generated a surprising number of entries in the Comments section at the end of the review. Some were short and to the point, such as the one from the reader who declared he or she “will not be renewing my subscription” because the piece was “a waste of a review.” (Okay, if you’ve got a beef with something I wrote, so be it. But don’t tar and feather Rob, Tom, Mark, and the rest of the S&V crew for a piece with my byline. Surely you ought to be able to find a subscription’s worth of value in the stuff they write.) But other comments were more substantive and warranted a more in-depth response than posting a brief reply...
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Aug 05, 2013 0 comments
The promise of HDBaseT is clear and compelling. With one, standard, off-the-shelf – relatively inexpensive – Cat5e/6 LAN cable, you can send full HD (3D and 2K or 4K) uncompressed video and audio (up to 10.2 Gbps), 100 Mbps Ethernet communication, various protocol control signals (RS232, for example), and up to 100W of power from one AV device to another up to 100 m (328 ft) away. (The HDBaseT Alliance refers to this set of features as “5Play”.) That means if you’re hooking up an HDBaseT-enabled flat-panel TV mounted on the wall to an HDBaseT-enabled AVR in a cabinet located in the back of the room, there’s no long, bulky HDMI cable (or HDMI extender baluns) to deal with (or spend the money on). No need for a repeater cable or wireless device to pass IR or RS232 control commands. And no separate Cat5e/6 cable to connect your TV or BD player to the internet via your home LAN. In my opinion, though, the most exciting part is that many components with integrated HDBaseT technology, including most TVs, won’t need an AC cord to plug into an outlet in the wall. It’ll get all the power it needs over that one, humble Cat5e or Cat 6 cable thanks to the magic of HDBaseT’s “5Play” technology.

Awesome, right? Absolutely…just not yet...

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Oct 23, 2012 1 comments
Even if you’re an infrequent reader of Home Theater and HomeTheater.com, I’m betting that you have at least one DVD lying around at home that you’ve never watched, won’t ever watch, don’t want to watch again, didn’t care for when you watched it the first time, or still has you wondering how your spouse could have ever thought that particular movie would make a great gift. In fact, chances are that you have a great many more than just one under-appreciated, space-taking, dust-collecting DVD in your possession. (Avid Blu-ray movie buyers probably have lots of unwatched DVDs that are packed in the same case along with the Blu-ray Disc.) At an absolute bare minimum, you at least know someone who has a few DVDs that fit into one of the above categories.

Some of those DVDs might be war-related, but you don’t have to watch a movie, such as Black Hawk Down, Born on the Fourth of July, or Apocalypse Now, to know that war is hell—and that it can often have long-lasting effects on the lives of those military men and women who choose to serve.

There are lots of people who show their “support” for our troops by placing a bumper sticker on their car—and leave it at that. We in the home theater community can do better, thanks to the vision of an organization called DVDs4Vets.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 29, 2014 0 comments
A lot of the sizzling hype at CES2014 was about home automation or, if you prefer using the gussied-up term, the “Smart Home”. Not everyone’s definition of a Smart Home (or home automation) is the same, though, and - as far as I know - there’s no standardized IQ test to determine how smart your Smart Home is.
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Aug 22, 2013 0 comments
When my kids were born, the obstetrician let me cut each one’s umbilical cord. Those cords were surprisingly tough to sever, even with a pair of super-sharp surgical scissors. Still, it’s no where near as easy as that was to cut through the clutter of cables we use to connect our AV gear together. (You didn’t see that segue coming, did you?) HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) simplified things quite a bit from the multiple-cable analog way of making connections; but, at the end of the day, an HDMI cable (regardless of its version number, speed rating, or whatever confusing denomination it happens to be a member of) is still a flippin’ cable. IOGEAR says its new $399 Wireless 5x2 HD Matrix (GWHDMS52) offers a way to get rid of one of those HDMI cables in your system – specifically one of those long suckers that are both costly and annoyingly difficult to run from component A to display B. To prove it, IOGEAR recently shipped a Wireless 5x2 HD Matrix for me to give a brief tryout. Considering the fact that I needed to rejigger the cable configuration running from the main system in my theater room to the 46” outdoor SunBriteTV still battling the elements on my back deck, I figured I had the perfect scenario to put the new wireless switcher to the test.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 14, 2015 0 comments
Predicting what the lovechild of so-and-so and such-and-such would be like isn’t an exact science. After all, Frankenstein’s monster was a lovechild of sorts, and we all know how badly that went. But after looking over a new Kickstarter project, I’m convinced that if Logitech Harmony, Bang & Olufsen , and Revolv (R.I.P.) ever rubbed up against one another long enough to swap the right amount of corporate DNA to create a lovechild, NEEO, “The Thinking Remote”, would be it...
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Mar 06, 2013 0 comments
At CES 2013, DISH’s CEO, Joe Clayton, used the occasion to once again display his insatiable infatuation with Australian marsupials…as well as promote some key features included in the soon-to-be-released “Hopper with Sling” whole-home DVR. Surprisingly, after less than 12 months, DISH felt it was time to futz with what was arguably (and I’m not the only one to have made the argument) the world’s best whole-home satellite DVR available until now—the original “Hopper”.
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: May 06, 2013 1 comments
Power cords. Three-prong adapters. Wall-wart power supplies and USB chargers with their thin, inevitably tangled cords. Running out of available outlets. These are all things I hate. Hell, even polarized plugs annoy the crap out of me. Let’s just say that when wireless power transmission – or power-harvesting devices – ever becomes a reality, I’m going to be a particularly happy individual. (If only Tesla were still alive…) In the meantime, the previously mentioned assortment vexing electrical necessities are things we all have no other choice than to deal with.

Fortunately there are plenty of devices out there that are specifically designed to lessen the pain of dealing with power cords and power supplies...

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 28, 2015 1 comments
I’m not a terribly big fan of Nest, but I don’t hate them, either. I own a Nest Thermostat, and I like it—for the most part. What I don’t understand is the gushing amount of praise a lot of writers give it, both as a standalone thermostat and a major smart home device/controller. You get the feeling that if God needed a thermostat, the Nest would be the one He’d buy. Despite what you might read, the NEST thermostat has its flaws, two of which are its inability to detect occupancy in other areas of the home and its requirement for an always-on Internet connection when used with other smart home systems.

But I have to give the Nest folks a great deal of credit for doing a very honorable thing recently...

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