THE CONNECTED LIFE

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John Sciacca Posted: May 25, 2016 1 comments
One of the biggest benefits computing integration has brought to modern AV gear is the advent of flash memory that can be repeatedly and easily updated with new firmware. Firmware updates provide not only ongoing improvements and performance benefits, but can even add new features. Let us count the ways…
John Sciacca Posted: Mar 26, 2012 0 comments

Control4 unveiled two new processors at this year’s CES, the HC800 ($999) and the HC250 ($599). They offer way more power for system control and provide a much zippier interface when controlling different areas of the home or browsing a media library.

John Sciacca Posted: Oct 06, 2008 0 comments

Being a custom installer is no easy feat. More often than not, the job involves problem-solving and figuring out a way to make a square peg fit in a round hole. Fortunately, the manufacturers that support the world of custom installation have produced a lot of terrific products to make these possible.

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John Sciacca Posted: Oct 22, 2014 0 comments
Manufacturers have been so busy focusing on video upgrades with 3D, 4K, local dimming, and OLED, they’ve pretty much forgotten that audio makes up at least 50 percent of the experience. The end result is that we haven’t really seen any significant surround sound advancements since 2000 following the release of Star Wars: Episode I—The Phantom Menace, which brought Surround EX and rear channels.
John Sciacca Posted: Nov 20, 2012 0 comments
For want of a smart control, the table was cluttered with remotes. For want of the right remote, the A/V receiver was turned to the wrong input. For lack of the right input, the audio and video signals were lost. For failure of the A/V signal, the movie could not be watched. For lack of the movie, the party was ruined.
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John Sciacca Posted: Mar 23, 2015 0 comments
A few years ago, I attended a product demonstration at CES by a company famous for touting how durable its hard drives were. In fact, the company—ioSafe—calls its products “disaster proof hardware” and used CES to deliver extreme, over-the-top demonstrations to prove just what kind of damage their drives could withstand and still protect all of the data stored within.
John Sciacca Posted: Oct 16, 2012 0 comments

App is a word that was barely even part of the public lexicon a few years ago, but now has become such an entrenched part of it that even my mom — quite possibly the least technologically inclined person on the planet — drops the phrase, “There’s probably an app for that.”

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John Sciacca Posted: Feb 13, 2015 5 comments
Smart door locks have become a new automation frontier lately, and for good reason. With a smart lock you can remotely let someone into your home, monitor who is coming and going with the use of different digital key codes, don’t need a physical key to enter, and can make sure the door relocks automatically or at night before you go to bed. I’ve got three of them in my home and they have definitely been a lifestyle improvement.

However all of these smart door locks have one major weakness in common...

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John Sciacca Posted: Jul 29, 2014 0 comments
One of the most disappointing things I face is spending time going over different options for someone’s new home’s entertainment and automation system and having them leave my showroom saying, “Wow! Now I’m even more confused than when I started!” (More disappointing is the, “Oh, I wish I’d come to you to do my system!” regret that comes when they can’t get the other guy/company to come back to finish or service the system.)
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John Sciacca Posted: Apr 06, 2016 9 comments
Last summer NPR posted a story entitled ”How Well Can You Hear Audio Quality?” that let users “blindly” compare six different tracks recorded at identical volume levels at three different qualities: MP3 at 128 Kbps, MP3 at 320 Kbps, and uncompressed WAV. The goal was to see if listeners could discern the quality difference and then correctly pick which version was WAV.

After thousands of results it turns out that people can tell the difference. But just barely.

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John Sciacca Posted: Apr 01, 2014 19 comments
Ask virtually any music listener if they own any high-resolution audio files, and they’ll likely give you a blank stare, wait a beat, and then maybe come back with a question like, “You mean like CDs I put on my computer or something?”

For the record, high-resolution refers to music recorded at better than CD’s 44.1-kHz/16-bit quality, usually 96-kHz/24-bit, typically written as “96/24.” (See my high-rez audio audio primer here).

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John Sciacca Posted: Sep 02, 2015 10 comments
OK, full disclosure: I didn’t really spend $500 of my own, personal, John money; I had a reviewer’s account. But I did watch Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation and Terminator: Genisys and Southpaw in my home theater over a month ago using the coolest piece of technology you’ve probably never even heard of. The company behind it is PRIMA Cinema and their movie player allows an elite group of owners the ability to watch first-run Hollywood films in the privacy of their homes, usually on the same day they are released to the cinemas. Not only that, but PRIMA delivers the best picture quality of anything you’ve ever seen outside the Arclight or El Capitan.

John Sciacca Posted: Jul 13, 2011 0 comments

Some people immediately get that the iPad can become the controller for an automation system, allowing them to control not only their audio/video gear but also their lights, HVAC, security, and irrigation systems.

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John Sciacca Posted: Jul 16, 2014 0 comments
When you think about a home security system, you probably think about protection and sirens that go off and keypads that go BEEP-BEEP when someone opens a door. And while that is a huge part of a security system’s mission statement, a security system is also a huge source of information that an automation system can mine to execute events around the home!

John Sciacca Posted: Nov 05, 2007 0 comments

Cathedrals are almost preternaturally quiet havens where even the softest whispers, shuffling in the pews, or footsteps across marble floors can seem blasphemously loud.

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