THE CONNECTED LIFE

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John Sciacca Posted: Sep 02, 2015 0 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.

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John Sciacca Posted: Aug 19, 2015 0 comments
ABC’s Nightline recently ran a segment called “Smart Homes, the Future of High-Tech Living” where they discussed different aspects of living in a smart home. Part of the segment demonstrated a smart home’s potential vulnerability to being hacked, giving outsiders access to your home and data. Nightline drove the point home by having a hacker sit outside a home with a high-powered directional antenna while he logged into the Wi-Fi network and started wreaking all manner of havoc, including unlocking her front door.
John Sciacca Posted: Jul 21, 2015 1 comments
Custom Theater and Audio's Atmos-equipped demo room.

A lot has been written over the past few months about Dolby’s new home theater surround format, Atmos. Virtually every receiver manufacturer and many speaker companies have embraced Atmos-capable systems, both with in-ceiling and Atmos-enabled module speakers.

One of the perks of working at a custom installation firm with a showroom is having a playground to install and experience the latest technologies firsthand before installing them into someone’s home...

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John Sciacca Posted: Jul 14, 2015 2 comments
I’ve been fortunate enough to watch nearly every Dolby Atmos encoded Blu-ray disc that has been released so far. While some of the movies are terrific (Gravity) others are more just things you suffer through (Jupiter Ascending). To save you some time trying to find the best scenes to demo, I’m gonna pinpoint each film’s marquee Atmos audio moment! (Some spoilers ahead…)

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John Sciacca Posted: Jun 03, 2015 0 comments
While doing some research for an upcoming Connected Life column on Wi-Fi security practices, I stumbled across a practically rotten piece of “fruit” called the Wi-Fi Pineapple. And while the company that makes this, Hak5, says that it serves “penetration testers, law enforcement, military and government” the sub $100 device is available to anyone and is designed to “enable users to quickly and easily deploy advanced attacks.” With the Pineapple performing hotspot honeypot, man-in-the-middle attacks, a hacker could quickly and easily have access to all of the data and information from your browsing sessions. If you frequently connect to Wi-Fi hotspots when you’re out and about, here are some things you need to know about the Pineapple in order to better safeguard yourself.
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John Sciacca Posted: May 27, 2015 6 comments
Telling time appears to an ancillary function of the Apple Watch but you'll be able to control your home.
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John Sciacca Posted: Apr 22, 2015 3 comments
While video manufacturers were busy demonstrating their takes on the technologies best suited for UHDTV, espousing the relative merits of High Dynamic Range and wider color gamuts, and discussing the all-important question of 4K content delivery methods at the International Consumer Electronics Show back in January, everyone else seemed concerned with making sure practically every device imaginable will be connected to the Internet in some form or fashion.
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John Sciacca Posted: Apr 08, 2015 7 comments
You’ve likely heard that Star Wars will be re-released in a digital movie collection on Friday (April 10th), finally allowing people to legally own and enjoy all six of the films (or at least enjoy four of them, tolerate Episode II and just agree to disagree on most of the filmmaking decisions from Episode I ) on a host of devices wherever they are.

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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.
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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: Jan 20, 2015 10 comments
A customer called my installation company recently looking to upgrade his system. We did the original in stall at his vacation home back in 2001, and he wanted to replace the aging DLP with a new flat panel, upgrade to a Netflix-streaming Blu-ray player, and get a new universal remote. When I looked through his file, I saw his AV receiver was approaching 13 years old, so I recommended he replace that as well to take advantage of a generation’s worth of technology improvements.
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John Sciacca Posted: Dec 17, 2014 0 comments
Automation describes using control systems to operate equipment or other applications with little or no human interaction. At its simplest, home automation could be a garage door opener or a mercury-filled thermostat kicking on your HVAC system; and at its most complex, there’s virtually nothing an automation system can’t do.

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John Sciacca Posted: Nov 12, 2014 1 comments
A fairly common complaint I hear in my custom showroom is the inability to hear dialog while watching TV or movies. The scenario plays out almost identically every single time. A couple will come in, usually older, and the husband will stand there sheepishly while his wife explains that her husband’s hearing has deteriorated and now it’s to the point where he can’t hear the TV unless he blasts the volume which is then too loud for her to tolerate. The husband will then usually chime in that his hearing is fine, and that he just has a hard time with the dialog. But do we have anything that would help so they could both enjoy TV together?

So, first off, guys! I’m not sure what it is that we’re doing in our younger years, but, dammit! It is causing us all to go slowly deaf as we get older! We need to pull it together!

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John Sciacca Posted: Nov 05, 2014 1 comments
The biggest annual event on a custom installer’s calendar is the CEDIA (Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association) Expo, which took place September in Denver. This year’s Expo was brimming with new technology, namely the overwhelming rollout of Dolby Atmos, a new surround format that I discussed in my previous column, along with several other exciting introductions like a new laser-powered projector from Epson and several very cool new wireless music system such as Denon’s HEOS and DTS’s Play-Fi.
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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.

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