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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 12, 2013 0 comments
Home automation and energy management had a big presence at CES, and Nexia Home Intelligence came to the Show to show off some recent additions to the growing portfolio of Z-Wave-enabled devices that are compatible with the Nexia ecosystem. Primary among those were: the new Schlage Touchscreen Deadbolt that provides keyless entry and built-in alarm technology that will notify you if someone tampers with the lock or tries to break into the home while you’re away; the new eMonitor Trane Energy Management Solution that monitors energy usage data 24/7 and provides overall energy usage reports, as well as real-time alerts and notifications of situations such as circuit overloads – or even if a freezer door has been left open; and new zoning capabilities with the Trane ComforLink II Control command center/thermostat that uses zone temperature sensors to figure out which areas of your home need additional heated or cooled air. (Unfortunately, the zoning features aren’t compatible with all HVAC systems – including mine…) While indoor/outdoor cameras, networked appliance and lighting control AC modules, wireless deadbolts, heating/cooling control, energy management, and web/smartphone control of the system are all features within the Nexia architecture, home AV control is not.
Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Nov 02, 2016 0 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE Nexia Bridge, $87; Trane XL824, $334

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Nexia Diagnostics monitors real-time HVAC performance
Z-Wave-supported Nexia Bridge built into thermostat
Minus
$9.99/month subscription fee
Cloud-based automation works slower than local systems

THE VERDICT
The Nexia system is unique in that it appeals to both do-it-yourselfers and those who want it done for them. Its combination of a simple programming structure with an assortment of welcoming and intuitive user interfaces makes it a system you’ll actually enjoy using.

I was beginning to worry that we’d run out of acronyms. After all, what would we do if we had to speak or write actual words instead of just using three- or four-letter shorthand? Saying “do-it-yourself” is so much more time-consuming than “DIY.” Thank goodness there’s a new acronym making the rounds: DIFM, which stands for do-it-forme. Although people have always wanted to have things done for them, the appearance of the acronym DIFM is the result of the wicked hangover that the DIY smart-home industry is suffering, after a couple of years when rapacious startup enthusiasm sucked all of the rational oxygen out of the air. The fact is that there are plenty of rooms in the smart home to accommodate the yourselfers, the for-me-ers, and the dedicated custom installers.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 28, 2013 0 comments
NextGen’s Bluetooth-IR Extender was already a pretty cool device. It’s a small cone-like device that translates AV system commands from Android-based smartphones and tablets into IR using Bluetooth communication between the Extender and the Android device. After the IR Extender receives a command, it translates it into IR before blasting it out to your components from the base unit or via IR flashers. Neat idea, right?
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 06, 2015 0 comments
Mobile lifestyle product maker, E FUN, is joining the smart home fray with the introduction of a line of DIY home automation devices. The new smart home systems and devices will be sold under the Nexturn brand name. Neturn systems will initially be available in three starter kits labeled Bronze, Silver, and Gold. The systems are built around…
Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Mar 27, 2014 0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $2,547

AT A GLANCE
Plus
A 55-inch horizontal soundbar that can be installed without modifying the wall studs
Can learn volume and mute IR codes from your TV’s remote
Excellent simulated
surround and music
processing
Minus
Really needs a subwoofer
Only one HDMI input

THE VERDICT
The Niles CSF55A is more expensive than a similarly performing active soundbar, but it’s well worth it for the person who wants the gear to disappear without giving up any sound quality.

It’s either the craziest flippin’ idea ever, or it’s absolutely brilliant. I mean, in-wall speakers are one thing. Soundbars, though, especially active soundbars, are completely different creatures. But somebody at Niles—whether inspired by an offhanded joke, an improbable Frankenstein-like engineering experiment, or an alcohol-infused haze after a tedious sales meeting—decided that what the world needs is an active, in-wall soundbar system to complement wall-mounted flat-panel TVs.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: May 03, 2006 0 comments
I no longer play video games - at least not in front of other people - because my children regularly beat the snot out of me when I'm foolish enough to engage them in a round of electronic mayhem and destruction. I'm hoping Nintendo's new "Brain Age" game will help push the touchpad in my direction.
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 08, 2010 0 comments
You can't call it a sound bar, but the goal of Niro Nakamichi's latest system is to eliminate the need for rear speakers in a home theater. The new system uses two speaker cabinets - one below the TV that produces the LCR signals, and one above the TV that creates the pseudo surround information. The system also comes with a subwoofer and processor/amplifier. The system uses psychoacoustics to create its effects and doesn't rely on sound reflections off the side walls as many other no-rear-speakers systems do. Although it still can't compete against a full-blown discrete speaker system, I must say that in the brief amount of time I had to listen, it blew away any other soundbar I've ever heard. Of course, at $1,899 for the system, it's more expensive than any other sound bar that I can remember listening to. The cosmetics are a little industrial for my tastes, but it's definitely a high-performance system to consider if you can't have rear speakers.
Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 09, 2008 0 comments
Boston Acoustics is back in the computer speaker business again with two tabletop systems. The $99.99 version includes a pair of slender speakers with a ” tweeter and two 2” mid-bass drivers. The $179.99 package adds a subwoofer. The sub/sat system kicked some serious butt, and it was sitting out in the open on a little round table in a large demo room. And just like many of the new Boston speakers, these are part of the POP program which allows you to buy different colored grilles.
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 10, 2014 0 comments
After four years of availability in over 55 countries around the world, smart home hub and device maker, FIBARO, is finally entering the U.S. market. In addition to the Home Center Lite (approx $280), FIBARO will also be making available the more powerful Home Center 2 (pricing TBA). The most significant feature that differentiates FIBARO from the competitive smart home hub systems (Revolv, $300; SmartThings, $99; Staples Connect, $49; etc.) is the systems’ abilities to interface with and control elements of home AV systems. Currently, Revolv and SmartThings offer extremely limited control of some Sonos components; but neither hub is capable of controlling gear in home theater systems.

FIBARO is also notable for its...

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 04, 2008 7 comments
Let’s say you have a nice home theater system in one end of the room and a powered subwoofer in the other. Everything sounds nice until you plug the subwoofer into the AC outlet next to it, and, viola, your system is now humming a new tune. Unfortunately, it’s not humming the tune you wanted it to.

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