Darryl Wilkinson

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 12, 2014 0 comments
Florida-based NextGen is introducing a new Universal Learning Radio Frequency Remote Control that’s a standard 4-in-1 device IR remote control with a built-in RF transmitter. The package includes one of the company’s RF Receivers, which can be used with the handheld remote to relay commands through closed cabinet doors, walls, floors, and ceilings and has a range of up to 100 feet. The system has automatic RF addressing, so there’s no need to pair remotes to the receivers. The package also includes a three-eye IR emitter cord.

The Universal Learning RF Remote Control is expected to be available in November with an MSRP of $99.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 11, 2014 0 comments
When it comes to gardening, some people have a green thumb. Others say they have a brown thumb. In my case, I happen to possess one of the few thumbs covered in sand and tumbleweeds. It’s not that I hate plants. (Although, it seems, plants evidently hate me…) I simply can’t remember to take care of them. It’s always weeks after plants at my home have turned to petrified wood when the thought finally pops into my head that I ought to give them some water. Lawn care is similarly problematic for me. Fortunately, Rachio is a new company that offers an alternative to brown lawns and dead gardens.

The Rachio Smart Irrigation Controller is a DIY sprinkler controller that...

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 11, 2014 1 comments
HEOS is Denon’s answer to the question, “Who on the planet can come up with a wireless, streaming music system that’s even close to sounding as good and being as easy to use as the ever-popular Sonos system?” The much-anticipated system, officially called HEOS by Denon, is being introduced at CEDIA EXPO 2014.

The HEOS system currently consists of...

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 10, 2014 Published: Sep 11, 2014 0 comments
GoRave says its “wireless” audio distribution system makes it possible (and easy) to use any app on any smart device to play audio in one or multiple rooms. The key to the system is are wireless transmitters, called “Audio Senders”, which are designed to be used with a variety of smart devices (Android and iOS), as well as with computers via a universal USB dongle. The Audio Senders wirelessly transmit the audio from whatever is being played on the device to one or more of GoRave’s 5-channel AR5 Audio Receivers. Because the Audio Senders simply transmit whatever audio is being output on the Android or iOS device, the user can listen to Spotify, NetFlix, YouTube, or some other source of audio - including Skype calls - through the connected speakers in the home.

GoRave does not use Wi-Fi or Bluetooth for its wireless connectivity...

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 11, 2014 0 comments
After pointing out that it was only two years ago when DISH first introduced the Hopper whole-home HD DVR, Vivek Khemka, DISH senior vice president of product management, announced the expansion of DISH’s program to further the integration of the Hopper with a number of additional home automation systems. “We are allowing unprecedented access to the DISH API,” Kemka explained. With access to the API, third-party automation system programmers will be able to provide seamless control of the Hopper within the confines of the smart home’s controller rather than forcing the homeowner to use two remote controls or apps, often with two dramatically different user interfaces.

The list of new automation partners announced by DISH includes...

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 10, 2014 Published: Sep 11, 2014 0 comments
Custom integrators that sell Control4 systems got a boost today when Control4 announced the immediate release of Composer Express, “a powerful mobile configuration tool that enables Control4 Dealers to dramatically simplify and accelerate the set-up process for home automation systems.” According to Control4, even basic-level installation technicians should be able to use Composer Express on a tablet or smartphone in order to “configure most one-room home theaters in very short order, or set up hundreds of devices in the most complex whole-home installations in a few hours…”
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 11, 2014 0 comments
Although OmniMount is perhaps most well-known for making mounts and accessories designed for hanging large flat screen TVs on the wall and projectors on the ceiling, the company showed a new, slightly smaller mounting product in the booth at CEDIA. The new device, Stand for iPad, is an adjustable stand for iPads (with another version for iPad Air devices) that has three attachment and usage options: 1) as a desktop stand; 2) as an under-cabinet mount; and 3) as a wall-mount bracket. The new Stand for iPad folds flat for transporting or for hiding under cabinets when not in use as a convenient iPad holder above a countertop. The bracket uses a magnet built into the protective Case for iPad (included in the package) to securely hold it against the mount while allowing the iPad to rotate with minimal effort or be removed easily from the mount. The Stand for iPad will have an MSRP of $99.95 and is expected to be available in November.
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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...

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 10, 2014 0 comments
Further proving that there’s more volatility in the smart home industry than in a hot air popcorn popper, Leviton Security & Automation (formerly HAI by Leviton) (and, before that, simply HAI) announced on the eve of CEDIA EXPO 2014 that the company had acquired Englewood, CO-based BitWise Controls, LLC. Founded in 2008, BitWise Controls specializes in automation controllers and products designed for the professional and pro-sumer smart home markets. The company’s three automation controllers - the BC1, BC2, and BC4 - are capable of home automation tasks as well as AV system control and offered a less-expensive alternative to systems from companies, such as Control4 and Crestron.

Although not specifically intended for direct consumer purchase and installation, the pricing of the controllers (starting at slightly above $500 for the basic, single-room BC4) also makes them a viable alternative to the gobs of DIY-oriented sub-$300 smart home hubs - none of which are capable of AV system integration. (The Revolv Hub is the only exception to this rule, although its sole AV-control capability involves limited integration with several Sonos components.)

Terms of the deal were not announced. It can be assumed, however, that Leviton did not pay quite as much for BitWise as Google did for Nest ($3.2 billion) earlier this year.

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 09, 2014 Published: Sep 08, 2014 0 comments
2014 CEDIA Expo Coverage Begins Wednesday

In the grand scheme of all things electronic, it’s not as big a deal as the annual CES in Las Vegas. In many respects, though, CEDIA Expo 2014 is an even more important event for people interested in customizing home technologies to make them seamless, integral parts of their customers’ lives. Oh, hell, what am I saying? “Customizing home technologies…” The guys—and most of them are guys, although that’s changing—who go to the CEDIA Expo every year are fascinated by gear that can be hidden, be controlled at a distance, is motorized or otherwise moveable, and can be tweaked and tinkered with. Sure, we talk about "lifestyles", but the reality is we go to CEDIA to geek out on the gear.

It’s a completely safe bet that when the show floor at CEDIA Expo 2014 officially opens at 9:00 AM on Thursday, September 11, the place will be packed‐and a number of us from Sound & Vision will be fighting our way through the throngs of installers, designers, specifiers, representatives, and booth demonstrators...

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