Darryl Wilkinson

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Oct 02, 2014 0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $99

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Z-Wave and ZigBee radios built in
In-app live chat support
Supports multiple third-party devices and services
Minus
Doesn’t support Insteon
No tablet-specific app layout

THE VERDICT
The SmartThings Hub offers an impressive range of support, its app is powerful and smartly designed, and it’s a great value.

As with all up-and-coming DIY home automation systems, the SmartThings Hub is intended to make your life a living nirvana, bringing peace, love, and, yes, even rock ’n’ roll (grunge or otherwise) into your smart home. The $99 price—with a free app and no monthly subscription fees—is certainly a tasty enticement for someone with a sweet tooth for home automation on the cheap. But the big question is whether there’s enough meaty substance to the SmartThings system to satisfy a homeowner’s long-term automation hunger. Or does SmartThings give nothing more than a sugar high that inevitably leads to a disappointing crash later on?

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Oct 02, 2014 2 comments
It’s disappointing to note that, already well into the second decade of the 21st century, the smartest component of most people’s homes is a programmable thermostat—and chances are, it hasn’t been programmed since it was installed (if at all). But you can’t really blame homeowners for not rushing in droves to embrace home automation or, as it’s more often called, the “smart home.” Neither the high cost of reliable systems nor the low reliability of cheap systems has been all that enticing.
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 15, 2014 0 comments
At Crestron’s CEDIA press conference, the company spent time explaining how Crestron Pyng is going to save time for integrators when programming Crestron both small and large home automation systems. According to Crestron, home automation apps have traditionally been “add-ons to control systems that are programmed using computers.” With Crestron Pyng, on the other hand, “you are not adding an app to your automation system. The app is your automation system.” Pyng uses a compact hub to connect accessories - such as Crestron’s wireless lighting controls, various window treatments, thermostats, Yale wireless door locks, and security systems - and runs scenes and events with or without the presence of a smart device. It also continuously backs up all the home settings to a cloud server, which provides a way to restore the system to a previous configuration if the homeowner makes changes to the system that need to be reversed.

Crestron also introduced...

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 15, 2014 0 comments
Lutron’s President, Michael Pessina, began the company’s CEDIA EXPO 2014 press conference by noting that this was Lutron’s 21st CEDIA attendance. Twenty years ago, lighting control mostly consisted of “lot of products hand-wired together.” Today, of course, the overwhelming trend in lighting control and home automation is to use digital, wireless products. To maintain the company’s prominence in the lighting control industry, Pessina said that Lutron spends approximately ten-percent of its sales on research and development. Almost all of that R&D, Pessina added, was in the areas of digital control and wireless connectivity. It’s one reason why there will be a Lutron Caseta Wireless lighting control app available for the Apple Watch when it becomes available in early 2015. (Lutron was even part of the Apple Watch announcement during the Keynote.)

Moving on to...

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 15, 2014 0 comments
There’s a good chance that you’ve never hear of Core Brands. On the other hand, there’s an even better chance that you know of at least one - if not most - of the brands that are part of the Core Brands group: SpeakerCraft, ELAN, Furman, Panamax, Xantech, Sunfire, and Niles. Although the press conference began almost 25 minutes late and it was difficult to hear the presentation due to all of the commotion on the show floor, several interesting announcements were made...
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 13, 2014 0 comments
Motorized window treatments (shades, curtains, and other window coverings) are always super cool to watch as they magically open or close in front of a window. For some reason, I’m never able to resist pushing the button on the remote that makes a shade go up and down or a curtain open and close. It’s just so cool - and can keep your house very cool, too. QMotion Shades new motorized drapery rod is one of the coolest of all the motorized window treatment mechanisms at CEDIA to watch. QMotion says the company’s new mechanized device is “the industry’s first - and only - trackless motorized drapery rod.” The new wireless drapery rod requires no external motors or wires and is extremely quiet when in operation. Rods come in two sizes: 1.5-inches (diameter) that uses C-cell batteries; and 2-inches in diameter that uses D-cell batteries. QMotion estimates that users can expect battery life to be one to two years on average, depending on the size of the rod and how often the mechanism is used each day.

In addition to pointing out that the new product is...

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 13, 2014 1 comments
Based on the Stealth Acoustics’ LRG invisible speaker technology, the new Image III speakers have no grilles, ports, or other openings and are only 2.5-inches thick. The flat front face of the speaker is made from a solid, fiberglass-like material (Stealth Acoustics calls it, Glass Fidelty); and it can be painted “without concern for blocking sound or damaging the speaker components. Using “advanced vinyl graphic materials and high-resolution, UV protected printing” Stealth Acoustics is able to “wrap” the speaker with any image of their customers’ choosing. The speakers can be installed in pairs or side-by-side with Stealth Acoustics’ CoverArt “retractable art flat screen covering solution” to create “a unique ‘Trilogy’ of images panning across speakers and screen allowing technology when not in use to become an integral part of interior design.”

The Image III speakers have an MSRP of $1, 000/ pair - plus applicable art work fees.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 13, 2014 0 comments
Belgin-based Basalte’s Sentido is a unique, square-shaped, intelligent, touch-sensitive light switch with a metal-finish front face that’s divided into two or four equal sections, each with different functions. Basalte says that the entire switch is touch-sensitive and creates “an easy way of control and a unique user experience.” Touching more than one section simultaneously, for example, turns on or off all of the connected lights in the room. The Sentido can be programmed so that a long press of multiple sections will allow the user to sequence through up to four individually programmed light scenes. Multiple Sentidos will be capable of integrating into other companies’ smart home systems in the near future. On display was Basalte’s bridge adapter for integrating Sentido switches into Lutron’s HomeWorks QS systems. Since the Sentido switches do not include internal wireless connectivity, low-voltage wire needs to be run from each Sentido switch to central bridge adapter.

Behind the square metal front is...

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 13, 2014 0 comments
I have always been impressed by the look and feel of Salamander Designs’ cabinets and furniture. As with most quality furnishings, however, the price tag has always been commensurate with the quality of the furniture. There are a variety of factors for this, most especially the fact that the majority of what Salamander Design makes is highly customizable and built-to-order in Hartford, CT. Sal Carrabba, founder of Salamander Designs, explained that the company’s AV Basics products are “focused on providing simplicity by offering a carefully curated product line that is in stock and ready to ship.” In addition to adding more cabinets to the AV Basics line, Salamander Designs unveiled the new AV Basics theater seat, the Model TC3, at CEDIA.

The TC3 is upholstered in black bonded leather, which Salamander Designs says is...

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 12, 2014 2 comments
Nakymatone has a unique approach to invisible in-wall sound with two stealthy speakers called the Echt and the Mooi. Both speakers measure 23” x 9.75” x 3.5” (H x W x D) but are designed to be fit behind drywall using a 16 5/8” x 9.75” (H x W) hole. The speakers utilize a special removable handle that allows installers to slide the speaker into the hole and then pull it flush up against the drywall before fastening it in place an applying a 1/16” plaster skim to blend it in with the surface of the wall. The acoustic panel consists of an aluminum honeycomb core with doped paper skin. Both models have a sealed, acoustically tuned aluminum enclosure; while the higher-end Echt’s enclosure is also anodized for higher performance sound quality.

According to Nakymatone, the frequency response of the Mooi is...

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