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John Sciacca Posted: Sep 14, 2016 0 comments
Control4 Updates to OS2.9 Automation company, Control4, announced an update to its operating system today, moving from 2.8.2 to version 2.9. As with previous OS updates, this not only squashed bugs in the system but also introduced a slew of new features.

Control4 announced that it features integration support for nearly 10,000 devices, and OS 2.9 will enhance that experience with a new feature called “Connects with Control4.” Control4 is heavily invested in helping dealers deliver customized smart home experiences for its customers, and one of the ways they do this is by Simple Device Discovery Protocol (SDDP) that identifies a product and loads the correct driver. Currently 185 companies are shipping over 1,500 devices enabled with Control’s and the new program will feature QR codes on products that can be quickly scanned in to automatically identify and add the correct integration driver. This now includes products from Amazon, Lutron, Nest, Somfy, and Sonos.

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John Sciacca Posted: Sep 14, 2016 0 comments
During its press conference today, Control4 announced the immediate availability of Bakpak 4.0 cloud-based network management system. Bakpak enables real-time monitoring of network devices, and allows rapid response to connectivity issues, including proactive device management, allowing dealers to hopefully address and correct an issue before a user even becomes aware of it.

Bakpak had previously been available through Pakedge, a networking company acquired by Control4 last year. The product was offered on a subscription basis, but today Control announced that Bakpak 4.0 is now available completely license and subscription free. Annual subscription fees for items previously considered as “premium”, such as ISP monitoring and speed testing, have also been eliminated and are included as standard.

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John Sciacca Posted: Sep 13, 2016 0 comments
As football season gets underway, it’s inevitable that I’ll get phone calls about mounting TVs on a porch, deck, or some other outside area as people prepare to watch their favorite team while enjoying the fall weather. And, I have to say, after spending a long weekend lounging by my swimming pool, sipping a beer, and watching The Masters golf tournament, I get the allure of outdoor video.
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John Sciacca Posted: Aug 24, 2016 1 comments
When you’re constantly surrounded by technology and automation, you tend to take things for granted, just accepting all the cool stuff happening around you as normal. It isn’t until someone who doesn’t live with this stuff on a daily basis comes over and points out all the stuff that happens in our house as different and special that we pay attention to it and realize how awesome it is.
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John Sciacca Posted: Aug 23, 2016 7 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $4,495 as reviewed

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Unrivaled user interface
Terrific image quality including HDR10
Fast access times with no buffering
Excellent HDMI handling
Minus
Limited to content bought from Kaleidescape store
No Dolby Vision support

THE VERDICT
Strato serves up gorgeous, full UHD images using Kaleidescape’s unparalleled interface, with content delivered from the company’s store.

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John Sciacca Posted: Aug 10, 2016 3 comments
I’ll be honest, when I first heard about Husqvarna’s Automower robotic lawnmower, my first thought was, “Well, that’s stupid.” I mean, why would someone need a Roomba for their lawn? Dumb.

Then I thought about it a little longer and started to weight the cost of the Automower versus my personal time and cost of cutting the grass or what I have been paying someone else to do it, and how nice it would be to come home and always have a perfectly groomed lawn, and Automower started to make a lot more sense. Then when I started to think about all the grief I get from my lawn guy – broken sprinkler heads, not coming for weeks at a time, yearly price increases – I started getting really excited about the prospect of letting a robot cut my grass.

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John Sciacca Posted: Jul 27, 2016 2 comments
One of my favorite comedies is Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, a film starring the incredibly well-cast Michael Caine as a savvy, sophisticated British confidence man trying to first mentor and then ultimately compete against the boorish, uncultured, bumbling American swindler played by Steve Martin.

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John Sciacca Posted: Jun 29, 2016 1 comments
As I write this I’m sitting in a hospital room waiting for my wife, Dana, to be induced sometime around 5:00 this evening. My weekend plans had been to grab some craft beer and watch The Masters in 4K on DirecTV, but this was a late-in-life, bonus baby (I’m 46), and the pregnancy has been fraught with “excitement” as we’ve dealt with high blood pressure and gestational diabetes. If you get nothing else from this column, heed my advice to have kids sooner rather than later.
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John Sciacca Posted: May 27, 2016 0 comments
Your new 4K, Ultra High Definition (UHD) TV is finally home and now you’re ready to start enjoying 8 million pixels of next-gen, ultra-video awesomeness. But that screen isn’t gonna just fill itself with UHD. Doing so is going to take a bit of planning and logistics to ensure you wring every bit of performance you can from it. Should you buy one of the new UHD Blu-ray players? If you care first about image quality, you probably should. But what about Ultra HD streaming from Netflix, Amazon, Vudu, and others—should you write them off? Negative!
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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…

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