Darryl Wilkinson

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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 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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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Aug 08, 2014 2 comments
Not long ago, I had an extended conversation with Mark Walters, the Chairman of the Z-Wave Alliance. Our discussion ranged pretty much across the board as far as the smart home topic was concerned, including how quickly the landscape is changing (not quite daily, although it seems that way) and the various companies – both large and small – that are trying to stake their technological claims in this relatively new territory. Clearly, the consensus is that there’s lots of money to be made in the smart home automation business. The problem, however, for both manufacturers and retailers is choosing a space that’s full of milk and honey rather than settling in what will eventually become a electronic ghost town complete with rolling tumbleweeds of discarded protocols and standards. Consumers, by the way, are basically collateral-damage-in-waiting during this high-tech land grab. (But that’s part of the risk you take as an early adopter, I suppose.)
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jul 31, 2014 16 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $2,499 ea

AT A GLANCE
Plus
1,200-watt Class D subwoofer amplifier
IR remote control for woofer level adjustments
No support grid behind grille cloth to block midrange/tweeter array
Minus
They’re pretty heavy
Remote control coverage too narrow to reach both speakers simultaneously

THE VERDICT
Def Tech’s updated flagship is an uncannily neutral, disappearing speaker and an amazing value.

It’s hard to believe that the original Definitive Technology Mythos ST was introduced seven years ago. At the time, the Mythos styling ethos—svelte, curved-back, extruded-aluminum cabinets—had already been around for a while, so the sleek, silvery design of the Mythos ST wasn’t a dramatic departure. Sure, it was the largest Mythos speaker to come out to that point, but what made it especially buzzworthy was that the ST was the first Mythos speaker to include a powered woofer section.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jul 23, 2014 0 comments
Locks have been around ever since people starting accumulating stuff that they didn’t want other people to get their hands on. Over the millennia, various types of locks have been used to safeguard all kinds of things: stones (a.k.a. jewels), money, jars of Nutella, castle dungeons, the secret formula for the Krabby Patty, automobiles, and houses, just to name a few. Supposedly, there are 4,000-year-old clay tablets (probably locked away in a museum somewhere) from the Babylonian Empire that show an early form of keys on them. In ancient Greece, keys were large enough that they were carried on a person’s shoulder. (Although Leonidas might have said, “This is Sparta!”; he most certainly never said, “Where did I put my keys?”) Wealthy Romans didn’t have to worry about losing their keys, either, because they often wore their keys on their fingers as, well, key rings.

Today, of course, we have lots of ways of locking up things without resorting to the old-fashioned lock-and-key routine. When it comes to smart home technology, motorized, electronic door locks aren’t exactly the newest home automation device...

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jun 30, 2014 1 comments
The future of home automation, the so-called “smart home”, is so bright, you’re going to have to wear shades—you’re BS shades, that is. If you believe the seriously over-heated hype, the new smart home hubs and home automation systems will save you money, keep you safe, make your life more convenient, improve your love life, grow hair where you want it (and keep it from growing where you don’t), and promote peace and harmony (the noun, not the remote control company) around the world. The enthusiasm is genuinely infectious, and I have to remind myself every now and then that the promised techno-utopia and the eventual techno-reality are often quite disparate. But dreams of a better smart home future give us something to strive for, and that Jetsons-like journey begins with small steps. Buying one of the new smart home hubs and installing a couple of sensors and devices, however, may be a bigger step than you’re ready for. What happens if you’re interested in home automation, but all you’re comfortable with now is sticking your big toe over the starting line...
Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jun 25, 2014 0 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $449

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Up to 20 hours of battery life
Water- and UV-resistant
Bluetooth with aptX and AAC
Minus
Not exactly inexpensive (though well worth its price)

THE VERDICT
You’ll find plenty of portable bluetooth speakers out there, but you’ll search long and hard to find one that’s as well built, weatherproof, and good-sounding as this one.

Soundcast Systems’ Melody is a category-blender of a product that’s difficult to sum up succinctly. It’s a mishmash of features that’s one part this, one part that, and a couple more parts of another type of thing. But none of that really matters unless you’re into semantics, market trends, or trying to do an Internet search for a “take anywhere, everywhere speaker” (as Soundcast likes to refer to it). The important thing is that the Melody has a boatload of stuff going for it; and it’s one of those rare audio devices that you’re likely to find yourself using for applications and situations you originally had no idea it would be ideal for.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jun 20, 2014 19 comments
My recent review of GoldenEar Technology’s newest speaker, the Triton One, generated a surprising number of entries in the Comments section at the end of the review. Some were short and to the point, such as the one from the reader who declared he or she “will not be renewing my subscription” because the piece was “a waste of a review.” (Okay, if you’ve got a beef with something I wrote, so be it. But don’t tar and feather Rob, Tom, Mark, and the rest of the S&V crew for a piece with my byline. Surely you ought to be able to find a subscription’s worth of value in the stuff they write.) But other comments were more substantive and warranted a more in-depth response than posting a brief reply...

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