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John Sciacca Posted: Sep 15, 2016 Published: Sep 16, 2016 0 comments
Auto tracking satellite antennas certainly aren’t anything new, but they have always come at a rather premium price. And, sure, if you want to roll down the highway in you Winnebago and have a dish continuously track satellites soaring overhead in geosynchronous orbit, well, that’s still gonna cost you.

But if you just want to pull up to a camp site, or parking lot for your pre-game tailgate, whip out a simple antenna and not have to futz around with aiming and azimuth and angle so you can enjoy a little TV before the big game, DISH is making that a whole lot simpler and cheaper for you to enjoy!

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John Sciacca Posted: Sep 15, 2016 Published: Sep 16, 2016 1 comments
Traditionally movie servers have not been affordable, let alone cheap. However the idea of converting all of your DVDs and Blu-ray discs to digital data that you can easily browse and access instantly and stream around the home is so compelling, that anytime I run across a new company in the movie server category, I have to stop and take a look.

When I saw the onscreen cover art in Zappiti’s booth I was intrigued. The company had four components lined up that certainly looked like they meant business. A large NAS drive with eight bays and an internal DVD/Blu-ray drive, along with three separate movie players. When I heard the prices, I was shocked!

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John Sciacca Posted: Sep 14, 2016 0 comments
In a classic, “And just one more thing…” moment to begin the finale of its press conference today, Control4 announced that they have launched Amazon Alexa skill for voice-enabled whole-home automation control. Integration with Amazon Alexa –enabled devices including Echo, Dot, Amazon Tap, and Amazon Fire TV will enable a new Control4 Smart Home Skill allowing homeowners simple and intuitive voice control over their home systems.

"On average, our customers have over 40 connected devices in their homes that are orchestrated by Control4 and now, voice interaction with Amazon Alexa offers another convenient way to control all of them,” said Martin Plaehn, Control4 CEO. “This integration combines Control4’s automation power and extensive support for connected devices with the intuitive voice control from Amazon Alexa, reinforcing our shared vision to make life in a connected home ever-more personalized, comfortable, and hassle-free.”

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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 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 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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