The Connected Life

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John Sciacca  |  Mar 08, 2022  |  0 comments
When I started out as a custom installer back in 1998, a “big screen” was a 60-inch rear-projection TV, with high-end models available from the likes of Mitsubishi and Pioneer Elite. These were 4:3 aspect ratio, cathode ray tube-driven sets with 480i resolution, and they were physically hulking beasts weighing upwards of hundreds of pounds. Boy, have things changed over the past 20-plus years.
John Sciacca  |  Jul 12, 2022  |  2 comments
When I started my career as a custom installer, getting a cinema-size image meant a front projection system in a light-controlled room. But technology has since developed to the point where you can now get a 100-inch flat-panel TV for well under twenty grand. Which solution is right for you?
John Sciacca  |  Sep 15, 2022  |  3 comments
When I began this series of columns earlier this year, I had no idea it would turn into a four-part, treatise on the evolution and current state of choosing a big-screen TV for your media room or home theater. To conclude this tetralogy, I address two additional solutions that straddle the divide between wanting a fantastic, cinematic experience in a non-dedicated/light-controlled room — options that don’t require a wallet melting budget.
John Sciacca  |  Nov 19, 2020  |  0 comments
Buy once, cry once. You might be familiar with that old adage, which is used to describe the purchase of a high-cost item that entails upfront financial “pain,” but with no need to buy again in the future due to the superior craftsmanship and build quality. It’s often associated with tools and watches but works quite well for A/V gear.
John Sciacca  |  Nov 12, 2014  |  1 comments
A fairly common complaint I hear in my custom showroom is the inability to hear dialog while watching TV or movies. The scenario plays out almost identically every single time. A couple will come in, usually older, and the husband will stand there sheepishly while his wife explains that her husband’s hearing has deteriorated and now it’s to the point where he can’t hear the TV unless he blasts the volume which is then too loud for her to tolerate. The husband will then usually chime in that his hearing is fine, and that he just has a hard time with the dialog. But do we have anything that would help so they could both enjoy TV together?

So, first off, guys! I’m not sure what it is that we’re doing in our younger years, but, dammit! It is causing us all to go slowly deaf as we get older! We need to pull it together!

John Sciacca  |  Jan 14, 2011  |  0 comments

There are so many Pow! Bang! Ka-chow! buzzwords thrown out by the consumer electronics industry's marketing war chariots that smaller, more important things often get lost or completely overwhelmed in the ground clutter.

John Sciacca  |  Oct 26, 2016  |  3 comments
For many, going out to the movies is the perfect excuse to escape from the house. Get away from the kids. Unwind from work. Enjoy a date night. Whatever. Many people love the shared, communal experience of the local Cineplex. And, for the longest time, that has been the only way for law abiding, non-Hollywood types to watch a first room movie without waiting months for it to release to the home market whether on disc, on demand rental, or streaming.

But what if there were a way to watch movies at home, day-and-date when they were released in the theater? Would this be worth something to you? And if so, how much…?

John Sciacca  |  Nov 09, 2016  |  1 comments
I was stunned when in August I learned movie server pioneer, Kaleidescape, had closed its doors. The company remained closed for nearly three weeks—though it continued delivering movies via its movie store and systems in the field remained fully operational—before securing new funding and resuming operations.
John Sciacca  |  Jul 21, 2015  |  2 comments
Custom Theater and Audio's Atmos-equipped demo room.

A lot has been written over the past few months about Dolby’s new home theater surround format, Atmos. Virtually every receiver manufacturer and many speaker companies have embraced Atmos-capable systems, both with in-ceiling and Atmos-enabled module speakers.

One of the perks of working at a custom installation firm with a showroom is having a playground to install and experience the latest technologies firsthand before installing them into someone’s home...

John Sciacca  |  Nov 05, 2014  |  1 comments
The biggest annual event on a custom installer’s calendar is the CEDIA (Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association) Expo, which took place September in Denver. This year’s Expo was brimming with new technology, namely the overwhelming rollout of Dolby Atmos, a new surround format that I discussed in my previous column, along with several other exciting introductions like a new laser-powered projector from Epson and several very cool new wireless music system such as Denon’s HEOS and DTS’s Play-Fi.
John Sciacca  |  May 11, 2021  |  1 comments
The introduction of the iPhone in 2007 — or, more specifically, Apple opening its App Store to third-party developers in 2008 — turned out to be one of the most consequential developments ever to hit the home automation market. It was mind-blowing to watch this small, handheld device being used as a full-blown system controller to operate all manner of equipment and it became clear that this was a game-changing technology. Fast forward to 2021: Here are some key categories where app-based control has made an impact.
John Sciacca  |  Jul 19, 2021  |  0 comments
My previous column covered ways to control both a modern A/V system and a smart home using various manufacturer-supplied apps. With smartphone and tablet use now widespread, and smart devices capable of being controlled via free iOS and Android apps proliferating, app-based control has also surged. Whether you’re streaming music, controlling your A/V receiver, or managing your home’s energy or security systems, there’s now an app that can help you to do it smarter, better, and more easily. And since most people are now in the habit of carrying their phones 24/7, they basically have a full-blown system controller in their pocket at all times.
John Sciacca  |  Feb 03, 2016  |  7 comments
Resident audio professor, Ken C. Pohlmann, recently wrote a blog entitled “Millenials: Your Soundbars are Killing Us” that generated quite a bit of ire among readers. The post generated over 30 comments both for, but mainly against, Ken’s assertion that millennials’ “insatiable love of soundbars” was going to ruin audio for the rest of us.
John Sciacca  |  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…
John Sciacca  |  Mar 26, 2012  |  0 comments

Control4 unveiled two new processors at this year’s CES, the HC800 ($999) and the HC250 ($599). They offer way more power for system control and provide a much zippier interface when controlling different areas of the home or browsing a media library.

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