Remotely Possible

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Darryl Wilkinson  |  Sep 15, 2016  |  0 comments
SurgeX always has the most non-shocking demos at CEDIA, and this year was no exception as the company once again demonstrated “the industry’s only surge elimination technology.” Called by SurgeX, Advanced Series Mode, the proprietary surge elimination technology stops surge energy up to 6,000 volts without introducing other unwanted problems, such as ground contamination or common-mode disturbances. In addition, the method SurgeX uses—unlike many competing surge protection technologies—is completely non-sacrificial, which means SurgeX devices don’t destroy themselves as part of the process of stopping an incoming electrical surge.

As any of us who’ve suffered some major losses due to lightning strikes or other surge-producing events know, having good surge protection can save...

Darryl Wilkinson  |  Jan 07, 2017  |  First Published: Jan 06, 2017  |  0 comments
Switchmate is dramatically expanding the company’s line of incredibly simple smart devices for home automation and security developed for do-it-yourselfers who want to convert existing dumb homes or dumber apartments into smart homes or smarter apartments. The original Switchmate is a battery-operated motorized cover that is held in place over an existing in-wall rocker or toggle switch by magnets. When the Switchmate receives the appropriate command, the mechanism inside does the exact same thing you would do with the fingers on your hand: it quickly flips the toggle or rocker switch from off to on (and vice versa). Switchmate says the smart switch conversion can be done in as quickly as one second, although my experience is that it takes more like two or three seconds for the physical installation.

The new Switchmate smart switch will include...

Darryl Wilkinson  |  Jan 09, 2016  |  1 comments
Synology makes network attached storage (NAS) servers. If your home entertainment life revolves solely around media you can stream—or you store you entire life in the cloud (on someone else’s remote server)—it’s unlikely you’ll have need of a NAS server. On the other hand, if you have thousands of digital images, movies, and songs in your collection, and you’d like to have easy access to them, a NAS server is one of the most essential digital storage components you can have. Fortunately for people with lots of files to store but not so much money, Synology introduced the DiskStation DS416j—a 4-bay NAS device the company has designed for home and small office use and budgets.
Darryl Wilkinson  |  Feb 23, 2016  |  2 comments
Despite the fact that some (many—okay, most) people tell me I’m an idiot, I’m not. As proof, I can point to a variety of complicated tasks that I’ve managed to complete without requiring an inordinate amount of outside help. I’ve built a chicken coop; installed and programmed a Lutron RadioRA 2 lighting control system; raised three children; assembled two bicycles at 3 AM one Christmas morning; and founded a multi-billion dollar non-profit foundation dedicated to making it easy and understandable to install and use a high-speed wireless router in your home. Yeah, well, that last one? Not so much. In fact, if there’s anything in this world that makes me feel like more of an idiot than I really am, it’s dealing with wireless routers. And that’s why I’ve been smitten of late with Synology’s newest introduction, the Synology Router RT1900ac.
Darryl Wilkinson  |  Apr 11, 2016  |  2 comments
Last week, Nest announced they were pulling the plug on all their customers' Revolv smart home hubs. Why am I happy about this?
Darryl Wilkinson  |  Oct 08, 2012  |  0 comments
We lost a pioneer of the modern loudspeaker industry with the passing of William (Bill) Hecht earlier this year on September 12th at age 89. I was only five years old (and I imagine many of you reading this weren’t even born yet) in 1967 when Bill Hecht patented his signature contribution to the audio world, the soft-dome tweeter, arguably the most widely used speaker driver worldwide for the last 30 years. I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Hecht once during my career. In this age of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and the endless onslaught of 24/7 self-promotion, Bill Hecht was a quiet, self-effacing man who seemed most comfortable behind the scenes. Indeed, throughout his career, Hecht and his company, United Speaker Systems, was known for making the speakers that made other speaker companies famous.

Darryl Wilkinson  |  Feb 13, 2018  |  2 comments
Too often smart home technology is more "because we can" than it is "because we should." The Flex House at CES 2018 proved that you can integrate smart home technology that's highly functional rather than mostly hype.
Darryl Wilkinson  |  Apr 23, 2018  |  0 comments
By now, even the most ecologically minded person has probably had their fill of Earth Day articles and blog posts. Bear with me, though, because this post is only tangentially related to Earth Day and eco-sensibilities. Instead, it's more about getting your hands dirty with the innards of an electronic gadget or component after you've removed or cut the "WARRANTY VOID IF SEAL BROKEN OR REMOVED" sticker on the device's outer casing. I've done it plenty of times before...
Darryl Wilkinson  |  Jan 12, 2018  |  0 comments
In Finnish, HUMU means ”humming” or ”commotion”. It's also the name of a new "augmented audio cushion" that the company, Flexound Systems (a Finish tech startup), says is "the first consumer product to add the sense of touch to entertainment."
Darryl Wilkinson  |  Mar 25, 2014  |  0 comments
Even the best smart homes today aren’t much more than a cool collection of dumb gadgets managed by a controller with a good memory. Few, if any, of them aren’t intelligent enough yet to figure out when to do tasks on their own. Programming what actions should happen when and under what varying conditions or triggers is a large part of why home automation has been confined to the posh multi-thousand square foot homes of the rich and powerful or the often not-so-posh and much smaller homes of the electronic tinkerers and makers. (Of course, the cost of controllers, sensors, devices, and installation doesn’t help put home automation in the “mass market” category yet, either.)

Despite its relatively high price ($250 - or $3.2 billion, if you’re Google), the Nest thermostat is very popular (I saw one on the wall in a local Subway restaurant a couple of days ago) because - in addition to its Applish-elegance design - it “programs itself so you don’t have to.” Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it turns out that there are a lot of people out there who absolutely hate programming a thermostat; and hate it enough, apparently, that they’re willing to spend four-to-five times more $ on a “learning thermostat” than they would on an average 5-2 day programmable thermostat. So any smart home automation company looking to break into the big time needs to take note of this fact. Does anyone really believe that these same folks want to spend the time and effort to program an entire home of automated gadgets? “It programs itself so you don’t have to” needs to be the smart home mantra.

Recently a couple of smart home systems caught my attention because of their learning capabilities...

Darryl Wilkinson  |  Jan 07, 2016  |  0 comments
There’s certainly no lack of interesting DIY home monitoring cameras at CES2016. The original Oco is here, still featuring self-learning sound and motion-detection algorithms, night vision capability, and two-way audio communication. But the diminutive 1280 x 720 (25 fps) camera isn’t alone at the company’s booth.
Darryl Wilkinson  |  Apr 22, 2015  |  0 comments
On April 18th, Quirky Wink HUB owners got an up-close and a little too personal look at the perils of putting control of your smart home into even the most well-intentioned hands over the internet. According to Wink:
Darryl Wilkinson  |  Jun 11, 2013  |  0 comments
CEDIA 2012 has receded into the poorly lit reaches of my cobweb-covered memory. But the one thing that most stood out in the cornucopia of all things custom-install still stands in sharp relief today: HouseLogix’s absolutely amazing VoicePod. Actually, it sits in sharp relief – right on the top of my desk thanks to HouseLogix’s CEO and Founder, Ted Rosenberger, who shipped a beta version of the VoicePod for me to play for the last few months.

So what exactly is a “VoicePod”?

Darryl Wilkinson  |  Sep 08, 2017  |  0 comments
Triad Speakers (a division of home automation and entertainment company, Control4) announced today the speaker company’s first foray into the amplifier market with the introduction of the Triad One Streaming Amplifier. The new Triad One is a single-zone, high-resolution, wired and wireless streaming amplifier with two channels of amplification of 100-watts each. Designed to function as a component within Control4 whole-house automation and entertainment system, offers a simple way to add an additional zone without having to pay for amplifier channels that won’t be used in a multichannel amp.

The company says that the Triad One is...

Darryl Wilkinson  |  Jul 22, 2013  |  0 comments
I’ve been sampling a variety of soundbars lately, ranging in price from $300 to $3,900. Despite the generic term – “soundbar” or “surround bar” – it’s actually a very diverse and interesting category with all sorts of subcategories within the soundbar umbrella: active, passive, LCR-only, LCR plus discrete rears, and etc. It’s also a category that can arouse understandably strong emotions of disgust and disdain among purists and quite a few custom installers. For millions of people, however, simplicity usually trumps sound quality; and the soundbar tsunami continues to swell and is unlikely to crest anytime soon.

But the pencil-thin form factor of flat-panel TVs is at odds with the acoustic principles speaker engineers currently take advantage of. The result is a shotgun marriage of something that is skinny with a partner that is usually a bit bigger-boned. Both of the home-theater spouses, though, do share a common aspect. Each one performs best when viewed/listened to from a position directly in front of the it. And therein lies a problem: what do you do with the soundbar if you turn the flat-panel on its base or otherwise change the angle of the TV (if it’s mounted on a tilting, pivoting, or full-motion wall mount from, for example, companies such as OmniMount, Triple Play designs from Bell’O, or Sanus)? In a more extreme case, what’s to be done with the soundbar if the TV is mounted in a corner?

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