2012’s Biggest Tech Hits and Misses
The home technologies that made it big … and not so big in 2012, and what you should expect to see in 2013.
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December 26, 2012 by EH Staff


Flex Rooms

Why sequester a home theater to a room all by itself when it can share space with your living room, den or some other area you already use for other purposes? This is the question many people are asking themselves these days, and for good reason. It’s significantly less expensive to incorporate theater equipment into an existing space than to build a room from scratch, and an entertainment system will probably get used a lot more when located in a family room than hidden away in an isolated room in the basement, for example. It’s all about economy, practicality and usability when it comes to home theater these days, and manufacturers have stepped up to the plate by building screens, projectors and speakers that perform well in rooms where the lights are typically on or where there are many viewing areas.


Thermostats

Thank you, guys as Nest Labs. The retro/mod looking Nest Learning Thermostat has almost single-handedly made thermostats cool—for about the first time ever. And they should be cool because a good programmable, connected or smart thermostat can save you a bundle on energy costs. Not only does the Nest learn your habits so you don’t actually have to program the thermostat, it offers one-button iPod-like simplicity. There are plenty of other good and less expensive thermostats you can control with mobile apps as well.


Two-Channel Audio

Music listening is at an all-time high, now that songs can be downloaded with a click of a button and streamed to speakers throughout the house. Now that we’ve had time to savor the super accessibility of our digital tunes, it’s time we take our music listening to the next level. Although few people will ever give up their earbuds for pure convenience, we’ve come to understand that music sounds better when it’s played in analog, not digital—and this means outfitting your house with a two-channel stereo system, complete with a turntable, a digital-to-analog (DAC) converter, and big, powerful floorstanding speakers.

Apps for Home Control

If you have any kind of home control system that doesn’t offer an iPhone/iPad orAndroid app, then you need another home control system. There are apps today for motorized garage doors, automated irrigation systems, you name it. Even rudimentary home control systems from big service providers like ADTand Comcast and do-it-yourself systems using wireless technologies like Z-Wave to unlock doors and operate thermostats are operable by mobile apps. And the app is a big selling point. Why? It’s far easier and cheaper to use a smartphone or tablet than operate an expensive, dedicated touchpanel. Plus, we love our iToys!

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