Now that the CEDIA Expo is over and I’ve had some time to reflect on my time spent at manufacturers’ exhibits, I’ve concluded that we’re moving toward a new era of home control. Instead of products that make you feel unworthy of their technological greatness, many of those showcased at Expo possessed a warm and welcoming attitude—one that said, “go ahead, don’t be afraid; technology is here to make your life easier.” Here are some of my top picks from the show—many of which exuded this warm, welcoming, come-hither presence.
1. Pakedge A/V switchers. By in large, A/V switchers aren’t much to look at—unless you like the pockmarked appearance of all those inputs and outputs. Sure, they get the job done, but they’re nothing you’d like to show off in your equipment rack or cabinet. That svelte Blu-ray player and media server look oh-so-fine—a good thing since more and more people are opting to keep their racks out in the open rather than hiding them away in a closet. Pakedge figured, why shouldn’t your A/V switcher look just as stunning? Enter the S24P8 switcher. The company plans to give the device a huge facelift soon.
2. Kaleidescape Common Sense Movie Ratings. When you have teenagers in the house like I do, it’s hard to find a movie that’s entertaining yet appropriate. Sometimes the PGs are too babyish; but often a PG-13 is raunchier than an R-rated flick. Thanks to a new service included in Kaleidescape’s iPad app, you can read a comprehensive rating of the movie before telling your Kaleidscape movie server to play it. The rating indicates specific parts of the movie that contain sex, violence and other questionable topics, and explains them thoroughly so parents can feel comfortable allow their kids to watch certain movies.
3. Control4 OS 2.3. Lighting control is a big part of a home automation system; it can also be the most tedious to set up. You might initially think you like lights A, B and C set to 50 percent for an Evening scene, but after living with the system for awhile, you decide that you would rather have A brighter and C less intense. In the past, you may have had to call your custom electronics (CE) pro to tweak the settings. Control4, however, thinks that homeowners should be able to modify the settings of the lights on a whim, and thanks to the companies new OS 2.3 (available later this year) they can do just that.
4. Omnimount Play 40. Messing around with a TV that’s mounted to the wall makes me nervous. Although mounts these days are strong and reliable, there’s still that little voice inside my head that says, “Don’t touch.” Then I saw the Play 40 at the Omnimount booth. This mount is made expressly for lots of touching. Utilizing a patented Constant Force technology, the Play 40 offers 20 inches of smooth, continuous vertical and horizontal movement of a flat-panel TV. With just a light touch, you can lower the TV—perfect for when the kids are gaming on the floor; put it somewhere in the middle when you’re following along to an exercise video; then all the way up so that everyone can clearly see the ball game.
5. Savant SmartClimate Thermostat. Agh. Who really wants to spend time alone with their thermostat? In 2013, Savant plans to launch a stat that might just become your new best friend. In addition to controlling the temp, it can be used to adjust the lights, access a whole-house music system and more. The buttons on the stat are completely configurable, which means your custom electronics (CE) professional can design to thermostat to monitor, manage and control anything you like—as long as it’s tied to a Savant home control processor.
6. QMotion Powered Shades. There are no cords or wires required to make the roller shades in QMotion’s line of products move up and down. The battery-powered rollers can be controlled via a handheld remote. If you lose the remote, you can still control them manually. Just tug on the bottom bar, and the motor engages to roll up the shade to a predetermined height.
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Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.