May 09, 2007
| by Steven Castle
When Major League pitcher C.C. Sabathia takes a break after the baseball season, you can bet he likes to sink into a hot tub and relax. And what’s especially nice about his backyard in Northern California is that he can soak in a spa while a game or TV show is displayed on an outdoor TV.
Sabathia’s spa is located in a covered rock grotto, situated a few steps up from the family’s pool and veiled from view by a waterfall that cascades over its front. Inside is a weatherproof Sunbrite LCD TV and two OEM Systems in-wall speakers built into the concrete shell.
Situating electronics near water presents danger, so electronics contractor Sight & Sounds opted for a Sunbrite TV that is weatherproof and operates on low-voltage DC power, so if it were to fall into the water, bathers wouldn’t be electrocuted.
The water issue also inspired the company to house the AMX touchpanel control in a weatherproof container within reach of the spa. The family can make their video or audio source selections on the touchpanel, then change the channel and control the volume on a completely waterproof RTI U1 remote. The U1 also allows the choice of four different sources, including C.C.’s and his wife, Amber’s, individual high-def satellite tuners with their own digital video recorders (DVRs).
“Amber is not tech savvy, so she wanted one button to get her satellite to play,” says Cliff Roepke of Sight & Sounds. “And the U1 remote works on the same operating frequency as the AMX receiver located in a utility area behind the grotto. The RTI remote communicates to the AMX system, [which controls everything in the home’s audio/video systems], so we can get it to do anything we want.” The U1 remote can also be used for the DVR’s pause functions.
“With the DVRs on their own satellite receivers, [the couple] can record something on the DVR and watch it somewhere else,” Roepke explains.
A source option also allows access to MP3s, pictures or video stored on a Windows Media Center–based computer inside the home. With the AMX controller, the family has access to a total of eight DirecTV satellite receivers, a Denon AM/FM tuner, five video cameras and a 400-disc Sony DVD changer.
On the nearby patio, a 45-inch Sharp Aquos LCD HDTV serves up the video, accompanied by stereo sound from four OEM Systems in-ceiling speakers and four Rockustics speakers around the pool. “They can have audio from the patio on the pool speakers, or they can have separate zones playing different things on the patio and around the pool,” says Roepke.
You might say C.C. Sabathia’s backyard system pitches a complete game.
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Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates