When you’re one of the founders of one of the Internet’s most popular home technology websites, your house is bound to be swimming with high-tech products. “Over the past seven years, we’ve been going through the house turning it into a showcase of sorts, with some of products and systems that I have found to work well for our lifestyle,” says David Bott, who in addition to the AVS Forum, also founded Home Theater Cruise: Technology Conference at Sea, IPTVconnection.com, TiVoCommunity.com and owns and operates DBSTalk.com.
As an industry “insider,” Bott is fortunate to be able to test-drive many select products in his own 4,500-square-foot house in upstate New York. It’s been a work in progress, as Bott continually swaps out old products for new, and marries disparate systems together to create a network of technologies that work seamlessly together. Rather than stick with one brand or type of TV, for example, Bott tries them all, incorporating a range of different models to compare and contrast … and to offer people who visit his home a variety of things to look at. Sometimes, those people have even helped Bott in his endeavors.
The same goes for the video projectors, Blu-ray players and other equipment. “[Integrating new products] is a time consuming process,” admits Bott. “There’s a lot of trial-and-error—when you live on the bleeding edge, you’re bound to encounter hiccups—but when everything works and looks and operates like you envisioned, it’s exciting.” Because information on the AVS Forum is dedicated largely to do-it-yourselfers, Bott, along with his wife and friends, have installed every piece of technology himself.
After years of updating, replacing and swapping—and connecting, programming and testing—Bott says he’s ready to slow down. “Once you get to a point where everything is working perfectly, it’s time to relax and savor what you’ve created.” That’s not to say that he’s resigned to let the technology in his house get stale. He attributes his Z-Wave-compliant HomeSeer automation system for helping keep the functionality of his house fresh. “Automation is my and my wife’s favorite part,” says Bott, “especially since it lets us remotely monitor devices while we’re on the road. [Bott and his wife travel the country about seven months out of the year in tech-laden motor coach].
While on the road, the Bott can access 96 individual Z-Wave devices, including controls on hot water tanks, fountains, light switches, thermostats, and a host of other devices via computer, cellphone, or tablet. The HomeSeer system keeps things running smoothly, too, switching on and off lights randomly and monitoring the home functions right down to voltage use. Complementing the automation system, and also tied into it, is a home security system. Complete with an array of sensors, the system also consists of a combination of 16 wired and wireless IP surveillance cameras. A software product called BlueIris signals the cameras to record video whenever motion is detected, and sends alerts to the Botts, including video footage, via email and SMA.
When the Botts are home, they interact with their HomeSeer system again via the same mobile devices, plus wall-mounted keypads and handheld remotes. One press of a button, might signal the HomeSeer system to set the lights and thermostats for the start of the Botts day; another turns everything down for bedtime. Or, both the morning and bedtime routines can happen automatically based on the time of day and motion detection.
In addition to HomeSeer, there are systems in place for activating each of three separate media systems. The dedicated home theater boasts a Runco VX2-DC 3-chip DLP projector with an AutoScope lense that projects onto a 10-foot wide SMX CinemaScope screen that can change shape based on the video format. Audio is provided by a 7.2-channel setup featuring Triad speakers, Velodyne subwoofers, an Anthem D2V processor and Lyngdorf amplifiers.
The Botts outfitted the great room with two displays: a 59-inch Samsung plasma TV and a 7-foot-wide DNP Supernova screen, which descends over the plasma on command from the Logitech remote. The Supernova gets its video from a JVC RS50 projector, and Anthem, Triad and Velodyne team up again for the audio.
The third entertainment system is designed for gaming. Here, an Epson Ensemble system, which bundles a 100-inch screen, projector and 5.1 speaker system in one package, provides the A/V. The screen stays hidden in the ceiling until the Botts press a button on a remote.
As a huge supporter of the consumer electronics industry, Bott has been willing to try all sorts of technology—and approaches each new device objectively. Still, over the years, he’s developed a few favorites—if you can get him to admit what they are. Judging by the assortment of products in the equipment list below, it’s hard to tell.
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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.