Yamaha Audiophile-Quality Amplifier
If you’ve got some extra space in your A/V cabinet, you can fill the void with an A-S1100 amplifier from Yamaha. It’s the ultimate integrated amp, perfect for soothing your inner audiophile.
Designed specifically for the discerning user with A/V separates, the A-S1100 features a patented floating balance power design and MOSFET amplifier technology. All of that goodness will make this component the centerpiece of your audio system, because even though it can produce a natural sound, it’s not afraid to get loud.
Boasting an all-stage, fully discrete construction, balanced transmission, and low impedance design, the A-S1100 has a large-capacity EI-core transformer to deliver awesome power and booming bass. It also has a left-right symmetrical chassis design with the power supply in the center and the amplifier sections at each end for better detail from this two-channel amp. Other features include a built-in phono preamp and redesigned screw-type speaker terminals. It also comes with a remote that mimics the component’s aluminum front panel.
ClareVue Z-Wave Lighting Solution
The ClareVue lighting line from Clare Controls was designed to be affordable and easy to install without having to skimp on any of the features you’d expect from a high-tech system. Even better, it works well with several lighting types, including dimmable LED/CFL, incandescent, halogen, magnetic low-voltage, and electronic low-voltage loads.
No special wiring or controllers are needed. Instead, ClareVue employs wireless Z-Wave technology, which means the Z-Wave lights switches, dimmers, and other products can all communicate with each other and are easy to retrofit into an existing home—as well as add on to, whenever you’re ready.
This setup also has something called the ClareVue Lighting Wizard. This makes the system easy to program. (Just know that you’ll still need a professional home systems integrator to do this because ClareVue isn’t designed for the do-it-yourselfer.)
The ClareVue lighting line includes master and accessory dimmers, Z-Wave light switch products, receptacles, and programmable keypads. All of the ClareVue components are designed to work together, as well as with the company’s ClareHome smart home solution. Other features include synchronized feedback mechanisms that can report the status of lighting conditions via LEDs in the master and accessory components, as well as to the Clare user interface.
MSRP: Contact Clare Controls for more information on the ClareVue line, the ClareHome line, and how to find a dealer in your area
Mistbox Smart AC Thermostat
The Mistbox helps minimize your energy bills via an “evaporative cooling” process. It’s sort of like a smart thermostat for your AC, and according to the makers of Mistbox, this solution has been around for decades.
To install the Mistbox, just attach the device to your AC unit and feed the tubing into a direct water source. The actual device is powered by solar energy, so it doesn’t need an electrical outlet. And because it has Wi-Fi, you can place it anywhere.
Once connected, the device uses sensors to determine when the time is right to spray a little filtered mist into the outside air entering the AC unit. This cools down the area outside (up to 30 degrees) and makes for a more efficient system that runs less and consumes less power.
Because the air is cool when it enters the AC, it doesn’t have to work as hard to lower the temperature. The end result: You save money.
Another perk of having built-in Wi-Fi on the Mistbox is that it can connect to the company’s mobile app. This allows homeowners to track and manage usage, settings, and even savings.
The Mistbox ships with an integrated mounting bracket, along with a custom anti-scale water filter, and four misting sprays already attached. It also comes with custom hooks for the spray bars, zip ties, a 30-foot UV-tolerant water supply line, two adapters for connecting the water supply, and more.
MSRP: $449 ( however, the company says purchasing it could make you eligible for a federal green tax credit, which would bring the cost down to $315)
Kodak Wireless Home Security Cameras
Having wireless security cameras throughout the house or even in one room is an easy and affordable way to deliver peace of mind. The one trade-off for the cost and convenience is that not all wireless home security cameras are always 100-percent accurate, resulting in false alerts.
Sometimes, cameras will deliver random alerts when the cat jumps up on the windowsill, while others may trip when they hear kids playing off in the distance. With these everyday occurrences come unnecessary alerts from the system—and it’s kind of annoying to think that someone is breaking into your house every few minutes.
Kodak hopes to mitigate this problem with a pair of new wireless home security cameras under its V-Series line. The new CFH-V10 and the CFH-V15 feature “Smart Detection,” which promises to eliminate between 70 to 98 percent of false alarms, depending on the type of alert.
Smart Detection uses ART human presence detection technology from the UK-based company Apical Ltd. This feature analyzes all of the video captured by the cameras in near real-time. The idea is that the system will differentiate normal ambient activity from potential threats. Users can also configure Smart Detection in the free iSecurity+ app to filter alerts by activity or people. Unfortunately, this feature is not free. To add Smart Detection to Kodak’s wireless home security cameras, expect to pay $2.99 per month per camera.
Developed by Kodak licensee Tend, both the CFH-V10 and CFH-V15 provide unlimited live HD streaming video via a smartphone, tablet, or computer. Other features include two-way audio, automatic night vision, and free 1-Day Cloud Storage to view all recorded motion-triggered video clips from the past 24 hours. The CFH-V15 also adds the ability to pan left and right 350 degrees, as well as tilt the camera 105 degrees up and down.
If you’re looking for additional storage, Kodak also offers a 14-Day Cloud Storage plan for $9.99 per month per camera, and a 30-Day Cloud Storage plan for $19.99 per month. Both plans include free Smart Detection, 1,000 favorites, and the ability to view motion-triggered video clips for a longer period of time.
MSRP: $99.99 for CFH-V10; $129.99 for CFH-V15
Myfox Privacy Protection Security Cameras
Not only do security cameras from Myfox provide a live peek at your property, but each one has a motorized privacy shutter. This little perk can be opened and closed on a whim by using the Myfox app. So when you’re home, you can close the shutter and not worry about whether or not you’re being watched.
According to customer feedback, Myfox found that 30 percent of security camera owners were actually unplugging those devices when at home. Apparently, they wanted to ensure their privacy. Instead of worrying about plugging and unplugging, the company decided to come up with a better solution.
The Myfox camera also boasts a 1080p video sensor with CVR capabilities, two-way audio, a 4x zoom, and one hour of battery backup. It even has the Myfox Community feature, which allows you to provide access and alerts to friends, family, and others who may need it. Myfox also has an open API, so it can be updated and integrated with other smart home devices.
Myfox home security cameras and the Myfox Home Alarm kit are now available, priced at $199 and $279, respectively. The kit includes one siren, one IntelliTAG smart sensor, one keyfob, and one wireless link. The IntelliTAG is designed to detect and alert you about break-ins before they actually happen—so that’s probably something you’ll want all over the house. Additional IntelliTAGs can be had for $49.99 each, with keyfobs going for $29.99 each.
Marantz “Small Room” A/V Receivers
It can be difficult to find good A/V components and home theater ideas for small rooms. You definitely don’t want to skimp on the gear, especially when it comes to a receiver. Thankfully, more companies like Marantz are developing ways to pack big performance into small components. Marantz’s new NR1506 and NR1606, a pair of Slim Design Network A/V Receivers, are intended to fit into tighter spaces.
The least expensive of the two space-conscious receivers is the NR1506, which boasts a five-channel amplifier with 50 watts per channel. In addition to handling your music and movie content, this receiver has built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, AirPlay, and DLNA for delivering all sorts of web-enabled extras. It even has direct access to Internet radio, Pandora, SiriusXM, and Spotify Connect. (Subscriptions and/or fees may apply.)
Audiophiles will also appreciate that the NR1506 can support high-resolution files, such as FLAC HD, ALAC, WAV192/24, and DSD. Videophiles will like the inclusion of the latest HDMI 2.0a specification including 4K 60Hz pass-through, as well as HDCP 2.2 compatibility, HDR (High Dynamic Range), and Wide Color Gamut compatibility—which are key components of the BT.2020 4K Ultra HD video specification.
Other features on the NR1506 include a front-panel USB input, an on-screen Setup Assistant, Audyssey MultEQ room calibration, and the option to use the Marantz Remote app for iOS and Android devices.
If you’re looking for home theater ideas for small rooms but want a slight step up, the NR1606 has Dolby Atmos decoding and Dolby Surround upmixing so you can hear sound from every angle—including over your head. The company is even planning to add DTS:X via a firmware update later this year. This 7.1 receiver also promises an advanced video section to upscale analog and digital source material to 1080p or near-4K quality, as well as eight HDMI inputs and support for a second zone.
MSRP: $499 for NR1506; $699 for NR1606
TiVo Online Free Smart TV Content
With so much available on today’s smart TVs, you could spend hours, days, and even weeks searching for and finding new content. This sounds great in theory; however, if you ever want to leave the house again, you might want to find a way to condense that search to create the best smart TV experience possible.
TiVo’s solution to the search-and-find mission is a new online portal called TiVo Online. With it, you can find content across cable and streaming services and put it on the PC or Mac. Even better, you don’t need TiVo to use it. The whole thing is free.
The free version includes search options across shows, actors, and networks, as well as “What to Watch Now” for tracking popular programming by genre or theme. The free service also includes access to the TiVo Guide, so you can find programming in your area.
TiVo Online also has a few exclusives for TiVo subscribers. For instance, subscribers can stream live and recorded TV when connected to their home network or use the portal to launch titles from supported programmers and streaming sites.
TiVo is also planning to launch an update later this year, which will allow free users to enjoy some of the same personalized options available now to TiVo subscribers. The idea is that maybe you’ll be enticed enough to subscribe to TiVo and enjoy some of the company’s best smart TV perks, such as OnePass, a “My Shows” list, the ability to manage recordings, and the aforementioned streaming.