Last week thousands of professional home systems integrators gathered at the Custom Electronics Design and Installation Association (CEDIA) Expo in San Diego. It’s here at this annual event that manufacturers from across the country debut and demonstrate their newest smart home products and systems—systems that professional integrators will install into the homes of their clients. Here are some of my favorite finds that your local home systems professional could very offer to you.
Bang & Olufsen BeoSound Shape Offers Clever Concealment of Speakers
Speakers: Sometimes you want to see them; most times you don’t. And when you don’t, you want them to blend in with the home environment as much as possible. Historically, this has entailed flush mounting speakers into the ceiling where they resemble (sort of) light fixtures or tucking them into the walls and covering them with acoustical fabric or a special skim coat.
But what if you could actually turn those built-in speakers into something more decorative … something that would add amazing visual interest to the space? Enter Bang & Olufsen’s BeoSound Shape wireless speaker system. The wall-mounted, modular speaker system is made up of hexagonal tiles that can be placed in the wall in any pattern you like. The wireless speakers—as well as the amplifier(s) that drive the system– tuck directly behind the tiles, completely hidden from view but easily accessible: Just pop off a tile from the wall-mounted template. Also able to be hidden behind the BeoSound Shape tiles are acoustic dampening materials and the BeoSound Core connectivity hub, which enables wireless streaming of music.
A base package starts with six tiles and four speakers for about $5,000, and you expand to an infinite number of tiles and as many as 44 speakers. An online tool lets you experiment with different layouts and color schemes before mounting the entire system to the wall.
The Frame from Samsung: Is it Art or a TV?
TVs disguised as works of art are nothing new in the world of home electronics … but The Frame TV from Samsung takes the slight-of-hand to a whole new level. Prior to the CEDIA Expo I had been hearing quite a bit of hullabaloo about The Frame, but wasn’t about to let all the hype influence my impression of this “TV that lives in perfect harmony with your interior décor.”
After seeing The Frame first hand as part of several vignettes at the Samsung booth, I completely changed my mind. The product is utterly amazing. Even on close inspection The Frame looks exactly like a piece of fine artwork. It was impossible to tell the difference between the displays—available in 55- and 65-inch models– and actual paintings mounted directly beside them.
Besides looking absolutely stunning mounted to the wall, The Frame incorporates some clever technology, including a sensor that adjusts the brightness of the image based on the amount of ambient light in the room, and a motion sensor that turns off the display to save energy when nobody is in the room.
Pricing: $1,999 (plus $199 for the bezel) and $2,799 (plus $249 for the bezel) for the 55- and 65-inch Frame TVs, respectively.
Screen Innovations Solo Screen Goes Everywhere—Even Outside on Your Camper
I’m an outdoorsy person, so whenever an outdoorsy electronics product is introduced, I’m all over it. When the manufacturer displays that outdoorsy product in a realistic setting like Screen Innovations did at the CEDIA, I’m sold.
The company’s new Solo and Solo Pro screens are designed to latch on to just about anything—the eve of your house, the side of a shed, even the surface of an RV or camper (can you say tailgate?). This mounting versatility is made possible by the small form factor of the screen housing, its light weight, and a wide variety of mounting accessories like magnets and high-quality suction cups.
The system, comprised of a motorized housing and Screen Innovations’ popular Zero Edge screen, is wireless and can be controlled via Amazon Alexa voice commands or handheld remote. The screen housing is powered by lithium batteries which can be recharged by snapping a magnet to the metal housing and leaving it there for a few hours. This will give the screen enough juice to roll up and down for a couple of years with normal use.
A few screen sizes are available: 80, 100, and 120 inches, along with five different screen materials and 12 color options for the screen housing.
Prices start at $1,600.
Sonance xPress Keypad Provides Quick Control of a Sonos System
Yes, you can control a Sonos music from a mobile app on your phone. Yes, there are ways to have Sonos hear and respond to Alexa voice commands. Still, there are times—like when you enter a room—that tapping a button on a keypad lends a quicker more convenient means of accessing a Sonos system. to voice commands.
The xPress Audio Keypad from Sonance delivers on-the-spot Sonos control in a super small form factor and an even smaller price tag of $99.99. The device was introduced last year, but it still resonates as a fabulous wireless control option that can be applied to the wall with double-sided tape.
Lutron Paladiom Shades—Exposed!
If you’re a fan of modern industrial design like I am, you’ll love Lutron’s new Palladiom Shading System. Rather than hide the hardware of the motorized shade behind a fascia—which has been the standard shading design for years—the Palladiom exposes all that shiny metal. The design is deliberately simple, clean, minimalist and complements homes where exposed brick and beams set the architectural tone. Like all of Lutron’s shading systems, the Palladiom can be customized to virtually any size window and accommodate a huge variety of shading fabrics.