The value of a bitcoin soared in 2013–from roughly $13 in January to well over $1,200–on hopes that the experiment in digital money will eventually become a legitimate global currency, reports CNNMoney. So what exactly is this new currency? Here is a compilation of resources to help you understand what everyone in the financial world is fussing about.
It’s the week before Christmas and you’re still scrambling to find your favorite techie the perfect gift. You’ve checked EDG’s Holiday Gift guide, but still no such luck. But fret not! EDG is here to save the day! We’ve rounded up this week’s tech news to stir up some holiday gift-giving inspiration to help you on your quest to find the perfect gift.
Apple announced this morning that it would make its highly anticipated Mac Pro available for online orders tomorrow. Redesigned from the inside out, the all-new Mac Pro features the latest Intel Xeon processors, dual workstation-class GPUs, PCIe-based flash storage and ultra-fast ECC memory. It is available in two configurations starting at $2,999. [via Apple]
LG announced the Chromebase, a 21.5-inch all-in-one computer that runs the minimal Google Chrome OS, with an unnamed Intel Celeron processor, 2GB of memory, and 16GB of solid state storage housed underneath the monitor’s 1080p IPS display. LG hasn’t announced the pricing or its release date, but expect to see it demo’d at next month’s Consumer Electronics Show. [via The Verge]
Google Glass introduces Wink: the easy (and rather creepy) way to take a picture using your orbicularis oculi. Glass, the $1,500 invite-only wearable heads-up device, introduced the update this week for those lucky enough to get their hands on the avant garde spectacles. [via Mashable]
Know a Star Trek fan who would love to get their hands on the Universal Translator? Then let me introduce to you the Sigmo: a small, pillbox-sized device equipped with a microphone and speaker that lets you speak to it in one language, then spits out what you said back right at you in another.
With the summer behind us, we hope you’re enjoying the changing of the seasons. We also wanted to update you on the EDG Thanksgiving schedule. Please note, that EDG will be closed on Thursday, November 28th and Friday November 29th. We will resume normal business hours on Monday, December 2nd. We WILL however be available for emergency service on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. But Thanksgiving day we all will take a “day of rest”.
Best Wishes for a great Thanksgiving Day with your family and friends and Happy Holidays to everyone observing Hanukkah!
Please join us on December 11th for a special holiday gathering for our trade partners!
AEC-NJ Professionals Circle Holiday Gathering brings together architects, engineers, contractors, builders, landscape architects, realtors and interior designers for a day of CEUs and a night of fun. Bring your co-workers and have your holiday party with us!
There will be four CEU courses, Electronics Design Group will be presenting “The Art of Hiding Technology” at 3pm. Home electronics should integrate seamlessly into a home’s design and décor. This course reviews the three-pronged approach to hiding technology—advance planning, design philosophy, and product selection.
Immediately following the CEU courses there will be a Holiday Party from 6pm – 8pm. The party includes two cocktail hours with butlered and displayed Hors D’oeuvres. EDG will also be hosting a table-top, so stop by and check out our coffee table book “Exquisite Environments.”
Check out the video below to hear more about the event.
Have you missed me? Sorry, it’s been a while since I have posted a ‘New Blu-Ray’ blog… but have no fear, I am back (in the saddle again!) Did I just make an outdated Aerosmith song reference? Yes. Yes, I did. Anyway, there is one new release for this week that I want to highlight, as well as, some other releases from the last couple weeks that we missed in my absence from writing these articles.
“Driven by striking performances from Rudd and Hirsch, Prince Avalanche is an offbeat comedy about two men painting traffic lines on a desolate country highway that’s been ravaged by wildfire. Against this dramatic setting, beautifully shot by frequent Green collaborator Tim Orr, the men bicker and joke with each other, eventually developing an unlikely friendship. Funny, meditative and at times surreal, Prince Avalanche features a moving score by Explosions in the Sky and David Wingo, and was loosely adapted from an Icelandic film called Either Way.” – (VideoETA.com)
Below are releases from the past few weeks that I’ve missed that you should be adding to your collection:
WHITE HOUSE DOWN (Released Nov. 4, 2013)
White House Down is basically the exact opposite of Prince Avalanche, in that it is a balls-to-the-wall action flick starringtwo megastars, Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx. A victim of bad timing at the box office (released shortly after the very similarly themed, Olympus has Fallen) White House Down only grossed $73.1 Million on a budget of $150 Million. Call me crazy, but I am a sucker for over-the-top action flicks and the special effects and set-pieces are, in my opinion, the best of the year.
Synopsis: “Capitol Policeman John Cale has just been denied his dream job with the Secret Service of protecting President James Sawyer. Not wanting to let down his little girl with the news, he takes her on a tour of the White House, when the complex is overtaken by a heavily armed paramilitary group. Now, with the nation’s government falling into chaos and time running out, it’s up to Cale to save the president, his daughter, and the country.” – (VideoETA.com)
THE CONJURING (Released Oct. 21, 2013)
If you are a fan of ghost stories, The Conjuring lays it on thick with mounting suspense and terror throughout the film. I don’t mean to overstate this, but The Conjuring might be one of my favorite horror movies of all time. Seriously. I went and saw it with my fiance and there were moments when it seemed the entire movie theater was holding it’s breath at the artfully crafted scares.
I guess it says something about how much I love the movie as a whole that I haven’t even mentioned the stars of the film. Incredible performances abound, the film stars Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Ron Livingston, and Lili Taylor. As well as a group of incredible young actresses that play the tortured daughters of Livingston and Taylor. Wilson is a frequent collaborator of the film’s director, James Wan (Saw, Insidious.)
Okay, enough rambling. What is the movie about? “The Conjuring tells the true story of Ed and Lorraine Warren, world renowned paranormal investigators, who were called to help a family terrorized by a dark presence in a secluded farmhouse. Forced to confront a powerful demonic entity, the Warrens find themselves caught in the most horrifying case of their lives.” – (VideoETA.com)
Some other notable releases from the past few weeks:
Grown Ups 2 – Don’t go into this movie thinking you are about to see earth-shattering, smart comedy. It is a fun-enough movie that is easy to be consumed by as general an audience as possible. “The all-star comedy cast from Grown Ups returns for more summertime laughs. Lenny (Adam Sandler) has relocated his family back to the small town where he and his friends grew up. This time around, the grown ups are the ones learning lessons from their kids on a day notoriously full of surprises: the last day of school.” – (VideoETA.com)
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – I was a HUGE fan of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. This film fell well-short of my personal expectations, but it still has an audience and if you liked LOTR you’ll probably appreciate it enough to warrant renting the flick at your closest Redbox. “The adventure follows the journey of title character Bilbo Baggins, who is swept into an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the fearsome Dragon Smaug. Approached out of the blue by the Wizard Gandalf the Grey, Bilbo finds himself joining a company of 13 Dwarves led by the legendary warrior, Thorin Oakenshield. Their journey will take them into the Wild; through treacherous lands swarming with Goblins and Orcs, deadly Wargs and Sorcerers.” – (VideoETA.com)
I am going to try to make it much more of an emphasis to make sure I get this article out every week. Check us out on Facebook and Twitter for bits and pieces of everything you need to know in home technology and home entertainment.
From the makers of the smart learning thermostat, Nest Labs has again redefined home technology with its new Nest Protect, a smoke and carbon monoxide detector that does “much more than just sound a shrill alarm when there’s danger in your home.”
The Nest Protect alerts you where the danger is and what the problem is––be it a low battery, smoke from a kitchen encounter gone awry, or an actual emergency––and lets you either wave your hand to silence a false alarm, or automatically call the authorities in a crisis event.
“With our first product, the Nest Learning Thermostat, we set out to help people reduce home energy use,” said Tony Fadell, Nest founder and chief executive officer. “Now, we’re turning our attention to something that’s also important: keeping families safe in their homes. We’ve all experienced the smoke alarm going off while we’re cooking or searched for the source of that incessant low-battery chirp in the middle of the night. Every time a smoke alarm cries wolf, we trust it a little less, and then – in a moment of frustration – we rip the batteries out to stop the beeping. And that leaves us and our families at risk.”
The product boasts features such as:
Multi-criteria heat, carbon monoxide and smoke sensors
Early warning, “heads up” feature that tells you when smoke or CO levels are rising but have not yet reached emergency alarm levels
The “Nest Wave”––lets you silence nuisance alarms with a wave of your hand
Mobile notifications using Wi-Fi
The Nest “Nightly Promise”: shows you its sensors and batteries are working with a quick green glow after you turn off the lights so low-battery chirps don’t rattle your dreams. Best of all, it also doubles as a nightlight that helps keep you safe when walking around your home at night
Vocal alarms: the Nest Protect uses female Voice Alarms to help wake sleeping children in case of emergency
Interconnectivity: if you have more than one Nest Protect, they connect so you’ll hear alarms from all Nest Protects in your home, even if the danger is in only one room.
What the brainy folks at Savant alluded to years back was pretty simple: develop a platform that provides long term value, something that you can continue to enjoy and invest in over time with both software and hardware enhancements. The mission of EDG’s partner, Savant Systems, is to provide you with a technology solution that allows for growth and expansion.
Savant Smart Media Server
Bring an entire world of music to your home or office with the revolutionary SmartMedia Servers. Sync, control and distribute multiple streams of audio to all zones and locations. The SmartMedia Server is a premier digital audio music playback and management system providing instant access to your entire music collection and the most popular Internet media services, such as Spotify, Pandora, Tunein, etc., from any Savant user interface. Play up to five independent audio streams simultaneously and independently, which is like having five separate CD players. The SmartMedia Server also offers 1 Terabyte of internal storage for large music collections. It features Apple’s® AirPlay®, which lets users stream iTunes® music, whether from a Mac® or PC, as well as directly from their iPhone®, iPad® or iPod touch®. View product literature here.
Savant SmartView Tiling
Want a video wall with your existing large TV or Projection screen? Then you need Savant’s SmartView Tiling, a technology that enables a single display to show several video sources simultaneously. From an iPad, users will be able to drag and drop selected sources to their chosen locations within the tile grid; pinch and zoom to have any source take over the entire display, and create custom tiling layouts and channel presets for easy recall. Savant SmartView Tiling seamlessly ties true HDMI video with the support of HD audio together for an unmatched A/V experience. Best of all, EDG can easily integrate SmartView Tiling modules to Savant SmartMedia Servers––bringing together exciting functionality to new customers. View product literature here.
Savant Universal Remote
The cost-effective Savant Universal Remote communicates over existing Wi-Fi networks delivering convenient two-way control in asophisticated design. The customizable color display allows Integrators to tailor control to meet client needs. Self-configuring, the Savant Universal Remote requires no direct programming as its configuration is automatically obtained from the Savant system, including any changes made remotely by the Integrator. User definable presets and favorites allow for further personalization options. View product literature here.
Savant Wi-Fi Thermostat
Similar to Nest, Savant’s SST-W100 is a Wi-Fi enabled thermostat that enables the control of your home’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. Add the convenience and intelligence by controlling the temperature from any Savant User Interface (Keypads, Remotes, On-TV Menu Navigation & Apple iOS Control apps)––and you’re in control whether you’re in the next room or the next time zone. Energy consumption can be monitored by adjusting the HVAC automatically to respond to outside temperature, season or time of day. What’s even more amazing (and loads better than Nest), is the HVAC Scheduler within the SavantTrueControl™ iPad® app––for instant changes and scheduling of climate set-points throughout areas of a facility or home. View product literature here.
Want to see how Savant integrates your entire home? Here is a video showcasing what Savant (and EDG) can do for you:
Control4 has been a valued partner of Electronics Design Group for a long time. We have used their robust line of products to deliver stunning whole-home automation solutions for numerous clients. Check out our Control4 page to see some of our past work and to learn more about Control4.
Control4 is running a limited-time promotion to upgrade your Control4 system. From their site, “Would you like to upgrade your current
Control4 automation system to take advantage of our speedy new controllers with exceptional processing power? Or would you simply like to add some of the amazing new Control4 products that have recently been announced, like the next generation of lighting control or the new Wireless Music Bridge? Upgrade your Control4 automation system today and save big with $750, $1,500 or more, in FREE Control4 products!”
You can get the FULL details of the promotion by CLICKING HERE. Contact us today to take advantage of this opportunity!
Without further ado, introducing the new Control4 products of 2013:
WIRELESS MUSIC BRIDGE
Now you can control and stream music from your handheld Apple iPod, iPod touch, iPhone, iPad; Bluetooth; Windows; or Android smartphone to one or more rooms in a Control4 system. The Control4 Wireless Music Bridge lets you and your family play your favorite Internet radio stations and music services, such as Pandora, Spotify, Rhapsody, and many more, through a single zone from a Wireless Music Bridge. Purchase a Wireless Music Bridge for each room in the home to bring separate streams of music to the whole house.
After Electronics Design Group installs or updates your system to OS 2.5.0 and installs the Wireless Music Bridge, settle into a comfortable chair in your bedroom and listen to an old-time radio show or the sounds of Beethoven’s Ninth while reading your favorite novel. Use your smartphone to select music tracks, adjust the volume, or turn off the music whenever you feel like it…without even leaving your chair. The power of audio control is in your hands.
The next generation of Wireless Lighting Control products showcase elegant industrial design in a wide range of colors and custom configurations to provide the most comprehensive and time saving Wireless Lighting solutions ever offered by Control4. Featuring a superior fit and finish, improved button response, keypad button configuration, custom engraving, and programmable RGB LEDs.
The new family of media distribution products from Control4 delivers a high-quality audio experience with wide dynamic range and stunning full HD video to every room in the house. All products include features that save you time and money through simplified wiring, configuration and programming. Some of the new media distribution products are the 8X8 HDMI matrix switch, HDBaseT receiver, 100 series power amplifiers, and the audio matrix switch.
With the MyHome app and a 4Sight subscription, customers can have Anywhere Access to their Control4 system from a smart phone or tablet—without the complexity of VPN servers or custom network settings. Using MyHome, customers can control lights, adjust the temperature, view cameras and more from virtually anywhere a 3G/4G or Internet connection is available.
With a 4Sight subscription, customers also get access to their Control4 system from a web browser on a PC or Mac. They can easily access, monitor and control their home or business from anywhere they have an Internet connection. Customers can access their Control4 system by going to www.control4.com, clicking on the login option on the top right hand of the page and entering their account credentials.
The customer’s Control4 system can send messages to their smart phone or tablet about the status of their system, so they’re always in the know. Custom alerts such as “Garage door left open” or “Water leak detected in the basement” can be sent to inform them of important events as soon as they happen, allowing them to respond quickly.
The award-winning HC-800 has the exceptional horsepower, control capabilities and design to run even the most demanding control system. Developed as the foundation of every Control4 install, the HC-800 has the processing power to connect to and control everything in a typical home or light commercial automation system. The HC-800 features a dual core 1.8GHz processor that maximizes the power of the Control4 operating system. In addition, the HC-800 features out-of box software capability that includes the TuneIn, as well as MyHome and Video/Audio Intercom licensing.
The award-winning Control4 7” In-Wall Touch Screen is a stylish way to add total home control that’s always there when you need it. This elegant Touch Screen is ideal for areas of your home where convenient system monitoring and control is important. You can also opt to enable intercom functionality to easily communicate with people in other rooms, keep an “ear” out for the baby, or announce dinner time to the family. Available in black and white.
Keep your SR-150 and SR-250 System Remote Controls always charged and ready to control with this low-profile charging cradle which provides hundreds of charge cycles for years of performance. The Recharging Station is available as a charging cradle and battery kit for remotes you already own and as a kit with a charging cradle and an SR-250 or SR-150 if you want to add new remotes to your system.
Included with all new HC-250 and HC-800 controllers, TuneIn gives you free access to 70,000 radio stations and millions of podcasts and programs—all through the intuitive Control4 User Interface. The Control4 system makes it easy to enjoy your favorite artists, songs or radio personalities from either a local station or from anywhere around the globe!
Get the music you want, where you want it - Hearing the music you love is simple with Control4 and TuneIn. From any Control4 Navigator interface you can search or browse for content by genre, artist, song, radio station, podcast, and more. TuneIn works with every Control4 audio zone within your home, so each family member can enjoy their own personalized favorites or listen to the same audio content in all zones at the same time.
Discover and save your Favorites - Once your TuneIn account is added to the Control4 system, it’s simple to add Favorites from a Control4 touch screen and have them show up on all other navigators in your system. Access your Favorites on other interfaces as well, such as the TuneIn mobile app and on your computer. You can even have multiple TuneIn accounts added to your Control4 system so that each family member can have their own customized TuneIn experience.
Forget saving on your electric bill–why not make money off it?
Honeywell, the inventor of the original coal furnace thermostat, is churning out a feature that alerts users of “Demand Response” energy events–times when everyone in your neighborhood is plugging in too many devices into the power grid, putting the community at risk for blackouts and power outages–and works with your local energy provider to offer incentives for trimming usage.
“The same technology people purchase today to lower their heating bills can pay extra dividends in the summer months,” said Tony Uttley, general manager of Home Comfort and Energy Systems at Honeywell. “Honeywell can easily link homeowners to these additional savings.”
During summer heat waves when air conditioners put power plants at maximum capacity, utility companies often compensate customers who are willing to raise their home’s temperature a few degrees for a couple of hours.
This utility program often means extra $$$ for clients who are willing to participate, and even rebates for installing hardware like Honeywell’s Wi-Fi thermostat.
Homeowners can also control the thermostat using an app called the Total Connect Comfort, available on the iTunes App Store and Google Play.
“Broadband access has created a new and far-ranging path for electric companies and homeowners to connect,” said Jeremy Eaton, vice president of Honeywell Smart Grid Solutions. “As a result, more utilities are moving toward a model that allows customers to bring their own device to a program, increasing the likely participants and savings exponentially.”
If just a quarter of U.S. homes with central air conditioning joined these programs, the country could cut the demand for energy by almost 19 gigawatts — equivalent to the generation capacity of nearly 250 of the power plants utilities rely on to meet peak electricity needs.
The feature is already available on select Honeywell Wi-Fi thermostats and will be slowly available on the entire line by next year.
Sonos has recently announced a software update that allows its Sonos Soundbar Playbar to integrate with any third-party rear speakers to create a 5.1 surround sound system.
The Playbar Soundbar, when paired with two Play 3 speakers, can create a ‘simulated’ 5.1 experience. The software update, available this month (October ’13), will make it possible for the Connect Amp to drive two rear channels (hardwired directly or wirelessly) of any third-party speaker. This will enhance the home theater audio experience for consumers who prefer a true 5.1 system.
The software update is as simple as a push of a button and only takes “approximately two minutes.” After the software is updated, an installing dealer can pair the Connect amp to the Playbar.
“Since we launched, we have approximately over 2 million rooms installed,” says Eric Nielsen, Sonos’ senior PR manager. “Sonos and CI dealers share a passion to fill homes with music.”
Electronics Design Group has long had a great working relationship with Sonos and has successfully installed many Sonos audio systems. If you currently have Sonos, or are looking at Sonos as a possible technology solution, contact us and we can send a technician to speak with you about the possibilities.
With Sony‘s announcement that they will have 4K streaming available soon, you should really be considering the speed of your wireless internet. Many consumers still struggle to stream HD video from providers like Netflix, Hulu, and Vudu (don’t even get me started on the ‘buffer’ time if someone else is on the internet in the house.) Needless to say, the future of Ultra-HD is coming and you might as well make an attempt at being able to stream it in all of it’s 4K glory.
Enter the next-generation of wireless connectivity, the ‘AC’ router and bridge. ‘AC’ refers to the latest home Wi-Fi standard “802.11ac.” Earlier versions include 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, and 802.11n. The 802.11ac standard calls for technologies to deliver data streams at a quicker speed by making more bandwidth accessible, using dual bands at 2.4GHz and 5GHz, and “beamforming” to focus the data stream to the receiving device, i.e. a Smart TV, media player, an AC bridge, etc. In layman’s terms, Wi-Fi 802.11ac routers make it possible to stream a lot of stuff while meeting the demands of HD video streaming.
It is pretty standard for the numbers in the router model number to indicate its speed potential. Western Digital’s AC router MyNet AC1300 can stream up to a combined 1.3 Gbps, the Linksys 6500 AC1750 can stream 1.75 Gbps when using the joined 2.4GHz and 5 GHz bands. While ‘AC’ routers have been available for a little over a year, client devices such as media players and Smart TVs have been slow-moving in adding the required 802.11AC Wi-Fi (receiver). You can’t blame them, however, as the AC standard is just now being finalized and the qualifications were never determined.
It’s still practical to make use of an AC router when your media streaming devices don’t have an 802.11ac adapter by using an AC bridge wired-to-wireless adapter, which connects to up to four devices using Ethernet cables. It receives the 802.11ac Wi-Fi stream from the router and transmits the streaming video to your connected devices.
There are a plethora of home entertainment aficionados who still vow that the only way to be prepared for HD streaming is to connect Ethernet cables right to the modem. That is all well and good for homes that have a total wired solution and have giant switchers to accommodate a lot of streaming devices. But I’ve found that an AC bridge integrated with an AC router is an exceptional solution for streaming HD video. And, further more, you don’t have to worry about signal loss or subpar picture quality when your teenage son refuses to step away from Grand Theft Auto 5.
The cost of rewiring a home to include an in-house EV charger is around $800, compared to about $200 when pre-wiring during construction.
“No one makes money on it. I’m wondering if in the long run we are not inhibiting the growth of popular usage of electric vehicles because we are mandating leading-edge places where this stuff is free,” said Greg Schmid. “There’s no incentive to create networks through our communities.”
Residents who spoke at the city council meeting were enthusiastic about “putting EV readiness on the city’s radar.”