Apple Watch & Home Automation

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Controlling your home’s temperature, lights, and audio from your wrist? If it’s a technology that’s available, Elite Media will be the ones to find out and let you know what’s possible.

Because we wanted to be sure we had the potential answers to our customers’ questions, we set our own watches for an early alarm on Friday, April 3rd. How early? 3:00 a.m., the moment that pre-sales for the Apple Watch began.

With bleary eyes, we placed an order for two watches to ensure that we’d have them delivered on Friday, April 24th, the first day that the watches would be available to the public. Having the latest technology options — and understanding how they can best be used by our customers — is the type of extra step we like to take for customer service.

And yes, if you ask nicely, we’ll be happy to show off the bells and whistles of our new acquisitions. We’ll even give you the time if needed.

Trend: Outdoor Living

More and more homeowners are taking advantage of their outdoor space by bringing traditionally indoor activities — cooking, entertaining, even family movie night — to their backyards. Yes, even in New England’s climate, these “rooms without walls” are a growing trend in home redesign, and a great way to add tremendous value to your property as well.

No longer do you need to stop at a deck and gas grill; if you want to do it outside, there’s probably and option for you. It’s like going on vacation except it’s only steps away.

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If the kitchen is the heart of your home, it can also be the heart of your yard as well, and the sky is the limit in terms of how simple or complex you want to make it. Because of the explosion in demand for these types of appliances, manufacturers now offer an outdoor version of nearly any item you’d find in an indoor kitchen. Love pizza? Get a brick oven. Host large family gatherings? Get a 12 burner stove top with grill top, warming rack, and even a deep fryer.

Let your inner Emeril out and consider adding to your home’s charm and entertaining options with more than just an expanded outdoor cooking space; add a sink, dishwasher, granite counters, and more.

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Want to bring family movie night outdoors? Just add a high-def TV, but be sure and use one specifically suited for outdoor conditions and is triple-sealed for weather protection. Make sure any mount you use is also meant for outdoor use and won’t rust or fall apart. These mounts are also designed to handle the added weight of outdoor sets as well. You may also want to consider a rotating mount as well to provide multiple viewing angle options as well as perform better in windy conditions.

Now it’s time to consider location. While outdoor televisions do deliver a brighter image than their indoor counterparts, you may want to consider a spot that is fully or partially shaded for a better viewing experience. Finally, think about the type of content you’ll likely be watching. Will you be tapping into your cable or satellite service to watch the game live or more likely streaming online content to binge watch shows or your favorite movies? This will be an important consideration to make as part of the installation process.

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But is an “outdoor room” investment worth your while in a climate like New England’s where you can only count on Mother Nature for warm weather four to five months a year? This is where the hottest trend in outdoor living — pun intended — comes into play: fire pits and outdoor fireplaces. Nothing will increase the amount of time families spend outside than adding one of  these options to the yard, perfect for those cooler evenings in the spring or fall. Better Homes & Gardens magazine just released a report saying nearly half of all millennials now have an open fire feature in their outdoor space.

Create the outside oasis that’s perfect for you and join the outdoor room trend this summer.

5 on 4! 5 Questions on Ultra HD 4k Televisions

By Steve McDonough

4k Ultra HD takes your video to the next level

4k Ultra HD takes your video to the next level

By now, most people have heard about the arrival of 4k, or Ultra High Definition televisions.  You probably have questions about 4k televisions, and are wondering if you should consider a 4k TV for your next TV purchase.  So, let’s venture into the world of 4k Ultra HD and answer some common questions about the newest Ultra HD displays, available content, and more.  4k projectors are also available.   Don’e get confused by the terminology, 4k, Ultra HD, and UHD all refer to the same thing.

Q: Just what is 4k / UHD?

4K is not just a shorter road race, but a significant increase in picture quality over the current offering of standard High Definition televisions.  Without getting too technical, current HD sets provide a resolution of 1920 x 1080, making an image of about 2 megapixels.  4k resolution is 4096 x 2160, but Ultra HD TVs have a resolution of 3840 x 2160, or four times higher than the full HD spec of 1920 x 1080.    The take away is that Ultra HD picture quality is a significant bump in picture quality.

Q: Why Are the 4k sets only available in larger sizes?

A higher pixel count allows larger images to be created before they start to break up. Picture resolution is also related to your viewing distance, meaning  you can sit closer to a higher-quality display without the pixel grid becoming noticeable.   Viewing distance and screen size relate to how much of an immersive viewing experience can be experienced.

The first 4k sets released were 84″ sets from Sony and LG.  Smaller sizes, such as 55″ displays are also rolling out.   Would it make sense to buy a small 4k TV, even if they were available?  Probably not right now; but 4k really pays off with larger televisions.  I have seen the Sony 55″ UHD TV, and it was nice, but the 65″ and larger sizes seem to make more sense if you are going to spend the money on a 4k television, at least in my opinion.  Of course, as prices adjust this situation is fluid.

Q:  I read there is limited content available for 4k TVs, is that true?

Yes, you can only watch The Wiggles or a new 4k channel that only broadcasts synchronized swimming.

Seriously now, this is a completely reasonable question, but the answer is somewhat involved.    It is important to remember that as a new technology, the amount of 4k content available is somewhat limited, but that situation is expected to change soon, and there are good reasons to feel confident about the expanding amount of 4k content on the not too distant horizon.  There are other benefits of a 4k TV that will make your existing content look even better.

Here is some background info about what you can watch on your 4k TV, and why I wouldn’t worry about a lack of content.

  • First, many existing movie cameras already film at 4k and higher resolutions.  Most major films and television shows are filmed in 4 or even 5k already.
  • Many films are mastered at 4k resolution.
  • 4k Blue Ray discs are going to be stunning.  The Blue-Ray disc association is apparently still trying to agree on universal standards, but reports state that machinery designed to make 100GB discs is already in production.    Industry insiders hint at announcements concerning this exciting new format to be announced soon.
  • 4k content is already broadcast on TV.  Content in Europe (by satellite) started in early 2013, and the BBC is filing shows for broadcast in 4k, or even 8k.  South Korea also has 4k programming, though limited.
  • Sony provides a 4k movie vault pre-loaded with movies, and has already introduced their 4k movie download service with 7o titles, and lots more on the way.   In fact, there could be more titles available by the time you read this.
  • Sony is introducing a 4k video camera for consumers.
  • 4k video games are expected to provide amazing detail, and are on the horizon.

And let’s not forget who the big players are in the video market and in terms of movies and other media.   With companies such as Sony, Samsung, and LG all clearly on board with 4k, I don’t think we need to worry about a lack of content.   When you purchase a 4k TV today, you are future-proofing yourself…at least until the next big thing comes along!

Q:  Besides 4k content, are there any real benefits to getting a  4k/ UHD display?

Absolutely!  A 4k set does make current programming look better.  Greater pixel density makes for a smoother picture, faster frame rates, better contrast, and deeper colors are all real benefits that make for a superior viewing experience. Upscaling technology takes 1080p content and improves it to near 4k quality; meaning you can watch one of your Blue-ray movies on your 4k Ultra HD display and see a better image; but the difference with a non Blue-ray disc is even more noticeable from what I have heard.  Haven’t tried that experiment myself yet.   Of course having a quality disc player is another important factor to realize this benefit.

Q:  Should I buy a 4k TV or not?

If you search the web, you will find plenty of articles that say hold off on a 4k purchase, but check the dates carefully of those articles and posts.   Manufacturer’s have already reduced prices of some 4k sets, and more choices are rolling out.  Remember years ago when HD first arrived and how much of a “wow!” it was; 4k technology is even a bigger “WOW!” and it is not a gimmick, like many people think of 3D.  So, yes…go ahead and buy a 4k TV if you are looking for a larger display (at least 55″) and want to have the best image quality and not be outdated in the near future.

If you want more information about 4k / Ultra High Definition televisions, please call Elite Media Solutions of Wellesley, MA at (781) 237 – 2929. 

4K and Ultra HD TV dealer serving Weston, Wayland, Dover, Boston, Sherborn, Medfield, Natick, Newton, Brookline, Winchester, Bedford, Concord, Lexington areas and beyond!

 

Things to Do In Denver…At The CEDIA EXPO 2013!

The 84" Planar 4k Ultra-Res Display can display 4 separate source images!

The 84″ Planar 4k Ultra-Res Display can display 4 separate source images!

Things were definitely not dead in Denver last month during the CEDIA Expo.  CEDIA is the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association, and the Expo is the leading trade show for the custom residential electronics field.  The show was held in Denver from September 25-28, 2013.  I attended the Expo along with Elite Media Solutions owner Brian Gibson and Sean Farrell, one of our service and installation technicians.

According to CEDIA, there were more than 470 exhibitors and 17,900 attendees representing 84 countries. Although not as large as the Consumer Electronics Show, it’s specifically geared towards custom home electronics dealers and showcases products from audio, video, computer networking, lighting, automated window treatments, A/V specific furniture such as seating and cabinets, and home automation and control manufacturers. It’s a good opportunity for dealers to interact with manufacturers and their representatives, attend training classes, and keep up with the latest product offerings.

On our first day in Colorado prior to the start of the Expo, we enjoyed a little sightseeing outside the city, and visited the Red Rocks Concert Pavilion and some friends in Evergreen, CO.   While in Evergreen, we even saw a large bear run across the road!    We went to a Colorado Rockies vs. Red Sox baseball game, which our Red Sox won.   It was funny how a Rockies fan was telling me how cool their ballpark was because they have an old-style scoreboard with people inside that move the numbers manually.   Wow!   I wonder where they go that idea?   Partied a little with the nice folks from Sonos, and heard some good music. Oh, and we ate too much.

So what were the trends and products at the CEDIA Expo that caught my eye?

  • Savant Systems announced several new controllers, including a new system bundle that will make their technology available at a competitive price point, sort of a Savant starter package that still offers a lot of bang for the buck.  Savant, located in Hyannis, MA, also introduced a number of additions to their smart lighting control products.    To see more about Savant’s lighting control options, click here for a short video from Savant, filmed at the CEDIA Expo.
  • Stewart Filmscreens – One of the coolest demos I saw was at the Stewart Filmscreen booth, specifically showcasing the Director’s Choice 100 screen system.   This screen is a true “shape-shifter” and allows an amazing amount of flexibility with the well-designed masking options, and up to a 14 foot wide image!   Lately there has been news about IMAX home theaters at prices in the 2 million dollar minimum range.  For that price, you end up with many limitations ranging from content availability to requiring a massive amount of space – not to mention the cash.  At $50k, this Stewart Director’s Choice Screen is a bargain for those desiring a spectacular theater with unmatched flexibility.    Even after adding other top-notch components,  a homeowner will spend a fraction of what an IMAX home theater will cost, and have many more ways to enjoy the investment.      Click here to see a short video of a demo on the Director’s Choice Screen.
  • Sonance Loudspeakers – Sonance has been our “go to” company for in-wall and in-ceiling speakers, and their line of outdoor speakers including the Sonnarray and the Landscape Series are nothing short of amazing.    The Sonance booth was rocking and showing off their new and improved in-wall and in-ceiling speakers, along with their re-designed invisible series that are installed completely in a wall, and then plastered over.    The first time I heard these speakers, I was prepared to be unimpressed, but I was wrong.   The performance and engineering of Sonance products is impressive, and we’ll be upgrading some of our showroom speakers to the newer Sonance models in the near future.   Interested in learning a little more about the invisible series speakers?  Just click here for a video from the Expo showcasing these hi-tech and hi-performing speakers from Sonance.
  • Yamaha Corporation introduced the CX-A5000 and the MX-A5000, separate pre-amplifier and amplifier, respectively.   I checked out both of these units and listened to them as well.   The build-quality seemed great and they sounded fantastic.  This would be a great step-up for a system from an all-in-one audio visual receiver.   Separates have many benefits, as explained in this short video from the Yamaha booth at CEDIA!   I’m going to try to be extra good for the rest of this year so Santa will bring me this set-up.
  • KEF Loudspeakers – Regular readers of the Elite Media Solutions website and blog know we are fans of KEF Loudspeakers.   KEF had a great booth, and probably the most comfortable floor, which is always a welcome after being on your feet for many days in a row.   KEF was demonstrating a number of their products, including their amazing M500 headphones.   After listening to these headphones, we immediately bought a case of them for the store!   KEF was also playing their new in-wall series of speakers boasting aluminum fronts, THX Certification, and the well-regarded Uni-Q driver.   KEF’s line of CI (custom installation) speakers was also impressive, and we’ve enjoyed the sound and build-quality of the KEF products for years and they continue to impress.   Here is a video courtesy of Rave Publications featuring Johann form KEF doing a walk through of some of the highlights at the KEF booth.  
  • Planar showed a brand-new 84″ Ultra-Res (4k ultra-high definition display) that looked fantastic, and allows the proud owner to show up to four different images at once!    Some of the models offer touch screen capability, and 3D content is handled without a problem.   This was probably the coolest display at CEDIA in my opinion  Planar has been around since 1983, and although not quite a household name, they make great products.  Come on in to Elite Media Solutions in Wellesley, MA to see this amazing display.  We ordered two at the show, and they should be arriving soon.   To schedule a demo, just call Steve at (781) 237-2929, but for now you can check out this video on the Planar Ultra-Res thanks to Rave Publications shot at CEDIA.

I could go on about the CEDIA 2013 Expo, as their was a lot of great stuff to see.  I didn’t even get to the cool shading and draperies displayed by QMotion and MechoShade, and some of the new video projectors, so I will lover those in future posts.   Other interesting products I saw were from JVC, Sony (new 4k displays), and some nice new cabinets and seating from our friends at Salamander Designs.    Bose and Sonos booths were also busy with activity.

So, thank you Denver and CEDIA for a good show.   See you in 2014!

If you would like information on any of the products covered in this post, or any thing else, please just get in touch with Elite Media Solutions of Wellesley, MA.   We provide custom video, music, home networks and wi-fi, automated shades and drapes, lighting control, and home automation and control throughout Massachusetts, including the Needham, Dover, Sherborn, Weston, Wayland, Natick, Newton, Bedford, Brookline, Boston, Norfolk, Medfield, Walpole, Canton, Westwood, Hingham, Cape Cod, Stow, Concord, Lincoln, and Acton areas.

 

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The Seura booth at the CEDIA Expo 2013, makers of high-end displays for indoors and out

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The Denver Convention Center – CEDIA Expo 2013 – our only cloudy day

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Revel Performa Series speakers at the CEDIA Expo! You can hear these at our store in Wellesley, MA.

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