Is There a Perfect App for Everything? Part 1

If you're like me, you already have used your smart phone or iPad around your house to stream music, control your DirecTV DVR or remotely control some device you have at home.

Of course, in my business, we create lots of home automation and control systems from manufacturers such as Crestron, Savant and Control4.  Invariably, everyone wants their smart phone or iPad to be programmed as a control device for whichever one of these systems we install.  And honestly, those phones and pads will work VERY well for that purpose.  Now as soon as I say that, let me be quick to add that those will not operate as seamlessly for that purpose as the manufacturer's own branded mobile device.

Still, for ease of use, each of those manufacturers has created apps for those commonly owned media devices for the simple reason that the consumer is already familiar with it and generally keeps them handy.  Those apps work as well as the control system manufacturer can possibly program those phones and tablets to perform that way.  But know that there will always be some kinda glitch--some incompatibility--that the consumer will experience when using their phone or wi-fi pad to control their home automation system.

Here's a good example of what I'm talking about.  Back in the day, you either owned a PC or a Mac.  If you created a document or spreadsheet in one type of platform and emailed it to s0meone who owned the other type of platform, they couldn't even open the thing let alone read it.  One day, the industry smartened up and started creating programs so the two could talk to each other.  Now the two could interface and everyone was happy.  But anyone will tell you that the two don't work together perfectly and your sometimes encounter formatting problems in documents or linkage problems in spreadsheets.

That's the way it is marrying the popular smart technologies with automated systems.  They WILL work and will be quite enjoyable when they do.  But for best results, use the mobile device designed for the product.

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Simplicity, Technology & Elegance

Who says Simplicity, Technology & Elegance can't co-exist?

Here is a picture from a recent project. The customer wanted a clutter-free installation that was crazy simple to use, but didn't want to give up sound quality or limit their music options.

We installed a Bose Lifestyle for main room TV, Movies & Music. The only thing visible was the TV.

We installed 4 rooms of sound using Bose speakers and a Sonos System.  The customer can access Pandora and their iTunes library thru their existing iPads and iPhones.

This is where Simple meets Sophisticated ....... and that's what we at Acadian Home Theater & Automation take pride in delivering day in and day out.

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3D TV Comes of Age

Bit by bit, 3D TV is growing in the market with 3D sports programming, dedicated  3D channels and, of course, Blu-Ray.  It wasn't all that long ago that some speculated whether or not 3D would take off or that it was nothing more than a novelty.

Yet now, more and more movies are being released to theaters in 3D particularly the action-adventure and animation genres.  As a result, the number of Blu-ray titles now available in 3D is growing rapidly.

Then there's the phenomenon of re-releasing movie maintstays remastered in 3D; movies such as "Titanic," "The Phantom Menace" of the Star Wars trilogy and "Beauty and the Beast."  It all started with the re-release of "The Lion King" in 3D which enjoyed eye-popping success.  Disney has since announced it will be re-releasing "Finding Nemo," "Monsters, Inc." and "The Little Mermaid" over the next two years.  Meanwhile "Avatar" in 3D is no longer the exclusive product of Panasonic which bundled it with their Blu-ray player.  It is now available in the mass market.

In terms of broadcasting, ESPN has produced more than 190 3D events since it launched ESPN 3D in June 2010.  Imagine watching The Masters next month in glorious 3D HD clarity.  And speaking of broadcasts, DirecTV now has 5 channels dedicated to airing 3D programming.

In addition to that is 3D gaming using peripherals like the PS3--offering a whole new dynamic to "being there."  While the gaming format can get pricy, reviewers who have delved into it proclaim them well worth the money.  For gaming devotees, they say, 3D is the way to go.

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The Nest Thermostat

So I decided it was time to try out the new Nest Learning Thermostat...self-programmable, iPhone-controllable and designed by the same folks who designed the iPod and iPhone.

It just arrived last week and is a cute little booger.  But why would someone pay $249 for "cute" you might ask?

Well, the truth is HALF of the typical utility bill is controlled by your thermostat.  Most people have purchased a programmable thermostat.  Problem is, they failed to properly program them to begin with.  With the Nest, simply operate it manually.  As you do, it automatically learns what feels comfortable to you, what times you wake up or go to bed, what days you tend to sleep in late, when you've left for work, etc.  After a few days to a week, it'll know your routine.  You'll soon find you won't be walking up to adjust it.

This video will show you a little bit about it.  But get this, your family has left for a summer vacation.  Dutifully, you set the A/C so it won't be running needlessly so much while you're gone.  But you want the house comfortable before you get home.  So you're on the drive back and about three hours from arriving home.  You open your smart phone and tell your thermostat to adjust the A/C to come on.  Voila!  Your home begins cooling for your family's arrival!

How the Nest works to save you money is pretty cool.  If you're interested, you can click here to see a simple little video illustrating that for you.

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Tips for Backyard Entertainment

Thinking about bringing your audio/video experience to your backyard or patio?  More and more families are taking their entertaining outdoors.  Here are some things to consider before you get underway.

  • Its always best to keep your source equipment inside and simply run wiring outside.  But if that isn't the case, consider a weatherproof enclosure you can buy or build and where you will locate it.

  • Bose FreeSpace 51 are Good Example of Outdoor Speakers

    Stick with weatherproof speakers, TVs and other equipment.  Especially in humid climates and coastal (think salt) locations, this protected equipment is well worth the extra dollars you'll spend.
  • For speakers, focus on coverage rather than volume.  Several speakers interspersed throughout the area playing low is more enjoyable than only a few playing loudly just to cover the territory.
  • When it comes to speaker placement, extend them to the perimeter of your yard and direct them inward and away from the neighbors.
  • Install your wiring first, especially if they need to go underground.  Make sure you first identify where underground waterlines and other utilities are!  Run the wire to a weatherproof panel or exterior closet.  That's where you'll tie in all of your electronics.  This will give you the flexibility for future upgrades.
  • Run wiring in conduit and use separate conduit for low-voltage and high-voltage purposes.
  • Thoughtful use of swinging TV mounts could potentially allow you to view from inside a cabana, for example, or swing out to an exterior angle to chairs arranged theater-style in the yard.
Like any updating to your home, planning ahead pays big dividends in the end.

by Bryan Naquin.  Follow Bryan on Twitter @ACIexperts.  And you can always contact him at 225.906.2589 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Bryan Naquin is president of Acadian Home Theater and Automation based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  CEPro Magazine ranked Acadian in the top 100 consumer electronic companies in the U.S. coming in at Number 87 for 2011.

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