What is an OLED TV?


You may have heard that OLED is the TV technology of the future. OLED TVs are starting to become available, and they promise to be cheap, incredibly thin, and even flexible. We’ve talked about 4K TVs, which can be made using OLED or LED technology – but what is OLED, and how does this compare to today’s LED TVs?

Let’s start with how TVs create the picture we watch. First, LED TV’s name is a bit misleading. The picture is actually created using a Liquid Crystal Display, or LCD, (like on a cheap digital wrist watch) with LED lights lighting it from behind. The LCD makes a grid of shutters that allow colour filtered light to shine through (or not shine through). They are called “LED TVs” because LED lights replaced fluorescent lights that used to back light “LCD TVs”. This made TVs thinner and cheaper to make.

Now lets look at OLED – Organic Light Emitting Diode. LEDs and OLEDs are semiconductors that emit light when powered. Here the word organic doesn’t mean its natural and living free flexible OLEDrange, but rather a scientific term for an insulator that becomes a semiconductor when a charge is applied. OLEDs make their own light, so they don’t need any back light. OLEDs can be manufactured on thin backplane that can even be flexible. So, which technology is better?

Colour: Advantage OLED TV
Since OLEDs make their own light and can be controlled individually, they have a potential for better colour accuracy. LED TVs need to rely on special technologies and colour filters to make a great picture, but they still fall short of OLED TVs.

Black Level: Advantage OLED TV
One of the main short comings of LED TVs is black levels – the best they can do is a very dark grey. This is due to the shared backlight. Even with high-end LED TVs with hundreds of LED lights behind the TV screen, each light covers thousands of pixels. Its hard to go to black in an area when there are other areas that need light to shine though. Since OLEDs make their own light, each pixel can basically be whatever intensity is required.

Brightness: Advantage LED TV
The other side of the coin is brightness. In scenarios like outdoor TVs or digital signs, TV makers can put whatever light they need to make the back light bright enough. That said, in most home viewing situations including bright rooms, OLED TVs should be bright enough.

Viewing Angle: Advantage OLED TV
The technology that LED TVs use limits the optimal viewing angle. On a LED TV, the optimal viewing is from the centre to about 45 degrees to either side. If you’re looking at it from the side at 45 degrees or more, the picture quality will degrade. OLED TV pictures will not degrade with viewing angle – you will get the same picture quality until you are essentially looking at the side of the TV.

Refresh Rate: Advantage OLED TV
Although this is less noticeable in current LCD LED TVs, LCDs take a millisecond or more to turn on and off. This may sound quick, but our eye catches it as motion blur. This can be noticeable when the picture is changing quickly like in an action movie or hockey game. OLEDs can do this in around 0.01 ms, and our eyes can’t notice that!

Price: Advantage LED TV (today)
Like any technology it takes a while to get manufacturing issues sorted out and costs down. Since OLED TV technology is new, this hasn’t happened yet. That said, if you have deep pockets, current OLED TVs have picture quality that can’t be found in LED TVs at any price. For those of us with more modest budgets, we’ll have to wait a bit longer though.

The really incredible thing about this is that even with the current crop of great LED TVs available at affordable prices, TVs are only going to get better! As 4K UHDTV come into the mainstream, they will be followed by more and more OLED TV options. Deciding on gear like TVs is a balance between the fit for function and budget, but like we do with our clients, choose the TV that fits your needs and timeline. With technology, there is always something better coming, but the right fit will meet your needs for a long time.

Why should I buy a 4K UHDTV?


Believe it or not, this isn’t about encouraging you to buy a 4K TV. Its about arming you with the knowledge to make a decision either way. A nice 4K TV is great, but a good HDTV may still fit your needs. Here are some of the things that you need to know to understand whether a 4K TV is for you.

First lets look at the consumer TV screen resolutions. Resolutions are described in pixels, or the little coloured rectangles that make up TV images. 1080p HDTV resolution is 1920 horizontal by 1080 vertical pixels. This is usually simply denoted as 1920×1080. Doing the math, there are 2,073,600 pixels on a 1080p HDTV. Smaller TVs sometimes are 720p HDTV or 1280×720. Of course when TVs get larger, those tiny HDTV pixels start to get more noticeable (more on that in a bit). UHDTV 4K TVs video resolutions comparisonshave a resolution of 3840 x 2160, or 4 times the resolution of 1080p HDTV. The ‘4K’ is named because of the approximate 4000 horizontal pixels (the movie projection industry’s DCI 4K resolution standard is actually 4K at 4096 x 2160, but let’s focus on the consumer standards). You can see that there are a lot more pixels of picture information in 4K TVs.

For smaller TVs, 1080p or 720p HDTV may be fine, as they are usually viewed far enough away that individual pixels aren’t noticed. Retina distance is the distance a typical person’s eye has to away from a screen to not pick out individual pixels. Since the trend and prices are moving towards affordable large TVs, HDTV pixels are starting to be noticed at average viewing distances. Below is a table of TV sizes and retina distances for 1080p HD and 4K TV. Using a 65” TV as an example, you may start seeing pixels when you are at 8 feet away from a 1080p HDTV, while you’d have to be 4 feet away for a 4K TV. You should consider this for your seating distance. For example, THX recommends that you should sit about 6 1/2 feet from a 65” TV to be immersed in the viewing experience. While perhaps aesthetics and not THX will decide your seating distance, its worth considering all the same.

TV viewing distances

There are some other terms that get pulled into the 4K discussion. While we’ve covered HDR or High Dynamic Range (deeper colour palette), what the heck is a Nit? A Nit is a unit of brightness that is used by TV manufactures. The idea is that a screen should reproduce all levels of luminance from pure black to daylight like images. Current 4K TVs are claiming to be able to reach 1000 Nits (pretty bright!) without sacrificing ability to show blacks that are close to black.

4K TVs prices are falling, and manufactures are adding great features like HDR to justify premium prices. Specs are one thing, but you need to balance out quality as well. A cheap 4K TV might be just that, cheap. Your money may be better spent on a good HDTV. Good 4K TVs have very nice pictures though, and they do a great job making ordinary HDTV content look good as well while we’re waiting for more 4K content.

Home Tech 101: What to look for in a router

home tech router networkWe’ve talked a lot about proper networking equipment for home tech lately, and its important to understand the equipment that goes into a network. Most people will know a ‘router’ as a Wi-Fi router as this is what most people have – either from a big box store or a ‘gateway’ (Wi-Fi router & modem) from their Internet Provider. A router is arguably the most significant piece of technology in your home, as all home tech activities from surfing the web to streaming media to home automation need a router to work. While all routers route home and Internet data (see below), amongst the long list of features, there are other ones like VLANs and remote management to look out for.

Routing & firewall: Although routing is what a router does, its worth reviewing what that actually is. A router is a device that connects data between two computer networks – in this case, your home’s network and the Internet. You need a router to do this because originally there wasn’t enough computer addresses available in the world to allow your home computers and devices to have their own unique addresses. Instead your home network uses a subset of addresses that can be re-used in all homes and businesses – their routers also translate the address between their networks and the Internet. Computer IP addresses are similar to home addresses – just a way for computers to know where data needs to go. (The world is now starting to use IPv6 that has lots of addresses, but that’s another story.) A Router can also implement a “firewall” that offers a level of security to help shelter your home’s devices from the big, bad Internet. Security features can include Stateful Packet Inspection (SPI), Denial of Service (DoS) prevention, WAN Request Blocking (blocks ping requests), and content filtering (e.g. block adult content).

Performance: We have nothing against consumer grade Wi-Fi routers for the right home application – its just that they’re often the wrong tool for the job. People demand so much from their network and often they’re not aware that they’re asking a lot from basic equipment that was never designed for heavy usage. Often basic equipment fails families even when they think they “aren’t really doing much techy stuff” at home. Proper equipment helps ensure that all of your home tech can do what you need it to do from Instagram to HD Netflix streaming. More and more people can benefit from commercial grade networking equipment that is built to handle the load that they need. A good router can also prioritize certain data and/or balance data needs within your allotted access to the Internet. While great Wi-Fi capability is extremely important, it doesn’t necessarily need to be built into a router. Often a router is stuffed away somewhere that doesn’t make sense for Wi-Fi coverage. In those cases, we look at putting Wi-Fi Access Points in central locations to provide the needed Wi-Fi coverage.

VLANs: A LAN, or Local Area Network, is the local computer network in your home. In a home network, a significant amount of data is broadcasted to all devices regardless if they want it or not. A VLAN, or Virtual Local Area Network, allows the network data to be tagged with an ID that separates it from other data. You can use VLANs to separate data even its on the same physical network – those broadcasts can be separated to only the devices that need them. For example, you can tag all of your entertainment devices for the same VLAN so they think they’re on their own network and not compete as much with other devices such as surveillance cameras. You can expand this with VLAN compatible IP switches to make a powerful and flexible network.

Dual WAN: For those who want to ensure their Internet is dual WAN portsalways on, you can use the dual WAN (Wide Area Network, i.e. the Internet in this case) to connect the network to two different Internet Service Providers and/or configure your WAN connections to load-balance and link failover.

Remote Management: Since we help people with home tech, remote management is a big benefit for both our clients and us. In the event something goes awry with a router, we can remotely check on the router, modify configurations, and restart it without having to set up an on-site appointment, etc. Very handy!

A router is the centre piece of the home network, so its important to use one that fits your particular needs. Regardless if you’re building or renovating, or if you’re looking for a stable network in an existing home, a bit of focus on the networking foundation of your home will pay dividends.

Top home tech that people need

lighting control

A recent article, 8 Technologies That People Actually Need, by Heather L. Sidorowicz really resonated with our philosophies at Simpleer. Although it was targeted to home tech industry folk like us, it provides a solid baseline for homeowners too. Here’s why we feel strongly that these topics are important for today’s homes.

Simple universal remote: We all want one simple-to-use remote to control our TV and sound system. It needs to work, and this means it needs to work for the tech savvy and tech novice. One simple remote that replaces a coffee table full of Simple remoteremotes is a beautiful thing! The more simple to use the better – it’s our jobs as technology experts to program remotes and create device interfaces that make technology easy to use for everyone. Most people are like us – when it’s time to watch a show of listen to music, we just want to press a button and enjoy.

Better Wi-Fi: Unfortunately Wi-Fi coverage is a pain point for most people until they get our help. Sometimes they were aware when Wi-Fi coverage was poor, and often they just saw the effects of poor performance on their slow smartphones or choppy Netflix. Since Wi-Fi coverage is a corner stone of home tech, we always include a wireless Wi-Fi & networkingand wired network plan in our home tech solutions to ensure good Wi-Fi coverage inside and out. Increasingly this includes commercial grade gear, as consumer gear, especially from Internet Service Providers, just isn’t made to handle modern usage or provide good Wi-Fi coverage.

Cord-cutting solutions: Clients ask if they can or should cut their cable, as they mention their bill is costly, and they only watch a handful of channels. Cord cutting depends on personal viewing habits, so we spend time educating on what alternatives are available. There are over-the-air options, but these are limited to local TV stations (which may or may not have the shows you want). Streaming services are available when you add a Smart TV, Apple TV or Roku media streamer. If you don’t mind watching older shows and movies, then Netflix, Shomi, Crackle, etc. might cover you. If you’re a sports fan, there are Apple TV media streamersubscriptions like the NHL’s GameCentre and NFL’s Game Pass (but check to see if you’ll be effected by local blackouts). You can also buy current shows via Apple’s iTunes. Unfortunately not everything is available via streaming services, e.g. golf and HGTV. For now, Netflix et. al. cover many people’s viewing needs, and more options will become available.

Music in living spaces: Music is a big part of my family’s lives. It plays nearly continually in our kitchen and spills outside from our deck speakers in the summer. Our office Integrated streaming musicalso has streaming music from services like Deezer, and local and international radio stations. We have subtle in-ceiling and outdoor speakers that are reasonably priced and sound great! There are also great retrofit options from companies like Sonos and Denon. So far the DJing battles, using iDevices, simple remotes and keypads, have been civil. Great sounding music at the mere touch of a button is just awesome and enhances life.

Keyless entry: Our smart lock has been fully embraced by my family. Not only do I not have to worry about my kids having smart door lockhouse keys, I don’t need to take one with me either. We live in a walkable neighbourhood, so I often head out for groceries or a night out without keys. It sounds trivial, but its liberating. Its also handy when a friend or someone needs to get into your place – you can give out temporary codes, or let them in with your smartphone.

Lighting control: Lighting control and automation is one of those things that once you have it, you may wonder how you lived without it. With solutions like Lutron’s Caseta, it doesn’t have to cost a fortune either. You can begin with a room or two and build on it as you wish. You can think about lighting ‘scenes’ like relax, entertain and watch TV rather than the old ‘this switch turns on that light’. Many products also allow for easy retrofitting: In our house, we updated our living room by controlling our retro floor and table lamps from wall switches, or from anywhere in the world. iphone light controlWe also have them scheduled to come on just before sunset and off at midnight (unless we turn them off earlier). They’re also programmed to slowly flash (like at a theatre) at 10:30pm so we know we should go to bed (no Netflix, we don’t want to watch the another episode). We also have a motion sensor to turn on the hall lights at 20% for middle of the night bathroom trips. Combine all that wih not having to fight with thumb knobs on lamps, and you have a great equalizer for the disabled or elderly.

Better sounding TV: Most of today’s TVs look great, but they don’t sound very good. This is especially difficult for elderly or TV + soundbarthe hard of hearing. In media rooms and home theatre, the centre speaker can be turned up (since dialogue usually comes from the centre). But if you don’t want a media room or home theatre, you can have an affordable sound bar directing sound to the viewer. Simple solutions can make a big difference.

Better streaming services: As noted in cording cutting above, a Smart TV, Apple TV and Roku handles streaming services, so its really not the technology that’s the hold up. More services need to be available (especially in Canada) – from streaming optionscurrent top shows to sports to old classics. Local and international shows should be at our finger tips. The future is simple-to-use streaming apps on these devices. Content holders will have to figure it out, as viewers will soon demand it or they’ll move onto other entertainment.

There are so many great experiences that home tech solutions can provide us. It really comes down to the technologies that we actually want and will use. Its important to ensure these are cohesive and organized into holistic solutions – you can’t put a square peg in a round hole. Its great when you get it right, and we’re so lucky that we get to help people with the right mix of technology that helps elevate their homes and lives.


Aging in place technology

aging in place technology

Home technology can be fun and convenient, but its truly awesome when it can improve someone’s quality of life. As we age, technology can help extend our independence and make our homes more safe and easier to manage. Aging in home technology can help seniors with in-home conveniences, safety and monitoring, and entertainment.

Home control can make any home more convenient and should be considered for a senior’s home. This includes automated lighting and window coverings with keypads for simple control of many lights withsimple wall switch the touch of a single button. Overhead lights and even lamps with hard to turn switch knobs can be retrofitted. Automation can turn lights on at dusk and off at bedtime. Sensors can turn on lights when someone enters a dark room, bathroom or hallway, and then turn them off when they exit. A smart thermostat can keep the temperature comfortable too.

Home tech can go further and help with safety and monitoring without being invasive. This can include bed sensors to help check if someone has made it out of bed, motion sensors to monitor movement in the home, and perhaps cabinet sensors to know if a medicine cabinet has been opened. When you need to take a look, two-way IP cameras can provide instant audio and video communication into the home.

Well thought out home tech can also include entertainment for today’s seniors. A simplified remote can run the TV, music and radio. This can include speakers directed at seating to ensure sound is projected easy to use networkingtowards the listener and not just loud. For those who are connected to the Internet for apps like Facebook and news, their network and Wi-Fi should be rock solid as well. This can make it that much easier to video chat or FaceTime grandma or grandpa when you just want to say hi.

The great thing about home tech is that almost anything is possible. For the senior in your life, it can help extend their independent living in their own home. All of this can also be controlled from a smartphone, so you can help or check on a loved one whenever needed. Technology is always evolving, including aging in place technology, so let us know if you’d like to explore ideas.

Understanding outdoor speaker wiring

outdoor speakerWith the weather warming, its fitting to review options for landscaping and outdoor speaker wiring. A outdoor speaker system can compliment your outdoor living and entertaining. There are two types of systems that are available: conventional and 70 volt systems. The one that is right for you depends on your outdoor plan.

You might be familiar with conventional systems, as this is what is used in most homes. Conventional speakers and amplifiers are rated at different impedances, so take care that the speaker load (or impedance) is matched to the amplifier. If its implemented wrong, the amplifier can be overloaded and damaged. Often amplifiers will allow a range, e.g. 4-8 ohms, so you can use one set or two sets of speakers wired in parallel with no issues (wiring two 8 ohm speakers in parallel make them look like 4 ohms to an amplifier). Otherwise you’ll need to use multiple amplifiers. Amplifiers will specify rated wattage for each impedance, e.g. 50W at 8 ohms. For long speaker wires, like the ones used in large yards, the load of the wire itself adds up, so conventional systems are not suited when using very long speaker wires.

You may not have never heard of 70 volt (or 70V) systems, as they are usually associated with commercial buildings. (We use 70V in North America, but other regions of the world use 100V.) Don’t worry, as they don’t need to sound tinny like in a big box store. You can get great sounding 70V speaker systems – many restaurants and bars use 70V systems. The physics of higher voltages means that long speaker wires are much less of an issue 70V speaker tap settingsat 70V, so you can run very long wires if needed. The 70V is stepped down to regular speaker voltage by the speaker, and on most 70V speakers, you can choose the wattage. By setting the wattage, you set the relative volume at each speaker to manage how loud each is throughout your yard. You also need to be aware of overloading a 70V amplifier; its calculated by adding up all your speaker wattage settings and then adding 20% for good measure.

To help even out music volume throughout your yard, you should use multiple speakers instead of a couple blaring from one spot. Rock shaped landscape speakersIts best to alternate left and right conventional speakers
throughout your space, so all locations get the full music. 70V systems are usually mono, so you don’t need worry about lefts and rights. Both systems have various speaker styles: in-ceiling, box, faux rocks, etc, and they even have sub woofers if you need more bass in you life.

Sound diffuses easy outdoors with even the wind changing performance, so its difficult to get precise sound outdoors. That said, either system will provide great background music. The cost and complexity breakpoint for implementing a 70V system is when you want many speakers, e.g. 5 or more, and/or have a large space that requires long speaker wire runs. Once you have decided on your outdoor speaker system, you just connect music regular music sources like Sonos players to get ready for outdoor tunes.

Choosing a sound bar vs. a sound bar (that’s not a typo)

media room speaker barWe’ve talked about the different options for improving TV sound which includes a sound bar (or “soundbar”). Unfortunately the term can mean different things.

Usually when someone talks about a sound bar for a TV, they mean a device that has speakers and an amplifier built together in ‘bar’. The device is designed to mount below a wall-mounted TV or sit at the base of a TV. Either way, its meant to improve the sound experience without greatly impacting your living space. Sony soundbarSound bars like the ones from Sony or Samsung may also include a wired or wireless sub woofer to improve low frequency sounds. They can cost anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to thousands depending on how good they are at emulating a full sounding, surround sound experience.

This probably makes sense to most people so far, but there is a curve ball. Brands like Triad and Episode use the same term to describe a bar that looks pretty much the same, but is just speakers. You need to use a separate amplifier or AV receiver with them. These types of speaker bars have one, two or three speakers built in depending on the model and need. You might think that these are inferior, but they are just another way of improving a media room’s sound. Often these are used as an alternative in higher-end solutions where larger front speakers would impact aesthetics. For example, a sound bar with three speakers can be used for the front left, centre and front right in a true Triad speaker barsurround-sound system. Then other speakers, such as ceiling speakers, can make up the side or back speakers to make a great surround-sound system. Its just too bad that they don’t use a different term – perhaps something like “speaker bar” – to at least help differentiate these.

Either type can be the right solution depending on goals and budgets. The first type may fit for lower budgets or limited space, but the trade off is not a true surround sound. The second type requires a bit more budget and space for other equipment (e.g. AV amplifier, speakers, etc.), and the benefit is improved sound. Hopefully this helps clear up some confusion and gives some ideas on what might work for your media room.

Water leak sensors aren’t boring

Winland WaterBug
A smart home isn’t only about controlling lights, window coverings, thermostat and door locks. Sometimes less exciting things like water sensors can offer real value to home owners, especially if their home is prone to issues like flooding or drain backups. They might even help save thousands of dollars of water damage.

There are many water leak devices to choose from, but to be considered ‘smart’, they should do more than beep when there’s water. You’ll want to be warned regardless if you’re at your property or not, as beeping away while you’re on vacation won’t do you much good.

For folks looking for something to retrofit an existing home, perhaps a wireless system like the Insteon water leak sensorWater Leak Sensor from Insteon will meet you needs. To get alerts to your smartphone, you’ll need to pair it with their Insteon Hub. As with anything wireless, you need to be cautious to use products within their wireless ranges and avoid wireless interference.

If your home is large or has lots of wireless blocking building materials (e.g. metal or concrete), you’ll need to look at wired systems for rock-solid reliability. Wired solutions like the Winland WaterBug don’t rely on the whims of wireless signals. When paired with a home control system, you can get alerts when Winland water leak sensorwater is detected. For very demanding homes or commercial applications, you can also use ’supervised’ sensors that when paired with a supervising console can tell when sensors wires have been cut. This adds a level of reliability to ensure you don’t miss an issue. The downside of a wired system is that running wires to where you need sensors likely isn’t easy unless you’re building or renovating.

Whichever system is right for your home, you can place sensors at trouble spots like hot water tanks, kitchens, bathrooms or flood prone basements. You then have the peace of mind that your smart home can let you know if there is water trouble – whether you’re home or on the other side of the world. Well ok, maybe leak sensors are boring, but not every bit of home tech has to be sexy to make your smart home better.

Don’t leave home tech wiring to chance

Plan your home tech wiringOne of the top questions that comes up when someone is building or renovating is about the wiring they need for home tech. As much as Cat 6 is relied on for a lot of home tech, other ‘low voltage’ wires are important as well. Make sure you understand and have a plan for your needs, as you shouldn’t leave it to chance that the right wiring is in place before the walls are closed up.

As outlined when clearing up some 4K jargon confusion, HDMI is the cable used to connect video components together – i.e. Apple TVs and Blu-ray players to AV receivers and TVs. It carries both video and audio information, so all you need is one cable for both the video and sound. Although there are converters and HDMI cabletechnologies like HDBaseT to leverage Cat 6 in place of HDMI cables, at this time its usually easiest and cheapest to use an HDMI cable. If you want to mount your TV and hide the wiring in the wall, you’ll need to get an in-wall HDMI cable between your TV and your AV receivers and players. To ensure your cable is ready for the next generation of UHDTVs, make sure its HDMI 2.2 compatible. For shorter cables this is less of an issue, but longer cables could have troubles getting all the required data to a 4K TV.

Speaker wire is essential for anyone looking for integrated music or home theatre sound. Although wireless music systems are great in certain situations, you can’t beat the reliability of a wire. Solutions like Sonos have made their name as a wireless solution, but they also have great products that work with wired speakers. There are lots of opinions on speaker gauge AWG 14/2 speaker wire(thickness) required for speaker impedance and sound quality (e.g. Google “speaker wire gauge distance”), but we recommend 14 gauge for most applications with standard 8 ohm speakers. Speaker wire is denoted by gauge (AWG – American Wire Gauge) and number of wires – for one speaker you would use 14/2 speaker wire. For runs to stereo speakers and volume controls, you can use four conductor or 14/4 speaker wire.

Coax RG-6 cable is still used by cable TV, satellite TV and over-the-air TV antennas. Even if you’re not currently using a system that needs coax cable, it doesn’t hurt to run it to your AV locations in case you change your mind on your TV service. (This assumes we all don’t permanently become cord cutters though!) Coax RG-6, as well as RG-59 which is similar, is also used for some older surveillance cameras.

For similar legacy reasons, you may want to have wiring for a landline phone system too. The good news is that instead of using telephone specific Cat 3, Cat 6 cable can be used as landline phone cable. This way it is flexible for other uses besides just home phone.

There are other low voltage wires that you may also need. For example, most smart thermostats still need thermostat wiring to turn your heating system on/off. Home automation and control systems like Lutron and RTI also use similar wiring between its controllers. Higher end video distribution systems use fibre optic cabling as well. If you’re thinking about these home automation and video distribution systems, you are best served by seeking professional help to plan these.

Regardless of the cables or wire that you require, they must all meet local building codes to be used in walls and in ceilings. Also ensure proper installation with separation from power wires to avoid getting electrical noise spreading to low voltage wires. Its also best to use quality wiring from known manufacturers, as it shouldn’t add much cost vs. having to re-run or fix bad wiring after walls are finished and painted! We’re also big fans of using conduits when possible, as this allows you to easily pull a new cable when required in the future (for example, a new HDMI spec). Take your time and plan out your wiring needs, and as always, reach out if you need help.

Smart door locks can smarten up your door

smart locks for smart homes

Manufacturers have their idea of the smart home of the future and all the cool things they can sell us, but like anything else, its the things that fill a need that are successful. While not everyone needs a smart lock, for those with kids or visitors coming and going or have trouble finding their keys, it can be pretty handy. If you think a smart lock would simplify your life, then here are some points to keep in mind.

First consider how the lock gets locked and unlocked. Some, like Weiser’s Kevo use your smartphone’s Bluetooth to verify its ok to unlock the door. You can goji orange smart locksend your family or visitors eKeys with optional restricted access times that you can also disable. The August Lock and Goji Smart Lock add Wi-Fi, so you can use it over the Internet to lock or unlock your door from anywhere in the world. Note though that Wi-Fi compatible products work ok when your Wi-Fi coverage is good, but Wi-Fi is not known as a mission critical technology. If you want to see who’s at your door, consider one like the Goji that includes a camera.

Companies like Schlage have locks that use a touch pad that Schlage Sense smart home tech lockallow you to program number codes. The Schlage Connect can also talk to your smart home using Z-Wave. Z-Wave is a wireless technology designed for home automation, but you’ll likely need professional help to get a true smart home experience. Same goes for smart locks that use ZigBee (a competing technology).

Smart locks come in common lock finishes like brass and sliver to match your style and decor, and some like the August will be available in colours like grey and red. Most replace an existing deadbolt in 10 minutes or less, and they don’t need electrical re-work as they use batteries. Physical appearance on the inside and outside of the door depend on features and style. Note though that the ones with a unlocking motor will be much louder than a regular deadbolt. And yes, for the less techy, they all also allow unlocking with a regular key.

For people looking to step into the keyless era, we start by reviewing needs and use patterns. Think about what features will make your life easier and what features may be cool but maybe aren’t that useful in your real life situations. Aesthetics are important too, so consider how it will look on your door. Once you have made your smart lock choice and start using it, you’ll find your home a little smarter and more convenient.