Go big with a projector

Stewart Filmscreen

So you’ve decided that you wanted something even more dramatic than a 60-something inch screen. For a media room or dedicated home theatre, a projector setup can have a really big, beautiful picture that is fully engaging. Many features to look out for in projectors, such as size, inputs and Ultra HD are similar to direct view TVs. There are also specs that are particular to projectors, such as technology used, brightness, light source and noise. Let’s step through some of the things to keep in mind when researching your projector.

First lets talk about projector types. There are two major types of technologies used with projectors LCD and DLP. LCD projectors shine light through LCD (liquid-crystal display) screens to create the picture. DLP (Digital Light Processing) projectors have special mirror microchips thatEpson's excellent PowerLite Pro Cinema 6030UB 3LCD Projector reflect light. More expensive projectors with LCD or DLP units for each primary colour of light have better picture quality.  Although a good LCD may look better than a bad DLP, in general DLPs have better picture colour and contrast.

A big item to look out for in projectors is brightness. A brighter projector isn’t ‘better’ than a less bright one, but you need to determine what brightness level is required for your viewing room. Manufactures usually use lumens as the measurement for how bright a projector is, and as with any spec, there is variance in the way manufactures report their spec. In very general terms something around 1000 lumens will work in a perfectly dark room like a purpose built home theatre, approximately 2000 lumens for a room with some ambient light, and 4000+ for brighter rooms like a multi-use media room with ambient light. There is no right or wrong in terms of wanting a dedicated home theatre vs. a flexible media room, but choose your projector to match the room lighting conditions. Price doesn’t trump all – a $50K 1000 lumen projector will look Digital Projection E-Vision 4500bad in a bright room as the picture will look washed out and have poor colour and contrast. Also keep in mind that you need more light as your screen gets bigger.

Light bulbs or LED lights are use to create the light in a projector (similar to a flashlight). Projector light bulbs are like regular light bulbs, but really, really bright. They are capable of creating lots of light, while LED are less bright. Any light bulb will eventually burn out (and dim faster with age than LEDs), so it will need to be replaced at some point. LED lights in a projector should last the life of a projector for casual home use. If you have a brighter room, you’ll likely need to use a light bulb based projector to get a picture bright enough to enjoy. Choose the solution to fit your environment.

Also be aware of projector noise. Lights and electronics create heat, so a projector must be cooled with a fan. A really bright projector will need a big, bright and hot bulb, so it will need more air flow to keep it cool. A LED lit projector will need less cooling, as LEDs create a lot less heat. Some projectors are better at controlling the noise with better fans and well designed cooling paths. In general, larger projectors have more space to manage fan and air noise. All projectors make some noise, but well designed ones will be tolerable in your room with only a quiet hum. If you want absolute silence, you can get fancy and enclose the projector in a bulkhead or different room with a window for the projected light. (Make sure to vent though!) Once you’ve narrowed your projector list, keep noise levels in mind.

As you can see, there are lots of things to keep in mind when looking for a projector. If you take your time, you can balance your needs and quality to your viewing environment at a price that works for you. Next time we’ll look at the important other half of the equation – the screen.

Think of the children: be smart with home tech

social media

Home technology has opened up entertainment, education, safety and convenience options for our homes. That said, sometimes convenience and cool factors clouds our perspective on smart tech. For those of us with kids, we can’t forget to ensure we plan and manage their connected experiences. Its never too early to think about and set some simple guidelines:

  • Rules and boundaries: Set expectations on technology and device use. Kids need to know the rules, so set them to align with your family values. This includes what programming and content you allow, appropriate times to use technology, and what’s safe to put in online profiles (no last names please!). Consider time limits because, as with anything in life, balance is a good thing. Remind them to never share passwords with any friends no matter how close they are. Speaking of friends, if you don’t want your kids up all night texting, then have devices charge overnight in your room. Its ok that you’re allowed to look at their devices and on-line use. Make sure you’re honest and up front and don’t treat it like a spying mission. You have to balance respect and privacy, but these are kids and they do need to know you care.
  • Dialogue: With all the goodness of entertainment, technology and the Internet, there are of course bad things like inappropriate TV and Internet content and cyber bullying or ‘online drama’. Explain what’s ok with you and what’s not. If they see something questionable, talk through it with them. Explain what’s good on-line behaviour and what’s not (i.e. would you say it to someone’s face?). Remind them that people’s online lives are likely much more exciting then their real lives. There are also lots of great people to have online friendships with, but if someone wants to meet face-to-face, go with them to meet in a safe public place. Explain that there is no absolute privacy online (even if the latest app promises it) and that the Internet never forgets. There are real consequences for bad online histories when applying for post secondary education and jobs. Handle missteps and mistakes with dialogue and understanding – be their guide to this new world that no generation has lived through yet.
  • Keep tabs: Think about where you want your kids using technology – especially for younger kids. A computer nook off of the kitchen or great room is a good as it allows parents to do their thing and still keep an eye on children’s online use. If your kid needs help or stumbles across something inappropiate, you’re nearby to help and discuss. Also think about where they will be watching TV or gaming. A media room setup in the great room or family room is convenient and open for causal parental checkins. Also consider that building in a cool media solution helps make your home the hub for the neighbourhood kids. Their friends may eat you out of house and home, but you’ll know where they are and what they’re up to!

You may not apply all of these, but at least think about them and use what makes sense for your family. Set the rules, and follow up on them bit by bit – they need to absorb the lessons over time. As with anything home tech, if you don’t plan, you can end up with bad experiences. You don’t need to break the bank or ruin your home’s flow and aesthetics to make it more family friendly. With some thought and planning, well integrated smart tech solutions will match your family’s needs and keep them safe and healthy.

How to improve your TV sound

Cambridge Audio Minx TVLet’s face it, the sound quality coming from TVs on the market isn’t very good. The assumption is that you’ll be using another system for the sound in a home theatre or media room. It’s not an understatement that the picture is only half of experience when watching a movie. Even a modest surround sound setup can dramatically improve your viewing enjoyment. Until recently there have been two basic types of systems to use: an AV receiver with speakers, or a sound bar. The new option of sound bases have started to appear as well.

Cambridge Audio AV Receiver

A surround sound AV receiver is a great way to improve sound quality and add surround effects. Most home setups use 5.1: a front centre speaker (usually for dialog), left and right front speakers, left and right surround speakers (sound behind you) and a subwoofer (for the ‘boom’ in 5.1 Surround Soundexplosions, etc.) The five speakers are denoted by the ‘5’ while the subwoofer is the ‘.1’ (which has flexibility in placement, e.g. place in a corner). Other systems like 7.1 and 9.2 will be technically better by creating a more realistic sound stage, but you can get a lot of mileage out of good old 5.1 systems. Even budget systems can provide quite a bang for your buck, but if you are particularly passionate, you can also use separate equipment (processors, amplifiers, etc.)

Sound bars work to pack a multi-speaker experience into one long box that pairs well with flat screens. They do this by putting multiple speakers in that box. Almost any sound bar will sound better than a TV’s speakers, but the pricier ones usually do a better Martin Logan Vision Sound Barjob of emulating surround sound effects by bouncing sound off your walls. You can simply place a sound bar on the cabinet with your flat screen or mount if that suits your fancy. Some sound bars come with separate sub woofers to help add shake to your system. Although wireless ones allow more flexibility with sub placement, that may come with quality issues (make sure you can return a system is it doesn’t work for your home).

Realizing that people often just use the TV’s stand, manufacturers are now providing sound bases that you can place under the TV. These offer basically the same options as a sound bar but in a different form. Often these don’t need a separate sub woofer, as the Cambridge Audio Minx TVbox may big enough to provide decent bass sound. Cambridge Audio’s TV Sound Plinth and Bose’s Solo TV are examples of sound bases available.

Regardless of your needs, there are options for you to explore. Usually a surround sound AV receiver and separate speakers will provide the best sound quality, but a sound bar or sound box may meet your specific needs if a more involved system (and its involved wiring) will not work for your home or lifestyle.

Hands on Chromecast

Google ChromecastWe’re always excited to try out new devices that promise a simple user experience, so with Google’s Chromecast media streamer now available in Canada we dove in.

Like any streaming device, the Chromecast was easy to set up – plug into a media room TV’s HDMI input and a power outlet. As a cool feature, the Chromecast can also be powered from a USB port on your TV if you have one – this saves finding room on a power bar. Once it’s running, you simply follow the on-screen instructions to get the Chromecast mobile or tablet app and configure for your Wi-Fi network.

Chromecast compatible apps are limited, but there are Netflix and YouTube apps. Unlike other media devices like the Roku 3 and Apple TV, you use your smartphoneNetflix or tablet as a remote – you’re not streaming directly from it. (In fact, the Chromecast doesn’t come with a separate remote.) If you use Google’s Chrome Internet browser, you can also get the Chromecast plug-in to allow you to see the Chrome browser on your TV.

Although Chromecast works well to watch the likes of Netflix, YouTube and web content, it’s a pretty limited experience otherwise. Even though our friends in the States have more options like HBO Go and Hulu Plus, the Chromecast is missing other functions like mirroring and photo & video viewing that competing systems offer. (There is the Photowall app for doodling and beaming photos to it, but that Google “Chrome Experiment” was pretty flakey for us.) It should be noted though that for what it does, Chromecast works well with Apple and Android devices.

Google’s Chromecast is really affordable at $39, but the trade off is functionality as it only supports a handful of streaming apps. Its a small, cool and affordable package, but we’re also always leery of devices that rely on Wi-Fi for media streaming, as we prefer to have the option to plug into a wired network in case your home’s Wi-Fi isn’t up to snuff. Unless you’re a savvy Google type, you may be better served by spending a bit more on a more flexible device like the Roku or Apple TV.  An Apple TV is especially great if you’re an Apple device home. It’s likely that Google will augment Android to better mesh with the Chromecast as well. It will be interesting to see what Google adds to their cool little Chromecast device to make it more attractive to the mainstream.

RIP XP

RIP XP short

A home computer can be part of a connected home solution to provide video and music media streaming through systems like Apple TV and Roku. Regardless of what you use your computer for, if you’re one of the 29% still using Windows XP, then you should be aware that you may soon be open to Internet security issues.

Windows XP isn’t dead yet, but after April 8th Microsoft will no longer provide updates for it. Time has marched on, and in fairness, Microsoft shouldn’t have to support old software forever. If you’re running a Windows XP computer, then you’ll want to review some options:

  • Upgrade your operating system (OS): You can update your current computer to a newer Windows operating system (the underlying software of your computer). Basic Windows 7 or Windows 8 home editions should run around $100. Although Windows 8 is the newer one and therefore should be supported longer, Windows 7 is more like XP and should have less of a learning curve for users. Make sure you check the minimum requirements to ensure your old faithful computer can handle the new OS software though.  If you’re feeling adventurous you can even use a free Linux based OS like Ubuntu.
  • Get a new computer: Perhaps not the cheapest option, but Shiny new iMacconsidering that you’re running 12 year old software, you might be due for a new computer too. You probably don’t need a super computer, so a lower-end laptop or desktop runs around $500. A Windows 8 touchscreen computer will cost more. If you’re thinking Mac, they start at around $600.  A new computer like a Mac opens a lot of cool connected home activities like music and video streaming.
  • Use a tablet: Think about what you use your computer for. If you find yourself only browsing on the Internet and checking email or Facebook, then maybe you can get along with just an iPad or Android tablet. A computer is usually only required to create content. That said, you can now edit and create documents, videos and moreGoogle Nexus 7 Tablet on iPad or Android tablets. As a bonus, tablets are very portable. If you think that a tablet may work for you, think through what you use a computer for over the year and make sure you have a solution for your tasks, e.g. photos storage (e.g. cloud service), music (e.g. enough storage on tablet), banking and taxes (apps), etc. A tablet also opens the door for more home tech solutions like streaming. Note that tablets though, especially Android ones, are susceptible to viruses and malware too.
  • Keep on using XP: You can keep using your XP PC, but understand that it may be an open door to hackers. That said, if you don’t use it for banking, on-line shoppingLook out Toonces! or sensitive personal activities, then maybe this isn’t a big deal for you. Maybe the worst thing that will happen is some cyber criminal hacks into your computer and gets the comprising pictures of your cat Toonces stealing a car.

If you’re using XP then its time to at least think about whether you should be concerned. As mentioned, switching to a tablet may be all you need. It also provides great flexibility from everything to watching video services like Netflix, home music solutions and even home automation. Either way, just a heads up that Windows XP is no longer a long term solution.

Digital Media Players

Roku 3

Digital media players or streaming devices are available from many manufacturers. If you’re not already using one, these are great way to get programming to your media room TV from the Internet or your computer. As mentioned last December, they are also great to stream content right from your smartphone or tablet.

The Apple TV and Roku are the most popular, but they are also available from the likes of Western Digital, Netgear and Asus. Sizes vary, but most are the size a hockey puck or two. These small devices sit near your TV and plug in a HDMI input. Features vary, but most of these devices have:

  • A dedicated remote with different capabilities depending on the system. For example the Apple TV’s is simplified barebones, while the Roku 3 allows headphones to be attached. Of course most players allow control using your smartphone or tablet as well.
  • Streaming apps like Netflix. Most have the top streaming apps, but some offer more choices for more unique tastes. As with apps built into smart TVs, you should research which ones appeal to you.
  • Ability to play content from your computer or NAS (Network Attached Storage – if you use one in your home). While the Apple TV is fixed to only play media from iTunes library, others allow more flexibility. iTunes makes it easier, but as with most things Apple, there are limitations on what they think you should be able to do. This is either a plus or minus depending on the individual.
  • Streaming and mirroring from your smartphone or tablet (as mentioned above).

There looks to be a new category of these media players forming up – the dongle. To catch you up, a ‘dongle‘ is a small device that connects directly to a computer or TV. The new Roku Streaming Stick HDMI version joins the Google Chromecast dongle that’s already available in the US. These are similar to a regular media players but with reduced or streamlined featuresRoku Ready Stick. They are focused on using your smartphone or tablet to play content (only certain Android devices for the Chromecast). We can take a closer look at these when they are available in Canada.

The great things about digital media players are that they are about $100 or less and pack in a lot of features. Not only do they smarten up any TV with an HDMI connection, they will make the idea of having to load Blu-rays or DVDs seem so passé. Happy streaming!

Making sense of TVs: “What inputs and outputs do I need on a TV?”

TVs are often a large part of the home tech experience. There are a lot of options for TVs (size, LED vs. plasma, smart features, inputs, etc.), and therefore, usually a lot of questions about these options. We’re looking at common TV options and some tips on what to look for. Last time we looked at: “What do I look for in TV picture quality?”, this week: “What inputs and outputs do I need on a TV?”

Over the last few months we’ve talked about TV size, Ultra HD, Smart TVs and picture quality. Hopefully you’re starting to get your head around what you need in a TV. But what about inputs and outputs?  In general if your cable box, Blu-ray player and streaming device (e.g. Apple TV) was recently purchased (i.e. in the last few years), then you should be well served with just ensuring your new TV has enough HDMI inputs.  If you have some older gear or special requirements, then you’ll have to be more careful that your prospective TV has the right inputs and outputs.  Either way, read on to learn ways to connect equipment to TVs.

Inputs allow you to get video and sound to your TV. You should know the basics when looking for a TV, so here is a quick summary of common inputs and their use:

  • HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) is the current go-to for connecting TVs to devices like PVRs, Apple TVs and DVD/Blu-ray players. It’s a convenient all-in-one connection for high quality audio and video that should be your first choice for connecting your gear. Make sure that you have plenty of HDMI inputs for the devicesStraight Wire HDMI cable that you want to use. Most TVs have 3 to 4 HDMI inputs – usually on the back. If you plan to connect your devices through an AV receiver, then any more that one may be redundant. That said, if you have something like a camcorder that you only connect occasionally, a HDMI input on the side of the TV may be useful.
  • Component Video is the previous generation connection for high performance video. It is only for video though, and it uses three separate RCA connectors. Straight Wire component cablesWhere previously TVs had multiple component video inputs, you may now only find one or none. If something like your cherished DVD player uses component cables, make sure your future TV has this input or plan to use an AV receiver that can convert to HDMI. Audio needs to be fed to the TV via left & right RCA connectors or through your AV receiver.
  • Composite is really old now – VCRs had this connection! (For those who don’t remember VCRsStraight Wire composite video cable) It is also a video only input (so you’ll have to get audio through other connections). Composite video uses one RCA connector and the quality is quite poor, but its useful if you have something that requires it like a Wii or other legacy gear (e.g. a VCR to play your 80s video tape collection).
  • Memory card & USB inputs alllow you to plug in a camera memory card, e.g. SD, or USB drive to show pictures or videos straight off it. Its not a common use case for most people, but if it is for you, ensure that these inputs are accessible when the TV is Google Chromecastmounted and are compatible with your memory card. A USB connection could also be handy to power something like Google’s Chromecast streaming device (sorry, its not available in Canada yet though).
  • Antenna / Cable In is the old-school coax cable input required if you’re planning to use your HD Antennashiny new TV with an antenna. Over the air digital high def TV is very impressive and is usually much better quality that what you would get from a cable provider. Available channels vary by region, but Vancouver has a decent offering depending on antenna used.
  • An Ethernet connector can be used if you’re planning to Ethernet cableuse a TV’s built in smart features. Although most of these TVs have built in Wi-Fi, you’ll usually be better served using a hard-wired Ethernet connection.

There aren’t as many output connections on a TV, but here is a summary of the common useful ones:

  • TOSLINK/Digital Audio Out can be used to Cambridge Audio TOSLINK cable connect to a sound bar or AV receiver. TOSLINK uses a special fibre optic cable for stereo or multichannel (e.g. 5.1 surround sound) high quality audio.
  • HDMI with CEC : Usually HDMI connectors on a TV are thought as only an input, but it can be a two way street. Some TVs allow return information. CEC (Consumer Electronics Control) allows your TV remote to operate other equipment like your Blu-ray player through the HDMI cables. Different manufactures call it different names, for example Sharp calls it “Aquos Link” and Panasonic uses “VIERA Link”. Logitech Harmony RemoteDifferent manufacturers gear doesn’t always play well together, but if you have equipment from the same manufacture, this may simplify your remote collection. A remote like the Logitech Harmony Ultimate may serve you better though if you have different manufacturer equipment and the budget.

Most people just want to connect one or two devices (eg. cable box and Apply TV) to their TV. In general, HDMI inputs will likely have you covered for your gear including for Ultra HD. In the future HDBaseT may be the connection of choice, but don’t worry if this isn’t on your new TV, as its not widely used yet. We always recommended using an Ethernet cable over Wi-Fi if your TV has a connector and your home setup allows it. Finally, think about your use case and determine if you need connections like an audio output for a sound bar or USB input for you next photo sharing party.

HDBaseT wants to simplify home tech wiring

HDBaseT

HDMI is the current go-to cable to connect TVs to devices like PVRs, Apple TVs and DVD players. With home tech there is always something better on the horizon, and HDBaseT is one of those standards that you may start hearing more about as its an improvement on HDMI with more capabilities. The HDBaseT, sometimes shortened to HDBT, standard allows video, audio, data, control and even power over an Ethernet cable. The HDBaseT Alliance markets this as 5Play, as it merges five home tech device needs into one cable.

HDBaseT will have us covered for the foreseeable future for video and sound. On the video front, HDBaseT allows enough video data for High Definition TVs up to 4K Ultra HDTV. There is no rush for you to upgrade to Ultra HD, but 4K Ultra HD will keep us happy with excellent video quality for years to come. HDBaseT also provides enough audio data to keep home theatre surround sound enthusiasts and picky audiophiles very happy.

Beyond video and sound, HDBaseT has a few more tricks up its sleeve. First, it allows
100Mbps for Ethernet data, which is plenty enough to watch streaming services like Netflix. Second, the standard allows for remote control over the cable. Manufacturers aren’t doing a great job right now being compatible with each other, but it can allow your TV remote to control your Blu-ray player even if the player is hidden in a cabinet. Finally it gige_cableprovides 100W of power through the same Ethernet cable. This would be enough power for a streaming device but not enough to power today’s TV (likely tomorrow’s TVs though). That would save you having to run a power to where you want to put your TV.

While there aren’t many products available with HDBaseT built in yet, if it gains popularity, you should start seeing it pop up more and more. There are also HDBaseT dongles currently for sale to convert Ethernet cables to HDMI when you only have Cat 5e or Cat 6 cabling available to the TV. Its always a good idea to plan out your home’s Ethernet wiring carefully or get some advice to do so, as Ethernet cables are invaluable for connecting home tech devices and computers. In the future Ethernet cables will likely be our go-to cable to connect our TVs and media players too, so its even more important to have a solid home tech plan.

Making sense of TVs: “What do I look for in TV picture quality?”

Wide Angle TV

TVs are often a large part of the home tech experience. There are a lot of options for TVs (size, LED vs. plasma, smart features, inputs, etc.), and therefore, usually a lot of questions about these options. We’re looking at common TV options and some tips on what to look for. Last time we looked at: “Should I get a Smart TV?”, this week: “What do I look for in TV picture quality?”

TV picture quality is a topic that can quickly overwhelm us when we’re bombarded with tech lingo. The trick is to not get bogged down with terms like IPS technology or local dimming, but more with the picture quality outcomes of these.

TV types: Plasma & LCD

First, there are two basic types of TVs today: plasma and LCD (currently advertised as “LED” TVs).  Although plasma TVs can have great picture quality, they are falling out of favour partly due to thickness, energy use and brightness, but mostly due to LED TVs being well marketed. Plasma TVs use gases and plasma to create the picture which requires more energy than LCD TVs. Plasma TVs are capable of deeper blacks than LCD TVs. Plasmas aren’t as bright as LED TVs though, and LED TVs are often winning even for rooms that aren’t overly lit. If you see a plasma TV that has a good picture and price, its still a viable option as they usually meet or beat the requirements outlined below for LCD TVs.

Picture Uniformity

LCD or Liquid Crsytal Display TVs work by polarizing liquid crystals to filter light like on a digital watch. LCD TVs need to do this for the red, green and blue parts of light. TV makers make it seem like LED is the new picture technology, but LEDs are now used to light the LCD screen from behind. Ideally the screen is lit uniformly. Less expensive models often have an uneven picture as makers have cheaped out on the LEDs or how they’re lit. Look at the picture across the whole screen for uniformity, especially in the TV’s comers. The more expensive TVs often have more LEDs and individual LED control to create a better picture (see Colour Accuracy below).

Speed & Refresh Rate

IPS is a LCD type commonly used today. Its pretty good in terms of LG IPSscreen speed, viewing angle and colour accuracy. When LCD screens first came out, screens were pretty slow to change the picture. For fast moving TV action, you could notice it as ‘ghosting’ or picture lag. Refresh rate is how many times a second the screen picture is updated, and once per second would be 1Hz. TVs in North America are usually 60Hz (standard), 120Hz or 240Hz. Most TVs today are fast with smooth pictures, but watch to ensure slow ‘speed’ won’t cause you any grief.

Viewing Angle

Most TVs also advertise viewing angle – likely something near 180 degrees, i.e. looking right from the side angles. Lesser TVs have picture quality that varies from side viewing. Compare the picture from extreme angles and directly in front. If viewing from the top or bottom is important in your home viewing take a look from those angles too.

TV viewing angle

Colour Accuracy

Colour accuracy is harder to verify in stores, as the average store showroom is very bright and therefore far from ideal for viewing. Colour accuracy is about being able to produce blacks and vibrant colours. While plasma TVs are good at displaying blacks, LCDs end up closer to dark greys. As mentioned above in Picture Uniformity, TVs with more control of the LED lights can help get better looking blacks and colours. Take a look at the screen and play with settings (usually its easy to change from the bright “demo” setting), and also read reviews on-line. Note though that both professional and amateur reviewers usually find at least one fault with products (sometimes on purpose), so don’t let them worry you too much.

What about OLED TVs?

You may have also heard about OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode) TVs. OLED promises extremely thin screens and excellent picture quality. There are many bugs to work out before those promises will be realized. The prices also have to drop to a reasonable level. Unless you’re well financed and a bleeding edge type, you don’t have to worry about OLED TVs for the time being.

Conclusions

If you’re interested, by all means dig in and learn about the technology details employed in TVs. Try to ignore the marketing tech jargon though, as you can accomplish a lot by just trusting your eyes.

A good LED backlit LCD TV will likely meet your needs. If you have videophile tastes, you may end up with a plasma. Be patient and do your research, or have someone guide you along. Either way, take your time with the TV picture settings menu or use some calibration tools when you set up your TV at home.

What’s all the hype about the Internet of things?

Internet of Things for the home

You may have heard about the Internet of Things, or IoT if you like acronyms. Arguably not a great name, but its about everyday devices being connected to the Internet to accept and pass along information about itself or it’s surroundings. There is lots of potential for industry with easy inventory tracking and maintenance alerts etc., but what does it mean for us in the home?

Manufactures are hoping we’ll all race out to fill our homes with the latest Internet connected devices, but the masses will only go for the ones that are affordable, improve lives and are simple to use. While there may be some who want a connected toothbrush or fork, more people are interested in simple convenience or energy saving devices such as the Nest Thermostat, or even the WeMo Crock-Pot (as mentioned in our last post). Although there are lots of gadgets available (and always more coming), there aren’t many today that people really need or want. Today a connected fridge for Facebook status seems frivolous, but it might be handy to get a text that you’re out of milk.

So let them pump out gadgets and gimmicks that talk to us over the Internet and our smartphones. There is a lot of focus and effort towards devices for lighting, locks, cameras and appliances, and the good ones will rise to the top. We watch trends and jump on the affordable, useful and easy to use ones, so let us know if you’d like help figuring out what’s right for you. Maybe its home lighting or temperature control, or perhaps even a crock pot.