Advanced Home LLC in June 07 Hometoys
Do’s & Don'ts in Home
KEVIN HUNT; The
Hartford (Conn.) Courant
Published: August 12th, 2006 01:00 AM
Don’t put your finger in that electrical socket.
Oh, wait, you already knew that. But here are a few
other things you might not know about how not to treat
your home-entertainment equipment.
Do not plug your TV into the same circuit as your air
conditioner, whether it’s sharing a power strip or
plugged into different wall outlets on one side of a
room. (It’s no coincidence that the TV picture dims
every time the AC kicks into super-cool mode.)
Do not buy a TV that’s too big, or small, for your
room. For an HDTV, determine viewing distance by
multiplying the screen size, measured diagonally, by
21/2. (Suggested viewing distance, then, for a 50-inch
set, would be 10.4 feet.) For an analog TV, multiply the
screen size by three.
Do not use the inferior composite or S-Video
connections with your HDTV. (Use component video or HDMI.)
Do not panic if your CD skips. Most likely, it’s just
dirty. Clean with a lint-free cloth, wiping from the
center to the edge – not in a circular motion. Some
people use dish detergent or Windex, but a cloth and, if
needed, a little water will work. If the disc still
skips, it might have a scratch or gouge. Repair it with
a Digital Innovations SkipDR Repair Kit (www.digitalinnovations.com,
about $30). If all your CDs skip, it could be that your
player’s lens is dirty. Buy a CD cleaner with a brush
attachment at your local electronics store.
Do not let two speaker wires touch while the receiver
is on, or you’ll risk damage to the receiver. Best-case
scenario: It will shut down if it has a protective
circuit built in. Do not turn off your receiver unless
the volume has been turned down all the way.
Do not, if you’ve connected an audio-video receiver
directly to a cable-ready TV, turn off the TV before
you’ve turned off the receiver. (You’ll hear an ugly and
potentially damaging thump.) As a general rule, turn off
equipment in reverse order they were turned on.
Do not be afraid to experiment. If you don’t like the
sound of your speakers, move them. Some guidelines: Most
speakers sound best when they’re at least 4 feet from a
side wall and 2 feet from the rear wall. Try to get the
speakers far enough off the floor so that the tweeters,
the little drivers that reproduce high frequencies,
align with your ears while you’re seated in your
favorite listening spot. For a more intimate, detailed
sound, angle in the speakers slightly so they’re aimed
directly at you.
For a calculated speaker placement, try the
mathematical formula at Cardas Audio (www.cardas.com).
Click on Insights, then Room Setup.
Do not turn on bright lights while watching a movie.
Treat your home theater like a real movie theater. Keep
it dark, with minimal lighting, so the picture really
pops. Put a 7-watt nightlight in an outlet behind your
TV. That should be enough. Perfectionists should try
Ideal-Lume fluorescent lighting (www.cinemaquestinc.com).
If you’re putting a speaker close to the TV, make
sure the speaker is magnetically shielded so it doesn’t
distort your set’s picture. Most new speakers are
shielded, but a lot of older ones are not. Check the
Do not group your audio connections with power cords.
The power cords can carry radio-frequency interference
and electromagnetic interference that hitches a ride on
the interconnects and, when amplified, shows up as hum
or low-level distortion through your speakers. If you
can’t avoid clustering the interconnects with a power
cord, try to cross the power cord with the interconnects
at a 90-degree angle.
To minimize risk of interference, do not use long
runs of cable. Do not bend or twist audio cables.
Do not be afraid to clip out this list
Lights. Mood. Video. All at the Touch of a Screen.
By Michel Marriott, The New York Times
2 February 2006 - Vincent Aita, a partner in a
Chicago-based hedge fund firm who does considerable work
in New York, bought a two-bedroom apartment overlooking
the Chelsea section of Manhattan last year. But before
he moved in, he commissioned a months-long makeover
complete with new floors, a sleek new kitchen and an
updated open profile where there were once walls.
And naturally, he said he thought at the time, he wanted
a simple means to control all the consumer electronic
goodies he planned to buy to equip his new home.
These days when he enters his home, a touch on a
compact, wall-mounted L.C.D. screen just inside his
front door lights up his apartment like a department
store. Once inside, another touch on a larger portable
screen commands his 61-inch high-definition television
and multi-channel sound system to stand by as he readies
a favorite DVD.
Another tap of a screen or a button on what looks like a
conventional remote control, and Mr. Aita's living room
falls into a cozy twilight, perfect, he said, to enjoy a
good film at home — controlled, of course, with the same
fingertip ease as practically everything else in his
"The system is mostly intuitive," said Mr. Aita, who is
32 years old and has an evident penchant for order. "I
was fortunate that this particular technology was
available when I was looking for it."
In Mr. Aita's case, the technology comes by way of a
system built by Control4, a home automation company
based in Salt Lake City. The company aims to produce
affordable security products that are easy to use and
can be installed after homes are built. Control4 is
hardly alone in its attempt to make home automation as
much a part of high-tech American homes as flat-panel
The promise of a remote control home has buzzed around
consumers' ears for decades, but never seemed to
materialize for mainstream households. Most Americans
have had to behold home automation from afar, featured
in magazine spreads on televised tours of the homes of
But just as flat-panel television prices have
significantly fallen in the last year, so have the costs
of putting a home's operations under a fingertip's
control, many home automation makers and installers say.
Even basic functions — like central control of all of a
home's music, movies and television, with atmospheric
lighting — now cost hundreds rather than thousands of
dollars, said Craig Cohen, president of Compushine, the
New York company that installed Mr. Aita's system.
Mr. Cohen said earlier home-automation systems could
routinely cost $70,000 to $300,000. Mr. Aita said his
Control4 system cost about $10,000.
One advantage of the newer systems, users note, is that
they are modular. As a result, once the central control
unit is installed, additional modules — usually
wirelessly linked — may be added according to the
homeowner's needs and budget.
Mr. Aita said his system's main control unit cost
$2,300, the in-wall touch screens $700 each, the
hand-held remote controls $100 each and the wireless
light switches $100 apiece.
An integrated controller with CD player, MP3 server,
with FM, AM and satellite radio cost about $5,000, he
Not everyone, of course, is a hedge fund partner. But
even those on small budgets can take advantage of
falling prices. Kurt Scherf, the principal analyst and
vice president of Parks Associates, a market research
and consulting company based in Dallas, noted that a
home starter kit he found at Home Depot, consisting of a
controller and enough modules to control at least four
lights wirelessly, cost as little as $100.
"The technologies to allow for low-cost and hassle-free
installation and reliability have come a long way since
the 1970's, when people first stared talking about the
possibility of home control and home management," he
Many of the innovations transforming home automation,
industry executives and analysts say, are possible
because of steady improvements in wireless technologies
and home Internet access. Last month at the Consumer
Electronics Show, the annual Las Vegas showcase of new
high-tech products heading to market, companies like
Control4 and Lutron Electronics prominently displayed a
new class of affordable home automation systems.
Most of the new products rely on wireless links that
connect the hub of a home security system with various
modules, like those that control power outlets and light
switches. One of the newest wireless protocols, ZigBee,
also called 802.15.4b, is designed specifically for
integration with home and office networks.
ZigBee is capable of two-way communications, an
advantage over many earlier systems that were only
one-way. With a two-way link, remotely controlling a
light in the basement, for example, becomes less of an
act of faith; a signal can be sent back to confirm that
the light has done what it was commanded to.
This year, some industry analysts say, ZigBee may become
a standard for home automation, further speeding system
adoption and overall popularity of the category.
Wireless systems offer great utility and convenience
compared with conventional wired systems, Mr. Scherf
said, because they are easier to install, greatly
reducing or eliminating the need to string cables over
or through walls to connect the systems.
A wireless light switch, for instance, can be placed in
the wall and be commanded by a wireless remote control
or wirelessly linked to a control hub that automatically
activates preferred lighting brightness based on the
time of day, home-theater use or other factors, Mr.
Cohen of Compushine said.
In fact, he said, a remotely controlled light switch is
often what he first shows prospective customers to help
them conceptualize what can be accomplished in
retro-fitting automation systems into homes.
"You start with a light switch and people understand
that you are bringing something to the home when they
can see that they can control the home's lights from the
bed, from a couch," Mr. Cohen said. "They go, 'wow.' "
Lutron's Maestro IR remote control dimmer, which won an
innovation award at the electronics show, can recall a
user's preferred lighting level at the touch of a
button. It costs $54 at home improvement stores and
While home automation systems have become significantly
easier to install and set up, systems like Control4
still require professional installers and are sold
through authorized dealers, said Will West, president
and chief executive of Control4. But he said the company
was testing putting its systems and components in
big-box stores like Home Depot to appeal to adept
"It is still fairly new, and most people are just
becoming familiar with home automation," he said.
But the home automation pioneer X-10 has long been
selling its systems to consumers and urging them to take
remote control of their homes and offices. X-10, founded
in 1978, uses a combination of wireless technologies and
a home's existing electrical wiring to communicate with
While the company offers some two-way systems, most are
offered in one-way mode to keep costs low, said Dave
Rye, senior vice president and technology manager of
X-10, which is based in Hong Kong.
X-10 products are sold online (www.x10.com) and under
various brands names in retail stores like Radio Shack.
For years, he said by telephone from the company's
office in Seattle, X-10 has been able to retrofit a home
with automation for less than $100 requiring only a
personal computer to set it up. He said a starter kit
costs $50 and each additional wireless module to control
a lamp, for instance, costs $10.
But Mr. Aita, the hedge fund partner, said he did not
have the time or ability to automate his Chelsea
apartment. So when he literally bumped into Mr. Cohen of
Compushine while playing hockey at Chelsea Piers,
everything — the able installer, a maturing technology
and the affordable price — seemed to click into place.
CEDIA is an international trade association of
companies that specialize in designing and installing
electronic systems for the home. The association was
founded in September 1989 and has more than 3,500 member
companies worldwide. CEDIA Members are established and
insured businesses with bona fide qualifications and
experience in this specialized field. CEDIA Members
include residential electronic systems contractors who
have emerged as the “fourth contractor” in the building
and remodeling industries alongside electrical,
plumbing, and HVAC professionals. For more information
on CEDIA, visit the association’s Web site at
About CEDIA EXPO 2006
The latest technology and products for the home will
be introduced at CEDIA EXPO 2006, such as home networks,
home automation, communications systems, theater rooms,
and whole-house entertainment systems, CEDIA EXPO is the
place where breakthrough technologies are introduced and
lifestyle trends are defined.
In addition to over 500 exhibitors, CEDIA EXPO 2006
offers over 200 manufacturer product training classes,
numerous core curriculum courses from CEDIA University,
and CEDIA Certification review sessions, and exams.
Although CEDIA University core curriculum courses,
review sessions and exams are available at locations in
North America throughout the year, CEDIA EXPO is the
only event when all CEDIA University offerings are
available in such a comprehensive schedule. To register
online for CEDIA EXPO 2006, visit