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Connected Home is always looking for ways to help you save money. Whether it be through automation, lighting or HVAC controls, security, and especially when it comes to entertainment. Entertainment is one of the best features of a home to bring the entire family together. You may argue over what to watch, but we definitely don't want to see families arguing over cost of the programming they enjoy. To begin this series, we are first going to talk about the cable options that are available in our area. We want to highlight the pros and cons of AT&T, Spectrum and ATMC to help you in making your choice in which services you need and which services you want.
Spectrum is one of the largest cable companies in the country after their merger with Charter. The biggest stand out feature of this company is there are NO Contracts for any service. All taxes and fees are said to be included, but not always. Like most of the cable providers, they offer an introductory rate for a year. Then the price can go up or stay the same depending on their current specials, but you can upgrade or downgrade at that time or simply pick another package that fits your budget. From personal experience, it can be difficult to reach your desired outcome, but have patience and remember "you get more bees with honey, than vinegar."
Pros:
Spectrum by far has the largest capabilities in Brunswick, Pender and down to Jacksonville boasting 99% coverage. AT&T and ATMC don't even come close, meaning that normally your only choice for reliable service, even if only DSL, internet and cable service is Spectrum. You can get stand alone internet starting at $45 a month for 100MbPS connection. Spectrum offers Double and Triple play deals. The double play offer includes Internet at 100MbPS and Cable TV with optional DVR for up to 4 rooms starting at $89.99 a month. The triple play offers Internet at 100MbPS, Cable TV and Phone service starting at $99.99 a month. Both plans include FREE HD content. Spectrum offers an app for your smartphone to watch on the go! Internet speeds are standard for the area and the prices seem reasonable at first. Each of these packages start with 125+ channels, seems like a lot. The technicians are normally knowledgeable, especially if you get a corporate installer and not a contractor. They now offer cellular phone service as well using Verizon towers which are normally the most reliable in the area and it can be bundles onto your cable bill. Simply plans at $14 a month per GB of data with unlimited calling or get *unlimited everything for $45 per line no minimum lines.
Cons:
Spectrum uses coaxial connections on almost all of their equipment. Most time this is cheaper but also less reliable than a LAN connection and it is older tech. Plus because the equipment is mostly lower end, expect to have some repairs; cable boxes will need to be swapped at least once and I went through 5 remotes in a year. At least they were free replacements. There is only one location to get actually face to face help from Spectrum for almost 60 miles and Mayfair has a long wait. Nearly half of the channels are normal quality and the other half are the EXACT same channels, just HD. So whatever your package is, some of the 125 channels and all of the + channels are simply HD versions just making it more complicated to find what you want because there are 2 or 3 of every channel. Why don't just make all HD? If you have children, Disney and Disney Jr. are not included in the base package, so you immediately jump to a minimum of $119.99. Want some movie channels? Now you are at the Triple Play Silver at $139.99 (where I was). Want to be able to record using a DVR? The box rental is $11.99 ($6.99) with Silver or higher) plus you have to pay $12.99 a month for the DVR service capabilities. Bottom Line expect to spend around $160 a month for a good mid-range package.
ATMC is a local company supporting all of Brunswick and Columbus counties and is a cooperative membership corporation. The fact that they are the "only" local company says a lot about them and their service. You actually get a live person when you call in and their customer service is actually superb and the best around because they are local. National companies tend to treat their customers as another number, but with ATMC you are a member in the corp. They offer similar services that the larger companies offer at comparable prices.
Pros:
ATMC offers much faster speeds than Spectrum. Spectrum runs at 100-300MbPS. ATMC offers these speeds also, but now offers Fiber then runs at incredible 1GbPS, which is 3x faster than the highest Spectrum plan. You can get stand alone internet starting at $65 a month for 150MbPS. Their introductory Triple Bundle starts at $159.99 and they have an option for Merge TV that offers streaming on 3 devices without the cost of equipment rental. Cable TV comes with 180+ channels of which most are HD, but still some double channels. Plus get the ATMC2Go app and watch on your phone or tablet. If this is a second home, ATMC offers a service where you can suspend your plan and pay a reduced rate while not at this home. They also offer smaller cable boxes that use a LAN connection instead of coaxial cables that come with Spectrum for better connectivity. One of the best qualities of ATMC is that they give back locally! They offer numerous local scholarships, community and education grants, plus they are a membership corp which means every year you get a credit on your bill as a profit share in the corp! ATMC also offers cellular service you can bundle into your plan using AT&T towers for their backbone carrier. Plans require 2 year contracts just like the cable and internet so everything is normally on the same cycle.
Cons:
Fiber is expensive. To get the 1GbPS speed with the best standard tv package (no premiums) and phone, it will run you over $209.99 a month for service in 3 rooms. DVR runs over $211.99 a month! You may need to do some work to your home if you are not building. ATMC requires Lan connections for most of their newer equipment and in most homes already built, there will be a coaxial connection. The biggest con with ATMC is that they require a 2 year contract. All f the prices I quoted come directly from the website and these are "promotional" prices that will change in the second year, normally a minimum of 30% increase. They are higher than Spectrum during the promo period and after, but they offer a deeper range in services, including the fiber option is you have gamers in the home.
AT&T has been around a long time. They have been innovating the communication game since after the days of Ma Bell. They were broke up by the government after coming close to monopolizing communication services and eventually brought most of their services back together in the late 90's. They are a very well rounded company that offers the same services as the other providers, but are quicker to incorporate newer tech and normally uses solid equipment so their defect rate is lower. After their purchase/merger with Directv a few years back, they are offering a better range of digital television.
Pros:
Fiber! AT&T was the first to roll out fiber networks and have the largest area of fiber around the tri-county area. The fiber is incredibly fast and consistent with not much downtime. AT&T offers bundle plans also, but does not offer the required phone line that comes with Spectrum or ATMC so the bundle price is lower. You can start with internet and Directv "All Entertainment" package with 160+ channels and 100MbPS for only $80(promo price)! They also have fiber bundles starting at $100 which also include the ALL Entertainment Directv package. You get a FREE upgrade to a Genie DVR box when you sign up with AT&T which saves you at least $7 a month over the others. Even better, their modem/router all in one is also FREE with your agreement saving you another $7-10 a month. AT&T also offers the Directv app for streaming on the go.Plus you can also bundle your cell phone into your deal with AT&T and get incredible service with an extra discount on you service. Their cellular service is very good nationwide and are the first to bring 5G to the market for the fastest cellular in the country. To put this in perspective, with AT&T bundles you can get 1GbPS (940MbPS) fiber internet + 330+ Directv stations on the premier package including premiums like HBO, Starz, Cinemax, Encore and many more for only $170 a month(introductory price) the first year!
Cons:
Contracts can be confusing and with AT&T even more so. The contract for the Fiber is 1 year. The contract for your Directv digital tv portion is 2 years, with prices almost doubled in the second year($110 premier plan goes to $195). And the phone contracts are either 1 or 2 years depending on the plan or phone you have. You never really know what you can cancel or when. AT&T does not offer stand alone internet. It must be bundled with at least one other service so a minumum of $90+.AT&T service is very limited, especially the Fiber. Live in Brunswick Forest, Waterford or St. James you probably have fiber, but other neighborhoods are still waiting or currently having lines put in the ground like my neighborhood currently. For instance, currently Brunswick County has less than 27% fiber coverage and 43% DSL coverage. To get many of the cellular deals, they require a minimum number of phone lines(most plans require 4 lines). To get any real bundle deal with AT&T, they require you sign up for autopay and pay first months plus deposit before you can activate plus a $19.95 activation fee for each service.
Finally, here is something that oddly all three companies offer to their customers and are just about identical and even use some of the same "hotspots" and contractors. Each offers free installation services. Each offer nationwide access to 1000's of wifi network hotspots. ALL 3 have a contract with McAfee for a free subscription to Safe Suite to help you protect all of your devices in the home!
Each have their own Pros and Cons and some or all maybe better or worse for your situation. Some may not even be available in your area. But that is why the market has changed dramatically over the last 10 years. In the next part of this series we will be examining "Cutting the Cable" Note that you can never completely cut the cable because there goes your internet connection, but this refers to your cable and phone. Most people have already dropped the home phone unless required in a bundle and they never use it anyway. There are so many Satellite TV options, subscription services and streaming services/devices now days you can save HUGE every month. The second part will be covering Satellite TV companies and the third will be covering streaming services and lastly streaming devices + my recommendations for optimal savings. All 4 blogs will be posted over the next 2 weeks!
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Summer is here! We have recently seen weeks of beautiful weather and everyone is beginning to use their outdoor space much more. We love the outdoors and spending time with family in this environment. That is why we offer a variety of services to assist in making your outdoor an expansion of your home with all the amenities. Entertaining guests at the coast is amazing this time of year and even through fall with our climate. Connected Home Inc. hopes that you have an entertaining outdoor expansion of your home and we would love to help turn this dream into a reality. Just because you are enjoying the outdoors for barbecues or picnics, doesn't mean you are in the wild.
Spruce up that landscaping with some eye appealing speakers that simply blend into the scenery. They make a great addition and have plenty of power to carry the sound across the yard for everyone to here even along the fence line. Our premium outdoor solutions feature all-new garden satellite speakers and in-ground subwoofers. Upgrade summer, any time of the year. With several styles to choose from our Niles Audio landscape speakers can deliver a summer soundtrack plus be a serious conversation piece. Check out these speakers with a realistic look that truely blends.
How about that quaint backyard gazebo or pool house. It sure would be nice to be able to swim in the pool and not miss the game or the olympics. Could you imagine swimming laps at the same time as some of America's greatest athletes as they go for the gold? With Sunbrite outdoor televisions you will never miss that opportunity! These all-weather marvels of technology are strong enough to handle the elements and provide some of the best picture quality on the market.
Don't have a pool but really miss the good ol' days of drive in movie theaters? We can make your backyard into a custom outdoor theater that will amaze anyone who enjoys this experience with you. Want to watch the stars, under the stars? Call Connected Home to add a red carpet to your front door!
There are many ways you can bring your exterior to life. Connected Home Inc. has the most knowledgeable staff around with several technical designers that can integrate your space into a dream vision. Call us today for a free consultation on what we can create for you!
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The Harmony PRO remote by Logitech is our best selling universal remote for total home control. Only available and installed by professionals, it includes Harmony Precision IR Cables, powerful multi-zone audio control, ongoing customer service options—and an enhanced warranty—to satisfy even the most demanding installations. This is not your average universal remote for a television and DVD player. Universal remotes have come far in improving their compatibility, the longevity and now have been integrated into voice control systems like Google Home and Amazon Alexa. You can now control your entire home on a single remote.
Now when we say universal remote, we mean so. Below are just some of the things you can control with this Professional remote.
- Television/Cable/Satelitte
- Media streaming (Apple TV, Fire TV, Roku, Chromecast, Netflix, Cable or Satellite)
- Lutron Automated Blinds
- Automated Lighting (Lutron, Phillip's Hue, Control4)
- Nest Products
- Sony
- Sonos
-Honeywell Thermostats
- X-Box
- Projectors
- Soundbars
Here are some of the basics about the remote...
- Can control up to 20 devices
- You can store 50 favorite channels
- Multi-zone Audio
- Rechargeable stand and charging cable
- Comes with IR Kit and Cables
- Has a communication hub for inputs
- Small Touch Screen with Haptic feedback
- 2 Year Warranty!
Basically, most standard universal remotes use IR (infrared) technology to send signals to the unit controlled. Harmony Pro actually uses a hub in your entertainment center to connect to all of the devices you wish to control. Each device will has an IR emitter that plugs into the hub and attaches to the device so that the hub can communicate with the input/output. Here is when it gets good. The hub utilizes radio frequency to communicate with the remote, which is much more reliable and does not require line of sight that a standard IR remote would need allowing you to keep the doors on the entertainment center closed for a simpler experience and cleaner look. With a RF remote, you can change the channel or input without having to point the remote at the tv. You can even be in another room and change the channel so it is ready when you return.
Our favorite feature of the remote is the ability to connect to the rest of the smarthome. This remote is not just for entertainment, it's about functionality and connectivity. You can easily pair this remote to smart lighting from Lutron, to HVAC thermostats from Nest and Honeywell, control music with your Sonos soundbar or speaker, arm/disarm your security system and even set "activities." Here’s where the magic happens. You can use the Pro to set up activities like Watch a Movie or Say Goodnight. For example, you tap the “Say goodnight activity on the Elite’s touchscreen, the activity could turn off your media components, turn off some lights and dim others, lock the door, lower your smart blinds, activate a nighttime sound machine, and lower the heat. Also, if you have Alexa or Google Home you can fire that same “Say goodnight” command off with your voice. And to make it fully smart home friendly, it comes with a free app so you can create your own activities, change settings and even use the phone as an additional remote.
The Logitech Remote is a fantastic super remote and could also be an entry level step into making your home a smart home. We offer additional smart home controllers such as Control4 and Elan, but they are considerably more than the logitech remote. The Pro is a great way to experience a little smart home without blowing the budget.
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Connected Home works hard to bring you the latest and greatest in home automation technologies and the best selection of top quality products available. Today we are proud to present our partnership with Control4. Control4 is one of the top choices for home automation around. We love our Elan Systems and may be a little parcial(lol), but you also know a great product when you see it. Control4 has a tremendous amount of features and brings connectivity to thousands of products. Let's dive in a little deeper about Control4. Connected Home is about quality and service after the sale, so let's begin with the service and support aspect.
Service & Support
Control4 offers better after-purchase support than a majority of home automation system providers. Instead of just having a page listing its email address and phone number, the company has extensive resources online to help you learn how to use your system, including guides, tutorials and videos. There’s also a customer portal on the website that lets you control system preferences. Control4 systems have a two-year warranty, which is shorter than those of some other home automation systems but average when compared to the industry as a whole.
Its hundreds of hardware partners make it easy to customize a Control4 home control system to fit your needs, only Crestron is compatible with more products. In addition to general support for hundreds of products, the company also has certified partners whose equipment strongly integrates with the home automation system. Some of Control4’s certified partners include Apple, Harman Kardon, Roku and Weather Underground, though the list goes on.
THE HOME AUTOMATION SYSTEM
Think about the following generic definition of a “System.”
System: A set or arrangement of things so related or connected as to form a unity or
organic whole.
The definition applies perfectly to the design principles behind any type of home automation system. No matter where you buy it from, what brand it is, or who installs it, a home automation system will consist of several basic parts. Together, these individual parts all contribute to the functionality, convenience and efficiency of your home, so even though a trained home automation Dealer will install your system, it helps to understand the role each component plays in the management and control of your home’s electronic products and systems. Below is a brief description of the most important components in a well designed home automation system:
THE CONTROLLER
Referred to as the “brain” of a home automation system, the core controller receives signals from devices like handheld remotes, keypads, occupancy sensors, and timers. It then translates those signals into commands and relays those commands to the appropriate equipment. All of this happens in less than a second. For example, upon receiving a signal from a timer at 6 p.m., a home controller could instruct certain lights to activate, the thermostat to adjust to a prescribed setting and the audio system in the den to start playing for your return home from work. Or say you touch a button labeled “Good Night” on a keypad by your bed—the processor could initiate a house-wide sweep that turns o all the lights and A/V equipment, locks the doors and sets back the thermostat.
Although it holds the intelligence that makes your home perform how you want it to, a home controller is able to maintain a very low pro le in your house. The non-descript, unassuming box is typically tucked away inside a closet or utility room where it’s rarely touched or seen. It runs in the background, doing its job with little fanfare. And that’s the whole idea. A home automation processor should be so seamlessly integrated into your home and lifestyle that you often forget it’s there.
THE SOFTWARE
No controller can do its job without software. The software embedded in a controller tells the products and systems in your home what to do and when to do it. The software basically provides a set of rules for your home to follow. The beauty of a software-driven system is that these rules can be easily changed, altered and modi ed, often remotely, due to the fact that most automation systems can connect to the Internet. Say you’d like to add new dimmer switches to your home’s automation routines. A few simple tweaks of the software and your new switches can be fully integrated. And just as you would with any software- driven product—like your home computer and cable box—expect software updates to come from the home automation manufacturer as they continually re ne and expand the capabilities and functionality of their systems.
THE SUBSYSTEMS
On its own, a software-driven home automation system is like a car left parked in the garage. The power and the performance are there ready to be unleashed, but that home automation “vehicle” needs somewhere to drive. This “somewhere” in a home automation scenario is the various “subsystems” that can be connected (either by wire or wireless communications protocols) to the core controller. Common subsystems to link include lighting, heating and cooling, whole-home audio and video, motorized shades and security. Once integrated with the automation system—a process that involves programming the automation software and adding the necessary hardware and wiring— these subsystems are able to seamlessly communicate with each other and operate as one cohesive unit. When the lights dim in preparation for a movie, for example, the shades can close and the thermostat can adjust to make the room more comfortable. Likewise, when an “Away” command is issued, every subsystem can react accordingly.
THE USER INTERFACES
Through its built-in timer and intelligence, an automation system is able to launch commands to prescribed subsystems based on the time of day, occupancy in a room and other conditions. In this case, your home is operating completely automatically. While some level of automation is bene cial, for the most part, you’ll want to stay in charge of the situation and issue these commands yourself. This is where user interfaces come into play. Functioning as a dashboard to your home automation system, a user interface provides valuable information about every subsystem on your automation network and lets you control them easily and conveniently with just a few taps of a finger. A user interface can come in many forms, including wall-mounted keypads and touch screens, smartphones and tablets, and handheld remotes and computers. No one type is better than another; which kind you choose really boils down to your personal preference and the design of your home. Some people can’t bear the thought of mounting technology to the walls of their new home, so they’ll often opt for portable user interfaces like tablets, smartphones and wireless touch screens. Other people prefer the tactile feel of hard buttons, so they’ll stick mainly with handheld remotes. Regardless of which combination of interfaces you choose, it’s important that they be intuitive for everyone in your family to use.
YOU AND YOUR FAMILY
The last, and most important link in a home automation chain, are those who rely on the system to make their lives easier and more enjoyable. In other words: you and your family. Your input is critical to the usefulness of a home automation system. Think about areas of your life and home that could benefit from being more easily managed and controlled, and apply that to the setup of your automation system. Also, keep in mind that even when your family dynamic changes, an automation system can change, too.
In conclusion, Control4 is a solid system with many options for connectivity. One of the better aspects of Control4 is they offer a wide array of products. Not only do they have amazing home control systems, here are a few other items Control4 offers to make them a full service automation supplier.
-Home Security Products
-Home Lighting Controls
-Scene Controllers
-Home Audio and Video including receivers
-and many more!
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Home automation can seem a little confusing to some. Many times you will hear smart home and home automation used interchangeably, and while they are very similar, there is a big difference. I like to use the DVR reference for this one. You can program your DVR to record a single movie and you can also use it to record a whole season. That is a direct comparison to our topic today.
To begin, you must have a smart home to be capable of using home automation. In essence, they both need some type of Control System for the home. This home control system gives you the ability to turn off your lights from anywhere, or even turn on/off your HVAC. You also need control to lock/unlock doors or be able to look in on your security system. These are all examples of Control over your home. This Control System gives you the ability to have a smart home or run your automation. Now let's look at the general meaning of smart home vs. home control.
A Smart Home is normally defined as a certain class of devices and sensors that can be controlled by the user via an app on the phone or using your internet connection to connect to these devices. They could be smart or dimmable bulbs, a smart thermostat for controlling the HVAC, or even a smart microwave. These devices are normally connected to an app by the manufacturer that will allow you to control their specific devices. You can even use voice commands through Google Home or Amazon Alexa to complete basic tasks in your smart home.
Home Automation, on the other hand, is a methodology that allows your Smart Home to run automated services you have set up. They will be pre programmed by the user for certain events. The theory behind this is that certain things you do all the time on a routine basis should be automated so you has less preparation before your event begins. When you have a Google Home or Alexa, it may seem easy enough to control the home, but automation makes it even more convenient.
For example, let’s say you may have Lutron Smart Lighting, and when you watch movies you like to have them all set up in a certain ‘scene’ (scene is general purpose term that refers to the a bunch of smart home devices set to a specific state). General smart home use would be opening up the app on your phone and then pressing the button for the corresponding scene and then starting your movie– and then when you stop (or press pause) opening up the app again and pressing the button for the scene that you want to go back to. If you are into home automation, you would set up an automation that detected when a movie started playing and then automatically adjusted your lights to your ‘movie scene’ and then turned them back to normal when you pause or stop.
To confuse matters more, often some smart home devices will have some home automation features built right into their core functionality– like the Nest thermostat, for example, automatically adjusts your temperature depending on whether it thinks you are home or away.
But built-in home automation features are not the only (and often not even the best) way to accomplish this functionality.
Most home automation enthusiasts will use some sort of hub software, such as Control 4 or Elan, that serves as a middle-man to allow various devices and ecosystems to talk to each other and to use various small pieces of information from one another and combine this information to assemble the context it needs in order to better respond to more complex scenarios than any single set of devices can on their own. Hub software like this also has the added benefit of being a single point of control so that you can control all of the smart devices in your house without having to use a bunch of different apps for each device.
Some users do not mind having 15 different apps to control 30 different devices in their home because they may like knowing each device has its own app and they can find them in their phone easier this way. That's ok for a DIY person, but Connected Home is in the business of delivering professional grade solutions to make the process as easy as possible for our users and clients. There is nothing like having your entire house inside of one app. You open one app and have your entire home right there; security, lighting, all of your televisions, music, surround sound, HVAC, dvd, cable, satellite, refrigerator, and so many more in one single app!
Smart Homes and Home Automation are very practical in today's world and are getting more increasingly popular and cheaper the more people use them. Connected Home believes we can correctly identify your lifestyle and create a dream home that works for you. If you still have questions or want a free consultation about your and your homes needs, please feel free to call and schedule a time to make your home, a Connected Home!
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With its ability to provide dealers and customers with the most integrated and intuitive automation platform, Nortek has just unveiled its new 8.3 software update. Chris and Mike have just visited the booth at ISE 2019 where they have seen the full capabilities first hand with the Nortek team who has just implemented this amazing new update.
“ELAN 8.3 is our latest software that makes the smart home or business more intuitive and intelligent, and provides dealers and end-user customers with more customization options,” said NSC Director of Software Product Management Tom McKeon. “With every update, we make it easier to access, control, and automate more subsystems within the installation and, in doing so, we continue to equip our dealers with the most seamless control platform to sell to their customers.” Most notable feature is the new enhancement of the security camera viewing and functionality, showing off the new *Intellivision to minimize false positive alerts from motion detection.
Now that the 8.3 has been released, ELAN Surveillance Configuration and Recording options are now available to the end user in the Viewer tab. You can now program custom recording schedules, zones, and quickly apply these to all cameras. Users can also employ a privacy mask password protection on per-user basis with up to four regions per camera, and add link recording and privacy options to System Mode.
“The new capabilities offered by the ELAN Surveillance Camera line lets users define a custom ‘survey area’ for advanced motion detection, and set sensitivity, object size, width parameters, and scene types,” McKeon said. “The system can distinguish between a ‘person’ and a general motion event – like a tree swaying in the wind – that is a primary reason people turn off their alerts.”
Additionally, dealers can now optionally set static IP addresses for NVR and Cameras in the Discover tab with a new preview window when adding camera to assist with identification and renaming. The update also offers improved Surveillance footage timeline loading, and progressive loading for more responsive local and remote playback.
ELAN 8.3 also enables a new robust weather service, with new weather icon sets; a multiple pool support feature that allows for up to four pools on the controller; and updated drivers for popular AVRs including Integra®, Onkyo®, Pioneer®, Denon®, Marantz® and Sony®.
With 8.3, ELAN now communicates directly with the 2GIG® Vario® hybrid wired/wireless security panel. For pool and spa control, Pentair IntelliCenter™ support has been added. The Sonos® driver updates enable Line-In support for players as well as Static Zones for home theater players and Optical-In selection.
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There are many people who are indeed hesitant to adapt to new technology over fear of giving up too much personal information about themselves, having to their personal conversations listened to or recorded, or simply because they have always lived their lives as they do now and remain resistant. Connected Home is here to help you breathe a little easier. Everything on these devices is still under your control. There are no AI end of the world scenarios on the horizon just yet. All you have to do is educate yourself a little more on what can and cannot be done these devices and a little patience while the device "learns" your habits and your voice.
So what are these personal voice assistants anyway? Well, basically, that is exactly what they are. These guys are virtual assistants made to make you life a little easier by connecting you to your data. They can make phone calls, schedule reminders and appointments, ask questions, and more. They also have a built in speaker that is quite sufficient for smaller spaces such as a kitchen or bathroom. Our favorite part? These guys (plus your network) are the focal point of the "Connected Home" experience. Voice Assistants assist your lighting control, can turn on or off music and movies, control your thermostat, and so much more! Smart devices connect to and are controlled by these voice assistants. You can add a home hub from Lutron or Samsung, and control your smart devices while not even at home!
What are they listening to? This is a question that I wanted answered also, having a Assistant at home myself. So after researching more, I found that both Amazon and Google actually do record requests you make. When you converse with the speaker, it send your voice recording back to the server so it can be "translated" into binary for the device to understand. These recording are ONLY sent at your request, waking from "sleep" when you command with "Alexa" or "OK Google." They do NOT record non-stop and the recordings they have made CAN BE DELETED from your account. The only downside to deleting...your looses the data gained in that conversation, i.e. voice training, that shopping item history, that reminder in your schedule. Plus if you are overly concerned, there is a mute switch on the device itself that turns the microphone off completely until you turn it back on.
How Do they stack up?
As you can see there are some similarities. They both offer a variety of music services, they are both listening, and have their unique identifiers for command inputs, add items to calendar, make shopping lists, control lighting systems, utilize smart systems, control thermostats, and more. Then there are notable differences such as the sound quality of the speaker (Google is the Winner), the devices they can connect to (Alexa is the winner with over 12,000, but Google has 5,000 and growing), and the ability to connect to other speakers (Google via ChromeCast and Amazon via bluetooth). Both can do many of the same features that a normal person would use on a regular basis and over the next few years, one can assume the field will tighten between to two even more. Currently Amazon has around 80% market share with Google and Apple making up the majority of the remaining 20%, mainly because Amazon was first to the market by a couple years.
Overall, We are impressed with both devices and the leaps they have made in these first few years in their infancy. There is much more to come as AI slowly begins to enter our everyday lives. They are slowly becoming a staple in most homes and as their cost and options change, soon just about every home will have some smart features added. Are one of these devices better for you? We suggest a little stick with what you know. Already have an Amazon Prime account? Alexa market is built around Prime, so get an Echo. Love your Android phone? You might want to continue using Google Assistant. Everyone is different and has different needs in the home.
As a Home Automation company, we use personal voice assistants in peoples home on a daily basis configuring multiple applications to save our customers money and time so they can spend both of those on more important matters like family. As a small family business, we appreciate an equitable balance of work and play. Let us help you make more time in these ever shrinking days, while giving you the peace of mind that you can fix anything at home, while on the go. Forget to turn that light off? Leave for vacation and forget to turn the AC off? Coming home late and no outside lights on? Utilizing Google and Amazon, we can fix that!
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Many things now days are moving at a break neck pace. Everyone needs their projects done yesterday and to keep things moving, sometimes they may skip over the perfect pick for convenience of time. We are here to tell you that short term gain often leads to negative outcomes down the road a bit. Connected Home Inc. is proud to be a Automation Leader in South East NC. We have taken the time and effort to insure that when one of our technicians arrive at your home, they will truly be a professional you can count on, now and in the future. Connected Home Inc. has great pride in the team we have built and we accomplished this with the help of a great organization, Cedia.
Cedia was established by industry pioneers in 1989 with the guiding principle that the people doing the work make the difference between an average experience and a great experience for the customer. To this day, Cedia is still about the difference that the dedicated professional makes in bringing beautiful and enjoyable new experiences into people's homes. The very first Cedia Expo opened to the public in 1990 to over 500 attendees who represented installers, manufacturers, and industry affiliates who wanted to focus on the fundamentals of multi-room audio. In 1995 the Australia office opened to serve the Pacific Rim and in 1996 the UK office opened to serve all of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Cedia had become a global organization in 7 years by offering services and certifications the industry so desperately needed. Their growth alone shows the desire of true craftsmen who wanted to excel in their trade.
As the industry grew, so did Cedia. New technologies created new opportunities. As the millennium approached, lighting controls, serial controls, and automation gained rapid acceptance and the success of DVD raised the bar on the home theatre experience. In the 21st century advancements took years and not decades. During the 2000's, the internet and home networking exploded. Advancements continued in Multi-room audio and now Cedia began integrating distributed video, customizable programming, touch screens and structured wiring, which are now staples in the industry. It was during this time Cedia recognized the need for a more consistent, higher level of learning to keep all of their members up to speed on the fast paced changes that were continuously moving the industry forward. It seems they were right on time, because the industry changed yet again with the emergence of the smart phone and the infancy of streaming made its way on the scene. During the 2000's, Cedia set out to develop industry standards through formalized, vendor-neutral training.
As focus on the "Network" became more apparent, Cedia once again met the industry needs with the introduction of a full spectrum of learning dedicated to the home network, the heart of all home automation. In 2013, there were over 2000 registrations for Cedia's networking seminars which lead to the Cedia University in 2014. Now the industry finally had a firm set of core values, standards, and goals for those looking for a career in the home theatre and automation fields. Cedia continues to be an industry leader, now having developed multiple levels of skill and accreditation, as well as ongoing education and re-certification to maintain all the neccessary skill sets in this constantly evolving industry.
There are four main certifications available to technicians at this time. The ESC Certification is a foundational credential for individuals who work in the home technology industry and want to broaden their knowledge in all aspects of the channel. The ESC-T Certification is for individuals who are well versed in rough-in and trim-out tasks as well as installation and troubleshooting. This certification covers the technical expertise that forms the foundation of the industry. The ESC-N Certification is for an individual who has mastery of designing, installing, and configuring a network in the home. Our President, Chris Hudson, will actually be taking this exam at the end of the month! The ESC-D Certification is for an individual well-versed in needs analysis, project design, documentation, and design management. Most professionals who sit for the exam have five or more years of experience.
We currently have 2 apprentice on the team who finally have the skill level and on the job training to attain their certification by the end of January. At that time, our ENTIRE team of installers will be Cedia Certified. When it comes to serious tech, it should only be trusted with a true professional. When it comes to the stability of your home and network, wouldn't you prefer a true professional with real accreditation? We hope you answer yes. We hope that you have the time to schedule a walk through with your local, professional Connected Home representative. We look forward to serving you with the best this industry has to offer. Please feel free to shop around and found out if our competition has taken the time and effort to master their trade as we have. Thank you again and look forward to working with you soon.
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Connected Home Inc. by Bryan Aldridge - 5M ago
How far we have come!
In the good ol' days of home theatre, home owners tried to simulate multi-directional sound with two speakers in front of them, one to the left and one to the right. For obvious reasons, this did not work out very well, but did give a better volume boost than a simple television in the center of the room. With the help of Bell Telephone scientists, it was determined that a minimum of three speakers was need to try and simulate the raw, real world sounds in a more realistic way.
During the 50's and 60's, Movie Theaters where investigating how to attract more business by making the user experience better. They discovered that the more speakers they added to the theater, the better moviegoer experience. Thus, they added more and more speakers. Eventually, they added speakers in the rear for ambient background sounds. Speakers were next added to the sides for music and a three speaker setup in front for left, right and a center speaker, giving the consumer a more realistic, life-like sound.
The next major evolutions came in the 80's where Dolby introduced 4 channel surround sound. Then came another major break through in home theatre with the release of DVD's for in home viewing entertainment. With DVD's, Dolby released the current standard of Dolby 5.1 surround sound giving the market a five speaker range of sounds for movie theaters and home owners alike. This included two front speakers for sound and music, a center speaker for vocals and 2 rear speakers for background noise. This new shift made it possible for today's home theatre experience.
Even today, the projector movie experience is still the staple in commercial theaters as well as the home theatre. Projectors have made their own advancements in quality and projection capabilities. With the digital age, they have became even smaller, cheaper and have made vast improvements in quality. The technology has come so far that these projector screens can easily be mounted in the ceiling to drop down at the command of a remote or still can be mounted to the wall for the classic drop down. Some projectors still sit on a table as they did in the 50's giving them mobility to be moved from room to room. Nowadays, most in home projectors are ceiling mounted for convenience and for seamless projection to the screen. This also makes it easier for data and surround sound connections, so that the cinema can be integrated into home automation services.
So what does the future hold? Virtual reality, 3D technology and television sizes are on the rise, but are still in their infancy. There will be major improvements with the advent of this technology and the expected advancements they will bring into the market. Some companies are even experimenting with speakers built into chairs to give more "in the moment" sound and bringing the ability to feel the vibrations of explosions and high revving motors on the screen. Companies today are racing to bring their tech to the market first and the future is looking very bright indeed. Disney has been experimenting with adding smell into some of their theaters. Trying to emulate burping, flowers, and potions. The only sense that is still waiting to be added to the experience array is taste, but there is probably someone working on that today.
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It's estimated that the Home Automation market will reach $79 Billion a year by 2020, bringing a staggering 477 Million new smart devices with it! Those kind of numbers will bring an incredible amount of kilowatt hours with them. That does not mean you will have to shell out big dollars to the power company. Many of these devices can be automated saving you lots of precious time, hard earned dollars and saving the environment with lower power consumption and emissions. Let's look at a few ways home automation can aid in your efficiency.
Water Savings:
Everyone wants to save water! Especially when we are under a drought and fines could be levied, and even on the contrary when it's raining and you left the sprinkler timer setting the same. Having the ability to control your water systems on your phone or tablet, gives you the ability to save huge on water by giving you control to make changes on the fly, set timers or even to shut the system down if needed due to leaks, ruptured pipes or needed repairs. You can even do this if you go on that European vacation you have been talking about. There are even smart shower heads and faucets around the corner that can change your water pressure while in the shower using voice control. Turn on the water at your sink with your voice when you have filthy hands to reduce having to clean the sink when you are finished cleaning your hands. Literally more and more ways to save water are around every corner, saving YOU on utilities.
HVAC Savings
Smart thermostats have come a long way since conception. Nowadays they can be integrated with smart home phone applications and not just timers, favorites or modes. You can set thermostats to slow or turn off when away at work and then to turn on again right before you walk in the door. Forget to turn off the AC before you left on that weekend trip? Just log onto your Elan 8 App and turn the AC down or off until you return. Smart Thermostats Can save you up to 23% of heating and cooling costs.
Next, introduce smart shades in those downstairs rooms to maximize interior temperatures. Set the shades to stay down longer during the summer months to keep the cool in and the sun out. Raise those shades all day in the winter months to allow the sun to warm up the room some without the need for the heat to be on as high. Then always set the shades to lower at night all year around to keep the warmth indoors. All of our Lutron Serena Shades have a significant R value (insulation rating), especially the room darkening ones. Honeycomb shades can save up to 30% of your heating and cooling costs.
Lighting Savings
Everyone wants to use LED bulbs in todays environment conscious mindset. LED bulbs are great for savings and longevity, but most of the time you need a little more. How about getting a "dimmable" LED or add a lighting control system. Yes it is an investment, but the ROI is fast and can make up HUGE savings on the backside. Connecting all the lights you use the most to a smart bridge for control anywhere can save you big time. Forget to turn the lights off before you left the house? Kids leave on a bedroom light? Forget to leave the porch light on before date night? Did you leave the clothes iron or curling iron when you left for work? Scary right? All these can be controlled from anywhere for convenience, safety and savings. Set "scenes" for while you are home to dim the lights to 50%.
Use a Smart Plugs to turn off computers and tv's while you are away. They use power even when turned off!
Use Motion Sensor lights that will turn off when no one is on the room.
Make sure you invest in a Smart Bridge or Hub! This device will connect your home to the you in the outside world. This on device allows you to connect and control every smart device in the house from anywhere in the world as long as you are connected to the web.
A home that runs itself has been a dream every since the mid 20th Century. Call Connected Home Inc. today and find out how we can help you finally realize that dream and save big!
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