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Home Theater Trends - What's Hot, What's Not, What We Are Looking Forward To
"Keeping Up With The Joneses" can be a challenging task, especially when it comes to electronics. Home theater and home electronics are constantly changing and evolving. Thankfully technology doesn't have to pass you by as we are happy to update you on what's HOT and what's NOT.
We even take a quick look at two new technologies we feel will have a big impact moving forward. Enjoy!
1) Wireless Whole House Music
Listening to music throughout your home has never been easier with today's wireless technology. It is now possible to listen to music in any room of your house without the need to run wire. Each room can choose unique music or multiple rooms can be grouped to listen to the same song.
Stream music from dozens of popular services such as Pandora, Spotify, and Songza, or enjoy your iTunes library. Best of all, you can use your iPad, iPhone, Android or other smart device to wirelessly control the entire system. It is even possible to update older audio systems to enjoy wireless control and streaming music services. You can finally ditch that old CD changer.
2) Outdoor Televisions
When you think about it, no one really wants to watch the grass grow. An outdoor TV can transform your boring backyard into an exciting outdoor entertainment area. It is now possible and practical to enjoy your favorite sporting event, television program, or movie on a specialized outdoor TV. Unlike their indoor counterparts, these specialized TVs are designed for the elements including rain, salt, dust, heat, cold, humidity, and glare. In short, these TVs are awesome and surprisingly affordable.
Security cameras have been around for years, but their increase in popularity is fairly recent. This popularity has been driven by the ability to remotely view cameras from a phone, tablet, or computer (Mac or PC). You are able to check in on your house, make sure you closed the garage, or see who is at the front door from anywhere in the world with internet access.
4) Furniture Retrofits
Arguably the most popular upgrade we are asked about is the television. Televisions are constantly getting better and of course they are always getting bigger. A traditional hurdle in upgrading your TV is the entertainment center. Many furniture systems are perfectly good other than the fact they were designed for a smaller or older style televisions. Before you trash your wall unit or cancel your TV plans, give us a call. We have some clever and creative solutions and are able to modify almost any furniture system to accommodate a new TV.
Does anyone see the irony in finding fans on the "hot" list? Cool puns aside, fans are definitely popular. Receivers and DVRs are among many components that pump out significant heat. Getting that heat out of your wall unit or entertainment center is important to extend the longevity of your electronics and protect your investment. We offer a number of thermostatically controlled fan solutions to increase air flow and help cool your electronics.
6) Smart Systems: Movie, TV, and Music Streaming
Smart electronics are able connect to the internet to provide a host of new entertainment options including movies, TV shows, and music. Popular video services such as Netflix, Vudu, Hulu, or Amazon Prime provide scores of on-demand entertainment and great alternatives to cable or satellite. Music services such as Pandora or Tunein open your home up to a near limitless selection of music. Most streaming services are modestly priced or free. If you have not yet connected your system to the internet, now may be the right time.
7) iPad Integration
The iPad is a bit of an enigma; it's both "hot" and "not." On the hot side, the iPad is perfect for remotely viewing security cameras or controlling your wireless music system. The iPad is also great for sharing content such as personal photographs or movies. In fact, with the proper adapter you can wirelessly "beam" your iPads screen onto your television allowing you to share your content with the entire family. While the iPad is the ideal device for many jobs, it's not perfect for all (see "not" list).
8) Single Remote Control
The single remote control has been a stalwart on the hot list since it's inception. There is nothing more frustrating than a coffee table full of remote controls. If your system confuses anyone in the family, it is simply not enjoyable for them. With our color screen remote control you are able to operate your entire system with a single, simple interface.
Further, each remote features our "automatic reset". This unique function is able to automatically return your system to it's default state magically fixing the overwhelming majority of common problems.
Electronic manufacturers expected 3D to take the industry by storm. We were all supposed to be sitting on the edge of our seats dodging the 3D effects that jumped out from our TV screens. Despite the strong push by TV manufacturers, the general public has not jumped on board. This is largely due to limited content, the need to wear glasses, and the fact that many people are bothered by the effect.
2) Voice Control / Gesture Control
Many of the newest TV models are able to respond to voice commands or even gestures. Theoretically cool, these features simply lack common practicality. Beyond that fact that voice and gesture commands are limited, most people simply don't want to talk (or shout) at their TV or wave their hands in funny ways just to change channels or adjust the volume.
3) DSL Internet Service
With the skyrocketing popularity of streaming, fast internet access has become a priority. To effectively stream high-definition movies or TV programs you need a fast, stable internet connection. Generally speaking DSL internet is much slower than cable or fiber optic alternatives, causing many customers to switch service providers.
4) iPod Docks
iPod docks have all but disappeared from most systems. There are several easy ways to enjoy your entire iTunes library wirelessly, without the need to plug in an iPod. Further, you can go beyond the confines of your own collection and enjoy the free streaming services such as Pandora or Songza.
5) CDs and DVDs
The convenience of downloading and streaming music has all but put a nail in the coffin of our beloved friend the CD. And, the relative low quality of a DVD just can't compare to the brilliance of a Blu-ray. Remember, all of your existing DVD collection will play back just fine in a Blu-ray player.
If you are still purchasing movies for your home collection, Blu-ray is the only way to go. Although don't expect them to last forever. Eventually all of your movies will stream from the "cloud." Until then, many of us still have huge media collections that need to be properly organized. If you fall into that group, check out our media cabinets. We offer incredibly efficient drawer systems.
6) Digital Cameras
At one point media card slots were a popular feature on TVs. These slots allowed you to take the memory card out of your digital camera and pop it into your TV to share your photos. Today smart phones and tablets have largely replaced digital cameras and you can wirelessly share photographs with your TV, without the need to physically insert a memory card.
7) iPad Integration
The iPad is "hot" for certain applications (such as wireless music or monitoring security cameras) but it is "not" when used as a universal remote control. The iPad is heavier, requires two hands, and does not offer offer the tactile feedback that real buttons have. For simple, convenient, one handed operation, a single, universal remote control is still the best way to control your system.
Looking Forward To
1) 4K, Ultra High Definition (UHD) Television
The next evolution expected to transform the television business is 4K television, often referred to as Ultra HD (UHD). 4K Televisions offer four times the resolution of current 1080p televisions, for an absolutely stunning picture. Ultra HD is not the next 3D gimmick. No glasses are required and it won't give you a headache. It is simply a much better, more detailed picture that everyone will enjoy.
How quickly 4K will take off will directly be linked to price and content. Several manufactures are currently offering Ultra HD sets and prices have already started to fall. Content providers are already working on ways to deliver 4K entertainment to the home which could be through cable, satellite, streaming, or even a new 4K blu-ray standard. UHD TVs will even improve the signal from your existing HD cable or satellite box by upconverting its signal to a 4K resolution. In just a few years 4K will be the norm.
2) Smart Lighting
Another cool technology we are looking forward to is smart lighting or lights that can easily be controlled via your iPad, iPhone, tablet, or other smart device. While various types of lighting control systems have existed for years, they have largely been limited to high-end, expensive installations. However now, a number of manufacturers are working on special wi-fi enabled LED bulbs that simply screw into your existing fixtures and are able to communicate directly with your smart device. You will be able to turn these bulbs on, off, dim, brighten, or even change colors! In addition to convenience, these systems offer security as you can remotely turn your lights on or off from anywhere in the world you have an internet connection.
For More Information
If you have questions or would like more information please call Dave or I (Dave Hartfelder or Steve Hartfelder) at 714-630-8100 or 800-616-5354. We can assist you whether you are local or out-of-state.