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November 28, 2018  |  by Shawn Moran from Graytek

Home Theatre Considerations

Another thank you to Shawn from Graytek for this guest blog post and the excellent information he has provided on planning for your home theatre! If you haven't already, be sure to check out his first guest post: 3 Expert Tips to Plan Your Smart Home.

 

Home theatre rooms, whether they are a dedicated space, or a system in your family room are a great way to entertain guests, host events or just get the family together. There is so much out there in terms of brands, price points and approaches to creating a theatre room. 

One of the top questions we get is: Projector or a large flat panel display?

Projectors are going to give you the biggest image possible, and with a good screen can also give you an amazing picture that will rival any flat panel TV. What you want to consider is ambient light, and if you are going to be using your theatre with a lot of light in the room. If you have big windows and a lot of natural light, go flat panel TV, natural light will wash out a home cinema projectors image a lot more than a flat panel TV, affecting image brightness, colour accuracy and contrast.  If you have controlled light, and plan on viewing movies with some lights on, you can still go with a projector, provided it has a decent lumen rating (brightness).

The 3 other main items to consider when building and budgeting for a home theatre room are: 

1. Performance:   Consider both great picture and equally as important, great sound quality. You need both for the movie to be impactful, not one over the other.

2. Comfort:  Consider good seating, something that doesn’t exhaust you after 15 min, seating that can accommodate a drink or food tray. Factor in room temperature and climate control for this room.

3. Ease of use:  One held remote control to operate the theatre with easy to read buttons and back lit buttons.

If you haven’t considered and/or budgeted for these 3 items, chances are your theatre won’t be used much. 

Typically, when I hear about a theatre never being used, or disappointment on how it turned out, it’s always because one or more of these items were not put into consideration. No one wants to sit in a room that gets to stuffy and hot.  No one wants to sit on uncomfortable seating that may be positioned wrong in the room. No one wants to juggle 6 different remotes, remember all the steps that need to be taken just to watch a movie!

A lot of people will focus on the performance aspect and only budget for that, which is a major part of the Theatre experience as a whole, but not the only item that needs to be considered. Considering all 3 main factors will mean your theatre experience will be much more enjoyable!

November 14, 2018  |  by Shawn Moran from Graytek

3 Expert Tips to Plan Your Smart Home

A big THANK YOU to Shawn Moran from Graytek for providing his expertise on how to plan ahead for a Smart Home. Whether you are building a new home or renovating your existing home, learn how you can plan ahead even if you aren't quite ready to add various systems in your home now. Your future self (or a future owner of your home!) will thank you. Be sure to check out their website and contact them if you're looking for help with a home theater, home music system, motorized shades, security and more.

Read on for Shawn's Top Three Tips so you can create a Smart Home:

1. Wire for the Future

You might have big plans for your home: Theatre in the basement? Whole house audio? Fast wireless internet through-out?  Motorized shades?  Maybe some, if not all, is something you want to have eventually in your home, but it doesn't fit into your initial budget. The best thing you can do is wire for as many options as possible during construction. By running the wire now instead of trying to retro-fit it after is going to be much easier and more cost efficient. 

Having a home properly wired will give you options down the road. Make sure the right wire is run, that it is run properly, and correctly documented. If you add a theater into the basement in five years, it will be immensely helpful to have the wiring clearly labelled and documented in a wire chart that can be easily referenced. 

2. Home Networks, you need both wired and wireless

Having a fast and reliable network, both wired, and wireless are going to allow you to surf the internet faster, stream content better, and transfer files quicker. A reliable and robust network will also ensure smart home devices are performing how they should. Typically, the router and wireless access point that your service providers include (Telus & Shaw) are not going to give you the network you need for any moderate level of smart home technology. Typically, the more smart home devices you have, and the larger the home, the more robust your network needs to be. 

Wireless needs to be excellent in the entire home, especially if you are using mobile devices to communicate with smart devices. You also need options for hardwired internet connections in the appropriate areas. Some smart devices operate exclusively on a hardwired connection.  some have the ability to do both, but perform better hardwired. Have a hardwired internet connection at every TV!  Smart TVs now have built in streaming services like Youtube and Netflix and these perform better with a secure hardwired internet connection. Your apple TV and game console will also perform optimally with a hardwired connection.

3. DIY Smart Home Products

DIY (Do It Yourself) smart home products are smart home devices that you can purchase at retail and online shops like Best Buy and Amazon, and typically install yourself. Everything from Smart locks, smart lights, portable speakers, thermostats, WIFI cameras and smart doorbells are all available for the DIYer. These products tend to be inexpensive, simple to install and can often work decently provided you know their limitations.

Where these products typically fall short is scalability and compatibility with other devices.  For example, let’s say you go out get a smart thermostat and it has its own mobile phone app.  Now you want to install some cameras and they run on another app on your phone.  Smart doorbell? Another app. Portable speakers? Smart lights?  These all typically have their own app and will not talk to each other.  

Let’s take a typical scenario, where you have music playing and you are expecting guests….

The DIY smart home:

Someone comes to your front door, presses your smart door bell.

Your iPhone then prompts you and tells you someone’s at the door.

You then open your music app, to mute the music.

Go back to the doorbell app to see who it is. 

You say hello to them on your doorbell app.

Now then close the doorbell app.

Open your smart lock app to unlock the door to let them in.

Now close the doorbell app.

You then re-open your music app to start the music back up. 

Are the hall lights on for them?  Better make sure, open your smart lighting app!

 

Phew….

Ok now same scenario, but with an integrated smart home system installed and programmed by a professional:

Someone comes to your front door, presses your smart door bell.

Your music automatically mutes, as your iPhone prompts you and tells you someone’s at the door.

You open your smart home app where you can greet your guest and unlock the door from the same screen.  That same app is also showing that the hall lights are on for your guests.

Once you have done that the music has automatically resumed.

Easier….

A smart home isn’t just about putting devices on a mobile app, its more about making things work together in harmony, adding convenience, comfort and safety to your everyday lifestyle.


Next we will be sharing information from Shawn on preparing your house for a home theater, keep your eyes peeled for our next guest post!