Video and Audio Center Blog



Wednesday, August 30, 2017

AUTOMATING HOME EXTERIOR LIGHTING



There’s nothing more inviting that approaching a well-lit home at night. Exterior lighting not only provides a safe path for those walking up to the entranceway, but also discourages those looking to cause trouble. But what if no one is home to turn on the lights? Then the answer is simple:  automate them.

Making the lighting outside your home “smart” can be done in one of two ways: first, by hiring experts such as the professionals of Just One Touch, California’s #1 rated Smart Home Integrator and Home Theater Installation company to eliminate the stress of planning and executing the work. Or for those who prefer a do-it-yourself approach, there’s a plethora of devices available for use, many of which can be found at your local Video & Audio Center Superstore. Regardless of which option you choose, it's good to understand just what automating your home's exterior lighting is all about before you start.

LIGHTING LOCATIONS
First decision you’ll have to make is exactly where to place the lights. When it comes to illuminating the exterior of a house, there are a few areas that should be addressed: the driveway, front door and backdoor/patio—all of which function as points of entry into the home. Other places that can benefit from exterior lighting include picture windows, the sides of the house, the front yard/back yard and other areas of the property that are in the dark to provide 100% visibility of the property.

THE TYPES OF LIGHTS
Next thing you’ll need to consider are which type of lights you want to use. There are many different types of external lights, some feature energy-saving advantages, some a higher intensity beam and some that will require professional installation due to increased power requirements. Options may also include floodlights placed over the garage door to illuminate the driveway, bright LED bulbs illuminating the entranceway of the front or back doors and lights inset on the driveway or freestanding on the front yard. There is also the ability to vary the lighting intensity, as well as the color of the lights (dependent on the type of light being used). Additionally, some lights are waterproof and shatterproof, which greatly aid in their longevity. Some lights even have video cameras built into them which record and/or allow streaming of what is being seen (both day and night) to the homeowner's computer or mobile device.

ACTIVATING THE LIGHTS
Since it's not necessary for all of the lights to be always be on, there must be a way for them to be turned on when you are coming home. This brings up three options: the first option being the simplest, in that the light is activated manually by being directly paired with a key fob/remote that is in the hand of the homeowner who has just pulled into the driveway/is approaching the front door. The second option is to have the light turn itself on automatically. These types of lights feature a sensor that activates the light as soon as it detects motion.

The third option for activating the lights remotely is through a home automation system that works through the home network. These typically work through an app, enabling both timed and “at-need” control even when you’re not on the premises.

Video & Audio Center has a wide selection of smart home automation devices and systems on hand for those looking to DIY. The Superstores are located in Santa Monica, South Bay, Agoura Hills & The Village at Westfield Topanga in Woodland Hills.

Friday, August 25, 2017

TOP TEN REASONS TO UPGRADE TO 4K HDR!


The purpose of new technologies is to make the TV picture better. But the latest new technology — High  Dynamic Range (or HDR) — really represents a significant improvement over what can be seen when you switch on the television. That's because of what HDR does: it creates a more "real" looking picture by increasing the level of contrast between the brightest whites and the darkest blacks the TV can display. So what are the reasons for upgrading to a 4K HDR TV? Here's 10:

1) MORE PICTURE INFORMATION
Metadata is information about how the TV picture should look (additional information sent with the video signal). A HDR-equipped television can reach levels of brightness and colors that a non HDR TV can’t because it is receiving HDR metadata telling it such things as how bright a highlight should be or how certain colors being displayed should look. 

2) DISPLAY A WIDE COLOR GAMUT
HDR-equipped TVs can display colors with significantly more saturation than that of a conventional TV. This allows for content, which had previously been produced with a much smaller color gamut, to now be expanded for presenting a more natural looking picture.

3) INCREASED COLOR DEPTH
Color depth references the number of colors a TV can display within a color palette (example: the many shades on the skin of a banana or a person’s face). HDR increases this, which results in less “banding” of the image by providing a more detailed and smoother-looking color.

4) DYNAMIC RANGE
A HDR TV displaying HDR content has higher brightness capabilities. So you get a more lifelike picture because it can display both the highlights as well as the darker imaging without compromising on either. This means that detail as found in both light and dark areas are evident to the eye at the same time.

5) BRIGHTER IMAGE
A HDR-equipped TV can produce more light in certain areas of the image being displayed than that of a  non-HDR TV.  Increasing the brightness makes for a more visible image.
6) COLOR BITS TRANSMITTED
HDR isn’t limited to the HDTV standard of 24-bit color (8 for red, 8 for blue, 8 for green), because it can add in extra colors in between what is already there. By filling in the gaps, a better picture is provided.

7) HDR STREAMING CONTENT
HDR content is visually superior to that made without HDR in mind. It can only be seen correctly (and enjoyed) on a HDR-equipped TV.
8) HDR 4K BLU-RAY DISCS
A Ultra HD Blu-ray disc has both 4K and HDR built in and eliminates the worries of streaming, such as bandwidth bottlenecks. This requires a HDR-equipped 4K Blu-ray player, which are now available.



9) IMPROVED WI-FI CAPABILITIES
Because HDR content is basically tied to the 4K resolution being streamed, this requires the Wi-Fi capabilities of the HDR TV to work efficiently. This also means the Wi-Fi reception of non HDR content is received even better than was the case previously when HDR content wasn’t an issue. 

10) CUTTING-EDGE CONNECTIONS
HDR-equipped TVs have the latest inputs for connecting peripherals like 4K HDR Blu-ray players, Sound Bars, among others. The latest audio pass-through standards are also in play. All this means that no kind of converter boxes or other conversion devices will be needed.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

TOP TEN REASONS TO MAKE YOUR HOME SMART!




Smart Home Automation not only takes your day-to-day home management activities away allowing you to relax or remotely control them, but also yields additional benefits in home energy savings. Over the past quarter of a century smart home automation systems have gone from high-tech curiosities to truly affordable and highly accessible modern home conveniences. True automation has become so simple and easy to operate, that just about anyone can take advantage of the features and conveniences that will help simplify their lives — in another 10 years, we will all wonder how we ever lived without them! So why is a "smart" home important? Here are the top ten reasons to make your home a smart home.


#1.) Save Money On Electricity
Using an automated Wi-Fi thermostat not only knows when it's the best time to turn on or off, but it can also be controlled remotely — as can turning on the hot water heater or the air conditioner while you're stuck in traffic so everything's nice and ready when you come home.


 #2.) Lighting Controls / On-Site or Remote
Lights can go on or off automatically, depending on whether you are at home or not and their intensity can be controlled independently as well, whether you're in the room, or another state.

#3.) Appliance Control / On-Site or Remote
Many home appliances can now also be controlled from a phone, instead of having to be there—with services ranging from turning on washing machines, dishwashers, ovens, etc., the list is endless and it keeps expanding every year.


#4.) Door/Garage Control / On-Site or Remote
No more keys bulging in a pocket or getting lost because a digital door lock just requires using a keypad or digital app activation. Besides being able to remotely lock/unlock the door, you can let others have permanent or temporary access to entering. The ultimate in home security/convenience.

 
#5.) Home Security Control / On-Site or Remote
Instead of having separate devices to protect a door or window, a "hub" can interconnect any/all security devices in the home. This enables automated reporting on what is going on whether you are at home or not through an app on your phone and even check door open/close times remotely as well to see who has entered and when.


#6.) Entertainment Control / On-Site or Remote
Play your favorite tunes in any room without having to turn on a music player, thanks to streaming the music from a mobile device or computer. Even have the music follow you from room to room, because the speakers work together or independently through Bluetooth or Wi-Fi as you wish.



#7.) Surveillance Camera Control / On-Site or Remote
Personal Wi-Fi video cameras make it easy to keep an eye on your home and property — regardless of whether you're in another room or across the country. They even operate in the dark and can automatically record if movement is detected.


#8.) Fire Protection Control / On-Site or Remote
The noise from a smoke alarm will alert you if you’re at home, but what about when you’re not? A smart smoke alarm works through the Wi-Fi home network and can alert you through your phone no matter the time of day or where you might be.


#9.) Kitchen/Appliance Control / On-Site or Remote
Start the coffee maker going from your bedroom when you just get up with a tap on a phone. Or start the oven pre-heating while you're still driving home or check the status of the milk in the refrigerator. All this is possible because the kitchen devices are interlinked to you through the Internet.


#10.) Automated Cleaning Control / On-Site or Remote
No more pushing a vacuum cleaner when a robot is right there to takeover the task. Watch as it follows a path along the floor, cleaning as it goes until all the dirt is gone. Should it run low on power, give it time to return automatically to its charging station, recharge and then pick up where it left off.