Choose the best way to interact with your home.
Brilliant replaces any existing light switch to give you touch & voice control over your smart home.
Contact Link Your House for more information on this award winning product.
Brilliant replaces any existing light switch to give you touch & voice control over your smart home.
Contact Link Your House for more information on this award winning product.
Oh no, Mother Nature is throwing more bad weather at us. Snow, ice or wind snap a tree branch which falls on a power line causing disruptions in power, and when the power comes back on, it comes on with a slam. You see the lights turn back on, what you do not see is the damaging effects to your sensitive electronics. Storms and power outages are uncontrollable, but with a surge suppression system protecting your home, you can control their destructive side effects on your equipment.
HOW IT WORKS
When trees or any foreign objects fall on power lines, they short circuit the lines. In some areas the poles have reclosers which sense a fault, open for a few seconds, and then they try to restore service by closing the circuit. The reclosers will open and close the circuit three to five times until the fault is cleared. So, when the lights blink several times in a row, it is probably the reclosers doing their thing. Depending on the size of the storm and the problems in the area the power could be out for hours or days, but the worst of the damaging surges are yet to come. Most of the time the damage to equipment occurs when the power is restored.
During these types of events harmful power surges, spikes and transients enter the homes breaker panels and get distributed through the home to our electronics, appliances and other sensitive equipment.
Link Your House provides total solutions for all these types of power related issues.
Please Contact Us Here to schedule a free evaluation of your current environment.
Leviton Decora Smart Switch (Wi-Fi)
Best Overall Best for Alexa Best for Google Home
If you want the very best smart switch, then you need to get Leviton’s Decora Smart WiFi Switch. It’s setup was a breeze and it was easy to get it connected to both Amazon’s Alexa and the Google Assistant. The companion My Leviton app wasn’t the most intuitive of the bunch, but it works reliably across both Android and iOS.
Aside from the app, the switch scored perfect marks for its responsiveness to app and voice commands (as most of the switches did) and its remote control capabilities. And since it works over WiFi, it doesn’t require any extra hubs or hardware to get started, Lastly, it also supports three-way switches, meaning you can have multiple smart switches control the same light, which isn’t something its competitors can do.
Apple finally released the HomePod smart speaker this month, but it’s not looking like the device to buy.
Before the HomePod, other smart speakers like Google Home, Amazon’s Echo, and the Sonos One were playing music from Spotify, Google Music, Pandora, Amazon Prime Music, and other streaming services. The HomePod is the first to let you control Apple Music with your voice, but that’s it.
If you don’t use Apple Music, there is no reason to buy a HomePod.
The HomePod does seem to have one thing going for it: I haven’t heard it myself, but the HomePod supposedly has the best sound out of any other smart speaker. But what’s the point of a great-sounding smart speaker if you don’t use the smart part? You might as well just buy a great regular speaker if you use something like Spotify — or, better yet, a smart speaker that can control Spotify with your voice, like, say, the Sonos One.
Here are all the reasons you should consider the Sonos One instead of Apple’s HomePod:
The Super Bowl LII between New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles kicks off at 3:30pm local time at the US Bank Stadium, Minneapolis on February 4 – what better excuse to give your smart home an upgrade?
With the big game still a few days away, you have just enough time to pick up the smart home essentials – or maybe it’s time to finally update your entertainment room or den to the 21st century. Here’s the GearBrain guide to revamping your smart home for Super Bowl LII.
Link Your House is a partner with Transient Protection Design
Less service calls equals better client satisfaction which equals more referrals and more jobs! See technical note from Lutron recommending Transient Protection Design surge suppression as part of that solution.
HOW IT WORKS Improved service quality will increase your economic competitiveness. Systems integrators can eliminate unnecessary downtime and damage by offering a Transient Protection Design surge suppression system. Your next referral depends on the quality of work you offer and that can be best shown years later when examining old jobs and your clients of the past. Are they happy? Are they still your client?
Some geographic areas have more power problems than others. Some custom homes are in fields, on top of hills, near water, or just the largest structure with the best ground in the areas which makes them a lightning magnet. A transient protection design surge suppression system provides clean AC power and protects data lines, all of which improves equipment performance and reliability. Utility power is not perfect and you never know what extreme weather Mother Nature is going to throw at us. If Lutron recommends TPD surge suppression that can help mitigate lightning and power related issues, wouldn’t you want the same level or quality in your home.
For more information please Contact Us for a free evaluation.
The New ELAN 8 named Human Interface of the Year
We are very happy to announce this award, earned by the new ELAN 8 last week at CES. ELAN’s strength has always been ease of use, reliability and performance. The new ELAN 8 enhances the intuitive interface and adds voice control through Amazon Alexa, plus powerful new user managed features. These advances were recognized at CES 2017 when ELAN 8 was awarded with the 2017 Human Interface Product of the Year award from the Consumer Technology Association’s Mark of Excellence Award Program Committee. The award was presented on Friday, January 6, 2017. CTA’s Mark of Excellence Award for the “Human Interface Product of the Year” recognizes the product that best embodies state‐of‐the‐art ergonomics coupled with cutting‐edge technology to make the human interface more intuitive, functional and user-friendly. Each Mark of Excellence award category has a judging team comprised of systems integrators, manufacturers, members of the trade press or industry consultants.
In the aftermath of CES 2017 what remains clear is that the industry is in for more transitions and updates ahead, as growing pains for 4K Ultra HD, high dynamic range (HDR) and even forthcoming 8K video continue to keep us all guessing.
Meanwhile, the field of video display technology continues to evolve and improve with new OLED participants taking on LG Electronics this year while Samsung seeks to keep LCD TVs in the picture with the latest and greatest improvements in quantum dot technology.
Just when we thought it was safe to buy AV receivers, 4K Ultra HDTVs with HDR and many of the source devices needed to drive them, the HDMI Technical Working Group revealed new specifications for HDMI 2.1 on the day before CES 2017 opened. Although this will bring much-needed new features and capabilities to the future evolution of home and mobile video entertainment, we must wait and see if this will be a smooth transition or a disrupting conduit to the massive field of legacy equipment in consumer homes. Fortunately, the system appears to have been designed with work arounds that will keep today’s equipment from premature door-stop status.
Read our CES top 5 takeaways after the jump:
I – Here It Comes: HDMI 2.1
The HDMI Forum through its licensing association, the HDMI LA, revealed at CES 2017 that it has developed the newest version of the HDMI digital interface standard, known informally as HDMI 2.1. Making things somewhat confusing, or at best cumbersome, the HDMI developers don’t want members to refer to the various versions of HDMI by their number designations, insisting instead that the various newly supported features be referenced when distinguishing one HDMI version from another. There are some very compelling new capabilities in this version, which we will be covering in more detail in coming days. Here’s the basics that you’ll want to know: HDMI 2.1 will be released to members in the second quarter of this year, and some insiders told us they expect to see the first devices carrying the new input to reach market in 2018. There’s also a strong possibility that we will start to see the first supporting cables identified in the spec. by the end of 2017.
The new specification will double 4K Ultra HD frame rates to 120 Hz, and 8K to 60 Hz. This will enable smoother and sharper fast-action images, among other benefits, but will depend on movie producers supporting it in content.
The specifications will also support multiple high dynamic (HDR) technologies, including those with “Dynamic HDR,” (a.k.a., dynamic metadata) like that included in the Dolby Vision system and a handful of other proposals. It will also support the Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG) HDR system, which doesn’t use metadata, but embeds live HDR elements into each frame. Other than Dolby Vision and the basic HDR10 formats, we don’t know yet if any of the other HDR approaches will ever be relevant to U.S. viewers. However, it seems certain that HLG will be used in some other regions of the world very soon. Currently, the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) is developing the next over-the-air television broadcast standard known as ATSC 3.0, and this will determine which HDR system will be used for live broadcasting of 4K Ultra HD and HDR images in the future. The winner of that selection process (expected later this month) will be a major factor going forward.
HDMI 2.1 also calls for use of a single 48 Gbps cable, compared to the 18 Gbps version available in 2.0 today. The connector uses the same physical size and shape as earlier HDMI versions and the cable will be backward compatible with legacy HDMI-enabled devices for content conforming to earlier standards.
Other features of HDMI 2.1 will include enhanced audio return channel (E-ARC) support for Hi-Res music and object-based surround formats. This will be a much more robust and less problematic version of the audio return channel (ARC) feature today and should aid in backward compatibility.
In some cases HDMI 2.0 devices might be upgraded to HDMI 2.1 through a firmware update, sources involved in setting the specification told us, but it will depend on whether or not a device’s architecture was designed by the manufacturer to support forward compatibility in the product in question. Stay tuned for details.
II – Waiting On The ATSC
It was hard to look at any new television or Ultra HD Blu-ray player introduction at this year’s CES without asking, “What version of HDR will the ATSC select for the new ATSC 3.0 over-the-air broadcast standard?”
The selection is likely to play a huge role in what HDR content we view most often in live 4K TV and perhaps even in packaged or streamed programming. We asked everywhere, and no one was willing to make a guess about which of the competing formats would be selected by the broadcast standards body. (The selection is expected to be revealed later this month). But Dolby Vision generated huge momentum at CES 2017 with support from additional studios and television brands, including Sony, TCL, Hisense, and Philips (P&F USA), joining LG and Vizio.
In addition, the Dolby system was announced as receiving support for use on forthcoming Ultra HD Blu-ray discs from several more Hollywood studios including: Warner Bros., Lions Gate and Universal. Dolby Vision is already supplied by streaming services supporting 4K Ultra HD movies including: Vudu, Netflix and Amazon. Dolby Vision has one issue, however. It’s not an open standard and will cost manufacturers and disc producers more in licensing fees. That means more added cost to the TV buyer.
Enter HDR10, which is already in wide use by Ultra HD Blu-ray discs and most of the largest movie streaming services. Samsung, which is determinedly hanging onto HDR10 as its only HDR format for 4K Ultra HDTVs and Ultra HD Blu-ray players, has developed an enhancement to HDR10’s static metadata-based platform to enable dynamic-HDR, like that used by Dolby Vision. It will also be open and royalty free to use, Samsung executives told HD Guru. Could it be the winning candidate for ATSC 3.0? We’ll have to see. Meanwhile, Technicolor and Philips have teamed on a candidate for HDR selection as have British and Japanese broadcasters the BBC and NHK, which co-developed HLG. Even Qualcomm has a couple of proposals in play with different partners.
So-called Dynamic HDR is crucial for broadcasting because it allows for grading scenes frame-by-frame on the fly, instead of it having to be added in post-production color grading, like the current HDR10 system. Whichever format wins is likely to be a big element added to televisions at CES 2018, and that coming development is something to consider when selecting a television in 2017. Unfortunately, we don’t know yet if the winning HDR format can be accommodated by the dongle/adapter the ATSC is proposing to use to add ATSC 3.0 tuning for over-the-air reception by legacy TVs.
III – LG Covers All Bases
One of the most pro-active television manufacturers making forward-compatible 4K Ultra HD/HDR TV announcements at CES 2017 was LG Electronics, which announced a number of top-tier 4K Ultra HDTVs, including all OLED models, will support not only HDR10 and Dolby Vision, as LG’s OLED TVs did last year, but Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG) and the Technicolor/Philips candidate HDR proposals for ATSC 3.0 adoption, as well. From the standpoint of forward compatibility with the future HDR broadcast standard, these appear to be some of the most robust offerings in 2017.
Although rival Samsung isn’t including support for any HDR format other than HDR10 in its 2017 4K Ultra HDTV models, all of its new Q Series TVs will include a One Connect box that could, if necessary, be swapped out for another box that would enable adding on hardware or software to support future standards. However, Samsung didn’t announce any definite plan to offer a One Connect upgrade box this year.
IV- OLED TV Gains Ground
LG Electronics revealed its most successful year to date for OLED TVs was 2016 and it plans on taking that higher in 2017. The company got a good head start at CES 2017 by unveiling its W7 wallpaper OLED TV that is so thin (0.10118 inches) it can be held virtually flat against the wall with magnets and an ultra-slim bracket. LG keeps the panel dimensions thin in part by putting the circuitry and connections in a Dolby Atmos sound bar that also provides high-quality surround sound. The sound bar connects to the OLED panel by a thin proprietary ribbon cable that can snake behind the wall or be painted for over-the-wall installations.
The W series TVs, which will be offered in 65- and 77-inch screen sizes, are expected to see retail prices topping out in the $8,000 range, but you’ll be able to get the same high picture quality from a slightly thicker lower-tier model — like the LG OLED B7 series — costing thousands less.
All of LG’s 2017 OLED TVs will be 25 percent brighter than 2016 models and, as mentioned earlier, will support HDR10, Dolby Vision, Technicolor/Philips and Hybrid Log-Gamma HDR formats.
This year, Sony re-entered the OLED category with a pair of models of its own measuring 65 and 77 inches. Although they use panels sourced from LG Display, Sony’s 4K Ultra HD OLED TVs in the Bravia A1 Series will use picture and sound processing developed by Sony offering the company a unique high-quality performance claim. Sony incorporates in the OLED sets its X1 Extreme picture processing system used in last year’s Sony Z9D series. The models also include support for both HDR10 and Dolby Vision HDR. What makes the TVs really standout is a new sound system that resonates the ultra-thin OLED panel to generate dynamic stereo sound that seems to follow objects around the screen. For deep bass, a specially developed subwoofer is built-into the TV stand. A touch of a finger to the screen lets you feel the sound as well as hear it.
Panasonic also continued to keep a toe in the high-performance TV market — at least in markets outside of the United States — by showing second-generation 4K Ultra HD OLED TVs in its EZ1002 4K OLED series. The TVs double the brightness of Panasonic’s first attempt in 2016, and offer HDR10 and Hybrid Log-Gamma HDR support. Panasonic includes an Absolute Black filter that deepens the already impressively dark black level, and sound is enhanced using a new “dynamic blade” audio system developed in consultation with the company’s Technics high-end audio division.
V -Connecting The Quantum Dots
Samsung used a pre-show press briefing two days before the CES 2017 floor opened to put the world on notice that its quantum dot-based television technology is achieving new high picture quality performance levels as well.
Samsung unveiled for the world its Quantum Light Emitting Diode, or “QLED”, technology that is being used in a “Q” tier of high-performance 4K Ultra HDTV model series: the Q7, Q8 and Q9. Although QLED has been used to identify another quantum dot advancement in development using an OLED-like, self-emissive lighting technology for quantum dots, Samsung chose to bring the name out for its new technology that promises to deliver significantly brighter peak luminance levels, better black levels and most importantly, wider viewing angles for LCD TVs. Samsung said the brightness range has been elevated from just over 1,000 nits last year to an HDR-enhancing 1,500 to 2,000 nits of peak brightness. This is impressive, since the Ultra HD Alliance set 1,000 nits as the peak luminance threshold for Ultra HD Premium level certification compliance. Demonstration material looked incredibly bright and rich in color, with a gamut covering almost 100 percent of the DCI-P3 recommendation for professional digital cinema projectors.
Two of the three Q series lines will feature models with flat screens while one series will continue to offer curved screens. To continue with an ultra-slim design, Samsung is using its One Connect box system that puts input/output connections in a separate box, but this year the box is tethered to the screen by a flat optical cable that is more easily hidden or snaked behind a wall. Pricing and availability will be announced later.
Although Samsung appears to be cornering the market on quantum dot technology through acquisitions and equity investments in top nano crystal manufacturing companies, other TV makers will soon have quantum dot technologies of their own to compete against OLED TV models. Both Hisense and TCL mentioned work is underway to have quantum dot TVs in the market soon, including a big-screen model planned for the Hisense H10D series.
Meanwhile, U.K.-based Nanoco is developing quantum dots for sale to special film-developer partners like Merck and Dow to create quantum dot (a.k.a. nano crystal) films that can be sold to LED LCD TV makers to boost colors and brightness levels in higher-performing displays.
Even LG Electronics unveiled its own Nano Tech solution for step-up 4K Ultra HD LED LCD TVs planned for 2017 using a nano film approach, similar to quantum dots, but using uniformly shaped dots to produce brighter, truer colors in LED LCD TVs with wide viewing angles enhanced by In-Plane Switching (IPS) technology.
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