June 28, 2012
Home entertainment has been made a lot easier with a raft of whole-of-home solutions hitting the market.
Entertainment is easier than ever, writes Rod Easdown.
TEN years ago, whole-of-home audio systems were the height of cool, but only if you had the bucks. Now it's possible - indeed, even affordable - to have whole-of-home vision as well as sound. The trick, according to Sandy Howard at AVD, is to keep it simple.
He says it's pretty useless to have a system so complex that only one person in the house has the ability to operate it, and yet plenty of installers are still promoting control systems so complex they're intimidating.
His company specialises in Apple-based systems and they make everything from curtains, airconditioning and lighting to the security, entertainment and even the garage door - all controllable from an iPhone or iPad.
The whole point, Howard says, is to have a system that anyone in the house can operate. Even when people are not in the house, fuctions such as monitoring the security of the home from interstate or overseas can be done with just a few keystrokes. He says much can be achieved with a good, stable wireless network but the best results are achieved with hard wiring. ''If you've got a dumb 240-volt lighting system, there's nothing you can do about it without laying cables,'' he says.
If this sounds too expensive for you - and his clients spend anything from $10,000 to $1 million - there are plenty of cheaper options, especially if you merely want television and audio that follows you throughout the house.
A number of the big brands now offer DLNA-compatible components that stream audio and video around a home between compatible components using the existing wireless network.
Apple AirPlay also offers a budget solution for whole-of-home systems and one of the most popular multiple-room systems in the country, Sonos, has recently upgraded its equipment (and lowered its entry prices) to present one of the best-value whole-of-home solutions on the market. Last month Sonos announced the availability of the world's leading music library, Spotify, through its equipment.
Loewe televisions have a feature whereby you can switch off the television in the living room, clean your teeth, go to bed and pick up the broadcast on the bedroom telly from exactly where you left off - by pressing just one button.
B&O Play V1
Portable televisions used to constitute a sizeable chunk of the television market but now tellies with a carry handle and rabbit ears have vanished.
It's not really surprising, with the explosion of tablet computers and online viewing, but B&O obviously feels there is scope in offering a television that, if not exactly portable, can at least be moved from place to place.
These are not televisions you would toss in the back of the car to take to the weekender. For a start, they cost a lot. And they're big. But they do have exceptional mounting flexibility and a range of stands. They can even be hung from the roof on wires.
And this is B&O's point. It contends that people are sick of designing their rooms around a big screen; it's time the screen was flexible enough to work in with existing decor.
But while the publicity shots show the Play V1 outside the house, there is no in-built aerial, so you would need a long aerial cable and an extension power cord. The 81-centimetre Play V1 is $3690 and the 102-centimetre is $4490.