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DIY Home Automation Systems

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DIY yourself projects are fun at first, but gradually the fun can turn into frustration and maybe even destruction. Smarthome DIY projects aren't any different. It's pretty common nowadays for many people to start something but never finishing. It's not because people aren't capable of learning and executing, but what they do lack is time and effort.
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Savant vs. Control4 (Savant Smart Host vs. Control4 HC250)

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As an avid installer of smaller home systems and theaters for my clients, I’m finding little value in Savant’s new Smart Host. I have been working with Control4 for a number of years now, and it seems to me that Control4 is still continuing to dominate this space. For comparison purposes, I’ve gathered the below details that I could from the Savant and Control4 websites:

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While the Smart Host is boasting more IR, I find that the more IR ports needs are becoming less needed. Control4’s Simple Device Discovery Protocol for IP connected devices has made the world of IP control of Smart TVs, Blu-Rays and media players such as AppleTV super easy to set-up, without the need for cumbersome IR Buds. Even when I do need IR, but don’t want the IR bud, the Control4 Blaster is there to help. For my customers, the On-Screen Display is used often for searching their movie database… often treated as a “coolio” factor with friends.

While Savant’s message about controlling up to 12 rooms is interesting, the HC250 can do the same thing for less money. Depending on the customers, needs, we leveraged keypads, remote controls and the Z2IR device to control multiple zones with a single HC-250.

The HC-250, plus Control4’s new SR-260, creates an awesome solution for entertainment centers and home theaters, at an MSRP that is less than the Smart Host itself. I’m struggling to see the real benefit of Savant’s system. I know they have a great app for use on tablets and smartphone, but I have yet to have a customer that runs their theater without a remote. Savant’s remote is twice as much as the SR-260.

I remember coming across an article last year that really highlighted the HC-250’s capabilities, a white paper by Dennis Burger. I think this article really speaks the unmatched capabilities of the HC-250, especially at a price point that speaks to customers.

Further expanding on this issue of pricing, from my personal experience, I’ve found that programming the Control4 system is way easier than any Savant system and the customer gets a solid, elegant experience with a ton of expandability.

Keeping Your Digital Home Safe and Smart

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With the rise of the “Internet of Things” dominating recent headlines, many consumers have rushed to invest in smart home systems that offer unprecedented options for connectivity. While the IoT opens up numerous possibilities for energy savings, home security and personal convenience, it also has the potential to impinge on the privacy of homes. Read on for tips to keep your data from falling into the wrong hands.

Secure Your Wifi - If you’re like many homeowners, you ignore your WiFi router after checking to ensure the Internet is up and running. This could later prove to be a fatal flaw in your home’s overall privacy. Start by checking to see what type of encryption your router is using. If your router doesn’t support WPA2 networks (a more robust security standard), consider investing in a new wireless router. As with other consumer electronics, WiFi routers have become more powerful and less expensive over time. Additionally, WiFi speeds continue to accelerate, so if you’ve purchased a newer computer recently, a new router may make the difference in your safety.

Keep Cameras Away From Prying Eyes - In many instances, products such as webcams and “nanny cams” come automatically configured with inadequate security safeguards. This leaves these devices vulnerable to hacks from almost anyone, even those with a very limited knowledge of technology. For many cameras, the best thing you can do is create a strong  password (‘12345’ and ‘password’ are off limits) that is unique and different from the default. Substituting numbers for words or letters is often a good strategy. If you don’t change your password from the default setting, you leave yourself (and your family) right in a stranger’s line of sight, as one babysitter in Houston found out the hard way.

Privacy Please - Companies hosting important personal and financial data, such as home security giants ADT and Nest, have a crucial responsibility to keep this information secure. But it’s also your responsibility not to recklessly over-share highly private information or leave your devices open for easy access. Never post your Social Security number, account numbers, address, phone numbers or even your full name in publicly accessible sites. Ensure that your smartphone — often the command center for security system and automated device control — is protected by a lock screen at the very minimum. It’s also wise to disable automatic login information or anything else that can be accessed while you’re away. Don’t share any information that could lead to compromising the security of your family and property.

If cyber criminals gain access to your interconnected home systems, they could potentially turn on thermostats or other appliances, increasing your utility bills. Then there’s the more dangerous risk of someone gaining access to your physical property, unlocking doors or breaking in to commit a robbery. And in the case of webcams and baby monitors, there’s the frightening possibility that someone could be gazing into your home without your awareness or consent. President Obama has proposed stronger anti-hacking legislation, which would make hacking-related crimes a felony carrying a minimum three year sentence. However, politicians and tech-experts alike are concerned that the law would do little to protect homeowners in the short term.

Ultimately, it is up to you to determine the security of your home and privacy. While automated home and security systems offer impressive new options for convenience and connectivity, it’s important to be safe and ask questions if you don’t understand how to install or maintain security features. Consider checking out this government website for further reading on the subject, and don’t forget to logout when you’re done!

By Guest Blogger Elizabeth Eckhart (Find her on twitter @elizeckhart)

Not every home on the block is a Smart Home... Yet!

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A survey done by the ERA Real Estate (ERARE) and HGTV is revealing the phenomenal potential of smart home technology--especially in terms of resale value.

Real estate has and will likely always be one of the best investment options for anyone that want to protect their wealth. With that in mind, the values of the properties themselves don’t grow without the proper add-ons as time passes by, and the recent survey done by ERARE and HGTV is proving just that.

Among some of the answers homeowners as well as potential buyers got from the surveys were:

  • What are new the new generations of home buyers looking for?
  • What type of additions and new technology should a property possess to make it more appealing to home buyers?
  • How has the Internet of Things changed people’s perspective on property management?
As the report shows, buyers are looking to purchase homes with smart technology pre-installed. This can only mean one thing: Sellers must meet the demand. The technology doesn’t have to be anything extravagant. Rather, buyers are looking for some of the practical necessities that will help drive efficiency and comfort. Things such as automated climate control, energy management and remote monitoring should all be on the top of every homeowner’s priority list if they’re looking to put their homes on the market.

According to the survey, 7 in 10 millennials want homes that are equipped with technologies that will allow them to use their smartphones to remotely control various functions and features within the home.

Well, one would think that it’s only common sense to cater to millennials if they’re the ones that are in the market to buy homes, but the reality is everyone has a bit of techno-geek in them. Baby boomers, for instance, are looking to beef up their levels of security, which means sellers must add some sort of smart security system to the homes to make them appealing.

Smart home technology may have been considered just a trend in the past, but now--more so than ever--the trend has evolved into a demand that makes it a necessity for anyone who is buying or selling a home.

Control4 - The Ultimate Home Automation Hub

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For a lot of homeowners, the next big home improvement project to tackle is home automation, but the process can be extremely daunting if they don’t even know where to begin. Like every thought process, a smart home project requires a core, or a hub, that is versatile enough to maintain and integrate new smart home features as they pop up. Control4 does just that, and more.

Whether you’re trying to implement a state of the art home entertainment or add smart integrated lighting, the Control4 hub offers the flexibility required integrate any current and future smart home products. While your smartphone is technically a capable hub, it was not designed specifically to handle home automation.

Technically speaking, you can use your smartphone to control just about any smart home functionality. However, a major drawback to this idea is that each functionality requires its own app, which often leads to confusion and a smartphone bloated with apps. Control4 solves this by letting homeowners connect all their functionalities to a single hub that lets you use your smartphone to control all features from a single user interface.

You may argue that there will be a single smartphone app that can control all smart home functions without a hub. However, the flaw in this perspective is that it doesn’t take into consideration that the mobile operating system (OS) is extremely fragmented. Essentially, what this means is that hardware vendors don’t want to put in the time and effort to optimize and update their software once it’s off the shelf. This in turn causes mayhem for developers who want to create apps that provide seamless user experiences across all platforms. Moreover, every smart home product makers have their own set of guidelines on how an app interacts with the product. If you put two and two together, you’ll see that using a smartphone as a hub becomes an un-navigable web for developers and homeowners alike.

So wouldn’t it just be easier for there to be a versatile hub that uses your smartphone as an extension to control your smarthome functionalities? The Control4 team dedicate themselves to constantly improving and tweaking their hub to meet the demands of their customers. Don’t pull out your hair over something as simple as a hub, because Control4 has developed an affordable, reliable, secure industry-leading core for all your home automation needs.

Why hire an Electronic Systems Professional?

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Have you ever started something you couldn’t finish because you lacked the technical know-how to follow through with the project? We’ve all been there, and back—because human beings are stubborn creatures. Rather than accepting our limitations, we continue to dive head on into the unknown abyss. While admirable in some respect, starting a project and not following through is—for all intensive purpose—a waste of resources.

Time and money are two of the most valuable assets a person can possess. One cannot exist without the other, and so we must treasure both equally. We need time to generate money, and if we squander our precious time on projects that yield zero return it would be quite a shame.

So before you start your smart home projects, keep in mind that there are a lot of things you must educate yourself about before you get your hands dirty. Some things you should consider include:

1. Do you understand the concept?
The word “smart” is often tossed around easily by consumers, but what makes something smart? Are plain LCDs and shoddy control panels enough to deem something as smart? Or, does it have to connect to a customized infrastructure capable of handling the desired functionalities? Smart home technology has to be nurtured and taught to behave in a certain way (if this than that), and we all know technology can often be nerve wrecking and stressful if not executed correctly when instead it should be intuitive.

2. The latest and greatest
Technology evolves at a blistering rate, and what works today may not work tomorrow. Are you dedicated enough to keep up with the trends constantly? Everyday consumers have priorities, and smart home professionals are well aware of that. That is why they make it their priority to stay on top of what you don’t have time for.

3. Speaking the language
You’re a brilliant physicists and you can explain the workings of quantum mechanics like Dr. Seuss, but do you speak IT? In other words, can you quickly pull up a wealth of information about smart home technology without having to pull up articles? Smart home professionals are IT professionals and/or Audio-Video Professional, so they’re adept in the art of programming and deploying hardware and software for various purposes. Of course, they can do this just like how you can explain the laws of the universe in layman’s terms.

4. Professionals save you money by not screwing up
At this point, you’re probably aware of the logic behind specialists. Fixing your own roof, and then only to have it leaking is not the ideal situation. When you start a project that ends up in shamble, you need to either double the effort or hire a professional. Either way, you’ll be spending a lot more than what you could have if you hired a profession initially. People become specialists because they want to save you time and money, not drain you of your resources.

Introduction to Dolby Atmos

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An immersive cinema experience is never too far away with Dolby’s new Atmos sound system. What sets Dolby Atmos apart from other premium sound systems is that it is built upon a brand new sound technology that reproduces the sound of individual objects instead of ‘mixing’ them in conventional channels.

Sound engineers have, for quite awhile, been restricted to just a few channels when putting together tracks. This means what we usually hear in a song or a movie scene isn’t exactly what the artists wanted to convey.

Dolby Atmos removes this constraint by producing a sound format that’s based on objects instead of channels. Sounds such as a helicopter hovering overhead is reproduced as its own ‘audio object.’ Meaning, the sound of a speeding car below won’t get mixed in, giving you the full experience of the scene as intended by the director.

When you think of sound, we think of it as a being multidimensional. That is, it moves around, above and below us. So it is crucial that sound artists and producers have means of painting a scene that we can all relate to, which they do now with Dolby Atmos.

Although the new object-based sound format is quite revolutionary, it does not mean that users will have to compromise if the entertainment mediums do not support it. The sound system is backward compatible with conventional stereo and 5.1/7.1-channel sounds.

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Additionally, Dolby Atmos can scale down the object-based sound experience to fit the needs of headphone users. By combining Dolby Atmos with advance on-the-go technology that relies on things such as outer ear and shoulder cues, headphone users can, too, experience just as much magic as they would in a full-scale home cinema system.

The Smarthome is not the Deathstar

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A Control4 smart-home, in truth, doesn’t have to look like the Death Star from the sci-fi series Star Wars. In fact, any well-wired home is capable of becoming a smart-home. This means that anything from a suburban home to your downtown loft is ready to be transformed with technologies that are readily available at Digital Smart Homes.

Right as you walk into most typical retailers, you will find flat screen televisions flashing left and right. It was only a few years ago that this same technology came in bulky packages—that is the bezel was extremely wide, and the rear encasement took up quite a bit of space.

However, TV manufacturers have greatly improved the designs of these sets, and these days most flat screen LCD/LED TVs have almost no bezel and takes up much less space, which is a welcoming thing when it comes to designing an aesthetically pleasing home. The last thing you want is a bunch of technology is a bulky cabinet underneath that very thin TV.

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Smart home technology doesn’t all need to have a flashing screen or blinking lights. Often, smart-home shoppers will overlook things like window/blinds automation. Motorized shades and window coverings can add tremendous value to a home. This technology has been around for quite some time, so finding the right design is never the problem.

Additionally, the smartphone and tablets you’re using everyday are very capable machines, and they can be used as a hub for controlling various lightings and appliances. Some simple upgrades of the switches around the home can give you an incredible amount of automations.

As you gradually chip away at some of the outdated and unappealing aspects of your home, you will find that your home looks nothing like that Death Star but it does provide you with the beauty and comfort that you desire. Visit our Vancouver showroom for a demo on how a Control4 smart home (home automation system) can simplify technology throughout the home and hide electronics from view.

Planning for your First Home Automation

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So you’re thinking about home automation but don’t know where to begin. First off, let’s go over what home automation is and how it can benefit you. Home automation is merely the process of interlinking different electronic components of your home to an single intuitive operating system so that you can monitor and carry out various tasks at home or while being someplace else.

Before TV remotes were available, people had to actually get up to change the channel (and bang on the box while they’re at it). Nowadays, if you do get off the couch, it’s because you want to grab something from the fridge. Simply put, home automation is like having a TV remote that can access just about any type of component or components of your home from one interface.

Modern-day home automation technology leverages the Internet, and if you’re reading this blog it means you have access to some form of Internet. Put two and two together you’ll see that the home network is one of the key components of home automation today.

Home automation technologies come in a broad range of packages, so if you’re thinking about setting up your home with some of these technologies it will take some planning.
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Some of the questions you may want to ask yourself are:
  • Do I entertain a lot?
  • Do I travel often or spend a lot of time away from my home?
  • Which areas of the home do I want to focus on automating?
  • What do I want to control? (Home theatre/entertainment, Whole house audio, Lighting, Comfort (heating and cooling), Security and monitoring and Communication)
  • What’s my estimated budget?
Above are just a few questions you need to ask yourself during the planning process. For instance, do you want to set up a yard sprinkler system that you can remotely control from your smartphone? If that’s the case, you might need to hire a contractor to install a sprinkler system, and then a home automation firm like ours (Digital Smart Homes) to program and connect your sprinkler control system to your phone.

The task of implementing home automation might seem daunting at first, but with the right amount of research and planning anything is possible. Best of all, silicon-based technology and network infrastructures have grown as such an astonishing pace that the price of home automation is much more affordable now than it was in the past. Take a few moments to explore the possibilities by watching this short 2 minute
video or by visiting our fully automated smart home showroom in Vancouver.

Discussing Home Automation Concerns

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For the past decade, smart home technology has been viewed as something that only the incredibly wealthy, or incredibly technologically aware, possess. High prices, complicated installations, and intricate technology have contributed to the belief that a completely automated home was something reserved for movie superhero alter-egos of the Clark Kent variety, and millionaires. Recently, however, the rapid proliferation of mobile internet and smartphones, along with an increasing number of companies choosing to invest in more user intuitive home automation products, has made the idea of a “smart home” more attainable than ever.
So if a system is more affordable, and easily connects to products many homeowners already have, why isn’t everyone opting for a more intelligent, wireless home? We turned to social media to find the answers, and what we found, using data from
Viral Heat, was that while over 50% of Twitter users discussing home automation were entirely positive about the idea, around 25% still had concerns regarding home automation systems. The top concerns are discussed below:
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Interior Designers and Home Builders Increasingly Rely on Technology Integrators

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The world of interior design and home building have entered an entirely new phase last year and will continue in 2014 and beyond. Not too long ago, it used to be that technology integrators would seek out partnerships with interior designers and builders to drum up additional business.

This trend has seen a massive shift, as home automation has become a necessity for most families (of most socioeconomic levels) rather than an overly expensive luxury. According to Yahoo! Finance, homeowners increasingly understand that home automation can add 10 percent and more to their property values, while being quite cost-effective.

Rather than coming with a price tag of $75,000 to $100,000+ (the common cost of home automation systems in the recent past), it is possible to spend a fraction of that amount for a full-blown solution that can link together everything from home security, environment/temperature control, home entertainment, and lighting to a Control4 system

Because of the demand, we are continually approached by interior designers and builders to install and program cutting-edge systems sure to make homeowners thrilled.
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7 Reasons Why Home Automation is Made FOR the Technically Challenged

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As home automation specialists working to educate the public on the benefits of new technologies, we are often told, “I am too technically challenged to use a home automation system.” To be honest, we love to reveal why this statement is one of the biggest myths of the 21st century.
The truth is that home automation systems have the power to simplify everything within your home and life. For example, homeowners often struggle with technologies that don’t work together. They hate the numerous remote controls cluttering coffee tables, and the wires tangled throughout rooms, but they don't know they have any other options. Today’s home automation technologies eliminate the confusion. Completely.

In fact, home automation is made especially for the technologically frustrated. Here are a handful of reasons why:

1. Home automation systems, such as Control4, give homeowners the power to fuse together their entertainment, lighting, temperature control, and security into a single console. One way to manage everything, not lots of ways to manage lots of things.

2. A home automation system can be controlled via a remote and/or with home computers, iPads, iPhones, and smart phones. It can’t get any easier.

3. Picture this. The kids are playing their PS3 in the theater room and Mom and Dad want to start family movie night. Without changing sources or input cables, and with just one remote control, the room can be primed for movie watching by a simple press of a button. The lighting dims, the shades close, and the TV powers on via Control4.

4. Perhaps Mom and Dad are listening to their favorite Jazz station on Rhapsody in the kitchen as they cook. The children are in their respective rooms listening to their own choices of music. Mom presses the “DINNER” button on the Control4 keypad next to the stove and it automatically shuts off the music in their rooms and announces dinner time.

5. The technically challenged can even be at ease while on the road. Let’s assume you take a trip to Paris and leave your home in the care of a house sitter. You don’t have to fret about unlocked doors, the garage door being left open, lights being left on, and more. All you need is your iPad to see which doors are locked or unlocked, which lights need to be turned off or on, and whether or not you need to shut the garage door. You have the power to control them all via a touch screen.

6. Another convenience that home automation provides is the ability to remotely access and adjust your temperature settings. Most people don’t use the programming options on their thermostats, whether because it takes too long or their heating and cooling habits are inconsistent. Home automation provides you the ability to log in from your mobile device or PC and change the temperature to your desired setting. This is especially important while on vacation. Setting your home temperature back to a comfortable setting right from the airport allows you to come home to a comfortable, warm house.

7. One of the biggest concerns for the technically challenged is system setup and maintenance. This makes our team smile for a couple of reasons. Because each household has its own unique needs, we help to customize individualized solutions to meet those needs, and we ensure that all technologies are installed and working properly. If for any reason there is a problem, we are a phone call away and can fix most issues remotely.

In short, home automation systems are a complete relief for the technologically challenged. We dare you to visit a showroom for a demo and see for yourself!

Control4 and Savant: A Simple Home Automation System Comparison

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THIS IS MY OPINION ONLY - Harry Saini

In your effort to create a comfortable and secure home, it is essential to find the ideal home automation solution to meet your unique needs. Two of the most popular and robust systems are Control4 and Savant. Without a doubt, both systems offer a plethora of options for revolutionizing your home – yet there are inherent differences between them that we will attempt to outline.

Beginning with Savant, the system has the ability to intelligently light your home, deck out your media room, improve your audio set up, and seamlessly control climate. The system is run by a dedicated Mac server that connects the various appliances within the home for ease of use and offers lightning-fast processes.

On the other hand, Control4 is a powerful system that is intelligently priced with value as a focus vs. high-end luxury pricing with Savant. Control4 allows for you to control everything from lighting, to your home theatre and audio, to home climate.

Plus, the technology interfaces nicely with security and keyless door entry systems. When all is taken into consideration, the home automation industry at large considers Control4 the best value for a home automation system on the market, while Savant is luxurious first choice for Apple fanatics.

The following is a breakdown of the main differences between the two systems:

  • Control4 is considerably more cost-effective than Savant.

  • Savant is Mac-based and Apple reliant, while Control4 builds their product independently and is compatible with iOS, Android, Kindle Fire, and Computers supporting Adobe Air (both Apple and Microsoft).

  • Control4 offers a wide variety of native interfaces from standard remotes, keypads, and in-wall touch panels. Savant works with a handheld remote and/or iPad touch screen.

  • Savant supports iTunes. Control4 supports iTunes as well and can also pulls media via a robust database service to play MP3s, Apple audio and miscellaneous digital formats.

  • Savant offers completely customizable graphics and requires a custom program for almost every installation. Control4 has developed a simplified user interface which assists in saving on programming time.

  • Control4 is extremely easy to program and offers direct integration with several vendors in the AV/Security/Automation industry.

  • Savant offers lighting solutions through Light Touch, a company they purchased while Control4 has consistently developed their own lighting and many more products to fill the majority of your integration needs.

While both Savant and Control4 offer virtually an unlimited number of options, we at Digital Smart Homes are of the opinion that Control4 offers the perfect blend of cost-effectiveness, intuitive controls, speed and versatility. Plus, rather than relying on a Mac-only platform, it is possible to utilize the system on a number of devices. Of course, if you are an Apple enthusiast seeking a posh solution to your home automation needs, Savant may do the trick.

When considering the purchase of either a Control4 or Savant system, the secret to your success is outlining your exact needs and making a functionality wish list. It is then possible to select the solution that transforms your home into a more secure and functional environment.


Home Automation’s Power to Simplify Your Life, Reduce Expenses, and Increase Security

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In today’s costly world, homeowners are fully aware of the expenses related to inflated energy costs and inefficient home security systems. There is nothing worse than receiving an electricity bill and being shocked by the amount owed at the end of a month or stolen possessions that could have been more strategically secured. Such realities have led homeowners to seek technologies that can help them beat the current system.
A growing number of homeowners are educating themselves on basic energy management and security devices, which often combine the use of innovate shade and control systems. For instance, Control4 offers a number of solutions that help homeowners monitor and control their home lighting from an iPad, iPhone, or wireless remote. With Control4, you can pre-program lighting levels and reduce energy output. It is also amazingly easy to set lighting to turn on and off at specific times. This significantly reduces the possibility of a light being left on throughout the night, or for several days while a homeowner is on vacation. Additionally, with Control4’s remote access service, no matter where in the world a homeowner travels he or she can turn lights on or off with a simple touchscreen command.

To make the management of lighting much easier to maintain, Control4 offers keypads with captions that can read “kitchen”, “hallway”, “master bedroom”, “patio”, and more. With a push of a single button, lighting is ignited in a desired location. The Control4 suite of products also offers dimmers that allow for lights to be set to a particular level.

Another ground breaking product for ultimate lighting, shading, security, and energy control is the Lutron RadioRA 2. The system is a holistic approach that combines total light and shade functionality. Radio RA 2 has the power to adjust the amount of daylight and electric light in a room throughout an entire home. Shades can also be lowered, electric powered curtains closed, and lighting ignited at pre-programed times. For instance, if particular rooms within a home are in direct sunlight in the afternoon, the lowering of window shades and closing of curtains can significantly reduce room temperatures. Or when the family is on vacation and dusk approaches, lowered shades, closed curtains, and automated lighting can offer higher levels of security. And for the family that has developed a high-tech home theatre, with the single push of a button window shades can be lowered and lights set to a particular level to create the perfect ambiance.

Many homeowners love the fact that both the Control4 and RadioRA 2 systems are fully scalable. This provides homeowners the power to start with a single room and expand when time and budget permits.

Seeking to automate your home for added simplicity, comfort, energy efficiency, and security? The beauty of 2012 is that homeowners have more control than ever before!

The secret to discovering and installing a solution that best fits your needs is to consult with a personalized home automation expert. At Digital Smart Homes of Vancouver BC, we would be honored to provide you a free consultation. Give us a call to set up an appointment at 604-375-3474 or visit our innovative showroom at 1385 West 6th Street Avenue in Vancouver. We live to automate, simplify, and secure your world!

Home Music Listening is Back…Thanks to Home Digital Music Solutions from Company's like Sonos

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Remember the good ole’ days in which many homes were equipped with centralized music systems that pumped tunes into each room? The only problem was that such systems came with complex wiring systems and expensive built-in wall consoles, which were quite costly to maintain and nearly impossible to fix if broken.

Thanks to the digital age, technologies like Sonos have made it easy listen to music at home! Now music can be customized per room and controlled wirelessly via your MAC/PC, iPad, iPhone/iPod, or Android. Plus, your music listening options are unlimited as you can access it from Sirius, RDIO, Slacker, iTunes, Window media files, Wolfgang, and other sources.
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Digital Smart Homes is now a member of "Interior Designers of Canada" (IDC)

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Digital Smart Homes team is excited to announce that we have become an official member of the Interior Designers of Canada (IDC) board. Founded in 1972, IDC is the national advocacy association for the interior design profession. The beauty of our new association with the IDC is that we will now be able to connect with and education more than 3,500 interior designers, students, and educators on the latest home automation trends and technologies that have the power to increase the value of home and commercial properties.

More Women are seeking out Home Technology solutions today than ever before

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At Digital Smart Homes, we are constantly working to better understand our client base. One of the most exciting trends that we are seeing is women increasingly seeking out digital technologies, often much more than men. There are a number of reasons as to why this is occurring.

To begin with, digital home technologies have the power to secure home and family. For instance, systems and outdoor lighting sensors can assure that lights go on at the proper time and that pathways are always lit. This not only protects homes from predators, but they greatly decrease the chance of personal injury.

Additionally, iPhone, Smartphone, and iPad apps can align with the latest technologies to indicate whether door locks are unlocked and/or the garage door is open. No matter where in the world a one is, she can close the garage door and/or lock doors. By having the power to assure the security of the home, it is possible to have peace of mind when traveling out of town or returning home.

Secondly, digital technologies can ease the frustrations of controlling numerous home media devices. There are few challenges that frustrate busy individuals more than hard to control/confusing media devices. Digital media technology offers universal remote controls that can control everything from the TV, to the wireless music system, and everything else in between. It is also possible to program a TV to turn off after a predetermined amount of time to assure kids are staying focused on their studies.

Thirdly, appliance control and monitoring makes home life much easier. In fact, kitchens will never be the same, as digital make oven monitoring possible at all times. This lessons the likelihood of the oven being left on for hours or the overcooking of a favorite dish. Also, all appliances can be constantly monitored to assure they are running efficiently and not wasting precious electricity.

Finally, home heating and air conditioning control both helps make the home more comfortable and less energy intensive. For example, the heater/furnace can be activated from the comfort of one’s bed via an iPad app and the air conditioner can be programed and coordinated with electronic blinds for effective temperature control throughout the day.

While the above technologies make a defined difference in the lives of both men and women, it appears that our female customer is increasingly becoming the key influencer. When questioned about the problems digital home technologies solve, our customers often point to security, efficiency, and simplicity.

Why do you personally seek out digital home technologies? Please share on our Facebook page!

The Smart Kitchen Revolution and How Control4 is Leading the Way

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We spend hour upon hour in our kitchens working to create masterful meals, socializing with family and friends, completing homework assignments and work projects, and even watching our favourite shows. In all reality, for many the kitchen is the second family room…or maybe even the first for some!

This is why numerous homeowners around the world are working to make their kitchens as “smart” as possible. Many turn to Control4 for their needs, as the system can do everything from set lighting and window shades to activity specific levels; play just the right music to fit the mood; monitor and program appliances; access award winning recipes from a touch screen; and even set the ice-maker to produce more ice when a party is in full swing. Plus, Control 4 offers numerous apps that can be downloaded and used to simplify the home.
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We Don’t Just Sell Products, We Provide a Lifestyle

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At Digital Smart Homes, we are committed to discovering revolutionary products that have the power to transform your home and improve the quality of your daily life. Not only are we committed, we actually love what we do!

Who wouldn’t be excited to let the cat out of the bag when a new gizmo comes to market that allows a homeowner to close his/her garage door while vacationing in Paris or instantaneously unlock a door to let the cat sitter in when away on a business trip? Or better yet, have the means to monitor all home appliances from their iPad and discover exactly how to dramatically cut down the electricity bill.

Not only do we sell groundbreaking products, we truly provide a lifestyle for the bold and courageous. Such a lifestyle is simplified in nature, yet amazingly thrilling!

Where simplicity is concerned, we work to reveal how the latest technologies can help you cut down on energy costs, maximize appliance functionality and effectiveness, eliminate unneeded remote controls, and empower you when you are on the road.

Thrill comes into the picture when you start considering how digital products can create the perfect home theater environment or that wireless music can magnificently pump crystal clear sound through hidden speakers. Additionally, it’s safe to say that it is thrilling to have the power to pull out your iPhone (no matter where you are on the planet) and push a couple buttons to turn your air conditioning on or off, activate the front porch lights, or cut the power on a computer that needs a break.

This lifestyle we sell is truly seamless and makes perfect sense in today’s ultra-hectic world. Plus, it looks amazing! Who couldn’t use a little wire de-cluttering and electronics hiding, while revolutionizing the home? Our customers often grin when their friends and family stand with their mouths open the moment they realize they are standing in a Digital Smart Home.

You don’t have to be an “early adopter” to understand the value of digitizing your home environment. While some of our clients definitely fall into that category, the majority are simply seeking a way to simplify their lives, secure those they love most, and cut down on energy usage (well…and then there are some who always dreamt of living like the Jetson’s…that’s ok too!).If you are currently considering “Digital Smart Homing” your living environment, you are in for a thrilling ride. Dare to dream big and you are sure to find a creative solution that will fit our lifestyle!

An Overview of My Favorite Online Music Services that Also Work with Sonos

In today’s world, there are so many options out there for online music that it can be difficult to know where to start! The great thing about homeowners that have installed the Sonos Wireless HiFi System is that now it is possible to listen to most artists, albums and/or songs in just moments. No more dusting off old vinyl records, pulling out old tapes, or trying to rub the scratches out of your favourite CDs. We hope the following online music service overview will educate you on what technologies are out there:

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Rdio
Rdio is subscription-based online music service that allows for you to pay a small fee of just $4.99 per month and you are able to listen to unlimited amounts of music from any computer. If you are familiar with Spotify, it is quite similar. Back when Spotify wasn’t available in the United States (and soon to be available in Canada), Rdio held the exclusive on such a service.

Beyond being able to call up almost any artist, album, or song in less than a second, users are able to share music from friends, get music suggestions, and even write mini-reviews. This makes the utilization of your Sonos system quite dynamic.

For those who want to listen to music on their mobile devices and computers while offline or want to listen to music on demand, much like Netflix, members pay $9.99/month and have access to more than 8.5 million songs. Getting started with Rdio is quite easy and completely free for the first week. This allows for you to give it a try before diving into the paid subscription.

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Aupeo
Aupeo is a completely free personalized online music service that you personalize by selecting the “Mood” (Happy, Energetic, Stressful, Relaxing, etc) and the “Genre” (HipHop, Country, World, Electronic, etc) .. The service is a competitor to Pandora, last.fm, and Spotify. As a user, you are allowed to stream more than 120 stations across all music genres, while provided the ability to pause or skip songs at any time. The free version has occasional commercials that play throughout your listening session and has a limit as to how many songs can be skipped at a time per station. In order to better customize music selections, you are able to designate the songs you like versus the ones you dislike.

In the case that you want to enjoy commercial free listening and have full control of how many songs are skipped, the premium service is available for €4.95 EUR/month or €49,95 EUR/ year.

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Slacker Personal Radio
Slacker is quite similar to Aupeo, allowing for users to listen to customized music stations. To select a genre that is most appealing at any given time, you must designate a particular artist or song as a reference point. Music then begins to stream within that given genre and allows for users to pause and skip songs.

The free version allows for only a limited number of skips and includes commercials. If you desire the ability to listen to music without commercials, there is a monthly fee of either $3.99 or $9.99. The $3.99 version also allows for mobile station caching, enables ABC News, and includes complete song lyrics. On the other hand, the $9.99 version adds the ability for you to play song and albums on demand, play single artist stations, cash albums and playlists, and create personalized playlists. This makes Slacker quite similar in functionality to Rdio.

No matter which way you stack it, you can create a music listening experience of your dreams. The secret to discovering which online music services work best for you is to give them all a try!

The 4K Revolution and Its Impact

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Just when the world thought that it couldn’t get any better than HDTV, there is a new technology that is about to change the way humanity experiences home entertainment. Introducing 4k -- the current digital cinema format that offers four times the image quality of HDTV. Soon you, your family and friends will experience the power of the latest digital cinema quality entertainment in the comfort of your own home.

A Short History of 4K
In 1999, digital cinema was thrust into the market with the help of George Lucas. His goal was to make the movie going experience more fascinating and enjoyable. Lucas worked with Sony and Panavision on Star Wars Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace in an effort to release the world’s first movie utilizing a 1080p/24-frame-per-second digital camera. While the technology was far from perfect at the time, moviegoers gave the film rave reviews.

In 2002, there arose an association of movie studios who developed the Digital Cinema Initiative (DCI), LLC to assure the future of digital technologies and bring their costs down tremendously. This led to the release of the 2K format, which requires a 2048-horizontal x 1080-vertical pixel grid. This is slightly larger than the HDTV standard at 1920 x 1080.

The next step was the development of 4K for stadium seating movie venues. Sony Pictures was a major proponent of the technology, which provides a crystal-clear view no matter where one is sitting in the treater. Gone are the days in which certain seats within a treater offer less than perfect picture quality.
In case you’re wondering if you have experienced 4K, James Cameron’s Avatar utilized the format with great success in theatres. The technology played a huge part in making audiences feel as though they were sent into another world that could practically be experienced first-hand.

The next logical stop for 4K is the home, which brings us to 2012!

The 4K in the Home
It is slated for the future that a growing number of homes will take advantage of 4K, which boasts of resolution that is equal to 8.8 million pixels versus the just over 2 million pixels in the average 1080p HDTV image. Imagine enjoying four-times the detail of your current monitor or projector!

Home treater experts have shared openly that there is a definite set of challenges that must be overcome in getting 4K movies into the home. It is very possible that Blu-Ray Disks will be the bearers of 4K because they have the capability to house such large files. Some experts are purporting that streaming 4K through the Internet may not be workable in the foreseeable future; however, it isn’t completely out of the question. Time will tell on the streaming front.

As for monitors that can display 4K, LG and Toshiba are soon to release 4K displays. While there will be very little 4K media to watch when the monitors are released, they will definitely enhance 3D movies. It has been rumoured that the first monitor to enter the market will be the 55’ Toshiba featuring autostereoscopic 3D (i.e. “glasses-less 3D).

Additionally, we at Digital Smart Homes currently carry JVC’s Reference Series 3D Home Cinema 4K projector which offers a contrast ratio of more than 120,000:1. You can also look for Sony’s 4K home theatre projector (the VPL-VW100ES) to be released in September of this year.

If you have any questions surrounding 4K or other custom technologies and installation for your home, we invite you to call our offices at 604-375-3474. Stay tuned for more exciting news on current and future home automation technologies!

How the iPad is Revolutionizing Home Automation & Control

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Just when Apple fans thought it couldn’t get any better, the iPad has become one of the most useful home management tools on the planet.

Imagine going on the road for a number of days and being able to control important home devices/appliances (from the air conditioner, to house lights, to door locks); waking early in the morning to a chilly home and turning the furnace on before hopping out of bed; and cutting down on energy costs by monitoring each of your major appliances for efficiency -- all from your trusty iPad.
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How the Lutron RadioRA 2 Can Revolutionize Your Home

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Are you looking for creative and cost-effective ways to save energy, reduce utility bills, upgrade your home’s technological framework? Lutron makes this more than possible with its RadioRA 2 -- also known as wireless total home control.

The system provides you the power to adjust the amount of daylight and electric light, room/home temperature, and energy utilized by all of the appliances and electronics room-by-room or throughout your entire home.

To help you better understand the Lutron RadioRA 2, we hope the following outline of its benefits will reveal the value it can hold within your household:

Saves Major Amounts of Energy. The system includes a combination of light, shade, temperature, and appliance control to significantly reduce the amount of energy you utilize each day.

Ease of Use. With the push of a single button, it is possible to create the perfect combination of energy saving elements that can include adjusting room lights, shades, and temperature to the exact level that you desire. This can either include room-by-room control or throughout the entire home.

Ambiance Control. RadioRA 2 is an amazing tool for creating the exact ambiance you are looking for at any time. For instance, when you fire up the flat screen TV for one of your favourite movies, you can set the system to automatically dim the lights, close the window shades, and adjust the temperature to a comfortable level.

Appliance Control. It is possible to control all of the appliances in your home such as computers, monitors, televisions, and air purifiers by placing them on standby. By utilizing this functionality, you can save an estimated 10 percent of the energy you normally use on a monthly basis.

Custom Technology. The system can be built out to meet your specific needs. You can control settings via wall panels, tabletop controls, or handheld devices. It is also possible to access controls remotely when you are on the road or out of the country by utilizing your iPad or PC Tablet.

The opportunities are endless with Lutron’s RadioRA 2, thus the key to discovering the right mix within your home environment is to assess all of your lighting fixtures, lamps, electronics devices, and appliances and dreaming up the right solution for you.

Also, you should think about how you would like to control your system. Would you prefer wall panels, desktop and/or handheld controls, mobile device controls, or all of the above?

At Digital Smart Homes, we offer the entire Lutron RadioRA 2 system and can help you find the best solution that will best fit your needs. We can also visit your home and provide ideas for helping you create a cutting-edge and efficient home environment. For more information, we invite you to visit our certified showroom or call our team at 604-375-3474.

5 Reasons to Consider Video Conferencing

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In today’s world, video conferencing is increasingly becoming a way of life for leading and emerging organizations as they work to compete in the global marketplace. There are numerous reasons business leaders, educators, and individuals are finding it essential to invest in revolutionary technologies capable of connecting multiple offices, making remote training/education possible, and allowing for instant connection with others.

If you have been considering investing in video conferencing technologies and are still not sure as to how they can help you streamline your business processes, we hope the following five points will guide your decision making process:

1. Cut Travel Costs. Gone are the days that you must invest heavily in travel expenses. Video conferencing allows for you to schedule numerous meetings and conduct them without having to budget for flights, hotels, meals, and entertainment.

2. Immediate Connection and Information Sharing. Video conferencing can be facilitated at any time. Throughout the conference you can utilize numerous tools for sharing key information including PowerPoint slides, documents, computer screens, whiteboards, video clips, and more. There is no need to schedule for travel time, which makes for more efficient use of time and resources.

3. The Power of Face-to-Face Communication. There is a definite power associated with being able to actually see the person to which you are speaking. This is why throughout history business leaders have spent numerous dollars on travel expenses for their employees as they work to connect with fellow employees, suppliers, and customers. E-mails and phone calls can only go so far where personal touch is concerned, as key messaging can be misconstrued without being able to read the other person’s expressions.

4. Custom Infrastructures Available. Today’s video conferencing technologies can be scaled out to fit the exact needs of an organization. For instance, in the case that you want to connect each of your office boardrooms that are spread throughout the country, there are technologies that will mirror your boardrooms with matching décor and furniture that provide the illusion that you are sitting across the table from remote participants via large screens. On the other hand, if you are looking for a simple one-on-one conversation, video conferencing can be done via laptop.

5. Reduce Office Expenses. Video conference has the power to save you numerous dollars on offices expenses and supplies including phone lines, fax lines, paper, industry sized copy machines, and more. The digital world makes the sharing of documents and information easier than ever!

We at Digital Smart Homes work with individuals and organizations build out their video conferencing setups utilizing LifeSize’s technologies. A division of Logitech, the company produces a vast selection of products used by small and large businesses, educators, health providers, entertainment companies, and non-profits.

The beauty of LifeSize’s innovations is that they have worked tirelessly to develop solutions that take every aspect of an organization’s needs into consideration. Utilizing the immense LifeSize product line, we work with our clients to develop a creative solution that will help them streamline their business processes and cut costs. For more information, we invite you to either visit our showroom or give us a call at 604-375-3474.

The Power of Energy Monitoring: Save Energy & Money

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How would you like to have direct access to the amount of energy you are using in your home or business at any given moment? Finally, you won’t have to hold your breath every time your energy bill is delivered to your mailbox!

A growing number of businesses and families are utilizing energy monitoring technologies such as Eragy or Powerhouse Dynamics to monitor their energy output 24x7. Both technologies offer a host of cutting-edge features that are sure to give you invaluable insights on your energy usage.

Eragy Home Energy Monitoring with Control4
Eragy runs in conjunction with the Control4 home automation system and an energy sensor that is installed prior to usage. Throughout the day, Eragy monitors energy usage and then sends data to their secure website. The system then correlates your energy usage with utility provider’s rates and projects your current costs.

To view energy usage and cost statistics Eragy utilizes your Control4 touch panel, TV, computer, iPhone, Android, or iPad. After viewing the data, users you can then make needed adjustments to your home or business to decrease energy usage.

Powerhouse Dynamics
Powerhouse Dynamics is an amazing system that takes energy monitoring to new heights. The system breaks down energy usage circuit-by-circuit and pinpoints various items in your home or business that are contributing to high energy costs.

It also has the power to monitor each appliance within a home and sends out an alert when one isn’t performing well. You are also given the ability to control the temperature of your home from anywhere via a smartphone. Additionally, if you utilize renewable energy sources such as solar power, Powerhouse Dynamic’s eMonitor will reveal if they are producing the amount of which they are capable.

When the system finds it necessary to alert you to a particular problem or unnecessary energy output, the system can be programmed to send you a text message or e-mail. You can liken the system to a home assistant that is there to make your live 100 times easier!


Smart Meters Installed Across BC to Improve Energy Costs & Efficiency
The idea of energy efficiency is also being taken seriously throughout BC. In fact, there is a BC Hydro Smart Metering Program that will see the installation of 1.8 million meters in home and businesses by December 2012. The meters are expected to save BC residents more than $70 million over the next three years and $1.6 billion over the next 20 years.

At Digital Smart Homes, we can provide you monitoring technologies that are compatible with Smart Meters. Additionally, we can provide you a full demo of the above systems. We invite you to drop by our showroom or contact me at 604-375-3474 extension #700 for more information.

Digital Smart Home’s Three Promises

My friend @TeriConrad hosts a weekly twitter chat called #brandtribe and her topic a few weeks back was about “Company Values”. I listened closely and tweeted about my companies values. For me, my company’s promise is how I define our values and are proudly displayed on our company website. Another participant in the online chat made a comment that a company which lists there values should also define them. So thats what I did.

Digital Smart Home’s Three Promises that define our Values
At Digital Smart Homes, our team is dedicated to making sure that our customers receive top-quality service at all times. In order to guarantee best-in-class service, no matter how large or small in scope a project may be, we have made three promises…

Promise 1
To Listen Carefully: Because of our clients’ needs for custom solutions, we vow to listen closely in an effort to gain a full understanding of their technological needs, creative vision, and budgetary constraints. Rather than offering product and design suggestions from the beginning, we work to connect with each client and take in their inspired vision.

Promise 2
To Offer Thoughtfully: After listening carefully, we work to offer comprehensive solutions and clearly explain what all technologies are able to accomplish. Never will our customers be scratching their heads due to lack of information or clear explanation. Additionally, we go beyond the call of duty to present clients with detailed quotes and take ample time to review all line items. We live to educate and inform our client base!

Promise 3
To Execute Brilliantly: Once our clients have signed off on the overall concept, we “execute” the installation with perfection - all hands on deck! Home and work environments are handled with care as technologies and design elements are beautifully integrated. A key aspect of integration is full instruction on how to use all technologies, plus our team members are always available for support, even years down the road.

Bonus Promise
Full Warranty Commitment: Digital Smart Homes is the only technology provider in the industry that meets all manufacturers’ warranties. In other words, most organizations offer 90-day to 1-year labour warranties; however, we have made the commitment to match our labour warranties for the same length of the manufacturers warranty of a given product. Thus, if an item comes with a 4-year warranty and fails to work properly, our dedicated team will visit your home or office, remove it, and take it in for servicing. There are no added costs for home visits or servicing that falls within the manufacturer’s warranty.

We truly value our customers and strive to go the extra mile to make sure that all of our products and services make life easier and more manageable. This is our passion!!

Homeowners Are Turning to Smart Technology to Streamline Their Lives and Reduce Energy Use

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Article by Amanda Ash, Contributor for eHow

Long gone are the days when we read by candlelight and cooked dinner on a wood-burning stove. And for many North American homes as of 2011, the acts of flipping light switches and manually controlling thermostats are going the way of the dinosaurs.

The Green Revolution, coupled with incredible technological advances, has spawned tech-savvy "smart homes": digitally outfitted dwellings that may be programmed to do just about anything you can think of, except maybe clean your room.

Harry Saini, who owns Digital Smart Homes of Canada and has wired his Vancouver condominium to the hilt, believes that automating your home not only simplifies your life but also reduces energy consumption. Home automation technology is becoming more accessible every day, allowing the average person to transform a home into something straight out of "Star Trek."

"If you were looking at home automation five years ago, you'd easily be looking at 10 times the cost compared to now," Saini said. "And the number of dealers and retailers that are able to support that technology compared to five, six years ago has doubled---tripled, even.

"People used to think home automation is for lazy people, but that's not what it is. Essentially, everything talks to one another. Your lights talk to your stereo. Your alarm knows what your garage is doing. All your devices know what's going on."
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What is Home Automation or a Smart Home?

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In today’s ultra-complicated and fast-paced world, home automation and smart home technologies were developed to simplify life! Thanks to revolutionary devices, you can now link and control all of the electronics and systems in your home from a single digital interface.

Digital Smart Homes links together onto one operating platform the following technologies and more:
  • Home theatre systems
  • Multi-room music & video
  • Smart lighting & shades
  • Advanced temperature control
  • Safety and security devices
With a system such as Control4, your life will be forever changed and simplified as you hide away multiple remotes and take advantage of an easy-to-use interface that can be accessed via a single remote, your computer, iPad, iPhone, or other Smartphones.

Transforming your living environment into a “smart home” not only makes life more manageable, it makes it more secure. For instance, let’s say that you head out of town for a weekend trip and you realize a few hours out of town that you forgot to arm the security system and program the porch lights to illuminate at dusk. All you have to do is pull out your iPhone, bring up the Control4 interface, and push a few buttons to secure your alarm & program your lights.

Is Home Automation Scalable? As you revolutionize and grow your home technologies, you may be wondering if home automation is scalable. This is actually the beauty of a system like Control4. You can begin with one or two technologies and then scale out to meet additional needs. For example, if you have an amazing home theatre setup and a security system, you can begin there and then add to your setup as time progresses.

What’s in a Smart Home Console?
This is where the fun begins! Just to give you an idea, here are some of the things that Control4 can accomplish:

  • Control your home theatre
  • Dim the lights as the opening credits roll
  • Turn off all your TVs when your kids should be studying
  • Alert you when the garage door is open…and then close it
  • Manage your lights, window coverings, and thermostats
  • Monitor your locks, lighting, and security cameras
  • Allow you to play music in any room of the house
The sky is the limit! Your home can now be easily managed, and finally you don’t have to constantly provide lengthy instructions on how all of your devices work!

Visit our fully featured hi-tech showroom in Vancouver at 1385 West 6th Avenue.

The Growing Trend of Hidden Electronics

It is quite common for our customers to search for ways to seamlessly integrate their entertainment systems and electronic devices with the décor of their homes. Their ultimate goal is to preserve the beauty of their interior design, while essentially hiding the ugly side of technology such as wiring, speakers, and bulky consoles. Thus, they challenge our team at Digital Smart Homes to develop an action plan for making their dreams a reality. This post is designated to help you make the best decisions possible on building your dream design/technology scenario.

Hidden, yet Frequently Used
Many homeowners who frequently enjoy the best audio, video, and control gear assume that they are stuck with having to constantly behold the many wires and ugly parts that come with their beloved electronics. They often dream of having a beautiful home environment, but since they often utilize their high-tech devices, they feel they need to settle for obvious and cluttered.

If you are in this boat, you may be thrilled to learn there are some great hidden installation techniques available today, including:

  • Hanging flat-panel video displays, minus the wires. Flat-panel mounts are getting better every day, and some even come with motorized features for ease-of-use. In an effort to hide cables, some systems come with in-arm cable channels for concealment, while others allow for small devices and cords to be stored behind the display. There are several types of mounts that should be considered depending on your particular need. They can include everything from flat mounts, to those that tilt or articulate for optimum viewing pleasure.

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  • Seeking simplicity in the bedroom? You can implement an under-the-bed mount that pops out and up with the touch of a button. Once brought out into the open, these mounts can swivel up to 360 degrees for comfortable viewing.

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  • TV mirrors for hiding LCDs. It is becoming increasingly popular to use TV mirrors to hide TVs that sit over fireplaces or in other strategic spots. When powered off, some LCD screen options vanish and appear as decorative mirrors. Others are motorized, descending and ascending with the push of a remote button.
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  • Art screens for TVs like no other. Homeowners can have their favourite art reproduced or choose from other existing artwork to cover up their TVS. The artwork ascends or descends with the command of a remote.

  • Invisible installations utilizing wireless multimedia kits. For those looking to control all AV devices with a single remote or an iPad and keep all components hidden within a cupboard or closet, there are some great solutions from Control4 and Harmony Remotes.

  • Hidden speakers for amazing sound. Today’s most innovative speaker systems offer architectural models that are quite aesthetically pleasing. Some appear as shadows that are barely noticeable, others are actually built into the wall and blend in beautifully. The sound that is pumped out of these hidden speakers is quite amazing.
No matter what your needs, there is a hidden electronics solution for you. All it takes is a little imagination and knowledge of the current products on the market and you’re set!

The Value of Independent Smart Technology Providers

A growing number of consumers are realizing the true value of employing independent providers of smart technologies over big box suppliers such as Best Buy, Future Shop, Wal-Mart, and Costco. Among Vancouver, British Columbia’s most innovative independent providers is my company Digital Smart Homes. Our rapidly growing customer base relies on its highly personalized and innovative approach to developing out-of-the-box solutions for making homes and businesses more comfortable, entertaining, secure, and manageable.

For instance with a single touch of a button, Digital Smart Home customers can transform their TV room into a home theatre. As a movie begins, room lights can automatically dim, window shades close, and the surround sound ignite. While engaged in the movie, all watchers can be rest assured that after sunset pre-programmed technology will bring the porch lights to life, and at 10pm (or any other designated time) all door locks are automatically secured. While most mass retailers can offer less expensive, installation-ready product options, independent providers are growing in popularity for a number of reasons including the following:

  • Fully Customized Product Offerings – For homeowners searching for a purely unique smart home or office technology setup, big box retailers many times can’t compete with the personalized touch of an independent provider. For example, Digital Smart Homes works with each customer individually to develop solutions with niche products that aren’t always available on a mass level. Most customers who invest in such solutions are more concerned with quality than they are with finding the least expensive wares.

  • Masters at Making Various Technologies Work Together for Best Results – Independent providers work to combine technologies so that they work in concert with one another. Digital Smart’s Control4 system combines home theatre, multi-room music, lighting, temperature, and safety & security systems into a single easy-to-use platform. No longer do families have to struggle with numerous controllers and devices that require hours of training and research, and pre-programming capabilities can meet their unique demands.

  • Unparalleled Expertise & Trouble Shooting – Mass retailers tend to know a little about numerous product categories, while independent shops are experts in everything “smart.” There have been many reports of leading mass merchants employing newbies to technology who have been responsible for lacklustre solutions and disastrous installations.

On the other hand, the average independent provider offers between 20-30 years of combined experience and immense knowledge of their product offerings. Additionally, their teams engage in customized installations, educate their customers on all employed technologies, and make house calls on short notice.

When searching for a provider, a homeowner should make a checklist of key technologies needed to be enhanced, linked together, and simplified. Additionally, it is recommended that consumers be aware of “out of trunk” businesses that offer products and services at discounted rates. Businesses with a storefront such as Digital Smart Homes offer legitimacy and guarantees that cannot be offered by online only or mobile businesses.

Today’s smart technologies are constantly evolving and forever changing the way home and business owners are conducting their daily lives. With a little imagination and unlimited innovation, the sky is the limit!

The Dream of Widespread Smart Houses is Becoming a Reality

by Kim Robertson of MAC Marketing Solutions

Perhaps you’re stuck in a snowstorm, yearning for a long soak in the bath the second you get home. Maybe you’re travelling abroad, and would love to check in on your home and personal belongs (since you left the teenagers home alone). Or, you need to schedule a virtual at-home doctor’s appointment and health statistics update. Read More...

Guide to Consumer and Commercial LCDs

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With so many types of displays flooding the market, finding the right LCD display can be an intimidating task – especially for those who research endlessly before making a decision. Digital signage has become an essential part of any growing business and the importance of choosing the right LCD is undeniable. Thankfully, DSH has put together this guide to help make your decision a little easier - whether you are just curious about the difference between consumer and commercial LCDs or a business looking to invest in a panel.
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How home audio systems are reinventing the way we design our homes in the 21st century


Large. Heavy. Overbearing. The imagery of our original CD home audio systems is not a pleasant one. During a time when aesthetics were completely void of a stereo systems’ design, figuring out where to place them in our homes was often a daunting task. However, in the 21st century, the advanced technology of our hi-fi home audio systems is not only reinventing the way we listen to music, but also the way we approach interior design in our homes. Read More...

How watching TV on an LCD, Plasma & Projectors effect your eyes.

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Watching TV on an LCD, LED, Plasma or a projection screen have different effect on your eyes. For example, when watching TV with the lights turned off there is a mis-conception that you can "damage" your eyes. This is not true. As the light intesity & contrast levels change on your TV from frame to frame, your eye's can get tired because the iris constantly contracts and dilates. The effect of fatigue is greater when watching TV on an LED or an LCD TV when compared to a Plasma TV. LCD's and LED TV's tend to be brighter and Plasma's traditionally emit a warmer light. There is also a difference in watching TV when compared to projectors. TV's are an active light source whereas projection screens reflect light which makes a projector a passive light source.

When watching TV on an LCD, LED or a Plasma it is a good idea to have the lighting in the room dimmer than the light being emitted from the the screen. It is also recommended to sit about 3 to 5 times the width of your Plasma screen away or 4 to 6 times the width of your LCD/LED screen away. If you have children and are concerned about them sitting to close the screen, we can install an automation system that will turn the screen off if they happen to be too close and than turn back on when they are far enough from the screen. This help develop a habit early on in there age to not sit too close to the TV screen.