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Should I go 4K today? (Part 2 of 2)

Where should I have 4K in my home?

4K is ideal in the largest entertainment rooms in your home, such as a great room, family room, or, of course, a home theater. Your kids will be blown away by the immersive gaming experience with 4K. You don’t need 4K everywhere. Full HD is still perfectly fine for secondary rooms, such as bedrooms. If it’s your vacation home (perhaps in the Hamptons or Florida) consider how often you’re there and which room is used the most.

What about 4K content? Is there anything to watch?

Until recently, the answer was “not much.” But that’s rapidly changing. Online services are leading the charge. Netflix® already offers several TV series, including Breaking Bad and House of Cards, through their subscription on-demand service, and they’ve announced plans to produce more original 4K content starting this year. YouTube®, Hulu®, and Amazon® have likewise announced their plans to produce more original shows in 4K. 

There’s more. Within the next 18 months, Kaleidescape®, the leading manufacturer of movie servers for the home, plans to release a 4K player and provide access to 4K titles from major movie studios via digital downloads, and then streaming and discs. Sony® is also committed to 4K. They recently launched their Video Unlimited 4K download service, with access to an expanding library of 4K feature films and TV shows. And they’re shipping a 4K Blu-ray Disc™ Player that performs 4K upscaling of DVDs and Blu-ray Discs.

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Should I go 4K today? (Part 1 of 2)

The big buzz in consumer electronics is the new 4K, the common name for the Ultra HD TV format. So what is 4K, exactly, and how do you know when the time is right to get it for your home?

The basics

4K represents the next giant leap in image resolution. How big a leap? 4K creates images composed of nearly 8.3 million pixels, compared to about 2 million in a 1080p image, the full HD resolution produced by Blu-ray®. In other words, FOUR TIMES the resolution of the TVs that you’re likely watching now. These pixels are usually arranged in a 3,840 x 2,160 configuration, compared with the 1,920 x 1,080 for full HD TV, also known as “1080p.”

Is 4K different from Ultra HD?

Though not the same, the two terms have become interchangeable, thereby creating some confusion. “4K” is the most commonly used term. However, some consumer electronics manufacturers prefer “Ultra HD” because it distinguishes between the 3,840 x 2,160 resolution inherent to 16:9 ratio TVs and the 4,096 x 2,160 resolution most commonly used in digital cinemas. For our purposes, we’ll refer to it as 4K.

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Hassle-free Upgrades to Your Lighting & Shades?

Would you like to take advantage of the latest lighting control conveniences, shade integration elegance, and energy management advancements without making holes in your walls and disrupting your life?

That’s where ACS and Lutron’s Wireless QS system comes in!  Lutron QS is a wireless, energy-saving lighting control, automated window treatment, and HVAC home control system that gives you the ability to tailor the environment throughout your entire home from simple intuitive devices.

Because QS utilizes Lutron’s patented Clear Connect® RF wireless technology, the system installs easily into existing homes without running any new wires removing the need to make “Swiss cheese” of your walls. It’s perfect for retrofit projects as well as new construction homes.

Standard switches and dimmers are replaced with “smart” lighting controls, old pull cord shades are replaced with battery powered shades, and all without running a single wire. Your new smart devices “talk” to each other to work in perfect combination. Lutron QS is also scalable, meaning you can start with a single room or a few rooms, and expand the system to cover your entire home when you’re ready.

With Wireless QS, you can:

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Why Consider a Centralized Lighting System from ACS and Lutron?

If you are getting ready to construct a new home, putting in major renovations, or creating an addition, NOW is the time to partner with ACS to assist in the design of a centralized lighting control system from Lutron. Why? Besides having complete flexibility with switching, dimming, energy management and shade control in one system, consider this…

Aesthetics- ACS can work with you, your architect or interior designer to minimize clutter on your walls with a well-designed Lutron centralized lighting system. Instead of wiring local switches for each different zone of light in a room which results in an unsightly bank of switches and dimmers, you can have a single, elegant keypad that comes in a variety of finishes to match your décor.

Flexibility- You have the ability to control any one light, shade, and temperature zone from any single button on a keypad, touch screen or smart device. You maximize convenience and can accommodate a multitude of lifestyle applications for you and your family. When your needs or preferences change it’s easy to make adjustments to your settings.

Scalability – Centralized lighting systems offer maximum scalability. Everything from a Manhattan apartment to a sprawling Beverly Hills estate can be accommodated. Get ACS involved during the design phase of your large residence to collaborate with architects, designers and general contractors and ensure appropriate wiring infrastructures is implemented.

ReliabilityACS works with Lutron because their design, quality control and performance are unsurpassed in the industry. Wireless lighting control has proven to be effective, yet nothing can replace the tried and true results of a centralized system using dimming panels hard wired to local keypads via low voltage. In an emergency, multiple redundant systems further ensure uninterrupted operation.

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What Benefits do Motorized Shades Provide (Besides Convenience)?

Is there any part of the home you can’t make “smart?” More and more homes (and apartments and resorts, etc.) are being constructed with advanced technologies built in. Viking ranges and Sub-Zero refrigerators are being delivered with WiFi, apps and touchscreens. Whether designing a new home, remodeling or a retrofit application ACS has solutions for introducing basic home integration. A great place to start is with something you interact with everyday… window shades!

Controlled window shades are convenient and cool to have, but are there any other benefits? Glad you asked! There are actually several reasons why programmed, responsive window treatments are both a great investment and a “smart” decision for your property and family.

Stop the Sun Damage

Many of the items in your home (such as art, photographs, upholstery, rugs, and more) contain dyes and inks that will fade when exposed to too much sunlight. One of our New York clients was shocked when redecorating and saw the discoloration on her living room wood floors and realized what kind of damage must have also been done to her Stark rug and heirloom Matisse. Controlled shades can be programmed to prevent the harshest direct light from damaging your valuables, and can even be scheduled to alter the operations due to Daylight Savings and seasonal changes. ACS shading system designer, Cody Derby, has found that since you’re putting some kind of treatments on your windows anyway it’s an easy next step to automate them. Otherwise they usually stay raised when you’re not home and UV damage occurs.

Enhance Your Privacy

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How Secure is Your Home or Business?

Audio Command is a leading provider of complete turnkey solutions for audio/visual integration, including Security & Surveillance options. We take pride in offering cost-effective, user-friendly security services to the New York area that directly address your needs. 

You install a security and surveillance system so you don’t have to worry about your property, possessions and loved ones. But the greatest peace of mind comes when you don’t have to worry about the operation of your system either. That’s why ACS offers home security.

Audio Command designs, installs and provides ongoing support for all your security needs, including camera systems with integrated access control, CCTV integration, entry systems support, remote system monitoring and more.

Video Surveillance

We provide centrally managed Closed Circuit Television Systems as well as Internet Protocol Camera Systems so that you can monitor various points from anywhere in the globe from a computer or smartphone. With cameras in and around your home or office you can monitor your residence while at work, or your business while on vacation … or the nursery while in the other room!

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Why do Acoustics Matter in a Home Theater?

Room acoustics indicate how sound waves interact within a room. Every room reacts differently to the variety of sound frequencies, primarily because of the objects in it, and every speaker sounds different when in a different room. When you partner with ACS for a home theater build, acoustics are a vital component considered as we design and engineer your space…and for good reason.

 

The next time you sit down to watch a movie or listen to music, think about the ways – good and bad – that your room may be affecting the overall sound of your system. A basic understanding of room acoustics (and speaker placement) can help you maximize the performance of any audio or home theater playback.

Imagine that room empty, with hardwood floors and bare drywall. That’s going to have a lot of echoes, right? Now imagine the same room with carpets, thick drapes, plush seating and bookcases or a private concession counter. Suddenly the room has a quieter, more intimate feel. The fact is, these are the extremes of room acoustics, and the perfect-sounding home theater exists somewhere between the extremes.

Every room a puzzle

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What are Your Priorities before Finishing a Home Theater Build?

Last time, we discussed the importance of finalizing your audio and component choices before making any commitment to building a home theatre. This time we focus on the finishing touches.

(6 of 10) The Components

DVD or Blu-ray? Do you still have a VCR and a collection of VHS? Maybe you want a DVD Recorder too? And how do you receive your television programming? Cable, satellite or antenna? If you have high-speed internet access, you might not require a Blu-ray or DVD player as you can stream both music and movies. New Blu-ray players and televisions can actually connect to the internet directly, but you can also purchase an external box (Network Media Players or Media Steamers) as an affordable option. It’s all predicated on what you need from your theater and how much you want to invest in it.

(7 of 10) The Protection

Surge protectors may replace your pet as your new best friend. Power outages and brownouts happen with no notice so, while surge protectors aren’t foolproof, it’s always a good idea to defend your system as much as possible. Another option is a Line Conditioner, a more comprehensive way of protecting against power surges, as well as monitoring and even regulating the power reaching your components.

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What are Your SOUND Priorities before Building a Home Theater?

ACS knows that there are few things in life more exciting than the mere prospect of having your own private movie theater at home, as well as the potential pitfalls of starting a home theater build without proper planning. Last blog, we discussed the importance of determining your (1) space and (2) display options before making any commitment to building a home theater. This time we focus on sound. 

(3 of 10) The Sound Reproduction

Many would argue that the quality of your theater’s audio capability is even more important than how clear the images are on the screen. Your options include either an AV Receiver or a Preamplifier/Amplifier combination.

An AV Receiver combines the functions of three components:

     a) A Radio Tuner for AM/FM and, in some cases, HD (Hi-Def), Internet or Satellite Radio

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What Should Your Priorities Be When Planning a Home Theater Build?

Welcome back to the ACS Blog!

After almost 40 years of providing audio and video solutions throughout the U.S., ACS understands that there are few things in life more exciting than the mere prospect of having your own private movie theater at home. Whether you are building a new home from the foundation up or converting an existing space into the home theater you’ve always imagined, ACS will walk you through the entire process. As anxious as you may be to get started, however, there is a lot to consider before beginning the build.

In this and future blogs, we want to offer 10 specific considerations; things you will want to have determined (or at least considered) to minimize your frustration throughout the process.

1. Your Space Options

Where do you plan to put it? Keep in mind, the size of the room will determine how large your video display can be, what projection system will work best, how many guests you can assemble, etc. The specifics of the room you choose are going to dictate quite a bit of the work. Such as:

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How do YOU Get the “Biggest, Baddest Home?”

In our last blog edition, we discussed the challenges we faced, as well as the solutions we provided for a project that was recently given the “Biggest, Baddest Home” Integration Award at the CEDIA Expo ’13 in Denver. The most important part of the story, of course, is the results…

Overall this is an incredible, must-see project. Everyone who has stepped foot in this amazing home leaves with their jaw dragging on the floor. 

Firstly, the dedicated A/V room saves a tremendous amount of time when an issue arises. In most cases the problem is resolved within minutes. Also, ACS is monitoring the CCTV Cameras on the Crestron touch panels and iPads. From the touch panels or any TV in the home you can select your own source so that all recordings are easily accessible. As a result, the children, staff, and home owners are able to easily use the system.

The indoor pool’s 25' barreled ceiling utilizes Sonnex amplifiers and the room sounds incredible. In addition there are 3 large outdoor zones (the main Great Lawn able to hit 94db without clipping). Over 60 outdoor speakers were installed in coordination with the landscape designer, GC, electrician and landscaper.

Home Theater – the theater features a high-end Meridian 4k projector, full surround sound with multiple subwoofers and high-end audiophile speakers. Viewers can sit in the custom leather seating or in the balcony area to enjoy the featured presentation. 8 zones of lighting in this room (including a star burst ceiling) are controlled by our system.

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What Makes a “Biggest, Baddest Home?”

At ACS, we’re committed to providing the level of professional service that makes a home or business owner a client for life. For example, we were given the opportunity to work with a particular client again after proving our abilities on their previous home, which ACS integrated more than a decade ago. Even after so much time had passed, our relationship included a comfort and confidence that was invaluable with all the unique challenges and requests which were brought to the new project.

The Challenges: The new home is 42,000 sq ft in beautiful Greenwich, CT. There were considerable differences in the two projects. At the first home we integrated for the client, our racks were shoe-horned into a small room along with the alarm vendor, pool controls, thermostats, and an existing (and not very-well designed) infrastructure. While in the previous home the client perceived that, when a piece of electronic equipment wasn’t working, a simple “power cycle” could fix the problem 99% of the time. He requested that we design the system so that anyone could easily access the backs of all the equipment. (In the previous home this was not possible due to equipment being housed inside custom cabinetry).

Additional challenges included:

•  Ensuring multiple people could use the control system in a home this large

•  Client requested the large V15 touch panel to be utilized as a TV monitor in a number of areas

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Did You Know ACS Offers Design & Engineering Consulting?

It's our experience here at ACS that the most successful projects are engineered and documented well in advance of actual construction. Early documentation of your audio/video distribution, home integration, network, lighting, motorized shades, and security needs in the design phase ensures accurate coordination between your architect, interior designer, builder and all subcontractors involved. Initial plans specify all the build requirements your team of professionals need to know.

Before you begin a project, whether partnering with ACS or working with another integrator, it will help to be familiar with the documentation involved.

 

Prewire Drawing Set

“Prewire” refers to the installation of cables and wires during a new home’s construction, including the AC electrical wiring and low voltage, home systems cabling. Remember, many wireless devices still use proprietary communication protocols, making them incompatible with other manufacturer’s products. Also, prewiring is a permanent upgrade to your home, increasing its value at sale time.

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With ACS & Control4 You Stay Connected Everywhere

ACS is determined to be your resource for all things home integration. To that end, we wanted to focus this newest edition to our blog on a key integration partner; Control4.

Imagine receiving an alert from your phone while you’re away from home that says your garage door is open, and then it gives you the option of closing it. Or imagine pressing a button as you leave the house and your AC shuts off, your lights go out, and your alarm system powers up. Then, when you return home, another button push brings up the lights you have selected for that time of day, turns on your music or queues your television to your DVR. Such progress is no longer limited to your imagination and such functionality and ease-of-use has made Control4 a preferred entry-level solution for home integration.

Who is Control4?

Control4 is a Salt Lake City, Utah-based company that has made value and the customer experience its priorities since 2003. Control4 emphasizes usability within their product offerings, bringing you control over virtually everything in your home from almost anywhere you happen to be, whether you’re at the office across town or on vacation halfway across the world.

For an all-in-one home integration system, there are few packages that can beat the ease of use that Control4 provides. Keep in mind, this total integration system must be installed professionally by an authorized dealer, such as ACS.

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Why Upgrading Your Home Network Matters

Having problems with home network lagging? ACS, the factory authorized and trained dealer and installer of the finest A/V, Lighting Control, Motorized Shading, Home Integration and Network equipment has the solution.

Let’s be honest, we’ve all developed an expectation to be wirelessly connected at all times. Everywhere we go, we look for updates on our smart phone, tablet or iPad, all while working on our laptop. We use these devices to access today’s vast array of digital media such as streaming music, HD video, or even accessing our home integration and security while away.

At the heart of today’s residences, a well-engineered secure wireless and wired network is essential.  As we continue to depend less on traditional entertainment sources (radio, CD, DVD, cable TV) and more on cloud-based entertainment (internet radio, Pandora, iTunes, Netflix, AppleTV, and others), along with Gaming, Remote Access to Work, and everyday on-line activities, a faster, more secure and dependable home network is essential.

High-bandwidth devices place increased pressure on home networks. To meet these requirements, service providers are delivering advancements in internet speeds, but many home networks aren’t equipped to make use of the speeds they offer. Technology evolves at such a rapid pace that we have to evolve with it or get left behind. Our homes need a strong network to meet the demands of the digital age.

Looked at another way; consumer networks were never meant to handle the high demands of the audio/video components currently used in modern homes or businesses. The results being unacceptable WiFi performance, data loss, constant reboots, product failure, and the always-annoying customer service phone calls to internet providers. ACS fixes that by providing industry-leading technology that combines wired/wireless data and IP power with local and cloud-based management.

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How Far Does Technology Integration Experience Get You?

Why does experience matter? It gets you invited to the Netherlands, for one thing.

ACS has a client for whom we’ve integrated 4 different homes. It just so happens that the client’s 5th home is a 95-ft yacht…and it’s being built in Amsterdam. You can’t win them all, right? Well…

While the client explored integration options overseas, a priority for the family was for the controls within the yacht to have the same look and feel as the other homes on which ACS had previously worked. This meant viewing the same menu – regardless of the location – to set the music or raise the shades or view the status of any room in that home or across the globe. To aid in this endeavor, the client brought their world-renowned yacht builder to Los Angeles to review the systems in the 85,000 sqr ft home in Beverly Hills (which also happened to be the most recent work ACS had completed on their behalf).

This location has the advantage of the features that have made ACS a Crestron Gold programmer. More than a decade of development has gone into our template, featuring options many integrators don’t make available as their base offering. ACS has found it’s easier to include more options (and edit out what isn’t optimal for the client) rather than add what we consider basic functions at an additional cost. To demonstrate, the client took quite a bit of pleasure adjusting the volume in surrounding rooms while we conducted our meeting, as well as showing off the “home-at-a-glance” feature that displays the status of every zone from a single screen.

After the meeting, ACS was asked to review the company chosen for the integration overseas. Frankly, it was a quality organization, and we didn’t feel it made sense for us to be involved to any greater degree. However, there’s a peace-of-mind component to all such work. So, when the client offered to fly us to Amsterdam for 3 days to review the system with the chief engineer, who were we to argue?

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