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June 2, 2009

The ABC’s of Whole Home AV

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 1:31 pm

Nearly every home in America has some form of AV – or audio/video – equipment.  In fact, the average home tallies up more than a half dozen AV components when counting only TV’s, radios and computers.   We sure love our music and movies!

Despite the pleasure these increasingly digital devices afford us, they come with their head aches, including  remote control chaos and media everywhere but where you want it.  Whole home control technology aims to address these ailments.  Here how:

A. Remote Possibilities– Say you’re taking in the evening news on cable when your kids suggest checking out that new DVD you brought home.  While your separate components for cable programming, DVDs, source selection and large screen viewing make for great quality and flexibility, the gotcha now gets ya when you need to pick up and punch on so many remotes to accommodate your kiddies simple request.  By putting a “central brain” between a single remote and these various components,   it now becomes possible to press one button on that remote and leave it to this central controller to handle the switching details required to achieve DVD viewing mode.  Heck, you can even pre-program this controller to dim the lights, drop the shades and turn off the ringer on your phone as part of the transaction.

B. Media Management Madness– You know the drill.  You want to play that new catchy tune you just downloaded last night.  It’s on your notebook computer.  You’re not.   Or, maybe you want to watch a DVD but aren’t sure which one.  Don’t you wish you could browse the cover art right there on your large TV without leaving your comfy couch?  Whole home technology approaches these issues and opportunities in a couple of ways.  First, a central storage device is deployed that captures all media from all devices and can be accessed from any media player (i.e. TV, receiver, PC, etc.) in your home.  Second, a relatively simple and inexpensive device called a Digital Media Renderer turns these files into a virtual “jukebox”, allowing you to browse them by artist, title – however you please, really, and right on your TV set if you wish.

C. Divine Distribution – Suppose you want to begin watching a movie in your workout room, but want finish it in the family or bedroom.  Or, maybe pump those tunes from the downstairs entertainment center to your outdoor porch.  A basic tenant of whole home A/V is that you can watch or listen to whatever you want, wherever you want, whenever you want.   The workhorse of  A/V source distribution is the “matrix switch.”  It’s kind of like your AV receiver, except it can have many different output zones – even 16 or more – and any source fed into the switch can be routed to any one of these zones.

Of course, there’s more to whole home A/V than simplified remote control, enhanced media management and source distribution, but getting your head around these three areas will give you a solid start when considering the sort of applications and benefits you might want to pursue.

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