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Latest Smart Home Products at CEDIA Exude Style

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2015 was a banner year for great smart home product introductions, many of which were showcased recently at the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association (CEDIA) conference and trade show in Dallas. The Electronic House editors hit the venue in search of some of the brightest, most innovative devices available today … and in keeping with this issue’s design theme, they had to look great, too. Here are some of our favorite finds:

Automated window treatments are, without question, one of the most convenient and useful products available in today’s integrated home. For years they were also one of the most difficult to install. Battery powered options make installation significantly easier, especially in existing homes, but come with their own set of drawbacks, such as limited size options, and the headaches associated with frequent battery changes.

Taking center stage at Lutron’s booth this year was the company’s answer to these common tradeoffs: the Sivoia QS Triathlon WIDR series. Now available in sizes from 20 ½” wide x 12” tall all the way up to 12’ x 12’, you’d be hard pressed to find a window the WIDR series couldn’t handle. Starting at $1,065, these shades are available in a variety of fabrics. For an additional $70 buyers can opt for the “Battery Boost” option, increasing battery life by up to 80%, and resulting in a battery lifespan of up to six years. See the WIDR shade in action:

If you tend to talk with your hands, the Swipe from Fibaro could be the home control device of your dreams. First and foremost, it’s a slick looking touchpanel that attaches to the wall from which you can command lights, thermostats, security devices, and more. But unlike a traditional touchpanel that responds to a tap of a finger on its display, the Swipe reacts to six different hand gestures. Wave your hand left to right across the screen and the Swipe issues a command to a group of lights, for example. Move your hand in a circle, and a different series of commands can be dispatched. If mounting a touchpanel to the wall doesn’t appeal to your decorative eye, the Swipe can be mounted behind drywall, underneath granite, or behind artwork for a completely invisible installation. It will still “see” your hand motions. Pricing information was unavailable at press time. www.fibaro.com/us

Dolby Atmos is the hottest thing happening in home audio today. The newly developed “object-based” surround-sound format features speakers that provide a sense of 3D realism where sounds project from overhead (think rain showers and aircraft). Typically, setting up a Dolby Atmos system required mounting several speakers in the ceiling or positioning specially engineered “upfiring” speakers on the floor. Now SpeakerCraft offers another installation option: in-wall Dolby Atmos-enabled speakers. According to SpeakerCraft, the product introduction marks the industry’s first architectural in-wall speaker system that meets all of the Atmos standards set by Dolby, and are ideal for situations where mounting speakers in the ceiling isn’t possible. Pricing information was unavailable at press time. www.speakercraft.com

You can dress up a lighting control keypad with a fancy faceplate, but at the end of the day it’s still a keypad. Eschewing tradition, Belgium company Basalte has completely reinvented the lighting control keypad with its touch-sensitive, decorative, square-shape Sentido. Its unique style will make you wonder exactly what its purpose is, other than that of an eye-catching element on the wall. But graze your fingers over the smooth, high-grade metal finish (several colors and finishes are available, including brushed aluminum, satin white, brushed black, and others), and your entire home environment can change in an instant, as groups of lights brighten and dim to preset intensity levels. The square-shape Sentido switch can be divided into two or four equal surfaces; each surface can be set up to issue a different series of commands. The switch also functions as a temperature sensor that discretely reports the room temperature to a home automation system. Contact info@basalte.us for pricing information. www.basalte.be/en

One hundred and twenty inches of ultra-high-definition video: It doesn’t get much bigger or better than that. A combination of impressive display real estate at the highest resolution available equals an unparalleled viewing experience. What makes the Vizio premium 120-inch Reference Series (a 65-inch model is also available) so special is the incorporation of technology like Dolby Vision High Dynamic Range (HDR). HDR TVs are able to render fantastic contrast and color accuracy, so images are more lifelike and engaging. The picture is pristinely pretty, but be ready to part with a huge chunk of change. The 120-incher retails for close to $130,000. Settle for the 60-incher and you’ll set yourself back $60,000. www.vizio.com

Homeowners shopping for a video surveillance solution have generally been faced with two options. DIY products like DropCam (now Nest Cam) offer an easy set-up experience and very intuitive controls, but are limited in terms of a true security solution (outdoor model anyone?). Then there are professionally installed solutions that offer more horsepower and flexibility, but create a far more complicated, and often clunky, end-user experience. Developed from the ground up with customer feedback in mind, the Luma user interface is a complete refresh, and significant improvement, over the company’s previous camera control software. The interface provides a clean and intuitive user experience while retaining plenty of functionality. Noteworthy on the camera side are Luma’s HD-TVI enabled analog cameras capable of full 1080p resolution. SnapAV’s new line of Luma surveillance products offers all the horsepower you’d expect from a pro solution, with a sleek end-user experience that rivals any DIY solution on the market. Cameras start at $199.95. www.snapav.com

Who knew the back of a TV could look so, well, beautiful? Frankly, the people at MantelMount didn’t. When the company designed a mount that allows a TV to be moved from the top of a fireplace mantel down to a more comfortable viewing position, it considered the hardware that secures the TV to the wall and hides the cabling important, but definitely not something that would inspire creativity from homeowners. A decorative eye took over in the homes of several MantelMount customers, who painted the white cabling cover to match the wall surface precisely. This do-it-yourself color-matching solution ensures that the structural hardware and cabling aren’t eyesores when the TV is moved away from its above-mantel position. Even unpainted though, the MantelMount offers some impressive features: It can be lowered two feet from its resting position above the fireplace mantel (or anywhere in between) and positioned eye-level; it can be tilted and swiveled; it sports heat sensors that turn red if the temperature above the fireplace exceeds 110 degrees F; and it has a universal attachment for a soundbar. The price is hard to beat, too. At $399, it can hold TVs from 48 to 80 inches and 25 to 125 pounds. Check out the video at www.mantelmount.com

Tired of waiting for 4K video content? There are scads of 4K Ultra High-Definition TVs available, but simply not all that much 4K programming available to enjoy. If you’re ready and willing to pay for the pristine resolution that’s 4K, check out the new line of 4K video players from Kaleidescape. The centerpiece of the Encore line is the Strato Movie Player, which can download and store up to 100 4K Ultra HD movies for playback on a 4K TV or projection system. Currently, the 4K content available to the Strato through the Kaleidescape online Movie Store is from Sony Pictures. Each downloadable title will cost about $30. As for the price of the Strato: $4,000. It’s expected to be available early next year. www.kaleidescape.com

In the past, altering the shape of a projection screen—from a 2.35:1 CinemaScope aspect ratio to a 16:9 high-definition aspect ratio, for example—required the installation of motorized fabric masking panels that rolled over the sides of the screen. It’s a solid solution, but Screen Innovations now offers a sleeker, sexier way to modify the aspect ratio of a projection screen. This “non-masking masking system,” the Intellimask, transforms its frame size rather than covering the screen surface. The effect is akin to the squeeze-and-expand gestures used to adjust the size of images displayed on a smartphone. When the video source’s aspect ratio changes, the screen also changes size on the fly (requires additional programming of a home automation system). Another benefit: the Intellimask can be installed by a professional home systems integrator in less than 30 minutes. You’ll have to wait until next year for this product; no word on pricing. www.screeninnovations.com

Original author: Lisa Montgomery
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