Control Your TV, Sound System, and Lighting Through Automation
written by: Vasanth•edited by: Amy Carson•updated: 6/27/2011
Discover the advantages of home theater automation and find out which systems are available. Compare the features and determine which one is worth your investment.
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Many of the basic home systems that are operated with switches, keys, and dials are now available in an automated form. The garage door opener is an obvious example, but consider the lights in your home and the heating and cooling system. These too have been converted to automated systems that can be controlled with a smartphone or wireless touchpad. Many home automation systems include these features and much more. One area that is gradually becoming automated is the home theater. There are several home automation companies that have developed software, controllers, and interfaces to control televisions, sound systems, mood lights, and window shades in an effort to create the perfect home theater environment. These systems aren't cheap, but there are several options offered from companies that produce them.
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The Control4 home theater automation system brings all your audio and video devices together in one user-friendly interface. No longer will you be searching for the right remote to control a specific device. With Control4, each device is controlled through one remote. You can choose the television as the interface device to control the rest of the home, or use one of Control4's touchscreen tablets. There are table mounted tablets or portable tablets to choose from. From the comfort of your couch, you can program a viewing environment that is right for you. Decrease the brightness of the lights in the room, close the shades, and increase or decrease the room temperature. After the initial setup, all this can be done each time you watch a movie with one tap on the touchscreen. Everything works the way it should because of the controller, which is the central hub of the system. The Control4 Home Controller HC-200 is a relatively cheap home theater automation system.
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Another company which provides home automation systems for the home theater is BeoLink. It features a rather odd, yet futuristic control device that will surely grab the attention of your guests. The lights turn on when you hold it in the palm of your hands. Each device in the home theater is linked to this Beo6 remote control. The glass display presents information like channel guide, playlists, and device menus. Room zones are also presented, which lets you control devices in another room. The ball consists of tactile control keys and a volume wheel. With the integrated system, you can adjust several devices in the home theater to create the perfect home theater experience. Pre-set a scene for listening to CDs or for watching a movie and start it with a single button. The BeoLink system can be controlled from an iPhone with the BeoLink app. All this is possible with Bang & Olufsen home theater electronics, a BeoLink controller, and the BeoLink Master Link Gateway. It can get extremely pricey depending on the package.
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A much more affordable home theater system that works with most of your existing home theater devices is the HAI home theater control bundle. It contains the HAI HTX Home Theater Extender, the HAI OmniTouch 5.7e Touchscreen, and One Port PoE Injector. The theater extender is the device which integrates controls for several home theater devices including the TV, sound system, lights, and window coverings. The touchscreen is the interface device through which you can operate the various electronic devices. Dim the lights, turn up the volume, or change the channel. The injector supplies power to the extender and the touchscreen. It is plugged into an outlet connects to each of these devices via a network cable. This automated system can be controlled with an iPhone with the Haiku Home Automation app for HAI.
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One more home theater automation system to consider is the Savant SmartSystem. With it, you can pull up the home theater control interface on your TV, laptop, or iPad. Adjust various settings in the room with the home theater including the lighting, temperature, and sound. Blast surround sound throughout the room and close the shades. There are several remote options for this system including TrueControl, TrueImageControl, and Touch Remotes. Each one has a slightly different user interface. There are control docks for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod. The whole this works with a SmartSystem automation unit. There are several options, including SmartControl and SmartMedia.