Home Theater Made Easy
Cody: Welcome back ladies and gentlemen. His name is Ryan, he is a Nerd on Call and we called him. We want to hook up our home, you know, viewing station.
Ryan: Yeah, you know, when most people think about home theater, they’re thinking, like, oh, I’ll get a big old TV, and I’ll get some nice speakers, and the problem is they don’t think about some of the details. So, first things first. Okay, you get a TV, Blu-ray player, receiver maybe for your stereo, an Xbox, a PlayStation, whatever, and you got six remotes all laid out on your thing. And then your wife says, “Hey, turn on the TV.” and you’re like, “Hold on.” So, this solves all of that. This is called the Harmony Elite. It’s a little pricey, it’s 350 bucks, but it will save your life. And the reason why is because, you know, when you were like, “Okay, well I’m gonna watch the Xbox for a little while and play some games.” and then, “Oh, but you know, ‘This is Us’ is coming on.” so I gotta switch over for the wife so she can cry for an hour. And when you do that, you gotta go “What do I do? HDMI two? Which one is the stereo?” You literally press one single button when you say… Hold on, get rid of that here… You can press one button that says watch TV, that turns everything on exactly to the channel you want it on. As soon as you press volume you don’t have to, like, switch inputs. You can just press volume and it will turn it up on the stereo.
So, it works really great, one step, and you can also pair with your phone. So, if you don’t want to use this, you just wanna use your phone or you just wanna play a trick on your wife while she’s working out you can turn off the TV using your phone in the other room. That’s kind of fun.
Cody: That’s kind of mean.
Ryan: So, let’s talk lighting, right. So, you know, you think about home theater, you’re like, “Oh, I’ll just dim the lights or maybe turn them off.” but with the Philips Hue you can also set the environment. This is a $90 starter kit, and it comes with a little bridge. And it works with your wireless networks, so you could literally tell, like, your Alexa, “Hey, Alexa, it’s movie time.” and she can turn the lights to a certain color or in a certain level, all automatically. And it’s really great. Plus they save you energy because you can set them up to do, like, what do you call, moccupancy. So, let’s say you go away, you can set them up on a timer, so they can turn on and turn off. But you can also save energy because if you’re not in the room you can just have it automatically turn off with a sensor. How cool is that?
Cody: I like that. Okay.
Ryan: So, this is the Sonos One. This is Alexa enabled, and this is really cool, because if you’ve never heard a Sonos speaker before, they are amazing. This is about 200 bucks, but you can pair this with something like a Sonos Playbar, and the Sonos Playbar is 699, but if you’ve never heard Sonos before, you need to go to some sort of electronic store somewhere and listen to it. It is amazing quality. This is a 3.1 channel system where you have a center speaker and two side speakers. You pair that with the two satellite speakers on the sides. It can get a little pricey, it’s 1700 bucks. But these are totally wireless, so you don’t have wires under your couch and in your walls and all over the place. You literally can take this and mount that to right behind your couch, like, on a wall, and you’re done. You don’t have all these wires hanging down or all this other crazy stuff. How cool is that?
Cody: I kind of like that. It’s a little pricey, but I kinda like it.
Ryan: Then last but not least, if you don’t buy a Sonos with Alex enabled, you can just get an Echo Dot, and that can speak to your Harmony remote, it can speak to your Philips Hue, and you could literally just say, “Hey, Alexa, it’s movie time.” and she can turn on the TV, put it on Netflix, dim the lights down, and you’re ready for Netflix and some chill.
Cody: Buck Rogers stuff right there, man. Buck Rogers. Buck Rogers. Thanks, man. It’s good to see you. I appreciate that.
Ryan: You’re welcome. It’s great to see you.
Cody: There you go. Hook up your home theater. Back to you guys.
Woman: All right. Thanks guys.
The words “home theater” can evoke a lot of emotions.
The excitement of enjoying a movie theater-like experience in your own living room. The calm of binging your favorite TV show after a long day at work.
But to the one setting it up and getting it to work properly? Home theater is synonymous with a headache.
Every device has its own remote, configuring surround sound can be tricky and don’t even get me started with having to remember the magic combination of “inputs” every time you want to switch from watching a movie to playing a video game.
Nerds on Call recently partnered with Home Technology Pros to offer an expanded menu of smart home configuration and set up services and it has given me the opportunity to experiment with a bunch of cool gadgets that really can turn a home theater into a one-button wonder.
Here are some of my favorites.
A truly (magical?) universal remote.
Do you have a universal remote that never does its job?
You definitely are NOT alone.
Let’s play the old Jeff Foxworthy game: You know you have a traditional universal remote when:
- It takes you six attempts and four swear words to switch from watching Netflix to playing a DVD.
- You have a drawer full of remotes that perform that one function no other “universal” remote can.
- You routinely have to shut everything off so that you can “start over.”
- You don’t know what HDMI 2 is, other than that you need to set the TV to it to play XBox.
I could go on, but you get the idea.
The universal remote is one of the biggest fallacies in all of gadget-dom. Until Logitech perfected their Harmony Remotes.
These remotes give you – for real! – one button control over your home theater. Once you have it set up, just press “watch TV” and all of your devices will turn on AND set themselves to the proper input configuration.
You never again have to remember that to watch a DVD you have to choose input HDMI 4.
You also don’t have to worry about your friends or family reconfiguring your complicated set up by pressing a bunch of buttons when trying to get it to work.
One button. That’s it.
The Harmony Elite with Hub takes it one step further with a one-touch control for all the smart devices in your home theater.
Set up is easy. Just connect it to your computer and enter the make and model number of the components of your home theater.
Then connect it with the other smart devices you use like your smart lights or WiFi enabled door lock. From Alexa and Nest to Hue and Roku, Harmony is compatible with over 270,000 entertainment and smart home devices.
From that point, it’s one-touch control.
And thanks to Alexa integration, everything is possible through voice control.
Want to play the Xbox?
Say “play Xbox” and the Harmony Elite will turn on the TV, stereo, AND set everything to the correct inputs.
Volume too loud?
“Alexa, tell Harmony to turn the volume down.”
Home entertainment that works at your fingertips, just like you imagined!
Surround sound without wires.
A truly immersive home theater experience relies on sound, and great sound requires great speakers.
But no one wants to run wires through their walls or struggle to mount speakers all over the living room.
The Sonos Playbar creates surround sound all by itself. No additional speakers required!
It touts a 2-cord design that connects directly to your TV and a power source, so your wires are minimal. It works lying flat on your entertainment center or it can be wall-mounted.
The Playbar creates the “wide soundstage” effect thanks to nine-phased speakers which spread sound directionally.
If that still isn’t intense enough, you can pair the Playbar with some additional Sonos One wireless speakers and achieve true 5.1 surround sound.
The Sonos One pairs wirelessly with the Playbar, so you don’t have to run cable throughout your living room.
Thanks to its wireless design, Sonos speakers are portable so you can easily move them around your home. As long as they can access your WiFi network, you’re in business.
And these little speakers pack a serious sound.
You can pair as many Sonos speakers as you like throughout your home. They can all play the same tunes, or have each operate independently at will.
With Alexa voice control built in, you don’t have to worry about finding the remote.
It can play music from your digital library, or from a wide range of streaming services like iTunes, Amazon Prime and Spotify.
Mood lighting has never been simpler.
I never thought I’d want voice-activated lights… until I sat on the couch to watch a movie and got to say, “Alexa, set the living room lights to 20%” and voila! Perfect movie lighting – instantly!
Philips Hue wireless lighting has made hands-off light control a reality.
Compatible with a number of home assistants, including the Harmony Elite home control hub, you can do so much more than just turn lights on and off.
The hue white starter kit comes with 4 bulbs and a bridge (the heart of the system) for $100.
You can control light intensity between 100% to 10% allowing you to get just the right amount of light for any occasion.
Turn your lights on or off remotely from anywhere you’re connected to the web or set up custom programs that you can change anywhere, anytime (say goodbye to light timers).
Color changing bulbs let you choose from up to 16 million colors, and you can even sync your lights with your music and movies.
You can get the hue white and color ambiance starter kit for $200.
Your home theater is ready to get smarter.
Enjoying an amazing, immersive home theater experience doesn’t have to be hard.
As devices get smarter and more connected, you can go to the movies without leaving your couch, and without running wires or cursing your remote control.
Do you have a favorite home theater gadget that makes your life easier? We’d love to hear about it.
And if you’re ready to make your home smarter but aren’t sure how to get that cool new device configured and “talking” to the rest of the gadgets in your home, give us a call. We can help!
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