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Cut the Cord or Buy a Bundle?

Cut the Cord or Buy a Bundle?

Streaming services are nudging cable television aside as single device technology is taking over the market. Early adapters of smart tech will remember the iPhone emergence; a first of its kind encapsulating phone, music and camera in one pocket sized device. Televisions have followed suit, fast forwarding past the need of dvd’s, cables and dvr. Audiences ranging from Millennials to Baby Boomers are now buying smart tv’s to bring music, video, and live television to their screens while keeping both form and function in mind. 

Home Technology Experts tackles a question most people are asking: What is better, cable or streaming?

“Homeowners are on a mission to streamline household technology on the least amount of devices, and have every viewing option in one place. Smart tv’s own the market and continue to break the mold with options and picture quality,” states Alex Karoussos, President of HTE. New products have even tackled the issue of aesthetics, where a Sunday sports fan and a discerning interior designer may share a wall without compromise, with mounted tv’s that display fine art or mimic a mirror when not in use. 

While quality of picture progressively increases (4K) streaming content has yet to keep pace. While streaming is undeniably convenient, it can be limiting to image quality and the number of tv’s in a home. “Your tv may have the capacity to emit a 4K image but the quality of your service will always depend on your internet connection. With a poor connection, your investment in a high-end device will suffer if the picture is not great. We see this happen often. It’s incredibly visible when streaming sports or highly detailed productions; the picture quality just does not compare to hard-wired cable,” says Alex. “Streaming is usually limited to a certain number of devices, as well. Say, three devices on a subscription and five tv’s, laptops and tablets in your home. You will only be able to watch on three at a time.”

Cable has less limitations and delivers a better picture through 1080i or 1080p, depending on connection. A direct connection to the tv delivers high-end video output for a less pixelated and clearer picture. “Live action sports always stream better when connected to cable,” says Alex. “The only downside to cable is apparent, the tv must be connected to wires and a cable box.”

While TIVO has become all but forgotten, Karoussos is still a believer, “It’s worth a look. TIVO offers solutions for free over-the-air stations with an antenna that delivers amazing picture quality and networks such as NBC, ABC plus streaming.” Apple has announced they will mix it up and become the ‘cable box of streaming.’ Karoussos is a fan, “You can use Apple TV for everything." HTE determines the best solutions based on discussion, customizing the audio video project to a client’s wants and needs. “Cable isn’t dead yet.”

HOW TO DESIGN YOUR OWN HOME CINEMA ROOM

HOW TO DESIGN YOUR OWN HOME CINEMA ROOM

Recreate the ultimate movie experience in the comfort of your own home


DESIGNING THE RIGHT HOME CINEMA SETUP

Home cinema ideas begin with finding the right space in your home. Smaller rooms that are ideally set back from the ‘high traffic’ downstairs areas generally work best so that it fits in with the rhythm of everyday life. If you have a boxier room with little natural light (like this one, above, by René Dekker), this will lend itself perfectly to being a home cinema; it’s the one room where natural light is a burden instead of a benefit. Most interior designers will say that the smaller the space, the easier it is to produce effective acoustics without having to spend large amounts on sound panels, extensive surround sound systems and anti-reverberation equipment. Choosing to have carpeted floors over wooden flooring and textile wall coverings or padded wall paneling will help with this too, because they all absorb the sound instead of causing an echo. Small, low ceilings, little light – three aspects that are actually welcomed in a cinema room.

Space settled, one of the key areas to look into when designing your home cinema is the electrical setup. If you aren’t working with an interior designer, it’s wise to bring in an electrician at the start of your project to consult them on how and where to fit all of your electrical appliances. Ideally, everything will be pre-wired so that they meld into the architecture of the room – this will reduce the amount of trailing wires too. In addition to your sizeable screen (whether it’s a television screen or a projector screen), you’re likely to want surround sound and various power outlets so that you’re not needing to add in electrical work post-decorating. A home cinema needs the input of experts in technical equipment and installation to be sure that it will function as it needs to.

And regarding colour palettes, cinema rooms thrive when the tones you use are dark and moody. Because the light is going to be kept down low and all eyes will be on the screen, you can afford to be a bit braver with the colours you use too. It might be that this is the room that you finally try applying the same inky colour on the walls to your ceiling or you go for the heavily patterned and textured wallpaper that you were concerned might overwhelm other rooms in your home. A cinema room is a space to be daring and to experiment with your dark side.


HOW TO CHOOSE THE PERFECT LIGHTING FOR YOUR HOME CINEMA ROOM

Most movie experiences don’t feature glaring lights, and neither should your own home cinema room. This really isn’t a multi-tasking space, and so it’s a rare instance where you don’t need to cater for scenario X, Y and Z, like in a kitchen where you need task-style, atmospheric and background lighting. All that will be happening in your media room is lots of film watching and relaxing. This therefore means that when considering how to light the cinema room in your house, concentrate more on ultra-soft, ambient light. Shorter table lamps keep the lighting level low so it’s not detracting from your home cinema screen. Seek out shades that throw the light downwards rather than at an angle – you might like to opt for a shade made from a heavier textile so that the light diffuses more subtly, like wool or heavy linen, or a patterned shade. It’s also wise to avoid glossy lamp stands such as chrome or polished brass as they pick up on the light and bounce it around the room – a distraction that’s not well-placed in a cinema room. Some home cinemas use LED strip lighting recessed into the skirting board or ceiling alcoves or spotlights, but both of these can feel too akin to an actual cinema. The difference here is you want it to feel like a home first and foremost, so try not to be tempted to include lighting that feels out of sync with your home’s personality.


GET COMFY ON A CINEMA ROOM-STYLE SOFA

Aside from the screen, the second most important part of your home cinema setup is the seating. The best cinema-style sofa will give you all of the things that cross your mind when you’re visiting an actual cinema – enough depth to comfortably stretch out, high enough comfort for you to want to curl up and settle down for a feature length film, and plenty of room rather than being confined to one seat per person.

One of the most popular cinema room settees has to be the L-shaped sofa. They give you the opportunity to fit plenty of people around the screen, or for just one or two of you to share and stretch out, like our own Meadway sofa or Eichholtz’s Colorado lounge sofa which has an extra generous chaise section that feels almost as good as being in bed. Similarly, modular corner sofas are impeccably placed for a home cinema, even in a small cinema room. Smania’s Mister P design is the dream seating solution that gives you the space, the comfort and the depth levels necessary for a rainy afternoon of back-to-back film-watching and means that you can make it as large or as small as your room allows.

But if corner and L-shaped sofas aren’t for you, just be sure to pick a sofa that’s got a generous seat depth, like our aptly-named Oscar cinema sofa or Smania’s smaller Mister P sofa. An ottoman or couple of pouffes in front of any cinema room seating provides you with even more opportunity to stretch out – nobody wants lack of legroom in their own home. And comforting touches like blankets to hand and an abundance of cushions are a given.


INDULGE IN HOLLYWOOD GLAMOUR STYLE CINEMA ROOM DECOR

The interior design side to your home cinema room ideas is, like with any part of your house, entirely personal. But, if there’s one space where you can really afford to indulge in a dose of glamour, it’s here. There’s something about cinema rooms that have an retro, silver screen dimension to their character, so think about designing your scheme around the bygone Hollywood era. Or at least having the occasional nod to it.

An Art Deco-style bar cart in the corner is an easy yet playful touch that will make your cinema experience feel more luxurious – try Ralph Lauren’s range of cocktail essentials to top it off. Upholstery in velvet (red for the ultimate depiction of Hollywood glamour) with a touch of fringing here and there, be it on a sofa’s bottom edge or a vintage lampshade is where you begin to add the decadence. Curtains were then, and are now still, commonplace in a cinema, helping with acoustic absorption, noise reduction and to block out any light creeping in. Choose velvet for a traditional take on the home cinema design or linen, nubuck suede or even supple, aged leathers for a more contemporary look.

Hollywood’s Golden Age is known for its glitz and the cinemas of the 1930s were often highly ornate so don’t shy away from decorative touches like sculptures or even works of art that will help you to reference this, such as Eichholtz’s monochromatic of Old Hollywood heartthrobs like Humphrey Bogart and Sean Connery.

If somebody enters your cinema room and feels just a hint of Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe or Fred Astaire, then you’ll have achieved the intended effect.

THE POWER OF PROJECTION

THE POWER OF PROJECTION

There is an overwhelming notion that projectors belong in theaters and conference rooms.  Since televisions are available in larger sizes at lower price points, it is easy to understand why projectors are often overlooked, but don’t count them out just yet. At Home Technology Experts, we like to consider all of our options and then choose the best solution for the project.  Now and then projectors do trump televisions. When should a projector be considered?

WHEN SIZE MATTERS

Yes, the ability to manufacture enormous televisions does exist.  If you’re in the market for a 370-inch display for $1.7 million, give us a call, HTE would love to sell it to you!  If not, consider a projector.

Projectors allow the characters you’re watching to literally become larger than life. Especially when watching in HD or UHD, small details that often cannot be seen on televisions due to their limited size become noticeable on a larger surface.

We often have clients who want to make a BIG statement with their video.  While we typically use projector screens, a blank wall can be used as the projection surface. We once used a large retaining wall to create a beautiful outdoor theater.

WHEN LIGHT ISN’T AN ISSUE

When comparing a television and projector of the same quality, the television will always have the brighter image.  Even though televisions are bright, ambient light, especially sunshine, can cause the image to look faded or dull.  This problem is even more noticeable with projectors.  However, many homes have shades or curtains which solve the issue.

If you’re not competing with ambient light, projectors can look just as good as some displays. At Home Technology Experts, we have found that clients prefer projectors in areas such as basements, recreation rooms, and man-caves. These rooms are typically found on the lower level where there is less light and are designed for socialization where a larger screen comes in handy.

WHEN YOU KNOW NOT ALL PROJECTORS CREATE SHADOWS

Shadows occur when an object comes between the projector and the screen.  The best solution, use an ultra-short throw projector.  Sony’s 4K HDR Home Theater Projector is installed less than a foot from the wall and can create a 100-120 inch image.  Not only does it eliminate shadows, but it also creates a beautiful high contrast image with TRILIMINOS™ Color. 

While rarely used for residential use, rear projection is always an option.  This design sets the projector behind a translucent screen.  A very popular option in corporate settings or on stages since it allows for presenters to stand in front of the screen without creating shadows.

A properly designed system also makes a huge difference.  At Home Technology Experts, we have taken over jobs where high-end homes have projectors sitting on half walls, or in cabinets instead of being mounted to the ceiling.  Standard projectors must be set back a distance to fill the screen. The lower the projector, the greater chance of shadows. There are applications when a properly mounted projector reduces the occurrence of shadows so much that it is no longer an issue.

WHEN YOU KNOW, HD & UHD LOOK GREAT

It’s true back in the early days of single-chip DLP projectors you could “see the rainbow” but times have changed. Let’s be clear if you want the sharpest most dynamic image on the market, a projector isn’t for you, but HTE does have an array of OLED and QLED displays for you to pick from.  However, if you are just looking for a crisp vibrant image that looks great, you might want to think about a projector.

As big screen TVs began dropping in price, the projector world took notice and stepped up their game.  An off-brand LCD or LED projector isn’t going to give you a great image.  But a quality DLP or laser projector will produce brilliant video.

If you are buying a High Definition (4k) or Ultra High Def (8k) projector, it is going to produce a stunning image. The video will look sharp with vibrant colors.

WHEN YOU KNOW, THE BLUR IS GONE

When LCD TVs first hit the market, sports fans hated them!  The displays had a low refresh rate so even when you put them in “Sports Mode,” when images went speeding across the screen they would get blurry or leave artifacts. The same was true with projectors at the time; you would walk into a sports bar, see a wall with huge video of your favorite game, only for it to get blurry when the action got good.

Just like the refresh rates increased in LCD TVs as they evolved, eliminating the issue, the same happened with projectors.

WHEN YOU KNOW, THE SOURCES ARE THE SAME

Any source (cable box, TiVo, Kaleidescape, Apple TV, Roku, etc.) you can connect to a television can also be connected to a projector.  Now and then our system designers are asked if there is such thing as a smart projector, the answer is yes, but why would you need one?  Since we can connect any video source to the projector, your TiVo, streaming device or even your computer gives you all the capability of a smart projector.  

If you have a Savant system, you can even add Savant Tiling.  With multiple sources on a single screen, the extra real-estate gained by using a projector is greatly noticed.