2019 Review of the Cyberhomes Year
Well another year is almost over; so we thought we’d take the opportunity to look back at our blog posts for the past 12 months and, where relevant, add any updates.
We previewed the work in progress on this manor house in Oxfordshire that we were upgrading the managed Wi-Fi network and a major overhaul of the media room that included some design challenges. Well the room was duly completed, and we published the full project details later in the year.
Leading consumer magazine Home Cinema Choice published a review of one of our high-specification home cinema room’s following its success at winning the “Best Home Cinema (£120,000 – £340,000)” at the CEDIA Awards.
The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is traditionally where manufacturer’s in the AV industry make their big announcements of their plans for the forthcoming year. We took a look at some of the highlights. There was talk of 8K TV and IMAX Enhanced, both subjects we revisited later in the year.
The first of two new initiatives aimed at improving the home movie watching experience (the other being Filmmaker Mode, discussed later). It’s taken a while to come to fruition, but some manufacturers have now released products that meet the standard. The latest iterations of Sony’s premium TV range, AG9, XG95 and ZG9 being examples.
2019 was certainly the year that Amazon Alexa came of age, with almost everyone and their mum embracing the technology. This was an early look at the plans for contextual understanding which has started to be implemented, along with the ability to recognise the different voices of people in the home.
As fans of high-resolution music, we took a look at what it means, and how the new MQA music format could bring it to the mainstream. Despite interest from other streaming providers, only Tidal are so far actively promoting MQA (with an ever-increasing catalogue of reissues and new material). However there’s now a much wider adoption amongst audio hardware products and the latest versions of the Tidal app can also take advantage of some of MQA’s enhanced resolution through software decoding alone.
March saw announcements for new rivals to the dominance of Netflix and Amazon Prime with the likes of Apple, Disney and the BBC joining the party. The services have only just come on stream in the UK in the last month or so, with Apple TV+ and Disney+ in particular pushing their exclusive content. Let’s see how well all these services expand in 2020.
We were shortlisted in the ‘Best Home Cinema Project Over £50,000‘ category of the 2019 Smart Building Awards. The shortlisted project, ‘Hampshire Smart Home’ had already won the 2018 CEDIA award for ‘Best Home Cinema £120,000 – £340,000‘ and was Highly Commended for the 2018 CEDIA award for ‘Best Integrated Home £230,000 to £340,000‘. The final winners were Perfect Integration, so our congratulations to them.
With more of a smart home’s integrated technology linked to the internet, security is a critical consideration. We looked at new government guidelines to ensure products are more secure ‘out of the box’. With Brexit dominating the political agenda, this topic doesn’t seem to have moved much further.
We summarised the results of the year’s CE Pro survey into home automation. As in previous years, our preferred home automation control systems Savant Pro, Control4 and Crestron held the top three places.
While the Savant Pro remote already had built-in voice control; the June update to the Savant Pro platform also brought integration for Apple’s Siri voice assistant. This allowed Savant to control Apple TV using voice commands.
Having completed the Oxfordshire project we’d previewed in January, and with the interior designer having dressed all the rooms with their choice of furniture and fittings; we were able to send in our photographer to capture the luxury of this updated media room. A full case study of the luxury cinema room was produced.
With 2019 providing us with one of the better summers of recent years, we took the opportunity to take a look at what smart gadgets are available for the garden and your outdoor living spaces. Check out that video of the amazing C SEED 2001 5 m world’s largest outdoor TV.
More updates from Savant Pro. This time we explored their video tiling feature that was now available as part of their video over IP solution. No longer was a TV confined to watching just a single source, you can view multiple sources or channels at the same time in almost any screen configuration you could imagine.
Savant had been busy with the latest release of their popular home automation and control platform. So we also provided an overview of the new personalisation features that allows each member of the family to have their own customised experience ensuring quick access to each person’s most-used features and channels.
Hot on the heels of new software and hardware features, Savant also announced a new programme for third-party manufacturers to certify that their products can be fully integrated into a Savant Pro smart home.
Earlier in the year we had announcements about IMAX Enhanced, but now the filmmakers themselves were getting in on the act and demanding a better home viewing experience of their movies and TV shows. Filmmaker Mode was launched in conjunction with the UHD Alliance. So far only Vizio have fully embraced the concept but we expect more announcements from TV manufacturers in the coming months.
Another preview of another project. This time the extensive integration of technology throughout this newly-built manor home in Lapworth. It includes a stunning home cinema room and also a garage-space for the homeowner’s luxury car collection that can also transform into a unique entertainment space. Our work there is almost complete, but it will be February at least before all the bespoke furniture is delivered. You can be sure we will be featuring this project heavily when it is ready to be photographed.
Having completed lots of Dolby Atmos capable home cinema rooms (many of them achieving accolades at prestigious industry awards), we thought it was time to review how much content (both films and TV shows) is now available to watch (listen to!) in Dolby’s immersive 3D sound format.
And of course it wasn’t just sound that was taking big leaps in improved quality. Increased resolutions were one thing, but High Dynamic Range (HDR) was, arguably, responsible for at least as much benefit in the visual experience. We took a look at what content is now available in Dolby’s implementation of High Dynamic Range, known as Dolby Vision.
With a couple of manufacturer’s launching 8K-capable TVs (Samsung and Sony) we asked whether now is the time to start installing 8K TVs in our client’s homes rather than 4K. What we concluded last month may well change of course in the rapidly-changing world of AV!
And so we ended the year with our regular review of some of the latest gadgets and technology that can improve your home. This year we focused specifically on the kitchen and how you could make cooking Christmas lunch a smarter experience.
So, what will 2020 bring? Well CES is likely to give a first glimpse of what’s on the horizon, so we’ll be sure to be reporting on that. At Cyberhomes we’re as excited as ever as to what the future might bring.
Happy New Year everyone!