Comcast Xfinity Home
Just when you mastered the DVR and made sense of Triple Play bundles, the cable providers go and shove a new service in your face. But don’t bat them all away as advertising noise just yet. Comcast’s Xfinity Home is not exactly new, but it’s definitely noteworthy.
A home security/home control combo, Xfinity Home provides most of those features consumers have come to expect in a 24/7 security system — features like window and door sensors, on-duty operators, live camera feed, back-up power and cell phone redundancies and fire monitoring. On the home automation front, Home enables anywhere control of add-on systems like lighting and heating.
Sure, you can find all of these services from other providers, but Comcast’s penetration in the internet and cable markets make Home a logical expansion and an easier sell for existing customers.
Price: Plans start at $39.95/month.
More info at Xfinity Home.
Picking and choosing the various products and services from a home control provider can be tedious and time-consuming. Consumers want packaged solutions. Crestron — a long-established leader in the home control industry — answered this call with Prodigy.
Prodigy is available in three Packages, starting with the entry-level Home Control (which is a misnomer: it actually only controls your entertainment system) and ending with Home Control Plus Lights & Climate.
Package 1 (Home Control) starts at $799 and enables control of the home’s entertainment system through a web-enabled mobile device. It seems a bit pricey for a fancy TV/audio remote, but the PMC3 media controller that is the heart of the system will support lighting & temp controls should you choose to expand later. It will connect to your iPhone, iPad or Android to enable even greater mobile control, too. You know, in case you don’t want to lean forward and actually grab the remote.
Price: $799, $1,199 & $1,999 for the three respective Prodigy Packages.
More info at Prodigy.
The programmable thermostat was supposed to change the way we heated our homes. And it did, to a point. The shortcoming of the technology was that — even as it untethered us to the dial on the wall — it still required some scheduling savvy that not all consumers possess. Furthermore, the programming functionality could often be a bit more demanding than the average homeowner was willing to deal with — too many buttons, too many instructions.
As if anticipating a consumer nostalgia for the simpler days of dial thermostats, the makers of Nest realized the next generation of digital thermostat and packaged it in familiar form. Nest is nothing short of a smart home marvel — it is a digital thermometer that knows when the home’s occupants are home and learns heating habits for itself, applying this knowledge to anticipate the home’s heating needs, or lack thereof. No programming necessary. No button overload.
Price: Starts at $250
More info at Nest.com
In film and photography, lighting is everything. It can make or break a shot; and it, more than anything else, establishes the mood of a scene or still. Why then would we settle for bad lighting in our lives?
Philips understands the role lighting plays in our lives, and the company is looking to empower homeowners to harness this power. It is doing so through hue, the personal wireless lighting system. A Hue “system” consists of wireless, LED light bulbs and a wireless bridge that connects to the home network via the router. Each LED bulb displays different tones of white light as well as any color in the spectrum. An included smartphone app lets you control the brightness and color of any hue bulb in the home.
The real power of hue is the fun that one can have using it. The app allows users to customize lighting settings in the home in an almost infinite number of ways, all from a very cool interface. Want the room the color of tonight’s sunset? Just snap a picture of the skyline on your iPhone and drag the hue control to the color you want the hue bulbs to emit. And just like that, your interior matches your exterior.
Price: $199 for Starter Pack (3 bulbs, bridge and app)
More info at www.hue.com
Are you a member of the Apple-only cult? Try Savant, the Apple-based home control platform. A relationship with Apple has led to Savant’s suite of automation features that leverage the familiarity consumers have with the iPad and other iOS devices found in so many homes.
Although much of their target market is commercial, Savant’s residential solutions include whole house audio + video, appliance & device automation, lighting, climate and security.
Savant’s Smart Energy Monitor solution is one feature that sets their product apart. Smart Energy measures real-time energy usage and production, breaking down usage by appliances, heating and lighting. Homeowners can control how and when devices and appliances operate and account for peak pricing and load periods throughout the day, which can result in lower energy bills and a greener lifestyle.
Price: Depends on scope of solution, but expect between $5,000 and $15,000.
More info at Savant