Is Your Smart Home Automation Technology Keeping Up with the Strain of Quarantine? By Eric Thies
Learn three upgrades you need to make to your Beverly Hills home
Our phones at DSI have not stopped ringing since most of our clients started quarantining at home. Most of our clients reside in Beverly Hills, the Westside, or Montecito, and they all have something in common: they do not spend a lot of time at home. Between travel and a demanding work schedule, our clients are typically on-the-go at all times. Because of this, they realize that they have not paid a lot of attention to some of their home systems and are now finding out that they were not quite ready for this quarantine. Our days at DSI are filled resolving failed Zoom calls, interrupted Fortnite games, Netflix lags, non-working gate intercoms, Lutron meltdowns, Crestron, or Savant remotes on the blink, etc. When it comes to smart home automation, it is better to be proactive than reactive. Learn three aspects of your home that you need to upgrade in Beverly Hills, CA.
The first area of importance of the home technology system is the Wi-Fi and computer network. We have been urging our clients for years to splurge in this category to make sure their systems are robust, reliable, and speedy. Almost everything you use in your home relies on internet connectivity. The clients that have listened have had no Wi-Fi issues. If you are muddling through this pandemic with slow or non-existent Wi-Fi, here are a few things you need to consider:
- Sign up for the maximum speed you can get from your internet service provider (Spectrum, AT&T, Frontier, etc.). Spend the extra bucks to get the speed you need. If you have not updated your plan in the past 12 to 24 months, it is time to call the cable company and see what speeds are available. Currently, Spectrum is strained on bandwidth, which is resulting in very low upload speeds that translate to difficulty with Zoom calls, viewing security cameras remotely, and a host of other issues. This is particularly true in homes north of Sunset where the infrastructure is strained.
- If you want better response times for outages or equipment failure, consider upgrading from a residential to a business account . The level of service and responsiveness is markedly better.
- Put in enterprise-grade hardware! Treat yourself to the best unless you enjoy hearing your teenagers scream at you because their connection dropped out in the middle of their AP test. Investing in great hardware results in better coverage, higher reliability, faster speed, fewer drop-outs, and the capacity for many users on the system at once. Although consumer products like Eero and Ecobee are excellent products for the average American home, Beverly Hills or Holmby Hills residents must realize they do not live in the average American household. The spaces are much larger, the construction denser, and the overall complexity of the home system is far greater. An average American home has about 8-10 connected devices. Our typical client has over 200 networked devices in the house. This is more than most small businesses. All systems (HVAC, Pool, Security, Audio, Video, Locks, Garage Doors, Lighting, etc.) are connected to the internet at some level. The gear you should be purchasing should be pro equipment like Ruckus, Access Networks, Cisco, Meraki, or the like.
The other weak point that our clients are discovering in their homes is their home theater systems. Pre-pandemic, the theater might have been getting minimal use or was a space that the kids mostly used. The landscape has changed. Who knows the next time we will feel comfortable sitting in a commercial theater? With Universal, Disney, and Warner Brothers releasing some movies in the home at the same time they are in theaters, the importance of an excellent home theater experience is on the rise. I know that many of my clients are having us update their theaters in preparation for Hamilton, the movie being released on Disney+ on July 3rd (more than one year before it was meant to be released in theaters). This and other movie events will make the home theater a space your family will want to spend more time in.
Here are a few things you can do to spruce up that home theater:
- Update to 4K! Most of the projectors (and large screen TV’s) in homes have 1080 lines of resolution. Today’s standard is over 4,000 lines of resolution. Not only that, but today's projectors are also brighter! If you feel your image is dim and not sharp enough, it is time to consider a new ultra-bright 4K projector with 3,000 ansilumens or more. These new projectors also have a feature called HDR (high dynamic range) which radically improves image quality.
- Get that immersive sound! In the past couple of years, Dolby's new sound technology has become the standard for both commercial and home cinemas. This technology is known as Dolby Atmos. The results are remarkable. The technology involves incorporating more speakers and adding in a layer of sound above you to make cinema sound completely immersive. In a Dolby Atmos system, you get lost in a movie so much quicker. Even run-of-the-mill films seem more thrilling.
- Get all that content! There is so much content out there for your enjoyment. Our clients typically subscribe to HBO Go, Showtime Anytime, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Netflix, Apple TV+, and Disney+. Some of these services are free if you have a cable or satellite subscription, and Prime is free to all Amazon Prime members. There are more terrific original series and movies at your fingertips than at any point in your lifetime. Get all of these services, so you have all the best content to choose from.
The last weak point of the home tech system is the outdoor spaces.
We have all resigned ourselves to the fact that we are going to be spending a lot more time at home, and we live in Southern California. This means we are going to be living, dining, and playing in our backyards quite a bit. How does tech play a role in the yard? A few trends we have seen are the following:
- Adding an outdoor TV! All sorts of great water-proof TVs are designed to be safe and bright enough to handle the outdoor sun. You can go from a 55" TV in your loggia or up to a 200" TV that pops up at the edge of your pool. The possibilities are endless. We have many clients that are creating their own Cinema Paradiso with an outdoor movie theater.
- Beefing up your outdoor sound. The days of mediocre quality speakers that look like rocks are over. Companies like Sonance and James Loudspeakers are making very high-performance outdoor speakers that are designed to disappear into your landscape, not annoy the neighbors, and sound amazing. If you think your great Spotify playlist sounds weak in your backyard, it may be time to update.
- Upgrade your Wi-Fi! A backyard access point (an antenna for Wi-Fi) is a must in any new home we work on. The Wi-Fi signal in your home typically does a poor job extending to your pool and patio. This is primarily because the glass in your home acts as a barrier. Running an outdoor access point solves these issues and gets you an excellent Wi-Fi signal for a pretty large area of your outdoor space.
If any of these issues or solutions resonate with you, you can address them even before “safer at home” is lifted. Since residential services are considered "essential," you are permitted to have technology technicians working on your property, so you don't necessarily have to wait to solve some of your home tech needs. DSI is playing it safe and showing up to homes with gloves, masks, and booties and adhering to social distancing. The outside areas tend to be naturally safe, but we do ask to have the home theater or equipment room to ourselves as we work to keep everyone safer.