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John Sciacca Writes...

Features, Reviews and a Blog by John Sciacca

Random Thoughts (Blog)

Random Thoughts (Blog)

Kaleidescape for the price of your daily Starbucks

Posted on July 23, 2013 at 9:00 AM Comments comments (4)

Demonstrate a Kaleidescape system to 100 people and I bet you’ll have 100 people that would love to own one. With its world-class user interface, near instantaneous access to a vast library of DVDs, Blu-rays and CDs, automatic bookmarking of the most iconic scenes in thousands of films, and the world’s only way to download and own movies in exact Blu-ray quality, Kaleidescape systems are one of the easiest products to get people excited about. I use Kaleiedescape as...

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How many custom installers does it take to change a light bulb?

Posted on July 18, 2013 at 12:30 AM Comments comments (3)

Answer: “Just one. But it takes several hours to first research the bulb type and load, compare it to the list of approved bulbs, replace and reprogram the new dimmer and then change the bulb.”

That joke would be funny if it wasn’t so painfully true. Because if you’ve been in this business for any amount of time and you’ve ever installed a lighting control system then you have received or will r...

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Five Bits of DIY Awesomeness

Posted on July 16, 2013 at 12:00 AM Comments comments (0)

If your name is Cashworth Von Moneybottoms, there’s a ton of cool stuff you can do at your house just by whipping out your Centurion Card and flinging money at people like a feces hurling primate.

Want to recreate the 18th green at Augusta so you can practice your own, “UNBELIEVABLE! HE ROLLED IT IN TO CLAIM HIS FIFTH GREEN JACKET!” moment? Done. Want to dig a massive swimming pool in your back yard and then turn it int...

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Why We Don't Want Best Buy to Fail

Posted on July 2, 2013 at 2:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Last week, I traded some tweets with a friend that was looking for some advice prior to buying a new laptop.  Instead of just saying, “Buy a Mac! They’re the best!” like everyone told me when I asked for laptop advice (for the record, I bought a Sony VAIO. No regrets. YOLO, right?), I suggested that she check out The Wirecutter’s best laptop research.

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When a bedsheet won't do: Selecting a Projection Screen

Posted on June 24, 2013 at 10:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Some things are just meant to go together. Haggis and neeps. Starsky and Hutch. Chuck Norris and beards. Vodka and a glass. The same is also true for video projectors and screens. In fact, front projectors are often referred to as “two piece projection systems” amongst the A/V cool kids; the ones that used to wear nerd glasses and push around carts in high-school but now drive Italian sports cars and date super models. (The two pieces being the projector and the scr...

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Smart Appliances? Appliances...that are smart?!

Posted on June 18, 2013 at 12:35 AM Comments comments (0)

Lying in the vast, middle Promised Land between connected things that are obviously useful and things that are uselessly awful, are connected appliances. Yes. Appliances. That connect. To the Internet.

“Why?!” you say. “How?!” you ponder. Why and how, indeed...

Several years ago I visited Microsoft’s campus in Redmond, Washington and toured their “Home of the Fut...

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Why Living-Room Theaters Don't Suck, Pt. 1

Posted on May 28, 2013 at 3:40 PM Comments comments (0)

A month ago, I wrote a post called “The Death of the Dedicated Theater Room” that listed all the reasons why a theater in a multi-use space such as a living room or family room makes so much more sense than going with a dedicated room. Multi-use spaces are generally more welcoming and comfortable, don’t require an exodus from one location...

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Go Big AND Go Home! How to install a front projector

Posted on May 24, 2013 at 12:05 AM Comments comments (0)

You’ve finally sacked-up and decided to take that next step into the home theater Big Boy club; you’ve made the decision to abandon that weak-sauce, girly-man flat panel display and go with a strong-like-bull front projector! First things first...bring it in. We gotta hug this bitch out. Congratulations! For today, you are a man!

So, now that you’ve made this momentous decision you’re probably...

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Install Like It's For You - A Song Parody

Posted on May 21, 2013 at 10:05 AM Comments comments (0)

I had the unique, two-hours-only-a-parent-could-love, pleasure of attending my daughter’s ballet recital this past weekend. And if you’ve never had the opportunity, I can assure you that watching dozens of 4-12 year old girls dancing ballet and tap to covers of Michael Jackson hits is every bit as fun as it sounds. (Did I mention that there was no intermission? Or bar? And that it was two hours?)

Here's a picture of Lauryn-don...

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Ingram Micro Expo: Plugged in to CE

Posted on May 9, 2013 at 12:20 AM Comments comments (0)

The world’s largest technology distributor, Ingram Micro Inc., owners of CE distribution powerhouses AVAD and DBL Distributing, hosted a vendor expo for resellers this past week in Scottsdale, Arizona, at the absolutely beautiful Fairmont Scottsdale Princess resort, a AAA 5-Diamond rated property. (You can read all about this ...

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4K: The Next Big Thing?

Posted on May 6, 2013 at 4:40 PM Comments comments (21)

Last week, I attended a vendor expo in Scottsdale, Arizona hosted by the world’s largest technology distributor, Ingram Micro, Inc. The theme of the expo was “Plugged In to CE,” and along with the manufacturers and venders on hand, Ingram invited representatives from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), including CEO Gary Shapiro, and senior research analyst Chris Ely.

Both guest speakers shared some interesting i...

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Your Home is Dumb; Making it Smart is Cheaper Than You Think

Posted on May 4, 2013 at 11:20 AM Comments comments (1)

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” – Arthur C Clarke

Home automation. Smart house. Advanced home control. If those words conjure images of lights mysteriously flashing on and off at random times or of fat piles of cash and sweaty technicians huddled over their laptops programming for weeks at a time, then you need to read on. The truth about home automation today is that techno...

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Kaleidescape: This Download Store is now fully operational!

Posted on April 23, 2013 at 10:20 AM Comments comments (2)

A little over four months ago, Kaleidescape unveiled an industry leading download store that offers Kaleidescape owners a revolutionary way to add content to their systems, by easily browsing and purchasing movies that automatically downloaded to their systems. Kaleidescape installed a fiber link between its Sunnyvale facility and its data center ...

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Why the PRIMA Cinema Model IS the Future

Posted on April 19, 2013 at 4:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Judging from the interest in my first post on Prima Cinema (“I’ve Beheld the Future”, currently the most popular story to date on Theo Kalomirakis’ website, Theo’s Roundtable) I thought I would circle back to the topic.

First, if y...

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A Video Walk-thru of My Home Theater

Posted on April 9, 2013 at 5:10 PM Comments comments (1)

As I mentioned in my previous post, I think the next big boom won’t be having home theaters in dark, secluded dedicated rooms but in the large, open, multi-purpose family and great rooms many homes have.

After talking about the home theater system in my family room, I thought there would be nothing better than to...

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How to Sell High-End Soundbars

Posted on April 9, 2013 at 5:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Last month I wrote a post titled, “How I learned to stop worrying and love the soundbar,” a play on the Dr. Strangelove title. That post detailed all of the reasons why I used to be prejudiced towards soundbars, and why we didn’t really capitalize on that segment of the market. But our company finally came around and realized...

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My Home Theater System - The Gear in My Rack

Posted on April 8, 2013 at 1:00 PM Comments comments (3)

A recent blog post I wrote titled "The Death of the Dedicated Room" got me talking about my family room home theater system.

I’ll be honest, when I installed it, I felt like installing a theater in my family room was a compromise. I really wanted a dedicated room to house my system, but, well, I could eit...

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Give the People What They Want

Posted on April 2, 2013 at 2:05 PM Comments comments (1)

When you think about it, we custom integrators work in a strange industry… An industry unlike any other.

 Often we encounter people that not only aren’t sure exactly what it is we do, but also aren’t sure they even want or need what we offer. This is a dynamic pretty much unlike any other shopping/buying experience.  

As an example, consider a typical purchasing encounter...

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PRIMA Cinema: Hollywood Inside Your House

Posted on April 1, 2013 at 3:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Most people love movies. And since you are currently reading a tech site, I’m going to assume that you are probably more a movie lover than most people. But while people love movies, what they don’t love so much is the experience of actually going to the movies. Take your pick from the many possible reasons: Inconvenience, poor performance, the glaring red EXIT light that shines on the screen like a vengeful Overlord, the floors sticky with food and DN...

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NFC: The coolest tech you aren't using

Posted on March 26, 2013 at 11:45 AM Comments comments (0)

There was buzz at CEDIA last year surrounding NFC – Near Field Communication – technology causing one publication to call it one of the “Top 5 Home Technologies for 2012” claiming it “could be the next big thing in home automation” and described as “living in the future” by The Wall Street Journal.

Crestron said that NFC brought “new meaning ...

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