The Thick and Thin of Home Entertainment
The home electronics industry seems to outdo itself with every new and improved technology. Just when you think your flat-screen TV or sound system can’t get any bigger or better, something comes along that makes today’s hi-tech entertainment center look “so yesterday.”
SmartMove® peered into the future of home entertainment with a few gurus to find out what’s on the horizon. While it’s not quite the Jetsons, the offerings are becoming more futuristic than ever.
Audio and Visual
The main element of any entertainment center is still the television set. While a few of us still may have an old analog TV set in a spare bedroom, Americans have advanced to digital flat screens, which continue to get larger, thinner and more amazing each year.
The next wave of television technology will focus on thin screens and enhanced picture quality. Screen sizes are already large. “It’s not uncommon to see a 90-inch-screen that’s only 1.5 inches deep,” says Robert A. Cole, president of World Wide Stereo. “But eventually, it will be as thin as your phone.”
Consumers have now fully embraced HDTV viewing, with hundreds of choices provided by cable companies, from live sports to new release movies. Further upgrades to display quality are in the early stages with what’s being called “Ultra HDTV.” Jeremy Beck, owner of Futurian Systems, had an opportunity to test the Ultra system and came away impressed. “There is a significant difference in the detail of the picture compared to today’s full HD 1080p resolution,” says Beck. "We believe this will be the next big upgrade in home entertainment technology."
In addition to the visual aspects of television, Cole believes there will be a resurgence in the importance of sound. “Over the past 10 years, we’ve obsessed over the explosion of video, craving visual sensory stimulation. People purchased bigger and better televisions, spending incredible amounts on the biggest and thinnest available,” says Cole. “The only problem with thinner televisions is that the sound is compromised. This is why sound bars were introduced; you need to match the big visual with big sound.”
“As TVs have gotten thinner, the popularity of the sound bar has grown to overtake multi-speaker solutions and, along the way, seen quite a bit of evolution. Most of today’s sound bars now pack all the necessary electronics right inside the speaker cabinet and come with wireless subwoofers too, offering big sound in a pint-sized, easy-to-install package,” says Cole.
Control and Connectivity
Remotes and other control devices are starting to evolve. Beck believes buyers will seek simple control systems to manage all their home electronics, including setting a DVR or launching an On Demand program, from a smartphone or tablet. “Control systems manufacturers will continue to build software and hardware that bring all the technology together and create a simpler user experience,” says Beck.
The Internet is impacting product design as well. There are “smart TVs,” audio receivers and set-top boxes equipped with online access capabilities. Cable companies are offering services that enable viewers to use a tablet as a remote control device, or to watch a favorite program on the go with a smartphone. “Developers and manufacturers are realizing Internet connectivity is an expected specification,” says Beck. “It is essential for continual software upgrades and instant access to content on any platform. Buyers expect content to be accessible through any new devices they purchase.”
Stephanie Sims, managing editor of Agent Publishing, a real estate trade magazine, sees the next wave of home entertainment coming in the high-end residences her magazine features. Builders are using built-in projectors so movies can be shown on a blank wall. “Some builders take this further and install remote-controlled projection screens,” says Sims. “In the future, sound bar and subwoofer systems will also be built into the home.”
Sims thinks we’ll see an evolution of media rooms to being spaces for socializing and entertaining, too. With new technologies and upgraded cable service, homeowners can use tablets as second screens, which have both high-quality pictures and interactive options. “So these entertainment rooms can be painted in lighter colors, not dark-to-pitch black, like a traditional theater room, giving more flexibility to these spaces for socializing. That's a real plus for homeowners.”
Armed with insights like those shared by these home entertainment experts, moving is a perfect time to consider what types of technology and in-home adaptations will suit you best and make changes for the better.
You can look to your cable company for information on their latest products and services. They’re innovating to help you get the most out of your electronics choices with affordable high-speed Internet service, tablet and phone apps, and enhanced navigation. Connect to your cable company at SmartMove.us and enjoy your enhanced entertainment future.
Written by home and garden expert, Mary Leigh Howell.