Where to Start when Building a Smart Home?

The idea of DIYing your own smart home and completing it with connected devices in every room can be fascinating. But for beginners, there is the ultimate question – where to start? There are just so many variables as well as options in the market. Don’t worry; we’ve got your back by providing you this Smart Home DIY 101 Guideline.

download

Starting from your mobile phone or tablet – choose a system. Systems, provided by major players including Google, Apple, Samsung, and Amazon, can empower the Internet of Things (IoT) and are getting more and more sophisticated. You can start with HomeKit if you are a persistent Apple fan or SmartThings if you just got the new Samsung S8, although we are witnessing a rising trend for smart devices to be compatible with both. Or you can go with a universal one – Amazon Alexa or Google Home. Between these two, Amazon has a larger device ecosystem since it has been on the market longer while Google is speeding to catch up.

download1

Next, you will want a home assistant. Once you pick out the system on which you want to build your smart home, it’s a lot easier to choose the home assistant and vice versa. Amazon Echo and Google Home are currently the two favorite gadgets of tech savvies. Just yesterday (Sep. 27), Amazon announced two new Echo products – a shorter Echo and Echo Plus. Apple fans can also wait until December for the HomePod. CNET has a great article and video review to compare Google Home and Amazon Echo.

Congratulations, you have got your foundation all set up! We will continue this guideline by proposing different smart devices in each room of your lovely home.

A New Player into the 4K TV Battle – Roku 4K Streaming Stick

According to a report from Zatz Not Funny!, Roku is going to introduce a new 4K Streaming Stick+ to compete with Chromecast Ultra this fall. The new Streaming Stick+ will join the lineup mid-range, with the universal remote while maintaining an elongated stick presentation versus changing it to a dongle form like Google has or Amazon will have.

dims

As the company is marching towards an IPO, it will be interesting to see how the market will respond to this new stick, especially given the new Apple TV and the upcoming two Amazon Fire TV models. Also, it would be a question mark whether the new streaming stick+ can replace or cannibalize the currently popular Roku Ultra.

Two New Members Will Join the Amazon Fire TV Family Later This Year

2017-Fire-TV-Models-Leaked-by-AFTVnews.com-header

At the end of this year, you won’t have to give up Amazon Fire TV just because it doesn’t support 4K HDR videos! Amazon has two new Fire TVs coming out late 2017, according to a report on Sep. 11 by AFTVnews. Both models will be capable of handling 4K HDR video at 60 frames per second.

The first new model, positioned as mid-tier, will fill the gap between the existing Fire TV Stick and a new top-tier model. It uses a dongle form factor that hangs off a permanently attached HDMI cable, similar to the Google Chromecast.

The new top-tier Fire TV is said to be a cube shaped set-top box that will become Amazon’s new flagship model. AFTVnews said that this new model is equipped with far-field microphones, an integrated speaker, as well as an LED light bar. It has the same functionality as an Amazon Echo Dot for hands-free Alexa interaction and control. It also has an IR emitter to allow for controlling televisions and other A/V equipment.

Fire-TV-AFTN-Benchmark-thumnail

The new mid-tier Fire TV will most likely be announced this month and released next month with a pricing point between $60 and $80 while the new top-tier model will be announced soon after and probably cost consumers around $100.

AAXA Technologies Releases P300 Neo – a Revision of the Best Portable Mini Projector of 2015

If you are recently considering purchasing a mini projector, you won’t want to miss this! Last month, AAXA Technologies announced its release of the P300 Neo Pico Projector – a revision of its most popular P300, which was rated as the Best Portable Mini Projector of 2015 by the Wirecutter. The new model comes in with more lumens and higher resolution while reducing size and weight by over 40%.

Like most models of AAXA Technologies, the P300 Neo is an ultra-compact projector – measuring just 5.5” x 3.5” x 1.2” which is about the size of two smartphones stacked together. In spite of its portable size, this model can deliver 420 LED Lumens of brightness at a native resolution of 720P HD (1280X720). Powered by a 30,000 hour LED light source, the P300 Neo can display up to 120” images in dark areas.

01_Hand-flare_Editied

We will be excited to make a side-by-side comparison for P300 and P300 Neo once we receive the demo unit from AAXA. So FOLLOW OUR BLOGS!

aaxa-p300-neo-outdoors-italian-dock_cropped

Here is a full breakdown of the specs:

  • Native Resolution: 1280×720 (720P)
  • Max Brightness: 420 Lumens
  • Contrast Ratio: 1000:1
  • Projection Lens: Manual Focus
  • Projection Image: 10” ~ 120” (only in dark room)
  • 150 Minute Lithium lon Built-in Battery (Eco Mode)
  • 30,000 Hour LED Light Source
  • Dimensions: 5.5” x 3.5” x 1.2”
  • Weight: 0.84 lbs
  • Supported Formats: MP3/WMA/OGG/WAV/JPG/AVI/BMP/GIF/TXT
  • Video In: HDMI, Composite A/V, Mini-VGA, Full-size USB 2.0

This excellent upgrade model is only $294, which is $85 off the P300 Pico Projection. You can find more information on AAXA’s Website: http://www.aaxatech.com/products/P300neo_pico_projector.html

Most Frequently Asked Questions about Projectors – Part I

Projectors are widely used in education and business sectors as well as embraced by regular consumers for home theaters. While many articles are talking about purchasing projectors for both business and home theatre applications, we would like to focus on answering questions that we observe are asked most frequently.

1)    Why does the brightness differ significantly among different projector models?

Lumens are the basic measure of brightness; and the larger the number is, the brighter the projector is. Projectors for various applications are designed to have different brightness – business projectors are brighter since business presentations are usually in conference rooms under standard office lighting. Moreover, with other factors being the same, a brighter model is typically more expensive.

However, be aware that there are two standards of lumen – ANSI (the American National Standards Institute) lumen and ISO (the International Organization for Standardization) lumen. 3000 ISO lumens can turn out to be 200 ANSI lumens. So don’t be fooled by the number. You want to know what lumen standard the seller is using.

2)    What is Native Resolution?

When you do your research on a projector, you must have noticed some retailers show both Native Resolution and Resolution while others only show one. Always stick to Native Resolution since it is the actual resolution you will see. The other attribute only suggests the maximum resolution format the projector supports.

3)    What is the minimum brightness and resolution for home use?

The minimum brightness depends on your control over the light source and sensitivity of content quality. We have seen a decent performance from a 150 ANSI-Lumen projector at night with the light off. However, if you have high standards, you might want a 1000 ANSI-Lumen projector for 2D viewing or an 1800 to 2400 ANSI-Lumen for 3D viewing. If you have a desire for high definition viewing, a 720p (qHD) projector should suffice in the home theater while 1080p (fHD) is ideal. Of course, you can always consider a 4K projector if paying a premium is not an issue.

4)    What is the minimum brightness and resolution for business use?

Brightness seems more important for a business projector because business presentations are normally in conference rooms under standard office lighting. If you are considering a projector for this purpose, you should look for a model with a brightness of around 2000 to 2500 ANSI Lumens.

Compared with the number of pixels in the projection, the aspect ratio matters more for business projector applications. In this sense, XGA (1024 X 768) represents the ideal resolution requirements.

5)    Do I need a projector screen?

It might not be an issue if you possess a mini projector since you might value mobility most. However, a projector screen improves the view experience no matter what model you end up with. There are a few options to consider; the most popular ones are pull-down screens, matte vinyl fabric, and projector-friendly paint. Once again, if you own a projector with ideal brightness and resolution, a simple white wall can do a decent job.

6)    Is it worth sacrificing projection quality for a small projector?

Pico projectors (also known as pocket projectors, mini projectors, or portable projectors) have become popular due to the compact size and less expensive pricing. Many models are integrated with Android OS and are WiFi enabled as well. However, the decision making should align with how you intend you use your projector most. If you travel quite frequently and want to bring the projector with you, you can find a quality Pico projector that weighs under 2 lbs. But if mobility and premium cost are not significant concerns, a traditional projector usually has a brighter and clearer projection.

Eventually, you want to consider the way you will use your projector most often along with your spending requirements. Don’t just stick to the number, check some reviews and comments for different models to find an ideal projector for you.

Traditional Projector: Optoma, Epson, Viewsonic

Pico Projector: AAXA, Vivitek

Embrace a New Interaction at Home

An interactive projector allows the presenter to interact with either the projected image, the projector, or in some cases another device. Essentially, it mimics the function of an interactive whiteboard on any surface where the image can be projected. Therefore, it has always been embraced by the education industry since the very beginning. Now, with Sony XPERIA Touch, consumers have the chance to enjoy an interactive display at home.

h1

Compared with the gigantic size of traditional interactive projectors, Sony XPERIA Touch comes in at only 2 lbs with a dimension of 5.3”x5.6”x2.7”. The projector can be easily placed on a study table, allowing it to turn into an arcade. With the onboard AndroidTM N Operating System, users can download their favorite apps through Google PlayTM. Sensors including those for GPS, temperature, and humidity attach more intelligent components on top of the human detection sensors and 10-point multi-touch input for projection at 23 inches.

h2

All above features enable multiple uses for a family: no more boring education at home for kids, no more messy recipe books on the preparation table for parents. Families that have home offices can enjoy this tiny projector even more by adopting the video conferencing capabilities that come with the XPERIA Touch. Groups can use multiple presentation apps together to improve interaction and collaboration.

h3

However, consumers ought to take pitfalls of the XPERIA Touch as a projector into consideration before they decide to go for it. Though Sony claimed that the projection could be stretched up to 80”, everything beyond 50” would be blurred given the projector’s only 100-lumen brightness and less-than-HD resolution (1366×768). While thinking of purchasing a projector, if these specifications are worthy of the premium pricing would be a question.

Pizza Hut’s Movie Projector Box

With all the new tech out in the market these days there is no shortages of ways to watch a movie. Apps are the go to for quick access to entertainment whether it be on your phone, tablet, or television. Pizza Hut came up with a whole new concept of a movie night and thought way out of the box by taking a second look at their pizza boxes that reaches the homes of countless of homes across the world.

pizza hut movie box

 

Pizza Hut teamed up with a Hong Kong PR firm to develop the Blockbuster Box. The idea of re-purposing product packaging isn’t anything new by a long shot, but in this sense it is entirely new. The Blockbuster Box concept is to combine packaging, food, and everyone’s favorite mobile tech all together for a night at the movies delivered to your door. Here’s the simple process:

  1. Order a pizza delivered to your door
  2. Punch out a preforated hole on the pizza box and inserted the provided lens
  3. Get the Pizza Hut movie app by scanning the code on the box
  4. Place your phone in front of the lens and hit play while enjoying your pizza

Movie night has just been delivered and it’s wrapped in a deliciously illustrated box that you might even want to keep after devouring your pie. While the box has not made it to U.S. shores yet it is one of the intended market so keep an eye out. We sure are.

Playing Drive Club On My Playstation 4 Pico Projector

More and more people are getting into projectors as their option for gaming as opposed to the a television set. Some say that gaming with such little out put in brightness is not worth it as you would have to play in complete darkness. The resolution of pico projectors aren’t too appealing for the serious gamers either but we’ve heard otherwise for those who like the idea of a portable display that they can easily take around to friends house and use for other recreations.

2015072909211070730

In any case the popularity for gaming on projection is on the rise and it is evident with the announcement from Sony that they will be pushing out their own little pico projector the MPCL1. A lot of PlayStation fans are excited for it and others are skeptical. We thought it would be nice to have a go at playing on a pico projector ourselves and share our thoughts before the MPCL1 hits store shelves.

tripod

 

The pico projector that we used in our experiment is the AAXA ST200. We chose this projector because it’s around the same price point as the Sony MPCL1 at just under $350 on Amazon and both are classified as pico projectors.  The difference lies in the projection technology. The Sony MPCL1 uses laser projection and is said to output only 32 lumens of brightness according to an article on GizNoise while the AAXA ST200 uses LED lights and pushes out 150 lumens. But because of the differences in contrast (beam-steered lasers offer very high contrast) we feel comparing a 32 Lumen laser to a 150 Lumen pico is pretty fair as the perceived brightness will probably be pretty similar.  Both projectors said to have the ability to produce a maximum image size of 100 inches.

The Game we chose to use on the pico projector is Drive Club. With its fast action scene and different levels of brightness from all the stage options and variety of cars we feel it will give a good understanding how pico projectors is able to perform all around.ferrari_frontferrari_rear_1

lambo_front_2

 

Game play in a dim lit room wasn’t as bad as we’ve heard at a screen size equivalent to a 60” t.v. the AAXA ST200 performed well. Of course in a totally dark room it did even better and the short throw feature was perfect for gaming in a small sized room. Even with minimal light in the room the brightness was still good and the 720p resolution is also good.

To conclude; if the performance of the AAXA ST200 is any indication of the joy one can get from playing your favorite games on a pico projector the Sony MPCL1 sales is sure to be high. We will have to wait and see how the 32 lumens laser projection compares.

The AAXA ST200 720P HD 1280×720 LED Projector can be found on Amazon

 

1,000fps On a Projector?

Ishikawa Watanabe Laboratory at the Graduate School of Information Science and Technology, The University of Tokyo, and Tokyo Electron Device Ltd co-developed a high-speed projector capable of projecting images with a frame rate of 1,000fps.

The projector has an 8-bit color scale (256 levels) and a resolution of 1,024 x 768. When combined with a high-speed camera having a frame rate of 1,000fps, it is capable of projection mapping on a fast-moving object.

 It recognizes an object in real time with the high-speed vision technology. It takes three millisecond to project an image (lag time).

The projector realizes the high-speed operation for a frame rate of 1,000fps by adding original control techniques to Texas Instruments Inc’s DLP (digital light processing) system. The DLP is an optical engine using a DMD (digital micromirror device) that is made by using a MEMS (micro-electric-mechanical system) to form many micromirrors on a silicon chip.

It takes images by changing the orientation of each mirror and turning the irradiation of reflected light on/off for each pixel. It has already been widely used in projectors for use in homes and movie theaters. But their frame rates are usually 30-120fps.

This time, to realize the frame rate of 1,000fps, a new driving technology was developed mainly by Tokyo Electron Device. There were some challenges. For example, when the orientations of micromirrors on the DMD were frequently changed, the mirrors did not go back to desired orientations. The company solved such problems to make commercialization possible.

For the fast-speed operation, a control circuit embedded with an FPGA was newly developed. Also, an original communication interface for high-speed transmission of image data was newly employed.

Budget Pocket Projectors

 

 

Doug_pig_arrows580

 

Not everyone can shout out the big bucks for the best of the best, but do you really need the best? The speed at which technology is growing has its advantages and if you’re a patient person it can pay off. The best most expensive thing today is tomorrows outdated discount item.

BUDGET MICRO PROJECTORS: WHAT TO LOOK FOR

If you are trying to share movies or photos with a crowd and your projected picture is huge but fuzzy, you might as well share them on a tiny laptop screen instead. In our search for the perfect budget micro projector we looked for units that were as economical as possible but still able to offer a good viewing experience.  We considered these characteristics while evaluating projectors:

Display

Lenovo (3)
Look for projectors that have the flexibility to maintain that good quality image even at larger, crowd-friendly sizes – measuring up to 200 inches diagonally in some cases. You won’t get the crisp clear image of an expensive unit but it will be good enough for everyone to enjoy.

Features
One of the best things about good budget micro projectors is that you can take them anywhere. Running on battery and fitting into a small bag gives you mobility. LED Pico projecters are great for trips and camping.

Connections
We expect this category of projectors to make life easier in every way. Even at the budget price range we expected to see a wide range of connections so you can hook one of these up to a wide range of devices via HDMI, mini-HDMI, or VGA. Use your phone, tablet, or laptop.

Ease of Use

61EyLzVBRNL._SL1000_

Budget micro projectors can be useful for business, but they’re inexpensive enough to be perfect for recreation . That means they should be easy to use for just about anyone. There should be very little time required to get these out of the box and start using them.

Help & Support
We expect the manufacturers of any product to stand by it with excellent warranties and customer service. If you have a question about your projector it should be easy to find the answer.

Since your investment is going to be a couple hundred dollars instead of a couple thousand, your micro budget projector will be the one you can let the kids use for a sleepover, the one that you can take with you anywhere.