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What Makes a Smart Home Smart 2021

Smart homes have come a long way since the first smart home device, the ECHO IV, was built by engineer James Sutherland in 1966. Though it was never sold it commercially, this system was a marvel at the time: it could create shopping lists, adjust his thermostat, turn appliances on and off, and even manage all the digital clocks in the house. Today our smart homes can do all of that and much, much more.

What is a Smart Home?

A smart home is more than just the software and hardware that make it up; it’s an idea—the idea of home automation, convenience, comfort, greener living, security, sustainability, and total control over your environment.

More technically, however, a smart home is any domicile where appliances and various devices are connected via a mobile or a networked device. Being connected through the internet allows an owner to control appliances, thermostats, lights, cameras, and other security systems through a physical medium such as a tablet or smartphone or via voice commands.

What Can a Smart Home Do For Me?

Smart home trends are all about convenience, allowing you to automate various tasks that you may not have time for in your busy life. Have you ever forgotten to water the lawn? A smart home can have your lawn sprinklers set to activate whenever you want. Do you have children in your house that forget to turn off the lights when they leave a room? You can set your lights to automatically shut themselves off when the sensors in the room detect it’s empty. Have you ever wished you could save on your energy bill by adjusting the thermostat higher and lower when you aren’t home? You can integrate your HVAC system, allowing your smart home to adjust the temperature throughout the day to save energy.

But enough about all the practical things a smart home can do; what’s the point of having all this tech if you can’t have a little fun with it? Through smart home systems like Josh.ai, you can integrate your entire home theater system to create the perfect viewing environment. In the case of your home theatre system, imagine this: you sit down in your plush theater seat and tell your smart system to “play a movie.” Suddenly your movie projector screen rolls down; your sound system powers up and automatically adjust to your preferred volume, and the lighting slowly dims and turns off as the movie begins. If you need to get up during the movie to use the bathroom or get a snack, you can tell your system “intermission,” it will pause your movie and activate soft, recessed in-wall lighting.  Finally, when the credits roll, you can tell your smart system to “shut down the theater” and let it power down all of your equipment, and turn the lights back on.

What Is It Like Living In a Smart Home?

But what would your day look like if you lived in a smart home? It’s one thing to talk about all the conveniences like they were list, but it’s another thing to imagine the seamless experience it could provide.

You wake up early on a chilly November morning. Your blinds slowly open to let the sunlight in as you wake up, and your system plays a gentle tune to set your mood. You notice that it’s colder than you thought it would be, so tell your house to raise the temperature by a couple of degrees. You enjoy the comfort of your covers for a few minutes while your bedroom heats up.

You stretch and get out of bed, heading to the bathroom. Upon entering the room, the lights turn on at 75% intensity because you don’t like them to be too bright this early in the morning. You say, “tell me the weather,” and your house tells you the temperature outside, as well the expected highs and lows for the day. You leave the bathroom, and the lights turn off behind you. You enter the kitchen and whiff the fragrant aroma of freshly brewed coffee; your coffee automatically brews a fresh pot in the morning about minutes before you wake up because you hate having to wait, especially on cold mornings.

You grab your tablet and decide to sit down and watch the news on your tv. You use your smart home app to turn on the tv, browse for content, and then adjust the volume as you relax in your recliner with your morning joe. As you watch, your show is paused as you get a notification that someone is at your front door. You bring up the doorbell app on your tablet just in time to see the UPS driver getting pack into his van, a new package sitting on your doorstep.

After your relaxing morning, you decide to take care of some errands. You ask your smart home, “what’s on my grocery list?” and it reads it out loud to you. You realize you don’t need one of the items on the list because you bought it earlier in the week. You ask your home to delete it, which it does. When you leave, your house automatically locks up and goes into a “power save” mode, turning off all the lights and either raising or lowering the thermostat based on your preferences.

Later that night, you have some friends over for company. You decide you’re going to entertain them in your outdoor living room. Even outside, your smart home gives you comfort and complete control. You tell your house to “entertain guests” while you’re outside, and it automatically turns on the hanging string lights, lights the fire pit, and plays music from your outdoor speakers.

As you can see, your smart home system can be designed to be just as unique as you are. Let our knowledgeable staff here at SCS Home Entertainment listen and help guide you every step of the way to help you create the smart home of your dreams. Come by our showroom or contact us to help us bring the future of home convenience and comfort to you and your family.

So long to cinemas? Our watching habits after COVID-19

When you think about it, the entertainment industry as we know it isn’t very old. The first movie theater only went into business in 1905. From there, technology has rapidly changed to bring about a stunning evolution in home entertainment and theater experiences.

Throughout the film and television industry timeline, the way we’ve watched our favorite shows has changed time and time again. In under a century, families have gone from gathering around large black and white TVs at scheduled times for limited programming to seemingly limitless options spread among countless streaming platforms.

The way we watch is constantly changing, but once COVID-19 came into the picture, the entire industry had to evolve at a lightning pace.

Simultaneous Movie Releases

Before COVID-19, the movie theater was a regular part of many film lovers’ social lives. Movie fans would flock to theaters in droves for the latest blockbusters, packed together shoulder-to-shoulder to enjoy a shared experience with their friends and other audience members.

While many of these cinema buffs also sported impressive home theatre setups at home to indulge in the classics, a night at the movie theater was still a regular part of life.

Before COVID-19, streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+ had already hit the market. However, their catalogs only featured older films and television shows.

In March of 2020, movie theaters and film production studios nationwide were forced to close due to the pandemic. In fact, here in Springfield, MO, we saw famous chains like Alamo Drafthouse and AMC Theaters shutter auditoriums for months at a time. At first, these closures were thought to be short-term, but they extended intermittently for almost a year as the pandemic raged on.

For the majority of 2020, movies simply weren’t released. However, this wasn’t a viable long-term solution.

Back in the before times, in the mid-2010s, Netflix had set a precedent by releasing their self-produced feature films in theaters and on their streaming site simultaneously. While this was never done for large blockbusters, it set an interesting precedent for how studios and streaming platforms could pivot their content releases in a pandemic-plagued world.

So, Disney+ and HBOMax, owned by Disney and Warner Bros. respectively, decided to try something similar on their streaming services. For a premium fee, they allowed their subscribers to watch blockbuster movies at home on release day.

This led to a far more cost-effective way for home viewers to watch their films, with families only paying a single premium price instead of costly tickets and concessions in a theater. Additionally, for those with a premium home setup, utilizing large displays in 4k video and audio setups with cinema-style surround sound, the theater experience is almost entirely recreated at home.

The Future of Movies After COVID-19

Once you give people a feature they like, it’s hard to take it away. Unfortunately, this does prove to be a complex problem to solve for movie theater owners. For example, Disney+ released the Marvel movie Black Widow on both streaming and theaters in July 2021. This movie netted about $131 million in its first week in movie theater box offices. An additional $60 million of revenue came from Disney’s opening weekend streaming sales.

However, the National Association of Theater Owners has expressed their frustrations that sales in box offices could be higher if they weren’t competing with home streaming.

With movie theaters struggling to recover from a year-long shutdown, followed by low ticket sales as they reopen, it will be interesting to see how film distribution changes in the future.

In the end, it’s unlikely that large media corporations like Disney or Warner Bros. will take new movie streaming away entirely. However, with so many families enjoying movies at home, it’s more likely that we’ll see films better optimized for a home viewing experience first in the future, instead of the opposite way around.

As long as movie theaters exist, we’re sure there will still be film fans who partake in movie theaters. However, many in the industry anticipate that theater runs will become more limited.  With streaming media in the future made the priority, it looks like the home theater will be king. After all, in the comfort of your own media room, the snacks are plentiful, you can rewatch whatever you desire, and you’re free of the sticky floors of cinema aisles.

No matter what happens in the future of film, there’s no doubt that streaming services and their endless content libraries are here to stay. If you’d like to make your home watching experience more comfortable and immersive, we can help. Our experts at SCS Home Entertainment can help you design the perfect movie-watching experience. Call us at (417) 720-8282 or visit our showroom today to get started on your next project.

Building the Smart Home of Your Dreams from the Ground Up

The future of home innovation is here! Like something out of a science fiction film, the ability to integrate a house by voice command and other digital features that control endless assets of a building, the future is now for many homeowners out there.

The most natural way to set up a smart home system is to start during construction. However, by natively integrating your smart home devices like Josh.ai, you can create custom spaces tailored to your needs and comfort as soon as you move in.

System Wiring

Perhaps the most crucial component to consider of all high-tech home features is planning the type of systems you wish to integrate into your building, and in turn, the network or hardwiring setup for them to function correctly. Having a robust and reliable network setup is crucial to ensuring your systems are operational 24/7. Assessing which smart home features are most important will help you choose how best to wiring your new home. From smart home portal systems that to energy-efficient light switches, outlets, panels, and more, an early plan for your home network is the key to an effective smart home system that offers flexibility for future installations. Be sure to assess your current and future automation needs, preferred monitoring methods, and installation preferences as you consider your options.

Smart Thermostats Simplify Heating and Cooling

Smart thermostats are incredibly easy to use and customizable for a homeowner’s preferences and go beyond simple temperature regulation. These systems can monitor your electricity usage to save you money, reduce your carbon footprint, and keep different zones of your home heated or cooled to your ideal temperature.

Smart vents are another addition that can easily integrate with your thermostat. These unique vents can detect changes in temperature throughout the home, automatically regulating those specific areas to the programmed temperature.

Smart ceiling fans use motion detectors to cool rooms as individuals enter or leave and regulate a preset temperature space. For the best results, integrate these fans with a smart lighting system to customize your space.

Smart Lighting for Ambience and Energy Saving

Both interior and exterior lighting can be programmed into your smart home system’s management capabilities. Automated smart lights can be voice-activated, timed, or triggered by motion sensor, recognizing activity (or lack thereof) in a certain part of the home.

Integrated lighting provides homeowners with endless energy-saving solutions, as well as security measures, whether a resident is sound asleep or away on vacation. In addition, lighting systems can be programmed to periodically turn on or off, offering the illusion that the owner is home, even when they’re miles away.

Protect Your Investment with Smart Security

Automated home security systems allow for an added sense of protection when a homeowner turns in for the night and grants easy accessibility for admitting an approved person into a residence when the homeowner is away. From something as simple as accessing a front door, garage, or windows, to video doorbells, security cameras, and motion sensors detecting even the slightest movements in a house or just outside, these exceptional features can grant homeowners a sense of comfort and reliability when they are away from home sweet home.

Emergency and disaster detection is another crucial feature when it comes to automated safety systems. Devices can sense everything from fires, uncommon moisture and dampness or flooding to dangers less detectable, such as risks of carbon monoxide poisoning or gas leaks, all of which are vital facets of safety and peace of mind.

Home Theater and Entertainment

Whether you’re a music aficionado, dream about having your very own backyard drive-in, or long to be the go-to host for parties, assessing your entertainment needs is an exciting part of planning your smart home build. With endless options from speakers, screens, and more, there’ll be no question who hosts game night from here on out. Home speaker systems can be integrated throughout the interior and exterior, allowing for great tunes no matter where you find yourself and your guests. With the ability to have a home theater setup nearly wherever you’d like, your toughest decisions will be which movie to watch and who’s on snack-making duty.

Your unique needs and interests are an essential part of your path to smart homeownership, allowing for an ultimate experience of comfort, security, and fun. Come visit our showroom or contact us at SCS Home Entertainment, and we will be delighted to help you explore options to make your new home a dream come true.

Smart Homes Without the Privacy Risk: Meet Josh.ai

There’s a huge hurdle to jump for a lot of us when it comes to adding some smart automation to our homes: we like our privacy! Google and Amazon have both decked out their smart home offerings in recent years, with assistant speakers, smart thermostats, and control hubs that make everyday life tasks effortless.

Unfortunately, these inexpensive systems have a couple of major caveats. First, they’re owned by huge corporations that profit extensively off the information they glean from user actions. Second, their systems still struggle with basic usability, like natural language processing, making the smart home experience feel more like a chore than an upgrade.

What is Josh.ai?

Josh.ai is a professionally installed smart home system meant to integrate with systems across your residence. It works well with an extensive body of smart home products, smart TVs, and control systems for your garage, yard, and outdoors. The system is designed to be intuitive, natural to use, and operate with the utmost respect for your privacy.

Josh Micro

This room microphone was designed to fit into any space. It features the intelligence of Josh.ai with a capacitive touch dial for volume control. One Josh micro can power an entire home, with its powerful array able to easily hear your voice even from long distances.

Josh Nano

The Josh Nano is the newest device in the series. This tiny microphone sits nearly flush with the wall and features an unintrusive design that will easily meld with any space. The Josh Nano is designed to be placed in each room throughout the home, giving you a seamless smart home experience from the kitchen to your home theatre.

Josh Core

Josh core is the brains of the system. The team at Josh.ai custom-designed this processing unit to locally control all aspects of the smart home without the need to access an information cloud. It is scalable, powerful, and built to protect your sensitive information.

Privacy & Security

In the comfort of your own home, the last thing you want to worry about is your data being compromised. Josh is designed to create a luxurious smart home experience while simultaneously preventing leaks of your private information.

In fact, data processing for your spoken requests to Josh is all done locally—they’re never sent over the internet or to a cloud. If a topic you’re talking about requires even further discretion, the Josh nano even features a privacy switch, which will altogether disable the microphone when activated.

Natural Voice Control

The voice commands in Josh aren’t clunky like other smart home systems. Most smart speakers only respond to highly specific requests, with many questions ending in confusion. Once you say the wake-up phrase to Josh, which is a straightforward “OK Josh,” “OK Home,” or “Hey Micro,” your smart commands can be strung together in natural language.

In fact, the technology in Josh is so advanced and well-tested that even English speakers with a heavy accent have no problem issuing commands.

AI-Powered Improvement

Many smart home systems, and Josh is undoubtedly included in this, offer simple ways to automate your home through scenes or routines. However, where Josh diverges is its ability to learn your preferences and utilize contextual awareness.

As you interact with Josh, the system will learn your preferences for all sorts of things like music, light levels, or how high you prefer your shades drawn at certain times of the day. This information helps Josh more readily answer your requests without requiring a detailed level of specificity.

Josh can understand a complex level of context clues, including types of devices that can be controlled, what room they are in, and aspects of the environment like if it is hot, dark, raining, or if there is music playing.

This context comes into play in several ways. First, Josh can provide suggestions based on your learned preferences and environmental data in the mobile app. For example, the app may suggest you lower the shades in sunny rooms if it is particularly hot outside.

Second, if you a command like, “Josh, dim the lights to 50%” but determine it is too dark, you can later say, “Josh, brighten the room” or “Josh, turn them up,” and the system will understand based on the room you are in and your previous command that you mean the lights.

Intuitive Mobile App

The mobile app for Josh.ai is beautiful, user-friendly, and highly functional. Within the app, you can define scenes, manage devices within any room in your house, and even check on your home while you’re away.

Another great feature is the ability to assign user roles. If you have a house guest, for example, you can set their permissions to certain rooms and devices with ease and easily disable this access once they’re gone.

If you own multiple properties, the Josh app can even manage devices at your other homes and allow you to switch between them easily. This lets you check in on your devices and security systems in different locations easily, even if you’re far away.

Why should I want a smart home?

A smart home setup is more than being able to issue voice commands to turn on the lights. When you integrate a system like Josh.ai into your home, it becomes the brains of your home. Smart home systems can effortlessly create comfortable spaces for you to relax or entertain, manage your utility use while you’re away, and help keep your home both monitored and secure.

Your smart home system should be as unique as your home and well-integrated for a natural experience. If you’re interested in designing a custom automation solution for your home that seamlessly integrates with your home theatre, home security, and other IoT (internet of things) capable devices, let us know! The staff at SCS Home Entertainment are ready to help you design the perfect setup utilizing Josh.ai. Visit our showroom or contact us to get started.

 

Bringing Entertainment Home: The Evolution of Home Theaters

Sometimes, you just have to lay back in the comfortable bliss of your home theater space and feel grateful you’re living in the future. In general, home media hasn’t existed in the way that we enjoy it for very long. In fact, for some of us, our youths were full of drive-in theaters or late-night broadcasts as the only way to enjoy timeless flicks again and again.

From the fuzzy pictures of black-and-white television to our ultra-realistic 8K experiences powered by voice command, home entertainment looks a lot different these days. Let’s step back in time and take a look at how our modern entertainment options came to be.

The black and white TV era

After World War II and the Great Depression, the population in the United States shifted quickly away from urban centers. Before these turbulent times, theatres that previously housed vaudeville or newly constructed cinemas screened movies during the golden age of Hollywood. However, between 1947 and 1953, as people settled into suburban life far away from city downtowns, families started looking to home entertainment over nights out at the movies.

In 1928, black and white television began its broadcast, though it wasn’t truly commercially viable until 1938.

Color television brings movies home

In 1954, color television began broadcasting but it wasn’t accepted as a standard for quite some time. The original national standard, an RCA set with a CBS picture tube, wasn’t compatible with previously existing TVs. This set was costly to purchase and maintain for potential television viewers and since there wasn’t a mass acceptance of color broadcast yet, hardly any shows or programs were created for it.

After RCA created their own color system compatible with existing RCA television sets later in 1954, there was a more cost-effective option for the average household. However, it wasn’t until about 1966 that color TV was truly popularized.

In September 1961, an exciting milestone for home theaters was hit—somewhat recent movies were finally viewable at home thanks to the premiere of NBC Saturday Night at the Movies.  Prior to its release, the only films showed on TV tended to be older and low budget. Even with the popularization of color broadcast, most of the films shown were from the black and white era.

NBC Saturday Night at the Movies was a pioneer with many copycat shows on other networks premiering. These broadcasts proved popular and led to the creation of the “made for TV movie.”

The rise of physical media

Most of us are familiar with VCRs, but how did folks enjoy movies at home before they were invented? Well, for the average person, they simply caught re-runs of old flicks either on TV broadcasts or at their local drive-in.

Some households owned reel-to-reel projectors to run movie films, but these machines were huge and expensive, so you tended to see them more in public settings, schools, or institutions.

Videocassettes truly changed the game for enjoying media at home. Betamax and VHS clashed in the mid-70s in a format war for media dominance. Though Betamax offered higher quality, VHS was more affordable and won out.

Videocassettes allowed people of all income classes to own copies of their favorite movies at home, as well as record television broadcasts directly through their VCR. Some grew their videotape collection to an impressive scale, while others chose to frequent their local video rental store for their movie fix.

Though less prominent, most home cinema aficionados in the 1990s wouldn’t necessarily reach for VHS first. LaserDisc players allowed for crisp, clear video and high-quality audio, though the format wasn’t loved by the general public.

In fact, VHS stayed prominent as the main format for home video until the early 2000s when DVD began to see mass acceptance. While DVDs first hit the market in 1997, it wasn’t until 2008 that these discs had fully replaced video cassette tapes.

Another format war around this time took place between Blu-ray and HD DVD, with Blu-ray coming out on top as the preferred high-definition home video format. It continues to be the choice format for those who prefer to own physical media.

Of course, as we approach today, we’re all pretty keenly aware that some of us still prize our physical media collections. Blu-ray discs, especially those in ultra 4k, are the best on the market for modern televisions. Those who prefer to keep things minimal now get their media online, particularly using streaming services like Netflix and Disney+.

Bigger, lighter, smarter TVs

The 1990s saw huge demand for bigger and better TVs in the living room and home theater setups of everyday folks, though large TVs were certainly around as a luxury item in the 1980s. These CRT TVs were huge and extremely heavy.

Right as we entered the 21st century, however, TVs started to change dramatically. Relatively inexpensive plasma TVs were the first wide-scale flat-screen TVs with sizes up to 50 inches and LCD TVs soon followed maxing out at about 30 inches.

Eventually, the technology around LCD flat screens improved to the point that by 2006, there was little-to-no difference in price. Plasma TVs tried to compete by making screens that were even larger but LCD screens were brighter, more efficient, and thinner.

Today, we’re seeing home video displays that are thinner and some displays are even modular, allowing for a home theater experience that takes up entire walls if you desire. Beautiful displays using MicroLED technology can bring the movie theater home with beautiful picture quality, rich blacks, and high brightness without burn-in.

Also, instead of simple remotes from television past, TVs are incredibly smart now. Depending on the system, your TV can connect to your smart home setup, your cell phone, and access the internet for streaming music and video options.

Bringing cinema scores home

A home theater system isn’t complete without the booming sound experience of the movies. During the 80s and 90s, when the home theater movement truly took root, quality audio equipment was huge and heavy. Components stereo systems combined graced living rooms to give the family control of not only television audio, but also fed speakers sound from all sorts of audio formats: CDs, cassette tapes, 8-tracks, and vinyl records, just to name a few.

As time has moved on, home audio systems have slimmed down, simplified, and gotten as smart as their TV brethren.

The home theater of 2021 is truly a modern marvel. The next time you kick back to relax with your favorite flick before you tell your smart home system to dim the lights, take a moment to appreciate how far we’ve come with home entertainment technology. We’re finally at a point where the home experience can rival the visual marvel and booming audio of the movie theater.

Ready to build a home theater of your own? We can help. The knowledgeable staff at SCS are ready to help every step of the way, from selecting your perfect display to crafting an unforgettable audio setup. Visit our showroom or contact us to get started on your next project!

5 Tips to Perfect Your Spring Entertaining

Spring is in the air. It seems like after the winter holidays, the long isolating winter really turns into a grind. By this time of year, most of us are gearing up for sunny days, vacations and dreaming of summer fun. With COVID-19 vaccinations underway, some of our friends and loved ones are ready to meet up after a long time apart. As the vaccines continue, you may be ready to throw your first small party indoors but don’t forget those who aren’t yet eligible for their shots may be safer in outdoor settings.

With all that in mind, let’s get your spaces prepped and parties planned for your first exciting foray into entertaining for the year.

Tip 1: Start with a little spring maintenance

It’s easy to get complacent with a little more mess and a little less maintenance in winter. Your home automation system is a great resource to encourage you to keep up on occasional and annual tasks. Set an automated schedule to remind you of important chores like cleaning your central vacuum system, clearing out the gutters, or scrubbing the grill.

With extended daylight, you’ll also want to adjust your lighting to fit the new season. One great way to do this is to set up your automated lighting system is to adjust your light scenes to fade in and out with the sunrise and sunset.

Tip 2: Give your spaces some color

Once your living spaces are ready to go, why not give them a little upgrade? Your home theater, living room, or centralized kitchen can benefit from splashes of blossom shades. Use peel-and-stick temporary wallpaper to give your entertaining space a seasonally appropriate or floral hue. Match it with some vibrant throw pillow colors and rainbow drinkware for a fun space fit for celebrating spring.

To kick it up a notch, many automated lighting systems feature colored lights. Have fun creating a unique lighting mood and color palette for your next party or just a night at home.

Tip 3: Light up the grill for an early-season BBQ

No matter what anyone tells you if it’s warm out, it’s grilling time. Give your grill an annual scrub and break it out for a much-needed early spring BBQ. Invite your guests to join you on your patio for afternoon drinks and eats.

Outdoor speakers are the perfect addition to any outdoor entertaining setting. Use your speakers to kick up the jams or play some lively, spring-themed ambient noise with soft lo-fi for a more relaxing approach.

Tip 4: Delight the kids with an outdoor Easter party

Easter is near and with it comes colorful candy, Easter dresses, and hunts for treat-filled plastic eggs. Host your neighbors or family for a festive Easter egg hunt in your backyard.

Make the day extra special by using your short-throw projector to show fun Easter favorites like Peter Rabbit or It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown on an outdoor screen. Lay out picnic blankets and let the kiddos enjoy the show and their candy while the parents kick back and relax.

Tip 5: Throw a spring movie party with popcorn that makes a statement

Spring isn’t always beautiful sunny days. When there is a surprise burst of winter weather or rain drowns your plans, don’t dismay. Take the party indoors with a spring movie party.

Let your guests enjoy your home entertainment system with fun and uplifting spring movies like Eat Pray Love or The Secret Garden. With a front-row seat and a large screen, the beautiful spring blooms will come to life for you and your guests.

With your guests nestled in, you can wow them with bowls of easy salty and sweet popcorn that are sure to make a statement.

 

Sweet and Salty Candy Popcorn Recipe

8 Cups of Fresh Popcorn, salted and buttered

1 Cup chocolate covered peanuts

1 Cup of mini pretzels

1 cup white chocolate chips

1 cup Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups minis

After salting and buttering your fresh popcorn, place it in a large mixing bowl. Combine the chocolate covered peanuts, mini pretzels, white chocolate chips, and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups Minis into the bowl with the popcorn. Gently mix and serve.

 

Spring is an exciting time of year when the weather is mild, the flowers are in bloom and now that vaccinations are underway, your friends and family will soon be ready to socialize. After a long time apart, fun small gatherings with family and close friends are quickly becoming reality. While the projected openness of summer is a bit away, you can still have fun this spring with the right company.

 

 

How to host the ultimate themed movie party for your family or COVID pod

Movie nights have become the norm in these unique times. With theaters closed and our social bubbles kept small, gathering around some flicks is a fun and socially distant way to spend time with your family or COVID-pod.

Realistically, we’re all itching for a little excitement. Sometimes the best things to celebrate are simply the ones that make us happy—and nothing says happy like a movie marathon party.

Your home theater might be the envy of the block, but imagine it decked out in slick decoration, themed food and family or close friends.

We have a few ideas to get the wheel turning. Your weekend plans are just about to get a whole lot more festive.

Host a themed Harry Potter movie marathon

Don your wizard robes and whisk the family’s imagination straight to Hogwarts. Harry Potter is beloved by everyone from the young to the young-at-heart. The theming of these movies is cohesive and rich, which makes pulling elements for your party all the more fun.

Get your hands on some hand-held battery-powered candles and hang them from the ceiling to create the ultimate wizardry ambiance. Decorate with the crests of each Hogwarts house on the walls and themed coloring with streamers or door tinsel.

If you’d like to get even more hands-on, have fun crafting wands from chopsticks, hot glue, and paint with the kids, so everyone can have a turn trying to conjure up their Patronus.

Before the movie begins, whip out a large hat to “sort” everyone into their respective houses and dish out store-bought or homemade butterbeer, made with cream soda mixed with caramel and butter extract, for refreshments.

For added fun between movies, sprinkle in some Harry Potter trivia or a costume contest to make a night that can’t be beat.

Ultimate Galentine’s or Lady’s Night Movie Party

When it comes to lady’s night, three ingredients come to mind: aesthetics, self-care, and only the finest of rom-com. Don your comfiest robes and settle in for a night of pampering and laughs with your life’s favorite gals.

Have fun with decorating your home theater to maximum levels of Instagram-worthy looks and treats. Buy colorful popcorn boxes and fill them with delectable custom-flavored popcorn and break out the mason jars with coordinated straws, filled to the brim with fruity cocktails. Deck out your space with metallic letter balloons, flower garland, and fuzzy blankets for a cozy and fun atmosphere.

Make the evening even better by mixing in a little self-care. Disposable face masks can add a young and healthy glow to your skin while kicking back and relaxing. Grab a manicure kit and have fun painting and decorating your nails while chatting the night away.

Of course, this night isn’t complete without a selection of modern and classic rom-com. We recommend:

  • Always Be My Maybe (2019)
  • When Harry met Sally (1989)
  • Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
  • Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)
  • The Big Sick (2017)
  • 50 First Dates (2004)

The Heroic Marvel Movie Marathon

First of all, when we’re talking about Marvel movies, it’s best not to attempt to watch them all. Otherwise, you’re looking at a 50-hour marathon! It’s best to pick a theme, like all of the Iron Man movies or all of a particular phase of movies. That part is up to you!

Your space can quickly turn into a heroic hideaway with movie posters and toy weapons donning the walls. Paint paper lanterns to resemble movie iconographies, like Iron Man’s mask or the Avengers’ logo. If you’re feeling particularly spicy and want to horrify your favorite nerd, fill apothecary jars with fine grey sand and cheekily label them with certain character’s names. (Those who get it will get it.)

A marathon of heroes deserves heroic snacks. If shawarma is available in your area, that’s a deliciously not-so-subtle nod to the first Avengers movie. If not, gyros will be a fine substitute.

If you’re feeling creative, use cheese or Rice Krispies to craft treats in the shape of Thor’s hammer Mjolner or lovingly arrange a charcuterie tray into Cap’s shield.

The possibilities, much like the Marvel Cinematic Universe, are pretty much endless.

Disney Princess Movie Party

Hear ye, hear ye, you are cordially invited to a princess party. All members of the royal family must don their fanciest of wear—we’re talking poofy dresses and princely suits. Break out the tiaras and costume jewelry or dedicate a portion of the evening to playing with acrylic stones and craft foam to make your own.

A princess party needs a décor fit for a queen (I mean, there will certainly be at least one Elsa in the bunch), so decorate in rich reds and pinks and throw in a cardboard stand-up princess for good measure.

This kind of party is a great way to not only bond with the sweet kiddos in your life but engage in some learning along the way. Disney princesses hail from far-off kingdoms not only in Europe but around the world. Use this as an opportunity to teach cultural awareness and learn about other countries’ foods. For example, order Chinese dumplings or traditional Chinese dishes while watching Mulan; try a Kringle, popular in Scandinavia if you partake in Frozen; or order in some spicy cajun food complete with pillowy beignets for the Princess and the Frog.

Your home theater is more than just a place to watch movies, it’s a gathering place to make lasting memories. Connect with your friends, family, and loved ones in your home or COVID pod to make your time indoors a total blast.

If you’re dreaming of a home theater system fit for royalty, SCS Entertainment can make it happen. Our team of experts will custom design the perfect entertainment or smart home solution to fit your family’s needs.

Control Your Home From Your Fingertips

The Most Exciting Smart Home Trends for 2021

Many of us have embraced at least a little bit of smart home technology in our lives. Maybe you like the convenience of one or two connected devices, like a single home assistant or an internet-powered security system.

In 2021, however, maybe it’s time to take things a step further through deeper smart technology integration and automation. The opportunities are endless to customize your home to perfectly match your desired levels of comfort, convenience, and connectivity.

Smart Home Automation

The biggest emerging trend in 2021 has to be smart home automation. While many of us use at least one smart device, we aren’t using them to their full potential. Automation can be as simple as setting up your devices to work on voice commands from your phone or hub or more complex.

For example, if your home has a smart thermostat, lights, and locks, profiles could be created to set your home to the ideal away temperature, ensure lights are off, and doors are locked when you leave home for work. When you return, your home could already be heated to the perfect temperature and lights will be on to greet you just as your door unlocks.

Another option is using your smart lighting system to create the ideal light environments for sleep and waking. Set your lights to slowly dim in the evening and wake you with a gentle sunrise in the morning.

The possibilities for smart home automation ideas are endless. With a tick of a clock or the touch of a button, your music, media, room temperature, and lights can all be switched to your preferred setting. Just imagine, if you can dream it up and have devices to support it, it can probably be automated.

Home Security

We spent a lot of time at home in 2020. As much of the workforce returns to their offices in the spring of 2021, it’s important to start thinking seriously about protecting your home and investments. Smart home security systems aren’t new, but there are important features beyond simple cameras and phone-activated doorbells that can enhance home safety.

In 2021, we expect to see more security systems featuring facial and voice recognition to allow the system to identify household members and dissuade intruders. Another major upgrade we expect to see in home security is updated cybersecurity. After all, our home automation and security systems are connected to our personal networks and record our comings and goings. This type of information could be highly desirable to certain criminals and must be kept safe.

Localized Home Zones

A home zone can be as small as a room or as large as the majority of the house. These zones define certain smart features that can be activated or deactivated in certain areas. An example of this would be if you have a smart thermostat with zone capabilities. In the winter, the majority of the house could be set to one zone, while bedrooms could be set to another. This would allow you to keep the house cold when not in use and the bedrooms comfortably toasty, then reverse it when you are up for the day.

Zones allow smart home owners to lower their utility costs and reduce energy waste while creating comfortable environments tailored to the person in them.

Stylish Smart Home Accessories

Many smart home devices came onto the market prioritizing functionality over form. Most sported the same clean white aesthetic, which is somewhat appealing to minimalists but sticks out sorely in many home color schemes.

Smart devices are looking to blend into your home further, now coming in attractive colors, shapes, and patterns to best fit your personal style.

Smart shades and lighting

Smart lighting has gained a lot of traction in recent years and was one smart device that gained a lot of early adopters. When you include smart shades into the mix, however, you get a fully customizable ambiance. Raise shades and lower shades while simultaneously adjusting your overhead lights to the perfect level without ever leaving your seat using smart home hubs or automation. These combinations, especially when set up in home zones, can save utility money while providing a comfortable atmosphere for any situation.

In 2021, your smart house can integrate with your daily life even more. As you embrace automation, your connected devices will help make comfort, aesthetic, and safety nearly effortless.

A bigger focus on the IoT (Internet of Things)

On a base level, most of us understand what the internet is. If you think about it, until recently, it was only us using computers or mobile devices to access it. Well, as smart homes, cars, and devices have hit the market with WiFi connectivity, there are a lot more devices connected and sharing data on the internet.

This network of devices, from complicated ones like self-driving cars to a humble Wifi-enabled microwave, are all part of what is called the IoT.

As the Internet of Things matures, we’ll see more smart devices learning our daily routines without having to tell them through voice, button, or time commands. Instead, they’ll respond to other aspects, like the atmosphere and our daily life actions. Doors could potentially unlock when they recognize our faces, our blinds could lower when we queue up a movie, or our thermostat could make the room more comfortable while exercising.

Privacy from Big Tech

While the safety of your family from intruders is a real concern, there is also the issue of protecting your private data. Many smart hubs are currently manufactured by industry tech giants that profit off of advertising data. While this data creates an internet where advertising is finely tailored to you, many of us value our personal privacy and life data and don’t want it shared with advertisers.

At SCS Home Entertainment, we offer a unique smart home system that offers cutting edge AI and smart home automation without selling your data. Josh.ai is a powerful solution that can manage all aspects of your connected home through natural language and pattern learning, with your data only being used to improve your experience—never to be sold to advertisers.

If you’re ready to give your home a smart upgrade, we can help. At SCS Home Entertainment, our knowledgeable staff can help you every step of the way—from selecting the right smart devices for your home to expertly installing and automating your home zones.

It’s the future. We’re here to help you embrace it.

Smart Gifts For Smart People

Holiday Gift Tips: Shop Smarter Not Harder

Some of us are well-prepared to be the Ultimate Technology Gift Giver. You know the type—the expert who fights crowds to grab the latest tech trend (and all of its various connectors or controllers) before they dive into installation like an old pro.

But for the rest of us in all the excitement of holiday gift-giving, we tend to forget just what an undertaking setting up our sound system or home theater can be. This year let’s avoid the hassle of untangling yourself from the mess left behind in an inexperienced installer’s wake (we’re looking at you, big box guys).

Make your holiday surprise easy by thinking local. Avoid the crowds and spend time working with actual product experts who can ensure your new toy will work with your setup and aesthetics, then dispatch expert installers out to get the job done right. No untangling required.

Still, looking for ideas on what tech gifts to give? Here’s a bit of inspiration to get you started.

Smart home setups for the homeowner

Control of your own space is surprisingly liberating. Smart home setups can give your loved one the safety and peace of mind of a security system, along with the convenience of a connected environment. Lights, thermostats, security cameras, appliances can all be controlled using the seemingly endless possibilities available with smart home systems. Nothing says holiday cheer like a home of the future.

Connectivity possibilities: The possibilities are endless. Control lights, media, appliances, smart shades, and more with the touch of a button. Smart homes seem effortless, but there is an extensive amount of setup involved. From installing the apps, setting up hubs, to finding the right connected equipment, a guide is best when giving your home an intelligence boost.

Big screen TV for the sports fan

As football season gets to the playoffs, you don’t want to miss a moment. The larger your TV, the closer you are to the action, provided your resolution is high enough. Shoot for 8K Ultra High Definition to maximize the beauty and longevity of your display. Some brave the bitter cold to be in the stands, but you can get the same experience at home without freezing your tail off. Grab a beer and kick back in your personal front row seat.

Connectivity possibilities: With newer TVs, the possibilities are limitless. You’ll of course want to connect it to any media devices and audio setup, but also consider connecting it to your smart home system, cell phone, or computer for extra fun.

Projectors or outdoor TV for the backyard entertainer

In 2020, entertaining at home took a totally different turn. What used to be movie nights and Netflix binges in the comfort of your home theater turned into outdoor dinner parties in an instant. A great way to bring the movie magic with you no matter where you are—inside, outside, or even your Man Cave or She Shack—is through a short-throw projector. For a more permanent solution, consider making your patio or backyard into a staycation retreat with a watertight outdoor TV.

To really bring the magic to your outdoor entertainment system, outdoor speakers can bring premium sound while blending in beautifully with your landscaping vibes.

Connectivity possibilities: Since most projectors don’t come with built-in speakers and no one wants to use the built-in speakers on a TV, you’ll want a portable audio solution or an outdoor speaker setup for enriched sound.

Home networking for the young family

Between you and your family, how many devices do you have floating around? Cell phones, tablets, printers, computers, smart devices, security systems—there’s a lot to juggle. By giving your home a WiFi boost with access points and following it with a home networking system, we can create a secure network that utilizes and protects all of your gadgets seamlessly.

Connectivity possibilities: Relatively endless. If you have multiple devices on your network, connectivity can be the key to seamless functionality and fun.

Soundbars for the home audio minimalist

Wireless soundbars are often underestimated, but many offer a clean aesthetic in any room with enhanced sound capabilities. Soundbars are perfect for rooms with a chic design or to incorporate with an already robust sound system.

Connectivity possibilities: Wireless soundbars can work with your current sound setup or solo with your television, computer, or smart devices.

Pool and game tables for the not-so-tech-savvy

Some people prefer to be a little more analog, and that’s ok. Home entertainment doesn’t just include televisions or media centers. Consider a game room outfitted with premium foosball or pool tables. Fun for the whole family with nary a wire in sight.

Connectivity possibilities: While these gifts avoid the general issues of connectivity, a home entertainment expert can help you pick out the right style and look for you or your loved one’s game room setup.

At SCS Home Entertainment, our staff are experts in audio and visual technologies. We can help you select the perfect gift for your home. Our experienced installers are experts at what they do. They will install your new home entertainment system to its fullest potential, ensuring it looks great, sounds great, and lives up to its premium possibilities.

So, this year let’s skip the cramped aisles and disinterested sales folks of the bigger chains. We may not be elves, but our helpers are ready to make Christmas dreams come true.

2021 Home Theater Trends

Home Theater Trends for 2021

With many movie theaters’ doors staying closed, home theaters are becoming an increasingly popular way to enjoy the luxuries of the movies from the comfort of your home.

As more people than ever invest in their entertainment spaces, new trends are also arising. Keep your home theater ahead of the curve as you update your entertainment room to provide a space for making lasting memories with your family and friends.

Home Theaters Used for Multiple Purposes

When home theaters first began to grow in popularity, they were typically made into miniature versions of actual movie theaters with stadium seating, dark lighting, and a big screen on the wall.

These are still common today, but many people opt to create a space that is more multi-functional. Instead of only being able to use the space to watch movies, new entertainment spaces are intentionally built to offer something for each member of the family.

They can be used for the original purpose to provide endless movie nights and host watch parties for the Superbowl or season premiere of The Bachelor. But they can also be used to play video games, listen to music, or even to follow home workouts and yoga videos.

Customized Screens for Your Space

Screens are bigger and brighter than ever before. There are a variety of types and sizes of screens to make your space unique.

Ultra-short-throw projectors can create a very large image on a screen or wall from a short distance. They are affordable options that offer the flexibility to easily be moved around for a variety of activities. These great for a multipurpose room because you can easily change the size and shape of the screen depending on its intended use.

Add even more flexibility to your setup with a combination of flat panel screens. These come in a variety of prices and sizes to customize your wall display or use it as a drop-down. You can also combine these displays to create a multi-functional space.

Combine your screens with control equipment to customize your entertainment experience at the touch of a button.

Updating to 8K Resolution

Along with the size and type of screen, another rising trend in home theaters is = full ultra-high definition resolution. 4K screens have recently become the industry standard, but 8k is now the most up to date version.

8K screens offer a higher level of PPI with a crisper and smoother display. 4K screens will quickly be switched out for 8K so as you update or install a home theater, look ahead to the digital future to stay up to date as streaming services quickly transfer over to this.

Instead of investing your money in older technology and updating later, you can save time and money in the long run. Investing in the most up to date technology will also provide you with premium resolution and elevate your viewing experience.

New Surround Sound Equipment

Sound helps create the immersive experience you expect from a movie theater, so many people are choosing to invest in soundbars and surround sound. New sound equipment can connect to devices, wi-fi, and voice control to make all of your technology work together as one cohesive unit.

These speakers can also be custom catered to your desired experience. For example, surround sound levels are very different when you want to listen to music compared to when you’re watching a movie. New speakers can seamlessly be tailored to the media you’re enjoying, whether you’re enjoying a quiet documentary or rocking out to a streaming concert.

Innovative Lighting Solutions

In the past, home theater rooms were typically dark, cave rooms. While low light is ideal for watching movies, it makes it harder to use the space for other activities.

Now, the best of both worlds is available. You can have a bright and airy room and still block out the light and glare while watching movies with smart shades.

These are the perfect solution to any of your lighting struggles and allow you to change the brightness and ambiance with the touch of a button.  Now, no one has to interrupt the movie to get up to adjust the lights.

Many people no longer want a dark movie room, so these shades combined with colorful LED lighting for added flare are a great way to make your entertainment room fun, stylish, and functional.

Reflect your style

Once the main aspects of an entertainment room are set up there are many other elements to consider adding to make the space your own.

You can consider adding clean and subtle design elements to make it a common area for all family members to enjoy a variety of activities. These spaces can cater to the interests of everyone in the household.

Also, consider investing in comfy, large-scale lounge furniture to provide a spot for all of your family and friends at your next get together. To keep the space open, many families opt for functional furniture that leaves plenty of room for other entertainment like a foosball or pool table.

Regardless of whether you’re looking to update your current home theater or start from scratch, we can help make home movie magic. Our technology can be catered specifically to your home and needs. If you want a home theater up to date with all of the current trends, contact us today.