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2014 Electronic Lifestyles® Awards: Home Tech At Its Best, Part 2

December 15, 2014 | Comments

CEDIA's annual Electronic Lifestyles® Awards honor the innovation, creativity, and technical skill behind the best home entertainment and automation systems on the planet. In "Home Tech at its Best, Part 1," we showcased four winning systems. Here we profile three more, including a distinctly unique project out of New Zealand.

Integrated Home Level II ($75,001-$125,000) Gold Technical Design Award

Most of us can only wish we had a vacation home in Florida, let alone a vacation getaway/rental property of this caliber - and one with a whole-house entertainment/automation system to boot. Designed and installed for its Canadian owner by the pros at Pure Custom Integrations in Mississauga, Ontario, the main attraction is an elaborate video distribution system that feeds TVs throughout the house and out on the patio.

Most striking is the 75-inch flat-panel perched on a stone wall above the fireplace in the great room (pictured ) In all, there are eight TVs, each of which has ready access to cable TV as well as a DVR, Blu-ray player, PlayStation 3 console, and two Netflix-ready Apple TV media players.

Music also flows freely in this not-so-humble abode thanks to a six-zone Control4 audio system that serves up Internet and terrestrial radio stations through a network of in-wall/ceiling speakers. Control4 also presides over lighting in key areas of the home, temperature control (via four smart thermostats), a pool controller, and security cameras that can be viewed on any TV. Among its many tricks is an "all off" button for shutting down all AV and lighting at the press of a button.

Renters or the homeowner can choose to control the system via a traditional hand-held remote or a password-protected app for Android and Apple mobile devices. The system stands as a shining example of integration that works for both the homeowner and renters of this luxury property.

Installation by Pure Custom Integrations (PureCI), Mississauga, Canada

Home Theater Level V ($450,001 & Over) Bronze Technical Design Award

Ever wonder what a Hollywood mogul's private "screening room" looks like? The image that pops into your mind might be one of extreme self-indulgence instead of the understated elegance of this theater, commissioned by the president of a major movie studio.

While the primary objective was to build a professional-grade home theater where he could view DCPs (digital cinema package¬s) and "dailies" from movies in production, he also wanted a comfortable space where his family could watch TV and movies on Blu-ray, play Xbox videogames, and stream programs via Apple TV.

Built to exacting digital cinema standards, the acoustically treated (and isolated) room is outfitted with a secure movie server, state-of-the-art projector (mounted in a custom "hush box"), and 12-foot-wide Cinemascope screen with electronic side-screen masking to accommodate different aspect ratios.

The iPad-controlled system was painstakingly calibrated by industry experts to ensure dead-accurate audio/video reproduction, and everything is concealed to preserve the room's warm atmosphere - the electronics in a climate-controlled closet and a suite of planar-magnetic speakers and in-wall subwoofers behind the perforated projection screen and acoustically transparent wall panels. This theater is ready for action.

Installation by Bradford Wells + Associates, Los Angeles, CA

Special Project Gold Technical Design Award

Hailing all the way from Auckland, New Zealand, is a truly special project: a 186-foot luxury yacht featuring a 17-zone high-definition AV system for entertainment and navigation that allows the captain to select and control any of 10 navigation sources at six strategically located control stations.

At the helm of the entertainment network is a 24-terabyte Kaleidescape server loaded with enough movies and video content to keep guests amused for weeks, if not months. If that's not enough variety, guests and crew can tune into satellite TV, display a navigation screen or select the vessel's mast camera for a panoramic view of the world outside.

But the crown jewel of this seafaring AV system can be found in the main saloon: a 103-inch Panasonic plasma TV and an in-wall speaker system with subwoofers hidden in custom cabinetry. When not in use, the TV is cleverly concealed behind a leather tapestry that rolls away on command. TVs in other key areas are also automated, revealing themselves only when video is selected.

In the event of an emergency, the captain has the ability to mute the entire system, and all AV gear is hidden and physically secured in temperature-controlled closets and cabinets. A remote-access PC and network monitoring appliance make possible real-time system monitoring and support - no matter where the ship is located - affording the installation company the opportunity to troubleshoot problems before the owner and crew even know they exist.

Lighting is also controlled via the automation system. Pre-programmed "scenes" are available in every room and can be selected via wall-mounted keypads or one of several iPads, stowed in magnetic charging docks around the yacht. The control interface was designed for simplicity to ensure frustration-free enjoyment of the many AV spoils. Wondering about AV and lighting on deck? No worries. Both can be controlled via waterproof membrane style keypads.

One of the owner's primary goals was to create a seaworthy, home-away-from-home environment. Mission accomplished.

Installation by Liquid Automation, Auckland, New Zealand

To learn more about custom installation options like the ones featured here, consult a CEDIA professional. Click here for a list of CEDIA-member home technology professionals in your area.