A HWZ PlayTest Event - Smart AV for Your Home

HardwareZone Smart Home AV PlayTest


The Smart Home AV PlayTest Event

Setting up a respectable home entertainment system requires lots of research and technical know-how. There are many components to consider, such as the television set, the amplifier and speakers. And with the rise of smart home entertainment devices that are able to access the web and the ability to go wireless, the decision-making process is that much harder.

That’s not all; there’s also the concern of home décor and how your equipment will fit into your home. So there's the issue of the equipment you need to select as well as whether it will look good with in your home. Seems like a lot to think about isn't it? With these practical concerns in mind, HardwareZone and Home & Decor publications decided to conduct a PlayTest event aiming to help our readers boost their knowledge of planning and setting up their own home entertainment system area. 

Held on a Saturday morning of 4th of May at Mudian, a custom home furniture design specialist, HardwareZone teamed up with ASUS, Panasonic, Yamaha and One Touch Systems to provide attendees with a generous dose of home AV setup assistance and hands-on of their coolest home entertainment gear. Crucially, our Smart Home AV PlayTest was designed to touch upon five key areas of home entertainment aspects - display, audio, networking, automation and home design elementsFor those who didn't manage to get join our event (registration was full within two days!), we've got a rundown of what took place at the event in this article. To kick start, here are the video highlights of what went on at our event:-

Ideas on Sprucing Up Your Home 

HardwareZone.com editor, Vijay Anand, got the ball rolling with an introduction of what Smart AV meant, the various considerations that's needed to design a great home entertainment area in a home as well as a rundown of what the rest of the event segments will cover. Rebeckka Wong, editor for Home & Decor magazine, followed up to introduce why our event partnered with Mudian and the décor aspects that our event attendees can keep an eye upon while checking around the Mudian showroom. While some of the attendees were looking for tips on how to incorporate new AV equipment into their existing home layout, we're sure others were hoping to spruce up or renovate their existing home décor. That's where Calsia Lee, Mudian's sales and marketing director, provided more insight into Mudian's custom services for those looking for tailor-made furniture and home decor.

TV Buying Trends, Tips and Demos

After we touched upon home design aspects, next up was HardwareZone Associate Editor, Ng Chong Seng, who got started on the TV segment by giving audience insights into the current trends as well as buying tips. Of course what presentation would be complete without an actual product demo? The attendees moved into another section of Mudian to get a demo on Panasonic's latest 2013 AV line-up that's just starting to appear in our market. In fact, the Panasonic products were so new, we don't even know the suggested retail prices yet! That's one of the perks of joining our PlayTest event to check out the latest and greatest gear and trends. For the TV demos, Panasonic brought in their top of the line 55-inch VT60 plasma screen (TH-P55VT60) and a LED-backlit DT60 55-inch LCD screen (TH-L55DT60). For more information of these new TV models, head to our Panasonic 2013 TV launch summary article.


Don't Forget the Audio in AV

HardwareZone tech writer, Hurrairah Bin Sohail, began the after-lunch session by giving the attendees something to think about regarding the choice of audio systems and differentiating home audio system capabilities. And to further expand on his points, both Panasonic and Yamaha provided the audience with a taste of their latest audio systems through demonstrations.

Panasonic showcased their top-end Blu-ray home theatre system, the SC-BTT430, which has Panasonic's Cinema Surround technology, to give viewers a clear direction on where the sound is coming and hence a more accurate surround sound effect. For more updates on what else Panasonic has for your personal and group entertainment needs, we've got that summarized from their recent launch event here.

Next up, Yamaha provided a demo on their AV equipment's multi-zone capability, where you can channel different audio into different areas of your home. Yamaha's top-end AV receiver can support up to three zone where users can control the equipment in the zones through an iOS app. They can adjust volume, stop playback and even power down the equipment in each zone with the app. It's an advanced control option for those with high expectations and requirements from their audio setup. The physical setup to ready the zones within your home requires good planning, but the actual control by means of the iOS app is straightforward and that's what Alex Low, assistant manager for Yamaha Music was showing off to our attendees. For more highlights of Yamaha's current AV receiver and speaker line-up, check out what we reported from the International Sight & Sound Exhibition from end of last year.

Here's the full list of gear that Yamaha used for their demonstrations:-

  • AV Receiver: RX-A1020 BL
  • Blu-ray Player: BD-A1020
  • 5.2-channel Speaker Setup
    • Floorstand Speakers - NS-F500 BL
    • Center Speaker - NS-C500 BL
    • Surround Speakers - NS-B500 BL
    • Subwoofers - NS-SW500 x 2
  • 2-channel Stereo Speakers: Soavo-2 BRN (for Zone-2 demo)


Putting the Smart into Your Home AV Equipment

The last session of the day involved home networking and home automation. HardwareZone.com associate editor Chong Seng came back to highlight home networking aspects and measures to overcome commonly encountered issues. Following that, Michelle Lim from Asus, touched on setting up a home network where your files can either be stored in the cloud or in a central location. This allows for all residents to access all the files regardless of where they are in the house. This was facilitated by their current top-of-the-line ASUS RT-AC66U Wireless AC dual-band router supporting the ASUS Open Cloud Computing (AOCC) strategy via the AiCloud feature supported in their latest mobility devices. Integrating the networking and mobility aspects seamlessly with the flexibility of a traditional desk-bound system, Michelle also took this opportunity to demo their latest in their AIO and Transformer line of products with the ASUS Transformer AIO that brought about the best in all these aspects and is probably one of the most versatile of products we've seen for the home. As the star of their demo session, the Transformer AIO drew plenty of curious looks from the attendees due to its ability to function as both a desktop and tablet computer - simultaneously.

So we've touched upon several major aspects for setting up a great home or personal entertainment area, but ever thought of how convenient it would be if you could control the various devices, gadgets and even services in your home with a single touch in a coordinated manner? For example, you could engage one preset through an app on your mobile device that will draw down the shades, shut your curtains, power up your air conditioning system and cool your home to your preferred 22 degrees Celsius temperature. But that's not all. After a built-in pre-programmed delay that you can set in advance, your TV or projector can power up, followed by your AV receiver, switch to the right AV channel with the preferred movie audio presets, turn on the Blu-ray player and finally ensure your lighting levels are optimum for your movie watching experience.

While it may have seemed far-fetched years ago, home automation is now within one's means these days to achieve just that. To enlighten what our attendees can expect from home automation, we invited One Touch Systems to give a quick run through on some of their past projects and customer requirements. So imagine you're on your way home and you want to watch Marvel's The Avengers movie as soon as you're back, you could actually get your home ready well in advance if you've integrated a good home automation system without wasting time on managing all these devices separately in your home. It's not a lot of hassle to do control them in the traditional manner, but for some, the convenience and cool factor might be worth the extra investment.

All in all, it was a fruitful day for this PlayTest's attendees with so many major topics covered from home design to home entertainment and even automation along with the supporting partners showcasing their latest gadgets and smart controls/services. With the help of HardwareZone, the attendees can now make informed decisions on setting up their Smart AV system at home and we hope to see you guys at our next PlayTest event! Meanwhile, here's a glimpse of some of our other past PlayTest events.