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Wired or Wireless?

Owners of multi-room audio/video systems assign high value to their home entertainment experience, according to a new study from the Consumer Electronics Association). The study, "Trends in Multi-room Audio Video Usage," found that 82 percent of homeowners with an such a system would recommend it to their friends.


By By Nick Bajzek, Products Editor September 30, 2009
This article first appeared in the PB October 2009 issue of Pro Builder.
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Fast Facts

A RELIABLE whole-home A/V system mixes structured wiring
with wireless spot solutions.
Photo: Siemens
Owners of multi-room audio/video systems assign high value to their home entertainment experience, according to a new study from the Consumer Electronics Association). The study, "Trends in Multi-room Audio Video Usage," found that 82 percent of homeowners with an such a system would recommend it to their friends.

These systems are gaining in popularity; should a production builder opt for a tried-and-true wired system or go with a new wireless solution? Melody Bakeeff, vice president of marketing for In Control Technologies, says builders should opt for a wired "future-proof" system.

"Wired systems are the most reliable in relation to signal-response," Bakeeff says.

"Many people have trouble just with wireless Internet. Compound that with trying to control lights or other functions in the home and it can be quite frustrating."

The Consumer Electronics Association study also concluded that after-market multi-room audio/video solutions are capturing a large portion of the home entertainment marketplace. Sixty-three percent of systems were installed after the home was built. The majority of homeowners added stand-alone, after-market solutions with multi-room audio stations.

George Ide at Digital Interiors in Atlanta says a wireless system has its place because it has the advantage of mobility and is easy to retrofit. "While we complain about dropped calls on our cell phone, what would we do without them?" he says. "Wi-Fi in a home is invaluable to allow the resident to sit by the pool and access the Internet from their laptop. A wireless remote for the entertainment system makes it very convenient to use."

Pros and cons

The biggest downside of a wired system is poor design, says Ide. He's seen many homes where the builders used their electrician to run low-voltage wiring, such as outdoor speakers and even cable/telephone locations. "I can't tell you the number of speakers I've seen placed where the sound will be directly impacted by a ceiling fan," he says, noting that although wireless systems may be convenient for retrofitting, they can still suffer from installation issues.

Aaron Gutin, national sales director for Access Networks, says most of the solutions work off either a hub or the signal is "daisy-chained" and passed-on from one piece of equipment to the other. "So if you don't have a substantial enough amount of equipment, the signal can become weak and the response times are significantly slowed, or potential devices might not work at all, due to the spacing," Gutin says.

Just make sure it works

Simplicity is the bottom line, says Laura N. Hubbard, manager of communications for the Consumer Electronics Association.

Bill Jeppsen, public relations manager for Ruckus Wireless, agrees: "So, while we are biased for a wireless solution, we're grounded in reality. There are serious cost and practicality issues. Each and every situation is different."

 

Fast Facts

The main reason homeowners specify a multi-room audio video system is to enhance their home entertainment experience (63%) enjoy listening (61%) and entertain. (48%)

85% of homeowners who own such as system are so satisfied with their experience they would once again install a system in a new home. Multi-room audio video systems allow homeowners to play and control audio/video distributed from a centralized system to at least three different rooms of the home.

Source: Consumer Electronics Association's "Trends in Multi-room Audio Video Usage"

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