Description: These are things you need to take into account when looking for a home theater system that matches a smart home.
If you have invested in creating a smart home and you are looking for a new home theater system, it only makes sense choosing a smart theater system or at least find one that can be integrated with your smart home system. It’s not necessary to go for expensive high-end products. Consider the following tips as you examine your options.
- Determine what you need and want in a home theater system.
Before you worry about making sure that your home theater works well with your smart home, you need to make sure that what you are getting provides the kind of home theater experience you desire. You need to be clear on what your requirements and preferences are. Do you need a smart TV or is your old TV good enough? Do you need a Blu-Ray player or do you already have an Xbox or PlayStation to serve as your Blu-Ray player? How loud do you want the speakers to be? Do you want a 5.1 or a 7.1 channel system? Do you want a setup with upward-beaming speakers? Carefully examine what you need and want for your home theater system.
It would be great if you have an actual experience with a home theater system so you would have an idea of what you really want. While it helps reading reviews and recommendations of the home theater systems you can find in the market, it’s better if you get to listen to the actual sounds they produce and experience how it is to use them. You can’t properly make comparisons if you don’t have personal experience with home theater systems.
- Emphasize the need to be “smart.”
The general idea of a smart home is having utilities, appliances, and electronic devices that can be controlled via a computer or smartphone or automated. As such, the home theater system you should get must be compatible with computer/mobile control or automation. This does not mean you have to get speakers that can be individually remotely controlled, programmed, or connected to your smartphone or computer. You just need a home theater receiver that enables connection, wired or wireless, to your smart devices.
Many home theater systems from different brands come with smart receivers or “smart hubs.” I have reviewed a few of them on my blog Techi Signals. There’s one high-end 7.1 channel home theater system from Samsung, for example, that comes with a “Smart Hub” which is capable of accessing popular streaming services such as YouTube and Netflix.
If you are getting a home theater system package that includes a TV, it would be preferable to get one with a smart TV unless the receiver is already a “smart” receiver. A smart receiver can instantly turn an ordinary compatible TV into a smart TV. Similarly, a smart receiver can make your ordinary projector smart as long as it comes with the right ports or wireless connection options.
- Pay attention to connectivity.
Your home theater system should come with all the connectivity options expected in smart devices. These should include both wired and wireless connections. For wired connectivity, it would be great to have most of the following: standard audio jack, USB ports, HDMI ports, a VGA port, and optical or coaxial audio connections. Having more connection options is always better. Even if you don’t always use these wired ports, they can still provide benefits later on. There may be instances when you need other devices that use specific ports.
On the other hand, for wireless connectivity, it’s important to have the latest generation of Bluetooth and WiFi. It’s particularly necessary to have the most recent Bluetooth version (3.0 or 4.0) if you are going to play high quality music since the connections should be fast and strong. It can also be an advantage if you have NFC for your home theater. NFC makes it easier and faster to use your home theater system’s speakers for other smart devices such as your tablet or smartphone. When properly set up, you just have tap your mobile device with the home theater system and you can start playing music using your high quality speakers.
- Ensure compatibility.
The home theater system you consider getting should be compatible with the smart home system platform you are using. Refer to smart home product compatibility resources online or ask the vendor about the compatibility of the product you intend to buy. Bear in mind that not all devices can work with the different smart home platforms such as Amazon’s Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Belkin WeMo, Google Assistant, Lutron, Nest, Samsung SmartThings, or the Wink Hub. If you are using Alexa, for example, your options may be limited to Logitech, Broadlink, and Sony.
- Look for something easy to configure and integrate.
It’s also important to make sure that the home theater system you are using is easy to configure and integrate with the rest of your smart devices. As much as possible, you should be able to do the configuration and integration on your own. Going back to the example above (having Alexa), your most suitable option is probably going to be a Logitech home theater system (one with the “Logitech Harmony Hub”). BroadLink’s system is little more complicated whereas the Logitech Harmony Hub is somewhat easier to configure and faster to integrate with Alexa.
Harmony Hub comes with the ability to create “Harmony Activities,” something that can be activated by Alexa. You can then access the Harmony Hub through Alexa to do things like turning down the volume, tuning in to a certain channel, or fast-forwarding the DVD being played. For more information about other home theater systems that can be controlled by Alexa, visit this page. If you are using other platforms, you should be able to quickly find recommendations on the right home theater system to get by doing a quick online search.
Finding the home theater system that works with your smart home is not really a difficult process. You just need to make sure that the home theater system you are buying has all the right connectivity options, is compatible with your smart home platform, and is easy to configure and use. Of course, you also need to make sure that it’s the product you want and need. It has to deliver the right quality, dependability, and features.