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A Home Automation System

 The desire to have home automation is often a complex decision for any homeowner. Some may want their home to showcase exceptional technology or to entertain guests. While others may want a powerful experience that helps to ease the actions of their everyday lives. However, most commonly, users of home automation systems want one thing: to feel safe and secure in their homes.

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Some Spring Cleaning Tips for your Security System!

Spring has sprung and we could not be more excited for warmer temperatures and longer days. For many homeowners, the changing season means spring cleaning time. Just like your kitchen and closet could use a good scrub down, your security system could use some attention as well. Here are some tips to keep your system functioning at its best:

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Media Rooms

Media rooms and home theaters are an increasingly popular feature within a home. Two major benefits are that they boost a home's entertainment value as well as its potential resale value. A media room is designed to be a multifunctional space, and most media rooms are an upstairs family room or the basement man cave. What is great about a media room is that it is a wonderful way to spend time with your friends and family and yet showcase what your home can do. Between audio, video, and possibly having some home automation in the mix can create a fantastic entertainment area.

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Keep Your Home Safe While Away

Keeping you and your family safe is always your number one priority, but keeping your home safe should be a big deal, too.

With schools now getting out for the summer, those fun filled weekend trips, and family vacations to the beach on the horizon; we want to take a moment to tell you some tips about how to protect your home from potential burglars while you are away.

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Light Up Your Outdoor Living Space

School is out, BBQ get-togethers are planned, and flower beds are looking great. Now all there is to do is make sure your outdoor living space is ready for those warm summer days and nights with some tech savvy upgrades. Besides having some great tunes playing through your audio system, or having your own outdoor home theater, have you thought about your outdoor lighting display?

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Father's Day

This upcoming Sunday, June 21st is Father's Day, and we all want to treat our dads to the best. So why not give him a little more than just a card and nice tie. Give him something that he will love and use daily!

Below are some of the best gadgets on the market:

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Lighting Control

Are you looking for a convenient solution for your home's lighting control needs? It is easier now than ever. As your needs change throughout the day, your lighting should adapt to fit the circumstances. A good lighting system provides energy management, architectural enhancement, safety/security, and the ability to "paint" with lighting.

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Feel The Power of the Curve!

The Curved Screen surrounds viewers with immersive visuals, drawing you into the action and offering a better sense of depth with greater contrast. It has an Auto depth enhancer & the PURCOLOR setting which expresses more detailed shades of color. Another feature is the UHD Up-Scaling that Up scales any lower resolution content closer to UHD picture quality.  With several size options to choose from ranging 40-78”, It also allows for a greater viewing angle and better side viewing.

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"All about dat bass, bout dat bass!"

Speakers are actually relatively simple devices. You should understand at least the basics of how speakers work before incorporating them. Basically, you have an enclosure (typically a box) into which speaker drivers are attached. The drivers are the round elements that many people call the speakers (they’re not). Speaker drivers look like cones or horns (or even ribbons or domes), and in fact, the large surface area of the drivers is called the cone or diaphragm.These surfaces move back and forth to make the sound. If you have ever pulled the front screen off your speakers or have seen speakers without their front grille on, you’ve seen speaker drivers au naturelle.

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Digital Signage

Digital signage is an effective, user-friendly and proven means of delivering dynamic messages to the right targets at chosen locations. Bring life to your promotional displays with eye-catching and interactive displays. Ideal for hospitality, casinos, retail, transportation hubs, entertainment, and many other venues, users have the ability to manage their own digital signage network across any number of locations, resulting in more captivated and engaged customers. 

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Summer Safety Tips

We have always heard the saying, “It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity!” Well it is actually both, and since this past Saturday, June 21st was the day that Summer truly began- here at iSS we just want to take a moment to talk about some safety tips to beat the heat this year.

First safety tip is to think about you. Sometimes the best and simplest tip if it is too hot outside is to stay cool inside. Spending time in an air conditioned space for a couple of  hours can significantly reduce the risk of heat-related illness. Just remember electric fans do not cool, they just blow hot air around. If you are going to be outside, remember to dress for the heat. Wear loose-fitting, light-weight, light colored clothing can reflect heat and sunlight and help maintain body temperature.

Always wear sunscreen and try to protect your face  and head by wearing a hat. Also, drink for the heat and not drink in the heat. I know the BBQ’s and pool parties are going on during this time of the year, but by drinking plenty of water even if you do not feel thirsty can help your body retain some of your body fluids. By drinking in the heat, alcohol and caffeinated beverages can further dehydrate the body. Lastly, the best times for outdoor activities are during the early morning and late evening hours.

Second safety tip is to think about others. Of course this is a no-brainer, but please do not leave children in a closed vehicle even for a few minutes. Temperatures inside a closed vehicle can reach up to 190 degrees! When outdoors, protect children as much as possible from the sun. Their skin is more sensitive than ours. Also, protect your pets from the heat. It ‘feels’ as hot for them as it does for you. Be sure your animals have access to shade a few bowls of ice cold water.

Third safety tip is to think about your environment. Protecting windows by hanging shades, awnings, draperies, etc. that receives morning or afternoon sun can reduce heat entering the house by as much as 80%. Also try to keep lights off and the air conditioning to one cool temperature. This helps to not constantly turn the A/C unit up and down or completely off causing it to freeze up on you.

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Taste the 4k TV Experience

 

4k TV is the future of television. We're here to explain what it is and why it will replace your HD TV one day.

First, what does 4k mean?  PC Mag says that 4k, "Refers to approximately 4,000 pixels of horizontal and 2,000 pixels of vertical resolution used in several digital formats for shooting high-quality video and scanning 35 mm frames. The 4K refers to horizontal resolution in contrast to standard digital TV resolutions, which are stated in vertical lines. "

So, how does that technology compare to the norm? Christina Bonnington of Wired.com writes,  "Previously the stuff of high-end projector, [now makes] inroads into televisions of late." She also cites YouTube videos to give you a taste of the 4k experience.

If the resolution wow factor isn't enough to turn your head, then note that Sony's 4k boasts  "virtual" 5.1 surround sound on a detachable 10-speaker system. Built-in wifi supports your every Pandora and Netflix whim. Oh, and 3-D is included on the 85" screen.

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The Benefits of using One Company for Custom Home Installations

With so many different companies offering security systems, home automation, sound, lighting control, and custom home theaters...it can all be a little overwhelming when you begin your search for an installer.

You may have found someone to do the audio, but you still need someone to do security cameras. Or maybe you found a company that does media rooms, but you still need to get a fire protection system. You will probably feel like you are getting pulled in so many directions that you will want to abandon your projects altogether.

Fortunately, by selecting one company that is licensed and trained to do all of the above home upgrades, you will be saving yourself time, money, and lots of headaches for several reasons.

Time

In this day and age time really is a precious resource. When you choose one company that is experienced in all aspects of audio, sound, lighting, and security; then the help you need is only one call away. You also only have to worry about setting up one appointment.

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The iSS Holiday Gift Guide

It's hard to believe, but the holidays have arrived! We know how busy this time of the year can be and how finding the perfect gift for everyone on your list can be more challenging than Frodo's quest in The Lord of the Rings. Lucky for you we've compiled the perfect gift guide with all of favorites that can accommodate anyone on your list.

TV: Samsung UN65F9000 65" Class LED 4K Ultra HD TV $7,499.99

Ok, who wouldn't want a new TV for Christmas? This one just so happens to be the crème de la crème currently on the market. Give the gift of breathtaking resolution and the industry's most capable Smart TV this holiday season.

Wireless Audio System: SONOS Play:1 Gift Pack $199

This little guy is small, but we promise it packs a punch. The Play:1 gift pack includes a free SONOS BRIDGE that allows the Play:1 to go anywhere and work wirelessly. Stream your entire music library or favorite online radio service. They are also really easy to set-up so you can be streaming music in no time.


Headphones: Denon AH-NC600 Noise Cancelling In-Ear Headphones

Great headphones are always a solid gift option, but we love that these are in-ear and noise cancelling. Their small design delivers the same great listening experience as larger over-ear styles, but without the bulk. Plus, they are great for traveling or the gym.

Tablet: Surface Pro 2 $899.99

We love this tablet and we think anyone on your list would too. It has the heart of a computer, but the body of a tablet making it the most functional tablet option on the market. The Surface Pro 2 brings the best of both worlds by combining a 2 in 1 PC. Plus, it works great with the new Xbox One!


Soundbar: Niles Cynema Soundfield Soundbar $1,599 to $1,999

This soundbar because it provides room-filling sound without all the clutter. It installs flush with the wall and the low profile grille can be painted to match the color of any room. Pick from 48", 55" or 65" to best fit the size of the existing TV.

Camcorder: GoPro $199 to $399

The GoPro would make anyone on your list completely stoked. Several different camera options allow you to get exactly what you need and a variety of accessories enable this camera to go on any adventure. Quickly share them with friends and family with the GoPro app.

E-Reader: Kindle Paperwhite 3G $189.00

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Tips to Prevent Frozen Pipes

With temps hitting record lows, it's as important as ever to prevent your home from frozen pipes. When water freezes in pipes, it expands causing the pipe to bust. Then you have a major situation on your hands as the water thaws and flows freely into your home. Because we don't want you to have to go chasing waterfalls in your living room, we came up with 5 quick tips to help prevent frozen pipes.

  1. Check where your pipes are. You want to make sure they aren't exposed to cold air and if they are, they need to be insulated. Pipe sleeves provide much needed insulation for pipes in drafty areas.
  2. Leave a steady stream of water dripping in a kitchen or bathroom sink. It doesn't have to be a ton of water, but just enough to keep things moving. The cost of leaving a sink dripping is far less than the mess of a flooded house.
  3. Leave cabinet doors open to allow warm inside air to circulate around pipes. Keep garage doors closed to ensure pipes aren't exposed to freezing temperatures.
  4. Don't drastically adjust your thermostat throughout the day and night. By maintaining a steady temperature, you reduce your chances of a frozen pipe.
  5. Know where your water cut off valves are located. If you don't have one inside your house, then make sure you know where the water main is outside. If you have a leak, your #1 priority is shutting off the water.

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Plugging the Drain on Your Savings

Did You Know?

"There are property insurance claims due to damage by water leakage, temperature extremes, improper humidity and power failure annually than burglary of fire."

According to the Insurance Institute, claims from enviromental damage total more than $4 billion dollars per year in the U.S., with the average loss claim being $3,000.

So, how can you protect your home? The answer: By integrating HAI and Winland technologies.

HAI systems can be installed in new or existing structures and may be accessed and controlled over the telephone or the internet. This technology gives you the power to remotely monitor your home and vacation getaway. The HAI monitoring systems work in accord with Winland sensors to prevent costly damage to any location.

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PS4 Vs. Xbox One

November is a special time of the year. It's a time to all gather around with family and friends to give thanks alongside a beautiful meal. This November, however, it's about other things. Other things that have been the buzz for some time now. I've heard it in multiple conversations just in passing. It's usually something like this: "No man, PlayStation 4 blows Xbox One out of the water" or, "Xbox One has Halo AND Dead Rising 3!" Regardless on your stance (which I've encountered is like asking someone if they vote Democrat or Republican) I thought I would bring you the specs from a completely unbiased standpoint and let you decide.

Let's just get down to business from the get-go and talk price. PlayStation 4, which released November 15, comes in at $399.99. Xbox One, which hits shelves November 22, is yours for the price of $499.99. Now some of you may say the PlayStation 4 is a given because of the lower price, but let's dig into the specs before you make an drastic decisions and add it to your Christmas wish list.

As far as processors go, the PlayStation 4 features the 8-core x86-64 AMD "Jaguar" CPU and the Xbox one boasts the 8-core AMD custom Microsoft CPU. While it's hard to say with one is actually "faster" you can definitely bet that graphics will remain pretty neck and neck (and awesome).

Worried about storage on your gaming console? Both are equipped with 8 GB RAM and a 500 GB of hard drive space. If that's not enough, both have options to support USB 3.0 external storage. This is great news for users that want to install all their games directly onto the device without worrying about getting tight on space.

Loved the last model of the controllers on your system? Well both models are rolling out with minor changes. Xbox One controllers feature force feedback in its triggers. This is an added bonus for first-person shooters. The PlayStation 4 unveiled the Dualshock 4 which features a touchpad that adds a new way to control games. It also integrates a headset jack and speaker into the control. A share button allows users to record or stream their games.

If you're looking forward to the camera feature then you'll have to stay tuned for the PlayStation Eye, which won't be included with the PlayStation 4 console. The PlayStation Eye will offer motion control and video chat, but is an added accessory that costs $59.99. The Xbox One Kinect camera comes included with the initial purchase and features a 1080p camera with active infrared. Kinect also allows for upgraded voice control, Skype, and gesture control.

So what about games? To me that seems like a huge deciding factor. The PlayStation 4 selections include Driveclub, Knack, InFamous: Second Son, Killzone: Shadow Fall, Resogun, Shadow of the Beast, The Order: 1886, and Deep Down. Xbox One boasts Dead Rising 3, Halo 5, Titanfall, Killer Instinct, Quantaum Break, Project Spark, Forza Motorsport 5, Sunset Overdrive, and Ryse: Son of Rome. To PlayStation 4's 16 games at launch, Xbox One is countering with 23.

If you're looking for added media features rest assured both consoles have the ability to play Blu-ray discs, stream Netlix, and a library of movies to rent or buy. Xbox One goes even further, however, by allowing users to have their own program guide that works with existing cable providers. This allows the Xbox One to control your cable box, which means you can then change channels with voice commands or browse Xbox One's recommendations.

Odds are you already had an opinion as to which system reigns supreme, but if not hopefully this article helped you along the way of your decision making process. Not sold on either? Hey, no worries friends. PC gamming is still a great option if neither system appeals to you!


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Securing the Exterior of your Home

When you hear 'home security' what comes to mind? Security systems designed just for the interior of a home? While a security system can do a lot to keep intruders out, the right outdoor lighting can do a lot to keep problems from arising in the first place.

Lighting is a homeowner’s best friend when it comes to protecting home and property. Burglars love the darkness and feed on creeping around in the shadows. A poorly lit home reads like an invitation for them to commit a robbery. There is no such thing as having too much lighting inside and outside your home.

Strategically placing outdoor lights can deter potential intruders. Criminals do not want to be identified which is why they target property that offers them the most protection from neighbors and passersby.

Here are 5 tips to consider when securing your exterior:

1. Install motion sensors

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Security Systems

 

The term "security system" means many different things to many different people - a family pet, a shot gun, even Legos scattered on the floor. If you recognize your definition in the aforementioned, then it is time to ask yourself a very important question. Can you trust your family and your possessions to nontraditional forms of security?

According to the FBI data for 2010, our country experienced 2,159,878 burglaries. Victims of burglary offenses suffered an estimated $4.6 billion in lost property in 2010; overall, the average dollar loss per burglary offense was $2,119

No family would welcome such a frustrating and scary offense; and no family has to.

Security systems of today are relatively inexpensive and have a multitude of uses. Not only can law enforcement be dispatched quickly, security systems can capture imperative evidence on film for prosecutions. Plus, they make your life easier. Most burglaries are unlawful entries (without force) that happen during the day. Simply put, people tend to forget to lock their doors or do not have window sensors. But what if you could lock your home on the go with your cell phone? You can? What if you were immediately notified when a window broke or became ajar? You can. What if the cost was less than what you spend on gas in a week? It is.

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Shade Control

Surely your shades are getting a lot of use this summer. Shade control is a very necessary and very dull aspect of owning a home, or at least until now. Lutron's plethora of shade control options speak to everyone with their beautiful designs and smart operation. Not only will you be pleased with how they function, but you might even enjoy selecting the perfect pick for your home. Here's why:

Multiple Style Options

Choose from Venetian blinds, Roman shades, roller shades, drapery, vertical drapery, cellular, and skylight shades in a variety of colors, patterns, and materials.

Safety Features

Cord-free design provides a clean look that is safe for children.

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