Gift Guide: Deck the halls with high-end technological gadgets
Special to the Free Press
The electronics industry’s constant upgrades make new technology toys appealing every holiday season, and this year is no exception.
“There is always so much cool stuff in electronics,” said Colin Scollard, co-owner of Mountain MultiVision & Sound on Main Street in Breckenridge.
Scollard’s company sells electronics of all kinds, but it also works as a custom integrator. Mountain MultiVision connects electronics in a home — TVs, stereo systems, thermostats, window blinds, security cameras and more — all from a touchscreen.
“We make it to where any member of the family can operate what they want to,” he said.
While technology for all these products will inevitably evolve, here are some of Scollard’s recommendations for what’s hot this holiday season.
FOR THE AUDIOPHILE
• Bose SoundLink Color Speakers ($129.95) — These Bluetooth speakers play music through a wireless connection. They can play up to eight hours of music from a rechargeable lithium-ion battery.
• Bose QuietComfort 25 Noise Canceling Headphones ($299.95) — Music stays in and external noise stays out with these headphones, all while keeping a deep, powerful sound. The headphones come in black or white or can be personally customized.
• Bose SoundLink Mini Bluetooth Speaker ($199.95) — Play music anywhere with this compact speaker. It connects wirelessly to a smartphone, tablet or other Bluetooth device.
• Bose SoundSport In-Ear Headphones iOS Models ($149.95) — These ear buds are sweat resistant and are designed to stay in place during rigorous exercise sessions. Control the volume, skip tracks and take calls with an inline microphone/remote.
• McIntosh MHP1000 Headphones ($2,000) — With a leather headband and ear pads, these headphones have two detachable cables included, both with gold-plated, custom-designed stereo connectors.
“We are selling $200 to $300 headphones, but what I really like are the McIntosh headphones,” he said. “They have barely just hit the market and are a luxury item but are very, very cool.”
• McIntosh MHA100 Headphone Amp ($4,500) — This is the first dedicated amplifier from McIntosh. It has the technology to produce three headphone impedance (inductive and capacitive reactance) ranges of 8 to 10, 40 to 150 and 150 to 600 ohms (a unit of electrical resistance) for top-quality sound.
• McIntosh MT5 Turntable ($6,500) — This turntable comes with a high-performance platter and motor drive assembly, a precision tone arm and a high-output coil cartridge, compatible with moving magnetic inputs. The platter produces a unique green glow.
• Sony HAP-Z1ES Hi-Res Audio Music Player ($1,999.99) — This system includes a hard drive for music storage and playback and built in Wi-Fi for music transfer and application control.
“You’re going to start hearing a lot of talk about Hi-Res Audio because there is a whole new surge in popularity of vinyls and turntables,” Scollard said.
• Sonus Faber Olympica III Speakers ($13,500) — These high-end speakers are characterized with natural walnut wood. The top of the system and its front baffle are covered in natural leather.
• Crestron Pyng Home Control App ($499) — This application can be used from an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch to control lighting, shades, thermostats, door locks and security systems in a home.
• Lutron Serena Honeycomb and Roller shades (starting at $400 per window; size and fabric change price) — Even entry-level window blinds have gotten really good, Scollard said.
“They are affordable and very energy efficient,” he said. “If you close your shades at night, you can keep heat in, and you can protect your floors and furnishings from fading during the day.”
INTEGRATE YOUR HOME
Scollard said home electronic integration technology is getting more affordable, so more and more people are able to do it.
“Now, it’s really getting down to where you’re simplifying the whole thing,” he said. “You’re running your whole house off of one application that runs all the other applications — it just makes it all in one place, and you can go to that and do everything.”
David Raife is a founder and principle at VIA International. The company is the largest home technology integration firm in the United States, and its locations in mountain areas such as Aspen, Vail, Telluride and beyond have introduced the idea of bringing a “digital concierge” into homes.
Electronic integration projects are divided into three tiers at VIA, each representing a price range and system dynamic. The first tier is an app-based approach, which focuses on simplicity. Apps on your smart phone or tablet are connected to home technology controls, including music selections, temperature control, lighting adjustments, TV channel changes and more.
“It’s a pretty simple approach and very cost effective,” Raife said, “and it’s still really fun and easy to use.”
This style of project generally starts at around $10,000 (depending on the size of the home and integrated system), and Raife explained how the higher end of this tier could be an investment of as much as $250,000.
The next level, known simply as an integrated system, uses a main control system and the Savant application in docks embedded throughout the home or portable tablets such as iPads. Once the systems are integrated to control a home’s climate, lighting, entertainment and security systems, for example, there are scenes that users can set to be revisited. Set a “post-work winter” scene to turn on soft lighting, fireplaces and piano serenades through an entire home or just in the living room. Then, you can save the scene and name it, too.
“You can do all of this remotely or on site,” Raife said. “So if you left your house and you think you left a light on somewhere, you can go to the app and see the status.”
This second-level system level generally costs between $75,000 and $500,000. Another step up means the same integrated, one-app approach but with more high-performance hardware.
For $500,000 up to seven figures, a home with the best of the best could have systems such as Steinway audio and a completely custom private home cinema. This approach will still use a one-app control system, but just like taking out the stock parts of a car to replace them with higher end parts, clients can outfit their home with the top tier of electronic products and then control them all with the touch of a screen.
“The guys on our staff bring every last bit of the system together,” Raife said. “They help clients figure out how the apps work to get the system to perform the way they want, and they help to set the programming for automated scenes and help to set up movie and music libraries.”
Since anything electronic seems to come with a level of error (or confusion), VIA’s “white glove service” is available 24 hours a day, so clients are never left in the dark. Raife calls VIA the “Ritz Carlton of technology,” bringing your home a little more luxury via technology.
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