January is the perfect month to optimize your Home Theatre Smart Home Tech. The NHL and NBA round the halfway mark leading into their All Star games and the NFL playoffs begin. MLB, MLS and Formula One are a month away, and of course, big UFC and WWE events are coming up too. I do also have to sneak in that as a cricket fan, the Big Bash League is in full swing in January with the Australian summer. With that in mind, it’s time to take a look at how you can turn your regular living room into a smart one.
Your Home Theatre Smart Home begins with your TV
Naturally, all roads lead to what you will be fixing your eyes on the most: Your TV. 4K TVs are more affordable than ever nowadays, costing less than even LCD and Plasma TVs cost at this time a decade ago. Stunning colours and high resolution make for the perfect sports watching experience. Samsung and Toshiba both do a really good job of incorporating smart elements and their own spin on different apps to make your TVs a more comprehensive experience. Samsung’s Tizen Smart TVs come with numerous video apps as well as a way to connect online and check social media feeds without reaching for your PC or phone too. All this while providing 4K Ultra HD with 3840 x 2160 native resolution (4x the resolution of 1080p HD) and the ability to connect to other nearby smart devices from the remote. If the TV comes with Bixby, you’ll also have the ability to command the TV with your voice.
Toshiba’s 4K UHD TVs come with Amazon Fire Integration, meaning that in addition to native access to Prime Video and a whole suite of other video apps, it has full Alexa integration. The TV comes with a voice remote for this purpose and you’ll view your favourite sports with an output of over 8 million pixels.
LG and Sharp are also in the Smart TV game, and you might find some of their offerings more to your liking. Check out the full range of 4K Smart TVs available right now! One additional research point that you may want to consider is whether they have built in support for sports’ major streaming services or the ever growing DAZN. Distribution for things like NFL Sunday Ticket and the WWE Network are different in Canada than the US (where you have to get subscriptions through an existing service provider) but it’s worth seeing if your TV can support it directly without streaming from another device. Make sure you contact your cable provider as well to ensure that you get all of the sports channels you need in 4K too.
Your Home Theatre Smart Home continues with sound
A TV’s native speakers are one thing, but there’s no better immersion in sound than something that makes you feel every roar, cheer, and tackle. I’ve always been a big fan of soundbars, and smart homes are too! In fact, there are even smart soundbars you can choose from nowadays.
Bose has really gotten serious about smart speakers, with some of their recent systems including Alexa onboard. The Bose Soundbar 700 (also available in white) sits in front of your TV and gives you a fully customizable listening experience. With full voice capability (including 8 microphones inside to pick you up from wherever in the room you’re speaking to it,) and decades of Bose sound engineering experience behind it, Bose Soundbar 700 all but puts you in the stadium next to the rest of the fans. It doesn’t just end with the soundbar either. Bose wanted to create a flexible system that you could add to, and not just in your living room. Compatible Bose surround sound speakers or a bass module can be added into your sound system as time goes on and placed in different rooms so that you (or your guests) don’t miss a moment of action if they step into the kitchen.
Not to be outdone, Sonos has smart speakers you can choose from too. In fact, Sonos has a full package available. The Sonos SUB Wireless Subwoofer, Beam Sound Bar & 2 Sonos One Smart Speakers (also available in white) bring all of the elements I mentioned above together in one package and also have full Alexa capabilities. Sonos in general have usually had great multi-room audio capabilities. With the right Sonos setup, you can connect up to 32 speakers around your house to provide a solid wall of audio around your home for all of your guests, even if they step outside for some fresh air.
Where does lighting come in with your Home Theatre Smart Home?
While your audio and video are probably the star of your Smart Home show, don’t forget about the lights and what the right lighting will get you. There are a couple of different options to think about when exploring smart lighting.
The first is light bulbs themselves. You can set smart lighting around your home and control them through your smartphone or another supported device (like the Logitech Harmony Ultimate remote if the lights Work with Nest) to set the perfect pre-set dims when it’s game time. Unfortunately, ESPN recently discontinued applet support, which means that you can no longer use IFTTT-supported smart lighting to do things like flash the lights in your home when your team scores or wins. I’ve spoken about this feature in past blogs, but it’s no longer a thing as of November of last year.
The second is a fairly new and imaginative way to incorporate lighting into your viewing experience. Philips has recently started looking at ways to enhance what you watch using Hue lights. Using the Hue Bridge (which can connect up to 50 lights at once) and supported products, you can turn your living room into a visual treat. Take the Philips Hue Play Light Bar for example. The Play Light Bar is a series of lights that react and sync to what you’re watching on-screen, including sports. You simply connect it, use the Hue app to set the relative positions in the room and then sit back and enjoy. The whole concept is fairly new, however, and currently only reacts through the use of what’s being streamed from a computer. While time will tell how quickly Smart TVs are able to support this feature, it’s still a treat for those of us (like me) who have cut cable and rely a lot on streaming services for sports. I have my eye on Play Light Bar and Hue Entertainment in general for the upcoming Indian Premier League cricket season this Spring.
You may have the start of a Sports ready Smart Living Room at home already!
Don’t forget that if you already have a voice assistant at home in your living room, you’ve already got a pretty good start on things. Numerous sports radio stations around Canada have integration on different voice assistants. My go to station (TSN 1040 in Vancouver) reminds you at least 3 or 4 times each hour that the station has Alexa capabilities. In fact, all of the major sports networks are connected to voice assistants in some way, allowing you to listen live or even capture fast briefings of scores of all of the games in action.
That’s just a few ways how you can connect up your living room and turn it into a fully fledged Home Theatre Smart Home. What have you done this month to help set up for all of the exciting sporting events upcoming?