CNET's quick guide to home integration
By Ben PattersonPicture this: You've just come home from a long day at work. You type your security code and open the front door. As you walk into your house, the lights come on, your favorite music plays from in-wall speakers, and the thermostat bumps up a few degrees. You stroll into the kitchen, make yourself a drink, and walk into the living room. As you do, the lights and the music follow you into the room. You kick your feet up on the coffee table and press a few buttons on your universal remote. Suddenly, the curtains close, the lights fade, and the plasma display on the wall snaps on: time for Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.
(October 1, 2004)
Welcome to today's digital home. As you're probably aware, more and more home builders, contractors, and designers are trained in the art of home integration--that is, incorporating technology into your new house or adding it to an old one. For the price of remodeling your kitchen, you could add a state-of-the-art home theater, have music piped into every room, and install a setup that allows you to monitor your home while you're away. Up the ante, and you can fully automate your heating and air conditioning system. Better yet, if you're starting from scratch, your contractor and designer can help you bake all these elements--audio, video, security, PC networking, and heating control--into your new home, all under a single integrated master system.
Of course, not everyone is working from the same budget or has quite the same digital home aspirations. But whatever your ambitions are, CNET's Home Integrator Directory will help you find qualified design and tech professionals in your area. Read on for more details on the types of technology you can add to your home, along with explanations of the services home integrators and other consultants offer. Plus, we'll give you the skinny on what certifications to look for and what they mean.
AREAS OF EXPERTISE: 10 specific areas in your home where integrators can help
CERTIFICATIONS: The qualifications and credentials your home integrator needs to have
WHITE PAPER: Advancing the market for home technology integrators
Ben Patterson is a frequent contributor to CNET Reviews.