SONOS: New Kid on the Whole Home Audio Block

By: Michael Manouel, Jr., Social Media

What’s a Sonos?

SONOS is a company you might have heard a few things about. They’ve been making waves in the home automation industry with their steadfast mission to provide whole home audio, in the form of their wireless Hi-Fi line of premiere speakers, Playbars (or soundbars), and subwoofers to the everyday homeowner. And they’re making good on that promise too.

Out With The Old, in With the New

Honest Install Sonos App
Sonos App Viewed On An iPad

When Sonos means ‘wireless,’ they connected to the internet in such a way that an app on a smart phone or a tablet becomes your audio controller, and you can have many of them integrated onto the same network. This means the day is done for invasive, fully-drilled-and-wired, expensive types of distributed audio installations of old, with disparate parts of a speaker system here, a receiver there, a CD player here—and best of all no ‘head unit’ or control pad. In this case, you would have had to actually get up and walk to the unit to turn up-or-down the surround sound while watching a movie in your home theater or to play a different song in the family room.

What Makes Sonos The Grooviest Home Audio System?

Sonos Products Lineup Honest Install, Dallas TX
The Sonos Family of Hi-Fi Audio Products

Sonos works with your typical home internet router, creating its own wireless mesh network (basically, its own compartment within your Wi-Fi, so there’s no bogging or slowing down your internet connection) to blanket your entire home—with each room having its own audio ‘zone’—in the golden sounds of internet radio (Pandora, Spotify, Google Play, Sirius XM, Beats Music, Rhapsody, etc.), your own carefully and painstakingly-arranged (and totally perfect) collection of songs on iTunes, or literally any wireless radio station in the world.

Sonos App Android Media Room Honest Install Dallas, TX
Set Your Sonos Zone On Your iPhone (or Android)

A Sonos ‘zone’ is set-up to be infinitely-customizable, so every room in your home can have a different audio setting and play various pieces of music all at the same time: a movie’s soundtrack in your son’s room, a party-mix for the Saturday night BBQ out back, your daughter’s favorite music in the living room—the free, proprietary app will allow you to control all these scenes at once, all from the palm of your hand. Sonos’ learning app will even memorize and index all songs from your home music library. It can also be integrated with a turntable, CD-player, iPod, or an analog music player to boost them to the best sound possible. And while Sonos still may be the new-kid-on-the-block, they are a new and elegant breath of fresh air to the formerly-stodgy whole home audio business.

Honest Install carries the entire line of Sonos products, call now to receive a free-consultation for your D/FW home today, 972-470-3528.


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Photo credit: Sonos

Three Misconceptions about Mounting Your TV Above the Fireplace

By: Michael Manouel Jr., Social Media

Debunked: The Fireplace TV Experts Tell-All

You might have heard that home fireplace TV installations have been given a bad rap. But if you’re considering mounting a flat panel on your fireplace, don’t worry: in the hands of a custom engineering A/V installer, these false claims fall flat.

Rock Fireplace TV Install Dallas, TX
Staggered Rock Fireplace TV Install — Home In Dallas, TX

Unlock Your Untapped Living Room Real Estate With A Fireplace TV Installation

Not only are they the most aesthetically-pleasing, stylish, and outright gorgeous of mounting spaces, they are some of the most structurally sound of large electronics installations as well. Sometimes the layout of a home will feature the fireplace as the centerpiece in a living room or great room–mounting your TV to the fireplace can free up some extra space for other pieces, while also not requiring you to rearrange the present design of the room.

Marble Fireplace TV Installation Dallas, TX
Marble Fireplace TV & Soundbar Install — Residence in Dallas, TX

The Three Common Myths About Fireplace TV Installations

  1. There’s no way to run electricity to the TV at all, or at least not without visible wires.
  1. The angle of an LCD TV against the fireplace will strain your neck and the brightness of the bulbs behind the TV will show through the screen.
  1. The heat or smoke from the fireplace burning will detrimentally affect the bottom edge or internals of the TV mounted above the mantel on a stone or brick fireplace.

No Truth in Myths: Each Claim Explained

  • Prewiring or outlet relocation is a simple process. If you have a newer home, your fireplace is most likely already prewired for electrical and coax, and even if you do not have a prewired fireplace, the ability to become properly wired is an easy, quick, and safe process for a professional custom electronics (CE) installer to do.
  • Swivel brackets tilt both on a Y and X axis—that means no glare or sore neck. The use of an affordable, commercial grade full motion arm or “swivel” bracket to hold the flat screen will allow you to alter the angle and the axis of the flat screen for optimal viewing. No craning or cramping your neck!
  • Ever touched the top of your fireplace, was it warm? A flat panel or LCD TV, like a laptop or most electronics, will give off a certain amount of warmness during normal working operation, but a TV professionally mounted on your fireplace, even with a warm fire kindling, will not cause the TV to become any hotter than usual. This is because every fireplace that meets basic residential building code is designed to trap all the heat and smoke of a fire inside the flue–and are so well-insulated and thick that no smoke or heat would ever harm your TV.
Outdoor Weatherproof Fireplace TV Installation in Dallas-area Sachse, TX
Outdoor Fireplace Weatherproof-TV Installation — Home in Sachse, TX

The fireplace TV experts at Honest Install have done literally thousands of brick, stone, marble, staggered sheetrock, and wood fireplace flat panel installations in the Dallas-area. Our specially-trained techs have the practical know-how and experience that comes with daily exposure to these and other types of specialty-installations. No two fireplaces are exactly the same, but our technicians have never come across one which was impossible to mount any size TV onto. This means your installation, whether above a fireplace or on a ceiling, will be of the highest quality and will always meet or go beyond your exact expectations.

If you would like to schedule a free on-site consultation or would like to learn more about fireplace TV installs, contact the audio/video engineers at Honest Install at 972-470-3528 or visit for more information.

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Photo credit: Honest Install

Find Your Best Type of Smart Home Controller

By: Lisa Montgomery, Guest Contributor

Smart Home Controllers: Decisions, Decisions

For the simplest, easiest and most convenient means of operating your home’s electronic equipment, choose a controller that best suits the family dynamic. When it comes to operating the lights, thermostats, A/V gear and other devices, comfort and convenience rule supreme when choosing the appropriate type of controller for the job. So what’s comfortable and convenient to you? Is it a handheld remote? Or maybe it’s a keypad mounted near the entrance to the room? For some, an iPad or smartphone might be the controller of choice. There are myriad home automation controller options, so make sure you pick one that suits your personality and lifestyle the best.

Tablets and Smartphones

RTiPanel App Controller in Dallas, TX for iPad, iPhone, and Android Smart Phones
RTiPanel App Controller in Dallas, TX for iPad, iPhone, and Android Smart Phones

When you’re here one minute, there the next, you need a controller that goes where you go, and that’s a smartphone or tablet. Just about every manufacturer of home automation system as well as many popular electronics products offers a control app that can be downloaded onto your favorite mobile device, or several devices if each member of your family would like his/her own controller. With the app accessible from your phone or tablet, you can tap and swipe your way through menus and commands as you stroll through the house, relax in the backyard or even while you’re miles away at work or on vacation. To ensure that the portable controller doesn’t get misplaced, it’s a good idea to have a custom electronics (CE) professional install an in-wall docking station for it. You can snap it in there for safe keeping—and to recharge the battery–then pop it out for control-on-the-go.

Portable Touchpanel

URC MX-300 Portable Touchpanel Controller for whole home automation
URC MX-300 Portable Touchpanel Controller

A portable touchpanel has the look and feel of a tablet, but is designed and engineered to do only one thing: control the electronics in your house. There’s no need to launch a control app as you would in a tablet or smartphone. A dedicated touchpanel is ready to fire off commands to lights, A/V gear, motorized shades and more as soon as you pick it up.

Keypads and Touchpanels

URC in-wall touchpanel controller for home automation in Dallas, TX
URC TKP-7000 In-Wall Touchpanel

On the other end of the portability spectrum are wall-mounted keypads and touchpanels. Recessed within, or flush-mounted on, the wall, they become permanent fixtures of your home—a good thing for families that have a tough time keeping track of remotes, tablets and phones. And don’t worry about keypads and touchpanels mucking up the walls. Sleek, slender and modern, they can actually complement the home design, not to mention simplify quick, on the spot control of lights, music and more. Instead of manually adjusting a slew of light switches, you can just hit one button on a keypad or touchpanel to set the lights of a particular room or the entire house.

Handheld Remotes

Logitech Harmony Touch Smart Remote Controller Dallas, TX Home Automation URC
Logitech Harmony Touch Smart Remote Controller

You’ve grown up with handheld remotes and like the feel of those tactile buttons. Remotes programmed to operate a variety of electronic devices are probably a good choice for you. Buck the perceived old-fashioned stereotype by investing in a remote that features buttons and a built-in touchscreen.

Combo Platter

Don’t fit exactly into any one of the above categories? Not to worry. It’s acceptable to use a variety of different controllers; in fact, most owners of sophisticated home electronic systems do. For example, in media rooms they might use a handheld remote, while in the kitchen a built-in touchpanel works better. By employing a combination of several different types of controllers, you can be laid back one minute, on-the-go the next, and still be able to appropriately manage your house.

Lisa has been following the home electronics industry for 18 years and has written hundreds of articles on the subject of home automation, as well as home theater, networking, lighting control and more for various consumer and trade publications.

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Photo credit: RTi, URC, Honest Install

Honestly Speaking Welcomes Aboard Veteran Reporter, Lisa Montgomery

By: Michael Manouel Jr., Social Media

Honestly Speaking Is Proud to Welcome Our New Expert Guest Contributor!

Lisa Montgomery has been writing about whole home automation, smart home technology, and the electronic house for over fifteen years, and her award-winning articles have appeared regularly in many well-respected publications in the industry.

Lisa Montgomery, smart home expert/writer
Lisa Montgomery, Smart Home Technology Expert and Writer

We trust in her expertise, and her long, proven experience covering with insight and a keen eye the trending hot items in home automation and the modern smart-lifestyle today. She has gained extensive practical know-how reviewing many of the newest audio/video and connected home products, trying out first-hand the cutting-edge tech advances in the whole home automation and audiovisual constellation.

Expect to learn about the entire spectrum of technologies available for your home and how they can be incorporated to fit the needs of your household perfectly. Through years of reporting on high-tech homes, Lisa will be able to share tips on how to shop for, install, and get the most out of your high-tech investments.

We hope her articles will be helpful to you or in some way illuminating to the topics we discuss on this blog, and we also hope that you’ll join in on the conversation by way of the comment section!

We will be issuing her first post this Thursday on our Guest-Spot Day.


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Photo credit: CEPro

Home Automation Newcomer, Piper, Not All Bells and Whistles

By: Michael Manouel Jr., Social Media

Kickstarter is something we’re all familiar with, and we at Honestly Speaking like to follow it closely for developments in the home automation, audio/video, or home technology realms. You know how it goes—someone has a great idea, and they use Kickstarter to crowdsource funding for that product. The people who do donate can receive something in return, maybe some promotional materials, or maybe a lower-than-list price when the product launches. Sometimes it’s a dud, but sometimes things like Piper come along unexpectedly and surprise us.

Piper: The Smart Automation Device
Piper: The Smart Automation Device

Whole Home Automation At An Affordable Price

Piper is a Z-wave and Wi-Fi-based security camera, siren, smart automation hub, motion detector, microphone, speaker, and environmental sensor all rolled into one compact and clean device which is no larger than a small lamp (and available in both black and white). Using the Z wave radio ‘language,’ Piper can speak to up to a whooping two-hundred-and-thirty-two automated devices within your home, which means it’s a good first keystone piece if you’re looking to start your electronic home journey now.

Home Automation Hub: Piper's Specs
Home Automation Hub: Piper’s Specs

Without the monthly charges and complicated headaches of more traditional centralized security systems, Piper delivers elegant form along with broad, user-friendly functionality at an ultra affordable price. And like all good smartphone-enabled intelligent home devices, it is infinitely customizable, but comes preset with four modes: Off, Away, Vacation and Stay. You set the rules, and Piper will push notifications to straight your phone when motion is detected or a rule is breached, allow you to keep tabs on the family dog through its fisheye lens in 1080p, and monitor the temperature, lights, & sounds of your home, all of this through its free proprietary app. Home automation novices and enthusiasts alike will be amazed by this little device that packs a lot of punch.

Keeping Tabs on Thomas with Piper
Keeping Tabs on Thomas with the Piper app

Feeling secure in your own home is a must these days, and bulky security systems that charge monthly fees sometimes aren’t the best looking in your house or apartment nor are they the cheapest of solutions, so if you’re looking for a sleek, affordable security system that plugs into all the devices of your home, the so-called “Internet of Things” of your house, look no further than Piper. Home automation just got that much easier.


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