Home Improvement

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Smart Homes For Dummies® by Danny Briere (Author), Patrick Hurley (Author) Smart Homes For Dummies®
by Danny Briere (Author), Patrick Hurley (Author)

Paperback: 384 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.86 x 9.20 x 7.44
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons; (June 1999)
ISBN: 0764505270

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Home Network News, Sept/Oct. 1999, Vol. 13 No. 8: ...Smart Homes is more than simply accurate, it is truly useful, with an abundance of call-out tips ("The National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association...offers advice on how to shop for a security system and the names of contractors who have qualified for their 'Installation Quality' certificate."); warnings ("If your modem connects to your computer with an Ethernet interface...you actually need to install two separate Ethernet Network Interface Cards in your proxy server..."); and sound opinions ("You can build a very similar video distribution network that forgoes the second RG6 cable to each outlet....[but] at the risk of being repetitive, we think that this kind of abbreviated network is probably a false economy..."). The best thing about Smart Homes for Dummies--it's a wonderful guide for smart people, too.

Edward B. Driscoll, Jr., Popular Home Automation, 2/18/2000: Who needs this book? Anyone considering installing their own home security system, whole-house audio or video system, household LAN, or even those that want a professional to do it. It gives you a good idea about what's going on, as well as meaning to those funny buzzwords that home contractors use. It's also useful for those who are interested in getting the most out of their home office or existing automation equipment. Finally, professionals who have most of their expertise in one discipline may find this helpful to learn the basics of the rest of what's out there.

Highlights: Easy to understand; broad overview of home automation; gives good descriptions of what's currently available and what to expect in the future; great idea source.

Book Description: Welcome to the new millennium and the next step in home technology. Replace your telephone with a computer. Power up your burglar alarm from a PC that's miles away. Turn lights on and off with a click of your mouse, or plan and build your meals without stepping into the kitchen (well, almostÖthere's still dishes to do).

In short, discover how to network your entire home and remote control everything with the smart home" technology that's available today. Smart Homes For Dummies guides you step-by-step through everything you need to know about automating your home, from advanced security to home theater entertainment centers. Find out what it takes to turn your home into a state-of-the-art entertainment and communications center, and discover the benefits of home networking, from Internet access in every room to monitoring the baby from your living room TV.

Decide what to buy -- and what to avoid -- in the absence of universal standards for "smart homes," and get the lowdown on competing home systems from X-10 and IBM Home Director to CEBUS and Intellon. Explore a wonderful wide world of wireless products, and secure and protect your investment with an integrated security system. Build the home of the future today with the smart advice you find in Smart Homes For Dummies.

Synopsis: A beginner's guide to new and future technologies that can be installed in the home encompasses information on high-definition televsion, Web TV, telephone services, and Internet connections and discusses the systems and wiring required to create a networked home. Original. (Beginner).

Back Cover Copy: Tips to automate your home and enhance its value!

Find out how to maximize your home networking budget

Includes the pros and cons of emerging technologies Not long ago living like the Jetsons existed only somewhere off in a galaxy far far away. Welcome to the high-tech networked home of the 21st century. This down-to-earth guide will enlighten you about everything from residential security systems to entertainment networks, and help you keep your home improvement budget from spiraling into orbit!

Discover how to: Select compatible products Go wireless or use existing wiring Choose the right security system Enjoy multi-room Internet access Set up your PC and phone network

The Dummies Way™ Explanations in plain English "Get in, get out" information Icons and other navigational aids Tear-out cheat sheet Top ten lists A dash of humor and fun

Get smart! www.dummies.com Register to win cool prizes Browse exclusive articles and excerpts Get a free Dummies Daily™ e-mail newsletter Chat with authors and preview other books Talk to us, ask questions, get answers

About the Author: Danny Briere is a regular on-air commentator and telecommunications consultant.

Pat Hurley is a noted expert on home networking and high-speed Internet access.

Customer Reviews
Really helped us update our home office, January 28, 2003
Reviewer: A reader from Great Falls, VA USA
Like a lot of people, we've spent a lot of time and effort on technology in our home both for entertainment and work purposes. The first edition of Smart Homes for Dummies was a great help, but we were really waiting for the second edition, as we wanted to upgrade a number of things, especially wireless. One thing that was really helpful was that the authors offered several ways to do things and they explained the advantages and disadvantages of each approach. They also did a great job explaining all of the jargon and "buzzwords" you see when you're shopping for this stuff, without being too simplistic. If you want to network your home or upgrade your network, I highly recommend you read this book!

***** Get Your Home of the Future TODAY *****, January 27, 2003
Reviewer: A reader from San Francisco
Wow! I looked all over for a book that would help both me and my home builder with simple, basic tips to raise my home valuation by "futureproofing" it for the next 20-30 years. You can tell from this book the authors know what they are talking about and have a solid grasp on how future home and entertainment technology will play out over the next 5-10 years, so we could plan for it. I learned all sorts of stuff neither my builder or I had thought of (like networking between my PC and my home entertainment center so I could play my MP3s and movies on my TV). This was a great guide help me sit down with my builder and efficiently plan out where we wanted everything to go. (My builder borrowed the book because HE learned so much.) I HIGHLY recommend this book to ANYONE BUILDING OR REMODELING YOUR HOME. It is a great investment in the future. If I could give this six stars I would.

Smarter in Georgia, January 23, 2003
Reviewer: Gary Lee from Atlanta, GA
The new edition is as good as the first edition. I got that one three years ago, and we continue to smarten up our house. I was waiting for the new edition to come out. We've got a mix of simple stuff and more intense stuff in our house, but none of it was above the level of the book. I agree with the Electronic House comment: "This is for smart people too." This is simply a practical book that you should read before you do anything in your house in this area. It puts you in the right mindset, and you'll find yourself re-reading chapters to get ideas again and again. I glad they came out with a new version because there's a lot of new stuff out now (and sure enough, it's all in here!). Good stuff. Buy it.

Great for New York City homes, January 23, 2003
Reviewer: James L. Melcher from New York City
I live in New York City, and there are all sorts of limits as to what you can do with your homes, and so that limits how smart you can make your home. This book a fun mix of stuff that we've worked on, and while we don't have a totally smart home now, we've got a smarter home, and are working continually on it. We got a good broad view of everything we could do in one place -- for voice, data, video, audio, security, etc. We would have had to read five other books at least to find out the same amount of info, and then we'd have to figure out how it all fits together. On top of that, these guys have a sense of humor which kept me engaged throughout. Now if I could only afford the 42" plasma screen outfitted hot tub they showed me.

Second Edition -- Worth the wait, January 14, 2003
Reviewer: Michael S. Toot from Seattle, WA United States
What a difference four years makes.

In the first edition (1999), Briere and Hurley did a great job providing an informative, helpful overview of home automation concepts, all wrapped up in an easy-to-read style that doesn't talk down to a reader. However, people purchasing the book in 2001 or later would be disappointed as the book showed its age: maybe half the links for automation-related companies yielded the dreaded "404" error (many courtesy the dot-com crash), wireless networking was barely mentioned, and cable modems and DSL hadn't reached critical mass to warrant an extended discussion.

Fast forward to the second edition (2003) and these shortcomings have all been addressed. New URLs are in place, the authors love wireless, and high-speed Internet connections are addressed for both cable modems and DSL modems. In addition, DBS is also discussed in much greater depth as DirecTV and DISH Network receivers have sprouted like mushrooms on homes and apartment buildings across the U.S.

I found the second edition extremely helpful, more so than the first, and it gave me a far better comfort level in figuring out smart home technology. My wife and I are currently remodeling and this book is a huge help to let us know what's possible, what's affordable, and what's do-able by us versus a professional installer.

While the book appears to be more focused on running hard wires for your network, don't let that fool you. The authors are firmly in favor of wireless for many homes and apartments, especially where cost or inability to renovate prevents running hard wiring through the walls. The main idea is that, when possible, put as many wires into the walls as you can. You don't have to connect every home computer directly to a wall; you can install a wireless hub wherever it's convenient (or invisible), and use wireless connections without having CAT5e cabling running along the baseboards to the nearest wall jack.

Further, there are new systems on the market that use CAT5e to distribute audio, video, and IR control to rooms. This means you can run thinner, cheaper CAT5e to rooms rather than bundled cabling. The authors recognize this trend and advise that readers watch for more developments that use CAT5e. My wife and I are leaning towards such a system, as it's easier to replace outlets and distribution boxes than it is to run new wires once the walls are sealed up.

So if you're wondering about having a connected home and what the considerations are, you owe it to yourself to BUY THIS BOOK. Then you can move to a wires-and-circuits discussion without feeling over your head, and without requiring a graduate degree in nerdspeak. Enjoy, and good luck with your own home projects.

A little dated, but good starting point., January 16, 2002
Reviewer: John Peck from San Francisco, CA USA
The content is beginning to show its age. Broadband at home was not readily available at the time of printing, however the basics of setting up a home network still apply. There were some interesting sections that describe setting up a central control room for home media resources. I found the details of the approach less interesting than the rational that motivated it. That was worth the book to me.

An excellent reference, November 3, 2001
Reviewer: william280 from Whitefish, MT USA
I actually only got the Dummies book because it happened to be bundled with Home Automation and Wiring. I returned HA&W and kept this one. Dummies gives you enough information that you can really do some of these projects on your own. HA&W is only useful if you're planning on contracting out all of the work and you only want a high-level overview of the concepts.

Easy, Fun and Informative Read, October 10, 2001
Reviewer: nja3 from Brooklyn, NY United States
I almost wore out this book as it touches on almost everything. It may not drill down in exact detail for each topic but it gives more than an overview and leaves you with enough information to do further research. I highly recommend this book to beginners and intermediate HA enthusiasts.

Excellent For Beginners and (somewhat) Experienced, March 11, 2001
Reviewer: Todd Smithers from Sherman, Texas United States
This was my first "... for Dummies" book to read. I am in the process of building our house. I am planning on doing all the wiring in the house except for the electrical. I had already planned on wiring for a computer network. After reading this book, I am scrambling to find more money to wire the house for "everything."

The book is very well written, covers everything from X-10 to security systems, to computer networks, to whole-house audio/video distribution. The book was so interesting it was hard for me to put it down. Would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in the topic.

Easily read, important to know, November 8, 2000
Reviewer: rick_whitten from Fresno, CA USA
How far should you go in programming your home for "smartness"? The authors present a very reasonable overview of what is available, what works, and what may soon become available. I found it to be a great resource of information and opinion in planning my next home. It is not a "how to", but a "how much" and "why" kind of book. Well done!

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