The iPad makes an ideal touch-screen interface for a high-end custom home theater room, home automation setup, or home security system. Yet for many of these applications there’s a need for a wall mount solution so it fits in aesthetically and with a good way to power the device. Vidabox, LLC, a well-known media server and integrated control systems company offers an elegant solution to meet this need with their new VidaBox iPad mount ($159) and iPower charging station.
I have the florentine silver iPad Mounting Frame in my home to check out. And it’s made from excellent quality materials that will look stunning in your high-tech home. The frame allows you to semi-permanently mount your iPad onto a wall and transform your iPad into a seamless home automation touch-screen.
Installation was very easy. The frame is delivered assembled. You detach the top of the frame by unscrewing the two hinges. Slide the iPad into the frame and then connect the iPad cable through the rear cutout of the frame. Ideally you’ll likely want the iPower add-on available separately from Vidabox.
The backstory… We moved into our new (old) home about three weeks ago. And, to be efficient, merely transferred our Cox cable and Internet services. Unfortunately, the migration wasn’t quite as seamless as I had hoped – including blown scheduling by Cox and several days without service at both the old and new locations (without restitution). Additionally, regular readers should be familiar with my ongoing switched digital video pain and Cox’s restrictive CCI Byte implementation… leading to severely crippled TiVos. So no one should be surprised I’d want to give Verizon’s FiOS a try. Given reader encouragement in the comments and an upcoming siding project, we accelerated the plan.
My original goal had been to run both Cox and Verizon services simultaneously, reserving the right to terminate the install at any time, but within 10 minutes of the technician surveying the landscape he started severing legacy coax – which is when I realized there was no turning back. The installer (Matt W.) very patiently and expertly accommodated every request and performed outstanding, detailed work during his 6.5 hour visit. Not only that, he refused every offer of a beverage and a generous tip.
Now I did inform Verizon ahead of time that I’d ordered service, but I’m not sure I received any sort of special treatment. In fact, it could have worked against me…
If you recall, we recently picked up a new (old) house and our plate is full of projects – including some relevant to a digital media blog. So, on with the story…
I’ve continued to make progress removing and recycling speaker and aerial antenna wire as I encounter it. There’s no way I’ll extricate it all, and fortunately I’m not quite OCD enough to have to. But it’s no longer an eyesore in various built-ins and closets.
The Verizon FiOS experiment continues, although we had a very slight set back last week when the contract crew missed their 9:30 – 10:30 appointment to bury the fiber. As I had to get into work, the company sent out a manager so I could go over an alternate run through the yard that wouldn’t sever our custom drainage system in three places. After some debate, he relented and marked my route. However, when the crew eventually arrived that afternoon they weren’t satisfied with the electric and copper markings in the neighbor’s yard (where the phone box resides), which put the project on hold over the long Christmas weekend. On Monday, the utilities were (re)marked and the line went in. As far as I can tell, they pretty much followed my path although I’m not sure how they handled the single drainage pipe they’d have to bypass. But cable, electric, and water continue to function – so I’ll call it a success.
While the fiber’s been dropped at the existing Verizon phone box, I’m hoping the installer can run it straight into the house so as to skip the sullying of my new siding (expected next week at the earliest). Worse case scenario, I hope I can convince him (or her) to remove the copper box and put the fiber one in it’s place. And, speaking of that siding, the company was a little put off when we chatted yesterday (regarding their delay) and I requested a few minutes of the project lead’s time before or during the install so I could discuss what I don’t want reattached. Given their initial reaction, I may be the one on the ladder removing the coax run so they’re not liable.
Lastly, in honor of the holidays, we caught Elf via Vudu on our temporary bedroom television. And while the speakers leave a lot to be desired and the set “boots” a tad too slowly, I’m fairly impressed with the 26″ Vizio Internet-connected TV. Netflix streaming and Vudu VOD without the clutter of another box is quite nice and Vizio’s wireless streaming capabilities have been extremely reliable. Although, at the end of the day (or spring), this TV will still most likely move to my basement lab/office.
Home wiring projects, even if digitally relevant, fall somewhat beyond our usual territory. However, given the good commentary, traffic, and in light of my preoccupation with the topic this month, we’re carrying on.
First off, some progress has been made on a potential Verizon FiOS install. See, I told you it was coming? Although I accelerated the schedule a bit given your encouragement along with a goal of removing boxes and wires from the exterior of the house prior to the siding being replaced next month. Unfortunately, that date is TBD and out of my control at this point. And the reason I say “potential” progress is because where Verizon’s contractors intend to bury the fiber optic line would sever a roof and yard drainage system (in multiple locations) installed by the previous owners. So at home I wait this AM to intercept the crew and propose an alternate run while identifying obstacles in their path. If they can roll with it, we’re probably golden (in-home install scheduled for 12/31). Otherwise, I’m pulling the plug.
Speaking of pulling the plug, I’ve relocated my outdoor cable junction box to a post. First, I didn’t like how a lazy Cox technician previously used my gas line as a clamp to secure the coax against the wall, Second, I want the box off the siding. If we stick with Cox, I’ll have them relocate the box under the deck or inside the house. If we don’t, they’ll have to come up with a way to terminate the cable that doesn’t involve my siding. Related, the splitter that probably isn’t suitable for outdoor placement is still strapped to my gas line. But it’ll stay put for now. There was also a copper phone line that relayed through this box, a mostly weather proof place to split and extend the run. I’ve since cut that line as it fed phone to the dining room and garage — not really necessary in the era of cell phones and inexpensive cordless phones.
Lastly, I’ve solved the problem of running coax (and potentially network) cable from the basement to the second floor within the home… by repurposing our laundry chute ductwork. The chute begins just a few feet away from where the existing coax splits in the attic before dropping into at least 2 of the 4 upstairs bedrooms. Hopefully a FiOS or Cox technician will be game, as I’d prefer to outsource the work.
Discussion has been good on my initial “new home” post, so we’re following it up today with a video from the basement — which is made up of a large 22′ x 16′ common area, that I’ve claimed as my office and lab, two utility closets, a bedroom, and a bathroom.
The home was built in the mid-70s and wasn’t pre-wired for much, if anything, other than power and a couple of phone outlets. In the mid-80s, the house was occupied by 5 college students who had to have phone and cable in every room. And I suspect a good amount of the crazy coax, speaker, and phone wiring happened during their tenure. However, the previous occupants, of the last 25 years, came in with their own grand speaker plans.
As you can see in the video above, if we do migrate to Verizon’s FiOS TV and Internet services, I’ve found a pretty good wall to mount VZ’s ONT that provides easy access to power and existing coax runs to the basement and living room. Getting “cable” upstairs will still be a challenge and I wonder if they could leverage some of the existing outside wiring that pops into the home at a second location through the attic(s).
As I mentioned yesterday, the siding (and insulating boards behind it) is being replaced next month. So I’m trying to remove as many outside entrance points as possible ahead of the work. Phone cabling enters the house at three locations – into the basement utility closet, and on either side of the house. This is how things evolve, I suppose, and it was much more efficient than running wires within the structure. The phone line that enters near the chimney is being removed today, as I believe it only powers jacks in the dining room and garage. The line on the other side is less clear and may feed the living room and basement. I’ve activated copper phone service, which should go into effect today, solely to better trace these wires and perhaps help me cleanup even further.
In terms of “boxes” attached to the side of the house, I’m hoping to move that cable one recorded yesterday to the fence or a post assuming that meets code. I’d rather not sully the new siding with it and simply moving it a few inches should be efficient. The phone box disaster, as photographed over the deck, would over go away if we run with FiOS. That could be motivation enough.
I’ve made a little progress since the last post… having removed the speaker wire that runs out back and temporarily sealing the entrance point, as only one of the two outdoor speakers is still in existence and I just don’t think we’ll use it as configured. Another Sonos S5 on the deck or in the sunroom, as needed, is a better solution. The new heat pump is going in as we speak, and the crew created enough space for me to pull down some of the remnant aerial wiring. Unfortunately, in that area, I’ve discovered more abandoned speaker wire I’ll need to get to at some point. As soon as Verizon turns on the POTS today, I’ll start tracing and removing copper — hopefully both secondary runs.
You’ve probably noticed it’s been quiet around here lately. And while it’s true “news” is typically light the week or so heading into Christmas, I’ve been preoccupied with a new home. Well, a new-to-me home. As you might imagine, we’ve got tons of a projects… many technologically oriented, although most aren’t (new bed arriving today, AC unit tomorrow, new roof and siding next month, etc).
For the moment, I chose to stick with Cox Communications cable over Verizon’s FiOS TV. Because I thought it might be a simpler transition, at least in the short term. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite as efficient as I’d hoped and suspect their “customer advocate” is tired of hearing from me. We had one missed switchover, a switchover a couple days later that was successful for about 48 hours before losing Internet and cable, a phantom $600+ “adjustment” to our bill, and then what turned out to be a signal issue impacting just switched stations in the master bedroom due to an old analog splitter in the attic.
Prior to the Cox technician arriving, I’d done some exploration of the non-electrical wiring and by watching him work got a better sense of where the coax cable runs are. Let’s just say that pre-wired newer home construction is probably preferable — as the television signal enters the house at two locations, and I believe we’re at three entrances for landline phone which we don’t have any imminent plans to utilize. Plus there are yards and yards of speaker and antenna wiring all over the place which I intend to clean up. I’ve already snipped some of the speaker wire and sent the former owners a note about Sonos as they deck out their new place.
We’ve already discussed the television plans. For the moment, our 42″ Panasonic plasma stays in the living room while this 26″ Vizio serves as our temporary bedroom television. Eventually, the plasma will move into the bedroom and the Vizio will move into the finished basement where I’m setting up my office/lab. I’m thinking some sort of 50″ – 55″ LED LCD for the living room, but it’s going to be a couple of months. Having said that, my Xbox 360 has temporarily been banished from the main living area and will be replaced by this PS3 tomorrow.
Also, now that my gypsy lifestyle has ceased, I’ll need to ponder what we’re doing about surround sound in the main viewing area. Prior to selling our last place in mid-2005, the “Fortress of Solitude” was decked out with a projector, capable surround system, and remote controlled Lutron lighting. But I’ve gotten used to a more streamlined setup and priorities have shifted. So I might be content with a 3.1 soundbar and subwoofer solution. At least until something more interesting arrives.