Dolby Atmos Updates Have Arrived

Dolby Atmos Updates Have Arrived

More often than not, when a shiny new audio standard comes along you can safely bet that it will require all new hardware. In the DVD era, the arrival of DTS decoding required new AV receivers and players. When Dolby and DTS rolled out their new high-resolution TrueHD and Master Audio formats in the Blu-ray era, those too required buying brand new audio gear. With Dolby Atmos, though, one of the surprising things is that a number of receivers are receiving firmware updates to support the new 3D surround sound technology. So while it may be true that you still need a new-ish receiver to tap into the full potential of the overhead sounds and object-based mixing that Atmos delivers, you’re not necessarily out of luck if you purchased a new surround sound system in the months before the at-home version of Dolby Atmos was announced. Onkyo, Integra, and Pioneer have all announced that firmware updates for some of their 2014-model receivers are now available. That includes the Pioneer Elite SC-85, SC-87 and SC-89 9.2-channel audio video receivers; Onkyo’s TX-NR636, TX-NR737, and TX-NR838 Network A/V receivers; and Integra’s DTR-30.6, DTR-40.6, and DTR-50.6 Network A/V Receivers. Integra has also announced that its DTR-60.6 and DTR-70.6 Network A/V Receivers and the flagship DHC-80.6 Network A/V Controller will ship in October with Atmos support out of the box. The timing for all of this is excellent, as the first Blu-ray to feature Dolby Atmos—Transformers: Age of Extinction—was released this week. And no, you won’t have to purchase a special Atmos-only disc to enjoy the movie in all its ridiculous 3D surround sound...
Savant’s New Personalized Home Control App is Unlike Anything You’ve Ever Seen

Savant’s New Personalized Home Control App is Unlike Anything You’ve Ever Seen

Continuing our roundup of home automation innovations on display at this year’s CEDIA Expo, next up on my tour of the show was the booth of Savant Systems, whose presence in the home control space has positively exploded in the past few years. Savant had a lot to announce at the Expo—including new WiFi and Ethernet controllers; new pricing, with the one-room Savant Host controller starting at $799; a new Pro line of controllers that enables access to adaptive phase dimmers and more advanced lighting control; and a new premium subscription service dubbed Savant Plus, which gives the homeowners complete remote access to their Savant systems for $150 per year (after a 90-day free trial). But the biggest news by far was the new Savant App, which delivers unified, personalized control of lighting, entertainment, security, and comfort all from one slick, intuitive, completely personalized interface that boils down the control interface to its barest essentials without losing a bit of functionality. And I do mean personalized. The first thing you see when you fire up the new Savant App is a screen containing every room in your house. And not merely a simple list; I mean you’re literally looking at an image of your living room, your kitchen, your bedroom, your dining room. Or it could be stylized images that represent each of those rooms. Or you can get really whacky with it, if you wanted to, take a photo of each member of the family, and quickly assign that headshot to his or her room, with a family photo representing the communal living area. From that home screen, no matter how...