Digital Home

Other considerations


Alarm and surveillance systems have long been available for X10 installations, allowing remote control of cameras, door locks and the like. More recently, though, software compatible with a wide range of camera types has made video surveillance more accessible to home users. Web cams, IP/Ethernet cameras and analog video capture cards can all provide real-time video signal that can be monitored from a PC. Once the domain of expensive specialised hardware, advanced features like motion-triggered capture and time-lapse recording are cheaply available via software. Computer-based security systems can also be configured to send notifications via SMS, email or voice over the telephone. When integrated with X10 security devices, intruder detection can also be used to trigger alarms and locks as well as disabling lights and communications systems for lock-down situations.

Cabling vs. Wireless

The benefit of dedicated network cabling around the home is simple. It ensures high bandwidth with minimal interference. Conversely, power line and X10 networking is subject to interference from various appliances on the same circuit and in some cases from other homes on the same power cabling. Wireless Ethernet is subject to interference from cordless devices around the home, and has the additional potential threat of being hacked from outside. Yet running network cabling around the home can be an expensive project. In most cases a combination of the two presents the most appropriate solution. For example, wired Ethernet might be used between two or more PCs, and a wireless router installed to provide Internet connection sharing as well as Wi-Fi laptop connectivity. Add a wireless DMA or entertainment PC and roaming PDA, and that's your TV, LAN and media sharing covered too. This leaves your power circuits untapped for installing X10 should you want to experiment with lighting and appliance automation. All that's missing is a great piece of software to manage it all, and that is possibly something that should be well road-tested before launching on a full-scale digital home project.

Home Management Software

It's a bit of a catch-22, on the one hand the choice of software can dictate what technologies are applicable for your home, but you can't test it without investing in a bit of hardware. If you are only interested in X10, however, you are bound to find something that suits your needs. There are a lot of applications to choose from, for Mac OS, Windows and Linux; many of which are free. For a combination of UPnP and X10, however, you are limited to a handful of commercial applications, including Premise Home Control 2.0 ($US199) and HomeSeer 1.7 ($US149.95). While Home Control has native support for both X10 and UPnP, HomeSeer has plugins for xAP and Z-wave, the latter of which supports UPnP. Both applications have a wide range of compatible hardware and a long list of features, including programmable extensibility. It is worth evaluating the demos as best you can before deciding which way to go. Note that both of these programs are for Windows and, although there is a UPnP Linux SDK available, there are currently no existing applications on that platform that support it. The most likely candidate for the future is the appropriately named Linux Home Automation project, which currently only supports a limited number of X10 and weather station controllers.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

GoodGearGuide Staff

Good Gear Guide
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?