Should you buy a 4K TV?

If you are under 18 then your birthday present list will presumably consist of video games, consoles and DVDs, but if you are a grown-up with an interest in home automation, then the latest range of 4k televisions may well be worth a browse.

What Is an Ultra HD TV?

We are all aware of HDTVs which have a 1080p resolution. Loosely translated, this means there are 1,080 pixels vertically and 1,920 pixels horizontally and together these create the picture you are watching. The new era of 4K or Ultra HD televisions utilise resolution display of at least eight million active pixels. This means a minimum of 2,160 vertically and 3,840 horizontally in a 16:9 aspect ratio.

As an option, but not coming as standard, there is a greater potential colour space called rec. 2020.

What are the benefits? A 4K display shows a lot more detail with higher resolution images and you can watch a much bigger screen comfortably without any break-up of picture. This is why currently all available 4K Ultra HD TVs are manufactured in excess of 50 inches.

Indeed, currently in the UK, a working group chaired by the BBC and BSkyB are constantly checking higher frame rates, greater contrast and a wider colour spectrum which indicates that 4K unlike 3D is a very viable innovation. So far Sony has released a selection of 4K branded Blu-rays. As of April this year, Netflix became the first big name to deliver 4K content streamed automatically to those with a 4K channel. In fact, watch out 8K in the future: trials have been conducted, and NHK is aiming to shoot and transmit the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in the 8K format.

Best Buys

So far it seems that Sony is more animated about 4K technology so it stands to reason that these TVs are currently heralded as the best on the market. The Sony KD-65X9005B and the Sony KD65X9005BBU 65 4K Ultra HD 3D Smart LED TV with Freeview HD are expensive at the moment, but expected to fall in price. Samsung UE65HU8500 curvd TV is heralded as “the sexiest 4K TV currently available” ( 65 inches of curved screen with connections including HDMI 2.0 ports and support for the new H.265 4K video codec that is being used by Netflix.

Panasonic is not being left behind: the company has brought out the TX-50AX802 and the Panasonic TX50AX802B 50 4K Ultra HD 3D Smart LED TV 2000Hz Freeview HD to keep up with competitors. Finally the Toshiba 58L9363 is the cheapest Ultra HD TV in the UK.

Although the good news is that these TVs can be installed without the use of any extra equipment (just make sure that you have an HDMI version 2.0 input), 4K technology is evolving fast and soon there will be the opportunity to link up your TV with the rest of your home automation systems. You can be assured that any connections or advice can be obtained by visiting UK-Automation ( so get your home prepared for the future of 4K technology.

UK Automation doesn’t sell normal TVs, but we do sell CCTV and many different types of related cables

Battle of the TV Players

Two new innovations were launched a couple of months ago which promise to bring home automation to a new level. Google has announced Nexus Player, an Android TV box ( and Amazon has brought out the Fire TV streaming set-top box.

Nexus Player

Nexus_PlayerSo what are they? Let’s start with Nexus Player, Google’s new living room media box. After the failure of Google TV, this product is expected to put the company back in the running. According to the press company, Nexus Player is a home media player for streaming Netflix and playing games on your TV. In appearance it is a small (120x120x 20mm) round device that plugs into the TV via HDMI. What does it do apart from stream and download video and music from the internet and home network. It works by running a brand new TV-optimised version of Android 5.0 (Lollipop) and has 8GB of internal storage, which means a lot of capacity to download games to playing on screen.

Here’s the techie bit: it was built by computer wizards Asus on top of a 1.8GHz quad core Intel Atom chip with a separate graphics chip to power games and HD videos via an Imagination PowerVR Series 6 GPU. An 802.11ac 2×2 (MIMO) chip promises excellent internet connection. Also, it offers a voice search facility to let you search for apps or for stuff on the internet by speaking into the remote control.

It promises instant access to all purchased Google Play content, apps and games and any content you have on your phone can be instantly beamed towards the Nexus Player and your TV using the cast button so you can use your phone as a remote control when watching with compatible apps.

You can also automatically sync games and other media between the Nexus Player and your other Android devices so you don’t have to start from the beginning.

Amazon Fire TV

Amazon Fire TVAmazon Fire TV has a good look with a minimalist matt black remote control and it uses Bluetooth to communicate. The box itself looks like an external hard drive, and sports a quad-core processor, a discreet GPU and 2GB of RAM. Although you can wire it into a central router via Ethernet, it also has two dual-band Wi-Fi antennas.

Its benefits include a voice recognition feature that uses a microphone on the remote, and certain interesting extras, such as viewing photos stored on Amazon Cloud Drive, and playback for Music purchased through its MP3 store. It also has more and better quality gaming options than other Amazon devices. And it provides full-spectrum access to Amazon’s cloud video services, and Amazon Instant and Amazon Prime Video.

The fact is that the major players in the industry are going all out to entice people to buy innovations, and people will. All you have to do is make sure that your home is geared up to accommodate these products and others that will inevitably come along as competitors.

Check out everything you need for cabling and connection at UK-Automation.

Home Automation Control Scales New Heights With Fibaro Mount Everest Challenge

If you find this article interesting, you should take a look at UK Automation’s Fibaro products

If you found this article interesting, you should take a look at UK Automation’s Fibaro products

What are X10 and Z-Wave?

We’ve all heard about HTML, SSL and MMS but when you start automating your home, then X (as in X10) and Z (as in Z-wave) are the only letters that you need to know about.

Basically, X10 is a protocol for communication and is used for the devices that encompass home automation. This is a long standing and simple way of controlling electrical equipment within your home remotely. It works as a plug and play system, using your smart phone or PC.

Z-Wave is a wireless technology that enables household devices, like lights, appliances, thermostats, etc., to communicate, controlled by either phones, PCs or other electronic devices. Both X10 and Z-Wave are protocols, not manufacturers of products.

How Does X10 Work?

X10 Single Button Wireless Wall Switch with Dimming Control

It was way back in 1975 when X10 was first developed in Scotland by Pico Electronics. It was so named because it was the tenth project that the company developed. It has become the industry standard and very little has changed in the ensuing years.

Here’s the technical bit: X10 sends a signal, representing digital information, onto the powerline at the zero crossing of the AC sine wave (to minimize interference). Packets transmitted using the X10 control protocol consist of a four-bit house code (A – P) followed by one or more four-bit unit codes (1 – 16), finally followed by a four-bit command. This gives 256 possible addresses to which each controlled device in the installed unit is configured to respond, reacting to the command specifically addressed to it. Signals take about ½ to ¾ of a second to reach the responder. Devices usually plug into the wall or can be built-in for wall switches and ceiling fixtures.

Take a look at all of UK Automation’s X10 products

Z-wave Technology

Z Wave 3Amp Boiler Switch by Horstmann

Z-wave was developed by Zensys, Inc. in 2004. Again, it is a simple concept: a central, network controller device is required to setup and manage a Z-wave network, with each product in the home having to be included in the Z-wave network to be controlled. The Z-wave Network ID has a length of 4 bytes and is assigned to each device by the primary controller when the device is added into the network.

A Z-Wave network ( can consist of up to 232 devices with the option of bridging networks if more devices are required. As a static network, Z-Wave assumes that all devices in the network remain in their original detected position. Easy to install, it does not require any rewiring and any product with Z-Wave on the box works with any other. With over 20 million products in homes worldwide, it is extremely well established, and allows you to control your home appliances from a smartphone or PC remotely.

There are thousands of products that are compatible with X10 and Z-wave and if you want to check out some of the bestselling products used in homes for automation purposes, UK-Automation has an extensive list at highly competitive prices from the leading manufacturers in the field.

Take a look at all of UK Automation’s Z Wave products

Insteon Automation

Insteon Wireless Switch

Insteon Wireless Switch

If you are looking for a range of products that enhance the function of your smart home, then look no further than Insteon. According to its website, “Insteon is the most reliable and best-selling wireless home-control networking technology.” The company has been business for over 20 years, and has a worldwide reputation.

That means that products from Insteon for the connected homes, with lighting control, door and motion sensing, garage door control being amongst the most popular applications.

Dual Band

The benefits of Insteon products are they are dual-band – signals travel through the air and over electrical wires at the same time. Insteon is the only technology that uses both a meshing wireless RF network (like Z-wave) and powerlines (electrical wires) in a building like X10 for extra reliability. Users of the X10 system benefit from this as all your existing modules can still be used. And from data posted by the company, this dual-band advantage means errors are about 100 times less likely.

UK-Automation stocks a variety of Insteon products, including plug in switch module, hub, motion sensor, micro module switch, plug in lamp dimmer module, micro module dimmer, 4 button remote control, DIN rail switch, DIN rail dimmer, door or window sensor, micro module shutter switches and more.

Hubs, Dimmers, Sensors

The Insteon Hub is ideal for controlling all Insteon and X10 modules locally or using an iPhone or smartphone when not at home. It can also be set up to send warning emails or SMS if a sensor or is activated

Insteon-Motion-SensorThe Insteon motion sensor is an indoor/outdoor motion sensor for lights and appliances. Its benefits include:

  • Remote control of up to 400 INSTEON devices
  • Built-in countdown timer automatically turns lights off
  • Optional night-only mode Adjustable high/low motion sensitivity
  • Excellent range - over 150′ from nearest Access Point or RF INSTEON device

It can also be used with the Insteon Hub to trigger events or provide you with a text or email alert.


Insteon Plug in Lamp Dimmer Module

The Insteon Plug in Lamp Dimmer Module can be used to switch up to 300w of lighting. Easily installed, the operation of it couldn’t be simpler, with a button on the side for local switching and LED indication for on/off.

The benefits of this product are:

  • Easy to install plug-in module
  • 32 brightness levels and 4 ramp rates
  • Full local control (brighten/dim, on/off, and fast on/fast off)
  • Remotely controlled
  • No minimum load required

Check out the full range by visiting the company’s range at UK-Automation.

Surround Sound with Russound

Russound 4 Source 4 Zone Multiroom Audio System

Multiroom audio is home entertainment at its most sophisticated. Imagine having a home that allows you to listen to whatever you want, whenever you want literally at the flick of a switch. A quality multiroom system can deliver everything from one central source, simply and easily with the installation of the correct equipment that can deliver different sources simultaneously to different rooms. Rather than using different devices to deliver music to different rooms, a multiroom system uses a single source. If you choose a well designed system like the Russound range, then you can have one server storing the music for a whole house and available to all residents, from the teenager playing tunes in the bedroom to the parents listening to Radio 4 in the garden.

Main Benefits

The main benefits of a Russound multiroom system are convenience and quality, allowing you to enjoy music from various audio sources in any part of the home. According to the company: “typically, all of the equipment is neatly concealed in one location, out of sight. All wiring is hidden within the walls. What you see are elegant keypads and speakers, intelligently designed ( to blend with the décor.”

Russound Products on Offer

Russound 4 Source 4 Zone Multiroom Audio System with Speakers

Russound 4 Source 4 Zone Multiroom Audio System with Speakers

Currently, UK-Automation ( stocks four products for the home entertainment market from Russound. The Russound 4 Source 4 Zone Multiroom Audio System as the name implies, enables music or audio output playing in four rooms from four different sources. Distribution is via readily available CAT5 network cable and is based around A-H484 distribution hub with the source equipment (up to four sources) plugged into it using standard phono cables. The CAT5 cable runs from the hub to the A-K4 keypads in each room where you want music.

The Russound 4 Source 4 Zone Multiroom Audio System with Speakers is basically everything that the previous product supplies but with the addition of the US style J-Boxes for the keypads and ceiling speakers. Speakers can either be as pairs or single stereo or a combination of both.

Russound A-H484 4 Source 4 Zone Surface Mount Hub

Russound A-H484 4 Source 4 Zone Surface Mount Hub

The Russound A-H484 4 Source 4 Zone Surface Mount Hub is a four-zone, four-source audio distribution hub used with A-BUS amplified keypads which can be linked to another A-H484 (up to four) to increase the number of zones in a system. It supports four audio sources in a four-zone A-BUS system with each zone expandable to two rooms with inputs for A-K4 keypads.

Russound AK4 A-Bus Multi Source Keypad

Russound AK4 A-Bus Multi Source Keypad

Finally the Russound AK4 A-Bus Multi Source Keypad is designed for use with the A-H484 distribution hub and speakers to control music in a room. This is a useful little piece of equipment if you want to add a sub zone to your Russound A-Bus audio distribution system. Russound has a reputation for quality and reliability ( and throughout its 47 year history, has kept ahead of technology by designing and manufacturing innovative products that sound great, are easy to install and simple to use, and that offer great value.

Green-i Products from CP Electronics

UK-Automation stocks a wide range of products that are essential to the home automation industry and as part of an ongoing series, we will be bringing you the latest updates and best-sellers from our range of suppliers.

This month, we focus on CP Electronics sensor products. We at UK-Automation stock a number of the company’s dimmers, motion sensor controls and time switches.

First here’s a brief explanation of the products and how they are useful in a home automation environment.

Electric Dimmers by CP Electronics

Green-i Single Gang PIR Dimmer Switch

Green-i Single Gang PIR Dimmer Switch

Dimmers:  these provide variable indoor lighting and are designed to save energy by reducing the wattage. The Green-i Single Gang and Double Gang PIR (passive infra-red) Dimmers are offered as an energy-saving control with features including a switch with built-in presence detector to ensure the lighting turns on/off when needed and a dimming function with remote control. The Single Gang PIR product is designed to replace a single light, whereas the Double Gang replaces a standard twin light switch or dimmer. Both come with a security mode as well as a night light mode and a stylish appearance: a white fascia plate is standard, with brushed stainless steel effect and brushed bronze effect also available. These dimmers have a switch with a built-in presence detector to ensure the lighting turns on/off when needed

The company also provide sensors: movement sensor controls are designed to automatically turn lights on when there is movement, especially useful for outdoor lighting purposes to provide safety and security or internally for controlling lighting ambience in a room.

Sensors by CP Electronics

Flush Mounted PIR Movement Sensor by Green-i

Flush Mounted PIR Movement Sensor by Green-i

Miniature batten mount PIR movement sensor by Green-i

Miniature batten mount PIR movement sensor by Green-i

The Flush Mounted PIR Movement Sensor is a low profile, flush mounted movement sensor. Providing auto on/auto off switching, most types of lighting can be accommodated with a variable time delay from 60 seconds up to 30 minutes. It has a sensing area of 6m diameter when mounted 2.8m high. Other features include adjustable Lux Level Sensing but it is NOT suitable for use with LED lights or energy saving bulbs although Eco halogen bulbs are fine.

The GIMB miniature PIR (passive infrared) movement sensor can be used outdoors as well as internally. It is specifically designed for mounting onto a batten style luminaire and comes with 1m of connection cabling. As it is IP65 rated, it can be located outside as wet and damp will not affect it, and it has a detection range of 7m diameter when located at a height of 2.8m.

Everyone wants to be green so the next product from Green-i will appeal to the sustainably-minded home enthusiast. The Green-i Energy Saving Movement Sensor Switch has an auto off and optionally set auto on feature, which means it will switch itself off in the absence of anyone in a room and can be set to automatically switch on when someone comes in range. This product can switch any lighting, heating or ventilating equipment up to 10amps (2300W at 230VAC) and can be used with any type of light bulbs.

Finally, the Green-i time lag switches – simply press the button to bring the lights on and they will then switch off automatically when you want them too!

Doing Too Much, Much Too Soon

Vera Z-Wave Controller with Internet Access

Vera Z-Wave Controller with Internet Access

Smart home automation is what everyone with aspirations to improve their homes wants. However tempting it may be, the advice is to keep it simple and not get carried away with the plethora of gismos and gadgets available on the market today There is such a concept as over-automation so here are are few tips to keep your feet on the ground.

Managing a home’s electronic systems via a main control system or remote system is intended to make the home run smoothly. If it can save energy at the same time, then so much the better. However, the idea is to make home automation work around you, not the other way around.

User Interface

Z Wave Room Thermostat with LCD Display by Horstmann

Z Wave Room Thermostat with LCD Display by Horstmann

First of all, tailor your user interfaces in a way that is simple for you. On a touchscreen, don’t put controls that you use constantly next to controls you use infrequently. You don’t want to press the ‘open the garage door’ button by mistake when you really want the lights to come on at a certain time. Make it simple for you to use. Whether you choose handheld remote or wall-mounted keypad or a portable touchpanel make sure user interfaces are right for you.

Keep it Simple

If you have sensors, programme them sensibly. Don’t be tempted to programme sensors to come on every time a presence is detected, especially if for example, you have a nocturnal cat with insomnia. By the same token, bear in the mind the range and angle of sensors. For example, locating a sensor in the middle of the kitchen is not much good when you struggle back from work with a mountain of carrier bags and the afore-mentioned cat has decided to have a quick nap next to the kitchen door.
Consider how people move around and place sensors to ensure that a light comes on before the person has entered a space and not when they are already halfway across it.

Remote access is also important to get right. Make sure that anything that can be accessed remotely can be done easily via your laptop, smartphone or iPhone. And make sure you understand how to do it. Again, the scenario of the TV being on when you get home when really you wanted the roast in the oven cooked springs to mind.

Money Back

Z Wave Home Energy Meter one clamp by Aeon

Z Wave Home Energy Meter one clamp by Aeon

And finally, don’t forget that you are spending money on a decent home automation system so if you get some of that investment back, all the better. The majority of automation systems can help you save energy by turning off devices automatically so before you buy, check everything out to see how much money it can save you in the future. Energy saving devices are all the rage so check them out thoroughly.

UK-Automation can help you choose the best system and also advise on best practice for installation and operation. From CCTv, lighting, heating, energy devices, security, audio-visual and all sorts of useful accessories, the company is dedicated to the home automation market.

Apple iPhone, the New Generation

Foresee 700 Garage Door Opener

Foresee 700 Garage Door Opener

Apple is yet again launching a new product, well more than one actually. September 9 saw the official unveiling of the Apple iWatch and the eagerly awaited iPhone 6.

What is exciting about the iWatch is that this wearable device should, according to reports, be able to use the new HomeKit function on Apple’s new iOS 8 operating system. And what that means to home automation fans is that it potentially allows users to control elements within the house such as lights and garage doors.

iOS 8

Both devices are expected to be powered by iOS 8, launched by the company in June.

Z Wave Room Thermostat by Secure

Z Wave Room Thermostat by Secure

Already, through iOS 8, users can use the HealthKit app to monitor their health and fitness including blood pressure and heart rate. Now there is HomeKit, which is Apple’s connected home framework, which will allow users to control home appliances and other connected devices through the app. This app has been designed to streamline smart devices to control them in one place. And yes, it will involve Siri, the industry’s favourite faceless annoyance. Siri will soon be able to turn the lights out, set the heating controls and shut the garage door.

The iPhone 6 which will be launched at the same time, is Apple’s ninth iPhone model, and will be launched in two options: 4.7-inches and 5.5-inches. It is rumoured that both versions will use in-cell touch panel technology as the iPhone 5 does.

It is interesting to see the development of the iPhone 6 being geared very much towards the home automation market, moving from merely a communication device more towards a lifestyle device.


As for the iWatch, it promises to be quite a device. Apple has lured over a number of key names in the fashion industry such as former Yves Saint Laurent CEO Paul Deneve and last year, CEO Tim Cook of Apple said: “I think for something to work here, you first have to convince people it’s so incredible that they want to wear it.” So it is eagerly awaited in the marketplace.

And according to sources, up to 80 million of the iPhone 6 devices are expected to be produced by the end of the year, showing Apple’s great confidence in an increasing market. Last month we mentioned that NextMarket Insights has already predicted $1.5 billion to be spent on equipment and services by 2020 in DIY self-installed home security solutions in the US. So it’s very interesting to see what Apple said in its press announcement and how focused it will be on home automation.

Featurephone controllable devices

I Want One Of Those…

For anyone interested, or better, passionate about home automation, then read on. There have been a few homes in the media recently, including one in our very own London West End that have been making headlines and winning awards for their home automation innovations. And although the chances of you owning a home like these are at best ambitious, there’s no reason why you can’t aspire to have something similar.

From Rags to Riches

HCF Proactive Security System

HCF Proactive Security System - one of our new products (currently with 50% discount)

The first is the silver winner in the 2014 Electronic House Home of the Year Awards. And this house in Irvine, California is a superb example of a before and after project. It took nine months to convert the garage into a playroom for the kids, turn a guest room into a home theatre, change traditional to modern and install an automation system to manage all of the home’s electronics.

So now there are no light switches within eyesight, instead keypads take their place: as with the security system, surveillance camera, electronic door lock and thermostat, the lights can be operated with a mobile app on an iPad and iPhone.

Then an 8-by-10-foot space (formerly the guest bedroom) was transformed into a home cinema. With surround sound speakers in the ceiling and the projector in the garage, the house is now fully automated and the 60 light switches removed from the walls are simply a memory of an apartment that once was!

The overall Gold Winner of the 2014 House of the Year is what we all aspire to. It is simply the house I want. Now! Not content with just living in Hawaii, the owners of this house decided to creat a mini holiday resort! They have installed a 20-mile network of high-grade, low-voltage cabling internally to cope with the automation demands, which includes a two-tier swimming pool complex complete with diving cliff, underground water slide and grotto. Get this, one single APP on the iPad operates the swimming pool system, outdoor audio/video components, coloured LED landscape light fixtures and a sophisticated outdoor security system.

What Can Be Done

Finally we come to the Cornflake show apartment in Oxford Street, which, although having been opened now for just over a year, is attracting more and more visitors.

The apartment is complete with living areas; kitchen, games room, den, cinema, all controlled by an iPad or should the customer want, an Android app. The Cornflake philosophy is all about combining technology and design “to create the best user experience possible”. The company can do this for you, and currently have nearly 50 live projects all over the world.

Owl USB Connect - energy monitoring

Owl USB Connect - energy monitoring

These projects show what can be done and what will be normal within the home automation industry within five to ten years. You might not aspire to a two tiered, Hawaiian-themed swimming pool but control at your fingertips, energy saving devices and a smart home are good places to start.

Take a look at our energy saving devices