1. GRANDCARE SYSTEMS
What it is: A complete communications and monitoring system for seniors living on their own and their family members who can’t be with them. This system provides news, pictures, e-mails and reminders to the resident via TV and has wireless sensors throughout the house to alert family members if something is amiss, Karoussos said.
Cost: $7,000 installed with a monthly monitoring fee of $50 to $100, Karoussos said.
Where to buy: Through GrandCare and Home Care designated dealers. Go to www.grandcare.com for a dealer list.
Can you install it yourself? You’ll need to have a qualified installer.
Why you would want it: Though expensive, this system can save money in the long run by keeping a still independent and active senior in his or her own home longer. Also hooked up to Home Care wireless monitoring, it allows seniors to take their own vital signs and sends the information to their doctor and family via computer.
2. WIRELESS REMOTE
What it is: Typically, you might need a separate remote control for every piece in your home entertainment system – the TV, DVD player,TiVo, etc. One wireless remote can now control all the components with one stroke, says Brian Cooley, editor at large for CNET.
Cost: $70 to a couple of hundred dollars.
Where to buy: Big-box, specialty and online electronics stores as well as office-supply stores.
Can you program it yourself? It’s so easy, anyone can figure it out on their own, Cooley promises.
Why you would want it: Not only does it eliminate many wires and the long line of remotes stretched along your coffee table, if you purchase an RF-equipped remote at the higher cost and have an RD-equipped TV, it can cut through doors and walls; no need to point directly at the machine to make it work. So you can change channels from the kitchen and have your show ready when you get into the family room.
What it is: The wireless thermostat consists of two parts. There is a thermostat that can go anywhere in the home where temperature control is important – the baby’s room, bedroom, etc. And there is a receiver, which has the wiring connections to the unit and can be placed wherever wires are available, including the old thermostat location, said Alex Karoussos, owner of Home Technology Experts in Watermill, N.Y.
Cost: $100 to $300.
Where to buy: Most are available through distributors or on Internet sites such as eBay.
Can you install it yourself? Some companies, such as Honeywell, have videos on how to install wireless thermostats for the do-it-yourselfer.
Why you would want it: You can take the thermostat with you throughout the house, sensing the temperature of the room you are in instead of the hallway, where many thermostats are located. This way you can avoid a too-hot upstairs room, too-cold downstairs and make sure baby’s room is just right.
4. WIRELESS TV
What it is: Wireless television uses your Wi-Fi connection to hook up your TV to your home Internet so you can stream videos through Netflix or similar service.
Cost: Similar to LCD or plasma TVs of the same size, about $1,500 to $2,000 for those in the 40-inch to 60-inch range. Cooley predicts the price will drop dramatically as they become more available.
Where to buy: Home theater and electronics stores.
Can you install it yourself? Yes.
Why you would want it: While the picture quality is not as good as broadcast TV at this point, it is cutting-edge technology that allows you to place your TV wherever you want it – on the wall above the fireplace, for instance, and have the computer in another room.
5. NETWORK CAMERAS
What it is: These devices capture your house and your family via security cameras so you can watch what is going on there from your workplace, a hotel or an Internet kiosk – any place with Internet access. You don’t need any special connections, and the camera is the size of an apple that can be unplugged and easily moved where you want it.
Cost: About $200-$300
Where to buy: Available through home security companies and their distributors. Some big-box stores such as Costco carry a smaller, less sophisticated selection.
Can you install it yourself? Yes.
Why you would want it: Peace of mind. You can use it for security purposes and as a child monitor, Cooley said. You can also see if something is amiss, such as an overflowing sink or a fire. You can watch what is going on inside your house from any device with a Web browser.