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Glossary of Home Technology Terms

Also called Gigabit Ethernet,this is a home networking std for carrying 1 Gigabit/second data a total distance of 100 meters using CAT 5 twisted pair cable. In contrast to 10BaseT and 100BaseT, which use only one pair of wires, 1000BaseT uses all fourpairs each operating at 250 Mbps to achieve its high speed. 

A 100 megabit/second twisted pair network. It uses Category 5 (CAT 5) wiring. It can be run a maximum of 100 meters. 

A 10 megabit/second network. The 10 indicates 10Mbps and T for twisted pair wires. With Category 3 cable as the minimum wiring requirement, it can be run a total of 100 meters. This wiring scheme has become very popular due to the low cost of the wiring,simple installation, low cost adapters and strong commonality between adapters. 

5.1 Channel Surround
An audio system that can reproduce five full-range discrete channels of sound: left, center, right, surround left and surround right, plus a low-frequency effect channel for bass. The term can also be used to describe the type of soundtrack a softwaretitle or broadcast contains. 

6.1 Channel Surround
An audio system that can reproduce six full-range discrete channels of sound: left, center, right, surround left, surround right, and rear, plus low-frequency effect channel for bass. The term can also be used to describe the type of soundtrack a softwaretitle contains. 

7.1 Channel Surround
An audio system that can reproduce seven full-range discrete channels of sound: left, center, right, surround left, surround right, rear left, rear center and rear right, plus a low-frequency effect channel for bass. The term can also be used to describethe type of soundtrack a software title contains. 

A/V Receiver (Receiver)
An audio or audio/video component that combines a turner, preamplifier and power amplifier in a single chassis. A typical A/V receiver will decode surround sound formats and offer numerous audio and video inputs for switching between multiple audio andvideo source components. 

Amplified Volume Control Systems
Amplified Volume Control Systems is a single-wire solution that delivers music to multiple rooms via a central control box. Some of these systems make use of CAT 5 cable to deliver the un-amplified audio signal to each room, where an in-wall amplifier andspeakers reproduce the music. 

In the consumer electronics world, analog technologies are those that use traditional methods of receiving, recording and/or reproducing content or communications. Examples of analog technologies include VHS VCRs, cassette tapes and NTSC (standard) cableand TV broadcasts. 

ANSI/CEA-2030 Multi-Room Audio Cabling Standard
This standard provides detailed information to homebuilders and contractors about cabling and connectors for use in multi-room audio systems and distribution networks. 

Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL)
A form of DSL broadband service, it is called "asymmetric" because of its two-way bandwidth is devoted to the downstream direction, sending data to the user. 

Audio Distribution Amplifier
These are amplifiers that distribute the input from a single audio component to multiple audio outputs or locations. 

Automated Meter Reading (AMR)
A system that allows utility companies to collect consumption data from customers' meters remotely using either wired or wireless technologies. 

When placed on each end of a cable run, these devices allow for the transmission of audio and video signals over twisted pair CAT 5(e) cabling. BALUNs can be used to send composite, S-video, component video and stereo and digital audio signals from sourcecomponent (e.g. cable box) to receivers or video displays throughout the home. 

The term bandwidth is used most commonly to refer to the amount of data that can flow across or through a wire, device or other transmission path, such as airwaves. For most consumer technologies, bandwidth is measured in megabits per second (Mbps). 

A wireless device-to-device technology that allows compatible devices such as laptops, cell phones and personal digital assistants, to name just a few, to share data and voice communications over a short-range wireless network. Popular uses of thetechnology include hands-free kits for Bluetooth-enabled cell phones that allow users to make and receive calls via wireless handset. 

A bridge is a device that connects two similar networks together to increase the distance or number of devices a given type of network can handle. 

Broadband refers to telecommunication that provides multiple channels of data over a single communications medium. Typical examples of consumer broadband services are high-speed Internet delivered via cable,Digital Subscriber Line(DSL) or fiber-opticnetworks. 

Cable Modem
A cable modem is a device that enables you to connect to the Internet and send/receive data via your local cable TV provider. 

Category 3 Cable (CAT 3 Cable)
Used for medium-speed communications of up to 10 megabits over distance of up to 100 meters. The FCC has specified that new homes use a minimum of CAT 3 wiring for telephones in new home construction. 

Category 5 Cable (CAT 5 Cable)
Network cabling that consists of four twisted pairs of copper wire terminated by RJ45 connectors and is capable of up to 100 Mbps over distance of up to 100 meters.Commonly used for data and telephone,it now is widely used for distribution of audiosignals and is often used in new home construction. 

Category 5 Enhanced Cable (CAT 5(e) Cable)
Supports short-run 1000baseT (1,000 Mbps) networking by utilizing all four wire pairs. CAT 5(e) is backward-compatible with CAT 5 cabling. 

Cathode Ray Tube (CRT)
CRT refers to the traditional glass picture tubes that have been used in analog TVs since their inception. CRTs are also used in some rear projection TVs. 

A hardware connection between two or more PCs that forms a closed network or internal network for sharing data and processing tasks among connected PCs. 

Coaxial Cable
Coaxial (coax) wiring is often used to distribute video signals but can also be used for other types of communications.There are several varieties of coax cable used in homes such as RG59 and RG6, the latter of which is recommended for all new wiring forcable and satellite TV. 

Communicating Thermostat
A thermostat that enables homeowners to remotely control and monitor HVAC settings and room temperature. Communicating thermostats typically provide two-way communication via CAT-5 cabling for control by a home automation system. 

Dedicated Wire
Wiring that is installed specifically for communications. It includes twisted pair wiring used for Ethernet networks, coax wiring used for cable TV, etc. 

Digital describes electronic technology that generates, stores and processes data in terms of two states: positive and non-positive. Positive is expressed or represented by the number 1 and non-positive by the number 0. Thus, data transmitted or storedwith digital technology is expressed as a string of 0's and 1's. 

Digital Cable Ready (DCR)
A feature of a TV or video display that allows plug-and-play connectivity to analog and digital cable without the need for a set-top converter box. 

Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT)
A digital wireless telephone technology that is expected to make cordless phones much more common in both business and homes in the future. Formerly called the Digital European Cordless Telecommunications standard because it was developed by Europeancompanies, DECT's new name reflects its global accepance. 

Digital Subscriber Line (DSL)
A technology for bringing high-bandwidth information to homes and small business over ordinary copper telephone lines. 

Digital Television (DTV)
DTV is the transmission of television signals using digital rather than conventional analog methods. The most popular variety of DTV is High-Definition TV (HDTV). Digital television can be received via cable TV, satellite,over-the-air (antenna) and fiberoptic service. 

Digital Versatile Disc (DVD)
A CD-sized laser disc used to store and playback high-quality audio and video. 

Digital Video Recorder (DVR)
A video component (set-top box) with an integrated hard drive for recording and time-shifting television programing. DVRs may contain an integrated tuner for receiving cable, over-the-air, satellite and/or HDTV brodcasts. The most popular example of a DVRis a TiVo. DVR functionality can also be integrated into other devices such as a home computer or television. 

A micro-display video technology that uses an all-digital chip to project and display images.This technology is found in thin rear-projection TV sets and home theater projectors. 

Do-It-Yourself (DIY) and Do-It-For-Me (DIFM)
DIY and DIFM are slang terms to refer to consumers who enjoy installing their own electronics and those who prefer help from a professional, respectively. 

Dolby Digital
A digital audio format found on DVDs and HDTV broadcasts that provides up to six channels of audio:left,right,center,left surround,right surround and a low frequency effects(subwoofer)channel.This format is often referred to as 5.1-channel surround sound. 

A digital audio format found on DVDs and other software titles that provides up to six discrete, full-range audio channels plus a low frequency effects(subwoofer)channel.DTS decoding is a feature found on many home theater receivers and preamp processors. 

DVD-Audio (DVD-A)
A high-resolution, multi-channel audio disc format that uses Meridian Lossless Packing encoding to achieve super high-fidelity sound reproduction in either stereo or multi-channel surround. 

Ethernet is the most widely installed local area network (LAN) technology, which uses coaxial cable or special grades of twisted pair of wires. 

Existing Wiring
Existing wiring includes telephone wires, coax cabling and power line wiring already in most homes today. 

Fiber Cable
A generic term used for both plastic and glass fiber optic cables.There are numerous types of fiber cables with varying characteristics.Fiber optic cabling is used for high-speed communications in many areas w/ very high-speed communications requirements. 

A firewall is a set of related programs located at a network gateway server that protects the resources of a private network from users from other networks. (The term also implies the security policy that is used with the programs.) 

Gigabit Ethernet
This is a new home networking standard for transmitting 1 Gigabit/second data a total distance of 100 meters using CAT 5 twisted pair cable.In contrast to 10BaseT uses all four pairs each operating at 250 Mbps to achieve its high speed. 

High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI)
A single high-bandwidth cable that can carry both digital audio and video signals from an HDTV receiver,DVD player,etc. to a video display and/or multi-channel audio receiver/processor. 

High-Definition Television (HDTV) 
A term used to describe a set of characteristics of either a television broadcast or consumer electronics product, usually a television or set-top-box. In either case it refers to a broadcast or product that can deliver at least 720-progressive 

Home Automation
Systems that provide convenient, centralized access, usually via keypad or PC, to various controls and appliances within a home. Home automation systems allow for the remote control of such thinks as: lightning, thermostats, locks, pet care, pools andspas, lawn watering, blinds and curtains, multi-media (A/V) systems, etc. 

Home Network
A home network interconnects electronic products/systems,enabling remote access to and control of those products/systems, and any available content such as music, video or data. 

When referring to structured wiring, the hub is the location where telecommunications lines coming from outside the home and in-home structured wiring running to each room meet; usually in a dedicated utility cabinet. Many hubs are powered and havetelephone, home network and cable/antenna/satellite distribution blocks for sending data and signals to each room. 

Hybrid Fiber/Coax (HFC)
A telecommunications technology in which fiber optic cable and coaxial cable used in different portions of a network to carry broadband content (such as video, data, and voice). Typically, a local cable TV company might use fiber optic cable from itsdistribution center to serve nodes located close to business and residential users, and from these nodes use coaxial cable to individual business and homes. 

IEEE 1394
A technology that also goes by the trademark names of FireWire (Apple Computer), i.LINK(Sony) and DTVLink(CEA), this high-speed hardware and software-based networking solution delivers data at rates of between 100 and 800 Mbps. Designed for technologiesrequiring isochronous data transfer (consumer electronics, digital video, etc.), this technology is embodied in a thin cable that provides for "hot-pluggable" connections between devices. A significant advantage of IEEE 1394 is that it is the onlyconnector offering a consumer solution for recording HDTV programming. 

IEEE 802.11b 
Most commonly know as "WiFi," 802.11b is a wireless local-area networking standard. Many PC and networked home entertainment devices use 802.11b, which is capable of speeds up to 10Mbps. 

IEEE 802.11g
Offering speeds up to 54 Mbps, 802.11g is a wireless local-area networking standard that is also backward-compatible with 802.11b devices. 

In-Ceiling, In-Wall, On-Wall Speakers 
Speakers can be installed in ceilings,walls and floors as necessary or desired to blend subtly with room decor. Today's in-wall and in-ceiling speakers are capable of the kind of performance associated with free standing speakers except they can beflush-mounted or hidden almost anywhere. 

Infrared (IR)
A point-to-point, line of sight signal transmission medium, used predominantly for entertainment remote control functions. 

Infrared (IR) Extender Systems
IR extender systems control virtually every aspect of an infrared controllable A/V system from any location. These systems are comprised of three parts. They are IR Keypads/Sensors, IR Main System Units, and IR Flashers. 

These installation professionals install a variety of home-specific electronic products, such as multi-room audio video, home lightning controls, security systems, custom home theaters and structured wiring. 

Internet Protocol Telephony (IP Telephony)
A general term for the technologies that use the Internet Protocol's packet-switched connections to exchange voice, fax, and other forms of information that have traditionally been carried over the dedicated circuit-switched connections of the publicswitched telephone network (PSTN). Using the Internet, calls travel as packets of data on shared lines, avoiding the tolls of the PSTN. The challenge in IP telephony is to deliver the voice, fax, or video packets in a dependable flow to the user. Much ofIP telephony focuses on that challenge. See also VoIP. 

The ability of a system or a product to work with other systems or products without special effort on the part of the customer. 

From the Greek for "equal" and "time,"isochronous data transfer pertains to processes that require timing coordination to be successful, such as voice and digital video transmission. 

A video display technology that uses a liquid crystal display, rather than the traditional picture tube, to display video images. Many of today's flat panel TVs and monitors use LCD technology to achieve a super-thin cabinet design. 

Line Level
The relatively low signal level (typically in the 0.5-5 volt range output by most audio and audio/video source components, separate processors, etc. Line level outputs include RCA-style stereo outputs, composite video, S-video and component video. 

Local Area Network (LAN)
A network of personal computers and peripheral devices configured to share information over a short distance, usually within one home or building. 

Megabits Per Second (Mbps)
Mbps stands for millions of bits per second of megabits per second and it a measure of bandwidth (the total information flow over a given time) on a telecommunications medium. 

As a measure of computer processor storage and real virtual memory, a megabyte (abbreviated MB) is 2 to the 20th power byte, or 1,048,576 bytes in decimal notation. 

Megahertz (MHz)
MHz is a unit of alternating current (AC) or electromagnetic (EM) wave frequency equal to one million hertz (1,000,000 Hz) and is commonly used to express microprocessor clock speed.The unit is occasionally used in measurements or statements of bandwidth 

Mesh Network
A network configuration where data is routed between nodes (devices) on the network. This node-to-node connection offers improved reliability and expanded range compared to other network configurations. 

Short for modulate/demodulate, a modem modulates outgoing digital signals from a computer or other digital device to analog signals for a conventional copper twisted pair telephone line and demodulates the incoming analog signal and coverts it to adigital signal for the digital device. 

MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3 (MP3)
MP3 is an audio format where the original sound file is "compressed" to a fraction of its size while preserving sound quality during playback. MP3 files (identified with the file name suffix of ".mp3") can be easily created from audio CDs and are alsoavailable for downloading from a number of online music stores. 

Multi-Room Audio Distribution
Multi-room audio refers to any audio system that can distribute sound to speakers in multiple listening areas. In its most basic form, a multi-room audio setup contains a source component, like a CD player, an amplifier, like a home theater receiver, andis connected to speakers in at least two different rooms. 

Muti-Room Network
Multi-room networks can be built by connecting two cluster networks together or by extending a single cluster into a second room. 

National Electrical Code (NEC)
Maintained by the National Fire Protection Association(NFPA),NFPA 70,or National Electrical Code, provides "pratical safeguarding of personas and property from hazards arising from the use of electricity." More specifically,the NEC covers the installation 

No-new-wires is a term commonly used to include any networking technology that does not require new wiring to be installed. There are three different media that can be termed no-new-wires.These are further divided into wired media such as telephone and 

Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS)
The wiring used in older homes and many newer homes for telephone service. It is solid conductor,untwisted wired that is unsuitable for most data applications. Due to its prevalence in U.S. homes,several protocols have been developed that can be run over 

Plasma TV
A type of flat-panel video display that uses a special gas sandwiched between layers of glass. When the gas is electrically charged, the gas moves into a"plasma" state and illuminates phosphors,which produce a picture. 

Powerline Carrier (PLC)
Sending electronic information such as on/off commands, through a home's AC powerlines. 

Powerline Carrier Communications (PLC)
Powerline carrier that uses existing power cabling found in homes and commercial buildings to connect devices. Speeds range from 60 bps to over 10 Mbps. Depending on the technology; it is used for controls and data networking. 

Radio Frequency (RF)
RF waves can be transmitted and received through walls and other physical barriers and differs from IR technology, which requires a clear line-of sight between transmitter and receiver. 

Residential Gateway
A device that allows customer premise equipment connected to in-home networks to access and use services from any external network regardless of media. 

RF Modulator
A device that converts line-level audio and video signals (such as the output of a source component) to a RF that can then be received by a radio or TV turner. A common application is to convert the output from a video source component, like a DVD player,to an RF signal that can be distributed to any TV in the home by tuning to an unused channel. 

RG59 is an older form of coaxial cable installed in most homes built before the 90's. It has a 20 gauge center conductor and is not as well shielded as RG6. It is also smaller in overall diameter. It uses an "F" style connector. RG59 does not carry thehigher cable channels, satellite TV or DTV signals clearly and is not recommended for use with cable modems. 

RG6 cable is now specified for most new coaxial cabling in homes.It uses an 18-gauge center conductor and typically is quad-shielded (four shields:two foil and two braids).It too uses an"F"connector, which can be connected to those used by RG59.However, 

A device used to connect two networks, and most commonly used in residential applications to connect a home network to the Internet. 

Security System
A security system is designed to detect unauthorized intrusion into a home, and can also be used to alert the homeowner or authorities in the case of fire, smoke, flooding and more. Monitored systems are connected via telephone or Internet to a centralmonitoring station. Many custom-designed systems can integrate home automation and convenience features with the security functions. 

Shared Wire
Wiring that can be shared for multiple purposes. A shared wire might be telephone wiring that is used for voice phone calls as well as for XDSL Internet access or HomePnA data networking. Other examples of wires that can be shared include coax and powerlines. 

Structured Wiring
A system of low-voltage wires (not power line) designed to carry electronic signals throughout a home. 

Systems Integration Amplifiers
While traditional power amplifiers work well in traditional"stereo"systems, home theater and multi-room systems require an amplifier to do more than just drive speakers. Look for amplifiers that deliver exceptional sound quality, tested reliability, andare designed to integrate many different components into one system. 

Systems Integrator or Installer
This specialist works with you and the builder to install your multi-room audio/video, comfort/convenience or security system. 

Any transmission, emission, or reception of signs, signals, writing, images and sounds or intelligence of any nature by wire, radio, optical or other electromagnetic systems. 

This is a set of certification standards created by Lucasfilm Ltd. for A/V components and speakers. Products that bear this trademark must meet certain minimum standards of performance, which includes special circuitry that re-equalizes the highfrequencies to compensate for the differences between cinema and home theater playback and Timbre Matching, an EQ circuit that smoothes the transitions between front and surround speakers. 

Twisted Pair Cabling
Cable constructed of two braided wires,each with its own dielectric insulation twisted together to form a single cable. The twisting allows the cable to carry higher frequency signals than the cable could otherwise. Most twisted pair cables used in thehome such as CAT 3, 4 and 5 includes four of these pairs of wires within an outer insulating sheathing. There are two basic types of twisted pair cables: Shielded and unshielded. Most applications in the home use unshielded four-pair cable. 

Universal Powerline Bus (UPB)
A proprietary networking standard developed by Powerline Control Systems, Inc. that enables remote control of devices such as lighting, HVAC and appliances using a home's existing powerline (line voltage) wiring rather than dedicated structured wiring. 

Universal Serial Bus (USB)
A "plug and play" interface between a computer and add-on devices (such as audio players, joysticks, digital cameras, telephones, scanners,and printers). USB come in two versions, USB and USP 2.0, the latter offering significantly higher connectionspeeds. 

User Interface
Devices such as volume controls, keypads and LCD touch panels that allow you to control (to varying degrees) all of your home's electronic systems. There are a wide variety of user interfaces available today and most of these interfaces can be seamlesslyplaced in the wall, while others, such as a touch panel are designed to be displayed on a table or counter. More advanced systems can be integrated with your PC allowing for a friendly interface to control music throughout your home from your home PC. 

Voice Over IP (VoIP)
Voice telephone service delivered via the internet. A major advantage of VoIP and Internet telephony is that it avoids the tolls charged by ordinary telephone service. 

Whole-House Network
A whole-house network involves multiple types of cluster networks connected to each other through devices called gateways. This type of network is the most complex but it also provides the most functionality. 

A powerline carrier protocol created by X-10 Ltd. that carries control signals across standard electrical wire. The X-10 protocol is typically used in simple control scenarios such as the remote or automatic turning on/off lights or appliances. 

A relatively new wireless home networking standard that allows compatible devices to share small packets of data, such as on/off commands or temperature readings, for example. Similar to other mesh networks, which use device-to-device communication tomultiple, redundant paths for data to flow, ZigBee's conservative range is estimated to reach over 300 feet. Considering its extremely low-power requirements, ZigBee-enabled devices will likely include household appliances, consumer electronics products,light switches, security sensors and controls, key fobs, smoke detectors and thermostats, to name just a few possibilities. 

A proprietary, low-power networking standard developed by Zensys Inc., which uses a mesh network to transmit control and sensor data among compatible devices. Like ZigBee, Zwave technology is ultra-low power and can be used in appliances, home automationdevices, switches, thermostats, etc.

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