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If you need to patch cables before they enter a system, the best recommendation I can give is to use 110 blocks. For this, you'll need a 110 punchdown tool. The similar alternative is to use 66 punchdown blocks, but they are rarely rated for CAT5 which you'll be incorporating, and they need a special tool as well. With a 110 block, you can cross connect for everything but home audio in one place.
Another alternative is to install a patch panel. These typically have 110 connections on the back and take RJ-45 connections. They're more expensive, but easier to change interconnections with. A lot of dot-coms are unloading these pretty cheap on EBay these days.
I don't know what you mean about looking for advice on network systems. Are you looking for ethernet routers and hubs?
IR is nice for audio/video stuff, but line-of-sight is pretty restrictive. Your remotes are probably all you need there. Wireless is occasionally flaky, and I don't like it for security related applications because very few are actually secure or resistant to interference.
X10 is something to stay away from if you can. It's horribly insecure, subject to lots of problems with interference, and requires connections to the AC for every controller. No one serious uses X10 for security applications. And even for lighting, there are lots of users that have problems with getting units to communicate reliably.
All the other powerline signal carriers seem terribly expensive to me. If a switch costs over $100, it makes little sense to not use the $2 switch it would have replaced.
You may want to consider building your own from the ground up if you're into tinkering. When a high-end HAI controller costs $1500, it's a decent incentive to experiment a bit.
For phone/computer/etc, I've used basic patch panels and punchdown blocks in a wood "cabinet." A basic 1x4 or 1x6
frame with a door and a plywood back do most of what you need.
A smoked glass framed front door looks nice. Toss in a hole or
two for some status LEDs and you're set.
A deep (4-6") 18" x 24" metal box might provide extra
shielding. I've most found distro panels to be a really expensive option without offering a lot.