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A Meeting of the Minds at the Greener Gadgets Conference

This is held once a year! A must see

This is held once a year! A must see

New York City just hosted last week’s “Greener Gadgets Conference” to aid in the awareness of making consumer electronics “greener” in the ways they are manufactured, used, and disposed. Co-produced by CES sponsor, CEA, this is the second of these annual meetings. The topics discussed at the GGC stem from a public concern about the need for eco-friendly products now. It is no longer a problem that only will one day face our descendents, because it is affecting us now.

A primary concern that arised at the conference was whether manufacturing standards reflect this need to be “green.” Though there a growing popularity of marketing the eco-friendliness of products and services, when will standards show the value of making “green” products by reflecting this trend as well? Indeed, people who are shopping for “green” CES are also concerned with product efficiency and performance, mainly in the department of saving energy. Unfortunately, the measurable effects on environment such as carbon footprint are only made aware to businesses and government, while consumers see savings in the form of dollar signs.

At the Greener Gadgets Conference, recyclability was a large topic on the table. The functioning of

just some ideas with more to come

just some ideas with more to come

programs and end result for recyclable products offered up by consumers were the main ideas discussed. According to David Thompson, director of Panasonic’s Corporate Environmental Department, the pressure is on manufacturers of electronics to remain environmentally conscious through all the activities of business, including use of their products. Panasonic is teaming up with Toshiba and Sharp in the MRM Co. (Manufacturers Recycling Management Company), which is a shareholder in the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation. As a Sharp dealer, Advanced Technology Services is proud of the efforts that are being made by these companies to respect and preserve our environment.

Other efforts by companies and individuals to create new “green” products and programs were showcased at the conference. For instance, customers are now able to buy carbon offset cards for their mobile phones according to Michael Newman, vice president of cell phone recycler ReCellular. Four inventions to make consumers aware of energy usage were displayed at the conference. One was the power hog piggy bank, a plug-in device for children that helps them understand energy usage. Also, a wooden indoor laundry drying rack creates less energy waste because there is less dryer usage. The tweet-a-watt is a device set up to relay a consumers’ energy usage to friends via twitter. Finally, the laundry pod was introduced, an electricity-free washer that operates like a salad spinner. The field of CE is looking for more and more ways to be “green,” so stay tuned!

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March 4, 2009 Posted by | 1 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Shopping Tips for a Home Theater System: Part 2

hometheateraccessoriesWhen shopping for a home theater system, you’ve got to check out the details of your potential product in the following categories. Will your “soon-to-be-adopted” TV make the cut?

Visual

When considering the important decision making factors of the visual aspect, focus on the following three features: display type, resolution, and screen size. The type of display you choose will most likely be decided by your budget, the size of the room, the location of the TV in the room, and lighting conditions. Three types of displays that can achieve a desirable image larger than life are flat panels (LCD or plasma), rear-projectors, and front-projectors. LCDs, plasmas, and rear-projectors can display HD images up to 70 inches, while the front-projectors can show an image up to around 10 feet. For a room with much light, LCD is a stronger option. For a dimly lit room, go for plasma or a projection display. The resolution is a semi-important factor when choosing between a non-HD television and an HD television. For a screen size of 30 inches or more, HD is going to make a visible difference to the viewer. However, when comparing HD models, the differences between resolutions are slightly less noticeable unless you are sitting within 10 feet of the screen. A good rule to follow when deciding on the screen size is that the diagonal measurement should not be larger than half of your seating distance. For example, a 60 inch screen should be viewed from at least 10 feet away (120 inches).

Audio

To create the ultimate surround sound experience, you will want a 7 speaker system plus a subwoofer (for extra strong bass). However, the size of your room and the size of your budget may be satisfied with a set of 5 or even 3 speakers. The most important set to start with will include a left, center, and right speaker. It is better to buy high-quality and low-quantity, because you can always add to your collection as your budget grows and room size changes. After securing the three speakers, add a subwoofer first and satellite speakers next. Now you’re on your way to the full home theater experience.

Video Source

Consider that the picture you see on the screen originates from your DVD player, and therefore is limited by the type of resolution allowed by the player and input/output connections. You obviously want the highest resolution possible on your screen, since you’ve invested the money in a TV that is capable of displaying a gorgeous picture. Ideally, use an HDMI connection if at all possible and then use a component connection as a second choice. If you want more info on specifics of several types of input/output, see our blog entitled, “Audio/Video Input for Dummies (AKA Beginners)” on our blog home page. A television with several connection points of various types is a big bonus when hooking up several output devices, such as DVD players, CD players, video cameras, and game consoles. Remember that some of these devices like VCRs and video cameras may require an S-video input or composite input.

Secondly, traditional DVD players operate in 480i output, like most TV broadcast stations do. Upconverting DVD players can produce HD-resolutions of up to 720p, 1080i, or 1080p. However, most HDTVs actually do this process of upconverting internally. The best option is to go with a high-definition DVD player or Blu-Ray player, which both play discs that are originally written in HD language.

As a side note, be sure to consider whether the following will be important factors for you personally. Some people choose to use a DVD player also as a CD player. This makes it possible to listen to music CDs as well as CD-Rs and CD-RWs that contain music files. If this meets your needs, then check to see if the DVD player supports multiple disc formats. In addition, decide if you want the convenience of a multiple disc player that can hold several DVDs and CDs at once.

Lastly, but not of least importance, look to purchase these products from a reliable and supportive retailer (like Advanced Technology Services!) that will help you find the exact products that work for you, and will follow up with installation and customer support. The most important thing is that you go home satisfied and stay that way as you continue to use your home theater system throughout your life.

March 2, 2009 Posted by | 1 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Tips for Buying a Home Theater System Pt. 1

movie-theaterGoing to the movie theater has been a popular social pastime for decades. Is it the enormous screen, the engulfing sound, or the popcorn that keeps people coming back for more $10 movies they could easily rent on DVD or Blu-Ray? That theater experience is something to which we have become addicted and have now begun to implement into our homes. So how do you know what items and features to choose to make your home theater all you could wish for?

First of all, there are three main components of a home theater system: display, DVD player, and speakers. The name of the game seems to be “bigger is better,” but this is not always the case.

A clear, high-resolution picture on a wide screen is the most important factor of the display. Wide screens televisions operate a 16:9 aspect ratio, which, in comparison to the older television ratio of 4:3, comes closer to the picture displayed on a theater screen. DVDs are formatted for wide screen as well, and most tvs that are 27 inches or more measured diagonally, will display high-definition images. Three types of televisions to look for are flat panels (such as LCD or plasma), rear projectors, and front projectors.

A surround sound system will create a theater-like sound of quality and precision that will make you feel as if you are a part of the movie. The six-speaker system includes left, center, and right speakers, as well as two satellite speakers and a subwoofer. These systems are available from manufacturers like JBL, Bose, and Paradigm. A recent popular purchase is the “home theater in a box,” which usually includes a DVD player and set of speakers that mimic the sound of a full surround sound system.

To make these two elements of picture and sound all they can be, you have to start with the source. Byhome_movie_theater now, most people are convinced that a DVD player outputs a higher quality picture than a VHS player, and they are right in this assumption. The difference is 540 horizontal lines of resolution compared to 200 lines. The best quality comes from an HD DVD player or Blu-Ray player, which play discs that have been originally formatted in high-definition, not standard-definition.

Take it all in, young grasshopper, and we’ll talk more in our next blog about the specs to shop for in each of these three elements.

For more info on Home Theater installation contact us or view some examples or Home Theater System(s). Feel free to check them out or contact us anytime!

to be continued………..

February 13, 2009 Posted by | 1 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Audio/Video Input for Dummies (AKA beginners)

HdmiNo Fear.  We’re Here….To un-confuse you about audio-video inputs.  Don’t enter the boxing ring with your electronics salesperson unprepared.  The following descriptions of various types of input types should help clarify the differences in TVs and devices you may be shopping for in the near future.

HDMI:  High Definition Multimedia Interface

This is the most advanced form of video input available currently and will deliver both video and audio signals to your home theater system.  The cable port is a flat, thin shape which is featured on most HDTV’s that are being made and sold today.  The HDMI input allows a digital signal (perhaps from an HD DVD player or Blu-ray player) to be passed through without being converted to analog, which helps to retain maximum picture quality.   HDMI also supports audio formats Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD master audio.

DVI:  Digital Visual Interface

This term usually applies to digital projectors and computer displays, as well as some older HDTV’s.   This input only delivers a digital video signal.  You can try using a DVI to HDMI cable if you want to hook up your HDTV to a DVD player with DVI output.

Component Video

This input uses an analog signal, which is different from the two digital inputs listed above.  Component av Video is supported by some devices, like Xbox 360, yet some manufacturers do not allow the signal to pass through component video because it doesn’t support DRM copy protection.   Though a salesperson may try to sell you on HDMI, component video is capable of transferring a beautiful digital signal as well from an HD device to your HDTV.  The component video tri-input is marked with a “Y” and “Pb” and “Pr” accompanied by the green, blue, and red ports.

S-Video:  Separate Video

Carries purely a video signal and was created around the same time as high-end VHS players.  This works for standard-def images, but are not compatible with HDTV signals.  The S-video input does better for a screen that is 32 inches or less and the cable connection may give you a hard time due to the small pins which must be aligned perfectly to be inserted properly.  It transmits via a two-part signal.

Composite Video

This input is lower quality than all the others mentioned above and only transmits via one signal.  It’s RCA cable attachment is simply user friendly and is available on most HDTVs.  We recommend using all other connections type first if possible.  Don’t be a dinosaur lover.

These are all options to hooking up your home theater systems or signal distribution throughout your home or office.

February 6, 2009 Posted by | 1 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1080p 1080i what’s the dif?

pioneer-elite-kuro-signature-hdtvHave you or a friend recently purchased the latest, top of the line television?  Is the TV supposed to have the clearest resolution available at 1080p?  But is doesn’t?  So, you might be asking yourself:  If I bought a 1080p television, why is the resolution only 1080i or lower?

First of all, most cable and HD Satellite broadcasters only operate in 1080i or 720p.  The television may be capable of a 1080p resolution picture for your stellar home theater design, but it can only display one that is broadcast in that same resolution.  If the picture is 720p, that is what will be seen on the screen, but remember that a 1080p is also capable of fully resolving any picture less that 1080p.  A 720p television will have to scale down the resolution of the picture to meet its native resolution.  Although right now, broadcasters are full of networks operating in 1080i/720p, it is rumored that satellite providers may be offering a full line up of 1080p channels.

Secondly, if your DVD player or other input is not 1080p “quality,” then again, the television will scale down the resolution to that of the lower-resolution device.  Recommended player include Blu-Ray, X-Box, Playstation 3, or an HD DVD player.  These devices are capable of playing a DVD that is originally written in 1080p resolution.

February 5, 2009 Posted by | 1 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment