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Who’s the Lucky Winner? (Of Circuit City’s Former Customers)

circuit-cityWith the recent resignation of Circuit City from the retail face of consumer electronics, what will happen to the business of Circuit City’s former customers? Results do not look promising for consumer electronics specialists like dealers and small businesses, who undoubtedly would give customers a more personal and service-backed purchasing experience. In a survey, it was revealed that 66% of Circuit City’s customers would be taking their business to Best Buy (55%) or Walmart (11%). The remaining 34% of customers could be considered potential specialty customers for a smaller CE business or an audio video dealer.

Of the customers who would be turning to big-box stores to satisfy their CE needs, the following reasons were given for their choices.

40 % Price

29% Product Selection

22% Store Location

The lukewarm news for CE specialists is neither great nor terrible, because these customers who shop based on price and location are not as likely to appreciate the benefits of working with a CE specialist anyway. They are mostly transactional customers who do not require a high level of customer service, and are not necessarily the ideal candidates to which CE specialists market. So, unfortunately, there may only be a precious minority of CC customers that will become customers of CE specialists, like Advanced Technology Services.

With Circuit City on the verge of their liquidation sale, consumers are already starting to shop elsewhere. A tidbit of advice: don’t forget your local businesses and dealers! Businesses like Advanced Technology Services help you get the best return on your investment in the consumer electronics you choose to purchase. Along with the personal customer service you receive during your purchasing decision, you will find a selection from higher quality and feature-rich products and services, as well as continued support over time as you use them. Also, many dealers like Adv. Tech Services are experienced in consulting to help you find multiple solutions to your CE desires. We offer products and services in several areas of residential, commercial, and mobile applications from internet connectivity to audio video equipment to home security. Contact us so we can help you get started down the road to your technological goals!

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March 6, 2009 Posted by | Industry News | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

LG Quitting on Plasmas: Fact or Fiction?

LG signSuspicion is that rumors are flying about the possibility of LG leaving the market as a plasma producer. LG’s vice-president, Lee Gyu-Hong, has been reported as saying that the future is uncertain for LG in the plasma sector. If LG does pull out of the market, they would be following the recent resignations of Vizio and Pioneer plasma. These changes would leave all the work to only three major manufacturers on the plasma market – Panasonic, Samsung, and Hitachi. Is this a sign of doomsday for the plasma TV or will the lack of competition cause Panasonic, Samsung, and Hitachi to rack up in sales? It seems that manufacturers are pulling away slowly as profitability decreases, going from six major brands to a possible three in the timespan of a few months!

Shortly after this rumor of LG’s withdrawal hit the media, there was a contradictory response from George Mead, Marketing Manager for Digital Displays at LG Electronics UK. He said reportedly that the UK division of LG did not intend to withdraw from the plasma market at all, although there were discussions going on at LG about the major changes going on currently in the plasma market. Other specifics from his conversation seem to support the idea that LG is doing well in the UK, but what about the US market? LG’s recent release of the LGH9000 plasma television, which uses a wireless HDMI connection, leads us to believe that LG, as a company, will persevere. Is it possible that LG would continue to prosper in other markets while withdrawing from the US market, like Phillips did last year?

As a Pioneer dealer and Samsung dealer, Advanced Technology Services wants to continue to support our customers through this time of change in the plasma market. We will continue to offer superior customer service to those who have purchased Pioneer televisions from us. Please comment on our blog below or contact us via our website with any questions, thoughts, or concerns.

February 28, 2009 Posted by | HDTV, Industry News | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Flat Panel TVs: Is Buying Cheap Brands Worth Saving Dollars?

no-walmartBig distributors like Walmart, Sam’s Club, and Costco are turning out less expensive flat-panel televisions almost as quickly as milk and eggs. While this might be a slight exaggeration, it seems that as the price of these TVs declines, the quality does the same. When is it worth it to save the money, and when should you be worried you are actually wasting dollars on a low-quality product?

Surely you are looking for the best bang for the buck, even if it means you may have to make a slightly larger investment for a better return on your money. If you are not penny-pinching, it is best to go for a better quality product from your local audio video dealer, like us, Advanced Technology Services. If you are penny-pinching, maybe it is not the right time to be buying a flat-panel television!

panasonicRemember that most of the televisions sold on discount in large distribution-style stores are often stripped of the best features that can be found with the devices that we, as a Toshiba and Pioneer Elite dealer, sell and service on a consistent basis. These TVs in stores may also be made by brands you are not familiar with. The products and brands we sell have passed the test of time. Sometimes, finding positive feedback and reviews for many of these new, cheap, no-name brands is tough.

It is important, when choosing the right television, to listen to the audio, check out the connections, and put your “hands-on” the product you are buying, in addition to just seeing the screen. It’s a big purchase and you should be completely satisfied with your choice! We are happy to demonstrate the product you are interested in buying, answer any questions, inform you of the products offerings, and provide product support after your purchase.

If you are looking to build a new home theater system or a RV satellite system feel free to give us a call or email anytime!!

February 11, 2009 Posted by | HDTV, Industry News | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Circut City Sale….. Is It Really Worth the Headache

headacheThe Circuit City liquidation sale is now in full swing, only a few days after the company of 60 years finally declared bankruptcy.  Many items are marked 30% off, such as cables and furniture, while the most desirable items are not offered at such great savings.  Several items such as mp3 players, televisions, home theater design, gaming consoles and computers are only marked down 10%.  While Circuit City has turned over operation management of the remaining 500 plus stores to four liquidation companies, it can be expected the heftiest sale prices will not be revealed until the last minute.

Many of these remaining Circuit City stores are attracting lengthy lines of eager customers to what is supposed to be a grand liquidation sale.  Some of these shoppers are calm and some are as hasty as if the store will vanish into thin air within moments.  It seems that the energy for scooping up the deals comes to a halt once the disappointing reality hits about the actual savings.  According to these shoppers and other consumers who have publicly voiced their opinions, the liquidation is not all it should be and many are glad to see the company go under.  Shoppers know they can receive better deals on electronics from other distributors, retail electronic stores, or from an audio video dealer.

A concern that can be addressed here and now is whether during this liquidation the following will remain valid: extended warranties, gift cards, and the refund/exchange policy.  Extended warranties will be honored due to the fact that they are managed by an outside vendor.  Gift cards can be used as well during the remainder of the sale, but of course, will be invalid once the company stores are all officially closed.  Spend them if you have them.  For any merchandise purchased from January 16 forward, there are no refunds or exchanges allowed, but if purchased prior to this date, the standard 14-day refund/exchange policy applies.

January 29, 2009 Posted by | Industry News | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Digital Pushback!! Is it happening

Currently being debated in the Senate is a bill that would push back the date of the analog to digital broadcast conversion to June 12, approximately 4 months past the current deadline of February 17.  The bill was proposed by Senate Commerce Committee Chairman, John D. Rockefeller (Democrat, West Virginia), and is likely to be strongly supported by President Obama, who has already called for a possible postponement after the $1.34 billion budget was maxed out.   digit-al

The main concern is that many consumers are not ready for the changeover.  This conclusion was drawn after a report from Nielsen Co. stated that approximately 6.5 million households were unprepared for the transition.  Many people are not anticipating the changes that are necessary in order to view channels on home theater systems or mobile satellite TV.  At the same time, opinions have been voiced by public citizens that these remaining people have had plenty of forewarning, but have chosen to ignore the upcoming change.

Disadvantages of the possible pushback include confused consumers, dual broadcasting costs for television companies, and the fact that the organizations that had planned to use the newly available spectrum space will be scrambling to change plans.  This possible delay also leaves public broadcasters with the fear of a lack of funding, due to the fact that they will have to continue to pay to operate both the analog and digital signal with an already slashed budget for FY09.  The bill will still allow television stations to crossover before June 12, though it may also cause confusion and frustration for the viewers.

January 26, 2009 Posted by | Industry News | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Circut City Is Closing it’s Doors

circuit-city_exterior-store-frontLong-lived consumer electronics store, Circuit City began the process of closing its doors as of Friday, January 16, 2009, when bankruptcy judge Kevin Huennekens approved the liquidation plan. The sales will begin at a 10-30% discount for the liquidation, which should last through March before finally closing the doors.

Circuit City has made attempts to save the company through layoffs of high-paid employees, changes in management, seeking potential buyers, and opening small concept stores. Earlier in 2008, Blockbuster Inc. made an offer of$1 billion to buy Circuit City, but the offer was withdrawn in July. Two other interested potential buyers were Mexican billionaire Ricardo Salinas Pliego and the Golden Gate Capital private equity firm, who were both interested in operating the company at a reduced size of 180 to 300 stores. In the end, these efforts have not been successful in preserving the future of the company.

Circuit City has struggled ever since opening of electronic guru, Best Buy Co., whose stock market shares rose +2.20 on Friday, growing to 29.34 for an 8% total increase. It is also not surprising that this closure for the famous electronics store follows the worst retail holiday season since 1969. Consumers are voicing their opinions of Circuit City in public forums and media to the tune that this closure does not come as a surprise. Many think that Circuit City might still be in business if they weren’t so overpriced in comparison to the competition. Even during the liquidation sale, many items are only discounted 10%. These prices are not even coming close to beating prices at other electronics stores and wholesale distribution stores who also sell products from home theater design as well as home theater installation.

By the completion of Circuit City’s closure, 567 US retail stores and 34,000 jobs will be lost. In Canada, the outcome is uncertain for the765 retail stores and dealer outlets.

January 22, 2009 Posted by | Industry News | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Consumer Electronics are Going Green

going_greenThis year, the expectation has been set for citizens, companies, and government to act with an environmentally conscious mindset.  Is this a trend for 2009, or is it a lifestyle that will be adopted to improve our society?

At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in 2009, many company’s booths featured “green” products, alternative energy sources, eco-friendly packaging, and environmental efforts.  This is a convention that we, as an audio video dealer, try to attend consistently so that we stay informed of the latest developments in the field of electronics.  Some of these companies had a separate “green” section at the booth, and some had side-by-side models of “green” models and previous models of their products to demonstrate the improvements in eco-friendliness.


The efforts demonstrated by these companies included, but were not limited to:

use of recycled materials in product manufacturing

buy-back and recycling programs for used products

new products on the market that are more energy efficient

charitable environmental causes and projects

emphasis on compliance with Energy Star ratings

Specifically, Toshiba was honored with “green” ratings by Greenpeace for its eco-friendly laptop, Portege R600, which fell on the list shortly under the “greenest” product, Lenovo’s L2440x computer monitor.  Toshiba has begun a tree-planting program in Southern California’s areas damaged by wildfire, to make an effort toward their goal of reducing their carbon footprint upon the planet.

LG, Panasonic, and Samsung are among some of the companies who are now producing TVs and/or washer and dryer sets that operate on less wattage than the previous generations of these products.  The LG50, LG60, and LG70 series of LCD televisions also include an ambient light sensor for adjusted power usage, so when less energy can be used to operate the device, it will.  In addition, Panasonic and Sony are also involved in recycling and buy-back programs for CRTs, laptops, batteries, and other types of electronics that need to be disposed.

In an effort to create awareness of power usage, energy-monitoring devices are starting to appear on the market from companies such as:  P3 International, Ecobutton, and Green Plug.  These plug-in devices monitor and measure energy flow and may cause idle devices to hibernate when appropriate.

Alternative energy sources have been extended to produce a device we all probably thought was either earthunimaginable or would only exist in the millennial world of the Jetson’s:  a pocket sized solar panel.  The smallest version of this portable energy source, made by PowerFilm, unfolds from a package that is wallet-sized, holds two AA batteries, and retails at $55.  This is an incredible tool for hikers, backpackers, boaters, and members of the military.

Across the board, electronic companies are making efforts to give consumers the option of being “green” in their purchasing decisions.  It is up to us to meet their challenge not only this year, but in our future.

We look forward to bringing you greener ideas and products with out future home theater design. Doing our part creating a greener earth.

January 20, 2009 Posted by | Industry News | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Blockbuster On Demand….. Is It Really Here?

Blockbuster is coming to terms with the fact that internet video blockbusterstreaming and downloading has put video rentals stores on their way out the door.  In response, Blockbuster has a new product on the market for movie-watchers to view on their home theater systems, the MediaPoint Player.

MediaPoint makes is possible to download videos over home internet or mobile internet connection for immediate viewing.  The device is made by 2Wire Inc. and costs $99 when purchased from the website.  The first 25 movie rentals from blockbuster are free, while they run $1.99-$4.99 afterwards.  As a latecomer to the market, Blockbuster meets these other competitors who are already on the market:  Roku Netflix Player $99, Apple TV $229, and Vudu $299.

MediaPoint Player fails to compare in these ways

  1. Download time for each movie can range up to an hour, depending on connection speed.  It begins playing in the meantime, but can only play forward continuously during this time.  It cannot be stopped and resumed or fast-forwarded and rewound until the download is complete.
  2. User interface on screen and on the remote are not as user-friendly as the competitor’s products.  Image on screen can be blurry on a HDTV and the buttons on the remote have complicated and cryptic appearance.
  3. Standard definition is the format for most movies available for rental.  Some are in HD, but are not marked as such when selecting from the screen.
  4. 24 hour rental rule keeps you from being able to watch half tonight and half tomorrow night.  In this case, it would have to be downloaded and paid for a second time and you wouldn’t be able to fast-forward to the pick-up point until the download was complete.  Otherwise, you would have to complete the movie earlier in the evening before the hourglass ran out!
  5. Pricing model is not incomparable to Apple and Vudu, but is easily beaten by Netflix.  Netflix has its content licensed differently, allowing a pass off of savings to the consumer for unlimited viewing at a measly $9/mth.  Also, the library of blockbuster contains about 2,000 titles up against Netflix’ staggering 12,000 title stash.

Advantages of the MediaPoint Player

  1. Blockbuster has quicker availability for rental than Netflix, releasing them as soon as one month from the DVD public release date.  However the Roku (maker of the Netflix Player) is teaming with Amazon to offer rentals in the same fashion as Blockbuster currently is able to do.
  2. Blockbuster (along with Apple and Vudu) downloads movies instead of streaming them like Netflix, so the quality is more consistently high quality once the download is complete.

There are some positive characteristics about the MediaPoint from Blockbuster, but in this race, the first place medal is going to another runner.

As an audio video dealer we look forward to bringing you more information on topics like these

January 19, 2009 Posted by | Industry News | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

LG makes a splash at CES

By Joanna McDonald

logo_lgHome theater enthusiasts have some new toys to look forward to from LG to upgrade their home theater systems. At the Consumer Electronics Show last week in Las Vegas, LG debuted gadgetry that allows you to watch TV wirelessly. A box, placed on a TV stand or tucked discreetly out of sight, uses a 60GHz channel to send an uncompressed 1080p image to your wall-mounted flat-panel. This is great on the home theater design front too—if you install an outlet on the wall directly behind the TV, and you’ll eliminate all those impossibly messy wires for a sleek, clean look.

There was also news that will cause Netflix lovers everywhere to swoon, and likely head in droves to the nearest retailer of LG products. (Netflix, of course, is the online DVD rental king that allows subscribers to choose DVDs, receive them in the mail, and return at their convenience, sans late fees. It’s been massively popular and has been actively building partnerships with the likes of Microsoft, TiVo and Samsung.) LG will start peddling TVs with Internet connectivity that can stream any of Netflix’s 12,000 offerings. You may already be aware that one of LG’s Blu-Ray players has the Netflix-streaming capability, but who needs a Blu-Ray player when…umm…you don’t need one?

The LG-Netflix partnership does have notably stiff competition in this field of content streaming. Amazon.com and Roku announced last week that they’ll be pairing up; California-based Roku will produce a set-top box through which users will be able to buy, rent and watch the 40,000 movies and TV shows that Amazon has.

One other notable feature LG unveiled at CES was blur reduction, which they’ve coined “TruMotion.” It’s gotten mainly good reviews for helping to reduce the blur that occurs during fast motion scenes.

January 14, 2009 Posted by | Industry News | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Mine’s Thinner, Newer and More Connected than Yours

By Dawn Hatchard

cesBigger is not better this year at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Efficiency, internet capabilities, and portable devices have taken over the “mine’s bigger than yours” competition seen in recent years.

Meeting the demand for more energy efficient TVs, Samsung has introduced 1-inch thick TVs that reportedly use 40% less energy. Rather than fluorescent lamps, these ultra-thin TVs utilize LEDs (light-emitting diodes) as the light source.
Netflix has done it again by making its innovative online movie ordering available from your TV. LG has paired with Netflix to enable users to stream some 12,000 movies and shows right to the HD sets with no additional equipment required.

Are 12,000 titles not enough for you? Amazon has partnered up with the new players, Roku Inc., to offer 40,000 movies and shows on the $100 Roku player (www.roku.com).

Of course there is more available with these internet-friendly TVs than just the ability to stream videos. Small internet applications can be utilized alongside the program you’re watching. Couch surfing will take on a whole new meaning as you watch a movie and stay on top of messages, all on one screen. All the big names have hopped on this bandwagon, including: LG, Samsung, Pioneer, Pioneer Elite, Sony, Toshiba and Panasonic.

What will one of these broadband TVs set us back, as the consumer? It is less than you might think; only a mere $200-$300 more than standard HD sets.

Do you gotta have BLU-RAY? Want it everywhere? This portable prayer has been answered by the thoughtful folks at Panasonic. A couple of specs include: 8.9 inch LCD and VIERA CAST internet accessibility. VIERA CAST offers access to Amazon’s video-on-demand, YouTube, and other popular applications. One unfortunate condition is the 3-hour rechargeable battery, which limits the number of movies you can watch before recharging.

No pricing information is available from Panasonic, but we all know that if you want the premium quality of BLU-RAY, you must pay the premium price.

January 9, 2009 Posted by | Industry News | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments