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House Votes Against Delaying Digital Conversion

house-of-representativesHouse Votes Against Delaying Digital Conversion When brought up for vote in the House of Representatives, the bill proposing a delay of the digital broadcast conversion from February 17 to June 12, was defeated. It did not receive a two-thirds majority vote, which was needed to pass the bill. The vote was 258 in favor (236-Dem, 22-Rep) and 168 against (155-Rep, 13-Dem). The bill could be brought up again for regular floor vote, in which case, it would only require a majority vote to be passed. The “mostly” democratic support of the bill to delay the conversion is based on the fact that they believe that a large number of households (6.5 million) are unprepared for the conversion, a statistic which is confirmed by the Nielsen Co. These citizens are particularly among the poor, rural, and low-income representation of Americans, who either live in areas that receive major stations through analog signal or can’t afford to purchase the equipment necessary to receive signal after the conversion. The government has made coupons available for $40 toward the purchase of a digital conversion box; however there is currently a wait list of 3.2 million requests. The National Telecommunications & Information Administration is only sending out new coupons as older, unredeemed coupons reach the 90-day expiration. Joe Barton, republican congressman of Texas, is pushing for legislation that will aid in this problem without postponing the conversion. Most republicans feel there is no need to delay the conversion. Those against the bill believe that it would incur heavy costs for public safety agencies and wireless companies who are waiting to use the spectrum that will become free after the conversion. Television stations, as well, would be required to pay more to operate both systems for several more months, an expense that is most likely not built into this year’s budget. In addition, Jonathan Collegio, of the National Association of Broadcasters, has voiced that the Nielsen Co.’s statistic on number of unprepared households does not take in to account those who have purchased a converter box and not installed it; those who have requested, but not received coupons; or those who subscribe to cable or satellite television for their home theater system. The Obama administration has not made a comment in reference to the outcome of the vote.

February 4, 2009 Posted by | Digital Conversion | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The CEC: Consumer Electronic Control

HDMI is a structural channel that simplifies cabling and provides the gateway to system-wide intelligence.  For HDMI nevocompliant devices, there is a “universal” remote that can be used, called the consumer electronic control (CEC).  This technology allows multiple electronic devices to be linked together for simultaneous usage by remote.  The remote can connect to a number of multiple devices that support the CEC technology.  This allows easy use of a fully furnished home theater system.  For instance, a camcorder and HD satellite supported television may be powered on/off at the same time with the push of only one button.  An HDTV remote will be able to select the correct input automatically on an A/V receiver and a television by simply pushing play on the DVD player.

Another fantastic use of the CEC is the “remote control pass through” application.  Instead of using a secondary device to receive the infrared signal so that devices behind opaque surfaces in the entertainment center can still be used, the HDTV remote may be used to control all of the other hidden devices as well.  Also, a CEC enabled HDTV remote can change channels on the set-top box tuner, without the need of a separate remote control.

There is no programming necessary, like with the traditional universal remote.  Also, the devices a consumer wants to sync up do not need to be made by the same manufacturer.  Any device that supports CEC technology will be compatible with the remote control.

February 2, 2009 Posted by | New Products | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

All you need to know about buying a HDTV and more

glossary_pic_with_wordsSo you know that it’s time to shop for a new television. You also know that you want a big, beautiful, colorful, clear picture and a booming and well-balanced sound, so why can’t the product specs tag say just that? Sorting through the list of impressive numbers and lingo can be a labyrinth for someone who is unfamiliar with what these terms actually mean. Let’s get down to business with some of these commonly used descriptions and find out what really matters when shopping for a high-definition TV set:
HDTV: High-Definition Television. This is the high-resolution subset of our HDTV system. The FCC has no official definition for HDTV. The ATSC defines HDTV as a 16:9 image with twice the horizontal and vertical resolution of our existing system, which is accompanied by 5.1 channels of Dolby Digital audio. The CEA defines HDTV as an image with 720 progressive or 1080 interlaced active (top to bottom) scan lines. 1280:720p and 1920:1080i are typically accepted as high-definition scan rates.
SDTV: Standard Definition Television. This is the lower resolution subset of the ATSC’s DTV system. 480i is typically accepted as an SD signal. Digital broadcasters can offer multiple sub-programs at SDTV quality, as opposed to one or two HD programs. Digital satellite and digital cable often refer to the majority of their programs as SDTV, somewhat erroneously, as neither system has anything to do with DTV, though both, technically, consist of a digital 480i signal.
Plasma: Flat-panel display technology that ignites small pockets of gas to light phosphors. They are known for excellent image quality and superior color contrast.
LCD: Liquid Crystal Display. A display that consists of two polarizing transparent panels and a liquid crystal surface sandwiched in between. Voltage is applied to certain areas, causing the crystal to turn dark. A light source behind the panel transmits through transparent crystals and is mostly blocked by dark crystals. An LCD television is known for a bright and vibrant picture, but may give an inconsistent picture quality and color contrast from seats that are not directly in front of the screen.
DLP: Digital Light Processing. This is a Texas Instruments process of projecting video images using a light source reflecting off of an array of tens of thousands of microscopic mirrors. Each mirror represents a pixel and reflects light toward the lens for white and away from it for black, modulating in between for various shades of gray. Three-chip versions use separate arrays for the red, green, and blue colors. Single-chip arrays use a color-filter wheel that alternates each filter color in front of the mirror array at appropriate intervals.
Virtual surround sound: The television’s built-in speakers are not going to meet the same quality of a surround sound system that is purchased separately with several speakers. However, it will attempt to produce the equivalent of the sound of a home theater installation of surround sound.
Contrast: Relative difference between the brightest and darkest parts of an image. A contrast control adjusts the peak white level of a display device.
Black Level: Light level of the darker portions of a video image. A black level control sets the light level of the darkest portion of the video signal to match that of the display’s black level capability. Black is, of course, the absence of light. Many displays, however, have as much difficulty shutting off the light in the black portions of an image as they do creating light in the brighter portions. CRT-based displays usually have better black levels than DLP, plasma, and LCD, which rank, generally, in that order.
Energy Star qualified: The most recent rules are called Energy Star 3.0. These require the product to perform at a certain level of maximum power consumption when in use. It is best to find a TV that meets these guidelines. The older rules are not as strict on energy consumption, because they pertain to when the set is on standby, not when it is in use.

Aspect ratio: The ratio of image width to image height. Common motion-picture ratios are 1.85:1 and 2.35:1. Television screens are usually 1.33:1 (also known as 4:3), which is similar to the Academy standard for films in the ’50s. HDTV is 1.78:1, or 16:9. When widescreen movies (films with aspect ratios wider than 1.33:1) are displayed on 1.33:1 televisions, the image must be letterboxed, anamorphically squeezed, or panned-and-scanned to fit the screen.24p, or 1080p24: A set with this feature can show 24 frames per second, exactly the way movies are shot. Cinephiles may notice smoother, more cinematic images, but the feature works only with Blu-ray players connected by HDMI cables.
120 Hz: The display will smooth out motion, making scenes with action or a moving camera look sharper. Expect to pay more for these sets.
720p: The display has low resolution, but is still high-definition. Adequate for screens smaller than 40 inches, or ones meant to be watched from more than 12 feet away.
1080p: The display has high resolution. Good for screens larger than 40 inches, or ones used for gaming, as computer displays, or for Blu-ray playback.
Anamorphic: Process that horizontally condenses (squeezes) a 16:9 image into a 4:3 space, preserving 25 percent more vertical resolution than letterboxing into the 4:3 space. For the signal to appear with correct geometry, the display must either horizontally expand or vertically squish the image. Used on about two or three promotional laser discs and many DVDs. This may also be referred to as “Enhanced for Widescreen” or “Enhanced for 16:9.”
HDMI: HDTV connection format using a DVI interface that transfers uncompressed digital video with HDCP copy protection and multichannel audio.
VGA: An input for a computer video signal. Many newer computers can use the higher-quality HDMI inputs instead, so VGA is not essential even if you plan to connect your PC to your TV.
ATSC: Advanced Television Systems Committee. This is a government-directed committee that developed our digital television transmission system. The ATSC tuner allows reception of digital television signals broadcast in North America, and is typically a standard feature in HDTVs.
NTSC: National Television Standards Committee. This is a government-directed committee that established the U.S. color TV standard in 1953. Also known, sarcastically, as Never Twice the Same Color or Never The Same Color due to the inherent difficulty in achieving proper color calibration. The NTSC tuner is for analog broadcast TV. These signals will not be used after the digital conversion this year, so don’t pay attention to this feature.
Composite: This is a low-quality video connector for older game consoles and VCRs, which is not able to carry a high-definition signal.
Component: A high-quality, three-lead connector for game consoles, DVD players and cable boxes, which is able to carry a high-definition signal, but is not quite as good as HDMI.
As a custom audio video dealer we looking forward to bringing you home theater or mobile satellite dish to life.

January 30, 2009 Posted by | General Information | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 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

Pioneer Kuro LCD Released!!

pioneer-elite-kuro-signature-hdtvPlease welcome to the family a new member from Pioneer Kuro! Until recently, Pioneer Kuro has always been a plasma model, but a new Pioneer Kuro LCD flat screen has just been released. There is some questioning of this new edition by Pioneer Kuro fans, due the plasma version’s reputation for the deepest blacks available. See, the Japanese word “Kuro” means black, and how could an LCD live up to this name?

Check out the specs on this new model:

It will be available in three sizes; 46-inch, 37-inch, and 32-inch. With a resolution of 1080p, the performance of this LCD HDTV matches the visual experience of a plasma television screen picture. The brushed aluminum finish makes it a tasteful complement to any high class home theater system. Other features include a high-contrast front filter, 100Hz processor, 3 HDMI ports, a PC input that allows the screen to be used as a computer monitor, blu-ray compatibility, aluminum preset remote control, and KURO LINK for remote control usage of main functions with other Pioneer equipment.

The automatic backlight adjustment and ambient light sensor help control the color contrast for optimum viewing, also aiming to maximize the benefits of both LCD and plasma televisions. The Kuro LCD boasts a viewing angle of 176 degrees from top to bottom and left to right. Also, the 32 and 37 inch versions are mounted on a swivel that rotates 15 degrees for optimal viewing angle.

Home Theater system

Home Theater system

The 32 and 37-inch Kuro LCD TV is now available in Europe, with the 46-inch on the verge of release. As a Pioneer dealer, we will keep you updated about any news of its debut in the United States.

January 21, 2009 Posted by | New Products | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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

LCD vs. Plasma: The Battle is On

plasma vs lcdAdmit it. When shopping for electronics, some of us are more gifted and knowledgeable than others. There can be so many factors in the decision of which television to choose for your home theater system, such as size, type, brand, and so on. And now, the answer to the question we’ve all been waiting for: “Which is better, plasma or LCD?”

Advantages of Plasma plasmatv

Color.

A plasma screen displays color more vibrantly. The black is a deep ink color, which creates better color contrast. This is good for those who use multiple film sources because it gives a more cinematic and three-dimensional picture. People and things in the picture look more realistic on a plasma tv. Plasma is a good choice if you can control the amount of ambient light in the room. Pioneer and Pioneer Elite are two brands that are best known for the use of the deepest black screen color.

Unlimited viewing angle.

The image on a plasma screen is consistent when viewed from any seat in the room. Plasma maximizes brightness of color and contrast, unlike an LCD, on which the picture vibrancy may fade if you are not sitting directly in front of the screen.

No screen blur.

Plasmas do not blur or smear images from motion on screen, like LCD’s are prone to do. Plasmas are known for image clearness.

Lower cost.

In general, plasmas have been less expensive that LCD’s. However, this is not always the case for top-end and larger size models.

Advantages of LCD

Brightness.

In a well-lit room, the screen display of an LCD tv will perform with excellence in the category of brightness. If ambient light is not a strong point in the room, a plasma tv may be a better choice.

No glare.

The screen of an LCD is designed with a matte finish. This is a prime difference between it and the plasma television, and is often a matter of personal preference when making the decision between the two. Keep in mind that not every LCD is this way, so double check before purchasing.

No image retention.

An LCD has one up on the plasma, in that a plasma may retain the imprint of an image if it remains on the screen for too long. This is an issue that some manufacturers have tried to counteract by creating a screen saver that enables after a certain amount of time has passed to keep the screen of a plasma protected.

Energy efficiency.

Typically, LCD’s use less power than plasmas do per square inch, making them more eco-friendly and wallet-friendly. Again, manufacturers are aware of this concern for consumers and are therefore creating energy-saving models for both types of tvs, so the significance of this benefit for LCD’s is diminishing.

Your way, right away.

Currently, there seem to be more choice in variety, style, and size for an LCD due to more market presence. Plasmas are out there and are becoming more popular as well.

The Conclusion?

To sum it up, when purchasing a television, you get what you pay for. A higher end model of either LCD or plasma is a great investment long term if you can afford the price tag. Although LCD’s have been more expensive in the past, the price for larger televisions of both types are becoming closer and more competitive, as the focus has now been put on the product features and performance.

For more information on RV Mobile Satellite check out our website at http://www.advtechservices.net

January 17, 2009 Posted by | General Information | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments