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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

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

Senate puts DTV Conversion Delay Bill Back In the Race

The “DTV conversion delay” bill, which was defeated in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, may be on its way to revival.  A similar bill was passed with unanimous support in the Senate on Thursday.  The bill was a bi-partisan proposal by Senators Jay Rockefeller, democrat, and Kay Bailey Hutchison, republican.  It not only delays the date that broadcasters will be required to change from analog to digital signal from Feb 17 to June 12, but it proposes that the stations will be allowed to change over sooner if they choose to do so.   Now that the bill has passed in the Senate, it may be brought up for a vote in the House, for which it would only require a majority vote to be passed.  In the previous vote, under other certain rules, a two-thirds majority vote was required.  The vote was 268-158, meaning that if the voters repeat their decisions, the bill will pass in the House unanimously.

The Nielsen Co. has been referenced heavily in this continuing battle for TV signal conversion.  Although the company has stated that over 6 million households are unprepared for the change, 94% of the country’s citizens are ready to go!  Isn’t there a better solution for helping the remaining estimated 6%, rather than holding up something that has been in the works for 10 years now?

Check us out for all your RV Internet systems and In Motion Internet needs

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

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

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

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

America: Not Ready for the Digital Switch

By Dawn Hatchard

Everyone, in theory, is supposed to be ready for the analog to digital switch for television reception. The big day is slated for Feb. 17, 2009.

The government has been educating Americans with commercials about the converter box, coupons and the deadline since January, 2008. Are you one of the estimated million people who has been procrastinating getting your government coupon for a converter box?

With 10 million coupons yet to be redeemed, there is a lengthy waitlist for the issue of new coupons. Apparently, they have exhausted funding and ran out of the coupons themselves. This may be particularly troublesome for rural low-income families.

If you are simply a procrastinator you have other alternatives. Going without your fix of evening news, daytime court shows or favorite network sitcom may not be necessary.

This could very well be your golden opportunity to update and upgrade your home entertainment experience. Satellite services are more affordable than ever, offering more channels and HD satellite quality for less than you spend a week on your favorite beverages.

Rabbit ears and rooftop antennas may be troublesome to obtain decent reception, not to mention unattractive. Similar reception issues are expected with the new digital system. There may be less fuzz in the picture, but there will be lag and pauses in programming as your converter box searches for a signal.

With satellite services, even the most rural residents get the reception needed to follow HDTV Switchprogramming. The major Satellite television companies also offer free DVR (digital video recording) capabilities built in to their boxes. DVR is the best thing since motion picture itself, trust me on this one. It also happens to be user friendly. You will not be able to imagine how you ever watched TV without it.

January 13, 2009 Posted by | Digital Conversion | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Government Runs out of DTV Coupons

By Jonathan Ruspil

Well it looks as if the Government has overspent once again. If you are looking to upgrade converter-boxyour home theater systems it is time to do it now. The Associated Press has reported that the National Telecommunications and Information Administration has already used up all of its 1.34 billion dollar budget that it allocated for DTV coupons. These coupons are good for 40 dollars off the price of a DTV converter box that will be needed come February 17th 2009.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration has been lobbying congress to give them more money towards the program or allow them to issue more coupons to full fill the demand it is encountering. The NTIA is projecting (according to the AP) that roughly 350,000 coupons expire each week from people who fail to use them within the 90 day time period they are given. So although they have run out of money technically they are getting 350,000 coupons back each week to reissue to people that are on the waiting list. If you have not applied for a coupon yet you can apply for one at DTV2009.gov. The quicker you can sign up and get on the waiting list the better.

January 10, 2009 Posted by | Digital Conversion | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

February 17th – Everything Goes Digital: Preparing for the Change

Are you prepared for this big change?

converter_box_program_dtv
One simple thing you can do to guarantee that you will be able to continue viewing your favorite television shows once the changeover from analog to digital signal is complete. Order cable or satellite service! Some cable companies are primed and ready for the transition from analog to digital signal. Secondly, you don’t have to worry about putting a dent in your checkbook, because cable and satellite can be as inexpensive as $14.99/month for basic service. Basic service offers 24 channels and you will still be able to catch Dancing With the Stars, The Mentalist and all your favorite shows.

Another solution is to purchase a converter box. These boxes range in price between $50 and $70. The government is currently offering a $40 coupon toward the purchase of a converter box (maximum of two per household). Each coupon is valid for 90 days and is good for only one box. In order to get your coupon(s), visit the website at http://www.dtv2009.gov or you can call (1-888-DTV-2009) to have one shipped to you. The converter boxes can be complicated to set up, so feel free to contact us with any questions at contact us.

A third option is to replace your current television with an HDTV that comes ready with a digital tuner. This will eliminate the need for the extra piece of equipment (the converter box) in your entertainment cabinet. Retailers nationwide will be trying to increase sales in response to this change in technology, so be on the lookout for great deals on electronics from your favorite local shops. Look for deals on brand like Pioneer Elite , Pioneer , Samsung , and LG . Advanced Technology Services has a great line of products as well and is motivated to help you find the exact TV you are looking for. If you don’t have the money for a new television right away, try one of the first two options mentioned above instead.

The advantages of switching to digital are that the quality of sound and images are so much greater than they were with analog. Digital allows for more programming choices because it is much more efficient than analog due to the rate of compression. If you have cable or satellite, digital service provides more channels and includes some high-definition channels. Once the crossover to digital is complete, you will encounter fewer problems with your programming, due to the fact that digital is not affected as easily by double imaging and noise.

To some, hearing the words “February 17th” may bring the same feeling of dread as the words “April 15th”. There is no reason to be worried if you are informed and you know you are in good hands. We want to be here for you to help answer your questions and find the products and services you need during this time of change and in the future, so don’t hesitate to contact us

January 6, 2009 Posted by | Digital Conversion | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Analog Signal to Digital Broadcasting

On February 18, 2009, all full-power television broadcasting stations will be required by law to transition from analog signal to digital broadcasting.  The publicity surrounding this changeover has many television owners questioning and needing information from a trustworthy source.  As a family-owned and operated business, Advanced Technology Services feels we owe it to our customers to give you the most accurate information available.  We want to help you make decisions with which you are secure.

First, it is important for you to know that this conversion to digital signal by most stations does exclude some broadcasts.  Those stations who broadcast through low-power (Class A) translators do not fall under this federal mandate, and may continue to operate analog signals until they choose to cross over.  These low-power translators operate in areas where the full-power TV stations are unable to broadcast, sometimes due to the geography and topography of the land.  This is the case for many areas near where we are located in Southern Oregon, such as valleys, mountains, and remote areas.  In these areas, the low-power translators extend the signal from the full-power stations through analog signal.  They may also broadcast shows from smaller TV stations, such as ethnic or religious programming.

For those who live in areas which are service by the low-power translators, an ATSC digital/NTSC analog tuner or a digital converter box with analog pass through will be necessary to continue to receive the analog broadcasts.  Most electronic stores carry these products and can be purchased by using a $40.00 coupon that is now being offered by the government.  Be sure that the box does satisfy the above-mentioned requirements before purchasing.  If the box does not have analog pass through, it will either need an adapted form of wiring hook-up or will need to be disconnected in order to view the analog channels.

More info on this can be found on our website as a motosat dealer we will be bringing you more information for mobile systems in the blogs to come.

December 16, 2008 Posted by | Digital Conversion | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments