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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!

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

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

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

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

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

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