Advanced Technology Services Blog

We Connect You to Your World

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!

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

Tips for Buying a Home Theater System Pt. 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

to be continued………..

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

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

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

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