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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!

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

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

LG Quitting on Plasmas: Fact or Fiction?

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

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

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

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

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

Fab Five: The Best New Home-Theater Products for 2009

CES is done for the year, and we’ve rounded up the top picks for you.  Enjoy! ces-2008-best-products

Control4-Equipped LG TV

LG’s got it: the first TV ready to work with Control4 automation systems and let users run their systems from their TVs.  For now, these sets are commercial, but we hear that a lot of LG’s products start commercial and migrate toward residential.

Pioneer VSX-1019AH Receiver

Head on down to your nearest Pioneer dealer today, folks.  Well, wait till spring, but this multizone Pioneer receiver features 7.1 channels with 110 watts per channel, four HDMI inputs, and you can control it with your iPhone (among other features).  They thought of everything, didn’t they…

Super-slim Sony Bravia

Sony’s lovely Bravia TVs will soon be available in a 9.9-millimeter depth.  That means it will sit almost flush with your wall.  The Bravia Wireless Link Module also allows viewers to transmit pictures wirelessly, eliminating wires hanging all over the place.  Sony’s also bragging about the Wide Color Gamut LED edge light, which provides more vibrant color and coveted blacker blacks.

Samsung Wall-Mountable Blu-ray Player

This sweet little baby will round out the wire-free look of your home theater design.  It mounts neatly on your wall, perhaps under the aforementioned slim Bravia, and keeps a low profile at 1.5 inches thick.  Netflix and Pandora streaming, a gig of flash memory and DVD upscaling are but a few of the nifty features.

Hitachi Gesture TV

The first time you wave at your new Hitachi Gesture and it turns on, it’ll probably be a bit of a sci-fi moment.  Look at TV, look back at hand.  Huh.  It worked.  The Gesture simply uses motion to respond, rather than a remote.  Though it’s still in the planning stages and not due out until 2011, it’s a good one to look forward to.

ces-08-south

January 16, 2009 Posted by | New Products | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Mine’s Thinner, Newer and More Connected than Yours

By Dawn Hatchard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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