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Comments: 268

Why Boxee may Devour Google TV and Apple TV?

Internet TV Streaming device wars!

What is Boxee you say? OH you are going to be happy after reading this. That is if you want to stream internt TV to your gigantic 110" projection screen or say your LED 40" too.

Boxee is a brand new streaming device that could take over the world. Can you tell I am really excited about this one? Why is it better than Apple TV or Google TV?

Well it's not limited like apple TV is to itunes and little else you don't have to focus on renting shows. And it is not blocked by all of the broadcasting stations like Google TV is.

An Awesome Remote. Seriously have you seen the google TV remotes they are rediculous. The Boxee Bxo remote is double sided and has very simple buttons and a track pad on one side while on the other it has a qwerty keyboard just like a cell phone would. easy to use for searching, etc.

It looks cool

Let's face it the goolge tv thing a ma jig by Logitech look like a plastic peace of junk. this thing is intriquing. It sits sort of tilted back as if to say yep I rock.

A lot of Content

Yes you can stream thousands of TV episodes from the internet such as Hulu.

Plus great movie selections like Netflix (who doesn't get netflix nowadays) but you can get VUDU (brand new release HD movies with surround soundand) and MUBI (Foreign film website) Plus you can add apps that give you even more like NHL, Pandora, MLB, plus flicker, facebook, twitter, the list goes on and on.

Watch Later

I'm a busy websurfer I don't have time to watch every video right now when I find it or if a friend suggests it to me. Well Boxee is your best friend with their wonderful Watch Later button, you can surf the web and automatically mark things to "watch later" that will allow you to pull it up next time you sit down infront of your TV with your new firend boxee connected to it. How sweet is that?

It's Social

This is one feature I think many will really enjoy more than they realize it now. Of course web 2.0 is all the craze, and boxee capitalizes on this. So with Boxee you can watch things that friends on facebook are watching or have watched and with the touch of a button you can broadcast what you are watching to social sites too.

This may sound funny but if you've never sat and streamed Hulu on a TV before you may not realize how lazy we TV viewers really are. This is why Leanback via Youtube was invented. Once your show is done that you sit down to watch you may find yourself saying ok what should I watch now. This is usually when your cable provider would through another tv show at you. But with Hulu it stops, sure you could get up and get some sleep or clean or something but come on. Why not just look at what a friend you are following just finished watching. You may want to block your mom from following you though.

Great Price and Easy to Find

Yes $199 is a price I'd be willing to pay for all this. Plus Boxee has partnered up with DLink so they will be carried all over, best buy, computer stores, target etc.

The bottom line is if you are in the market for an internet streaming device it's worth taking a look at boxee. www.boxee.tv

As always we'd love to hear your feedback and comments.

Comments: 268
Comments: 835

Streaming Internet TV: Google TV vs. Apple TV

apple tv logo

Are you streaming internet video to your TV? What an exciting time to be living. We've seen VHS BETA wars, Blu-ray vs. HDDVD, now is it google TV vs Apple TV? There are so many options out there right now It's hard to know which way to go. Luckily the investment is not to high Apple Tv is only $99 although I feel it is very limited. I really don't see the point in buying something just to be able to rent per episode TV, on on demand movies. Google TV is well versed as it does some web browsing, and can get other channels, Although the networks have mostly blocked it currently from their internet content. The idea of apps is sort of interesting but most people are looking for a way to stream video content not look at twiiter, facebook, etc on their HDTV.

Boxee Box

www.boxee.tv

One interesting new player is Boxee. If you haven't heard about it and you are looking at getting involved with streaming I'd recommend at least investing sometime into researching it. Boxee is a internet streamer with very similar hardware specs to Google TV. It differs because it has a twist with social media and friends etc. I also like the idea of marking various content as watch later! Keep your eyes open for this.

Play On

www.playon.tv/playon

What I am currently doing is using Play on software running on a computer that streams various internet content directly to my internet connected samsung TV. Looks good. With this software I can stream Hulu (which is basicially all I need ) but it can do a lot more by adding in plug ins etc. I don't really see this as being a mainstream solution as it is a little geeky but maybe that's why I like it.

We'll be coming back later with more indepth information about all of the various ways to stream video to your TV.

In the mean time let us know what you are doing ofr if this is even something you are interested in.

Comments: 835
Doug Kasper - Mon Apr 19, 2010 @ 05:54PM
Comments: 466

Home Theater Subwoofer

How do you find the best speaker placement for a subwoofer in a Home Theater installation?   We'll outline a very simple method that anyone can do.  

Remember that there are many things to consider when placing speakers.   Obliviously sound is one of them but also we have to think of how it looks in a room.   Many times the best place to put a speaker is determined to also be the ugliest by our spouses.  :-)   This leads us to compromise.   That being said lets talk about Sub woofer placement.

Make sure you have a CD in hand a receiver and a subwoofer with a long cable connecting your sub and receiver.   Do you know where you are going to sit?   I hope so.  If so take your sub and place it right by your prime seating location.  Then crank up your CD with the sub booming away walk around the room and listen to where the bass sounds the best.    Mark a couple of your favorite locations with painters tape on the floor.  

Then move the sub to another main listening location and do the same thing again.  

After you have done this 3-5 locations you should have a good idea of the best place to get the bass to sound the best in the room.   If you are more concerned about your prime listening locations in your Home Theater then you can take that into consideration when placing your sub.      

This is a quick and easy method that anyone can do.  The thing to remember is that everyone has their own listening preferences so where you would place your sub is not the same that your neighbor wood.   

I'd recommend going for a placement that allows the bass to blend in smoothly with your other speakers too.   

I hope that gives you a great starting point for your Home Theater.  

Comments: 466
Doug Kasper - Thu Apr 01, 2010 @ 11:23AM
Comments: 200

3d tv home theater system3D TV for your Home Theater System

Wow it seems like just yesterday we were talking about the future of using 3D TV in Home Theater Systems with our customers.  It’s hard to believe time has flown by so fast.  Well today I just saw the latest Samsung 3D TV the LN55C7000 an HD 1080p TV at 120hz.  It was amazing!  I had recently seen Avatar in the theaters and the first thing I noticed was this is much sharper and more vivid.  The reason  the new 3D TV’s are so much better than the movie theaters are they use an active method of giving you 3D TV. 

The 3D glasses you wear are called shutter glasses.  They have to be made to work with the particular manufacture of TV you are watching.   What happens is they have small shutters inside the lenses that open and close at 60 hz. Or 60 times per second.  So your HD shutter glasses are being opened and closed for you in a sense at the same time the two images on the screen are alternating.   So the glasses you wear actually have a little power button.  As you watch the show the TV sends ir signals to your glasses just like a remote sends signals to a TV to power it on.   This communication to the shutter glasses times the alternating shutters to correspond with the images on the TV.  This active shutter technology gives the viewer a much crisper and clearer image. 

I was watching a demo of monster vs. aliens and it was awesome.  I was standing about 4 ft away and at one point the main character was using a paddle ball.  The paddle ball popped right out at me so fast I actually jumped.   At points I started to walk around the room to see what the experience would be if I was further away and from the sides.   As I walked back it actually got neater, obviously because I was not standing so close to the 3D TV my entire vision was not the TV, but the parts of the image that came out of the TV at me came further out because there was more room for the image to extend.  Things really seemed to float in the air.   All I can say is WOW!   As I moved to the side I noticed people almost crawled out at one point it seemed like one of the characters was peering out of the TV.  But once I got to far over the image started to lose the 3D effect.  Keep in mind I was fairly far over, further than most people would be watching their TV’s from.    All in all my feeling is if you are in the process of buying a new HDTV for your Home Theater System I would highly recommend paying a little extra for the ability to watch things in 3D.   

Some TV’s will upscale existing content to 3D. This is not quite the same effect as when content is filmed and displayed by a 3D Blu-ray player.   In the up scaling the image will seem to have 3D depth back into the TV, which is really cool, but images do not come out at the viewer past the 3D TV.  We will be talking soon about the requirements, available and upcoming 3D content, and various 3D TV’s in the near future.  If you have a question as always we love to hear from you.  

Until then I’ll leave you with one last parting thought.  Can you imagine playing Wii in 3D?

Comments: 200
Doug Kasper - Sat Jan 30, 2010 @ 04:30PM
Comments: 165

LED vs LCD HDTV

LED is the latest and greatest HDTV technology out there. So that means it's  what I need to have right?


LED HDTV

 

 

There is no doubt the new LED TV's have a lot of neat advantages. The most noticeable is that they are a lot skinnier than LCD TV's. I just can't stand those deep 2.5" LCD's anymore. Well not quite, but it is interesting that a big part of what we look for in a TV is not only how the picture looks but what the TV looks like even when it is off. This being said LED TV's because they use LED lights instead of traditional lamps in the background are much thinner around 1.5" depending on he particular brand of LED HDTV you are looking at.

Another advantage of LED HDTV's is that they use less energy and last longer than the traditional LCD HDTV's. Just like lamps in flashlights that use LED's.

You may be surprised to find out that LED TV's are LCD TV's. The only difference is that the LED TV's use LED lamps to create the light in the background. The LCD's then open and close to let the varying amount of light come through as needed.

So are LED HDTV's better than the traditional LCD HDTV's?

This is very hard to answer generically, because there are many types of LCD and LED HDTV's. Just like you can not compare the entire line of Toyota and Ford Cars.

The higher end of LCD's have a higher quality image processing engine than the Low end LED TV"s. One thing to be aware of when you are buying TV's is that the manufacturing companies like to use the "new technologies" to sell TV's. So they will just make LED backlit TV's and people buy them even though the LCD TV in the same price range has a superior picture.

The high end LED HDTV's do have a better picture, and this is because they are locally dimable. What this means is that if a part of the picture needs to be black they can actually turn the LED's in that section of the TV off. Of course there is nothing darker than no light? The TV's that have this technology are much more expensive, but if you are going for the best picture money can buy, it is what you should look for.

Please let us know if your feel this information has been helpful either by commenting or through our facebook fan page. www.facebook.com/KasperConnections

 

 

 

Tags: LED LCD HDTV
Comments: 165
Doug Kasper - Tue Jul 28, 2009 @ 03:42PM
Comments: 155

What you say you have 400 Blu-Ray discs sitting around already and you want to be able to access them all with the touch of a button.  No Problem Sony has answered your dreams, and solved all your problems.

blu-ray changer

They are about to release two long awaited 400 Disc Blu-Ray Players model BDP-CX960 & the CX7000ES This marks round 3 of the format wars I guess.  All kidding aside the Changers will work with DVD’s and the new Blu-Ray discs.  Of course it will work great with our Home Automation Systems, which would allow you to access your entire movie catalog simply by touching the cover work icon for your favorite flick on your iPhone or iPod Touch, if you prefer you can go the old fashioned route and use a remote control.  

The Changer comes in two models the higher priced EX7000ES features ir & serial ports to work well with a home automation system, it also features the new 12-Bit Deep color support.  It sounds like both will include interactive features and wireless N technology, although we cannot yet find official information and specs on Sony’s website.   The more affordable CX960 also supports 7.1 channel Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio and bitstream audio, and can be picked up for $800 This would be great for anyone that has most all of their equipment located in a basement.  If you are asking what happens when I have more than 400 DVD’s I can honestly say I am jealous, but don’t have a fear you can link two of the Blu-Ray Changers together.   If you have over 800 you may have to start picking and choosing which make it into your in home on demand collection.

I can highly recommend purchasing one of these and loading it up with the entire collection of the television series 24 before starting your 2 week vacation from work.

Comments: 155
Doug Kasper - Tue Jul 28, 2009 @ 03:15PM
Comments: 137

How Does Lighting Control Enhance Your Life?

Do you have a place in your house where you would like to have fully dimmable two way lights, how about being able to dim them or turn them on or off from a third location?  This is something you can do with lighting control. In fact it’s just the beginning of what you can do with lighting control.   

What is Lighting control?  I’m glad you asked, you are most likely accustomed to turning on a light switch when you walk in a room.  Your experience has taught you that when you flip that switch the light turns on.   You are also familiar with two way lights.  In this scenario there are two switches that can both control the lights.  A typical example would be at the top and bottom of stairs.   In this example the two switches are tied in together, flipping either switch would allow you to turn the light on and off. In this case either switch controls the lights. lighting control

Usually the term lighting control is referring to lights that are found in a home automation system.   In this case lights can be controlled by many types of activities. The easiest to understand is a wall plate with buttons.  In this case you would press one of the six buttons and a light could turn on and off.  Pressing another button on the same wall plate could turn a different light on and off.   This probably reminds you of the two way light switches by your stairs. Yes, you are right. In this case we are using lighting control to mimic a two way lighting scenario, but in this scenario it is not electricity being turned on and off that controls the light. It is a radio frequency being sent back and forth between the six button wall plate and the light switch that the light is on.   It seems the same but the difference allows lighting control to give you the ability to control lighting scenes.  If you have a good home automation integrator they will most likely help you program lighting scenes.  This is one of the real benefits of lighting control.  In lighting scenes pressing one button can control many various lights from the press of one button. 

One of the first places people use lighting scenes is in their kitchen/dining room.  This is because we typically have 2 rooms that are open to each other but used for many different tasks.  What do you usually do in these two rooms, cook / clean, eat dinner, entertain, perhaps study or read at your table?  Most people have 6-8 light switches between these two rooms.  In the Kitchen you may have overhead lights, pendant lights, a sink light, under- cabinet lights, and over-cabinet lights.  Then in the Dining room you may have a chandelier and wall sconces.    Let’s say it was time to cook.  You’d probably want bright lights in the Kitchen and maybe ambient light in the dining room for setting the table.  So let’s say you want the under cabinet lights and sink light and the main overheads on full bright.  When it is time for Dinner you want only the chandelier light brighter with the kitchen lights set to an accent level. 

When was the last time you ran around your kitchen and dining room and actually set the dimmers on each light for the two tasks?   What most people normally do is either turn all the lights on or don’t use their accent lighting.   Creating lighting scenes that are controlled with the touch of a button will make it easy to have the lighting you need when you want it, and it will become something you use every day.   Instead of running around the room turning on and off light switches you will simply be able to change lighting scenes with the touch of a button.  This not only accents the beauty of your home, it saves you energy by only using the lights you really need.    So you can see the benefit to using lighting control.

Comments: 137
Doug Kasper - Thu Jul 02, 2009 @ 06:14PM
Comments: 107

Using Home Automaton For Aging in Place

Did you just read the headline of this article and say to yourself, "What is Aging in Place?" Aging in Place is a movement that is going on in the building trades that has us all asking is this structure we are building going to allow the homeowners to stay in their house as long as possible?

This can mean kind of obvious things like building wider hallways and doorways in case we someday find ourselves in a wheelchair. But there are many more subtle changes and awareness that come into the design factor, like choosing counter top colors and floor colors that look good, but also are a sharp contrast to each other. This way when our eyes start to go we can still find the corners fairly well. There are many structural and design elements to consider when building a home with the mindset of aging in place. The building association has a ceritification called CAPS, which means that the contractor, architect, or designer you are working with is aware and trained on the many various aspects to consider. You can find a list of CAPS certified individuals here:
http://www.nahb.org/generic.aspx?genericContentID=9334

It is really an exciting movement if you start to think how much money we could save as a nation by simply staying in our homes a couple of years longer, we'd probably be able to pay off all that stimulus debt fairly quickly. Well maybe not, but it surely would save you individually a lot of money especially if you have a house that is almost paid off. Nursing homes and other care facilities as you know cost a fortune.

OK you are probably now wondering why I am writing about aging in place on a home automation / home theater website? Well as a home automation integrator we are very excited to announce that we have been researching some of the various issues that seniors face and looking at how we can use home automation technology to assist them. So far we have developed a "fall prevention" system that is focused on the use of automated lights to keep walkways brightly lit. With this system one can walk into their bedroom with the overhead lights on full strength, and then once they lay down in bed for a short duration the lights will automatically turn off. This way they do not have to walk from the door of their room to their bed in the dark. Then, when they get out of bed in the middle of the night the lights will instantly turn on. We also use motion sensors with automated lights in the bathroom to keep these walkways safe. You may be aware that falls are the number one reason seniors have to stop living independently and instead of to go to a care facility.

This is one small example of home automation technology being applied to help people age in place. If you are interested in following the ways we continue to utilize technology and home automation in aging in place please visit the site www.ageinplace.com. There is rumor that I maybe authoring a regular column there.

To find out more about Aging in Place please visit:http://www.aginginplaceinitiative.org/

Comments: 107
Doug Kasper - Tue Jun 23, 2009 @ 02:39PM
Comments: 129

"What?" you say, I thought the Blu-ray HD DVD war was over.

Yes it is true Toshiba ceased the manufacturing of it's wonderful high definition DVD player. So you may ask why wouldn't Blu-ray Survive? Well it seems the the battle has just begun. Just as the music industry has had to face digitial downloading as competition, so to is the movie industry.

Most of you probably do not yet download live video content to your Home Theater, but media extenders are becoming more and more popular. A media extender is a box that can be hooked up to your home network via, a wired or wireless connection and then plugged into your HDTV with a video connetion. This allows you to stream videos directly from the internet or a hard drive located in your home to you TV. This means you do not have to buy hard copies of movies any more.

 

So you may ask what does a media extender look like? The most popular media extenders can be found disguised as game machines. Sony's Playstation 3 and Microsoft Xbox both allow you to download and stream movies over the internet to your Home Theater. Network hardware manufactures like Linksys and Dlink make stand alone media extenders, and let's not forget Apple, they have a media extender called Apple TV.

There are more and more places you can now stream content from, the most known is probably Netflix and itunes, but Blockbuster Online allows you to download movies also. Many new services are coming out all of the time. I believe I heard Amazon is in the game too, or will be shortly.

With the ability to start downloading movies legally, and the amount of bandwidth to our homes increasing you can see why many people are saying Blu-ray will not be as long lasting as the DVD was, surely not as long as the VCR.

So do you get a Blu-ray player for your Home Theater. I'd say Yes it is still currently the best way to get HD movies, with the best sound. But you may want to be cautious about investing your retirement into a Blu-ray collection, like you did with DVD's.

Do you have a media extender? Do you stream movies from the internet to your tv? We'd like to hear your comments.

 

If you are asking yourself what is Blu-ray? A good site to check out is blu-ray.com.

Comments: 129
Doug Kasper - Fri Apr 10, 2009 @ 07:21AM
Comments: 116

Have you ever heard you neighbor say I got a 1080 HDTV?

What does that mean? The 1080 they are referring to has to do with the resolution, but is it 1080i or 1080p there is a big difference. We have found that many people do not really understand whatresolution is and what the letters i and p mean.

What is Resolution?

Resolution is a measurement of how many pixels are used to make up the picture on your TV. Usually this is listed as a number followed by the letter i or p. The number stands for the number of  lines on a television screen from top to bottom. The letter i stands for interlaced and p stands for progressive. One way to visualize what interlaced means is to put your hands together in front of you with your fingers from each hand alternating.  This represents the picture you see on the television screen.  If you take one hand away and then when you bring that hand back in you remove the other hand and continue alternating you are mimicking what happens while watching a show that is interlaced. Obviously it is happening very fast and it is not something you usually notice.  So with an interlaced picture you have odd and even lines alternating which ones are displaying on your screen. For example if you are watching a picture with 1080i you are watching something with 540 lines on the screen at one time.

Interlaced vs. Progressive:

Progressive or p means that one line is progressively scanned on to the television at one time.  Thus back to our fingers demonstration you would only remove one finger at a time and then replace it while removing the next adjacent finger and so on down the line until you start over again.   So as you may be starting to realize you if you are watching something in 720p you are watching a picture with 720 lines on it at one time, where 1080i is only giving you 540 lines at one time.         

So does this make sense to you?  What this means is that 1080i actually is a lower resolution than 720p. We have been watching interlaced television all of our lives.  Standard definition television is 480 lines interlaced.  This is difference between interlaced and progressive is becoming more apparent because our televisions now have ability to display higher resolutions.

In order for anything to be considered high definition it must be 720p or 1080i. 

This obviously is a very simple representation as to the difference between interlaced and progressive, but it seems to be a way that most people can actually start to understand what the difference is.  We will go into more depth and what the difference means to you as a viewer next.    

Here is a list of some common resolutions:

  • 480i Standard Definition old analog television still found from service providers
  • 480p Enhanced Definition found on DVD
  • 720p High Definition found from over the air and service providers
  • 1080i High Definition found from over the air and service providers
  • 1080p High Definition found only in Blu-ray and Movie Downloads

 

Comments: 116
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