Getting Ready for the Big Game: A 3-Step Plan Are


football-game-1Are you ready for the Big Game? Ready to take in all its glory as if you were in the stands sitting on the edge of your seat immersed in the action? Ready to impress family and friends with a jaw-dropping experience that leaves them, well…jealous?

And, no, we’re not talking about your awesome Kegerator or those hot, tangy, succulent wings everyone loves. We’re talking about a killer audio/video setup that not only “transports” you to the stadium but puts you on the field. A setup that let’s you feel the action – the bone-crunching thuds of a goal-to-go pileup, the brutal kidney-punch of a sideline takedown, the roar of the crowd when the announcer shouts “touchdown!”

The best of today’s home entertainment technology can get you closer to the game than ever before. And in some ways, a topnotch AV system can deliver an experience that’s better than being there. So if you’re tired of the small screen and tinny sound, it’s time to time to take things to the next level with an AV setup that will serve not only sports but also movies, music, and TV.

Here’s our three-step plan for upping your AV game.

1. TAKE A TOUR OF AV-LAND.

If it’s been a while since you’ve bought a TV or sound system, you might want to talk with one of our experts or pick up a magazine like Sound & Vision to get a feel for what’s new in AV. You’ll quickly see that a lot is going on.

If you’re serious about taking your AV game to the next level, find a home technology professional in your area and have him walk you through options in your price range. A pro will guide you through the maze of AV gear and present ideas on how to integrate it into your room – or hide it away.

2. GO FOR A BIG SCREEN.

And not just any screen but the biggest screen you can afford (as long as it’s not too big for the room you have in mind). Take a close look at the new 4K/Ultra HD sets, the best of which deliver stunning pictures at prices that are getting lower every day. OLED TVs – known for their vibrant, lifelike color – are also worth a serious look, but there are fewer options and they tend to be quite a bit more expensive.

If you have the physical space and budget to go bigger than, say, 70 inches, consider a theater-like projection setup where screen sizes start at 100 inches. There’s no better way to get in the game.

3. DON’T SKIMP ON THE SOUND.

Forget soundbars and cheap home-theater-in-a-box systems. Go for a bona fide surround-sound audio system with a full complement of speakers and a real subwoofer. For the best experience, you’ll want a 5.1 system, which means three front speakers – left, center, right – two rear surround speakers and a standalone subwoofer.

Speakers come in a wide variety of types and sizes, including models that can be mounted in (or on) the walls and ceiling for a stealth look. Professional guidance will go a long way here.

Following these few simple steps will put you on the path to an at-home game experience that you might not have imagined possible.

To learn more about home entertainment technology and options, consult a SpaceCoast AV professional today.

Two ways to Identify an “Expert”


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What is an expert? How do you define who an expert is and who is not? Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines an expert as, “having or showing special skill or knowledge because of what you have been taught or what you have experienced.”

With so many self-proclaimed experts advertising themselves as such, it could save you money and headache understanding exactly what an expert is… or is not. Keeping with our definition above, an expert should be able to show that a particular governing body has recognized a particular expertise. Secondly, many like to use the term specialize or specialization when advertising their services. In the case of “specializations” the question should be are the “experts” certified or do they carry a certification? Why is this important, you might ask? The answer to this question is simply that when someone is representing themselves or their business as a bonafide expert, there is usually a Code of Professional Conduct to which the person or group must adhere.

For example, SpaceCoast AV Communications engineering staff holds a CTS certification…Certified Technology Specialist. Not only that; but our AV technicians are continually expanding their industry and technical knowledge through specialized training on the latest AV equipment through our manufacture and vendor relationships. Infocomm and CEDIA are two of the governing bodies for the Audio Visual Technology Integration Industry. Infocomm defines the CTS certification as one who performs general technology solution tasks by creating, operating and servicing AV solutions, while conducting AV management activities which provide for the best audiovisual resolutions of the client’s needs, both on time and within budget.

So the next time you are faced with an expert, either in AV or any other field, you might want to double check if they are a self-proclaimed expert or an expert in their field that has been recognized by a governing body and if indeed they are specialized in their specializations!

Are You Ready for Some Football–2014 Best TV’s for Sports


We love our sports. We spend thousands of dollars a year supporting our sundry sports passions, be it through ticket sales, jerseys, or regretful bar tabs. Even gambling debts might fall under the category of “sports tax,” depending on your point of view.

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But there’s no doubt that televisions are a vital purchase for any sports fan.

You may be pleasantly surprised to learn that a “good-for-sports TV” is generally synonymous with a “good-for-_everything_ TV.” From a picture quality standpoint, the requirements for displaying the best possible football game is all but identical for the best possible Star Wars marathon.

However, some TVs do possess qualities beyond simple processing power that might make them better for sports than others. Let’s take a lap around the field.

Screen Size

The number one consideration for buying a TV, aside from price, is screen size. If you can’t see the puck whipping across the ice, what’s the point? You might as well be listening to the radio

Contrary to popular opinion, there is such a thing as “too big.” At some point you’ll be able to see the individual pixels and the illusion of a smooth, uniform picture will vanish.

There’s an actual formula to calculate the ideal size, but you certainly don’t need to break out a scientific calculator to shop for a TV. The rough estimate is simple:

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That means you can measure the distance from your couch to the TV, then divide by 2.5. There you have it, your ideal screen size. So if you sit 7 feet (84 inches) from your TV, you want a TV with a diagonal screen size of about 2.8 feet, or 34 inches. It’s a very rough calculation, but at least it’s a place to start.

Plasma Vs. LCD and LED

Ah, the old debate. We’ve covered it many times in many forms, but here’s the difference in a nutshell: Plasma TVs tend to run a little larger in screen size (50 inches and up). They have a wider viewing angle, which makes them good for hosting a party for the Superbowl or NBA finals.

LCD TVs (and LED TVs by extension), on the other hand, have a wide range of screen sizes (26 inches up to 80+ inches), but the larger screen sizes will probably be more expensive than an equivalently-sized plasma. More importantly, LCD screens can get a lot brighter than plasma, which might make them easier to see in a sunny room.

There’s a heap of misinformation and half-truths about performance differences between plasmas and LCDs, much of it based on outdated information. Suffice it to say that both offer smooth motion and great contrast ratio.

3D TVs

There’s no doubt that 3D TVs are becoming more common, though their actual usage rates are probably not rising commensurately. The problem is that 3D broadcasting is just not up to speed yet. A 3D signal takes up a lot more bandwidth than a regular signal, so cable providers are probably slow to support it widely.

TVs are rapidly becoming more like tablets and smart phones, with lots of apps to satisfy lots of small customer bases. The worst apps try to make the TV something it’s not—like a gaming system or web browser. The best apps play to the strength of the TV as a passive entertainment device. After all, most people just want to lie back on the couch and watch something fun or exciting.

There are lots of apps for sports fans. To date, the best come from the leagues themselves, with MLB.tv as the hands-down winner. With all the complex licensing and broadcast rights, it’s impossible to get an app that offers everything you wantwhenever you want. Most apps, for instance, black out live games in your current location. In Boston, for example, you can’t watch Red Sox games live on MLB.tv.

For scores, stats, news, and clips, there are no shortage of third-party apps including Yahoo, ESPN, Hulu, and many more.

To watch the games themselves, you should always check if your local cable provider offers a sports package. Also, Apple TV, Roku, Boxee, and other set-top boxes may have better packages than your smart TV’s app selection. NFL RedZone and NBA League Pass are currently unavailable as standalone TV apps. However, both are accessible through your computer and mobile devices. We can only hope that as smart TVs become more popular, the leagues will embrace the platform, but they’ve been slow to do so.

The specs that count for a sports TV

Brightness: Many broadcasts occur during daylight hours, so you’ll want a model that’s bright enough to produce a “in-your-face” picture in a room with high ambient light.

High refresh rate: You should also be looking at sets that can display content with fast-paced action without turning the picture into a blurry mess. Plasma models excel at making sports look crisp, while most LCD models with a 120 Hz and higher refresh rate have processing modes to help reduce motion blur.

Large screen size: Finally, you’ll want to watch on a screen that’s sufficiently large—we recommend 55 inches at minimum.

The Winner’s Circle

We’ve taken our own reviews and compiled a Best in Class for Value and Quality comparison which you can get here.  Are You Ready for Some Football!

 

Samsung UN65HU8550 UHD TV Reviewed


Setting aside the issue of price for a moment, the Samsung UN65HU8550 is a compelling new UHD4-thumb-225xauto-12676entry in the TV market. It’s got a comprehensive list of features in a flat form factor, and it proved to be very good performer, with the versatility to suit both bright and dark viewing environments, both film and HDTV, equally well. Some minor brightness-uniformity issues, but it will likely deliver the goods for all but the most discerning black-level purists, who are probably looking at Samsung’s F8500 plasma anyhow.

Of course, we must bring price back into consideration. On the one hand, the UN65HU8550’s $3,299 MSRP asking price falls at the low end compared with the other new 65-inch Ultra HD models in the Competition. On the other hand, the Ultra HD resolution gives this TV a premium price tag over comparable 1080p TVs. the UHD resolution makes a big enough difference at this screen size isn’t really inspiring enough to pay more just to get Ultra HD; but then again, what’s the cheaper 1080p alternative in the 2014 line? Samsung was strategic this year in the features it put in each of its high-end TV series, ensuring that there’s no exact, lower-priced 1080p equivalent to the HU8550 Series. The 1080p H7150 Series is flat but lacks local dimming, whereas the 1080p H8000 Series has local dimming but is curved. If you want the best, most home-theater-worthy performance that Samsung has to offer in a flat LED/LCD, the HU8550 Series is the choice for 2014. Last year’s 1080p F8000 Series offers better black-level performance, and right now you can get the 65-incher for $400 less than this TV. That’s close enough in price that it really comes down to what matters most to you: black level or resolution. You make the call.

If Audio is your thing, you might be interested in SpaceCoast AV’s July Specials.

Find  us on Facebook and Twitter too! Or, connect with us at 321.257.9700 and online at www.spacecoastav.com 

 

5 Steps for Organized AV Wiring


 

When it comes to AV wiring, the old axiom “out of sight, out of mind” wireapplies. We tend to forget about what we don’t wiresee. Take the “infrastructure” of your entertainment system.

 

When was the last time you thought twice about the cables that run between your TV, DVD/Blu-ray player, AV receiver, cable/satellite box, and whatever other components you may have? For most of us, it’s the last thing we think about – as long as everything is working properly. But the minute there’s a problem, all those wires suddenly take on a life of their own.

When faced with a glitch that requires you (or a professional) to check, replace, or upgrade a component and/or the cables connected to it, the last thing you want to see when you get on your knees and peer into the bowels of your AV cabinet, or crawl behind your AV rack, is a rat’s nest of tangled wires. Yet, for most of us, that’s exactly what we find – and it’s enough to make you scream.

Get Organized
Pros take a number of steps to avoid the panic that cable chaos can cause, starting with organization.

1. Choose the right AV furniture (and location).
When setting up (or overhauling) an entertainment system, the first step is to choose an AV cabinet or rack that makes it easy to access the “business end” of your gear as well as a location that lends itself to accessibility; if you can’t position the cabinet or rack so there’s some room behind it, you at least want to be able to pull it away from the wall without too much trouble.

It’s also worth looking for AV furniture that offers built-in cable management; things like cutouts and channels for cabling and built-in power strips can come in handy. And while you’re at it, choose a cabinet or rack that takes ventilation into account (not all do). Bottom line: You want to be able to get behind your gear without becoming a contortionist.

2. Create a plan.
Take the time to map out the best position for your components and, more important, where the cables protruding from them will go. For example, it doesn’t make sense to put your primary disc player on a bottom shelf. Put it where it’s easy to get to! Next, take the time to neatly arrange all cables and use stickers (or tape) to label where each one goes.

3. Keep cables tidy.
In addition to avoiding tangles (a.k.a. “black spaghetti”) use tie wraps or wire clamps to bundle cables (not too tight).
Each of these steps requires a little foresight and patience but the payoff will be huge when it’s time for a system upgrade or maintenance.

Cable Type and Integrity
Looking beyond the physical location of your component stack, here are a few other things to keep in mind.

4. Integrity of wire runs.
Snaking wires haphazardly through walls, ceilings and crawl spaces can lead to frayed cables, which can degrade or, worse yet, cut off signal transmission. A professional installer will make sure that holes drilled in joists and studs are not only large enough to accommodate the cable(s) passing through, but also smooth. Pulling wire through ragged holes can damage a cable’s protective outer jacket or the insulation that separates the conductors within.

5. Quality and type of wire.
It’s important to select the cables and connectors that are best suited for the task at hand. This means using cables that are sufficiently flexible and rugged, especially if they run through crawl spaces or exposed/semi-exposed areas; poor cable construction can lead to wear and tear that hinders signal transmission.

It also means using cables that have the appropriate insulation and electrical characteristics for the intended application. For example, for long speaker runs – say, from one side of a large room to the other – it’s important to use wire that’s thick enough to ensure signal integrity. Using too thin of a cable – the higher the “gauge,” the thinner the wire – can degrade the quality (and volume) of the sound; professional installers consider a variety of factors, including component type, speaker impedance, and more.

To learn more about the ins and outs of audio/video installation, consult a SpaceCoast AV professional. Click here to contact SpaceCoast AV for a in home consult at no charge.

On the 3rd day of an AV Christmas


Welcome back to the 3rd day in our series of the 12 days of an AV Christmas.

On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me and LCD and Plasma Flat Panel TVs

ImageLCD and Plasma flat panel TVs continue to be hot, hot, hot! Prices have come down significantly this year, with many 42-inch size LCD and Plasma televisions selling well below $999. You may see some extremely attractive door busters on LCD and Plasma sets the day after Thanksgiving.

However, you also see that there are many TVs labeled as “LED TVs” – but don’t get sucked into the hype that makes you think that these are a different type of TV. So-called “LED TVs” are actually LCD TVs that use a type of backlight system powered by LED lamps.

In addition, with the maturing of LCD technology and more efficient production methods, screen size availability of LCD TV, once relegated to below 37-inches, are now quite common in sizes up to 50-inches and larger, with some manufacturers offering 70-inch sets, and Sharp offering 80 an 90-inch LED/LCD TVs. Large screen sizes in the 42-inch and up range was territory once dominated by Plasma televisions, but with the increasing availability of LCD TVs in larger screen sizes, they are dominating store shelves. However, that does not mean that you should not consider a Plasma TV. Plasma TVs generally offer better black level performance and motion response than LCD TV, and come in sizes up to 65-inches (for consumers – professional sizes go up to 150 inches).

Also, just as with Blu-ray Disc players, an increasing number of LCD and Plasma TVs are incorporating Smart TV capabilities, so if you desire this feature on your TV, check to see if the TV you are considering offers it.

Another feature to consider on a TV is 3D. Contrary to what you may have heard, 3D is not “dead”. 3D is now just one of a number of options that are available on many TVs. Also, all 3D TVs can display regular 2D TV images as well. Check out my Complete Guide to Watching 3D at Home for more details.

To complement the 3D TV feature, there are a growing number of 3D Blu-ray Disc movies available (about 230 titles as of September 2013),  some occasional 3D Cable/Satellite TV program feeds, as well as 3D content that can be streamed or downloaded from the internet, such as Vudu and 3DGO!

If you are interested in a 3D TV for the holidays either for yourself or as a gift purchase, definitely keep on the lookout for package deals that may include a TV, Blu-ray Disc player, and/or extra 3D glasses – TVs that use the passive glasses 3D viewing system, as you will see offers anywhere from two to six pairs of glasses included with the TV – and if you need more, they are very inexpensive. The TVs that require active shutter glasses may only include up to two pairs with the TV, and sometimes none are actually included. If you are shopping for a family, definitely watch for the best deal on 3D glasses. Just remember that you cannot use passive glasses with a TV that requires active glasses or vice versa. Check out the details.

For information on what you need to know before you buy an LCD or Plasma TV, whether you opt for a basic TV, Smart TV, or 3D TV, as well as some buying suggestions,you can give us a call at 321-257-9700 or send your questions to us at info@spacecoastav.com

If you need to have your flat panel wall mounted, installed or configured. Give us a call for a free quote. 321-257-9700 or send your request for quote to sales@spacecoastav.com. One of our team members will contact you.