Friday, June 21, 2013

What is 4K? UltraHD Explained

It seems like High Definition is still the newest and greatest thing to hit TVs since cable TV. High Definition provides 720 or 1080 vertical lines of resolution to provide a razor sharp picture, compared to the 480 lines on a regular standard definition TV. Most people have just recently started to upgrade to HD TVs, HD cable or satellite service, BluRay players, and more to take advantage of the high definition shows and movies that are starting to appear on the market. Many channels on TV broadcast in HD and a lot of the most popular shows are filmed in High Definition. Movies can be bought on BluRay discs and played on your home BluRay player to give you the theater experience right in your own home. But is there anything better than 1080p HD? Sure it is crystal clear on most home TVs, but what about extremely large TVs like the models that are 55 inches or larger and projectors that can display video on screens the size of an entire wall? That is where Ultra HD 4K comes in. 4K is 2 times sharper than 1080p High Definition, with about 4,000 horizontal lines of resolution! The exact resolution of Ultra HD is 3840x2160 for a total of 8,294,400 pixels. 1080p refers the number of vertical lines, while 4K refers to the amount of horizontal lines. So while it sounds like it should be 4 times the lines, it is actually twice the amount of lines. But this is still a major improvement over current 1080 and 720 HD standards. Some 4K Ultra HD projectors currently on the market can display video on a screen size up to 105 feet.

So does that mean that you have to throw away all the new High Definition TVs that you've bought? Are they all obsolete now that there is something bigger and better? Well no not exactly. While Ultra HD is the latest and greatest in the world of HD, it is only available on large screen TVs that are 55 inches are bigger and they cost thousands of dollars - easily 4 to 6 times the price of a standard HDTV of the same size. Right now cable TV and satellite companies don't broadcast in 4K, and most BluRay discs are in 1080p. But some newer BluRay discs are now available in 4K Ultra HD format to take advantage of every inch of the four thousand lines of resolution. A handful of computer video cards are capable of displaying images in 4K Ultra HD format. As of now these are pretty much the only ways to view 4K HD video. But it is inevitable that TV channels will start broadcasting in 4K in a few years and more and more movies will be released in 4K format. But until then 4K TVs are mostly a novelty item, allowing you to brag to your friends and coworkers that you have the biggest, baddest, best TV on the market. Most people have never even heard of 4K Ultra HD, so imagine bragging to your friends and neighbors that your brand new TV is 4K capable.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

HDTV Antennas

In order to enjoy your HDTV and home theater setup, you need something to watch. Sure a Blu Ray player is nice, and set-top boxes can provide almost unlimited entertainment, but sometimes there just isn’t anything as good as watching your local TV stations. Whether you want to be able to watch the local news at night or in the morning, or you want to be able to see your local sports teams, being able to watch your local stations can’t be replaced by a Blu Ray player or internet streaming device. You will either need to pay monthly for cable or satellite, or you can purchase an HDTV antenna once and never have to pay a monthly bill for it.

If you want to watch your local TV stations for free, then you need to buy an HDTV antenna. An antenna is the only way of getting TV channels over the air with no monthly fee. No need to pay your monthly bill and your quality should be just as good as cable or satellite TV. Of course the reception quality depends on where you are in relation to the TV transmitters, but most people experience very good reception with high quality HDTV antennas.

The difference between a digital antenna (which all HDTV antennas are) and the older analog antennas is the way they receive signals. Digital antennas receive signals in a block shaped waveform that either contains a 1 or a 0. That means that if your antenna receives the signal at all it will look perfectly. With older analog broadcast signals, they are susceptible to more interference because the signal wave can become deformed very easily and that causes the picture to become very distorted. The tradeoff is that if you live in a rural area or just outside of the broadcast range of the transmitters, you may not get any signal at all. That is because the antenna does not receive enough data to recreate the image and sound that make up the TV signal. That means that if you used to have an analog TV antenna and the signal wasn’t very good but you were happy just to be able to hear it and make out some of the image, then a digital antenna may not bring in any channels at or a very little amount of channels.

HDTV antennas allow your TV to pick up all HDTV signals that are being broadcast within your local area. This will allow you to pick up any of your local news or sports channels that may not be available via satellite or internet streaming.

There are a large variety of HDTV antennas available on the market today in all different types of form factor. Some are larger and made to be installed outside, while others are smaller and designed to be placed on the inside of the house near your TV somewhere. Some are actually very small and slim, being about the size of a piece of paper that can be mounted somewhere unassuming such as on the wall behind your TV. Some Antennas are ‘amplified’ which means that they use more power by plugging into a power source (such as a wall or outside outlet) that allows them to receive many more signals than a non-amplified antenna, as well as signals from further away as well.

Apple TV Review

Apple TV is a small set top box that allows you to stream content straight to your TV. Don’t be fooled by its small size, the Apple TV packs a lot of features into its tiny package. In fact, the Apple TV is so small that it fits in the palm of your hand so you can put it just about anywhere without all the clutter that a large piece of equipment would have. The latest models of Apple TV now support full HD resolution at 1080p. It connects to your TV via HDMI and can connect to your home network via Ethernet cable or WiFi connection. Apple TV also supports Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound, and has a connector for optical audio to connect to your home theater audio receiver. Aside from streaming, you can also show anything from your iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch and even your Mac laptop or desktop computer, right on your TV. That means you can play your favorite games, check your email, play videos, view pictures, or anything else you can do on your iOS device and see it on your TV. Some apps even support dual screens, such as some games that are designed to use the touchscreen on your iPad or iPhone and your TV, displaying different views for your game and giving a whole new perspective on gaming. Imagine a flying game where you can have a map and flight controls right on your iPad while you fly a plane on the TV. Apple TV can also download your latest pictures right from your iPhone and add them to your photo gallery so you can instantly see all your pictures right on your home TV. No syncing necessary, it automatically does it all. Not only is the Apple TV advanced technically, it is also designed to be environmentally friendly, being PVC free and brominated flame-retardant free, and also meets Energy Star 3.0 certifications for set top boxes.

Although the new Apple TV doesn’t have an internal hard drive like the original model did, it can stream just about anything from your computer or from the internet. The Apple TV is very easy to use and has access to all the content from the entire iTunes store, such as hit movies and TV shows as well as all the top music and more, as well as the library on your home computer. You can also stream content directly from your iPad, iPhone, or iPad directly to your Apple TV device. So no matter what you want to watch you can put it on your TV instantly. You can even rent content such as movies on your Apple TV so if you just want to watch something once you can do so without having to pay the full purchase price. The Apple TV also supports music and audio so you can listen to your favorite music from your iPod, sample the latest songs, or listen to internet radio right from your TV. If you have a Netflix account you can sign in from your Apple TV and stream anything from their entire library of content right to your TV. You can also access Youtube and Flickr from the Apple TV as well. So if you want a set top box that is small, easy to use, has access to a lot of content, and can connect directly to your iPad or iPhone, the Apple TV is a great choice. Many people have an Apple TV device in their home theater or home entertainment set up. Even if you just have a TV but want to be able to access more content, the Apple TV is for you. The Apple TV is great for everyone who wants to access streaming content on their TV.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Top 10 Countries With The Highest Average Internet Speeds

As Americans, we like to think that we are ahead of most other countries in a lot of ways. We created the computer and the internet, so it makes sense that we would have the fastest internet connections in our country. It would also make sense that the average internet speed would be pretty high as well. Well that is not the case. In fact, we are not even in the top 10 when it comes to countries with the fastest average internet connection speeds. Below is the list of the top regions when it comes to average internet speed with the actual average speed listed.

1. South Korea - 11.7 Mbps

2. Hong Kong - 8.6 Mbps

3. Japan - 7.6 Mbps

4. Romania - 7.2 Mbps

5. Latvia - 6.2 Mbps

6. Sweden - 6.1 Mbps

7. Netherlands - 5.3 Mbps

8. Czech Republic - 5.2 Mbps

9. Denmark - 5.2 Mbps

10. Switzerland - 5.1 Mbps

And the United States of America; the land of the free and the home of the brave; the country that created the computer and fostered the internet; where everything is fast and instant; we are a number 22 on the list with only 3.8 Mbps of average internet speed:

22. United States - 3.8 Mbps

Monday, May 13, 2013

Different Types of Internet Connections

If you are setting up a home network, whether big or small, wireless or wired and anything in between, you need to determine which type of internet connection is best for you. What connection type you decide on will depend on a few factors, such as what types of services are available in your neighborhood, as well as the types of equipment that you will be hooking up to the internet, how fast of a connection you need and what type of data you will be transferring. If you want to connect only a handful of devices and don't use it every single day you can get away with a slower internet connection which will save you some money. However if you want to connect multiple computers around your house, as well as other devices in your home network like video game consoles, media streaming devices, etc. and you want to be able to stream HD video to and from your home network then you will want to get a faster connection that has minimal latency. Below are a review of the different types of connections available and a general description. The internet services available in your area may differ slightly but should share some similarities.

Dial-Up - Dial-up internet service is the oldest type of internet service available. It is usually the cheapest service but it is also the slowest. Dial-up internet is not suitable for video streaming or any type of online gaming. Dial-up internet is pretty much only good for basic web browsing and not much else. In order to use dial-up you need to have a standard phone line and a computer with a modem built in. You can share a dial-up connection with multiple computers and devices but it is not recommended to use multiple devices at once. Usually you have one computer dial-up the internet service provider and log in, and you can then use this computer to share the internet connection with other computers or devices in your house. Some routers have modems built in that can dial up to your ISP and then share the connection with your network this way instead of requiring one computer be dedicated to always being on and always dialing up when you want to be online. However, like previously mentioned it is not recommended to use more than one devices at once online or the connection will be much too slow. Speeds top out at 56kbit/s for upload and download, and costs can range from free to $20 a month. Beware of 'free' internet service as they usually support it by forcing you to view ads.

Cable - Internet service provided by the cable company is available in many different variations depending on your local cable company. For instance, most cable companies offer at least 3 or 4 different levels of service, ranging from standard which is relatively slow and inexpensive, to the highest level which is pretty fast and can be a lot more costly. It all depends on what you need and how much you are willing to spend. Cable internet speeds range from 1.5Mbit/s to 15 Mbit/s for download and 512kbit/s to 5Mbit/s upload speed. Average monthly cost for just internet can range from $20 to $60 and bundled services with TV, internet, and phone can be had starting around $100 for basic cable and internet service and increase if you want faster internet service and more TV channels.

DSL - This is the internet service provided by the local phone company. DSL stands for Digital Subscriber Line, and it is a way that the phone company can offer super fast data connections over the digital spectrum of the phone line. This allows the same wire that carries your phone service to carry super fast data connections to carry internet service and now many phone companies offer TV service which is very similar to digital cable TV service. Of course it all depends on your local companies and what they offer, but many times DSL service is very comparable to cable internet service in most areas, as the speeds and prices as well as the overall services that are available from the phone company and the cable company are very similar. Choosing between DSL and Cable Modem internet services will come down the the prices and services available in your area, so be sure to check out the prices and the deals that your local companies offer. Sometimes if you call and tell them you are trying to decide which company to go with they will offer you a special deal or discount that will make their service more appealing. Do this with both the phone company and the cable company and you should be able to find a good deal. DSL speeds are usually a little bit slower than cable, but sometimes they are just as fast. Average download speeds are 512kbit/s to 10Mbit/s while upload speeds average 256kbit/s to 1.5Mbit/s, and the typical cost is $15 to $50 for only internet. TV, phone, and internet packages are available for less than $100 and go up from there depending on what channels and internet speed you want.

Cellular - Wireless internet service offered by cellular companies are now becoming a more viable option, especially for those who do not want or can't get standard wired internet service like DSL or cable modem. Internet service from the cell phone companies can reach areas where DSL and cable can't, although cellular internet requires you to be in range of the cell phone network. Cellular internet can offer up to 4G speeds, which can be as fast as DSL or cable, but if you are not in a major metropolitan area then you are likely to get 3G speeds or even less. Cellular internet is usually available on one device, such as a cell phone or tablet, USB adapter, or portable WiFi router. Many cell phones and tablets can share their internet service with other devices via WiFi, but if you choose this option it usually costs more due to the fact that they know if you have service on more than one device you will be transferring a lot more data. The upside to this is that you only need one internet service no matter where you are or what device you want internet on, but if you get internet through your cell phone, your house will not have internet connectivity unless you are home. If you have a family that wants to use the internet this may not work very well. Be sure to think all options through before you choose this type of connection for your homes internet service. Average speeds are 512kbit/s to 10Mbit/s for upload and download while costs average from $50-100 a month.

Fiber Optic - Some markets have companies that offer super fast internet service that is 10-100 times faster than what most US homes have access to currently. This allows music and movies to be streamed at the click of a mouse or push of a button, and you can have every computer and device in the house on and using the internet at the same time and still not notice any slow down. The reason is that if you have fiber optic internet service, then your home internet service is much faster than most sites on the internet can communicate at. That means that the bottleneck is no longer your internet service provider, but the sites and servers on the internet that you are connecting to are causing the slowdown. If you can get this type of internet service in your area and you can afford it, it is recommended that you take advantage of the opportunity. Most companies that offer Fiber to the home also offer phone and TV service as well over the same connection so you can bundle your services and save a little money. However if you don't need this much speed and want to save money, don't be frivilous and waste your money. Fiber optic internet is usually more expensive than most other internet services, usually $100 or more just for internet, but speeds range from 50-100Mbit/s or more. If you bundle TV and phone service you can end up spending $150-200 a month.

Check out all options, and research what is available in your area. Call the differnt companies that offer internet in your area. Tell them what you want and need and see if they can work with you and offer you some kind of incentive or discount to go with their company. If not then go on the the next place and see what they can do. You can usually pit the companies against themselves and if you can manage to talk to a person who has the authority, they can usually offer you an introductory rate or a discount or rebate on installation or equipment rental. Also look online and search for customer reviews of each company to see how good their service is, both their customer service when something goes wrong and their internet connectivity as far as outages and overall speed goes. If a company has bad reviews and their service goes out a lot then try and find another company to go with. You don't want to be stuck with a company that has frequent outages and has bad customer service to boot.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Roku 3 Set Top Box Review

Even the most expensive home theater system is worthless if there is no content to watch. Most of us get most of our content from cable or satellite with maybe a little percentage coming from internet streaming services. However the Roku 3 plans to reverse this. Is it possible? Can you really get rid of your cable service? Don't call your cable company just yet, read this review before you make the call to cut off your TV or satellite service.

The biggest pro that the Roku 3 has going for it is that once you buy the unit you don't have to pay monthly for service. You can pay extra for services like Netflix, HBO Go, Amazon Prime/Instant Video and Hulu Plus, or the standard channels and shows that are available for an extra subscription fee per channel. But unlike cable or satellite, Roku allows you to subscribe to channels ala carte. There are about 750 channels available, everything from MLB TV to Al Jazeera English. While you can't watch everything you can on cable, there are a lot of choices in the newest Roku device. If you plan on paying extra for some of the services that the Roku can access then you are still paying less than your cable bill now and you will get a lot more premium content. NetFlix and Hulu Plus are both less than $10 each a month, so you could pay $20 or less and still get access to hundreds of channels, as well as shows and movies on demand.

Roku devices can be purchased for either $49 or $99 depending on which version you want, the new Roku 3 is $99 but there are versions available that less money that still have a lot of great features. The Roku 3 has a new interface built in, but other Roku boxes should be able to update their interface to the new version soon. The controller is pretty neat, too. There is a headphone jack on the remote itself that you can plug headphones into so you can hear what is streaming on your Roku without bothering others around you. This is especially great for people who like to watch TV in bed but their partners don't want to listen to it.

Well the Roku is a pretty cool little device but it won't single handedly beat cable and satellite. It could however replace a lot of people's TV services if they only watch a few shows or don't care for all the extra channels that cable and satellite offer. If you like sports, you would be better off with cable or satellite but if you want to watch mostly Netflix and subscribe to a few of the channels you might be better off with the Roku. If you are just looking to save some money, this could help you out. If you paired the Roku with an antenna so you can get over the air stations including your local networks so you can watch the local news and shows. I'm not sure how the Roku would function if every room in the house had one going at once. I bet that it would start to degrade quality if you had multiple Roku units on at once on a slow connection. If you plan on having it in 5 rooms with all of them on at the same time every day then it might not work as good as if there were only 1 or 2 at once on a fast connection. Unfortunately most consumers have low level internet to save money. They will have to upgrade their internet service to get the best streaming service, which will cost more money. So be sure to consider all points before you bite the bullet and get a Roku and cancel your TV service.

Source: Forbes

Monday, April 1, 2013

What Can I Do With A Connected Home? Short Explaination Of What Smart Homes have To Offer

With a smart house you can customize your house exactly the way you want it and all the features that you want and need. The possibilities are almost endless with a connected home. One think you might want to do is to have your coffee maker set to turn on when you wake up so coffee is hot ready when you want it, but you can do that with a cheap timer. With a connected home you can do this and much more. Imagine if your house knew your schedule and could adjust your thermostat at night when you go to bed to be a little cooler while you sleep and then turn the temperature up right before you wake up so the house can be already warmed without having it on all night (you can also turn off rooms that nobody is in at night so you don't waste power). But it doesn't stop there, what if your house could turn on the bedroom and bathroom lights when you want them on (or whenever somebody enters the room), and at the same time warmed up the tile floor in your bathroom and pres-teamed the shower? While you are in the shower you could be listening to the speakers hidden in the ceiling, and when you go into another room it could instantly begin playing the same thing you were listening to where you left off. After you get your coffee the coffee maker will automatically turn off when its time to leave for work. Then as you leave you can check if your garage door is open and close it if you need to and set your alarm from you smart phone. And while your at work the thermostat will adjust as necessary to save energy and you can access functions at work from your smart phone or work computer and control your house and access the video cameras to see what is going on while you're away. You can even watch shows from your home DVR right on your phone so you won't miss any of the shows that you recorded, or even watch live TV so you can watch the football game on the subway on the way home and your wife won't miss her soap operas while taking the kids to the park.

The list goes on with things that your house can do for you automatically. Whatever you can think of you can be done nowadays - the only question is price. Bill Gates has equipment in his home that knows where you are and as you walk from room to room it turns on and off the lights, switches on the music and plays music that you like and plays different music when other people walk in depending on what they like, and the pictures on the wall are huge TV monitors that display paintings and pictures that change depending on who is in the room and what they like. As you can see there are endless possibilities when it comes to connected homes. But don't think you have to be super rich to afford to build a smart home, you can also keep it simple and cheap if you want. As mentioned before, you can use simple timers to achieve some tasks that you could do with a connected home. You can also use cheap motion sensors, such as motion sensors that turn on or off when people walk in or out of the room. Light sensors could be installed to sense when it is dark outside to turn on the outside lights and close your curtains. This way you could have all the functionality with a fraction of the cost. To determine what you need, it all depends on the system as a whole, so if you only want one or two rooms with a few automated or remote controlled items you could do this with a much simpler set-up than if you need to wire 10 rooms with full functionality in all rooms with remote internet access. You will most likely need to come to a compromise based on the wanted features and your budget.

Home automation doesn't only let you do cool things that save you time and trouble, it can also add to your safety and security. If you have video cameras and sensors throughout your house and an alarm system you can catch intruders and warn them to leave. And if they don't leave your alarm system can automatically call the cops - even using cellular networks in case the burglars cut off the phone signal and it can all run on a battery backup so it will still function with the power out as well. If a smoke detector comes on, the system can call the fire department and turn on in ceiling sprinklers to put out the fire. You could also wire your elderly parents home with safety and security systems as well and you could add more functionality to fit their individual needs such as having a small device on them at all times in case they get hurt and can't reach a phone.