Thoughts on TV Technology, Sound Systems, & Chocolate Chip Cookiesby bill wayman on 02/06/14
Every year we hear about the latest, must have improvements in tv's, sound systems, and yes, even chocolate chip cookies. Sometimes, more is not necessarily better. Take those cookies for instance. I find the 2 cups of floor give a much better, chewier cookie that 2 1/4 cups.
What do this have to do with the state of the electronics market you ask?Let's take a look.
The tv sizes have been increasing, with the thickness decreasing to 1 1/4 thick and the edges around the picture pretty much disappearing.This make for a large visual impact with just the picture on the wall without all the bulk, but it also creates some challenges. With all that thinness, you now have no place for a speaker. The speaker is now very small and aimed out the back of the tv. I'll let you figure out what kind of sound you'll get. In most situations, this means adding a soundbar to the mix. While this is a vast improvement over even the sound you could get from a tv 5 years ago, there is a cost involved in purchase and installation.
Another thing with such a minimalist tv, who wants a big cabinet full of bulky equipment below the TV. While it is a great look to have that tv just hanging on a otherwise bare wall, just consider where the brains of the system are. Somewhere out of sight, there is a cable box, bluray player, appletv/roku, ir repeater system. hdmi cables, and power relocation kits. now we install this kind of setup all the time, it's not right for everyone, or every install. If you call us about mounting a 32" tv up on the wall and hiding all the wires for say a guest room setup, expect for us to discuss the option of just going with a taller cabinet to sit it on instead. The difference in price to hide all that "stuff" in say a closet will more than pay for a piece of furniture. We will still hide it all away if you want, but we will also point out the more cost effective options as well.
Personally, I have never seen a technology mess up a good picture as much as 3d. Before the mob with burning torches attacks, let's explain.
Get to your local theater that has capacity for 3d early and take a close look at the screen. You are looking at 1930's technology. When the "talkies" first came out there was a problem on where to put the speakers. It was decided to put them behind the screen, but this created a problem, the screen was a solid piece of fabric or even wood. The solution was holes. Punch a bunch of holes in the screen to let the sound thru and adjust the speakers eq to make up for what sound was trapped behind the screen. Over time, it was found that you could uses a woven fabric that would let the sound thru and get rid of the unsightly holes. Fast forward to the days of 3d. Everybody has to wear the glasses to make it work. Well and good except that the glasses knock the brightness down by 40-60%. Instead of making the projectors brighter, it was decided to us a shinier screen (ie. chrome plate the thing). That blocks the sound when used with a woven fabric screen. Solution: Punch a bunch of holes in the screen to let the sound thru. Shazam: The 1930's have returned.
Worst offender i have found so far is the IMAX theater in Saco. Sit in the middle or closer to the screen and all those dots you see are not the projector, but rather, a pattern of pencil eraser sized holes across the screen to let the sound thru. While it's great to see a really large picture at an IMAX theater, to get the effect of that size, you will have to sit close enough to the screen to be annoyed by all the holes.
Also, if you are watch a non-3d movie on one of these screens (ie. no glasses) expect to squint if there are bright sections in the movie, as that reflective screen is going to pound your eyes with all that reflected light from anything white. There is usually so much reflecting going on you can sit and read a book during those scenes without any problem.
In a home, let's face it, who is going to wear the glasses while watching their 50" tv every evening. Most of these 3d movies are pretty lame as far as story goes, and there is not really all that much in the way of programing. The manufacturers are realizing this and they now are advertising 3d about as much as they do in telling you the tv is color. Where there is still a demand for 3d is in the projector market. A room with a projector is a event, something special. You pop in your movie, grab the 20 lb bag of popcorn, recline your chair, and turn the system to 11. You' re not going in there to watch the news or latest sitcom, it's an event. Day to day viewing is being done on the bedroom tv or your ipad/tablet.
Now that most of the state has at least a 10meg connection to the internet, almost every one of our installs is making use of some kind of streaming. Example: Breaking Bad on Bluray is $129 on sale. Netflix has it for free as part of your $9 monthly subscription.
Want to see the latest episode of Sherlock but dropped cable because $98 a month for a bunch of shopping channels is just too much. Download the PBS app to your Roku, Appletv, Tablet, Phone, and watch it for free the day after it was broadcast. How about superbowl. Live free stream on foxgo.com app. What about local news. Channel 6 has live tv app for their news broadcast.
Weather Channel is the example of this. They have become the TLC of the weather world. 40% of their programing has become reality tv shows. It's actually works out to more that that because they bunch it all up in the evenings so as not to get in the way of their morning broadcasts. Directv has now dropped them and I doubt it will be returning. Why? You can log on to their website, get the info you need and bypass all the over the top drama of the tv shows and the hysteria of the storm coverage that is on.
There has been a push over the last 10 years for customers to pick ala carte the channels on their cable or tv service. I don't think that will happen given all the suits and committees that it must go thru. Instead, it will happen by people going direct to the source, bypassing cable and satellite. Between Hulu, I tunes, Amazon, Netflix, and independent apps such as PBS, I think you will see that ala carte ability appear in spite of the traditional tv providers.
This is now the most important thing in a system. This is how your music, tv shows, movies, news will arrive. Who doesn't have a smartphone? How about email? Google news? Pandora, Spotify, I Tunes, Facebook, Linkin, etc.
The economics of content will drive this market. Music for free or $3.99 if you don't want commercials. When is the last time you sat down and watched the news? You go to your favorite website instead and read what you want, not sit there and wait for something interesting. All the tv shows and movies you want for $9 a month from amazon, hulu, netflix. Try and find a video store in your area anymore. Redbox if anything. When is the last time you bought a cd? How about a dvd/bluray. I still buy movies but they are particular ones, on sale, and usually from Amazon with free shipping.
So where does this leave us? Less is the new better, you just need to plan for it to make it work for you. It's all about convenience, making things work on your schedule. Taking charge of what you want to watch, when you want to watch it, how you want to watch it. Is it easy, not really. Once it is all setup, it can be. That's what we are here for. We can make it as easy and fun as it should be. Just give us a shout, email, voice-mail, or way a chocolate chip cookie out the window and we'll be right over.
Just remember, less is better, keep those cookies chewy.