Video and Audio Center Blog



Friday, November 3, 2017

THE BEST ONLINE STREAMING APPS FOR HOME ENTERTAINMENT!


The centerpiece of home entertainment is the video being displayed. Forget about spinning discs, it's the online streaming apps that make it possible to watch TV shows and movies without having to totally depend on a television. But what sets each of the online streaming app's from each other are the features they have. So here's the 10 best online streaming apps that you can get and use today for entertaining you.





Netflix is a subscription based streaming service that provides both TV shows, movies, documentaries as well as original content. It can be accessed through tablets and smartphones, as well as computers, stand-alone streaming devices, set-top boxes, gaming consoles and Smart TVs.  4K and Full HD resolution is available, depending on the specific content to be viewed and the plan. There is a subscription cost of $9.99 monthly, without commercials, for the plan which includes HD and up to 2 screens viewed simultaneously. There is also a $7.99 plan that allows only viewing one screen at a time in standard-definition and a $11.99 monthly plan that includes 4K resolution and up to 4 screens at once for viewing.


 

Movies, TV shows, documentaries and other content/original content can be watched from a variety of devices -- such as tablets and smartphones, as well as computers, stand-alone streaming devices, set-top boxes, gaming consoles and Smart TVs. 4K resolution is available, along with Full HD, depending on the specific content being watched. There are no commercials, and the service is included for those who have paid the yearly $99 fee for the Prime delivery service (or $10.99 monthly).




The DirectTV Now app allows users to watch a select number of live broadcast/cable channels, depending on the subscription package chosen (beginning at $35.00). One does not have to be a DirecTV satellite subscriber in order to use the service. The app can be used on smartphones/tablets as well as on streaming devices and computers. Full HD resolution is available.




 

Hulu presents current television programs (with commercials/$7.99 monthly, without commercials/$11.99 monthly) from the major networks as well as a select number of cable channels the day after they have aired. Also presented are movies and original content. Live TV is also offered, at a cost of $40 monthly for accessing a select number of broadcast and cable channels. Content is available in Full HD and 4K. The HULU app is available for smartphones and tablets as well as computers, the Apple TV, Xbox One and Amazon’s Fire TV and Fire TV Stick.




Live TV channels are provided in a number of channel packages, beginning at $20 for 30+ select channels. Movies are also available to watch in both standard and high-definition (HD). Sling TV can be viewed on smartphones/tablets, laptops and computers, select gaming consoles and select streaming devices.





This live streaming TV service provides multi-channel plans for broadcast/cable networks, as well as the options for premium channels and a "Cloud" based DVR. There are no annual contracts and subscription packages start at $39.99 monthly. Resolution is available in Full HD and access can be obtained through a smartphone/tablet app, as well as other devices such as the PlayStation 4, Android TV and Roku streaming devices. Additionally, you can stream to up to 5 devices simultaneously.





The app enables viewers to watch a wide number of TV shows and movies, which comes in addition to those found exclusively on HBO. Content is available in Full HD and can be accessed from smartphones/tablets, laptops and computers, select gaming consoles and select streaming devices. There is a flat fee of $14.99 monthly.





Paid membership of $9.99 monthly provides commercial free viewing across YouTube, YouTube Music and YouTube gaming. There are other benefits, including being able to save videos and songs to mobile devices for offline access. The streaming service is available on smartphones/tablets, computers and TVs.






A free service found on the web, Crackle offers a select number of movies, TV series as well as original content. Content is available in Full HD. 





 

A free service with ads found on the web, Popcornflix offers free movies and TV shows. Content is available in standard definition and can be accessed through the web as well as an app on smartphones, tablets, streaming devices such as Roku and game consoles such as Xbox One and PlayStation 4.


Thursday, October 19, 2017

WHAT YOU NEED FOR A GREAT HOME THEATER


A home theater lets you enjoy entertainment in ways that weren't possible just a few years ago. Instead of the hassle and stress of going to the movies — paying for parking, movie tickets and outrageous drinks and snacks — the movies come right to you. Short of making it totally stress free by having a professional installation service like Just One Touch doing it for you, putting together a great home theater only takes a bit of planning and patience. Here's the 5 great things that you need to have a great home theater:


GREAT, BIG HIGH-RESOLUTION PICTURE 
The attraction of a movie theater is that it has a big screen with a bright, colorful and highly detailed image. That's even more true of a home theater today, with 55, 65 and 70" and up TV screens readily available. But just as in the movie theater, these big screen TVs also feature high-resolution screens — 4K resolution to be precise. This means that every detail stands out, even as deep blacks combine with billions of colors to form a lifelike picture you can't tear your eyes away from. And it's right there in your home for watching anytime.
GREAT SOUND
What the movies theater's once had a lock on — superb, high quality audio — is now available for the home theater. You can place multiple speakers throughout the room, use a sound bar that integrates amplification and internal speakers (including a wireless subwoofer) or employ the sound system built into TVs which have been specially prepared for a great audio experience. Regardless, the sound will now envelop and surround everyone watching. Dolby Digital Surround, DTS, Dolby Atmos, all the latest audio technologies are available to ensure that the sound being heard is what the filmmaker intended. And that includes an emphasis on home viewing so it's being designed by those putting the sound together with you in mind.

GREAT CONTENT 
Having movies and TV shows to watch has never been easier because of the huge assortment that is available. There are 4K Blu-ray Players that spin 4K movie discs to give you absolute control over what you are going to watch and when (and let you pause for bathroom breaks even). These movies not only feature the highest resolution now possible for home viewing (4K), but add the latest high-resolution surround sound formats too. And for those with faster Internet connections, streaming 4K movies and TV shows becomes another option to chooses from. And all from the comfort of your home.


GREAT SEATING
You can't enjoy what's being watched if you're uncomfortable. so take the time to make sure the seating will be good for all those watching — whether just for a couple of minutes or hours. Home theater seating is available and recommended, especially as it's designed to look as good as it feels. Getting professional recommendations will ensure that watching becomes something to look forward to (a professional installer like Just One Touch can even take care of fitting it into your home theater for you).

A GREAT TIME FOR ALL
It's important to eliminate the distractions that interrupt viewing. So just as in a movie theater, smartphones should be turned off and the only screen being looked at should be the TV. Keeping everyone's attention on the TV screen will aid in making viewing a more immersive experience too.

A great home theater does more than just entertain; it can bring everyone together and make spending time with friends and family even better. And a lot more fun too.

Friday, October 13, 2017

GETTING THE MOST OUT OF YOUR TV: OPTIMAL VIEWING DISTANCES AND ANGLES FOR YOUR TV!


Few go to a movie theater to sit in the back row. Even though there's a large screen, the idea is to get as close as is possible in order to have an "immersive" experience. Because it's all about seeing only the screen and watching now what's playing on it. The same should be true with the TV that you have for watching at home -- regardless of its size. You should be able to be close enough to have your field of vision impacted so as to enjoy what's on without distractions. But while you can easily change rows in a movie theater, at home it's not as simple as just sitting as close as you can to the TV, because sitting at the proper distance will make the image look as good as you expect it to.
One basic consideration that must be taken into account first is the most obvious: get the largest TV that you can since the size can't be changed once it’s been taken home. And making that TV a 4K HDR TV will make the “home theater experience” even closer to the "movie theater experience.” So here's some suggestions as to what to look for in order to find the optimal viewing distance and angle for your TV. 

VIEWING DISTANCE/FIELD OF VISION

Start by considering your field of vision (the entire area that you can see with the eyes fixed in one position) relative to the TV screen. THX, the George Lucas company which developed the high-fidelity audio/video reproduction standards for movie theaters and others (and even more importantly, home theater), and the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) offer recommendations about this; 40 degrees in the case of THX and 30 degrees in the case of SMPTE when it comes to how many degrees of your field of vision should be taken up when watching a 4K TV.

One way to do this is to multiply the seating distance by .6 to find a TV size close to the 30 degree viewing angle (using .84 instead will get you close to the 40 degree angle). So for example, a 60” 4K HDR TV will have  seating distance of about 5 - 7 feet 10 inches, or 7 feet  - 11 feet for a 70” 4K HDR TV.

ANGLE OF VIEW

 Angle of view refers to the off angle axis when moving away from 0 degrees on axis in front of the TV — in other words, you’re not seated right in front of the TV staring dead on at it. Moving away from the front of the TV, for example going from the couch facing it to a chair nearby, will see decreasing image quality due to contrast and black levels becoming more “washed out.” While the problems of angle of view have become much less pronounced due to the advent of 4K TVs, avoiding such an issue is still the best recourse. So if there are a lot of people watching the TV, say in a large living room, then the TV  having a wide viewing angle is needed. Obviously this is not the case when there's just 1 or 2 people watching "dead on.”

One solution is that, rather than trying to adjust the TV to the chairs, couches, etc. — adjust the position of the furniture that people will be using to watch the TV relative to the TV itself. The only other step needed is to first walk around the front of the TV, once it has been put into position in your living room, home theater, bedroom, etc. and see for  yourself what viewing angles are good and what are bad. Then proceed accordingly.

USE AN ONLINE CALCULATOR

There are a number of online calculators that purport to tell you how far away from the TV you should sit. The calculators have you entering in such information as the size of the TV (if it is already in position) or even the distance (when placement of the TV has yet to occur). Here's one to try: https://www.calculatorpro.com/calculator/tv-viewing-distance-calculator/
  
A large TV screen becomes your gateway to a world of entertainment and having 4K resolution means smaller pixels making up the image — and so you can sit closer without seeing those pixels for a more immersive viewing experience. Finding the proper viewing distance and angle for your TV might take some time and effort, both of which can be obviated should you go with a professional  installation service, such as Just One Touch. Regardless, it will be worth it because once your TV has been optimized to your viewing experience, you can just sit back and enjoy watching.



Wednesday, August 30, 2017

AUTOMATING HOME EXTERIOR LIGHTING



There’s nothing more inviting that approaching a well-lit home at night. Exterior lighting not only provides a safe path for those walking up to the entranceway, but also discourages those looking to cause trouble. But what if no one is home to turn on the lights? Then the answer is simple:  automate them.

Making the lighting outside your home “smart” can be done in one of two ways: first, by hiring experts such as the professionals of Just One Touch, California’s #1 rated Smart Home Integrator and Home Theater Installation company to eliminate the stress of planning and executing the work. Or for those who prefer a do-it-yourself approach, there’s a plethora of devices available for use, many of which can be found at your local Video & Audio Center Superstore. Regardless of which option you choose, it's good to understand just what automating your home's exterior lighting is all about before you start.

LIGHTING LOCATIONS
First decision you’ll have to make is exactly where to place the lights. When it comes to illuminating the exterior of a house, there are a few areas that should be addressed: the driveway, front door and backdoor/patio—all of which function as points of entry into the home. Other places that can benefit from exterior lighting include picture windows, the sides of the house, the front yard/back yard and other areas of the property that are in the dark to provide 100% visibility of the property.

THE TYPES OF LIGHTS
Next thing you’ll need to consider are which type of lights you want to use. There are many different types of external lights, some feature energy-saving advantages, some a higher intensity beam and some that will require professional installation due to increased power requirements. Options may also include floodlights placed over the garage door to illuminate the driveway, bright LED bulbs illuminating the entranceway of the front or back doors and lights inset on the driveway or freestanding on the front yard. There is also the ability to vary the lighting intensity, as well as the color of the lights (dependent on the type of light being used). Additionally, some lights are waterproof and shatterproof, which greatly aid in their longevity. Some lights even have video cameras built into them which record and/or allow streaming of what is being seen (both day and night) to the homeowner's computer or mobile device.

ACTIVATING THE LIGHTS
Since it's not necessary for all of the lights to be always be on, there must be a way for them to be turned on when you are coming home. This brings up three options: the first option being the simplest, in that the light is activated manually by being directly paired with a key fob/remote that is in the hand of the homeowner who has just pulled into the driveway/is approaching the front door. The second option is to have the light turn itself on automatically. These types of lights feature a sensor that activates the light as soon as it detects motion.

The third option for activating the lights remotely is through a home automation system that works through the home network. These typically work through an app, enabling both timed and “at-need” control even when you’re not on the premises.

Video & Audio Center has a wide selection of smart home automation devices and systems on hand for those looking to DIY. The Superstores are located in Santa Monica, South Bay, Agoura Hills & The Village at Westfield Topanga in Woodland Hills.

Friday, August 25, 2017

TOP TEN REASONS TO UPGRADE TO 4K HDR!


The purpose of new technologies is to make the TV picture better. But the latest new technology — High  Dynamic Range (or HDR) — really represents a significant improvement over what can be seen when you switch on the television. That's because of what HDR does: it creates a more "real" looking picture by increasing the level of contrast between the brightest whites and the darkest blacks the TV can display. So what are the reasons for upgrading to a 4K HDR TV? Here's 10:

1) MORE PICTURE INFORMATION
Metadata is information about how the TV picture should look (additional information sent with the video signal). A HDR-equipped television can reach levels of brightness and colors that a non HDR TV can’t because it is receiving HDR metadata telling it such things as how bright a highlight should be or how certain colors being displayed should look. 

2) DISPLAY A WIDE COLOR GAMUT
HDR-equipped TVs can display colors with significantly more saturation than that of a conventional TV. This allows for content, which had previously been produced with a much smaller color gamut, to now be expanded for presenting a more natural looking picture.

3) INCREASED COLOR DEPTH
Color depth references the number of colors a TV can display within a color palette (example: the many shades on the skin of a banana or a person’s face). HDR increases this, which results in less “banding” of the image by providing a more detailed and smoother-looking color.

4) DYNAMIC RANGE
A HDR TV displaying HDR content has higher brightness capabilities. So you get a more lifelike picture because it can display both the highlights as well as the darker imaging without compromising on either. This means that detail as found in both light and dark areas are evident to the eye at the same time.

5) BRIGHTER IMAGE
A HDR-equipped TV can produce more light in certain areas of the image being displayed than that of a  non-HDR TV.  Increasing the brightness makes for a more visible image.
6) COLOR BITS TRANSMITTED
HDR isn’t limited to the HDTV standard of 24-bit color (8 for red, 8 for blue, 8 for green), because it can add in extra colors in between what is already there. By filling in the gaps, a better picture is provided.

7) HDR STREAMING CONTENT
HDR content is visually superior to that made without HDR in mind. It can only be seen correctly (and enjoyed) on a HDR-equipped TV.
8) HDR 4K BLU-RAY DISCS
A Ultra HD Blu-ray disc has both 4K and HDR built in and eliminates the worries of streaming, such as bandwidth bottlenecks. This requires a HDR-equipped 4K Blu-ray player, which are now available.



9) IMPROVED WI-FI CAPABILITIES
Because HDR content is basically tied to the 4K resolution being streamed, this requires the Wi-Fi capabilities of the HDR TV to work efficiently. This also means the Wi-Fi reception of non HDR content is received even better than was the case previously when HDR content wasn’t an issue. 

10) CUTTING-EDGE CONNECTIONS
HDR-equipped TVs have the latest inputs for connecting peripherals like 4K HDR Blu-ray players, Sound Bars, among others. The latest audio pass-through standards are also in play. All this means that no kind of converter boxes or other conversion devices will be needed.