Video and Audio Center Blog



Friday, September 25, 2015

NEW WAYS TO WATCH TELEVISION



Watching television is more than just fun it can be a real experience in which the whole family can take part in. Of course there are favorites for the parents that the kids dont care about (and vice versa), but the fact that the TV can be the focal point of the living room or wherever it is placed cant be denied. Maybe thats why so much attention is directed towards the TV whether its placed on a cabinet by the owner or mounted on the wall by a professional installer like Just One Touch. Getting so much attention is especially true now with big screen, high resolution TVs so readily accessible and affordable for everyone. Not to mention that they can be curved and specially designed (i.e., organic LED) too.

But what makes the TV work is the content that appears on the display. And until recently the only way to get that content has been to be locked into a subscription deal where you had to accept lots of other shows you didnt care about or were forced to moderate what you could see by how much you were willing to spend every month. Thats where a home network comes in because it lets the TV stream content to it and then display it. This is why TVs are so smart today, because they let you watch television shows without all the hassles that used to be the default.  Heres some examples of what we mean. 


Smart Apps

Almost every major TV manufacturer has apps that can be accessed from a menu: the so-called smart app features that are actually stand-alone programs hiding inside the TV. Up to now all of the apps that dealt with TV channels were little more than just clip shows and bits and pieces of television shows think of them as recaps, previews and teasers of actual TV shows.  But now there are new apps that dont do that they provide the same experience as would be found in turning a knob (to speak retro) from one channel to the other. And they do it through the Internet, streaming the content through the home network and into the television. These apps are highly appealing to the viewer because they function exactly like that of a regular channel. Are you a sports fan? Then the MLB (Major League Baseball) app will let you watch baseball games live. How about being a movie fan? Then HBO NOW will let you watch (for a fee of course) everything that the premium channel offers on the TV both present and past. But here its coming through the Internet, free of any subscription commitment (other than its own). And there are plenty of other TV channels, for example ShowTime, on their way to the TV too.


Streaming Television Channels

For some, watching television means being able to flip through the channels in real-time and watch whatever is on, on whatever channel the TV is displaying. But its now possible to avoid having to use a TV antenna or a satellite receiver or a cable box to watch live television - by that we mean the programs that appear on the TV day after day, 24/7. A number of systems for doing this are becoming available  Apple is to make their own version available sometime at the end of this year or into early next but one that is now  out there comes from Sony and is called PlayStation Vue. It works through a PlayStation 3 or 4 game console. If youre in an area of the country that Sony makes available (such as Los Angeles or Philadelphia), then you can stream live television channels from both the broadcast side of things (i.e., ABC, NBC, CBS, etc.) or from the cable side of things (CNN, Cartoon Network, Fox News, etc.). Sony also provides DVR (digital video recording) capabilities as well as all of the features expected and provided through the TV: the console being a TV tuner for all practical purposes and allowing the programs to be watched on a high resolution, big screen TV. Among others, there is also the CBS All Access, which streams live programming from local channels as well as past seasons of current shows and thousands of classic series.

Watching television is about more than just the content, its about the pleasure of watching shows that grab and hold your attention. A big part of that is because the TV screen is so much bigger and higher in detail than any mobile device can ever be. Who says theres nothing good to watch everything is good to watch when you have a great TV to watch it on!


Friday, September 11, 2015

IMPROVE YOUR TV PICTURE


Getting a new TV is pretty exciting especially with all the choices there are today for 4K TVs and Curved TVs and HDTVs and the various operating systems they now are using, for example Android TV. But at the heart of things, no matter whether you get a moderate sized TV or a big screen TV, its all about the picture and how good it looks to you when you sit down to watch it.


There are two ways in which the TVs picture can be improved: the physical way which takes into account where and how its placed relative to the people watching, and the controls that the TV set itself has and which can be adjusted/fine tuned to suit the viewers preferences.

The physical way in which the TV is set up for watching is a topic for another time, but for those looking for the simplest and most productive means for this (including wall mounting of the TV, proper lighting, etc.), turning to a professional installer, for example Just One Touch, will not only be the easiest means to accomplish this but also the most efficient.

Now why should you bother in changing what the TV is displaying? Why not leave the picture as is? One reason is that there is always the chance that the TV has been set to its store display setting which can be an actual mode or just a setting that applies to this. This setting assumes the TV is on display in a store or a location where the lighting is fluorescent or overhead or with lots of glare and so drives up the contrast to compensate. Since excessive contrast can destroy detail, we dont want itor any of the factory settings that the TV has when its taken out of the box. The settings need to reflect the wishes of the owner.

So here we will concentrate on improving the TVs picture ourselves through judicious use of the controls that the TV itself provides (avoiding calibration devices which, again, are more useful when used by a professional, not to mention being costly). And theres no need to be alarmed that what you do might cause damage to the TV: check out the manual or on-display manual and you will find that theres a simple press or two to restore the TV to its factory default settings.

So set yourself up with the remote, sit down in front of the TV with the lighting of the room the way that it will normally be (i.e., some lighting or none, an open window reflecting light into the room or covered) and here we go.

THE BASICS
There are basic controls that, while simple and far from complex to execute, can make a huge difference in what the overall picture will look like. These consist of brightness and contrast, to give two examples that will definitely affect the picture. Setting a brightness level that doesnt cause eyestrain is a good first step, one where the image isnt being dwarfed by a nearby window, for example. Of course if you watch in low light or even a darkened room, then the level of brightness needed to be effective and efficient will be different.  Contrast also needs to be taken into account with care as noted above too much of it is deadly to the image. But the opposite is true also. All of this is true of the Sharpness and Motion features too theyre ones to use gingerly. Remember, youre the boss here


FIND THE MODE
TVs provide a variety of modes that affect the overall picture and have varied names: Cinema, Dynamic are among those found but a TV manufacturer might use its own name or add types of display altering modes that arent found on other TVs. In general, the Normal mode is a good place to start by looking at how rich (saturated) the colors appear when watching a TV show, and then looking more deeply into how the blacks look here too. There should also be a Black related mode setting that will affect the quality of the black this and other views are perceived and not technically measurable, so keeping a record of what you are changing and how (i.e., moving a measurement up 2 points or 10 or down 4) will help. All this doesnt really apply to playing games on the TV, where a gaming preset is most likely present to remove all digital processing that could cause slowdown onscreen.

Also try and use the same source material for your tests an example being to use a Blu-ray disc in a Blu-ray player of a TV show you are particularly found of or an action movie and so stay within the same boundaries of what is being seen. Since most TVs provide not only for saving changes you make (giving them a name or number so you can return to them at will), as well as letting you create your own, this means that you can differentiate between the best setting for watching TV shows versus watching movies (where black can play a huge difference in the overall quality as compared to a sitcom, etc.).
DIGITAL ENHANCEMENTS
Theres a wealth of digital features designed to enhance the picture some are turned on by default while others are not. Start by turning off all of these to get a baseline for how the picture looks, then add them back in one at a time while viewing how they are affecting the picture. Remember, if you dont like the results, you dont have to put up with it. Should the TV have built-in sensors that take ambient light into account, it might be wise to turn this off too so that the display wont change as you move through the various modes and enhancements. It can always be turned on afterwards and then checked to see how it now appears when compared to the settings that were in effect before.

Getting a new TV is exciting, but watching a great TV picture is even more so. Spend a few minutes with your new TV so that it reflects the best picture that you can enjoy, its a proven path to happiness!