Video and Audio Center Blog



Friday, September 30, 2016

TRUE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY: WHEN IMAGE QUALITY MATTERS!


There was a time when you had to go get your digital camera in order to take a picture. Cellphone cameras have changed that, but that doesn’t mean that the convenience of having a camera built-in makes the pictures being shot better. By definition a cellphone’s camera is more prone to shaking — resulting in significant or subtle blurring — due to the phone’s vertical design and having to press at a touchscreen “button”.  And let’s not forget that frequent use of the cell phone camera can be a drain on the battery and storage space as well. But rather than dwell on the many disadvantages of using a cell phone camera, lets instead look at the many advantages found in using a digital camera instead.


The Image Sensor and Resolution

A digital camera’s image sensor “sees” what is being aimed at and translates that into a digital file (i.e., image). The resolution of this final image is a factor of the sensor’s physical size and innate abilities: affecting how colors and detail is captured and displayed when the image is viewed. This makes it possible for the digital camera’s sensor to be of superior quality and for the digital file to be physically large in size; resulting in a better image.



The Camera Lens
Digital cameras often come with interchangeable lenses (mimicking the good old days of film cameras) and so offer the options of changing the “view” that is shot (for example, the all-encompassing fisheye lens or a telephoto). This allows the one shooting to best suit the lens for the type of image being photographed. A digital camera’s lens can also come with varying F/stops which affect the amount of light entering the camera. This variability in F/stop capabilities affects depth of field and also works at ensuring that the image doesn’t suffer from being too dark (masking detail) and so unacceptable.

In the case of those digital cameras with fixed lenses (being variable zooms going from wide angle to telephoto), another positive factor results from the optical zoom capabilities. Optical zoom means that the lens is able to focus “closer” on a far off distance without degrading the quality of the final image (that’s why you see terms such as “3X optical zoom” or “5X” etc.). Cell phone camera’s offer poor optical zoom and rely on digital zoom which, while sounding impressive at 8X or even higher multipliers, ends up degrading the image being shot. Digital zoom affects the overall focus, contrast levels and detail. This is far less likely to happen with digital cameras, as they area able to higher numbers of the more desirable optical zoom.


The Camera Controls
Digital cameras, like that of a cell phone camera, offer automated features such as focusing the image. But a digital camera also offers manual control over the entire image, from adjusting the color based on light sources or how fast the shutter “speed” is to altering the image through built-in filtration options. It’s also easier to hold and shoot a camera because it’s designed to do just that — in the case of a cell phone camera, all the controls had to be integrated so as to not cause issues when using the phone (as example, the lack of a “hard” camera button in leu of a software one).

Today’s digital cameras give the best of both worlds: they provide the digital technologies that let you just aim and shoot with precision, while also allowing manual control and creativity over how the picture will end up looking. When it comes to shooting for fun or to capture important memories like family events, a digital camera will always excel.

Friday, September 23, 2016

YOUR NEXT HOME THEATER SHOULD BE A DOLBY ATMOS HOME THEATER!


Watching movies at home used to be a trade-off between the big screen and massive sound of a movie theater. Those days are gone because big screen TVs are now available and movies, whether taken off of a 4K Blu-ray player or streamed through the Internet, can now be seen in high resolution also. But sound is also important, and that’s where surround sound comes in.

Surround sound at home requires not just a pair of front left and right speakers (stereo), but also a front center speaker (for dialogue) as well as a pair of left and right speakers at the side of the listener. This, along with a subwoofer gives you what is called a 5.1 audio sound system: a total of four speakers are conveying the sound, along with the subwoofer which handles the very low bass frequencies. Together this provides a surround sound effect that is more satisfying and enjoyable than the old days where the best you could hope for was stereo coming from two speakers in front of you.

But just as the TVs have improved in size and quality reproduction, so too has the audio enhancement been improved. This is called Dolby Atmos and it enhances what is now “conventional” surround sound audio by making it flow around you in three-dimensional space where all of the original sound mix is reproduced in realistic fashion.  Here’s a simple example: a helicopter in surround sound can be heard in front and to the sides as it moves, but add Atmos and now you hear it moving all around you, not just in a few predetermined locations defined by the speaker setup. That means hearing it overhead as well as in all the ways that the “real” sound would be heard if you were standing in its midst. Does this mean a more amazing sound experience for viewers? For sure. Here’s how it all gets put together.

The Hardware
Dolby Atmos is a new technology and so must be built into the system that conveys the sound signal to the speakers. This means you must have a new AV Receiver (audio-video receiver) that has been designed with Dolby Atmos from the get-go; it isn’t possible to add the Atmos technology through any kind of update to an existing receiver so that option is unfortunately off the table. 


The Speakers
There are three methods for getting Dolby Atmos besides the obvious one of getting all new speakers that are Dolby Atmos-compatible. The first two methods rely on adding speakers to the already surround sound setup, with the first method being to add in-ceiling speakers that provide overhead sound. The second method is to add speakers that reflect sound off of the ceiling — these speakers are placed on top of front and rear speakers. The third method is a single-speaker solution that also takes care of the AV Receiver — this is a Sound Bar which is designed with upward firing drivers to reflect sound down from the ceiling towards  your listening position. 


The Content
To play a Dolby Atmos soundtrack, you need a movie that has the technology built into it. There are online services offering this, but since Blu-ray players are compatible (you don’t need to buy a special one), the most convenient way is to get the disc that has it built-in. These are commercially available and include such titles as American Sniper, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, The Fifth Element, Enders Game among others. Getting a high definition disc that has Dolby Atmos embedded in it guarantees that, short of an electrical outage, you won’t be disturbed in your viewing of it.

Having a surround sound system at home makes watching movies and TV a treat and is why a home theater is so attractive over that of going to the movies. Plus the cost of snacks is significantly less, especially if you go back for seconds.


Friday, September 16, 2016

ENJOY THE DIFFERENCE A PROFESSIONAL INSTALLER WILL MAKE FOR YEARS TO COME!


A person's home has become the hub for all forms of knowledge, news and entertainment. This is due to the advent of electronic devices that can educate and entertain in ways that seemed impossible to even consider just a few short years ago. But all these fabulous devices can create a maze of wires, remotes and clutter, that's where a professional installer comes in: they are able to make clutter disappear by integrating what is in the home WITH the home.
TV Is For Watching

Small TVs are a thing of the past because large BIG SCREEN flat-panel televisions now predominate. Even though they possess high definition and all kinds of WiFi goodies that make them "smart," their physical size takes up space. Rather than having the room be forced to accommodate the TV, an installer can make the TVs "footprint" disappear by placing it on a wall (helped along by the fact that for all their size, today's TVs are both thin and relatively lightweight as compared to those in the past). Mounting the TV on the wall eliminates space issues but adds new problems that are obviates by the installer: the proper height for those staring at the TV is taken care of as a matter of course. Building code issues (especially true in case of Condos) are solved as well as taking care of running the cables for the video signal and for the power the TV will need to operate. Additionally, any wiring or other in-wall issues being avoided. Plus the installer doesn't leave it up to the TV hiding holes and dents in the wall that are the result of "figuring out" how to mount it. The installer does it right the first time and that's that.

Audio Is For Listening
One of the joys of listening to music at home is that you don't have to worry about volume or take a break after a couple of minutes because headphones or earbuds are hurting your ears. Getting proper audio takes components that are more complicated (and powerful) than what you get on a smartphone. It takes the proper mating of components (equipment) together to make the audio sound powerful and strong. The first step is getting an AV Receiver which powers the speakers, but now also can augment and control video signals as well. The AV Receiver must be wired in correctly to the speakers as well as to the TV (if used as part of a home theater setup) and so may need to be placed away from where the TV or speakers are placed -- this also applies to speakers which do not need to be put on stands, but instead can be mounted inside of walls or even in ceilings. A professional installer is able to coordinate the placement of all this in a competent and efficient manner which can enhance a room's decor, if visible, or completely eliminate any presence of equipment. The installer can also augment control of the audio through in-wall controls or by integrating control through apps activated by smartphones and tablets.
WIFI Doesn't Need To Be Seen

Today's devices require an Internet signal in order to take advantage of a wide range of built-in features. Rather than sticking a modem or router or any such connectivity equipment in sight, a professional installer can integrate the WiFi (and other components) so that they can do their job without calling any attention to themselves. Careful placement by an installer assures that the WiFi is not being blocked or interfered with, and that the resulting signal is making the rounds of the home to the best of its ability.

Having a wide array of devices at home doesn't require giving up on how the place looks. A professional installer (for example, Just One Touch) can make a huge difference in making a home look its best even as it works to enrich your life. 


Thursday, September 08, 2016

TIME TO UPGRADE WATCHING TV AT HOME!


Here’s one reason not to be sad that summer is over — the new TV shows are starting soon, with old favorites returning to answer their cliffhangers from months ago.

But getting excited about watching TV is one thing — being prepared to see it at its best is another. That’s why it’s important to reassess how you watch TV and make the changes needed in order to get the best results. 

A NEW HIGH-RESOLUTION TV

It’s a given that today’s televisions are thin and attractive. This makes them easy to set up because they can be placed on a cabinet or wall mounted. But it’s the resolution of the TV’s screen that is the most important — unlike TVs of the past that used tubes, today’s televisions have a higher resolution. This allows for more detail to be seen, for example the fine lines on a person’s face, as well as having a higher color palette for displaying more colors with greater shading. Add to that the ability to display deeper blacks that still can be “seen into” and it’s no wonder that getting a high resolution TV is an obvious choice for anyone today.

Screen size is also important— and not just because the larger the screen the more of what is being played can be more easily seen. Few homes have just one person watching a TV, and jockeying for position on the couch or chair so as to have the best “seat” is a battle that doesn’t need to happen. By having a large screen size, the TV becomes easier to watch for everyone.

A NEW SOUND SYSTEM

The speakers in a TV are fine for casual listening, but when it’s time to pump up the sound and let the big noise out — you need a separate loudspeaker system that not just physically compliments the TV, but is easy to set up and use. That’s where a sound bar comes in; it’s designed to sit in front of the TV without blocking the screen, or can be mounted beneath the TV (should the TV be mounted on the wall — something that can be done yourself or through the aid of a professional installer (such as Just One Touch).

Since a sound bar is completely self contained — it has the speakers, the amplifier to drive the speakers and the electronics to make it all work. Also there’s no messy set of cables that have to be wired to the TV — just a single connection between TV and sound bar is all that’s needed to bring out the sound loud and clear, especially as to dialogue and people speaking and of course in total sync with what is being seen.

Another great thing about a sound bar is that many of them include a subwoofer to provide for a deep and powerful bass to improve upon the already superior sound quality (a must for action movies and those loud explosions). This subwoofer connects automatically to the sound bar wirelessly, and so can be placed pretty much anywhere in the room without concern (like a corner wall or even behind or under a couch). And as an added bonus, a sound bar also offers the opportunity for playing music from a mobile device through Bluetooth wirelessly.

Upgrading how you watch TV at home will result in a better viewing experience — not just for watching TV shows, but also when watching movies or wanting to see digital pictures and videos that you’ve taken. What could be better than that?

Friday, September 02, 2016

PARTY IN THE BACKYARD!


Summer’s almost over, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to head inside and pull the blankets out of the closet. A backyard makes a great place to have friends and families over for one last night out without the hassles of traffic going somewhere or crowds of people you don’t know getting in your way. Plus there’s the advantage of having access to the snacks and drinks without emptying out your wallet. But there’s got to be entertainment and that’s where today’s electronic devices come in. Entertainment — coming up!

Watching
When it comes to playing videos on a mobile device, the bigger the screen the better when there’s more than just one person watching. A tablet gives you a bigger screen — smartphone screens too tiny for more than one person to watch comfortably — and pulls in the WiFi signal from the house’s wireless home network. The speaker’s are bigger too, although it’s pretty easy to sync the tablet with a portable Bluetooth speaker for greater volume and clarity.

But there’s another way to have a big screen outside — have a big screen TV outside. But not just any TV, because most televisions aren’t built to handle the outside environment. SUNBRIGHT’s series of outdoor LED TVs are designed for permanent installation outside and can handle anything Mother Nature can throw at it. But best of all, the screen is designed to be bright and the picture high resolution so everybody can enjoy watching it. 

Listening
Talking, dancing, laughing — music can get people doing all kinds of things, because it’s more than just background music. Having a “band” in the backyard is a lot easier because of mobile devices — everybody is carrying their music around with them. But the tiny speakers on phones or tablets won’t cut it, so that’s where Bluetooth portable speakers come in. These portable speakers vary in size and volume, but they all share the convenience of being easy to carry around and free of cords because they’re battery powered and work wirelessly. Some are even so waterproof that having them next to the pool is a no-brainer. There’s even those that look like the boomboxes of the past and so can play CDs (remember them?) or even the radio. Choose a portable speaker to gather everybody around, or place a few at different places in the backyard and let everybody become their own D.J. — it doesn’t matter because the results will be a great party.

Having a Good Time
The final thing that you must have for a successful backyard party is food and drink. But before you had to be careful not to get your hands greasy or spill on the speakers. This is because the way you can watch and listen outside has changed from the ways of the past — the electronic devices that bring on the fun are made to handle the great outdoors. Better yet, they’re made to handle the great people that will make your backyard the envy of your neighbors (if they haven’t already come over).