Tuesday, January 20, 2015


Consumer electronics is a hard sell for people — just because something new comes out, that doesn’t mean it’s worth tossing out what came before. Think how slow the adoption of the flat panel TV was in comparison to all the years that tube-TVs held sway. Or how few people were willing at the early stage to buy into getting a high-definition TV when all the content was confined to a few TV channels showing documentaries and outdoor vistas.

Contrary to popular belief, it takes more than just having a new technology like 4K TVs to buy to make them a viable part of the culture — something not just wanted by the consumer but expected as well. It takes more than just having something to watch in 4K too — although of course that is important moving forward. What is needed is an organization devoted to promoting 4K technology as it impacts the consumer; devoted to heightening the awareness and educating the public as to why 4K isn’t just the “next new thing,” but the “next BEST thing.” There was such an organization when DVD’s came along, when Blu-rays came along, when HDTVs came along. Why not 4K?

That’s why the announcement of the launch of the UHD Alliance at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2015) was so important — easily as important as all of the 4K TVs that overwhelmed the exhibition booths. The UHD Alliance isn’t just for show — what it will do will set the standards for how 4K moves forward and  how those supporting 4K with other electronic devices can attach themselves efficiently and effectively into this brave new 4K “World.” This is needed because 4K resolution brings more to the party than just detail: robust color that is more natural to the eye is comes along for the ride, as does an improved contrast and blacks that both contribute to making a picture more lifelike. And while it might sound surprising, audio as it impacts the 4K view is part of the equation too.

The initial members of the UHD Alliance include such heavy-hitters in the TV manufacturing world as Sony, Samsung, Sharp and Panasonic, with studios represented by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, Disney and Twentieth Century Fox. Also listed down is Netflix, DirecTV, Dolby and Technicolor. Mike Dunn, President, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment says “The UHD Alliance will benefit consumers by identifying products and content that will give the true UHD experience,” while Hyunsuk Kim, President, Visual Display Business at Samsung Electronics points out that “the Alliance will encourage the development of high-quality UHD content while distinguishing TVs that provide the most premium UHD viewing experience.” Pointing to the superior qualities of 4K viewing, Ron Sanders, President, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment adds that “these technologies allow us to utilize a much broader palette to tell our stories while providing viewers with true-to-life colors, superior contrast and premium picture quality.”

Are there more members soon to be listed for the UHD Alliance? No doubt they are having the paperwork being filed right now. 

Of course the easiest way to understand what 4K TV is all about is to see one in action for that a trip to an electronics store will prove fruitful. And fun. And even a bit astounding for those of us who think that a HDTV is all thats needed for a great picture at home. Seeing is believing, they say, and getting up close and personal with a 4K TV will prove the point. 

Big time.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Video & Audio Center Receives Top Award — Hardware Retailer of the Year

The public wants, and expects, all sorts of consumer electronics — from those used in their homes to those found in cars to those being carried around in pockets, purses and knapsacks. But being able to SEE this influx of ever-new technologies isn’t as easy as it once was, due to the lack of retail outlets where the products can be presented. So it shouldn’t come as any surprise that the Digital Entertainment Group (DEG) should award Video & Audio Center the prestigious honor of being the Hardware Retailer of the Year — anyone who has ever gone into a Superstore knows that means being surrounded by the latest technologies. But the award means more than just that. But first what was seen that day.

It was quite an honor — more than 400 of the top motion picture and consumer electronics industry elite gathered to pay homage in Las Vegas, flanked by press media that came from every point of the globe;  Joseph Akhtarzad, Video & Audio Center co-owner being joined by Senior Technologist, Tom Campbell. Akhtarzad said: “Im so proud to receive this prestigious award acknowledging Video & Audio Centers leadership in launching new technology to the world for over 30 years,” while Campbell pointed out that “major manufacturers have come to rely on Video & Audio Center to launch meaningful, new technologies first to the nation, and to the world. It is most gratifying that DEG has given their top recognition to Video & Audio Center for this achievement.”

What the award means is recognition of the ability of Video & Audio Center to provide a first-hand, first-look at new technologies as they are being birthed. Not weeks or months later but right at the front of the stage where they can be stared at good and hard. Want examples?

How about the first 4K Ultra HD TV?

Or the first Organic LED TV?

Or…but the point is made. Consumers are able to get close and see the excitement that otherwise would only be available in print or on a computer/phone/tablet screen. And to make a direct connection with that product in a way that otherwise wouldn’t be possible. Perhaps the cliche, “Seeing is Believing” should be changed to “Seeing is Understanding.”

To further this aim, Video & Audio Center makes sure that its staff — those the consumer interacts with — is fully trained to understand not just the “what” of the products but the why: how their use can benefit the one looking to take them home. That is an important component reflected in the company’s success and in their having received the award.

But perhaps even more important is that the philosophy behind Video & Audio Center furthers the consumer electronics industry in general: those products that otherwise might fall by the wayside due to a lack of an understanding from only being viewed “remotely” is nipped in the bud. Consumers become more learned through their interaction with the latest technologies when they are in a Video & Audio Center Superstore because it is in front of them — it’s something real and what it can do becomes for them real also. All this bodes well for furthering new technologies which will ultimately become the next standards for consumers to have.

Monday, January 05, 2015

The View to a TV: Making the Display Part of Your Home’s Decor

People spend a lot of time talking about how good a picture their TV has and how much better they want the picture of their next TV to be. But not a lot of time is spent talking about what the TV itself should look like. Considering that a television becomes the focal point of any room it's placed into, discussing what it will look like and how it will affect the room's decor should be a no-brainer. But it's not.

The reason for this is very 20th Century -- after all, it wasn't until the appearance of the flat panel that there was any choice in having a TV NOT be big and cumbersome. But once "thin" became "in" for TVs (i.e., losing the TV's chunky cathode tube), everybody decided that having a flat panel meant every TV you could purchase would at least look, if not perform, the same. And that the room the TV got placed in would have to adapt to the TV and that was it.

That kind of thinking was wrong and still is. TVs don't all look the same and that's a good thing -- because not every room is the same as every other room. But differences in the TV's physical appearance is more subtle today. So that's why it's time to revisit the choices that can be made.


Flat panel TVs look imposing when on, but once turned off they become black from end to end. Unless, that is, the outside edges arent black also just because the screen goes dark doesn't mean that the TV has to mirror that look all the way around. Having a silver trim changes the look of the TV and, as a result, how it interacts with the room's appearance (as an example, there's Sony's 65 4K UHD 3D Smart LED TV featuring brushed silver). A color change might seem like a simple thing, but having the choice allows for more freedom of expression when placing the TV into its new environment.


Ever notice how round shapes are more enticing than squares? Psychology aside, there's something to be said for breaking out from the standard "flat" view of a TV, especially when it's not turned on. So say hello to curved TVs. These televisions have a subtle "bending" at their extremes which is designed to create a more immersive viewing experience. That's when the TV is on. But when it's off, the curved shape attracts and intrigues the eye in a way that "flat" does not. And through placement in a room, a curved TV can extend this welcoming view to those entering a room, even if the effect does not "shout" out what it's doing. The TV ceases to be a "wall" and can become a positive element of the room's total "look."


A TV can become the visual equivalent of "background music" in that it and its images playing across the screen become ignored. While some might think that the best menus are those that remain totally unobtrusive and unmemorable, an argument could be made for menus that are striking and stand out increasing the visual appeal of the TV in a room. Many types of menu-based operating systems for TVs have been employed over the years -- from plain text overlaid on images to Las Vegas neon-types -- but the best menus will retain the intensity of the TVs display by calling attention to itself without being obnoxious. This type of menu will retain ease of use as well. But its strongest suit will be to take the TV out of its doldrums and make it stand out amidst the other furniture.

A television is an investment in visual technology that must perform up to your standards each and every day. But it also should join in being one of the household and contributing to the overall ambience of the home. Today's televisions can answer that call.