Category Archives: Commercial

Will Trade War with China impact Electronics?

Most of the components of cellphones, computers, and other electronic products are now manufactured in China. So, tariffs against China will result in increased costs of these components to come to the US, and passed on to American consumers. Even if China doesn’t raise the tariffs on electronics being imported here, they will raise the price of other products that will reduce the ability to buy electronics. “The latest tariffs will add another $500 a year in costs for the average U.S. household,” Katheryn Russ, an economics professor at the University of California at Davis, told NPR.

“Companies won’t immediately increase their prices”, said Jon Gold, vice president of supply chain and customs policy at the National Retail Federation. “Retailers will try to endure as much of the costs as possible but 25%, they can’t absorb all of that,” he said. “Products currently shipping to the U.S. for sale won’t see hiked prices, but some products may become more expensive in the summer, such as back-to-school items”, he added.

Electronics are among the hottest holiday toys and birthday gifts and, as such, analysts say this could impact retailers including Walmart, Home Depot and Best Buy.
As far as products that are part of our installations…U.S.-levied tariffs on steel and aluminum have manifested in rising prices of racks and enclosures, which are largely made of these materials.

The steel and aluminum tariffs may also affect coaxial cables (which use copper-cladded steel conductors and aluminum for shielding/braiding/armoring)
Tariffs on plastic molded parts can affect wall plates, connectors, and patch cords.

While some of the larger companies may try to absorb some of the tariff costs into their profits, as a small business near the end of the product chain, these increases will need to be passed on to customers.

Using Technology to Save You a Service Call

Service calls are expensive, both to the business and to the customer. Unless the business operates where trucks are out on the road all day, every day, putting a vehicle and person specifically on the road to perform a short service call is a large business expense. Many AV companies won’t even perform service calls, unless it is part of a maintenance plan with an existing customer.

We will perform service calls for both customers and non-customers and while we must roll a truck for a homeowner or business that we’ve never done work for, we are trying our best to avoid some trips with existing customers.

By using the customer’s video phone, we attempt to troubleshoot a problem with a customer who is willing to use FaceTime or Facebook Video. The customer schedules a call with our technician and is directed to show various things that could be causing the problems. This type of Virtual troubleshooting isn’t as effective as an in-person visit, but it is faster and depending on the problem, can result in the customer fixing the problem with the virtual assistance of the tech. The cost is the same hourly rate as a service call, except that there is no minimum 1 hour fee and no travel fee.

For more information or to see if your existing problem qualifies for a virtual service call visit, contact Bonnie by phone or email.

KRACK Attack!

By now you may have heard about a newly found vulnerability in Wi-Fi security called KRACK and may be wondering what it means to you. Without going too far down the technical rabbit hole, I’ll try to explain the risk.

KRACK is the industry short name for Key Reinstallation Attacks. A discovery was made back in July by researchers in a White Hat (the good guys) hacking lab that showed how the encryption of network traffic using WPA2 security could be negated. They passed their findings on to the appropriate government agencies and manufacturers who then took action to correct the problem with firmware/product updates. This past Monday they made the public aware of the problem with the encryption protocol.

What did not happen was some explanation of what it means to the general public. Since it is only applicable to Wi-Fi networks, the first thing to know is that anyone who wants to break the encryption must be in range of the Wi-Fi signal. If they can’t see the Wi-Fi then they can’t exploit the problem. The second thing is that the Wi-Fi password is required to begin the KRACK attack. If the hacker does not have the password then they cannot kick off the hack. Because of those 2 things, the risk to most folks is minimal.

There are a few things that can be done to protect yourself from KRACK. First, install the updates when you are notified of them. This is very important as the problem affects ALL devices. Every PC, Mac, smart phone, thermostat, washer & dryer, etc. with Wi-Fi capabilities has the problem. FYI companies like Microsoft released a patch for the Windows operating system on Tuesday with their monthly updates. Others will follow suit shortly. Again, install the updates.

Second, when logging into a website be sure that you are doing so with HTTPS, not HTTP. HTTPS encrypts the data between your device and the server that you are communicating. You will see this in the address bar of the browser. The address of the website should begin with HTTPS://. With this you will also see a little lock symbol adjacent to the address. These mean that your data is encrypted and not sent in readable text.

My take on KRACK. Since the hacker must be on the Wi-Fi network, the exposure is reduced for most people. Businesses with multiple Wi-Fi networks as part of their total IT systems are more exposed than consumers because of that configuration/environment. Essentially, if you update your devices you will be protected. This problem has been around since the WPA2 encryption language was written many years ago. It only took so long to discover it because the encryption protocol has been doing its job keeping things encrypted and secure. That will not change.

My biggest concern is what will happen to your components when the Internet service providers push out updates to their equipment. As was mentioned earlier, ALL equipment has this problem. Every router from Comcast, Cox Communications and Verizon has this issue. If the carriers push out updates in the middle of the night, things that were working the day prior may have problems the next morning. Let’s hope all goes smoothly on their end with these updates.

Lew

Anticipated Trends in Electronics for 2017

Shawn DuBravac, chief economist of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), took the stage at the Metropolitan Pavilion in New York to offer sales predictions the future of electronics.

1. The New Voice of Computing: Voice control will take over as the next computer interface.

2. Connections & Computations: The widening availability of broadband and Wi-Fi will lead to increased uniformity and adoption of smart-home technology, including increased autonomous living.

3. Transportation Transformation: There will be more vehicle technology such as driver assistance and self-driving cars.

4. AI’s Infusion into Our Lives & Business: Just as computers have influenced how we do our jobs today, artificial intelligence will play a similar role in the way we work, communicate and access information.

5. Digitizing the Consumer Experience: Both virtual reality and augmented reality will be the new forms of entertainment.

4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player Now available from Samsung

While 4K has now been about over a year, Blu-ray DVD players have not been able to show movies in 4K quality. Consumers have been dependent on streaming to see 4K movies. But, now Samsung has produced a 4K ultra HD Blu-ray player for your added enjoyment. It reveals up to 64X Greater Color Expression than Conventional Blu-ray and Fast Action Moves Super Smooth Across the Screen with 60 frames per second.

Add this player to your 4K TV and watch your favorite 4K produced movies again and again.