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What to do when your Home Technology is not working

Try these at-home troubleshooting techniques

Before you schedule a service call, we encourage you to attempt to resolve the problem yourself. Here are some basic ways to troubleshoot your problem. If the problem cannot be resolved, please call our office to schedule an appointment for a service call.

1) Check that the power plug is plugged in. Yes, this sounds common sense, but if you know you didn’t unplug the electronic device, you may assume it is plugged in, when in fact a cleaning person, child or other member of the family may have unplugged it. A lot of components have power cords with multiple connection points. It starts with a power cord that is plugged into the wall outlet. That cord plugs into an external power supply. A separate cord from the power supply plugs into the device. Check the entire connection chain.

2) Check that the cables are tightly secured. Reseating (unplugging and plugging back in) the cables can resolve the problem. If components were moved even slightly, a cable could have come loose, especially HDMI video cables. Obviously, if a cable is lying on the floor, it most likely came fully out and needs to be re-attached. Otherwise, just push each cable gently into the component to ensure it is secure.

3) Reset electronics. To reset any electronic device, you need to turn it off completely, i.e. power it down either by unplugging it or turning off your surge protector, not just hitting the power button of the remote or on the device. Wait 30-45 seconds & turn on or plug back in. This can resolve problems caused by power sags/ surges & updates that did not restart the device properly.
4) Reset your router. If your communications carrier had even a short blip in their service, your router may have been impacted. Go to the router, find the power source and turn it off. Wait 30-45 seconds & turn it back on.

5) Testing to see if your TV is broken. If it doesn’t come on at all and is plugged in, it is dead. If it comes on but the picture is not normal, it is may be broken. It could be a loose cable or a problem with your cable/satellite service. Check to be sure you have cable/satellite service at other TVs, as you don’t want to consider it broken if cable is down or your cable box is broken. If you can’t get your channels to change with the remote, use the buttons on the front of the cable/satellite box. The problem may be with the remote.

6) Testing to see if your component is broken. Most components either work or they don’t. Try the power reset described above. If you are using a universal remote control try using the specific remote that came with the device to see if it functions correctly. For example; for a Blu-ray DVD player, use the Blu-ray/DVD remote, turn it on & off, open the disk tray.

7) Testing to see if your remote control is broken. The number one thing to check is that the batteries are fresh/charged and that they are seated properly in the remote. Remotes take a lot of abuse. If it gets dropped on the floor the batteries could have come loose or unseated just enough to cause the remote to act strangely. If the equipment is being operated behind closed cabinet doors then there is a secondary device that facilitates that function. It could be either a separate electronic device that talks specifically to the remote or a universal IR relay system. Both use little “emitters” that are attached to the devices that they are controlling like the cable box. These emitters sometimes get knocked off or the adhesive holding it on has failed. Just placing the emitter back on the unit may fix the problem. Additionally there is an IR sensor that is usually attached to the front of the TV. This also may fall off and needs to be reattached.

8) Reset network. If you have more than a single network device resetting your network when it isn’t operating correctly can take more than just resetting the router. All devices such as network switches, wireless network extenders, etc. need to be reset. As a general rule of thumb turn everything off first and leave it off. Start with the cable modem (router if you have Fios) and power it on. Wait 1-2 minutes then power on the router. (already done if you have Fios) Wait about 1-2 minutes then start powering on the network switches and wireless extenders. If you follow that sequence then all of the settings will be exchanged properly between devices and the network will have a clean start.

We highly suggest you print this article out and keep it somewhere handy so that you have it should you need to troubleshoot.

Wireless Internet Becoming Popular Outdoors

More people want better WiFi while lounging on their patio or enjoying the pool and are looking for solutions. Companies such as Ubiquiti have made outdoor wireless access points for years but mostly they were purchased by businesses such as country clubs, restaurants and such. Home & Office Network Solutions has seen a recent surge in HOAs installing wireless coverage at their pools as their homeowners demand more services for their community dues.

The cost for outdoor WiFi can vary because the size of coverage varies. A home with a very large yard and a pool extending deep into the yard would require several access points whereas a patio or porch would need just one. Most homeowners do find that their indoor WiFi just doesn’t carry well onto their porch. There is major lag time & drops, if they get coverage at all, so many consumers have to depend on cell coverage, which can get costly based on the plan purchased from the carrier.

As consumers depend more & more on using their cell phone & tablet wherever they go, including their own backyard, we may just see wireless internet move up the list of architectural trends.

JD Powers “2016 TV Satisfaction Report”

This annual report measures satisfaction with TVs among customers who purchased one in the past 12 months. The 1,000-point satisfaction score takes the following factors into account: performance/reliability, features, price, ease of operation, built-in online capabilities, customer service and warranty. Eligible brands included Samsung, LG, Hisense, Emerson, Sharp, Sony and Vizio.
Samsung once again ranked highest in the 50-inch or larger TV segment with a score of 859. Sony, meanwhile, displaced Samsung from its 2015 position as the highest ranking brand in the smaller than 50-inch TV segment, with a score of 843.

Among the findings:

Consumers with a TV 50 inches or larger were more satisfied than those with a smaller TV (845 points vs. 812).
Price was top of mind for all consumers. Sixty-seven percent of those with a TV smaller than 50 inches cited price as the primary reason for the selection, while 55 percent of those who purchased a larger one said the same.

Both sets of consumers said the in-store display was a primary source of information during the shopping process, with 22 percent saying they relied primarily on the in-store displays. Last year, about half of consumers said the same.

Smart TVs: 80 percent of TVs 50 inches or larger, and 59 percent of the smaller TVs, were smart.

Curved: 27 percent of those who purchased a TV 50 inches or larger chose one with a curved screen, while 17 percent did the same for a smaller TV.

4K Ultra HD: 52 percent for the larger TVs; 25 percent for smaller models.

Most common TV problems cited by consumers:
*Glare and/or reflection (25 percent)
*TV doesn’t connect to Wi-Fi (18 percent)
*Remote control doesn’t work properly (13 percent)
*Sound is distorted, low or missing (13 percent)

Source: Lisa Johnson, TWICE online magazine.

Get to Know your AV contractor

Just as many businesses specialize in a type of food; Italian, French, fast food, etc., those working in the audio/visual industry also specialize. Why is this important to know? While we would love to be the “go to” for all residential and commercial AV needs, just like our colleagues we have our own specialization. We encourage you to identify your needs based on the information below and seek out the best contractor for the job.

Not all AV companies service homes. Some, such as ours, service homes & businesses. But, each contractor has their own specialization for both residential and commercial customers. I will focus solely on residential AV work.

Large home theater and whole house AV – These companies specialize in building large home theaters and/or designing & setting up video & audio experiences in the entire home. Theaters include projection and sound systems, seating, a sophisticated control system and even the construction needs, such as platforms, acoustical walls and such. Most home theaters start at $30,000 and go up from there. Most of these companies need a multi-man crew to work on these jobs and may only do 1-2 theaters at a time depending on the size of their company and the size of the theater. When a customer wants an entire home set up with AV, these companies are the best to use. Most of these companies stay away from jobs that can be done in a day or two, since their crew is usually tied up on large projects. They also generally do not perform service calls for anyone other than their past customers.

Basic AV installations – There are companies that focus primarily on what we call “plain vanilla” TV wall mounts. This involves running cable within the wall, mounting the TV and setting up the cable company remote control. They also may be able to run wires for speakers. Many of these companies price per package rather than on an hourly rate. They are great for simplistic needs that don’t involve any design work or more complex work that requires senior level technicians. These companies generally do not perform service calls because they do not have the needed expertise on staff to troubleshoot and repair.

Custom installations (mid size) – These companies fit between the large & small AV contractor. They have the expertise to create a custom AV experience. However, medium sized AV companies vary greatly in services, products recommended & level of experience. Just as we specialize in networking infrastructure, others may not have a networking specialist on staff. However, they may sell & install sophisticated control systems that we don’t such as Crestron or Control 4, motorized blinds, vacuum systems and outdoor cameras. The best way to identify between these contractors is to visit their website and read what they offer. There is more to a custom installation than a picture, so go beyond the gallery to really understand what they offer…or don’t.

Independent contractors – There are AV people who can be found on places such as Craig’s list. While they may be able to inexpensively set up an AV system, most of these people are not licensed, do not offer warranties and don’t carry insurance. Most of these contractors work as subcontractors to licensed AV contractors, but take on their own work as well. They are also going to use inexpensive materials so that they can make more money since they don’t have relationships with distributors, so be wary of brands.

We encourage you to visit our website to see more about what Home & Office Network Solutions specializes in. If you are unsure whether we are the right fit for your next project, just call and we will let you know if we are a good fit. We would rather turn away business to those who would do a better job than take on something that is not in our wheelhouse.

What is considered a “Custom” Home Technology project?

The definition of custom is “made or done to order for a particular customer.” Since all home technology installations are not “off the rack” by definition alone they are custom made. Even the most basic TV mounting on a wall is generally custom made. One customer may want just the TV mounted, wires hanging down to connect to the cable outlet. Another may want the wires run through the walls to their cable connection & components. A third customer may want the TV mounted, and wires run to components within another room, utilizing an IR relay set up to manipulate the components. Then there are a variety of mount types to choose from; flat, tilt, articulating, down & out, that can be selected to customize just the TV mounting.

Add speakers or a sound bar, a universal remote control and networking for streaming and you’ve got an even more custom made entertainment system.

How about audio? In-ceiling or in-wall speakers, wireless speakers, multiple zones with separate controls by room and outdoor speakers with weatherproof wiring & casements, all connected to a central amplifier inside the home.
Head spinning yet? How about accessing all the video & audio components with your iPad or smart phone? Trading out the 5 remotes for a universal remote that is custom set for your audio & video needs.

It can get even more complex. Add lighting, a central control system, racks, a large home theater with projection and sophisticated sound & acoustics.

The possibilities are nearly endless with home technology these days. Don’t shortchange your needs with package deals. Get a true “custom” designed system that fits “your” needs now & in the future.