Category Archives: Residential

Adding Wi-Fi Extenders to your Network

Unfortunately, the consumer market has been duped by manufacturers that tout simply adding a Wi-Fi extender to a network is going to expand the network and clear up your slow internet problems. Well, why wouldn’t you believe them…they are called extenders. If I didn’t know better, I’d believe them too based on the name alone.

The thing is…extenders are not always the solution to the problem. Home networks these days can be as complicated as business office networks. There are so many different devices used to create a network: routers, access points, switches, hubs and yes, cables. You can waste a lot of money buying the wrong thing or worse yet, multiple devices that don’t know how to talk to each other.
A network requires a combination of proper cabling, electronic devices and the proper configuration to run smoothly. When your communications carrier sets up your router, it may be all you need for your home. There are many reasons that the router is not enough but these are the two prominent ones: 1) the structure of your home getting in the way of the wireless signal and 2) how rigorous you are using your router, i.e. streaming, gaming, computers.

A Wi-Fi extender used to go by a different name…a Wi-Fi repeater. The name “Repeater” is a better representation of how the device operates. It listens for a transmission signal from the router or wireless device (like a smart phone or PC), captures the transmission signal, then resends it out again thus “repeating” the transmission signal. Without getting into too much geek speak, there are many possible problems with this setup. An example, the signal may get corrupted and require retransmission and/or the turnaround of the signal in the “repeater” adds time to the transmission between devices. This additional time is called Latency. Many of today’s programs, especially video and IP telephone calls, cannot function well with long Latency or excessive errors.

So the next time you are having network issues, resist the urge to get an extender. And, if you do, be sure to keep the receipt & ensure it can be returned if it does not solve your network problem.

Electronics in 2020

Based on research pulled together by CEDIA, the consumer electronics industry’s trade association, they have created some interesting assumptions about what the consumer electronics experience will be 5 years from now. We thought it might be fun to share these with you.

Video: While you can find virtual reality devices now, the video is nowhere near what technology manufacturers want it to be. The best virtual reality products that are not even on the market still have some work to be done. The biggest problem is the better the image, the harder it takes for the brain to accept them. Viewing these prototypes cause most people to get physically ill from disorientation and it can take hours to recover. So, needless to say…not ready for prime time yet.

4K: We all know 4K is already here. However, there is still a large imbalance between the availability of the TVs and the availability of the content. A lot of movies over the past few years have been created in 4K (or better) video for theaters but not for the home market. It will take many years for content providers to catch up in producing and distributing 4K compatible content for consumers.

Rec2020: In the future, TVs will be able to produce 50% more color than they can today. That means more contrast which creates a much stronger, clearer image. Again, even when this happens, the content providers have to keep up, and based on today’s gap between technology & content, we will still experience a gap.

Audio: There will be more immersion into sound taking surround sound to another level, perhaps even the creation of speakers to be placed within the floor since we’ve already got audio in the walls & ceilings.

Broadband: It is anticipated that 80% of the country will be using gigabit speed by 2020. Some states, especially those in the Midwest, only have high speed broadband in major cities. We even have problems with rural areas, such as Western Loudoun county, receiving broadband. Communications companies will be finding ways to get coverage to the entire country.

Now don’t go asking us for a Rec2020 TV or floor installed speakers yet…remember we are talking 2020 here. Right now, enjoy what you have and we’ll all wait and see if CEDIA’s crystal ball is working.

Life Expectancy of Electronics

When someone calls for electronics servicing, if it involves a TV or component not working, the first thing we ask is the age of the electronic item. Based on the age, we can sometimes troubleshoot over the phone to determine if the electronic device has completed its life cycle, and avoid a service call.

We researched to see if any studies have been done concerning today’s electronics life cycle & we did find a study done a year ago. Based on the fact it was done a year ago, and the fact that it appears that life cycles are declining (our own assumption), we suggest you knock off a year or two from what you see below. There has been no sign that electronics are lasting longer.

The survey in 2014 conducted by the Consumer Electronic Association explored consumer perceptions of product life cycles for several key categories of electronics including; flat panel televisions, digital cameras, DVD and Blu-ray players, tablets, laptops, desktop computers, smartphones, cell phones and video game consoles.

Based on the 2014 survey which interviewed consumer perceptions as to when they felt their electronic device lasted, the expected life cycle for the following products is listed below in years & months. Keep in mind, they did not ask when the device’s technology no longer kept up with upgrades. For example…while a smartphone may physically last 4.6 years, due to the constant upgrades requiring more internal space & speed to operate efficiently, most people are forced to upgrade their smartphones before they actually break.

Flat panel TV…7.4 years
Digital camera…6.5 years
DVD player or recorder…6.0 years
Desktop computer…5.9 years
Blu-ray player…5.8 years
Video game console…5.7 years
Notebook, laptop or netbook computer…5.5 years
Tablet computer…5.1 years
Cell phone that is not a smartphone…4.7 years
Smartphone…4.6 years

Source: CEA Blog: The Life Expectancy of Electronics, By: Chris Ely 16 September 2014

Hot Buys for Christmas

Best Buy, the popular electronics retailer, has conducted a survey and determined the hottest tech for the 2015 holidays.
1. iPad
2. Bose QuietComfort 25 Noise Cancelling Headphones
3. MacBook
4. Samsung 48″ Smart 4K Ultra HD TV
5. Sharp 43″ Smart HDTV with Roku
6. Microsoft Surface
7. Bose SoundLink Mini Bluetooth Speaker II
8. Fitbit Charge HR Heart Rate and Activity Tracker
9. Samsung Galaxy Tab S2
10. Dyson V6 Absolute Bagless Cordless Vacuum
11. Vizio 43″ Smart 4K Ultra HD TV
12. Apple Watch
13. SONOS PLAY:1 Wireless Speaker
14. iRobot Roomba Vacuum Cleaning Robot
15. GoPro HERO4 Action Camera

Ring Video Doorbell

Time Magazine said this is “One of the top 10 Gadgets of 2014” and we agree. The ring video doorbell replaces your regular doorbell. It is about 5” H and 2 ½ W which includes a mini camera & the doorbell unit is available in 4 different finishes to blend in with the exterior décor.

This doorbell is connected to your portable device, i.e. smart phone or tablet. When someone rings the doorbell, an alert is send to your device and then with the touch of an app, you get to see who is at your door. It works with both IOS & Android devices and even has a motion detection so if someone is near the device it will activate an alert before they even ring the doorbell. How cool is that?

While they do tout Easy Installation (no professional help required), we do want to recommend you have above basic networking knowledge and some handyman skills. In addition, while it can replace the old doorbell, some doorbells may be in locations that make them undesirable to remove so it could involve installing this at a new destination point & finding a creative way to remove or cover your existing doorbell.

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