Category Archives: Residential

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.

Learn more at www.ring.com.

The NEW Apple TV

Apple TV 4 Features

Compared to Apple TV 3, the new model adds (or omits):
• Dolby Digital 7.1 (vs. 5.1)
• 802.11ac Wi-Fi
• HDMI 1.4
• HDMI CEC control
• No optical audio output (not good in our opinion)
• Improved tvOS interface and navigation tools
• Gaming
• Universal search across platforms including iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, HBO and Showtime
• 4K potential … maybe (HDMI 1.4, 802.11ac)
• A remote control with Bluetooth, enabling screen navigation via touch surface, Siri voice (dual mics) and gesture (accelerometer and gyroscope). Like the original, the new remote has an IR transmitter, as well as dedicated volume up/down buttons.

Most reviews by AV integrators that have gotten to play with the new Apple TV 4 have been positive. However, there are many questions about integration into existing sophisticated home systems, and usage with Android devices (is it even possible?).

The Apple TV 4 is expected to arrive at the end of October. Our recommendation: If you buy one & switch it out with the new Apple TV 4, keep the old device in case you have problems. You may need to put the original Apple TV back until you can get an AV specialist out to solve any compatibility problems.

Confusion over Network products?

It only takes watching TV one night to see a communications carrier commercial touting their high speed cable access. So, of course, as consumers we all believe that when they connect their router up in our home, all our Internet connections and streaming will be as described.

To better understand why you have dead zones & slow Internet & streaming in your home, it is best to first understand what you are getting from your communications carrier. You are essentially receiving a router. A router actually comes with 4 devices inside it: a router, an access point, a network switch & a firewall.

A router is a device that forwards data packets along networks. A router is connected to at least two networks, commonly two LANs or WANs or a LAN and its ISP’s network. Routers are located at gateways, the places where two or more networks connect.

An access point is a device that allows wireless devices to connect to a network. It is the radio transmitter receiver of a Wi-Fi network. Most routers have built-in access points which must be connected to a router in order to provide network access. In either case, access points are typically hardwired to devices, such as network switches.
A switch is a device for the interconnection of hardwired devices. A switch is connected to a router port that will take the data toward its intended destination.

Firewalls are frequently used to prevent unauthorized Internet users from accessing private networks connected to the Internet. All messages entering or leaving the internal (secured) network pass through the firewall, which examines each message and blocks those that do not meet the specified security criteria.

Now that you are thoroughly confused by the overlapping definitions, other than the firewall, let me make a point. Generally, when a homeowner is not receiving the signals needed in the home from the communication carrier’s router, the consumer purchases an additional router or an access point or a switch or a combination. Then, after spending all that money & time on these products, the network is no better than it was and sometimes even worse.

Without fully understanding “networking” it is very easy to buy the wrong product or to even degrade the existing system. Your communications carrier is selling you the router that does carry the speeds they talk about on TV. However, once that device is installed in your home, there are a number of factors that come into play to degrade those speeds; number of IP addresses, structural blockages, simultaneous usage, heavy need of broadband such as gaming and more. Upgrading to an even higher speed router from your carrier is not going to solve your problems either, since all the other internal factors have not changed. An experienced network specialist can determine how to get you optimum performance by setting up the correct network infrastructure within your home.