Category Archives: Contractor

“Back to School” and its IMPACT on YOUR Teleworking

If you struggled with your Internet back when schools were starting to go online in the Spring and you were also teleworking, it is going to get worse in another month or so, when the requirements to be online and in virtual classrooms increase for the new school year.

This is not a local issue. This is a national issue for all homeowners that are now going to need far more bandwidth than ever before. Don’t even think that living in Northern VA and having data centers in your backyard is going to provide you with plenty of bandwidth.

You can pay your internet provider to send you their maximum amount of bandwidth and still have problems due to it only getting “to” your home, and not necessarily “through” your home. You need to look at your home the way a commercial business looks at its workforce needs. A business’ IT department will make sure that every employee has the right tools to do their job, which includes computers and phones and topmost Internet without disruptions.

If you are going to have children on a computer, then later playing video games or streaming TV shows, while you are on your computer or having a virtual meeting, you are going to need to ensure that your “family” has the tools needed. These tools start with cabling and WiFi that will allow everyone to work and play at the same time.

Rule #1: If it can be hard-wired, get it wired. Hard wiring still provides a more constant connection than WiFi because you are literally tying directly into the internet providers service. WiFi is an RF (Radio Frequency) based transmission. RF transmissions are subject to interference from numerous things. Most interference is generated by things that are not in your control. Hardwiring devices eliminates this problem.

Rule #2: If you must use WiFi, figure out where you need it and assess the signal strength in that area.

Rule #3: Don’t look for a quick, cheap fix to improve your network. There are plenty of “hacks” on the Internet that can tell you how to improve your internet, but they have no idea what YOUR home is experiencing.

Also, keep in mind that your provider is also “busy” so the speed coming into your home is going to drop during busy times of the day.

Do an assessment now. Identify where your kids are going to do their homework and whether their laptop can be hardwired or if they are going to be using WiFi. Then you set up your teleworking station. Have everyone do a virtual call to a friend or family member at the same time, preferably during the day, during the week. Then, assess how it went. Did anyone’s screen lock up or stall? Take notes on what worked well and what didn’t work well. Then contact someone to provide a network design (preferably us) to optimize your home’s infrastructure.

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.

Things we thought were COOL at CEDIA

As we closed our doors to attend the 2017 trade show for consumer electronics contractors, we came back newly educated on both products and technical skills.
Here are a few of the products we found interesting walking the show floor. While they may not apply to everyone, we felt it was worth mentioning them because, well…you just never know.

Stealth Acoustics
For those who don’t like the look of speakers in your walls and ceilings, Stealth acoustics makes a full-range of speakers and subwoofers that are fully invisible, hiding behind drywall. While they have a full range of speakers and subwoofers with varying sound quality, prices are a bit steeper than the grill-based speakers usually installed. But, if you are looking for a completely clean look in a room, then these speakers can fill your need.

Motorized Wall Mounts
If you like the idea of an articulating arm mount but don’t want to manually turn it in a direction, then you could get a motorized mounts. These mounts are not new, but they are gaining exposure. The best use of these would be for handicapped or elderly people who would find it difficult to adjust the TV. They are heavier than standard mounts, requiring additional bracing, but do the job.

Samsung’s Frame TV
When you’re not watching TV, Art Mode transforms The Frame into a beautiful work of art indistinguishable from the real thing. The Frame includes a free gallery of professionally curated art with 100 free pieces worth thousands of dollars* from 10 different categories. The consumer can buy individual pieces or subscribe to an ever-increasing library of established and emerging artists’ work. You can even upload and display your own personal pictures.

To be continued…

Remodeling?

Home improvement contractors ARE NOT electronics technology contractors. If you are remodeling a part of your home, inside or outside, you should consider the technology that you want to incorporate into that project.

Home technology includes audio, video and most importantly networking. If you intend to use any WiFi devices, you will want to ensure that the project includes infrastructure to support your system.

Too many times we get calls from homeowners asking us to incorporate technology into their project when it is half way done or even worse, at its final stages. You should be getting a site survey and estimate at the same time you are getting your design and estimate from remodeling contractors. Not only will this ensure you aren’t scrambling later, but it will aid in your total project budget planning. It also prevents delays in construction so that the electronics contracting work is done when the contractor is ready for it.

Some contractors will offer to perform the electronics technology needs. That is perfectly fine if they have designed it from start to finish and plan to do it all (cabling, terminations, electronics and networking set up and configuration). If your contractor says they can do the electronics, be sure they are bringing in a qualified electronics technology subcontractor. You wouldn’t want your electrical or plumbing done by anyone other than a licensed tradesman, so treat your electronics the same way.

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.