Category Archives: Blog/Comments

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.

Tips for Packing Electronics for a Move

Televisions, amps, subwoofers, receivers, speakers are all high-dollar investments, and you want to make sure those investments are not damaged when moving. Here are 10 tips to consider when packing electronics for your big move.

1. Follow the product manual
Follow manufacturers’ advice for packing electronics and storing them as well. They know the most about what it takes to protect the product. Consult the owner’s manual or manufacturer’s Web site for details.

2. Save boxes for repacking
If possible, save the original boxes and packing materials for repacking. Otherwise, you won’t find packing materials that fit as well.

3. Essential packing materials
If the original packing is not available, start with these essentials: sturdy cartons, bubble wrap for wrapping things up, tape, scissors and felt-tip markers to number and label each box.

4. Use color stickers for cables and take pictures
When you disassemble electronics such as computers, stereos and other devices with numerous cables, place small colored stickers on each cable and the same color sticker where the cable connects to the device. You can also take pictures of the existing set up so that you know what goes with what, and how to set it up the same as you had it.

5. Check the temperature in storage
Sensitive electronics such as computers and TVs may need to be stored in climate-controlled units. Seek advice from the manufacturer or your storage facility.

6. Valuable items
To reduce the chance of attracting unwanted attention from potential thieves, place small, expensive items such as stereo equipment, TVs and camcorders in unmarked boxes. At your storage facility, you can place these items out of view toward the back of the storage unit.

7. Wrap your electronics
To minimize damage caused by dust inside electronic devices, wrap electronics in linen or bubble wrap.

8. Use packing tape
Seal boxes completely with packing tape to keep out the dust.

9. Extra protection
For further protection, cover electronics with moving pads, sheets or light blankets.

10. Moving inventory list
Make a list of the components in each box. With luck you’ll be putting all this back together — make sure you’ve got all the parts (including both sides of the TV mount) before you start assembling.


What to do about your Electronics when Moving

Moving can be very stressful, so here are some recommendations for you.

TVs: If you have unmounted TVs, you can either take them or not. If they are older models that still work you may want to donate them to a school or senior home. Don’t try to pawn off tube or projection TVs to anyone, as they are way too old to be wanted. Hire a junk company for those.

If they are newer TVs, i.e. TVs with HDMI connections, then they can be boxed & moved to your new home. Mounted TVs can also be moved, however they need to be removed from the wall, along with the entire mount (part on wall & part on TV), to be remounted in your new home. If it is a TV over 55”, you will need 2 people to do this without damaging the TV. You will also need to first ask your moving company if they will move the TV, as some won’t move large TVs. If they won’t move it, you might as well let it convey with the house and get new ones.

Components: If you have components that connect to your TV, it is a good idea to color code the TV connection and the component or take pictures; do something that makes it easier to put them back together again in the new home.

Cameras: Other than stand-alone cameras indoors, leave the cameras. Leave the Ring Doorbell, leave the cameras mounted outside. People don’t want to buy a house with a bunch of wires protruding everywhere and no doorbell because you took all your cameras.

Home Theater: We go into homes all the time where people took half the home theater, i.e. they took the receiver and remote and left the screen, projector & speakers. It is totally your choice as to what you want to take, but personally I would just convey the entire home theater system, so that the new homeowner can walk in and enjoy it. Will it add a huge amount to the house? Not as huge amount as a new kitchen would, but it will definitely add value. And, please leave the paperwork and equipment manuals if you still have it so the new owner can figure out how to operate the theater.

Security systems: Since security systems are connected to a call system, just cancel the subscription and let the new owners subscribe if they want to. You aren’t going to remove any of the wiring that was installed or any wall devices.

Smart home devices: Take your Google or Alexa freestanding devices. Leave your Nest thermostat or change it out and take it with you. Just leave the new owners some type of thermostat.

Audio: Leave all speakers in the walls. External mounted speakers and stand-alone speakers can be moved along with the receiver/amplifier, subwoofers, etc. However, if you have mounted speakers that work with a 5 or 7 speaker surround sound system where speakers are in-ceiling or in-wall, don’t break up the system. Again, sell the entire surround sound as a value-added feature of the home.

One thing to remember. If you leave ANY electronics that are account based such as a Roku, Apple TV or RING Doorbell be sure to reset the device to its factory defaults so that it is removed from your account. You don’t want anyone using your account to purchase services.

These are all recommendations only. What you do is entirely up to you as you own everything in your home. When we bought our home, the previous owners took the refrigerator, washer & dryer so we, as new homeowners had to buy new ones. That was quite a large financial hit, which essentially was negotiated into the purchase of the home. But, it was a buyer’s market back then, not like it is today.

The Future of “Cutting the Cable Cord”

On Sunday, April 14, 2019 on the front page of the Washington Post was an article titled “Cord Cutters’ dreams dashed as streaming sector splinters.” For those who didn’t read this, we thought we would summarize it because we get a lot of calls from existing and prospective clients to “cut the cord” on their cable TV and go straight to streaming via the Internet, to save money.

Essentially, the article talks about the fact that because streaming is becoming so popular, companies owning the movies that are offered via streaming, are starting to splinter into additional streaming companies. For example, Disney will start their own streaming service for $6.99 a month, taking their movies away from other services that now offer them. So, while you may have been able to watch Start Wars before on other streaming services, now you will have to purchase Disney’s service.

There is a huge proliferation of streaming services, i.e. NetFlix, Hulu, Vue, Sling, Amazon Prime, HBO Now, DirectNow and more. This list will continue and each will offer their own shows, some TV shows, and some movies. So, essentially, while consumers are spending less on cable, they are now spending more on Internet. Some people are paying more now for streaming services than for cable TV. Netflix recently increased their service by 18%, partly to fund original shows, whose costs have risen due to higher production costs.

While the article states that a study by Ovum analyst Tony Gunnarsson cited at the recent NAB trade show noted that the majority of consumers will subscribe to only 2.25 streaming services, there are still companies, such as Disney, entering the market.

Something that the article doesn’t go into is the need for stronger residential networking to handle streaming. Cutting cable can also mean that your home’s infrastructure may not be set up to get the full speed of the Internet, which will result in problems watching streaming TV.

So, before you cut the cord, do a complete analysis of what the costs are for 100% streaming. What channels will you want to subscribe to, what will your Internet cost be should you need to increase the amount of broadband coming to your house, and can your internal infrastructure handle all the streaming and if not, what is the cost to get you up to speed. Then compare this to your current cable bill to make a decision.

Recycling your Electronics

Your trash collector will not dispose of electronics. Dumping your old TV or receiver into a commercial trash bin or worse yet, the environment is not acceptable. First check your options through your county (see below) for disposing of electronics. For example, Loudoun county holds 2 events a year and while there are limits and small costs, they ensure that the waste is disposed of properly. Their next event is in either May or June at May or June 2019 at 751 Miller Drive, Leesburg, VA 20175.

There are also private events held all the time that help dispose of electronics. On April 6 from 9-12, Keller Williams Realty in Dulles Virginia at 46191 Westlake Drive in Sterling will be holding a FREE recycle event. The Verizon campus generally has an event as well and when we hear about it, we will promote it through our Facebook site and this newsletter if possible.

Best Buy accepts many electronic products for free. A $25 fee is charged for Tube TVs smaller than 32″- Flat-panel TVs: LCD, plasma, LEDs smaller than 50” and Portable TVs. You can check out their website for what they accept and any restrictions and you don’t have to buy anything to use this service, though you do get a discount on buying some items when bringing in an older version, so again check out their website if you are looking to replace an electronic item.

Working electronics? Consider donating to a local charity or selling it via an online yard sale or app. Keep in mind that you might have to take the item to them as many charities do not have pick up services. Some charities that do offer pick up services don’t accept electronics because they can get damaged in transit, so be sure to check their website’s list of acceptable items before offering it to them. PS: No one wants the large tube or projection screen TVs that weigh a ton, so if you don’t want to take them to a recycling center, your only option is to call a Junk company. We do offer a discount to 123Junk so if you have more than just one or two items to toss, they are a good choice.