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Today Microsoft unveiled its next generation gaming console the Xbox One, and it’s plain to see that it’s not just about games any more from Microsoft.
One of the most exciting things I saw during the unveil ceremony was the Xbox One’s ability to serve as a video switching device. What this means is that you will have the ability to run every activity via the Xbox One. Whether you want to play a game, browse the web, watch a movie, listen to music or watch cable television you’ll be able to do it without switching inputs on your TV or surround sound receiver. Switching between activities will be possible with the game controller, your mobile phone, or with hand gestures and voice controls via the new and improved Kinnect sensor.
With Xbox One, Microsoft is finally offering a web browsing experience with Internet Explorer, and with “Snap” you’ll be able to multitask like never before. Snap allows you to browse the web while watching a movie, watch TV while you’re looking for the perfect match making game on Xbox Live or any other combination you can think of. It’s like picture in picture on steroids.
Microsoft also gave us a peak at what the game landscape might look like at the time of release. Launch titles mentioned today are Forza Motorsport 5, Quantum Break and Call of Duty: Ghosts. Microsoft also claimed they would release 15 exclusive titles in the first year, including 8 brand new franchises.
343 Industries announced a groundbreaking partnership with Steven Spielberg to release a live action Halo TV series. It was unclear if it would be only available on Xbox One, or if it would be carried by a premium network like HBO/Showtime, or if it would be on one of the major networks.
It’s clear that Microsoft wants to change the way you watch TV by incorporating the web, games, movies and TV shows into a single device; the Xbox One.
- 500GB Hard Drive
- 8GB RAM Memory
- USB 3.0
- 64 Bit CPU
- Windows kernel
Other features announced today:
- Video conferencing with Skype
- Real time interactive fantasy league updates with ESPN
- Xbox One Guide for all TV program listings
- Voice controlled search and navigation
- Ability to record gameplay with Game DVR
- 300,000 servers to power Xbox Live for Xbox One
Worldwide Release Date: “This Year”
There are a lot of companies out there who will lead you to believe that you have to spend a lot of money to have a decent home theater room in your home. We’re here to tell you it isn’t true. We recently serviced a customer, we’ll refer to him as Mr. Smith. Mr. Smith wanted to turn his basement rec room into a full home theater room.
The project entailed having an electrician install new wall sconces with a dimmer switch as well as an electrical outlet in the ceiling for the projector. It also involved having a handyman install a painted on projection screen, build a deck for elevated seating, and refinish the trim work in the room. After the carpet guys came in and re-carpeted the room, including the new elevated seating deck, we installed all the A/V components. We mounted the projector to the ceiling, mounted the surround sound speakers on the walls, concealed all cabling and wires for the entire system, configured the sound and picture and consolidated the entire system onto one remote control.
When all was said and done, Mr. Smith ended up with a 120″ high definition screen with full Dolby Digital surround sound, and he came out spending less than $10,000 for the entire setup. A budget conscience customer could conceivably have a similar job done for under $5000.
I hope this sheds a bit of light on what might be possible in your home. Feel free to contact us for a consultation on your project. Remember; Call and we’ll come to the rescue!
And for more images of this job check out our Facebook Page.
Sick of too many remotes on the coffee table? Or how about having to leave detailed instructions for the baby sitter? One of the most popular services that we offer here at Install Heroes is Premium Universal Remote Control Setup. Specifically we recommend and support Logitech Harmony remotes ONLY.
You may already have some experience with universal remote controls and I wouldn’t be surprised if your experience wasn’t good. Typically universal remote setup involves reading through a user manual looking for a code for each device you want to control with your new remote. An hour later, and after much frustration, you probably found that even after punching in all available codes, there is one device that just isn’t being controlled the way it should… How annoying.
Install Heroes recommends Logitech Harmony remotes because of their user friendly installation, low price point, modern sleek design, unrivaled functionality and ease of use.
User friendly installation
Setup for Logitech Harmony remotes is done by either of two different methods. The first method is Myharmony.com. This method offers a simpler setup which requires no software to be downloaded or installed. The downside of this method is that you have fewer options for control of how the remote is programmed. I suggest this method for standard users.
The second method requires you to download and install the Harmony remote software from Logitech.com. The download itself is fairly small and should download quickly. This software gives you the greatest control over how the remote is programmed, and is fairly straight-forward and user friendly.
Low price point
Logitech has offered their line of Harmony remotes at a very affordable price. The Harmony 650 we recommend below has a MSRP of $79.99 and is often available on sale for between $39.99 – $54.99. There are other models of Harmony remotes at even lower price-points offering less functionality but maintaining the same great selling points.
Modern sleek design
No remote on the market is as sexy or well designed as a Harmony remote from Logitech. Other manufacturers seem to have a “design be damned” approach to their remotes. The sad part is that their sacrifice is wasted because they often fall short on the functionality as well.
Ease of use & unrivaled functionality
With the press of a single button labeled “Watch TV” your harmony remote will turn on the television, cable/satellite box and surround sound receiver. It will then ensure each device is set to the correct input/source. Now you’re watching TV after picking up a single remote, and pressing a single button. One button or “One-Click” functionality means you never turn any device on; You simply select the activity you want, and Harmony knows which devices need to be turned on, and which inputs/sources they need to be tuned to. The simplicity of it all means you won’t have to leave detailed instructions for the babysitter anymore, it really doesn’t get any better than that.
So now what?
If you’re the DIY type then you’re probably wondering which remote you need, and where you can buy one. Below you’ll find links to Amazon.com as well as some general information about the two most popular models of Harmony remotes. If you’re not the DIY type, and you live in the greater East Tennessee area, please feel free to give us a call for a consultation or to set an appointment. Remember; Call and we’ll come to the rescue!
Logitech Harmony models we recommend:
Happy New Year
If it were only this simple…[parallax id=”322″]But alas it is not. If it were I would be out of business. There are many factors to consider when mounting a TV on your wall. If you choose to have a professional mount your television you should expect them to do a survey or inspection before committing to do the job. Most reputable installers will insist on doing this so they can fully understand what it is you want to accomplish, and so they can make recommendations to fit your wants and needs. They should take measurements, scan for studs, ask questions about the construction of the home and ask for detailed information about how you’d like to see the finished product.
If you choose to forego my wisdom and attempt to mount the TV yourself then you’ll need a bit of guidance.
Mounting bracket types:
- Fixed – Just what it says, the fixed mount allows no vertical or horizontal adjustments, however this style of mounting bracket often has the lowest profile (how far it hangs off the wall).
- Tilt – Much the same as a fixed bracket, but offers vertical tilt for a comfortable viewing angle.
- Arm – Usually the most expensive but also offering the greatest functionality, an arm style mount (or cantilever) will allow you to pull the TV away from the wall, tilt vertically, and pan horizontally. This style of mount is great in large rooms where the viewing angle may need to be flexible.
Knowing what comes with your TV/bracket and how to utilize this hardware is paramount. Pictured here is a Masonry Anchor. Most TV brackets come with 2-4 of these. THROW THEM AWAY unless your target wall is brick or block construction. If you use these to mount your TV to a sheetrock/drywall wall your TV will soon lay broken on the floor, as well as anything it falls on.
Two studs are better than one. Some brackets or installation locations don’t allow for mounting to more than one wall stud. This type of installation should be left to the professionals, as it is always recommended to mount to more than one stud. If there is no other option for your installation than a single stud, a professional will have tools and hardware available to ensure the integrity of such an installation.
Measure twice, then measure again to be sure. Nobody likes a crooked TV on the wall, and neither will you when your spouse explains how you just had to hang that TV yourself. Take good measurements to assure proper height and alignment, and use a quality level to ensure the TV hangs straight.
Yes, you must put holes in the wall in order to hang your TV. It never ceases to amaze me that some people think I can hang their TV on the wall without making any “new holes”. Typically these holes can be easily patched with spackle if/when you should ever decide to take the TV off the wall.
You get what you pay for. If the mounting bracket you purchased seems a little cheap, it probably is. A good quality bracket, which clearly states the size and weight of TV it supports, and has a guarantee/warranty is ALWAYS the best one to buy.
Smartphones are all the rage now-a-days. It seems like everyone’s got one, and while most people only use them for games and web browsing they are extremely powerful devices. Since so many people enjoy all the capabilities of smart phones, we’re often somewhat disappointed when we turn on the old TV. If you’ve found yourself in this same situation, then this is the post for you.
We’re going to review all the top devices and by the end of this post you’ll know which one meets your needs and quenchs your thirst for content on your TV.
Things you should know…
DLNA – The Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) is a non-profit collaboration established by Sony. What that means for you is that devices which are DLNA compliant will allow you to share digital media on your network. If you have pictures, music, or videos on your desktop computer a DLNA enabled device will be able to access that media and play it on (in this case) your TV.
HDMI – This term shouldn’t be vague to most people at this point, but if you’re not familiar with it we’ll define it for you. HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) is a compact audio/video interface for transmitting uncompressed digital data. It offers the ability to transmit Audio, Video and Data across a single cable.
Roku – Roku may be the biggest name in the industry. They were one of the first to market and have had success with a handful of different models. We’re specifically looking at the Roku 2 XS, which retails for $89.99.
Pros: Very easy to setup. Simply plug in power and an HDMI cable to your HDTV, connect to WiFi and you’re up and running; Offers Youtube Channel (unlike some Roku models); Offers all the standards you’d expect like Facebook, Netflix, Hulu, Pandora & etc. And now offers games like Angry Birds; 1080P Support.
Cons: No DLNA support & narrow file format support; Although you won’t be charged unless you buy a game or pay-per-view item, it does require you to enter a credit card number when you setup the box; No HDMI Cable included…
The bottom Line: Overall a good device, but lacks some of the features you’d really like to see in this type of device.
We give the Roku 2 XS 3 shields out of 5.
Apple TV – If you’re an Apple iOS fan, then you probably already know about Apple TV, which is now in it’s second revision. If you don’t already own one you’re probably curious if it’s going to fit your needs. Unfortunately it probably won’t. The good news is that, unlike most Apple products, it isn’t terribly expensive. Retailing at just $99 it’s right at home in this market.
Pros: Offers the ability to play iTunes content on your TV and home entertainment system; Very easy to setup (similar to Roku); Offers the ability to stream from iPad and iPod to your TV (screen mirroring via AirPlay); Sleek design and simple remote control; 1080P Support.
Cons: Doesn’t offer Hulu or Pandora; Sometimes seems sluggish; Requires iTunes, which isn’t much of a con if you’re already an iOS user; No HDMI cable included…
The bottom line: The fact is that Apple, like many large corporations, doesn’t want you to have options if those options might limit their profits. While most devices in this category are about opening doors and helping users get the content they want, Apple TV is all about closing doors and limiting what you can do. If you’re not an iOS user, or if you don’t really care about screen mirroring or iTunes on your TV… Avoid this box.
We give Apple TV 3 shields out of 5.
Vizio Co-Star – The latest implementation of Google TV leaves much to be desired. Since many video sources and websites block Google TV from streaming, you’re going to have limited options with this box. Vizio is a great company that has been on the rise in recent years, and the limitations of this product really aren’t a reflection of them.
Pros: Nice double sided remote with touchscreen and full keyboard; It’s in the affordable $100 range; DLNA available via app.
Cons: Sites block Google TV so you’ll be limited on what you can do; No Hulu support; No HDMI cable included…
The bottom line: You’re probably better off with another device… Here’s a great video review for this device from CNET
We give the Vizio Co-Star 2 shields out of 5.
Smart TV’s – Many manufacturers are offering upgraded models of their TV’s which take advantage of this new technology. Samsung may be leading the way but they’re not the only ones getting in on this game and capabilities may vary between manufacturers. Many offer a standard set of apps which typically consist of weather, news, stocks, and Netflix. Some offer the ability to download additional apps. Be weary of models without built-in WiFi as models requiring dongles often don’t function as well.
Pros: No installation, everything’s built-in; Uses the TV’s remote.
Cons: Often limited on what apps are available; The added expense of a Smart TV is often more than adding a separate device; Often seem sluggish due to limited system resources.
The bottom line: If you’re looking for simplicity and ease of installation, a Smart TV may be for you. If you’re looking for a more robust device with more capabilities you can save money buying something else.
We give Smart TV’s 2 shields out of 5.
Android Mini PC – We’re most excited about this line of devices. If you’re looking for a true “Smart Phone” experience on your TV then an Android Mini PC is the answer. With a fully capable web browser utilizing both HTML5 and Flash content you’ll be unstoppable on the web. Android means full access to the Google Play Market and all the games and apps available therein. From Netflix to Angry Birds, nothing is out of the question. Small form factor means it’s portable; you can take it on vacation, to a friends house, or anywhere you go for that matter. Some models even have the HDMI connection built-in so you won’t even need an HDMI cable.
Pros: Google Play Market; USB 2.0 Support for webcams, keyboard, mice and much more; Very Affordable; Very small and portable;
Cons: No-name manufacturers may take you outside your normal comfort zone when making a purchase (although this isn’t much of a con for most people due to the extremely budget friendly price point).
The bottom line: We can’t stress this enough, the only way you should go with another device is if you’re committed to having iTunes on your TV. And even if you decide to go with Apple TV, an Android Mini PC would be an excellent backup device to take up the slack for Apple’s short comings.
We give Android Mini PC’s 5 shields out of 5!
You may also be interested in a great Keyboard with touchpad from Logitech for only $34.99
Lastly, Install Heroes offers a model of of Android TV box that has an option you won’t find anywhere else; A built in Digital TV Tuner and internal hard drive slot. Our box is the only one capable of replacing your cable/satellite service by taking advantage of free-to-air digital transmission. The box retails for $289. For more information contact us via email. Contact@installheroes.com
I hope this has been beneficial to you. No matter your choice, the future of television is here and Smart TV is it. Enjoy!