Cutting the Cord!

By Steve Stone- Senior Sales Engineer at The Little Guys CUTTING THE CORD… How many of you picked up the phone to call your TV provider and basically have had to threaten to cancel your service in order to negotiate a better rate? The answer is all of us!  We all can agree that we don’t like our TV service providers and how much we pay to watch TV per month. However, the days of paying hundreds of dollars just to watch TV might be coming to an end for a lot of us.  The hot topic over the past couple of years has been “How do I cut the Cord?” Well, before you just cancel your current TV service provider and “Cut the Cord” there are a few important details you need to know and understand. One of the most important parts of cutting the cord is to make sure you have good, reliable internet service with a good network in your home. Next, and this is the most important part, do your research on which streaming service offers what programming. There are many ways to watch live TV or stream movies, but depending on the platform, not everything may be available on the device you own or want to purchase.  Wait, WHAAAT? You can’t just click on a link and start watching local live TV programming?? Not every channel you currently watch via your Cable or Satellite packages are available via streaming service. Although the programming selection is still growing, you need to check and double-check that you’ll have access to what you want to watch.   Can... read more

Surveillance Camera Systems

Surveillance camera systems have been flooding the commercial and residential market at all price points and quality levels. How do you decide which camera system is the right one for your situation? The obvious answer is that you should come to The Little Guys for expert advice!  But first, let’s discuss why you should purchase a surveillance camera system in the first place.  In both commercial and residential applications, surveillance cameras can actually deter crimes before they occur. For instance, a restaurant owner can monitor their cash register or stock room, and a homeowner can monitor a package left on their porch or the access door to their garage. There are many more reasons, but you get the idea.        Where to start? It can be a daunting task to figure out what options you need in a successful camera system. You don’t want to find out your system isn’t what you need after you have something happen. It needs to be right from day one. Let’s take a look at some of the key options you will need to consider when planning a camera system. Hardwired or Wireless: From a performance standpoint, cameras that are hardwired have a more stable signal and are less prone to interference from nearby devices.  Hardwired cameras do not buffer from poor WiFi signals. They also don’t require batteries for power, freeing you from changing batteries (which can add up in cost over time) or having to recharge them every few days…  Resolution: What are you expecting to see with your camera? Are you just looking to see who is at your door or... read more

Case Study: Middle School Gymnasium

We recently completed a very cool project for a local Middle School. The school was looking for a state of the art AV system for their new gym which included the following requirements: A sound system capable of music playback and vocal reinforcement Large format motorized screen for ease of visibility throughout the gym and for protection when not in use Bright detailed projector for use with or without the lights on Input plates in the front and rear of the gym for audio and video feed to the system Wireless microphones A lift to retract the projector for protection when not in use and to lower the projector to the floor level for maintenance An audio mixer with remote control ability from a tablet An easy to use control system for operating the equipment The gym serves as a multi-use facility. Besides sporting events, it hosts meetings, presentations, and performances. This meant a broad range of flexibility was needed. The biggest challenge for the project was finding the right lift to use for the projector. To lower the projector to a working height at the floor, a drop of 23 feet was required! Future Automation was brought into the project to build this custom lift. When fully retracted it only hangs 4 feet off the ceiling truss allowing plenty of clearance for sporting events, and when it is retracted the projector is fully protected by the metal case. The projector automatically lowers to the correct operating height for the screen with the push of a button! This lift is a quite capable piece of equipment and has a... read more

But there’s an App for that!

By John Donahue- Senior Programmer at The Little Guys We touched on this in a recent blog but I felt this needed to be expanded upon a bit.   We’re living in a dot com world, many devices and systems have their own app today.   Hasn’t this made universal remotes obsolete? I can just grab my phone, open up my app and control my A/V receiver….  Or my TiVo, or my Lights…. Eazy Peazy! Our phones have certainly made our lives easier. Right?   So much information! So much Control! Well, sure… But when it comes down to it, your phone has just become a virtual “Coffee table full of remotes”. If I wanted to sit down and watch some TV and just use my apps I’d be switching back and forth through 6 apps!   My TV needs to be turned on and set to the right input, My Receiver needs to be turned on and set to the right input. My TiVo Box needs to be turned on and we need to change channels or pull up my recorded shows. I need to pull up the Sonos app and turn off the music that was playing I need to flip to my Lighting app and adjust the lights. I then go to my thermostat app and turn that up or down. Or I can just go to the Control4 App and select Watch>TiVo So even though everything has its own app nowadays, there is still a great need for integration and universal control.  You do not have to go “swipe crazy” on your devices to make your electronic... read more

My Network is “Fine”…

We do a lot of in-home consults here at The Little Guys.  One of the things we always press on is the network. We usually start early in the process with the question: “How’s your network?”. It’s almost always followed by “My network is fine.” We file that away and start talking about what they would like to do.  Audio in various rooms, a TV over here in the Living room and over there in the Master bedroom (Which of course is on the opposite side of the house from where the cable providers router is.) They want to “cut the cord” so streaming video through their Apple TV or Roku is very important. Inevitably, there is no network jack anywhere near where they want the new TV.  Turns out, Their “fine” network has no hard-wired jacks anywhere in the home! We spend some time talking about how wireless technology has advanced a great deal over the years, but for full 4k streaming, a wired connection is going to provide the best results. This is usually where they admit that “Netflix does buffer a lot in the living room…”   They understand, but often the conversation often continues: “I guess we’ll have to connect it to the Wifi and see how it goes”. This is usually when one of the kids who were lurking behind volunteer some important information. “Dad, I keep telling you the Wifi doesn’t work up here at all!”  This is usually where we also discover their “fine” network needs to be unplugged and plugged back in “At least once a week”. So let me ask... read more

Feeling Protected?

You did all the research. You listened to your friends, neighbors, and even the salesperson at the electronics store and when you decided to spend some of your hard-earned money on that new piece of gear, or system, you also purchased a surge protector to plug it all in so you would be protected from power surges. It was the right thing to do! That was also 5 years ago- and you have not thought about it since… Here’s the issue- the majority of surge protectors out there (there are some differences- we will cover that in another blog) lose their effectiveness over time, and you have no way of knowing! The most popular method of surge protection is the use of a device called a metal oxide varistor (MOV), it’s basically a sacrificial device that when it sees a large surge of power it gives it’s life to channel it away from your gear. However- it only gets to do that once! Also, over time as it encounters the daily barrage of small spikes and surges that exist, it wears down, eventually to a point it won’t do its job when the big one comes. There is really no method to know how effective a surge protector is over time. Some have a light that indicates it’s working properly, but those are not always correct either. How long they last are a mixture of the quality of the device and the number of small surges and spikes they take, which can vary greatly from house to house, even room to room, because devices in a room on the... read more

Simplify Your Life!

  It seems that every device has its own remote control these days. Your TV, cable or satellite box, Bluray or DVD player, and soundbar are just the beginning, and that’s just to watch TV! Add to that a surround system and music players in other areas of the house and you easily have 6-7 remotes that you are juggling to try and use your gear. In order to save your sanity and make your life more enjoyable, a universal remote control system could be just the ticket! Most good quality universal remote control systems can be custom programmed (meaning that they are not limited to preset codes) for the exact components that you are currently using. This gives us the ability to really dial in all your gear to a single easy to use interface. Once the control system is properly programmed, the operation is simple! Press the watch button and a list of your video sources (i.e TV, cable/satellite, BluRay/DVD) will pop up. Simply press the button corresponding to the source you want to watch and the remote will automatically send a set of commands telling all of the components what they need to do. The same holds true for listening to music. No more fumbling around for the correct remote and hoping you will be on the correct input! Remote control systems can also have options for apps on your electronic devices, turning them into remotes for your system as well. They can even be integrated with lighting, shading, and your thermostats just to name a few additional options.   If you’re tired and frustrated with... read more

The “Not So Simple” Simple TV Installation

We’re guilty of it too- focusing and highlighting the larger, complex, and coolest systems and installations. Let’s face it, looking at photos of installations with 200-inch screens, giant sound systems, awesome outdoor systems, and state of the art home automation systems is fun! It’s the flashy car going down the street, the ring loaded with diamonds, the eye-candy of the industry. We know those systems very well and execute them better than others. But what about those complex “Simple” jobs that at the end of the day go unnoticed after they are done? The ones that really require a pro to do correctly?   Here is a great example of one of those jobs. Hanging your TV over your fireplace is very common these days. The problem is that not all fireplaces are created equal. Some have drywall around them, some a flat brick, or in this case a very uneven and irregular stone. Your new TV is flat- and so is the bracket! A flat bracket on the uneven stone is a recipe for a challenge!             That’s where having the pro’s come in is paramount. Our installers know just what to do. They layout the ideal placement on the stone, scope out the edges and figure out how to both work with what the stone gives you, find the correct structure to mount into so the TV is secure, and plan out just the right hardware to make the backplate straight, flat, and level! In this case, as you can see in the picture the best place for the mounting plate was... read more

Happy Thanksgiving!

We are thankful for your trust in our company to keep your home connected and ensure it stays a place full of warm memories for the future. May your home be filled with joy, kindness, and laughter this Thanksgiving... read more

4K Over the Air Update

Check out this article: Today’s 4K/Ultra HD sets look so amazing with the current broadcast signals imagine what actual 4K broadcasts will look like. http://www.tvtechnology.com/broadcast-engineering/0029/a-look-inside-the-cleveland-futurecasts-atsc-30-transmission-test/276567 ATSC3.0 looks very cool, and looks like it will be not too big a deal for broadcasters to adopt. Note that a single transmitter sends 3 simultaneous feeds at one time, 4K, 720P, and 480! Why three? Much easier for mobile broadcast of lower res- setting the stage for in-vehicle... read more

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