When Is The Best Time To Buy A New TV

flat screen TV, flatscreen television, TV hanging, Back in the days of analogue television changes came slowly. The leap from black and white to colour only took 31 years, and it was only another 40 years before the start of the Digital Changeover in 2007. Cathode ray technology itself didn’t really change either. It was possible to watch colour broadcasts on an old black and white TV, and you probably still can if you can find a digital box with a coax output, but things are very different with digital technology.

Today things are rather different. The rush to develop the blackest, flattest, richest colour flattest screen is something that drives all television manufacturers to create new ranges of TV every year. So when is the best time to buy a new flat screen TV? Read more

Choosing The Best Network Provider To Suit Your Needs

TV, tv channels, choosing TV providerThe way television is being delivered is leaping into the 21st century and choosing how you get your TV and broadband package is becoming ever more confusing.

Up until the 80s there was only really one way to get TV, and that was through your aerial. Once Sky came to Britain satellite TV has been becoming ever more popular, but the free analogue channels were still the way most of us received television. In the 2010s we saw the Digital Takeover, meaning that we need a Freeview box to watch hundreds of channels, or listen to dozens of radio stations.

Satellite and cable TV still offers many more options than the free to air services do. However, with the introduction of internet speeds so fast that it’s possible to watch, download and record more than one thing at the same time the way subscription based TV delivery is changing too. Sky, Virgin Media, BT and many others are all offering fast broadband which will let you not only watch and record TV, you can do all your online browsing, shopping, gaming and run your Smart Home network with it too. Which begs the question, which is best for you?

Trying to identify which is the best is like trying to guess the length of a piece of string. Every home’s needs are different, and so the best packages will be different too. For example Sky Q offers a basic subscription service (including all the channels currently available on Freeview) which you can expand buy buying additional ‘passes’. These allow you to access additional channels which are devoted to kids movies, sport, entertainment, history, and so on. BT has introductory offers on TV and broadband which include HDTV, superfast fibre, additional disks to eliminate WiFI blind spots and other hardware including Amazon Echo, Fitbits, and Samsung Galaxies. Read more

The Future Is Faster With Fibre

installing fibre opticVirgin Media is currently experimenting with 8Gbps, which is 22 time faster than the top speed of any current broadband provider, and more than 200 times the average speed a UK consumer receives.

If you have ultra high HD TV you could download a movie in 20 seconds instead of the hour it would take at normal download speeds. If you’re only watching in regular HD the film could be yours in five seconds instead of fifteen minutes that the average broadband customer would expect to wait.

While speed doesn’t necessarily equate to bandwidth, the fact that anything you do will be done instantly means that it will be out of the way and immediately, ready for the next task you throw at it. So those speeds will be brilliant for the connected home. As more devices are added to the network currently, if you’re only getting a standard service, things begin to lag. If you’re streaming a movie, the kids are playing an online game, someone is playing music in another room then you’re going to start to notice things take longer to happen, Alexa is slow to respond, movies freeze or start to buffer (and that always ALWAYS happens just when you’re getting to a good bit or pivotal point in the dialogue. I don’t know how it knows, but it definitely does!) Read more

Every Year Smaller And Smarter. What’s The Future For Miniaturisation?

miniaturisation, smart phone, tablet, computerAlan Turing is credited with inventing computer science, cracking Enigma and shortening the Second World War by two years. And while all this is true, there’s a person in his story who’s generally overlooked. Effectively written out of history, he’s not even mentioned in The Imitation Game, the movie of Turing’s time at Bletchley Park, and that is Tommy Flowers.

Tommy who? Exactly!

Flowers had been working on a machine for the Post Office which could increase the efficiency of telephone exchanges, turning them from mechanical or hand operated to electronic relays. He started off his wartime engineering adventures making a Bombe machine decoder (a basic mechanical computer akin to Babbage’s Difference Engine) for Turing which was intended to process thousands of bits of data every minute, but when Turing abandoned that idea he asked Flowers to build a machine which could crack the Enigma code. Flowers looked at the brief and thought “Actually, I can make it better than this!” and he did.  He created Colossus instead, a machine as big as the average bedroom which could process vast amounts of data even faster. With his engineering genius and Turing’s mathematics the German encoders working with an encryption machine which could only do millions of permutations had their work cut out trying to keep secrets from Hut 8. Read more

What Top Ten Factors Influence Adoption, Inclusion & Function Of Smart Home Technology?

It’s easy to fall into one of three camps, firstly to think that everyone is buying up smart devices, and finding new uses for them. They’re creating skills, naming every electronic device in the house and telling their Smart Speaker or Home Hub to turn thing off and on, or up and down, all without moving from the comfort of the sofa. But then it’s also just as easy to write it off as a fad that is only of interest to a select few who are engaged with the technology. A third assumption would be that automated home technology is like the microwave oven, it’s going to take time for the price to come down far enough for the useful, efficient, practical technology to become an everyday feature in every home up and down the country.

Because Smart technology doesn’t seek to ultimately solve a particular problem once and for all, uptake will initially be slow, but incessant. Connected devices may save time, energy and effort, and it may make the living environment more responsive, but because it only does what you can already do yourself it can be seen as a luxury development which is nice, but ultimately unnecessary. Read more

DIY HiFi, How And Why?

DIY is one of the UK’s favourite pass-times. Last year the DIY industry was worth £36,000,000,0000 and caused 25,763 injuries requiring medical attention between 2014 and 2017.

I’m sure if you really looked into it you could find out how much of that £36bn was spent on repairing their own mistakes, and replacing stuff that they had broken. Look deeper still and you can probably find how much was spent getting a professional in after a disastrous weekend of failed home improvement.

DIY ranges from building a lean-to, putting together flat-pack furniture, decorating or installing home entertainment systems and the like. For the most part these kinds of jobs are easy enough, don’t require any specialist tools besides pliers, screwdrivers and a drill. I could write for ages about the guy who removed all the floors and load bearing walls out for reasons known only to himself, or the one who began burrowing under his home, then his neighbours’ eventually undermining several properties down his street over a period of years.

DIY Is Often More Expensive Than Hiring Professionals

Instead we’ll stick to covering the mistakes and mishaps that can happen when you’re installing your own home entertainment systems. These mistakes can prove costly, and incredibly inconvenient if you have to replace expensive TV or hi-fi equipment when you break it. Others, while not needing a pricey fix, can be really irritating if you get them wrong.

Cabling. Even speakers, routers, and other devices named ‘wireless’ still need power cables, so the cliché runs as true for them as it does for traditional cabled equipment, you can always cut it shorter, never longer. Always buy and fit more cable than you think you’re going to need because you’ll always want to move things around, change your mind about positioning, find the wire has to go around something, and no matter how good your wire is, it never ever stretches. Once your speaker is in position there’s nothing as irritating as pulling it out to adjust it and the cable comes out, and then slips back down behind the bookcase you’ve put it on!

On the subject of cabling; ID your ends! Once you start to get into a multichannel system with amps, DVD players, CD players, decoders, computers, HDTVs etc you’re going to find that you have A LOT of cable and they’re all going to start looking very similar. If you haven’t identified the ends of each cable you’re going to have to spend a lot of time and trouble tracing each line from one end to the other, scrabbling around behind furniture, untying and untwisting knotted wires… All you needed to do was stick a label made of masking tape to the end and all your woes would have been solved. Read more

Black Friday Begins A Week Early This Year, So Prepare For Fantastic Offers

home entertainment systems installationIt’s almost time to get Black Friday deals in the UK

Up until recently Black Friday wasn’t a thing in the UK. It’s commonly known that most retailers don’t make a profit until November or December, but until a few years ago shops didn’t make a big deal of it or run sales events to get rid of old stock to make room for new. And once it caught on thanks to Britons becoming more and more aware of it thanks to social media, then retailers with an eye for a promotion started promoting Black Friday events here too.

However, they quickly stopped doing it again when shoppers, eager for a deal and egged on by the hype, stormed the shops, tore them to pieces and several shoppers got quite badly hurt. Consequently they quietly scaled back the hype and Black Friday became a mere mid-season sale. Read more

Is Sky Q The Service For You?

Sky Q is the latest offering from Sky intended to change the way we watch TV.

Sky Q brings all of your entertainment into one place and makes it easier to use wherever you are. Stream movies, sports, TV, music and boxsets while you record other channels and watch a different channel altogether. The beauty of Sky Q is that it can handle a huge amount of data and deliver it to multiple locations throughout the home all at once.

Depending on whether you choose 1 terabyte or 2 terabyte options you will have several different options available to you.

1 terabyte:
• 150 hours of HD recording space
• 8 TV tuners
• 1 minibox
• 1 tablet
• Full HD 1080p but no Ultra HD playback

2 terabyte:
• 350 hours HD recording
• 12 TV tuners
• 2 miniboxes
• 2 tablets
• Full HD and 4K HDR playback Read more

DIY Hi-Fi, WiFi And Home Entertainment Pitfalls

DIY is one of the UK’s favourite pass-times. Last year the DIY industry was worth £36,000,000,0000 and caused 25,763 injuries requiring medical attention between 2014 and 2017.

I’m sure if you really looked into it you could find out how much of that £36bn was spent on repairing their own mistakes, and replacing stuff that they had broken. Look deeper still and you can probably find how much was spent getting a professional in after a disastrous weekend of failed home improvement.

DIY ranges from building a lean-to, putting together flatpack furniture, decorating or installing home entertainment systems and the like. For the most part these kinds of jobs are easy enough, don’t require any specialist tools besides pliers, screwdrivers and a drill. I could write for ages about the guy who removed all the floors and load bearing walls out for reasons known only to himself, or the one who began burrowing under his home, then his neighbours’ eventually undermining several properties down his street over the period of several years. Read more

What’s The Best Way To Hang A Flat Screen TV On The Livingroom Wall?

Flatscreen TVs are virtually made to be hung rather than set on a sideboard or on the floor like old TVs once were. They’re not the big clunking great piece of furniture they once were. Today they resemble framed pictures, and, as such they look particularly good when hung up on the wall.

The problem with hanging them is that they are heavy, have many wires which need to be attached, and they can’t just be nudged a bit to make them straight if you didn’t get put the mount up in quite the right place.

If you’re experienced in putting up shelves, and home maintenance generally, then hanging a TV will offer you no problems whatsoever. But if you’re new to DIY you might want to think about getting a professional TV installation company in to do it instead. They might cost a bit to do the job, but when you compare that with the costs of doing it wrong, the price is negligible. Read more