What is the Difference Between an LCD TV and LED TV?

Question: What is the Difference Between an LCD TV and LED TV?

Answer: There has been a lot of hype and confusion surrounding the introduction of “LED” Televisions. Even many marketing representatives and sales professionals that should know better are falsely explaining what an LED Television is to their prospective customers.

To set the record straight, it is important to note that the LED designation refers to the backlight system used in some newer LCD Televisions, not the chips that produce the image content.

LCD chips and pixels do not produce their own light. In order for an LCD television to produce a visible image the LCD’s pixels have to be “backlit”. For more specifics on the backlighting process needed for LCD Televisions, refer to my article: Demystifying CRT, Plasma, LCD, and DLP Television Technologies.

LED TVs are still LCD TVs. It is just that these new sets use LED backlights rather than the fluorescent-type backlights used in most other LCD TVs.

In other words, LED TVs should actually be labeled LCD/LED TVs.

Source: about.com

VoIP for the iPhone – Services and Applications

Have you considered VoIP for your iPhone? Many of you have been seduced by Apple’s iPhone. One thing that will definitely improve your iPhone experience is to be able to make cheap, if not free, phone calls while using it. VoIP is the way to do that, and here are ways to make free and cheap calls on your iPhone to landline and mobile phones worldwide.

Truphone is the earliest service to get VoIP on the iPhone. Truphone does really well here in terms of integration of the application with the iPhone interface and environment, and the quality of calls. The range of calling destinations at cheap is quite large, and the rates are interesting – around 3 pence (Truphone is British) to major destinations

RF.com is an iPhone web application that works in 35 different countries to give users vastly expanded calling services wherever there is a cellular signal. A Wi-Fi connection is not necessary, unlike other iPhone VoIP solutions. With RF.com, you use your basic cell phone service, which is normally pinned down to your house, office or PC, to make calls while on the move using your mobile phone. You can also make voice calls to Skype, GoogleTalk, MSN Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, and other IM-based voice calling services, even without an actual account with the service.

Vopium is a mobile VoIP service that offers cheap international calls through GSM and VoIP, without necessarily having a data plan (GPRS, 3G etc.) or Wi-Fi connection. If you do have any of the latter, you can make free calls to other users using the same networks. Vopium also offers new users 30 minutes free calls and 100 free SMS for trial.

Skype is late to the party but positions itself as one of the best. It offers traditional features like free calling to other Skype users, through 3G or Wi-Fi. Cheap calling to any phone worldwide can be done through SkypeOut, and received through SkypeIn. AT&T, the exclusive mobile service provider for the iPhone, at first blocked VoIP applications from operating with the iPhone, obviously for saving its interests since VoIP calls would be free or cheaper. Later on, after assessing consumers needs, they allowed VoIP over the iPhone and today, Skype can be used even over their 3G network.

Nimbuzz allows iPhone users to call for free over Wi-Fi, to another Wi-Fi phone or PC. It also supports voice and text chatting with other common instant messaging applications, a dozen of them.

Fring is one of the leader services providing VoIP for mobile phones. If you have VoIP on your mobile device, you can use it to make free calls to any person around the world who is using Fring as well, either on their mobile devices or their computer. Rates apply when calling to landline and cellular networks. Fring is also compatible with other VoIP services like Skype, MSN, Yahoo, Google Talk and AIM. Skype users can also use Fring for SkypeIn and SkypeOut.

iCall goes one step further into iPhone integration by getting hold of the phone’s internal address book, which can be very practical. What is more impressive is the ability to switch seamlessly to a Wi-Fi network during a call that started on a cell network. This move causes the cost to null down. Upon certain conditions, local calls to the US and Canada are free. While I am writing this, the application is still in beta version.

Jajah needs no softphone application. You access it through the iPhone’s Safari browser, in which it sits on a toolbar, and use it to specify your callee’s number. Then, Jajah calls you and when you answers, you are put through to your callee and your conversation can start. The strong point with Jajah is that it does not require a data network plan, which can be rather costly. No Wi-Fi either. The rates are cheap and can be paid as monthly flat rates.

Raketu works just like Jajah. No softphone is required. Some calls are free and the rates for the paid ones are quite low. You can buy prepaid credits for the call. Raketu’s service also allow mobile users to send SMS and email for very cheap.

Talkety as well works like Jajah. You access it through the iPhone Safari browser and specify a number. What I find interesting with Talkety is the ability to make conference calls over your iPhone, with up to 50 participants. You will need a Pro account for that. Also, Talkety integrates so well with Apple’s Mac OS that you can access the OS’s address book through its Address Book Plugin.

iPhonegnome is a web-based service that, like Sipgate, lets you use your iPhone to make calls through any SIP-based service, or common services like Yahoo, MSN and Google Talk. Phonegnome users can be called for free, and credit from your required Phonegnome account are used for calling other people.

Sipgate offers a softphone that allows you to make free and cheap calls locally and internationally on your iPhone over any Wi-Fi network. Yes, you will need a Wi-Fi connection. This will allow you to by pass roaming charges. Sipgate is open to services from any SIP provider. The service gives every new user 111 minutes free.

Source: about.com

Native 4K Blu-ray Disc Format Coming In 2015

There is a lot of interesting news coming out the 2014 IFA show in Berlin, Germany, such as the TCL/QD Vision Partnership that may result is a LED/LCD vs OLED TV picture quality showdown, and Samsung’s “double whammy” curved sound bar and 105-inch bendable screen TV.

However, one announcement that has perked up my ears, is the Blu-ray Disc Association’s reveal (via Victor Matsuda, chairman of the Blu-ray Disc Association Global Promotions Committee) that it is now putting the final touches on a native 4K Blu-ray Disc format. That’s right, 4K is definitely coming to Blu-ray!

Obviously, this development gives rise to a lot of questions, and although complete answers should become available by the time the 2015 CES is held, as well as closer to actual product release dates, here is what we know so far:

4K Blu-ray Disc Players vs Current Blu-ray Disc Players
Forthcoming 4K Blu-ray Disc players are not be confused with current Blu-ray Disc players that provide 4K upscaling. However, it is also important to point out the 4K Blu-ray Disc players will still incorporate features we have become accustomed to (at the discretion of the manufacturer) such as: 1080p 2D/3D Blu-ray Disc player, DVD player, CD playback, 1080p and 4K upscaling for not native 4K content, USB media player, internet and network streaming.

It has not been made clear as to whether any current Blu-ray Disc players can be “firmware-upgradeable” to add native 4K Blu-ray Disc playback, as there is more involved than software or firmware, as well as the requirement that the Blu-ray Disc players have to be HDMI 2.0 compliant.

It has also been indicated that not only will increased resolution capability be a factor, but expansion of the color encoding system for the new 4K Blu-ray standard is expected to expand from the current REC 709 used in HD applications to BT.2020, as well as incorporating HDR (High Dynamic Range) capability. Also, a 4K Blu-ray Disc player will have the ability to send out a Blu-ray signal at speeds up to 50 Gbps per second or more, which is twice that of the current Blu-ray disc standard.

How 4K Blu-ray Discs Will Be Different
On the disc side of the equation, 4K Blu-rays will be the same 5-inch (12cm) 50GB-size physical discs used currently – However, 4K video signals will be encoded and stored on the discs in the H.265/HEVC format, which can compress 4K video data into the same space that 1080p video is stored currently.

NOTE: It is important to point out that Blu-ray Discs that are currently labeled as “Mastered In 4K” are not native 4K Blu-ray Discs.

Copy-Protection algorithms will be updated to make 4K Blu-ray secure from illegal copying (of course, some hacker will probably be able to figure it out – but that is a story for another day).

Movie Studio and Manufacturer Backing
Of course, the success of any content delivery service, be it digital or physical disc depends on the backing of Hollywood. Although no official announcements have been made by the major studios as to pending 4K Blu-ray Disc title releases, all the major studios (Disney, Fox, Lionsgate, Paramount, Sony, Universal and Warner Bros) are all members of the Blu-ray Disc Association, and, of course, current Blu-ray Player makers, such as LG, OPPO, Panasonic, Samsung, Sony, etc… will most likely jump in.

Other Questions That Remain To Be Answered

Will Pre-HDMI 2.0 4K Ultra HD TVs may be compatible with the native 4K Blu-ray Disc Standard?

Will 3D be a part of the native 4K Blu-ray Disc format?

Will 4K Blu-ray Discs be able to store at 120fps content?

How will 4K Blu-ray Discs be packaged and priced?

How will 4K Blu-ray affect all of the HDMI-equipped Home Theater Receivers in Use?

Will 4K Blu-ray Disc players that incorporate internet/network streaming be compatible with 4K streaming content providers (such as Netflix)?

As you can see, the addition of 4K into the Blu-ray landscape adds both opportunities for more needed access to content, but it may also cause a lot of confusion with regards to issues such as backwards compatibility and the necessity to purchase, at least for many 4K Ultra HD TV owners (or those who plan to purchase one) a new Blu-ray Disc player. Also, we don’t knowm at this point, how much the new players will cost consumers.

Source: about.com

Why Spend Money on Home Automation?

Investing in home automation can be expensive. It’s true that someone new to the technology can get their feet wet for a couple hundred U.S. dollars but for most people it doesn’t stop there. It is not uncommon for an enthusiast’s investment to grow into the thousands of dollars. By most people’s standards that’s a lot of money, even when the economy isn’t experiencing a recession.

Home Automation Is Fun
Investing in home automation is an exercise in problem solving. Finding solutions to problems that have always plagued you can have tremendous rewards. Enthusiasts pride themselves on discovering solutions to everyday problems. Try this experiment; carry a notepad around the house with you for the next week and write down every task you come across that is repetitious or difficult. Once you’re done, try thinking up a way to automate each task or a way to make it easier. Chances are you’ll find a solution in home automation. If no one has thought up a home automation solution yet then use your imagination to design your own solution.

Home Automation Will Save You Money
Even though home automation requires some expenses to get started, if you give your system design some thought, you’ll find the long-term benefits can far outweigh your financial investment. The obvious ways are by reducing electric and heating bills. Installing a home automation security system can eliminate costly monthly charges to security monitoring companies. Installing a home theater or whole house sound system can reduce the number of times you go out each month for entertainment.

Home Automation Is The Way Of The Future
Home automation products are becoming a part of our everyday lives. Home automation products installed in new housing developments are becoming commonplace. Home security systems that can be remotely monitored by the home owner are increasing at unprecedented rates. Downloadable media to be displayed on home theater screens are putting video stores out of business. The newest technologies of today are the everyday applications of tomorrow. Investing in home automation allows you to lead the way instead of following.

Source: about.com

How To Use the Airport Express with AirPlay or a Wireless Network

Apple’s Airport Express is an unsung hero in the world of media sharing. About the size of a deck of cards, it has two purposes. The Airport Express plugs into a wall to extend wifi from your wireless router and acts as an access point. Its other job is as an AirPlay device that can stream music or audio from your Apple iPhone, iPad, iPod or from iTunes on your computer.

The Airport Express has a mini-jack port to connect to powered speakers or a stereo. And it has an Ethernet/Local Area Network (LAN) jack to connect a wired network device. The only other thing you’ll see on the Airport Express is a light on the front that shines green when it is connected to your home network and ready to stream. It shines yellow if it is not connected to your home network.

To set up the Airport Express, you’ll need to run the Airport Utility on your Mac or PC. If you use an Apple router, the Airport Extreme, you will already have the Airport Utility installed on your computer. Otherwise, install the Airport Utility on your Mac or PC and it will walk you through the steps to get your Airport Express up and running.

Using the Airport Express as an Access Point
Once set up, the Airport Express will wirelessly connect to your home network router. If set up to do so, it can share that wireless connection with up to 10 wireless devices, to allow them to connect to your home network. While wireless devices that are in the same vicinity as the Airport Express will probably be in the range of the router, devices in another room or further from the home network router may be better able to connect wirelessly to the nearby Airport Express.

In this way, the Airport Express can extend the reach of your home wifi network. This is particularly useful to extend to a music streaming unit in the garage, a computer in an adjoining office, or a Roku box in granny unit near your house.

Using Airport Express to Stream Music
Apple’s Airplay lets you stream music from iTunes on your computer, your iPod, iPhone and/or iPad to an Airplay-enabled device. You can use Airplay to stream to an Apple TV, Denon, Marantz and other Airplay-enabled AV receivers, as well as to other Airplay devices. Or you can use Airplay to stream directly to an Airport Express.

To stream music using the Airport Express, connect it to an input on your AV receiver or stereo — any input other than the “phono” input — or connect it to powered speakers. Be sure that the Airport Express is plugged into the wall and that the green light indicates the it is connected to your home network.

You can now use Airplay to send music to your Airport Express. To stream music from your computer, open iTunes. At the bottom right of your iTunes window, you will notice a drop-down menu that lists the available Airplay devices. Choose your Airport Express from the list and the music you play in iTunes will play over the AV receiver or powered speakers that are connected to your Airport Express.

On an iPhone, iPad or iPod, look for the arrow-in-a-box Airplay icon when playing music or audio. Tapping on the Airplay icon will likewise bring up a list of Airplay sources. Choose the Airport Express and you can stream music from compatible Airplay-enabled apps from your iPad, iPhone or iPod, and listen to the music through the speakers or stereo connected to your Airport Express.

While streaming to the Airport Express is immediate, you must be sure that powered speakers connected to the Airport Express are turned on; if the Airport Express is connected to an AV receiver, it must be turned on and switched to the input where you have connected the Airport Express.

Multiple Airplay Devices Can Create Whole Home Audio
Add more than one Airport Express to your home network and you can simultaneously stream to all of them. You can also stream to an Airport Express and an Apple TV at the same time. This means that you can play the same music in your living room, and in your bedroom and in your den, or any place you put an Airport Express and speakers or an Apple TV connected to a TV.

It’s as though you are sending your music wirelessly to any part of the house.