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Monday, January 31, 2011

7 Stylish 3-D Glasses, Something for Everyone

[caption id="attachment_867" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Oakley 3D Gascan"]Oakley 3D Gascan[/caption]

The world of 3-D technology, movies and movie players is clearly on its way to becoming a large part of the industry standard, and something is going to have to be done to mitigate the number of disposable 3-D glasses tossed out after every big-screen release. In fact, nearly 800,000 disposable plastic 3-D glasses were handed out each day during Avatar’s peak in popularity. No one wants all those 3-D spectacles winding up in their area landfill. So what’s the solution? It’s buying your own pair of stylish 3-D glasses and using them at home when watching a 3-D flick in front of your TV lift cabinet, or while you’re with friends at the local theater, or (before long)while you’re at the corner bar watching a 3-D sports event.

Oakley has been producing some of the most stylish sunglasses in the industry for a long time, and now with the release of their Oakley 3D Gascan, you can be sporting Oakley style day or night.

For something unique in the world of 3-D glasses, consider Look3D’s LK3D252GC, which takes off the fake tint on most 3-D specs and allows your date to gaze into your eyes. These also have some of the thinnest frames found on 3-D glasses to-date.

Polaroid will no longer be held hostage to its old-school pictures that turn from gray to milky white to a colorful image by whipping it back and forth through the air. The reason is because they offer Premium 3D Glasses for around $30. They’re lightweight and comfortable, too.

Probably everyone knows Calvin Klein designs, and if you like designer labels, check out the “ck3D” sunglasses that change automatically from day-wearing sunglasses to indoor 3-D glasses, but you will have to pay for the designer’s premium, as they run about $180 a pair.

Maybe not Top Gun-approved, the Moshka 3D Airframes are lightweight, aviator-style shades that are fun and come in black, white, pink or red, and they only run about $35.

If you really want to invest in a pair of designer 3-D glasses for home or away use, Gucci’s 3-D glasses (at $225 per pair) top the ticket. They might be exactly what you’re looking for, or you might want to go to the movies over 20 times for the same price.

Last but not least, the Look3D LK3D9042GC features a unique vintage design at a vintage price, $27.50 a pair. These glasses seem to honor the rich history of the cinema itself.

Are there any others we should check out? Let us know in your comments below.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Panasonic’s Future in 3-D



At the 2011 CES, Mashable, a top source for news in social and digital media, took a moment to highlight where Panasonic’s 3-D future might be headed. As shown in the video above, Panasonic isn’t announcing when their new interactive 3-D TV will be available to mass consumers, but it is nice to see a fine 3-D flat-screen that will easily work in our TV lift cabinets. According to Mashable, Panasonic hasn’t traditionally been known for their software development or user interface, but staff at Mashable are excited about the way users can manipulate icons in 3-D space, and everyone else should be too.

Much like the Wii remote (and the upcoming Magic Wand for Apple TVs), Panasonic uses a special remote that controls on-screen elements and makes it faster and easier to access the content for which they’re really looking.

Since this 3-D TV debuted at the 2011 CES, it is likely that it will be hitting some stores’ shelves this year, but there are no guarantees. If you do find one, though, drop us a line. We’d like to know about it. And if you purchase one yourself, snap a picture of it in your TV lift cabinet and send it over. We may feature it in a future blog post or on our Facebook page.

Product Focus: Cachet TV Lift Cabinet

[caption id="attachment_856" align="alignright" width="275" caption="Cachet TV Lift Cabinet"]Cachet TV Lift Cabinet[/caption]

Are you looking for an expertly handcrafted TV lift cabinet for under a thousand dollars that will become the centerpiece of any room in your home? If so, look no further than the Cachet TV Lift Cabinet, a statement of impeccable craftsmanship at a terrific value.

The Cachet TV Lift Cabinet is built from select, kiln-dried hardwoods and veneers, and it is finished in a hand-applied amaretto stain. The cabinet pulls are solid brass and a heavy-duty rack and pinion TV lift system is preinstalled and ready for your TV, right from the box.

The Cachet TV Lift Cabinet can easily accommodate any flat-screen TV as large as 46” wide. The center TV lift is also spaciously designed to house two pieces of electronics with depths of 13” or less. The TV lift cabinet comes with its own surge-protected onboard power for the TV and two components, and like all ImportAdvantage TV lift cabinets, the Cachet has a full 1-year In-Home Warranty and is delivered to your house for free with our White Glove Delivery.

Take a moment to check out all that the Cachet TV Lift Cabinet has to offer. It’s perfect for your living area, your bedroom or against any wall in your home.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Could Connected TVs End Before Ever Getting Started? 2011 May Tell Us

Connected TVSmart, connected TVs clearly offer more entertainment options than traditional flat-screen TVs, and those who already own them seem to enjoy accessing their apps, favorite websites and watching 3-D movies, all from the comfort of their homes. In fact, smart TVs were (and still are) great companions to an innovative TV lift cabinet, which raises and lowers your flat-screen TV with the touch of a button. But some analysts worry that smart TVs could experience slower than expected growth because of customer “FUD” (fear, uncertainty and doubt).

When the first flat-screen and HDTVs hit the market in the last decade and then dropped significantly in price in the latter half of the last decade, upgrading one’s TV seemed to be an easy choice. Many customers were able to upgrade into a larger screen, better picture quality and a much slimmer unit (perfectly suited for a TV lift cabinet) without emptying their wallets. The features and benefits customers were getting were clear-cut and understandable.

However, with the multitude of smart TVs and 3-D TVs now available, customers are being asked (or bombarded with advertising) to upgrade their HDTVs and flat-screens to something that may or may not have a bigger screen or better picture quality, but it just does more stuff. This is harder sell, and with that comes, rightfully, some hesitance.

Customers might be confused if they will have to upgrade all their movies to either Blu-ray or 3-D (or both) if they want them to work properly on-screen, and will they have to also buy 3-D glasses? Also, savvy customers have come to learn that new electronics products tend to go through several updates in the first two years of their lives (for example, Apple is about to release the iPhone 5!). So many are waiting until all the electronic “kinks” are worked out in these new, “spendy” TVs before purchasing one.

Other things causing “FUD” in customers is that accessing the Internet on their TV sounds confusing. We’ve all been trained to happily use our computers to surf the web, so will a smart TV mean that the computer is on its way out? Most aren’t ready to rely on their TVs to connect to the web.

Some customers are concerned about customer support. Who will they call with questions or issues with an app, or with their Internet, or with their 3-D glasses? Many will be looking for that one customer support representative who can handle all their questions.

Customers who may have a degree of “FUD” are not timid because they lack knowledge. On the contrary, these are smart shoppers who are properly cautious of smart technology because they understand that the world of electronics can be fickle and they are looking more for a product’s benefits, not just its features.

What about you? Are you waiting to buy a smart TV?

Apple Patents that May Excite People, Including a Magic Wand Remote for Your TV

[caption id="attachment_845" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Apple"]Apple Logo[/caption]

Few would argue that Apple is a successful company. The company has given us the iPhone, iPad, iPod, iTunes and Mac computers. Apple iPads were one of the hottest gifts of 2010 and the company is on the verge of releasing the iPad 2. Verizon Wireless made headlines about two weeks ago when it announced it would carry the infamous iPhone and include the ability to use your iPhone as a mobile hotspot for computer internet access.

Now we know that Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO, is taking a permanent medical leave of absence, and he’s been a driving force of innovation for Apple, but many things have already been set in place to keep Apple moving forward without him, including the fact that Apple has been issued 563 different patents in 2010 for new products.

Of course, this doesn’t mean Apple will be producing 563 new exciting devices like the iPad, but some of them could change the way we interact with our environment, the way we “channel surf” and the way we enter our homes.

A couple of Apple’s most intriguing patents for TV usage are the “Apple TV” and “Wand Remote,” which allows you to gesture control images on your Apple TV. Imagine being able to pop-up an Apple TV in your TV lift cabinet and use a Wii-like remote to access apps, control your instant-watch media or flip through the channels by the flick of a wrist.

But before you get inside your home to watch TV, you’ll be able to use your iPhone by swiping it near a control pad outside your home (or car) that has a proximity-based PIN code system. And viola, you’re inside your home!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Small Portable Speaker Produces Big Sound

[caption id="attachment_840" align="alignright" width="400" caption="WOWee ONE"]WOWee ONE[/caption]

WOWee ONE is a compact, rechargeable and portable speaker that is producing some big sounds, and some big reviews. Different than other (cheaper) portable speakers, the WOWee ONE speaker can handle the “highs” and “lows” of sound through a hybrid technology, Gel Audio™, which delivers low end bass frequencies. In fact, it can produce sound about three octaves lower than traditional speakers. And interestingly, this portable speaker gives off slightly different sounds depending on where it is placed, as least according to Mashable’s recent review of the speaker.

As the number of iPods, iPads, mp3 and mp4 players, smart phones and computer applications continues to rise, the need for portable products is only going to increase as well. Today, it is estimated that nearly 30 million smart phones are used every day, and with applications like Pandora and Last.fm, people will appreciate hearing quality sound come from their streaming media player. Barely larger than an iPhone, the WOWee ONE portable speaker can be easily slipped into a back pocket, purse or backpack. However, many users of the portable speaker are primarily using it in their homes.

This is where Mashable’s recent review of the speaker becomes interesting. Reviewers tested the WOWee ONE Slim and found that its sound changed significantly depending on what type of surface it was laid upon. The reviewers found that the speaker “sounded best and warmest with wood.” So using this speaker with your mp3 player, iPad or smart phone while resting on a handcrafted, hardwood TV lift cabinet from ImportAdvantage could give your WOWee ONE portable, rechargeable speaker its best sound. Very interesting, indeed.

Using your TV lift cabinet to hold common goods like wallets, car keys or cell phones is not uncommon. In fact, since many TV lift cabinet models feature some flat “static” space (i.e. non-moving) on the cabinet top, it can be a convenient place to store your daily “grab-and-go” essentials. Now with the WOWee ONE portable speaker, your TV lift cabinet can be a truly versatile entertainment center.

The ImportAdvantage TV lift cabinets with the most static space include the Cachet TV Lift with Bookcases, the Banyan Creek TV Lift Cabinet and Banyan Creek XL TV Lift Cabinet, as well as the Seasons TV Lift Cabinet. Of course, you’ll find many more at ImportAdvantage.com.

So what other small items do you store on your TV lift cabinet? We’d like to know. Send us photos or comment below!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Movie Rental Kiosks Beat Out Retail Shops

Redbox

There’s nothing like getting the family together in the living room, pushing a button to raise your flat-screen TV out of an ImportAdvantage TV lift cabinet and watching your favorite film on DVD or in 3-D. The question we ask, though, is how did you rent your favorite movie in 2010? If you’re like most people, you probably didn’t get it from a brick-and-mortar movie rental store. It seems that they are things of the past, for now.

In a new study from the NPD Group, standalone movie rental kiosks, i.e. Redbox stations, surpassed the traditional retail store in the U.S. last year for movie rentals. As far the total market for movie rentals goes, Netflix still has the “lion’s share” of rentals, taking up 41% of all rentals by the 3Q of 2010. But now kiosk rentals take up another 31% of the market, leaving about 27% of the market to retail stores. That means that only one out of four films rented in 2010 came from driving or walking up to retail shop, perusing the walls of DVDs, picking one out, standing in line to rent it and driving back home.

This is a drastic change in the movie renter’s behavior, as early last year Netflix was in a dead heat with retail rental chains. Redbox’s increased presence really only took a bite out of the retail shops, and not yet out of Netflix. Blockbuster, who tried its hand at subscription movie deliveries, filed for bankruptcy protection in 2010, effectively being “finished off” by Redbox. Although Blockbuster’s last-ditch effort to survive is to now mimic Redbox, not Netflix.

The study by NPD Group only looked at physical movie rentals, not streaming services or subscription or video on-demand from cable providers. Nor did it consider digital movie rentals from places like iTunes Amazon or Vudu.

So how did you bring films into your home in 2010? Did you get one from a red kiosk after grocery shopping, or saunter out to your mailbox to look for a red envelope or head down to the blue movie store on the corner and pick one off the wall? Share your story with us here.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Product Focus: Ashford Manor TV Lift Cabinet

[caption id="attachment_832" align="alignright" width="275" caption="Ashford Manor TV Lift Cabinet"]Ashford Manor TV Lift Cabinet[/caption]

ImportAdvantage has brought back the classic bow front cabinet shape and given it a contemporary use and aesthetic in the timeless Ashford Manor TV Lift Cabinet. Honoring its namesake, the Ashford Manor TV lift cabinet is handcrafted from select Ash hardwood and is finished with stately brushed nickel drawer/cabinet pulls.

The espresso-finished wood provides three generous drawers and four large cabinets, perfect for storing media, keepsakes or movie players. The TV lift cabinet features two coats of clear protective lacquer and masterly crafted dovetail joinery on the drawers, giving it many years of durable use in your home and your children’s homes. The drawers are on heavy-duty drawer slides and the TV lift comes pre-installed.

The Ashford Manor TV Lift Cabinet also features ventilated shelving, keeping your media devices cool and protected. The TV lift cabinet can store and display a flat-screen TV measuring up to 53” wide and weighing up to 80 pounds. The TV lift cabinet itself measures just over 68” wide, 29” deep and over 38” high.

Take a moment now to check out one of ImportAdvantage’s newest TV lift cabinets and experience first-hand the unique beauty and history of this bow front, hand-crafted home furnishing. You won’t be disappointed.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

YouTube’s Most-Watched Ads of 2010 - Did You Catch Any on Your TV?



YouTube recently released its list of most-watched TV ads for 2010. Many of them made their debut at the Super Bowl XLIV and have re-sparked or launched new careers for their stars. As we are only weeks away from the next NFL Super Bowl (XLV), which of the 2011 commercials will go on to live in infamy?

The list of commercials below was based on number of views, and though none has topped YouTube’s all-time winner, Evian’s Roller Babies (2009), which has received nearly 45 million views in both the U.S. and abroad, the 2010 winner did reach 24.2 million views to-date and is still going strong (no pun intended!). And that winner is Isaiah Mustafa’s portrayal of the “Old Spice guy” in Proctor & Gamble’s “Old Spice | The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” (see above).

The rest of the contenders are:

HD – Nike Commercial – Write The Future


Ken Block’s Gymkhana THREE, Part 2; Ultimate Playground; l’Autodrome France


NSFW. A hunter shoots a bear! [Warning: strong language]

Amazing Roger Federer trickshot on Gillette ad shoot


SWAGGER WAGON

NEW E*TRADE Baby – Girlfriend


Doritos® - Crash the Super Bowl 2010 Winner: House Rules (Doritos)


Piggy – GEICO Commercial


adidas Originals – Star Wars™ Cantina 2010


Google Chrome Speed Tests


2010 Kia Soul Hamster Commercial | Black Sheep Kia Hamsters Video


Although most of these videos are viewed directly on YouTube’s website or through their mobile apps, with the great number of “smart” TVs hitting the market, complete with YouTube video streaming, many of you can watch these videos on your flat-screen TV kept in your TV lift cabinet. How do you watch YouTube videos? Let us know.

‘Pac-Man’ Will Soon Chomp Down on Reality TV

[caption id="attachment_815" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Pac-Man"]Pac-Man[/caption]

What other game shows come to mind when we say Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune? Before long you might think of the new reality game show, Pac-Man, as Namco Bandai Games, creators and owners of the most popular games of all-time, teamed with Merv Griffin Entertainment to produce the new unscripted television game show. Merv Griffin Entertainment is the same company currently producing Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune.

Do you remember playing Pac-Man, with the colorful squid-like characters, Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde, chasing you and blocking you from those tasty dots? Do any of you still own an Atari 2600 and play it on your modern flat-screen TV and store it in your TV lift cabinet? If so, please send us some pictures.

The new reality game show is still being shopped around at the networks, but there’s a chance ABC could be interested, especially given that they picked up I Survived a Japanese Game Show, which will have many similar qualities as Pac-Man.

Pac-Man will have contestants complete different obstacle courses or get knocked into muddy waters below. Sound a lot like Wipeout? It will be the second TV appearance for Pac-Man, which had a short-lived animated TV series in the early 1980s.

If Pac-Man makes it to the TV screen, we will keep you posted. Until then, tell us the highest level you have reached on this classic game!

Monday, January 17, 2011

‘The Social Network’ “Liked” by the Golden Globe Awards

[caption id="attachment_806" align="alignright" width="221" caption="The Social Network"]The Social Network[/caption]

Last night, "The Social Network," a film about the controversial founding of Facebook by Harvard student, Mark Zuckerberg, walked away with several Golden Globe Awards, including the highly-coveted "Best Picture" award. Many in the film industry point to the Golden Globe Awards (in its 68th year this year) as an indicator for the Oscars, which will release its nominations on January 25. Others rely on the Golden Globe Awards to either add-to or check-off films on their "must see" list. And given that all these films will be, or already are, on DVD in 2011, sales and rentals of these films tend experience a notable spike post-awards. What about you? Will "The Social Network" be watched on your flat-screen TV and TV lift cabinet before winter's end?

At the 68th Golden Globe Awards, "The Social Network" had six nominations. The only film to best it in nominations was "The King's Speech." What the "likable" film won, in the end, were awards for Best Screenplay, Best Director, Best Original Score and Best Picture. Sony Pictures released the film and will likely be celebrating for months to come. During its opening weekend, "The Social Network" earned $23 million in ticket sales, and even the Facebook staff and Mark Zuckerberg went to see the film as a "work outing."

When director Aaron Sorkin and the film's producer, Scott Rudin, accepted awards from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, they both thanked and praised Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook for their contribution to society (and likely their own success).

One film that had no part of last night's award show was the recently-released "True Grit," starring Jeff Bridges and directed by the Coen brothers. Interestingly, Jeff Bridges won for "Best Actor" at the 2010 Golden Globes for his performance as an alcoholic country singer in "Crazy Heart." Many fans of "True Grit," Jeff Bridges and the Coen brothers will be watching eagerly on January 25 to see if the film bucks the Golden Globes' supposed trend and winds up with one or more Oscar nominations.

The Academy Awards (aka the "Oscars") will air live on February 27, 2011. Will you be hosting an Oscar party at your home? Will you be impressing your friends with the magic and quiet of your TV lift cabinet? Let us know what you have planned for the next awards show.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Library of Congress Preserves 25 Classic Films in 2010

Library of Congress

Thanks to the Librarian of Congress, James H. Billington, 25 more motion pictures have been included in the National Film Registery of the Library of Congress, and they will surely retain a place in your living room for generations to come. These films will be officially, digitally and uniquely preserved and stored in our nation's capital, so you will be able to pass down not only your beloved TV lift cabinet to your children, but the films that you enjoyed watching on it.

As part of the National Film Preservation Act, every year the Library of Congress selects 25 films that preserves America's film patrimony for inclusion in the Library of Congress. Films selected in 2010 covered a period between 1891 and 1996. Without this preservation, according to James H. Billington, Americans risk losing out on their unique motion picture heritage. Billington says that already about half of all the films created prior to 1950 and almost 90 percent of films made before 1920 have been lost forever because they were not preserved in any lasting measure.

The group of films presented for consideration in 2010 came from the public, and the public put forward 2,112 different films. Some of the notable films selected for inclusion in 2010 were two films by George Lucas, both his 1967 student film and his special-effects extravaganza, "The Empire Strikes Back."

Another film shows what San Francisco looked like prior to the devastating 1906 earthquake that destroyed much of the city. Here is the full list of 25 motion pictures the Library of Congress selected:

1)  “AIRPLANE!” (1980)

2)  “ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN” (1976)

3)  “BARGAIN, THE” (1914)

4)  “CRY OF JAZZ” (1959)

5)  “ELECTRONIC LABYRINTH: THX 1138 4EB” (1967)

6)  “EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, THE” (1980)

7)  “EXORCIST, THE” (1973)

8)  “FRONT PAGE, THE” (1931)

9)  “GREY GARDENS” (1976)

10) “I AM JOAQUIN” (1969)

11) “IT'S A GIFT” (1934)

12) “LET THERE BE LIGHT” (1946)

13) “LONESOME” (1928)

14) “MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW” (1937)

15) “MALCOLM X”  (1992)

16) “MCCABE AND MRS. MILLER” (1971)

17) “NEWARK ATHLETE” (1891)

18) “OUR LADY OF THE SPHERE” (1969)

19) “THE PINK PANTHER” (1964)

20) “PRESERVATION OF THE SIGN LANGUAGE”  (1913)

21) “SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER” (1977)

22) “STUDY OF A RIVER” (1996)

23) “TARANTELLA” (1940)

24) “TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN, A” (1945)

25) “TRIP DOWN MARKET STREET, A” (1906)

The fact that these films will now never be forgotten gives the American public a sense that watching and sharing films with their families is an important tradition to keep. Most people can remember the first time they saw some of these films, perhaps on a first date with a future spouse or while skipping school because of an illness. No matter what the memory of the film was, it can now be shared with many future generations.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Product Focus: Preston TV Lift Cabinet

[caption id="attachment_795" align="alignright" width="275" caption="Preston TV Lift Cabinet"]Preston TV Lift Cabinet[/caption]

How would you like a beautifully crafted rendition of colonial American furniture delivered to your home in 7-10 business days? This can happen when you purchase ImportAdvantage’s Preston TV Lift Cabinet, a richly designed yet relaxed pop-up TV cabinet that will suit nearly any d├ęcor.

This unique TV lift cabinet comes with the Uplift 3700 TV lift system pre-installed, which makes it capable of effortlessly and quietly lifting and displaying your flat-screen TV from the top of the cabinet. The Preston TV Lift Cabinet is just over 59” wide, 29” deep and 39” tall. It can easily manage a TV measuring up to 52” wide and weighing up to 130 pounds.

All universal and media-specific remote controls work without the need to sync or install any additional hardware thanks to the built-in Infrared Relay System.

The center cabinet door can be interchanged between a wood, glass or speaker panel. From storing books, keepsakes, DVDs or media players, few TV lift cabinets offer so many stylish storage options.

If you’re looking for something warm and comforting, consider the Preston TV Lift Cabinet for your living room, master bedroom or against any wall in your home.

LCD TV Manufacturers, Toshiba and Vizio, Jumping on the Tablet Bandwagon

Android

What’s bigger than a smart phone, less cumbersome than a laptop and can be used for business, entertainment and social networking? The answer is the ever-popular tablet. Yes, Apple’s iPad charted the course, but Android-based tablets are becoming serious contenders. Now, LCD TV manufacturers, Toshiba and Vizio, have jumped on the bandwagon and will be releasing their own smart tablets this year.

Announced on the heels of CES, Vizio will launch its own Android-based smart phone and tablet, known as the Vizio VIA Phone and Vizio VIA Tablet, respectively. Vizio, who produces some of the finest flat-screen TVs ever to be used in our TV lift cabinets, must see the potential market share for their 1 GHz processor, Wi-Fi-, GPS- and Bluetooth-enabled mobile devices. Their VIA Phone will feature a 4-inch touch screen and 5-megapixel camera. The VIA Tablet comes with an 8-inch screen and three speakers, perfect for its HD video playback capability. Vizio’s VIA line will provide customers a unified experience, as the company’s HDTVs and Blu-ray players either already have, or will have, the same Android-based capabilities. Perhaps the new “3D” experience will be talking on a Vizio phone via Bluetooth while playing Angry Birds on a Vizio tablet while watching Toy Story 3 on a Vizio HDTV that sits on a TV lift cabinet.

The other TV-giant, Toshiba, also announced at CES an Android tablet. This one is an appealing 10.1-inch version that also comes with a full-sized USB and mini-USB jack, HDMI and SD card slot. Its back cover is constructed of a rubberized, spill-resistant, replaceable material. So far its only drawback is that it comes in at 1.7 pounds, compared to Apple’s iPad at 1.6 pounds (3G+Wi-Fi model). But who’s counting .1 pounds?

With Vizio and Toshiba’s announcement to join the ranks of tablet producers, it doesn’t mean other TV manufacturers are dormant. In fact and fairness, Samsung was one of the first to produce an Android-based tablet after Apple’s iPad hit the shelves. Their Galaxy Tab had already sold over a million units before mid-December.

The real history of the tablet started back in 2002 when Microsoft released the Tablet PC, but it never quite took off because it ran a Windows OS, not a mobile-suited platform, and its price tag was around $2,000.

2011 is clearly poised to be “The Year of the Tablet,” as so many companies are competing for a piece of the tablet “pie.” Will you get one this year?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Angry Birds Game to Come to the Big(ger) Screen

[caption id="attachment_785" align="alignright" width="225" caption="Angry Birds"]Angry Birds[/caption]

The latest craze in time-wasting has been the free gaming app, Angry Birds. The game centers around different “angry birds” who seek revenge on smirking, snorting pigs who have stolen the birds’ eggs. The game has already experienced more than 50 million free and paid downloads, and it’s rumored that the company behind the game, Rovio, earns more than $1 million a month in advertising revenue from the ads in the game’s free versions.

The “big” news for Angry Birds, however, is that Rovio has plans to soon release a “mini” title for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable owners. The “mini” games are ones small enough to download directly to your gaming console or equipment instead of needing their own cartridges or discs.

Also being planned by Rovio are releases for Xbox 360 and the Nintendo Wii. This means that Angry Birds will soon be available for your home “big screen” and can be played as quickly as you can raise your TV out of your TV lift cabinet. No more will you have to squint over your smart phone to see your red, yellow, blue and black birds wreak havoc on the little green hogs!

Monday, January 10, 2011

It’s Not all Social When it Comes to Shopping

Most reports for the 2010 holiday shopping season indicate it was an improvement over recent years, and last week’s big news about social media giant, Facebook’s, $50 billion valuation may seem to point to a connection between social networking and shopping. However, a survey by ForSee Results found that not as many consumers as expected used their “friends” or a company’s “tweets” to make a purchase decision.

Of course, even factory-direct TV lift cabinet manufacturer, ImportAdvantage, has its own Facebook page, but with how widespread social and corporate networking has been throughout 2010, it would seem that consumers would be hard-pressed to avoid its influence. The survey by ForSee Results received 10,000 responses from various consumers between November 29 and December 15, 2010. The survey showed that only 5% of online holiday shoppers were primarily influenced to visit top retailer sites by social media channels (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, etc.). However, 19% of consumers were prompted by promotional emails and 8% were driven by search engine results.

So what does this do for retailers’ websites? Maybe not much. The survey also showed that the web is still an important place to do research before buying and that mobile web access is very important to shoppers. Fourteen percent of shoppers say they used their phones to access the website or a mobile app of a major retailer during the holiday season, but only 2% bought something over their phones.

Overall, almost half of shoppers who responded to the survey said they access a company’s website to research a product they intend on buying, but not necessarily go there to buy it. In fact, one-fifth of shoppers who first research a product online go to a brick-and-mortar store to actually make the purchase.

As an aside to the survey, ForSee Results also uncovered which of the major retailers’ websites scored highest and lowest for customer satisfaction. At the top, tied for first were Amazon.com and Netflix.com. At the bottom, BestBuy.com and Target.com tied for last place with six other retailers, including Buy.com, Cabelas.com, ToysRUs.com and 1800Flowers.com.

ImportAdvantage is proud to offer both a dynamic online shopping opportunity, complete with high-resolution product photos and descriptions, and honest customer reviews. However, for the one-fifth of shoppers who still want to visit a website first and then buy at a brick-and-mortar store, ImportAdvantage TV lift cabinets can be found in showrooms around the country. Call us today to find if there’s one near you! 1-877-377-5435.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

CES Draws to an End: What to Watch for and How to Watch it

As the mega-international-tech conference, CES, draws to a close, many new fascinating products have been announced for 2011. Organized by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the CES trade show, held every January in Las Vegas, Nevada, brings together most of its 2,700+ member companies so developers, corporations and the press can give and get the first glimpse of many new gadgets. While most day-to-day consumers won’t ever attend the CES, there are ways to learn about what went on there and what to watch out for in the coming year.

Topping the list is the ability to watch all the keynote speeches from the show. Speakers included Microsoft’s CEO, Steve Ballmer, Verizon’s CEO, Ivan Seidenberg, as well as Samsung’s President, Boo-Keun Yoon. Capping the event was the “Last Gadget Standing” contest, where product demos were reeled off live and at a fast pace to see whose product would reign supreme as “most likely to change the face of technology.” The contest can be viewed on the CES website.

So what new products are going to be hot this year? Making their debut were more than 80 different mobile tablets, wireless 4G LTE, connected TV technologies, smart appliances, and for the first time ever at CES, electric vehicles. A representative from Ford used CES to announce and showcase the company’s first fully electric vehicle, the Ford Focus Electric.

Awards either presented at or in conjunction with CES included Mashable’s “Mashable Awards,” CNET’s “Best of,” the 2011 Mobile Apps Showdown and the Tech & Engineering Emmy Awards. Most of the award winners can be found later this week on CESWEB.org.

Sony, Samsung and many other leaders in the TV manufacturing world were at CES, and the buzz words in home entertainment were clearly “3D” and “connected.” Everyone is competing to offer the most “real” 3D experience while also connecting together as many entertainment opportunities as possible in the same device. Want to raise up your TV from your TV lift cabinet to check Facebook or “tweet”? With most of the TVs showcased at CES, you can. Want to change channels, set up your favorite TV show to record while also adjusting the temperature in your home before you leave work? In 2011, that might be possible.

And not that we scooped the 2011 CES, but one Honorable Mention in the 2011 CES Innovations award category for “Home Theater Accessories” did go to Monster’s Universal 3D glasses, which we mentioned in our blog back in December. You can check out that post here.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Product Focus: Harbor Green TV Lift Cabinet

[caption id="attachment_774" align="alignright" width="275" caption="Harbor Green TV Lift Cabinet"]Harbor Green TV Lift Cabinet[/caption]

How do you wrap style, warmth, convenience and versatility in one package and bring it home? You buy the Harbor Green TV Lift Cabinet. Hand-finished in rich brown, this kiln-dried hardwood and veneer TV lift cabinet is full of surprises!

Not only will it hold a flat-screen TV up to 55” wide and weighing 80 pounds, the pop-up TV cabinet doubles as a virtual fireplace. Using the free supplied DVD, you can open the cabinet doors while the TV is in its lowest position and play a virtual fireplace DVD to create a warm and inviting ambiance.

The Harbor Green TV Lift Cabinet is part of ImportAdvantage’s newest line-up of handcrafted, hardwood TV lift cabinets, and this one in particular is perfect for the family room or master bedroom. The antique brass hardware gives it a timeless touch and the fold-back cabinet covers beautifully reveal your TV and up to three pieces of electronics. The TV lift cabinet also features surge-protected on-board power, a full 1-year In-Home Warranty and a pre-installed heavy duty TV lift mechanism and remote control.

This instant classic could be one of ImportAdvantage’s new bestsellers in 2011. Check it out now, as the Harbor Green TV Lift Cabinet is currently marked 40% off!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

According to Amazon.com, the Bestselling Movies and Video Games of 2010 Are...

[caption id="attachment_770" align="alignright" width="307" caption="Toy Story 3, courtesy Pixar"]Toy Story 3[/caption]

And the winner is…well, Amazon.com. But the bestselling movies and video games of 2010 that flew off Amazon’s cyber shelves are interesting and diverse ones. Read on to find out which ones made the cut and let us know if you watched or played any of these on your flat-screen TV or gaming console. You can also leave us your own review of the movie or game, along with which TV lift cabinet you have or are considering buying. We look forward to your comments!

While Amazon’s bestselling product (ever) was the third-generation Kindle, and the bestselling and most wished for book to go with the e-reader was Steig Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, when it came to movies, the top-grossing movie of 2010 was Toy Story 3. It was also the most popular movie gift on Amazon. In the theaters, Toy Story 3 grossed $109 million its first weekend, which is the best start for any of Pixar’s 11 features. It played on 7,700 screens at 4,028 locations. Pixar’s previous opening weekend record came from Shrek the Third.

Money aside, when it came to sheer number of movies sold on Amazon in 2010, the bestseller was The Blind Side, with Sandra Bullock, and the Leonardo DiCaprio thriller, Inception, was Amazon’s most wished-for film.

When gamers threw their hat in the ring, Amazon saw Call of Duty: Black Ops as the bestselling game, but when it came to receiving a game as a gift (perhaps because many gamers wouldn’t buy it for themselves), Just Dance 2 for Nintendo Wii was the game most gift-wrapped in 2010.

Perhaps since Amazon’s list only calculated sales from January 1 to December 15, it couldn’t include the sales of Microsoft’s Kinect and its associated games, but it’s something to watch for in 2011. The Kinect, by the way, is perfectly suited for most of ImportAdvantage’s TV lift cabinets that have a stable top (such as the Banyan Creek TV Lift Cabinet). Microsoft recommends that the Kinect be placed anywhere between two and six feet high, and the Banyan Creek TV Lift Cabinet’s top non-moving shelf is approximately three feet high.

Which films and games will top the charts in 2011? It will be exciting to see what comes out and how technologies such as 3D media players, updated gaming consoles and accessories and crystal clear flat-screen TVs affect DVD and game sales. Do you have any predictions?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Video Chat from the Couch with Microsoft’s Kinect

Very likely, Microsoft beat its own quota for selling the Kinect this Christmas shopping season. Planning to sell five million units before December 25th, it is estimated that sales actually topped six million units. Many customers even found the Kinect a hard item to locate in stores, but those who opened them on Christmas morning were likely spending the rest of the day moving and grooving to games like Dance Central or playing with their new pets on Kinectimals.

But now that the holidays are gone, and visiting families have traveled back to their homes (and work), the Kinect is giving people the opportunity to reconnect via video chat from the comfort of their own couch. Utilizing Microsoft’s Windows Live Messenger and an active Xbox LIVE Gold membership, users can initiate a video chat with any one or more than 300 million Messenger users worldwide, which means the other party does not have to have a Kinect too, as long as they have a webcam and a computer with Internet access.

Now, thanks to the Kinect, you can sit back in your favorite chair or on the couch, raise your TV out of your TV lift cabinet, turn on your Xbox 360 and video chat with your family.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Mashable.com Polls Readers for their Tech-Related New Year’s Resolutions

Recently, Mashable.com launched a user poll asking the question, “What’s your tech-related resolution for the new year?” And the answers ranged from “Getting a new Android phone” to “Leveraging technology to get in shape”. Respondents could select as many resolutions as they wanted and the results (so far) are interesting. The poll is still live and receiving votes.

But before we recap the results, it’s interesting to note some background information about New Year’s Resolutions. Resolutions have been around for about as long as the New Year holiday has, which is really since 153 B.C., when the mythical king of early Rome, Janus, started appearing at the head of the calendar.

It wasn’t until Julius Caesar started the 365-day solar calendar in 46 B.C. that we started celebrating New Year’s Day on January 1. January is named after Janus, who was a two-faced deity who could look back on the past and into the future at the same time. With this symbolism, various cultures adopted ways to celebrate how they could learn from the past and wish for positive changes in the future. In popular the American custom, the New Year is marked by a kiss at the stroke of midnight, purifying the new year ahead. In China, doors are marked with red paint, the symbol of good luck and happiness. From the desire to make good things happen in the coming year, New Year’s Resolutions were born.

In this day and age, we turn to Mashable, with its educated and tech-savvy reading audience, as a credible source for where the culture of technology is headed, so their poll has special merit. In just 24 hours, over 2,100 votes have been cast in the poll and the top three resolutions are:

-Getting an iPad (12+%)

-Getting a new Android phone (12+%)

-Improving my HDTV/home theater (11+%)

With the incredible sales of Apple iPads this past season, it’s interesting to note that nearly as many people who plan to invest in an iPad in 2011 also plan to upgrade their TVs and home theaters. No doubt that some of these “resolute” shoppers will also look into complementing their new TV technology with a new remote-controlled TV lift cabinet. What else can showcase a new flat-screen as neatly and quietly as a TV lift? We’ll keep our eyes on this poll to see if it changes much, but clearly there’s a trend in home theaters being set in 2011. Have you gotten your new TV yet?