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Monday, February 28, 2011

Xpand 3D Makes High Quality 3D Glasses Affordable

Nearly 50 3D movies are expected to hit US theaters this year, making the US the number one provider of 3D entertainment. Although many will be watching these 3D masterpieces at home in front of their TV lift cabinets, with their own pair of stylish 3D glasses, theater owners have long been looking for a way to offer their customers the same quality and comfort as an at-home viewing, without investing too heavily in thousands of disposable 3D glasses. The answer, now, is Xpand, a leader in active 3D technologies for home, cinema and education.

Xpand just released its award-winning, cinema-grade X101 3D glasses, and now cinema owners can provide top-quality reusable 3D glasses without breaking the bank. Each pair runs around $35 and can be used comfortably for up to 5,000 shows. The glasses’ viewing angles have been optimized, so patrons can sit wherever they wish in the theater and enjoy a clear 3D image. Hot spots, usually created by 2D movie presentations will no longer interrupt 3D move-watchers, thanks to the technology found in these glasses.

The Xpand X101 3D glasses are also optimized to work with all Texas Instruments DLP Cinema chips and they allow DC projectors to be at normal lamp setting – extending lamp life by as much as 80 percent. The included batteries will last for up to 300 hours and can be replaced by anyone with an Xpand battery key. The glasses also come with a 10-year warranty.

For security purposes, the Xpand X101 glasses come with a standard EAS anti-theft tag device. Xpand has built its reputation by providing 3D glasses and technology for some of the largest and most prestigious cinemas in the world, and their products have been used by millions of satisfied movie-goers in over 3,000 3D cinemas in more than 50 countries.

Xpand is also the only manufacturer of 3D glasses which work with all 3DTV brands, models, 3D computers, 3D gaming consoles and cinemas.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Logitech Unleashes a ‘Couch Mouse’ for House Use

[caption id="attachment_984" align="alignright" width="410" caption="Couch Mouse M515"]Couch Mouse M515[/caption]

With today’s portability of electronics, people may be trading in their office chairs and desks for more comfortable surroundings more frequently. Perhaps in the traditional popularity of over-stuffed chairs and couches in coffeeshops, people who use their laptops at home are opting for the comforts of their own living room seating, at least enough are to warrant Logitech’s creation of the first Couch Mouse M515, which is completely optimized for soft surfaces, such as couches, beds or carpets. Now you can immediately go from watching your favorite movie on your flat-screen TV in front of your TV lift cabinet to pulling out your laptop and surfing the Internet without being bound to use the small, awkward finger pad present on most laptops. Logitech has made it possible to surf, shop and socialize with ease.

Now if you’re a real traditionalist and don’t like the idea of burning through batteries to have a wireless device, Logitech claims that the mouse will run for two years before needing a battery change. And to eliminate the need for smoothing out soft, bumpy surfaces, what makes the M515 mouse unique is the ability to spin through web pages with a finger-controlled roller-wheel on the top of the mouse.

The mouse works through a USB port on Windows-based PCs and Mac® computers. It comes complete with a 3-year limited hardware warranty, two AA batteries, a Logitech Unifying receiver and user documentation, all for around $50 USD.

The other nice part of this mouse is that it is only active when you are gripping it, so your cursor won’t move around on its own when you shift on your bed or couch. It also had a sealed bottom to prevent fuzz and fabric from getting inside through the sensor opening. Operating with a 2.4 GHz wireless speed, you won’t experience any lag time, delays or dropouts. Its hyper-fast scrolling allows you to burn through long blog posts, Twitter updates and Facebook feeds as fast as the eye can read. You can also switch the mouse to a click-to-click mode and scroll through photo albums and emails one at a time.

Check out the new Logitech Couch Mouse M515 and let us know what you think. And tell us, where do you most often use your laptop at home?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Product Focus: Seasons TV Lift Cabinet

[caption id="attachment_980" align="alignright" width="275" caption="Seasons TV Lift Cabinet"]Seasons TV Lift Cabinet[/caption]

Beautifully built from pine and pine veneers, the Seasons TV Lift Cabinet is a pleasure to use year-round. Featuring one of the largest of ImportAdvantage’s TV lift mechanisms, the Uplift 3700, the Seasons TV Lift Cabinet can house a flat-screen TV weighing up to 130 pounds and measuring up to 56” wide.

With three spacious cabinets that open to reveal vented adjustable shelves, the Seasons TV Lift Cabinet can do much more than just quietly raise and lower your flat-screen TV. It can protect it while also making your media players more accessible. Each of the cabinet doors comes with interchangeable wood and speaker cloth panels, so you can customize this furniture piece to your needs and preferences.

Arriving at your doorstep (with free In-Home Delivery) ready to hold your flat-screen TV, the integrated, pre-installed Infrared Relay System needs no programming and can relay any IR signal (remotes, wireless game controllers, etc.). All you need to do is plug in and play.

Take a moment to check out the Seasons TV Lift Cabinet and see for yourself its positive reviews from satisfied customers and a unique video about this TV lift cabinet.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What’s that Computer Doing on ‘Jeopardy!’? It’s Doing Well


The big buzz already this year in the world of game shows was not figuring out who was smarter than a middle-schooler, or which shiny briefcase held the most money, or even which contestant could look the silliest running, jumping and falling over an obstacle course. No, the real buzz was summed up in one word, “Watson”. And if you happened to catch an episode of Jeopardy! in front of your TV lift cabinet during February 14-16, you saw an IBM-built, artificial intelligence computer system capable of answering questions (in the form of a question) posed in natural human language.

Beyond what IBM’s Deep Blue did in 1997 to trounce world chess champion, Garry Kasparov, in a game with finite possibilities (as staggering as those possibilities were), Watson was able to process nuances in human language, calculate possible meanings, rank itself on how confident it was in his answer and buzz in – all in less than three seconds.

IBM and Jeopardy! producers joined together to pit Watson against the game show’s two most-winning, most well-known champions – Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter. Jennings holds the record for longest championship streak, winning 74 straight games. Rutter is the all-time money champion, earning $3.25 million and never losing a single Jeopardy! match – until now.

Watson broke that streak and bested both of the former champions in a two-day match that aired over three days. The first day was a “practice round,” and then the two-day match was split between the Jeopardy and Double Jeopardy rounds. The final results were Watson in first (winning $1 million), Ken Jennings in second and Brad Rutter in last place (with both human competitors winning $300,000 and $200,000, respectively).

Over five years in the making, Watson is a machine constructed of 90 different servers, 2,880 POWER7 processor cores and 16 Terabytes of RAM. It can understand slang, plays on word, double-meanings and phrases previously thought to be only understood intuitively. Watson did stumble on some clues (having a harder time with short clues), and he made a few missteps in game play, such as guessing an answer that was already answered by an opponent and incorrect. It also thought Toronto was a U.S. city.

However, it dissected questions (actually, answers) into keywords and sentence fragments until it could formulate the most-correct response. Programmers “fed” Watson millions of documents to ready him, including dictionaries, encyclopedias, and other reference material that it could use to build its knowledge base. Watson was not connected to the Internet during the game, so it could only rely on what it already “knew”.

IBM has stated that Watson’s future could unleash a world of potential good, especially in the medical fields where doctors could consult with Watson to find cures, diagnose ailments and prescribe remedies. Until then, we may just be watching Watson on our flat-screen TVs in our pop-up TV cabinets making his way through the game show circuit.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Put Away Your Guitars, Popular ‘Guitar Hero’ Game is Gone

Guitar HeroIn the sometimes ever-shrinking window of video game franchise success, Activision has pulled the plug, so to speak, on its hit video game series, Guitar Hero. Known for its colorful plastic guitar-controllers, South Park spoof episode and epic rock ballads, the Guitar Hero division, and its sequels, is no more.

Some may be delighted that no longer will they find their kid’s monstrous plastic guitar leaning against their fine hardwood TV lift cabinet, but those who helped usher in this era of classic rock simulation may have to start looking elsewhere for their Thrash-like fix. Video arcades will likely keep their coin-operated version of Guitar Hero a while longer, if nothing more for nostalgia. But for a game that was only created in 2005, and which spawned various sequels such as Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, Guitar Heroes: Warriors of Rock and Rock Band, which meant buying a whole band set of drums and a microphone, the current sales could no longer support production. In the fourth quarter of 2010, Activision, which bought the Guitar Hero franchise in 2006 for $100 million, posted a $233 million net loss. The company then decided to let go the 500-person Guitar Hero division.

Some critics say the market was oversaturated, and consumers no longer wanted to buy a new controller (a limited one at that) good for only one game or one series of games.

On the flip side, the Guitar Hero games are not out of print yet, so if you are inspired to relive your garage-band glory days and don the fake-Gibson, there’s still time to pick up one or more games and controllers brand-new and unused.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Google Will Help You Plan Your Wedding, but What about Your Registry?

Google WeddingsGoogle has now launched a new service aimed to “simplify wedding planning” with Google Weddings. Pretty much an amalgamation of their pre-existing services, it seems that Google will be the place consolidate, organize, plan and share all the tedious tasks that goes into planning a spectacular wedding. But could this new service be lacking in one of the most important and anxiety-inducing areas? As of yet, there is no place to create an online Registry for guests to purchase wedding gifts. Where would you put down that you want the Ashford Manor TV Lift Cabinet? Perhaps it’s still up to Amazon.com to fill that void –with their versatile Universal Wishlist and Amazon Wedding Registry.

Still, without this key service, Google Weddings can be very helpful for building a unique wedding website or blog with a dedicated site through Google Sites. And the soon-to-be newlyweds can use Picnik to create invite cards and edit photos. Google Docs can be incorporated to organize and plan with multiple parties no matter where they reside – especially helpful for destination weddings and keeping your email Inbox free of a million attachments. Google Docs can handle more than just documents – spreadsheets, budgets and PDF files can be easily uploaded and shared. Google also thought of including its Picasa photo service to the mix, making it easy for people to share photos from the wedding with friends and family.

To boost the initial launch, Google has teamed up with wedding planner, Michelle Rago, for templates and tips for the happy couple to help with planning, and Google is hosting a wedding sweepstakes, offering a $25,000 prize and the chance to have Rago’s help planning your wedding.

The new Google Wedding site is Google’s latest attempt to more fully incorporate itself into its customers’ lifestyles. With other Google sites, such as Google Health, where users can organize, track and monitor their health information, weight changes and prescriptions (via CVS), the perennial question that arises with these launches is just how safe is your information with Google and what sensitive personal information is at risk in Google’s hands? So far there haven’t been any major breaches of security, so check out Google Weddings today and see if it will work for a wedding in your future.

Friday, February 18, 2011

How Does 3D Work?

3D ImageYou may have gone to the movie theater in the last two years to watch Avatar in 3-D, or perhaps you waited until it came out in Blu-ray to watch it at home in front of your TV lift cabinet. Regardless, you likely think that 3-D technologies are cool and will clearly be part of the entertainment industry’s future. But have you ever wondered how 3-D works? We uncovered some of the secrets of 3-D technology and we would like to share them.

Have you ever held up a pencil or finger and looked at it with one eye closed, then the other one closed? You’ll see that the image is the same, but it has a different perspective. This is “stereoscopy,” and it’s how the eyes and brain work together to create an impression of a third dimension. Our eyes are roughly 50 mm to 75 mm apart, and each eye takes in a different perspective, triggering the brain to do some crazy geometry to make up for the disparity between both images. It is this disparity that creates “3-D”.

So when we use technology to replicate this disparity (or 3-D), we use funny-looking (or stylish) 3-D glasses and silver-coated projectors to feed each eye a different perspective of the same image on the screen. That made everything sound simple, didn’t it?

Now we need to address the technology that goes into filming and showing a 3-D image onscreen. We know how the eyes and brain work together to receive and decipher images, but what are images onscreen except light and color. The first 3-D glasses we used to wear were those red and blue ones – having a different color lens for each eye. This helped separate layers of images by having some in red and some in blue, thus giving us a layered 3-D effect, but they couldn’t compensate for rich colors and often they “ghosted” images.

Today we rely on polarized glasses, which can give light different orientations. For instance, these glasses could project light with a horizontal polarization for one eye and a vertical polarization for the other. However, to view a 3-D movie with this technique, you’d have to keep your head completely still (ever see A Clockwork Orange?). To address this issue, 3-D glasses are now made to use rotational polarity, so a film can give two different spins – the glasses then pick up those distinct spins and lets one eye pick up the clockwise spin while the other interprets a counter-clockwise spin. Now you can tilt your head, rest it on your partner’s shoulder, or lean back to enjoy the 3-D film.

Additional 3-D effects come into play and are tweaked via specialized cameras and computer graphics, but “seeing” in 3-D all comes down to playing against the disparity between your eyes and your brain. Without getting it just right, there is no effect and there is no recording-earning film like Avatar.

Share with us your favorite 3-D film to date. Why did you like it – was it for the effect, the story or both?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Product Focus: Restoration TV Lift Cabinet

[caption id="attachment_955" align="alignright" width="275" caption="Restoration TV Lift Cabinet"]Restoration TV lift cabinet[/caption]

An exquisite example of traditional styling meets modernized functionality, the Restoration TV Lift Cabinet is a multi-step stained and scratch-resistant hardwood TV lift cabinet that is sure to impress, delight and get heavy use.

The Restoration TV Lift Cabinet comes complete with a pre-installed TV lift mechanism capable of quietly raising and lowering a flat-screen TV weighing up to an impressive 130 pounds and measuring 54” wide. The cabinet itself is hand-built from American Maple, and it can be placed against any wall in your home, including a home office or bedroom. The base molding conceals non-marking feet so you can easily move the cabinet for cleaning or rearranging.

The two center cabinet doors come with interchangeable cloth speaker panels for speaker storage, and the built-in shelf ventilation will keep your media players cool even when being used at peak levels. The included radio frequency remote control for the TV lift comes ready to work, with no programming required.

For ample storage, the Restoration TV Lift Cabinet is also designed with seven media storage drawers, each placed on a premium heavy-duty ball bearing drawer glide, giving you years of quiet and reliable use.

Take a moment to check out the Restoration TV Lift Cabinet and let us know what you think!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Can You Watch 3-D without 3-D Glasses? Toshiba Thinks So

Toshiba Glassless 3-D TVsFounded on an idea Reiko Fukushima had nine years ago, coming back to work after maternity leave, Toshiba is now leading the charge on supplying the world’s first “naked-eye” 3-D TV. Recently covered in an interview with Fukushima in The New York Times, the progress of these developing technologies has done two things in Japan – sparked new heights for high-tech women researchers in that country and given confidence to all who were skeptical that a “naked-eye” technology could ever be developed.

Toshiba itself was skeptical when Fukushima first presented them the idea, but now last October at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the prototype of the 3-D TV was unveiled. It was always clear to Fukushima that 3-D glasses would have to go in order for the technology to truly take off, and her approach to the problem was to develop an algorithm that drew on a Toshiba imaging processor, named the “Cell,” to display nine different images for each frame. A sheet on the TV screen, called a “perpendicular Lenticular Sheet,” angles each image so the right eye can only see images intended for the right eye and the left eye can only see images for the left eye. The TV “screen” is actually an HD LCD display and completely unlike any 3-D TV display that has come before it.

The major hurdle for this new technology, however, is making the 3-D images work when viewed from wide angles. This issue is still being thought out, and the current models being released work best when viewed from within a 40-degree zone.  (Again, noting Walter Murch’s recent thoughts on 3-D technology)

There are only two Toshiba “glassless” 3-D TVs available now, a 12-inch screen for $1,200 and a 20-inch screen for $2,400. Toshiba claims that both TVs are for “personal usage.” The way the 40-degree viewing zone works out for these two models is a viewing distance of 35.4 inches for the 20-inch model and 25.6 inches for the 12-inch screen. Neither of these 3-D TVs would likely work well for a TV lift cabinet simply based on the small screen size and close viewing proximity, but with Fukushima and Toshiba clearly on the right path, perhaps it won’t be too long before affordable “glassless” 3-D TVs hit the shelves and you can bring one home to your pop-up TV cabinet.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Mitsubishi Offers a Fix for Dated 3-D Samsung TV Sets

[caption id="attachment_947" align="alignright" width="150" caption="Mitsubishi 3-D Starter Pack"]Mitsubishi 3-D Starter Pack[/caption]

Both Mitsubishi and Samsung have been producing 3-D-ready TVs for years. However, back when they first starting making and selling their 3-D TVs, the 3-D technology was much different than it is today. The result was that their TVs simply no longer worked with today’s technology, so the companies had to send out upgrade kits to be compatible.

Late last year, Mitsubishi released an upgrade kit for its DLP TVs, which is a technology no longer used by any TV manufacturer except Mitsubishi. These DLP TVs are adequate in quality, but they are often much thicker than today’s flat-screens. Their two-feet deep sets are no good for placement in TV lift cabinets. However, the company believes in the technology and will, in 2011, be releasing a 92-inch 3-D TV in DLP for under $6K.

But back to the upgrade kit, the 3D Starter Pack. The pack will work for both Mitsubishi and Samsung 3-D-ready DLP TVs (not including plasma models), and it comes with two pairs of active-shutter 3-D eyewear, a 3-D emitter, and updated 3-D adapter with remote, and HDMI cable and a Disney 3-D Blu-ray disc that includes trailers for several 3-D Disney films. You can find the 3D Starter Pack in most electronics stores or online at http://www.mitsubishi-tv.com/.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Walter Murch, the Original Mr. 3-D, Talks About the Challenges of 3-D Technology

[caption id="attachment_936" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Walter Murch"]Walter Murch[/caption]

Film sound and editing legend, Walter Murch, recently expounded on the virtues, challenges and future of 3-D technology in the entertainment industry. Murch, who is respected for his Academy Award-winning work on “Apocalypse Now” and Oscar-winning editing and sound mixing work on “The English Patient,” recently wrote a letter to film critic Roger Ebert about the world of 3-D.

Murch’s own history with 3-D technology started back in 1986 when he edited the 3-D version of Michael Jackson’s “Captain Eo,” which was directed by Francis Ford Coppola and shown at Disney theme parks. Many actually claim this film was “4-D” since it incorporated so many in-theater effects (lasers, smoke, etc.) synched to the film’s narrative.

In the letter he wrote to Ebert, Murch explains that the biggest obstacle in producing 3-D films is the “convergence/focus issue.” As a viewer watches a 3-D film, different “planes” are apparent to the viewer, and though the viewer him or herself is not changing their location in relation to the stationary TV or movie screen (ie. they are constant), 3-D images must have an appearance of moving not only left and right, up and down, but closer and further away from the viewer. This can be problematic as a film that will be shown to a movie theater audience, viewing it in planes 10, 60 and 120 feet away, depending on the where one sits in the theater and what the effect is, will not need the same convergence points when watching it at home in one’s living room in front of a stationary TV lift cabinet.

Other small issues with 3-D, according to Murch, include darkness and “smallness” issues, but those can be overcome he says. Convergence, however, is not something technology can simply fix. Murch points to the fact that humans have been evolving their eyesight for 600 million years; people know how to focus on an image at 6 feet and how to focus on something at 60 feet, but their brains aren’t quite sure how to be tricked into focusing (at least virtually) on both of those distances at the same time. This is why some people get headaches after only watching about 20 minutes of a 3-D film.

3-D films, therefore, take much more time to edit and produce than a 2-D film. If all the pieces aren’t exactly in the right place at the right time, the 3-D effect is lost. However, Murch also believes that the movie’s story is something that can create a dimensionality as strong as or stronger than what a 2-D or 3-D film can produce, and that, in the end, is what it boils down to for Murch.

Meet The Team

Out of the answers below, can you guess why people are hesitant to buy online?

A.      Cannot see the product in person.

B.      Does the finish look exactly as it does online?

C.      Concerns over online security.

D.      Do not feel comfortable doing business with people they have not had the opportunity to meet face to face.

E.       All of the above.

If you answered “E”, then you share the same concerns of many.  It can be quite nerve wracking to make a purchase sight unseen with an unfamiliar company.

As an online furniture company, we face these hurdles every day when speaking with our customers.  It is extremely important to us to make sure our customers feel comfortable when making their purchases.  That is why we make sure to address each and every one of these reservations.

For starters, did you know that we can send you wood-finish samples of any our TV lift cabinets?  Yes, it is absolutely true!  To ensure our customers select the right TV lift cabinet for their homes, we send free wood samples to all that are interested.  This has helped many of our customers determine which cabinet finish will work best in their homes.

We also understand that folks are hesitant to release their credit card information online.  Who wouldn’t be?  However, our customers do not have to worry when shopping on our site.  We are McAfee Secure and tested so our customers can shop without fear. McAfee provides around-the-clock site protection from hackers, adware, spyware, browser exploits, spammers, phishing attacks and online scams. This is the greatest confidence an online retailer can provide.

Finally, it is always helpful to identify a face with a name.   It is more comfortable knowing whom you are speaking with, rather than just having a voice.  To me, it just feels more REAL and personable.

With that being said, I would like to welcome you to our team.

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Friday, February 11, 2011

FCC “OKs” Comcast-NBC Merger, Comcast Now the Largest Media Conglomerate

[caption id="attachment_907" align="alignright" width="225" caption="Comcast-NBC"]Comcast NBC Merger[/caption]

The lines of division are even blurrier now, at least in terms of who will be providing your cable and Internet service in 2011. The FCC recently approved a Comcast-NBC merger, citing that it did not violate U.S. antitrust laws. So should you expect to see a change in your service when you come home one afternoon next week to watch a show in front of your TV lift cabinet? Probably not. What this merger means is that Comcast now has majority ownership of NBC and its media properties, which includes a piece of TV-streaming giant, Hulu.

The specifics of the merger are an agreement between Comcast and General Electric, which owns the majority of NBC Universal. The merger was approved by the FCC by a 4-1 vote, and Comcast will acquire 51% of NBC Universal for approximately $13.75 billion. This deal has been in the works for more than a year.

One of the major concerns over this deal before it was passed was to make sure it did not hinder or hamper the continuing growth of online video. The FCC ordered that the joint venture “must make available to online distributors (OVDs) the same package of broadcast and cable channels that it sells to traditional video programming distributors.” Additionally, the agreement is that the venture “must offer an OVD broadcast, cable and film content that is similar to, or better than, the content the distributor receives from any of the joint venture’s programming peers.”

Comcast agreed to these and seven other conditions doled out by the FCC and must adhere to them for seven years. All this means that even though the Comcast-NBC merger has created the single largest media conglomerate in the world, there is still room for competition, especially in the world of online video.

Comcast may see this success as an “about face” to their failed 2004 attempt to take over the Walt Disney Co. for an estimated $54 billion. So while Comcast doesn’t own Mickey Mouse or Tinker Bell (yet), it does now own SyFy, G4, E! Entertainment Television, Versus, USA Network, Telemundo, NBC News and NBC.

Where they will take all these channels and companies, no one really knows, but for now it should be “business as usual.” So sit back, turn on the tube and enjoy the show!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Product Focus: The Estates TV Lift Cabinet

[caption id="attachment_903" align="alignright" width="275" caption="The Estates TV Lift Cabinet"]The Estates TV Lift Cabinet[/caption]

The Estates TV Lift Cabinet is a TV lift cabinet stately enough to command any guest’s attention in your home. As areas of entertainment in homes have only increased in their usefulness as gathering places, the Estates TV Lift Cabinet can certainly serve as center stage – be it for a movie, a video game or simply as a piece of fine furniture by which to stand and have a conversation.

Hand constructed from an appealing warm and brown African mahogany veneer, the Estates TV Lift Cabinet seamlessly blends the fine luxury of traditional European home furniture with today’s cutting edge technology.

This TV lift cabinet features three separate tilt-down compartments for media and electronics storage, while the integrated heavy-duty TV lift mechanism works silently to raise and lower your flat-screen TV. The Estates’ center tilt-down cabinet door has an interchangeable wood or speaker cloth panel which makes it suitable as a storage space for a center channel speaker.

The TV lift cabinet can house a flat-screen TV weighing up to 130 pounds and measuring 55” wide, thanks to its spacious design and Uplift 3700 TV lift.

The Estates TV Lift Cabinet is perfect against any wall in your home. Check it out today and let us know what you think.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Sharp and Pioneer Bring Back the Line of Pioneer Elite Displays

[caption id="attachment_895" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Pioneer Elite HDTV"]Pioneer Elite HDTV[/caption]

Pioneer Elite HDTVs had been discontinued since 2009, but in a recent press release Sharp announced that it has been granted a license to begin producing Pioneer’s Elite brand of high-end displays in 2011. This is great news, especially since the Pioneer Elite screens were considered some of the top displays in their day, providing astounding color and black level reproduction. And the very impressive Pioneer Elite 60-inch flat-screen fit beautifully in the Banyan Creek XL TV Lift Cabinet.

After the country experienced a recession, however, these high-end (and high-dollar) displays could not withstand the onslaught of cheap LCD and plasma TVs. As part of the new deal, the flat-screen TV displays will be jointly marketed by Pioneer and Sharp, but they will only bear the name “Elite” and be sold, firstly, through Pioneer’s original Elite dealer network.

Sharp and Pioneer rightly believe that the market is once again ready for their Elite line of HDTVs, and we will be following the progress of their sales. Would you consider waiting to purchase an Elite this year over a Panasonic plasma or Samsung LCD? Let us know what you think.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The 83rd Academy Awards, Who’s In and Who’s Out?

83rd Academy AwardsThe 83rd Academy Awards will be presented on Sunday February 27, 2011, which means we only have 20 more days to speculate about who will go home with an Oscar, guess who will show up with whom and daydream about the high fashion and wardrobe mishaps always appearing on the red carpet. And now that the Super Bowl is behind us, is anyone planning to host an Oscar party? Are you the designated host because you are the one with a TV lift cabinet?

The Academy Awards have a long-standing reputation of honoring the “best of the best” in the movie industry in 24 different categories. The ceremony will air on ABC and both James Franco and Anne Hathaway will host the show, which is a first for both actors.

Nominations for the 83rd Academy Awards were released on January 25, 2011, and if you want to know who’s in and who’s out, here’s a rundown of the major categories and their nominees:

Best Picture

127 Hours

Black Swan

The Fighter

Inception

The Kids Are All Right

The King's Speech

The Social Network

Toy Story 3

True Grit

Winter's Bone

Best Director

Darren Aronofsky – Black Swan

Ethan Coen and Joel Coen – True Grit

David Fincher – The Social Network

Tom Hooper – The King's Speech

David O. Russell – The Fighter

Best Actor

Javier Bardem – Biutiful

Jeff Bridges – True Grit

Jesse Eisenberg – The Social Network

Colin Firth – The King's Speech

James Franco – 127 Hours

Best Actress

Annette Bening – The Kids Are All Right

Nicole Kidman – Rabbit Hole

Jennifer Lawrence – Winter's Bone

Natalie Portman – Black Swan

Michelle Williams – Blue Valentine

Best Supporting Actor

Christian Bale – The Fighter

John Hawkes – Winter's Bone

Jeremy Renner – The Town

Mark Ruffalo – The Kids Are All Right

Geoffrey Rush – The King's Speech

Best Supporting Actress

Amy Adams – The Fighter

Helena Bonham Carter – The King's Speech

Melissa Leo – The Fighter

Hailee Steinfeld – True Grit

Jacki Weaver – Animal Kingdom

Topping the list with the most number of nominations is The King’s Speech, receiving 12, but it is followed by True Grit, which received 10 nominations. Both Inception and The Social Network received eight nominations each.

How many of the “Best Picture” film nominees have you seen? Is there a film, director, actor or actress you feel may have been left out of this year’s list?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Super Bowl Sunday: It’s the Ad Game That Matters!

This Sunday, the Green Bay Packers will take on the Pittsburgh Steelers in Dallas, Texas, in the NFL’s Super Bowl XLV. The game will feature the NFL’s top two defensive teams and mark a milestone for the Steelers for the most number of Super Bowl appearances, tying the Dallas Cowboy’s eight appearances in their franchise history. And while most fans will be heading out to their favorite bar, restaurant or over to whichever friend’s house has the biggest flat-screen TV (and fanciest TV lift cabinet), a rather large sub-section of football fans and bystanders will be watching the Super Bowl this year for the ads.

In fact, many are speculating that this year’s Super Bowl will draw record viewership, surpassing last year’s record 106.5 million viewers. And so the advertisers are planning to bring their own “A game”. The price of advertising has risen over the years, quadrupling in the last twenty years. This jump in cost for a Super Bowl commercial from last year to this year was about 30 percent. If you want to air a thirty-second commercial, just one time, during the Packers/Steelers Super Bowl, plan on shelling out $3 million, and that doesn’t even figure into what it cost to produce the commercial.

Super Bowl ads, however, also have a long history of paying for themselves in revenue. Many of the most-watched, most-liked, most “viral” YouTube videos last year were commercials that debuted during the 2010 Super Bowl.

This year companies, like Bud Light, are trying to use social media to create a buzz for their ads before they’ve even aired. Bud Light created a virtual social game called “Unlock the Spot” and is asking fans to guess which storylines will appear in their three Super Bowl ads this year. In 2010, Budweiser, another Anheuser-Busch beer brand, asked its fans to vote for which ad they aired.

The social media tie-in is just one of five speculated themes that will be present in 2011’s selection of Super Bowl ads. Other major themes likely to pop up during pauses in the game and during halftime are cars, women and an overall Hollywood “feel” to these high-dollar ads. Another theme this year will be the list of companies that opted out of advertising during the Super Bowl. Among this list are Pizza Hut, Denny’s and Papa John’s.

Regardless of who shows, who no-shows and who wins this year in the Super Bowl, have fun, enjoy the game and send us a picture of your TV lift in action during the Super Bowl XLV!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Product Focus: University Park TV Lift Cabinet

[caption id="attachment_880" align="alignright" width="275" caption="University Park TV Lift Cabinet"]University Park TV Lift Cabinet[/caption]

Now you see it, now you don’t! With the University Park TV Lift Cabinet, customers have a unique dual-access to their flat-screen television. With the touch of a button, the TV will raise out of the TV lift cabinet on a heavy duty TV lift mechanism. But if you’re in the mood to keep things low, just open the dual cabinet doors and start watching your TV without raising it. This second option is great for a simulated fireplace (which comes as a free DVD with every purchase).

The University Park TV Lift Cabinet features a hand layered stain finish, brushed nickel hardware and can accommodate a TV as large as 55” and weighing up to 80 pounds. Its center lift not only holds a flat-screen TV, but will also house two media players with depths of 13-1/4” or less.

The University Park TV Lift Cabinet is perfectly suited against any wall in your home or in the bedroom. It comes standard with a full 1-Year In-Home Warranty and free White Glove Delivery.

Take a moment to check out the University Park TV Lift Cabinet and let us know what you think!

Get Ready to Rent in HD from Vudu

[caption id="attachment_875" align="alignright" width="444" caption="Boxee"]Boxee[/caption]

Boxee, a small box or computer program that makes Internet media and movies available for viewing on your television, will be making HD movie-watching a possibility in its next firmware update, say company representatives.

With either an actual Boxee (pictured above from the back side) device or by installing the Boxee software on a laptop computer and hooking that up to your television, Boxee already gives its customer access to more than 40,000 TV show episodes and movie- and sports-streaming capabilities from partners like the MLB, Netflix, NHL, Pandora and Vudu. It is through Vudu’s services, however, that customers will be able to soon watch HD-enabled movies.

The firmware update will come out automatically, but customers can also install the update manually by going to (Settings > System > Update). Other Boxee updates in this install include support for language selection in subtitle/audio, enhancements to its Browser performance and the Browser opening in a lower resolution to allow easier reading of text.

Vudu’s services boast the most HD movies available for streaming in 1080p HD quality, as well as Dolby surround sound and HDX (similar to Blu-ray). Vudu has also started offering 3D movies, but no word yet if Boxee will be able to offer those titles just yet. Vudu was recently acquired by Wal-Mart, so expect competitive pricing from the company for its services. One of Vudu’s unique features is that there is no monthly fee or contract, as its movies are available for “rent” and customers pick the individuals title they want to watch that evening.

The Boxee can play a variety of video formats, including Adobe Flash 10.1, MPEG-4 and VC-1. It can also display JPEG, PNG, GIF, BMP and TIFF images. Makers of the Boxee say it is intended to be a social movie watching experience, and that is why users set up a Boxee account and can share select information with friends or set up multiple accounts for different family members in the same household (such as favorite apps, social networks, etc.).

Just between us, though, between the laptop computer version of Boxee and an actual Boxee box, the box may be better suited for a closed TV lift cabinet door because of Boxee’s unique remote control with QWERTY keyboard and simple controls.

Do you own a Boxee or use Vudu? Let us and others know how they work in your TV lift cabinet.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Might Your Favorite Video Game Have Its Own Smell?

[caption id="attachment_871" align="alignright" width="331" caption="ScentScape"]ScentScape[/caption]

Charlie’s fictional trip to the Chocolate Factory may soon be a modern day reality, at least in part. ScentSciences has developed and is about to release ScentScape, a small device that produces smells in conjunction with playing video games. Now you can totally immerse yourself in sight, sound and smell while playing video games in front of your TV lift cabinet.

The ScentScape can emit 20 different customizable scents, but each one must be programmed via the ScentEditor to its accompanying game. The editing program also allows users to create custom scents and share them with friends.

The ScentScape will also work with PC-based video games and it can supposedly be adapted to home videos. But what smells would you pick for a YouTube video? The possibilities are endless.

In any case, as the home theater continues to be a focal point in many family rooms, the ScentScape seems to add to complete realism and total immersion in the entertainment industry. It’s as if 3-D can soon be coupled with 3-Senses (sight, sound, smell). Hopefully, we’re a long way away from integrating the sense of touch in 3-D movies, but who knows?