5 Awesome Ways to Hide Your TV

We have made great strides in TVs in the last 15 years. Even in the last 10 years we have gone from fat, ugly flat screen TVs to super thin and light flat screens. And we all know the vast improvement in picture quality.

Despite these improvements, in some places, it still is far from ideal to have a TV seen on the wall. Interior Designers find that it acts as a black hole in the wall and conflicts with many designs or maybe even blocks a beautiful view out of a window. Thankfully, there are many different options for hiding the TV. Here are 5 methods that we use most often.

– Art Screens – Art Screens go by a variety of different names but they all share a similar design. They are a very innovative idea that basically puts a picture frame around the TV and retractable piece of art that rolls in front of the TV. When you want to watch TV, push a button and the art rolls up and reveals the TV. What’s great about them is that they can be installed in both new and retro construction environments. This means you don’t need to tear up or modify your wall to make the design work. On the negative, you must choose from a list of available prints or supply a copy of the digital print which is sometimes difficult to acquire and the medium is limited to a canvas type printed material. For the art connoisseuisseur, it’s not the best option.

– Art Lifts and Slides – Art Lifts and Slides come in a variety of different designs. The principle is basically to place a piece of canvas or framed art over a TV that is then physically lifted or slide out of the way when watching TV. The art can even be two pieces that split and slide apart to reveal the TV. The effect gives a little bit more of a “wow” factor than even the Art Screens and they also allow you to bring your own art. This means you can truly use any piece of art that fits the size criteria. The disadvantage is that this is limited to a new or remodel construction environment. Typically the wall must be built out to allow the TV to be flush in the wall. It’s a solution that requires a little bit more planning.

– Mirror TVs – Mirror TVs are a fun option. They allow for your TV to be covered by a mirror that when the TV is turned on, becomes see through. The effect is fun and like all of these methods, it brings a great “wow” factor. It’s a solution that can be applied in a retro environment without modifying the wall, or it can even be installed behind bathroom mirrors in a remodel or new construction setting. The biggest disadvantage is that the mirrors present a good deal of glare that is not ideal for rooms with lots of windows. The mirror also reduces some of the contrast. We don’t recommend them for the main TV in the home but they are an excellent solution for bedrooms and other areas that have lower amounts of ambient light.

– Under Bed Lift – The under bed lift almost has to be seen to believe it, but basically it is exactly as it sounds. It allows for a TV to be placed under the bed and then come out and rise at the foot of the bed when it’s time to watch. It’s an excellent solution when you want to keep the walls clean and give the ultimate “wow” favors. It is friendly to retro environments as it simply is installed under the bed. The biggest disadvantage is cost. Expect to pay 25k for the device plus install and the TV.

– Ceiling Drop – Ceiling Drops are easy to understand. It simply allows a TV to be placed in a ceiling and have it flip down when needed. If you’ve been in an SUV or Van with a drop down screen, you’re familiar with the idea. Like the screen in vehicles, the biggest disadvantage is that it can be easily seen even though it is flush with the ceiling. It is also not inexpensive and requires attic access or a new construction/remodel environment. But, these are ideal in rooms with limited wall space or rooms with large windows that we often find in Naples beach homes with rooms overlooking the water.

We at Gamma Tech Services strive to be very designer friendly and often times a TV simply doesn’t fit into the design or blocks a beautiful view of the Gulf. If you’re looking for an Audio Video company that understands the value in keeping technology hidden when needed, give us a call. We are SWFL’s go to choice for Interior Designers.

Small Speakers = Small Sound

We have a love hate relationship with Bose. On the positive, they have helped to guide the charge on the “home theater” and encourage people to spend a little bit extra for speakers. On the negative, they developed a line of speakers that are mostly far over promised and gimmicky. One of their most popular is their small Jewel speakers. Which brings us to this fact:

Small Speakers = Small or Poor Sound

That’s all there is to it. There’s no magic to it. The reality is there is no way to fool physics and physics tells us that larger objects produce lower sounds. But this doesn’t change the fascination with people and small speakers.

Thankfully there is a solution. The solution is to combine larger speakers with smaller speakers or a subwoofer with smaller speakers. This is Bose’s model and for the most part it works. Except they have taken the size of their speakers a little too far. The result is it’s very hard to hear people speaking. If you’ve ever had a surround sound system that was hard to hear the vocals, it was probably a Bose.

The best approach is to use speakers that are slightly larger and have a lower crossover. The crossover is the frequency that the smaller speakers stop playing and let the bigger speakers or subwoofer take over. On the flip side, it is the highest frequency that the subwoofer will play up to. Typically, most subwoofers hit their prime between 25 and 80 hertz. Ideally therefore, you’d like to find speakers that play from 80 hertz up to your highest frequency, 20,000 hertz. With that you cover the entire frequency band and make sure that you don’t miss any of the action.

This is the formula that we apply and why our systems are so much more pleasing to the ear. The result is audio that allows you to actually hear what is being said.

Going back to Bose. Their Jewel speakers bottom out at 280hz and their sub kicks in at 100hz. The result is 180hz of completely lost frequency response between 100hz and 280hz. The worst part is that it’s in these frequencies that most male voices fall into. The result is audio that is very hard to discern what is being said.

If you’re struggling to hear the words on your TV or surround sound system, give us a call. You’ll be surprised to hear just how much you’ve been missing by not having a professionally designed system.

Losing an Employee? Take 3 Easy Steps to Limit the Loss of your Data

When it comes time to let an employee go, there are quite a few stresses that come into play. One of those can and should be the data in the business. Reality is there is no sure fire way to protect your data from malicious intent, but here are 3 steps you can take to limit the loss and ease of destruction.

1. Change your Passwords: Never use the same password across multiple accounts at the business. But do make use of a password logging tool. Companies like LastPass and others offer solutions that assist when you need to “change the locks” on your passwords. It can serve as a list of accounts and passwords that need changed (see item 3) and can also reduce production loss for the rest of the team. Be careful though to always use a very secure password for the master password that is at least 12 characters long, but preferably 20 or more.

2. Backup your data. Unfortunately it is not uncommon to see an employee maliciously destroy company data upon their dismal. The best and only way to protect against this is backing up your data to a cloud based environment. This limits physical destruction as well. If you didn’t already have enough reasons to backup your data, well there’s another one. Remember if this does ever happen to you, you can and should call the police to report the incident. It is illegal to delete files for malicious reasons.
https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/1030

3. Have a dismissal guide. A dismissal guide is basically a reverse of the steps you take when bringing an employee on board. The easiest way to form one is to write it when you hire a new employee. As you provide access to different logins, softwares, VPNs, etc mark down these items and use it as a check list of things to “undo” in the event of letting an employee go. You certainly don’t want to forget to change a certain password or receive back a piece of technology with important data. Don’t forget to consider data that might be harmful in the hands of your competitors.

At Gamma Tech Services we seek to provide protection for our Managed Services clients when they lose an employee. If you let us know in advance, we can be sure to assist with these processes and ensure that your data is as protected as possible.

Point that Somewhere Else!

No one likes finger pointing. It’s a pain for the customer and typically it makes the people doing the pointing look bad too. Reality is that it’s going to happen despite our best efforts, but there are a couple things you can do to reduce it.

1. Choose a company that offers a variety of services. If there is the option for a “one stop shop”, then go for it. Otherwise, attempt to find a person or company that can manage the multiple vendors required to complete the task.
2. If you find a company you like working with, ask them for referrals and companies/people they like working with. This helps in two ways. You’ll know you are getting a reputable referral but also both parties will seek to not blame each other for any issues. The referring company won’t want to look foolish for recommending a poor company, and the company that earned the referral want to point fingers at the company that brought them in.
3. Do some research of your own on the project. It’s important to trust whoever you are working with, especially if it’s technology related, but sometimes when finger pointing is happening, you have to serve as the judge. If you have done some research on the topic, you’ll have some better “wisdom” on who’s to blame.

At Gamma Tech Services, we take every possible step to eliminate finger pointing. We start by offering a large range of services in house that in most cases would require multiple companies, and we have a strong relationship with strategic partners that we work along side. The result is a happier customer that doesn’t have to deal with finger pointing when problems arise.

Wait… Don’t Sign

As a business owner, we understand just how busy you can be. Often times you have to be everything to everyone and more than likely fill many roles. The reality is it is overwhelming at times. But some items in business require you to slow down.  One of those is contracts.

Technology vendors like Gamma Tech Services are always battling the ever changing nature of technology.  If there is a way to provide some guarantee for us, we are all for it.  Contracts are one way that this can be accomplished, but they aren’t always a good deal for the one signing them.

What most business owners don’t realize is that the contract is negotiable and often can be removed completely.  Often if it can’t be removed, it can be used for leverage for lower pricing for a longer commitment.  When you sign the contract, understand that you are stuck with that company for the full length of the contract or pay severe penalties.  Below we have listed the contracts that most businesses are signing and how to ensure you get the best deal.

 

  • Internet (Comcast)
    • Normal Term: 3 Years
    • Negotiate: 1 Year
    • Details:  Comcast Business Class Internet sales reps will try to get you to sign a 3 year contract.  This is easily moved down to a 1 Year.  They will tell you that with a 3 year you can get lower pricing, but the offer is not worth it, and with competition finally entering the market in SWFL through Fiber providers such as Summit Broadband, you don’t want to find out you are stuck with Comcast 2 years from now.
  • Phone Services
    • Normal Term: 3 Years
    • Negotiate: No Contract
    • Details: Most phone services will negotiate their contracts.  We have seen them negotiate in two ways.  One is through lower pricing for a longer term and the second is for a short or sometimes even no contract.  With companies like Comcast, it is a little bit more difficult to negotiate but smaller companies are more lenient.  We find that phone systems are in the middle of great change and reality is you don’t want to be stuck with a phone company that is not providing the service you need.  Be especially weary of VoIP companies.  Remember that with VoIP your phones run over your network and if your network is poor, your phones will be as well.  How does the phone company handle these issues when they happen and will they just point their fingers at your network?  With our product, GT Voice, we don’t even ask for a contract and if we are your IT vendor, there is no finger pointing.
  • IT Managed Services
    • Normal Term: 1 Year
    • Negotiate: 1 Year with Cancelling Fees
    • Details:  IT Managed Services can be a little tricky.  From our prospective, we want to make sure the business is not going to take advantage of us by paying us for 1 month and then cancelling.  We also have significant start up costs that come into play.  Your mileage will vary, but we find that negotiating for a contract with “a way out” is the best model here.  It’s not wise to sign a longer contract in exchange for lower pricing.  Remember, you are buying a service and not a product.  Unlike a product, you don’t have anyway to truly guarantee the level of service will be maintained and having a long contract will only serve as a temptation for low quality service.  We have seen it many times, and the results are not good.
  • Printer Lease
    • Normal Term: 1 Year
    • Negotiate: Up to 3 Years
    • Details:  Your printer lease is a good item to negotiate lower pricing in exchange for a longer term.  Printer technology doesn’t change much and we find that if the company you are leasing from has been in business for a while and has a good reputation, they will continue to provide good or at least adequate services when needed.  In the end it’s the printer that you are leasing and lower pricing can really add up if you print large quantities.
  • Security Monitoring
    • Normal Term: 1 Year
    • Negotiate: Up to 3 Years
    • Details: Security companies are built for subsidizing installation costs in exchange for monitoring contracts.  If you are thinking you want your security system monitored, and you should, then you have little to lose and much to gain.  Negotiate for a longer term, up to 3 years, and get the installation of the actual system as low as possible.  In the end you’ll find that you can save quite a bit.
  • Merchant Services (Credit Card Machines)
    • Normal Term: 1 to 3 Years
    • Negotiate: No Contract, or a smart contract.
    • Details:  Merchant Services companies are notorious for shady business practices.  They promise 1.6% rates and when your bill comes you find out that most of your charges came in at 4% since they were “business” cards.  The moral of the story?  Keep them honest by avoiding the contract when possible, but be strategic.  Sometimes these companies will offer savings on the their terminals in exchange for a contract.  What most small businesses don’t realize is that you can have several merchant services accounts. This means that if you decide you no longer like your current company, you can “switch” by no longer using the old company to process the cards.  Be careful though, as some contracts require a high monthly payment or a minimum processing fee that might take away this option.

Next time you are presented with a contract, stop and ensure you can’t make any changes to the contract before you sign.  It might save you thousands in the end.  Our customers who are a part of our IT Managed Services can and should involve us in any of these negotiations so that we can ensure you get the best bang for you buck combined with flexibility in the the future.

Time for a New TV? Manufacturers Think So!

When’s the best time to buy a TV?  The answer truly depends on what kind of buyer you are, but regardless of the type of buyer you are, summer is probably the right answer.  Why Summer?  Summer is when manufactures get the old out and bring in the new.  More accurately it’s right about now.  Late Spring and early Summer. This is great news for the shopper that is looking for a great deal and it’s also great news for the shopper who likes to have the latest and greatest.

For the value shopper, you’ll find that you can buy “last year’s” model for a huge savings.  Our go-to TV for our customers has been Samsung’s 7150 series TVs.  They offer excellent motion clarity and color reproduction in a very thin design, but they are most definitely not inexpensive.  But, in the last month these TVs have been anywhere between 25% to 50% off!  That’s an incredible deal.  Quite often, you might be able to afford a TV that has a picture quality that exceeds that of the “new” models simply because it is a step up from the line that would fit your budget if the discount didn’t exist.  With TVs, newer isn’t always better and quite often, you get what you pay for… unless you are buying a premium model that has been discounted for the next premium model to follow it.

Prefer to have the latest and greatest?  Well now is a good time for you as well as “next year’s” models are being released to replace the current models.  Often you’ll find that the pricing on these new models isn’t as bad as you might think.  Sure they will be cheaper with time, especially this time next year, but just like buying a new car, the best way to enjoy the new TV for the longest period is to buy it when it is just coming out.  You’ll also find that warranty repairs and parts will be easier to find since the TV is expected to be manufactured for the rest of the year.  And if you prefer to always have the latest TV, you’ll find that you can flip the TV you purchase today many months from now and still have the most current TV model available.  You might be surprised what you can get for it.  Like cars, this is never a smart move in the long run, but if you always want the latest, this is the best way to get it done without completely breaking the bank.

So if you are thinking of getting a TV in the near future, now is probably the right time.  4K has finally become affordable and as we prepare to wash out last year’s models, you’ll find some excellent deals or maybe you can splurge and get a new Super Ultra High Definition TV from Samsung for their 2015 line up.

Be Mobile with VoIP

Many people often ask us what is the true value of VoIP?  After all, what was wrong with traditional phone service that VoIP came in as its replacement.  The simple answer is that there wasn’t anything really wrong with traditional phone service, but as we become more mobile and less tied to a physical location, a new standard had to emerge.  That standard is VoIP.  VoIP allows us to use a phone that simply needs an Internet connection and regardless of its location, can make a call and act as if it is a part of the same location.  This has huge benefits for mobile sales people or mobile techs.  For us at Gamma Tech, we have both and we therefore very much enjoy the mobility it offers.  It also allows for businesses with multiple locations to act as if they are one without the headaches that this would be with traditional phone service.

For us, launching GT Voice has been an interesting and long process, but in the end, we are VERY excited by the many features that we can bring to our customers.  More than anything, we are excited to have direct control over this and provide an excellent level of service to our customers.  It’s an exciting time in technology as a whole, but we are just beginning to see all that the Internet can do for us, and VoIP is definitely a huge benefactor of its growth.