For one… using an electrician or security company to run wires creates problems for the customer because those companies are not responsible for the usage of the technology going through those wires. Comcast, DIRECTV, and Verizon are. That's where the practical problems occur. After closing, the customer loves their new house and orders their cable/Internet package and expects the service provider to just "make it work".
Let us tell you a story referring to real life situations witnessed first-hand by a cable TV contractor meeting with a happy new homeowner:
When I get there, I do the walk through and get an idea where they want all their equipment. Usually, they have a new 42" flat screen sitting on the floor waiting for me to put it together. Then, the typical "I would like it installed over the fire place, please," or "Can you hang it on the wall over here?" Of course the conversation turns bad because I have to inform them that it won't work today, because they are not set up for that kind of install. It will be extra money and a separate visit just to see if it's possible to even do it (after the electrician post wires to an outlet for them). I always start shaking my head and think to myself "Oh no," when they bring up the speaker wire for surround sound.
So then we move over to the kitchen. "I would like a TV on the counter please". More bad news, Mr and Mrs. Happy New Homeowner. Since your house wasn't pre-wired, and because your house is on a slab, you can't have it there unless you want me to wrap a wire around the kitchen and staple it to the side of the cabinet and drape it along the top of your new counter top. If you prefer, I could cut a few holes in your nice new wall. If I haven’t been thrown out by this point, we move on to the internet conversation. "I would like the modem and router in my office, the hub in the basement, and the wireless in the living room.” Oh boy. Sorry. See, we need to hardwire all those devices together, and remember the problem in the kitchen? They have to be together in one room. Or we can come back another day to see if it's even possible. I need to check out the liabilities, talk to the boss, yadda, yadda, yadda. Oh yeah, it's going to cost more too.
We’re not off to a good start!
At this point I also bring up the things that they haven’t mentioned yet. Like the XBox live in the boy's room on the other side of the house. Since the wireless access is on the other side of the house, the connection will frequently be lost. It doesn’t have anything to do with the current service provider, but it does need the Internet. Same thing for the Blu-ray, Netflix and the Internet ready T.V.s.
Now wet do the install, get the equipment in, powered up and activated. All done, right? Nope, a quick flip through the channels shows a problem in the signal. Some recon work in the attic shows that all the wires are being crushed by the staples, and the cable wires are not shielded.
[Now it's a bad day for all of us]
Sorry sir. We need to replace all these wires to get the T.V.s to work right. Do you still remember the problem in the kitchen?
It isn’t the builder’s fault, or your fault. It’s the service provider’s fault. Or is it?
If you ask me.....it's a design problem. Builders wrestle with cost saving techniques all of the time and in some cases it has an affect on the customer after closing. The builder and design coordinator are counselors to the buyer looking out for their best interest during closing. This is where implementing "Smart Home Integration" comes into play....
Drive through any development 2 years after the last house was sold. Notice the wires ran all over the sides of the houses? How could Comcast, Fios or DIRECTV willingly run wires like that? They had no choice; it wasn't pre-wired to adapt to current and future technologies.
In some cases the builder may make it an option getting the following reaction from a buyer; "we don't need pre-wire in the kids room - she is only 4" or, "wireless Internet will handle everything so I will pass on the pre-wire". Well, I say your 4 year old will be in school before you know it, and she will need a PC with Internet access. She will also want to utilize gaming systems, Netflix and many other digital technology features. Why not be ready for it. Wire is very inexpensive; the house should be pre-wired for every option so that when it's needed.....it's already there. It's great for everyone involved. The houses always look clean, the customer has what they need and the installer's job is reasonable and cost effective. Adding structural wiring to a home during construction has been shown to increase retail values up to 125 percent of the cost compared to the exact home without the pre-wire.
Telecom/data/audio/video are no longer things that "some" people want, they are things that are needed throughout everyone's house. Every homebuyer should spend time with a structural wiring expert that is keenly aware of current and future digital technology advancements during the design process of a house. Implementing a "Smart" structural wiring program prior to or during construction is much more cost effective then trying to find work arounds to implement new technology once moved in. Most homebuyers have no idea how valuable a complete structural wiring package is until they need it after moving in or when new technology is introduced.
Meet with Smart Home Integration LLC today for a free consultation.
The short answer in my opinion is plasma, but let me try and explain the differences in all of them. They all put up a nice picture depending on the screen size, but can also have handicaps.
LCD is the most cost effective. It weighs less, and consumes less power than plasma. The picture is great if the screen size is less than 40 inches. Once you go 42 inches and higher, it’s a lot easier to notice the flaws. The color black on LCDs looks more like gray, and it doesn't have the sharpest or brightest picture compared to plasma. 'Motion lag' or 'ghosting' (a shadow or blur that appears during shows with a lot of fast paced motion, like sports) is much more common on larger LCDs. LCD's don't have a glass screen, so reflection problems are not as bad as plasmas. If you only need a small television, 22"-32", LCD is probably the best.
LED is a glorified LCD. They are much improved over LCDs with color, sharpness, and brightness. They also made some advancements with the 'ghosting' problems during high motion scenes. Overall, it’s a good television. Some of the 42-55"LED's that I've worked with can look just as good as a plasma, but being that they are still relatively new, they come at an ample cost.
Plasma is my top choice of television right now. The picture is great, regardless of screen size. The colors are brilliant, and unlike LCDs, the black is really black. It doesn't have high motion 'ghosting' problems, and the price is modest. However, it does have some flaws. First, it can give off some heat. If the plasma is in a smaller bedroom and you leave it on all night with the door closed, the room might feel a bit warmer when you wake up. They do draw more power than LCD's, so the electric bill might be a little higher. They are heavy. You’ll need help moving a 42" or bigger set. Some remotes can have trouble sending infrared signals past plasma televisions as well.
Three dimensional televisions look just as good as any other, even when they're not in 3D mode. The biggest problem I have with them are the glasses. If you have a party, only a few people get to enjoy the movie in 3D, and you need to be front and center of the screen for the best experience. When the television is on 3D mode, the viewers without glasses can only see a blurry picture. Motion sickness can also be a big problem for some people. I would recommend a lot of homework, and a few test runs at the store or showroom before making a 3D purchase.
Projection systems are the most cost effective solution to having a screen that’s bigger than 65". There have been some great advancements in HD projection technology, but they still have the most flaws of all. The biggest problem is the colors. It’s not easy to get a black image on a white screen. Any ambient light in the room will weaken the entire image quality. Installing a projector on a finished and/or sheet rocked ceiling would easily take an entire weekend. However, in a dark room with a nice audio system, an HD projector can bring an amazing experience to your home theater.
As far as brands go, I'm partial to LG for their overall bang for the buck, Panasonic for the cost effective bells and whistles, and Samsungs 8000 and 9000 series televisions for their overall quality.
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The most common problems are from the call center. It takes forever to get answered, and a few days to get a service tech to come out. They have improved with fielding calls and getting techs out quickly, but they're still not as good as Comcast. They require service contracts with high early termination fees, and their installers are paid by the hour, so the motivation to quickly resolve problems is lacking.
To sum it all up. Get Fios if it’s available in your area. You shouldn't be disappointed. If Fios isn't around yet, go with Comcast and wait until Fios comes around. You're going to pay more for Fios, and you may have to struggle with the call center, but in my opinion, it’s well worth it. Don't waste your time with DirecTV. If you need the NFL Ticket, get the bare bone programming along with the ticket, and have it installed next to the Fios, or Comcast box.