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Emerging Sound Systems in Our Every Day Lives

 

Playing our Music with Ease

According to Wikipedia, sound is a vibration that propagates as a typically audible mechanical wave of pressure and displacement, through a transmission medium such as air or water. It has two main system of measuring it, which includes frequency and decibels. Frequency is responsible for the quality of sound we hear while the decibels measure the ‘loudness’ of the sound. Humans are able to hear audio sounds within the range of from 20 Hz (hertz) to 20 KHz (kilohertz) but respond differently to each of the different frequencies. Humans are more sensitive to the 2 kHz – 4 kHz frequency range than any other frequencies.

cd-158817_640When sound is not useful, it can be categorised as noise but when useful, we can have it in conversations, lectures, trainings, songs, speeches and other various forms. When we listen to people who are near us physically, the concept of sound is easy to grasp but when we have to transmit sounds to people across a distance or when we have to listen to a sound at a time different from when it was generated, then the type of sound equipment required to be used begins to change. Sound system is the name used to designate speakers, amplifiers and music sources, the choice of the system depends on the desired area to install it and the application it is intended for.

Sound systems usually go through four (4) stages, these include

  1. Sound Input
  2. Mixing Effects
  3. Amplification
  4. Sound Output

shiftdigitalsolutions.wordpress.com MicrophoneDifferent equipments are used at each of the different stages with some serving more than one of such functions. For both casual and amateur users, output devices or equipments are usually of greater interest to them. Some of these equipments include speakers, headsets, wireless sound players and other equipments that produce the final sound required to hear our songs, podcast, video, news, headsets and lectures. These serve various purposes depending on what they are needed for and the application for which it is to be deployed.

The choice of a sound system at any point in time is determined by the purpose for which the sound system is required. For example, when we need a sound for outdoor use, we will be looking at equipments that are different from the types that will be used indoor. The study, of the design, installation and utilisation of sound systems is a vast area of science that involves acoustics. Such designs aim to control echoes and feedbacks of sounds to enhance hearing pleasure. For an average Joe, his interest will mostly be on speakers for their homes, headsets for their mobile devices and wireless (Bluetooth) sound players. The manufacturers of these equipments are a another major factor to consider, Sony Corporation is one of such major sound equipment manufacturers that is a household name synonymous with quality sounds. Bose Corporation, Focal and Kenwood are some of the other major players in the industry, but they are not the only ones in the business, new players keep springing up daily with quality equipments that compete and sometimes outperform the major players in clarity, sound-noise (S/N) ration and cost. Playing music from an SD card, connecting with your mobile devices using Bluetooth, listening to online radios, podcast and mp4 players has never been easier as it has become today. Size is another major factor that has change today, time was when loud sounds could only be produced by very big speakers, but now-a-days, technology has made it possible for devices that are a very small fraction of such devices to produce better quality sounds, higher decibels and clearer stereo sounds.

shiftdigitalsolutions.wordpress.com SpeakersA measure of the quality of a speaker system is the speaker’s ability to accurately reproduce the sound frequencies that it receives with a clear output sound. When speakers come in pairs, they are able produce stereo sounds and transmit audio on two completely separate channels. This means the right and left speakers transmit audio on two completely independent channels.

Speakers are either active or passive. Active speakers are speakers that amplify the sound inputs they receive and usually have a power supply while passive speakers do not have internal amplification systems. Since these speakers don’t amplify the audio signal, a high level of audio input is required which can be achieve with an audio amplifier. Stereo systems generally make audio sounds more natural with the two speaker system, while surround systems may include four to seven speakers (plus a subwoofer) to create an even more realistic experience.

turntable-1337986_640Development in technology has also had its impact in the sound and audio industry. The quality of sound has continued to improve, the audio clarity keeps getting better, buffer and sub woofer also produce sounds in such a way that today’s audio sound more natural than it has ever been. Looking back at the audio engineering journey, one cannot help but be impressed with the progress made so far. The changes have mostly been driven by the rising demand for more technological sophistication in the production of audio based product for the everyday user. These devices have altered the way we listen to our audio sound systems. We now have wireless equipments that do not need to be physically connected to any player in order to hear sounds from them. We have wireless speakers, headsets and players. We also have cloud systems that make it possible to play songs direct from an internet radio. Pandora, spotify and Google Play Music All Access are the major players who take advantage of the cloud technology and stream music directly. Consumers have now begun to expect the best when they invest a lot of money in acquiring such equipments. The era of only playing songs from a headset or speaker physically connected to a phone, DVD, portable player, radio, walkman, iPod, mp3 player and radios is fading out, the age of having wireless headsets, speakers and players is now on us. We can virtually have a transmitting sound system set up within minutes using smart mobile devices as a transmitting station and wireless devices as receivers. Most of these connections are done over Bluetooth or wifi connections. Portable devices can now be carried along with you on trips to play your favourite podcast, favourite songs and trainings anywhere and on the go. You can also listen to news, live shows and weather forecast from sources online.

Some devices presently come with voice commands, with Google Home and Amazon Echo leading the pack in this venture. Whatever device you finally decide to buy, you should appreciate how far the industry has grown to get to the level where it provides a high level of enjoyment and entertainment.

Electronic Security Systems for Homes

 

Home Electronic Security System is the use of electronic and technological devices as part of an overall security system for time keeping, surveillance, access control and barriers in our homes. They are designed to work on operate on three basic principles:

  1. Detection
  2. Delay
  3. Response

bodyworn-794102_640Every home security should be designed with the intention that the detection of an intrusion and a subsequent response by a security force is less than the time it takes for damage or compromise of assets to occur. Although its use leads to complacency and can create a false sense of security, it has the enormous advantages of been capable of providing a 247 protection without going on break, unemotional and not intimidated by the identity, reputation and familiarity of the persons it intends to screen. To achieve the objectives of our home security system, appropriate devices have to be used. A lot of times, the devices will need to be combined with others to get the desired security level. Some of the devices have to be manned while others can work without human intervention. Some other devices have to be located in remote areas where human presence is limited or restricted.

CCTV in remote locationsWith advancement in technology, new gadgets are being developed which help in enhancing security of our homes. The different types of electronic security devices are access control products, alarms, buzzers, CCTV, metal detectors, motion detectors, air teasers, stun guns, personal alarms, sirens etc. Electronic security devices must have an appropriate sensitivity level that will allow detection but is not triggered unnecessarily. Before selecting any electronic security device it is important to do an appropriate survey of the area to be secured and how to integrate it with the overall security of your city. Security devices can be grouped into detection, surveillance, access control, barriers, locks and communication systems.

wall-safe-1044168_640Home security devices are products used for our own safety, security and protection of our valuables and surroundings. Entry-level systems typically include a couple of door and window sensors, a motion detector while comprehensive system can include door locks, garage door openers, indoor and outdoor surveillance cameras, lights, sirens, smoke/CO detectors, water sensors, and more. You can also set rules to have the lights turn on when motion is detected, have your doors unlock when a smoke alarm goes off, and have a camera begin recording when a sensor is triggered and they do more than keep you and your family safe and secure, most importantly they give you peace of mind

How to Know what TV Box to Buy

Things To Look Out For Before Bringing Out Your Wallet to Buy a TV Box

You may have probably noticed the trends in the growth of the television industry in your lifetime. Depending on your age, you may have seen the (Cathode Ray Tube) CRT tube when its picture quality was just black and white, to the migration to color TV with limited numbers of colors, then there was plasma TV, LCD TVs and LED TVs. While the plasma TVs was an energy consumer, the LEDs TVs uses much lower energy consumption. With the growth of the internet and lots more people getting so used to using their mobile devices on the go, TV viewership has began to witness a decline. More people multitask now-a-days by viewing their TV and browsing at the same time and even watching videos on the internet. In order not to lose their customers, the TV industry has responded by creating the SMART TV. Smarts TVs are as smart as their names suggest, they are smart enough to allow their viewers watch traditional TV programs, surf the internet, watch TV programs online, watch YouTube, play games, chat, check mails, install TV software’s to watch programs and shows. Smart TVs also allow you rent movies, share contents with friends and family, it is a nice all-in-one device to have in the home, but smart TVs are expensive. A Samsung UN40J6200 40-Inch Full HD 1080p for example will set you back by more than $400.

40-Inch Full HD 1080p Samsung Smart TV UN40J6200
Samsung Smart TV

If you already have a good TV and weren’t already thinking of changing it, yet you want to explore the benefits of a SMART TV, then I have good news for you. There is no need to change your TV right away, TV box is the answer. If you have not read our article on what TV boxes are, you can check here for it. Before deciding on a TV box to use, the following are some of the things you should consider;

  1. Technical Specification
  2. Picture Quality and Display Resolutions
  3. Kodi Preinstalled
  4. Auxiliary Features
  5. Ease of use and Navigation
  6. Cost

Technical Specification

For the technical savvy people, this is where they check first. This is where the backbone of the system is located. This talks about the processor speed, operating system, display  hardware, etc. The processor speed is perhaps the most important feature of any computer device, this can almost singlehandedly determine how well the TV box will perform. Faster processor speed allows the TV box to display pictures quickly and properly, reduce freezing of the system, faster apps loading, quicker installation of apps, better user interface layout and good gaming console experience. You should therefore pay close attention to the processor speed when making a buying decision.

Effects of processor type TV Box

Another important technical specification is the operating systems. The operating system is what utilises the physical resources of the TV box and uses same to achieve the best benefits for the user. It is the operating system that analyses what goes into and from the boxes, analyses the inputs, does the complex computing and sends signals to the display outputs. Newer versions of operating systems are better able to handle complex instructions, with each recent one improving on the previous one and thereby requiring faster processing system. You must therefore ensure that the operating system of your TV box is loaded on a processor that can handle it and also accepts an upgrade when needed. The operating system also determines what store you can load or buy your applications from. Apple TV uses apps store, Android TV uses Google playstore while Amazon Fire TV has its own way of installations.

Memory is another important technical specification you should also not overlook. TV boxes as in all digital devices have two types of memories, the ROM and the RAM. If you want more functionality from your device, you should be paying close attention to your memory size. The larger the memory size, the more apps you can install, the more functions you can demand from your box especially when you want your TV box to multitask such as recording a video when you are watching a particular programs or if you are an ardent gamer, ensuring your console response to quick succession of commands.

Picture Quality or Display Resolution

The amount of details that a picture displays on a TV screen determines the picture quality. Each image on the screen has a number of dots that combine to create the image that we see. The number of these dots on a given space is what determines the quality of that image. Simply put, the display resolution or display modes of a digital television, computer monitor or display device is the number of distinct pixels in each dimension that can be displayed. Every new technology tries to improve on the quality of image deployed. TV boxes just like their TV counterpart are able to measure their image quality using standard measurement. It is usually quoted as width × height, with the units in pixels: for example, “1024 × 768” means the width is 1024 pixels and the height is 768 pixels. Standard measurements presently in use according to Wikipedia are presented below in the order of increasing picture quality:

  • Standard-definition television (SDTV):
    • 480i (NTSC-compatible digital standard employing two interlaced fields of 243 lines each)
    • 576i (PAL-compatible digital standard employing two interlaced fields of 288 lines each)
  • Enhanced-definition television (EDTV):
    • 480p (720 × 480 progressive scan)
    • 576p (720 × 576 progressive scan)
  • High-definition television (HDTV):
    • HD (1280 × 720 progressive scan)
    • Full HDi (1920 × 1080 split into two interlaced fields of 540 lines)
    • Full HD (1920 × 1080 progressive scan)
  • Ultra-high-definition television (UHDTV):
    • 4K UHD (3840 × 2160 progressive scan)
    • True 4K (4096 × 2160)

Kodi Preinstalled

Kodi previously called XMBC is widely acclaimed by a lot of online TV users as the king of TV software. For someone who wants to stream content to his TV no other software does it better than Kodi. It comes with a robust, friendly user interface, support for loads of streaming formats and services. Kodi also allow you to stream video and music files over a local network with options to install various plug-ins to stream from other sources including Amazon Prime Instant Video, Spotify and YouTube.

 Kudi is a free and open source media player and entertainment center that can be installed on a variety of platforms and operating sytems including Windows, macOS, Linux, XBox, IOS and Android. Some TV boxes come preinstalled with Kodi, there is an argument however about the legality of using Kodi already installed on TV boxes, many of these boxes add plug-ins that are able to open copyrighted stations and contents. It is important to know that having such boxes can expose you to litigations from the authorities who continuously try to protect intellectual property by clamping down seriously on such infringements. If you do not want to risk being on the wrong side of the law when you purchase a TV box, you can opt to install Kodi yourself so that you do not install the offensive plug-ins that can expose you to litigations.

Even if you do not have Kodi, there are paid and open source alternatives to Kodi that you can have installed. Some of these alternatives include Plex, Emby, OSMC and Butter Project among others.

Auxiliary Features

These are features that are good to have but do not really affect the performance of the system nor necessary in determining the performance of the system. Some of these include the presence of a DVR that allows it to record programs while you are away, capability to accept voice commands on the remote control or just a regular remote control system. Size can also fall into this category. Some devices come in boxes that are only slightly bigger than a cigarette box while some others come in sticks that are about the same size as a flash drive.

User Interface and Ease of Use

Any steaming player worth its salt should as a minimum be able to play videos very well, what may really differentiate them will be how easy it is to use them. You want a TV box with straight forward navigation, robust search features and a wide variety of content. For the technically savvy guys, going through a challenging user interface on any device constitute a sort of fun for them, but not so for the average Tom or Nancy, who simply wants to enjoy his or her device without going through a steep learning course. Ease of installation, quick and simple setup and how we are able to navigate through the contents becomes a major consideration in such a situation. An ideal installation setup will one in which the user does the connection, switches it on and the systems auto runs itself up to start up. Some devices require you to configure the remote control, pair it with the TV box before you can begin to use the remote control to manipulate them and set up an account. This can be a challenge for a lot of people, however, these steps are usually simple to understand and instructions on how to go about the setting up of such systems are available.

Cost

The price of these boxes is probably the single most important feature in the minds of prospective buyers who want to be sure that they are getting a bargain for what they are paying for in order to enjoy the cost benefits of their purchases. Every cost variance has to be justified by the feature that is offered by each of the boxes before a buyer can make a buying decision. Some of these boxes can be as low as $15 while others can go as high as $150. If you are just an average user, some of the low cost ones will be perfectly able to meet your needs. But as your demand on the resources of the system begins to increase, so will the amount you have to pay. You may want to gauge wisely what your real needs are before bringing out your wallet.

Tired Of Heavy House Chores?

Delegate Some Responsibilities to Your Robots

Since the middle of the last century, process automation has been on the increase, while industries have benefited a lot from its usage, not much has been achieved at the domestic end. Lot of manual labour have been replaced with machines that know exactly what to do and when to then. Their precise nature had resulted in more efficient products and services. The process automation industry has continued to grow since then, resulting in the development of robots.

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The closest a lot of people have to robots playing any roles in the home has been from movies, unfortunately, most movies tend to portray robots as electronic devices that start up as good guys under control but eventually become the bad guys who go out of control before been destroyed just before inflicting a damage on the world. Away from movies, robots have been deployed in a lot of very useful roles.

The technological development of this branch of science started in the 1950s and is today a matured technology that is already assisting humans in the manufacturing, space, military, engineering and transportation sectors. There have been a lot of fear that robots were taking over the roles of human in the manufacturing industry but that has been countered with the significantly reduction in the previously high injuries and accidents of workers, time spent in production and manufacturing defects. The automotive industry were among the first to appreciate the role robots could play in their sector has since resulted in more cars made with much better precise welding and almost zero tolerances at a rate than could ever be achieved by humans.

Electronic manufacturing industries have also began to appreciate the use of robots in the production of electronic circuit boards which is the main components of our computers, TVS, music players, home theatres, phones and other electronic devices.

The healthcare sector has also not be left behind in this development. There have been lot of successful examples of precise, minimally invasive surgery performed with the assistants of robots. In some of these cases, the operations have been performed remotely with the doctor operating from as far as hundreds of kilometres away from the patient’s bed. Robots have made it possible for surgeons to perform micro cuts and operations that were hitherto beyond the scope of human ability.

Robot assisting as doctors,

Their overall impact has been that of better efficiency, fewer errors, lower wastages, more productivity and better products. Robots have also been deployed in hazardous areas to perform certain operations on behalf of humans in areas that are not accessible.

One sector that is however coming late to the party is the use of robots in the home. The responsibility and convenience of running a home can be tiring, tedious, overwhelming and difficult. The role of housekeeping can leave us fagged out at the end of each day and make us wonder if the 24hrs in a day are really enough for us. Humans have however learnt to share some of these roles over the years with their spouses, children, relations and employed domestic staffs. Most of these activities in the home are however routine and can be programmed to be done by a robot.

Robots as toys for children

Whether it is house cleaning, cooking, dish washing, gardening, changing diapers or babysitting, the work involved in house chores are enormous and usually more challenging especially when kids begin to show up in the home. Babies by their very nature like a lot of attention, tendering and care, wouldn’t it be nice if we could delegate some tendering responsibilities to a caring robots while we dash out to do some shopping, attend a meeting, cater for other aspects of the home, cook, wash dishes, clean up the home and perform whatever chores we may have to do? Would we not be happy if the robots took over roles in the home beyond just babysitting? I wonder if there is any mother who would not be happy to have a robot that prepares a lunch box for our kids. While these responsibilities may be too farfetched at the moment for a robot, they have already starting to play various roles already. In the next decade, we’re like to see the robots increasingly begin to impacts our lives as they will seamlessly become part of our everyday lives. Simple robots forms are already performing various roles in our lives. Roomba, an iRobot vacuum cleaner is a good example of one of such robots which can be used to automatically clean homes. Robots will be made to play roles of toys, social partners, personal robots and assistants. Another robot called Pepper made by the guys from Aldebaran Robotics, is a good example of a humanoid robot companion. Designed in a human form, Pepper is able to assist in making certain choices, detect human facial expressions, kindly, endearing and communicates with people. Pepper can adapt its behaviour depending on its perception of a person’s mood. More than 140 SoftBank Mobile stores in Japan use Pepper as a new way of welcoming, informing and amusing their customers and has also been adopted in a lot of Japanese homes as a house companion. The challenge, however, is having robots that can understand human emotions and react to them constructively.

The use of robots in the home should not be confused with home automation. Home automation is the automation of the control of the lighting, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and security, home appliances like our washers, dryers, ovens, refrigerators, freezers and laundry. Domestic robots on the other hand perform these roles by physically initiating such processes the same way a human would do it. Domestic robots are basically programmable computers integrated with electrically powered machines with capability to perform household chores. Depending on the type, they typically have some capacity for motion which allows them move around or operate other devices.   They have to be pre programmed to perform their task while advanced systems use neural networks and artificial intelligence (AI) with capability to learn their roles over a period of time after performing them repeatedly. The robots can be delegated certain roles to play in the homes, the same way a governess can be delegated certain roles in the home, freeing us to perform other duties. They can be asked to clean our windows, mow our lawns, clear gutters, turn on your coffee maker, monitor and feed our pets at stipulated times.

Imagine having a robot that ensures all your appliances are put off at night after you have slept off on the couch while watching a movie, lock up all the doors at night while you are already in bed, turning off the gas when are away, put out a fire as soon as they start before becoming an inferno and call 911 in an emergency. Robots can also be made to handle your waste management. Some robots may or may not be remotely controlled. Some can have cameras, microphones, sensors and speakers installed that enables them to interact with people, monitor homes for security, get the dogs off the couch and also become toys for your kids. Using robots as part of our domestic staffs can reduce our workload; make life easier and more convenient. It wouldn’t matter if you are around or not, your home would still run efficiently.

With these benefits, robots will continue to infiltrate American homes, taking over annoying household chores and freeing up users’ time. Of course, not everything in a household can be done by robots, at least not yet. For example, robots have however not learnt how to have sex yet we still have to depend on fellow humans to do that. However, even that can be contested because lots of vibrators and sex machines exist that have taken over the role of men and some women have sworn that they achieve better orgasm with them. Other than that, the role can be limited to the following areas at the moment.

Limitations of Robots as Lovers

Security

Security agencies have been using robots to enhance security on a larger scale. This is one area where a home can easily benefit from the use of robots. When used as a form of security, you can be assured of better reliability and efficiency because as robots, they do not suffer from fatigue after working long hours and they work dispassionately since they do not have friends to grant favours to. They treat every situation the same way. The robots could be installed with advanced security cameras, wifi connectivity, motion sensors, night vision and lot of other features. By integrating into the overall security plan of your home, they can help to detect, deter and respond to security breaches. Robots can monitor the house for long hours on end even at night. You can also use your security robots to send out commands to your dog.

Lighting is one of the most basic forms of security. Robots can be made to be in charge of switching on/off lights as the need arises. They can also add a sort of randomness to the control of such lights thereby deterring and preventing would be intruders. Security robots can serve as a part of an integrated physical home security. They can be used in detection, surveillance, access control, security cameras and basic fire fighting.

Social Robots

These robots are able to perform some levels of interaction and communication with humans. They have the ability to engage humans in entertaining, educative and informative manner. Social robots can be utilised in reducing the loneliness in the homes of single people, children and aged people. They are able to keep the company of the people they are with in a manner that however cannot replace that of humans but at best similar to pets.

Social robots can be used in this manner to engage children, by telling them bedtime stories, have discussions with children, be care givers to both children and the aged. The robots can be made to run simple errands, pick up objects for them and be generally useful. Some also can assist kids with their school homework or simply remind them to do their homework. Countries around the world with a shrinking youth population and more elderly people because of improvement in health care are being faced with a new dilemma of catering for their elderly people and senior citizens. Japan in particular is grappling with this problem and with the rate we are going, it will not be long before we also get faced with that problem if we are not even there yet. The number of people who provide such care to the aged has not increased in the same proportion as number of aging people. Japan however has taken steps to address the situation and has started adopting the use of carebots to address the situation. Carebots are robots specifically designed to assist elderly people. Some of these robots can help the elderly by getting them food, turning the lights on and off, some can even help carry the elderly from a bed to a wheel chair and vice versa. Such nursing robots are companion robots that assist in keeping the company of lonely people. Psychologists have over the years argued that social isolation is a serious health risk, which is why lots of kids require validation from their peers. The elderly also suffer a lot from social isolation and loneliness at the later part of their lives, when their list of friends begins to run thin.

Social robots can also help remind patients and the elderly to take their medication at the prescribed time, meet an appointment, eat, exercise and do any action that can improve their well being. The overly sensitive aged people can enjoy some sense of dignity when they know that they are not overly dependent on another human. This is usually a cause of resentment between the caregivers and the care takers. If you have ever provided some level of care to the aged, you would know that they can try your patience to no end, asking endless questions. Caregivers sometimes lose their patience in such a situation, but not our dear robots. Robots have the STEEL to withstand such a barge of pressure. Ask them the same question over and over again, they will keep answering you. Their companionship is different from what a fellow human offers but it is extremely useful. Some robots are also able to tell a joke, sing a song, welcome and entertain your guest.

Househelp Robots

Household chores are a major area where lots of people require some form of assistance especially if robots are able to provide it. Help in any form will be appreciated so that time can be spared for other aspects of our lives. Robots can help in the following aspects of our lives by:

  • Helping with our laundry
  • Loading and offloading the dishwashers
  • Starting preparatory work for cooking meals (e.g., chopping vegetables)
  • Cleaning the kitchen
  • Cleaning the toilets and bathtubs
  • Picking up objects (e.g., toys, newspaper, clothes, sneakers) from the floor and moving them to their proper places
  • Help with moving heavy objects

Robots are now able to perform the duties of a vacuum cleaner on their own while you face other duties, some others are able to mow the lawn and clean your gutters.

Having these machines do these chores for us allow us spend more time with our kids, husband, boyfriends and friends. They can help you minimize your daily work and improve your quality of life.

Advents of TV boxes as Alternatives to Smart TVs

Why Viewers are Now Turning to TV Boxes

As I sat watching the latest episode of the Games of Thrones using my Amazon Fire Stick, which is just like a USB dongle, I could not help but imagine how much the television industry had grown. Here was I using a small device that could pass for a flash drive, connected to the internet to watch my favourite TV program. A couple of years ago, this was clearly not possible, this was a disruptive technology. With cable TV, I would have had to have an outdoor antenna or dish to enjoy the program I had watched. But Amazon Fire Stick isn’t the only internet TV in the market, they have a fierce competitor in the Roku Stick also and Set boxes do not only come in sticks. Majority of them actually come in boxes and even the Amazon Fire Stick has a brother called the Amazon Fire TV. Amazon Fire TV, Amazon Fire Stick, Apple TV, Roku TV and other Android TV boxes are the latest inventions that are giving the Cable TV a run for their money.

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Cable TV or Cable networks as it is popularly called, is a television system used to deliver cable channels using signals via satellite links, most of which are usually encrypted. For many years, cable TV had been the main way of having quality television programs delivered to the homes of millions of TV subscribers all over the world, via radio frequency (RF). Cable TV had over the years satisfied our entertainment, movies, news and sporting needs by providing hundreds of channels to over 60 million homes.

The advent of cable TV was a major breakthrough in the delivery of television services to areas that were hitherto considered inaccessible by owners of TV contents. It came to solve the problem of people placing antennas on high mountains and running long signal cables to their homes to enable them watch TV programs thereby suffering from signal degradation and attenuation of signals as a result of the distance between the receiving antennas and the TV waiting to receive such signals. This also resulted in an unprecedented increase in the number of TV owners that could be reached at any single time. Improvements in the use of cable TV technology also solved another problem associated with picture quality, younger generation will probably not appreciate the fact that there was a time when the sounds and picture on a TV show did not synchronise. It was not uncommon then to see the lips moving and the associated sounds coming some time after. Pictures have gone through different stages, from black and white, through slurry pictures to High Definition pictures of 1080p with some new devices now offering 4k picture quality.

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The quality of content delivered to subscribers has also improved significantly over the years. TV subscribers are now able to watch live shows, live matches, reality TVs, award nights, breaking news, fashion shows, movie series, seasonal movies, sporting events and even religious programs. People no longer have to wait for some days before getting news content delivered to them.

Some opponents of cable TV and TV in general, have argued that Cable TV has made it easier for TV to become a tool for mass programming and hypnosis over the years and that it has been used to spread messages of love, propaganda as well as hate. Some also argue that some narcissitics who want to also enjoy some moment of fame commit crimes in order to be shown on TV. In spite of these insinuations, there is no doubt that the TV has truly shaped our lives and thinking. The media has subconsciously directed the trends in our culture, fashion and in a lot of other ways. TV personalities and celebrities are particularly known to lead in areas of fashion by what they wear and with cable TV able to reach places far away, these effects are felt even outside the shores of the country.

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Cable TV has also allowed subscribers to follow up with high profile court cases with viewers able to immediately know the outcome of such cases within minutes of such verdicts.

Cable TV has also facilitated the possibility of long distance training and education. People have learnt recipes that they ordinarily did not know about and had no access to. Lot of cultures have been transported across continents allowing people see a world different from theirs as if they were there.

TV programs like Games of Thrones, American Idols, boxing matches, cartoon network, Disney world and millions of other interesting TV contents have reached the homes of millions of people because of Cable TV. Some Cable TVS also now offer internet access as part of the services they deliver to their viewers. The service that Cable TV provides comes at a cost. Home Box Office (HBO) was the first to offer pay per view and not long after followed by others. Prices usually ranged from basic to premium prices with certain programs priced at premium prices. Because of the large number of people who watch such events, advertisement rates go as high as 20 million dollars for a commercial of 15 seconds. Such content is paid for by viewers by subscribing for such services at a fee charged by the cable TV owners depending on the type of program, the importance of the program and popularity of the program. Some programs are sometimes also given away free, unfortunately, those programs are those that they perceive to be of low value or those they are trying to introduce to the viewers in order to get some traction before asking for subscription.

In an era when lots of consumers wants to reduce the amount of bills they have to pay monthly, some are left wondering if Cable TV subscription is really worth the value it brings. Some also argue that the financial challenges of this century and with the use of the internet taking a large chunk of their time, if the time left to watch the TV is proportional to what they pay for it. Today’s connected device-toting viewers are changing the rules of broadcast media, forcing show designers and advertisers to rethink how they work. Some cable networks have responded by making adjustment and providing internet services as part of their overall package.

Is your Cable TV Subscription making you broke? Do you want an alternative to your cable tv?

Another challenge with cable TV is that you watch what is on schedule at a particular time and only one of such programs can be watched at a time. This sometimes means that couples have to fight for the remote between themselves, between them and their children and between siblings.

In spites of these short comings, cable TV has shown unusual resilience and has continued to be a major part of our lives. With recent advancement in technology, cable TV has suddenly found itself having a new competitor from a source that had previously not shown any sign of being a competitor, not only in terms of competing for the viewing time of viewers but also competitors in terms of television content delivery to the homes of previously monopolised subscribers. Viewers usually have less time to view their TVs because of their devices. Internet streaming using Smart TV, TV boxes, Internet TV and Set boxes have began to steal up spaces for themselves and stealing a part of the market share of previously cable TV territories. The extra feature that these boxes also offer alongside the TV part now means that the threat could not be taken lightly. These TV boxes compared with the cable TV decoders are usually very small and only slightly bigger than a match box and require no extra hardware as would a cable TV that requires having a satellite dish or antenna mounted outdoor. The package is usually just made of the TV box, the HDMI cable, remote control, manual and the power cable. Set up is also very easy and can be done by anyone who has the most basic internet/ IT skills. By just connecting the box to the TV, connecting to the internet, the service is almost ready. No longer do you have to wait for the cable network to send in their staff to set it up or troubleshoot your faulty system, it is more or less a Do It Yourself (DIY) system. Its advent has allowed viewers to believe they can become free from the shackles of cable TV, but are they really free from it? The internet has disrupted the television industry, but not television itself. Lot of people are now “Cord Cutting”. Cord cutting means ditching the traditional satellite, cable and Freeview packages (the “cords”) and switching to television over the web.

The main benefits of cord cutting are that you’re then free to watch what you like when you like, and indeed where you like, often without a big monthly subscription hanging over your head.

Alternative TV content to Cable TV, internet TV

So, What the Heck is TV Box?

A TV box is an electronic device that connects to the internet and allows users stream TV contents to their homes using their regular TV as their display as well as browse the internet instead of using cable TV network. TV boxes can be used to watch live TV shows, sports and also play games. TV boxes depending on their types can allow access to BBC iPlayer, Netflix and YouTube. They are basically able to transform a standard TV into a smart TV. A smart TV is able to perform all these functions in addition to their regular functions without the need of an external hardware like the TV box.

TV Steaming on the internet

Depending on the manufacturer or vendor, a TV boxes is able to offer alternative or similar contents to the cable TV network or sometimes the same contents. This benefit is what has made the leap very easy for lots of people. Televisions with HDMI ports can be connected directly with the boxes. My personal experience has been that I could continue to watch most of the programs I previously used to watch on my cable TV. Since the internet infrastructure already exist, the owners of TV boxes have very little extra cost to transfer to their subscribers, thereby resulting in dramatic reduction in subscription rate by as much as 30%. The boxes are also very portable and handy and I have found it literarily easy to take my TV programs with me to anywhere in the world, allowing me to continue watching my favourite TV shows even when on a business trip or go on holidays. With TV boxes, viewers have more control over what they want and when. People desperately want to know what happens to their favourite actors, but they want to know at a time that is best for them, not best for the network, and they want the world to know what their views about each programs are. Users can immediately begin to make comments about what they feel about what they are watching on social media on the go. TV boxes have made it possible for TVs to no longer be just cabinet-like devices, with scheduled programming, rather becoming cable, satellite and internet television (IPTV) with hundreds of channels that you can watch at your own time. TV boxes allow you pause, play and schedule your own convenient watching time without having to follow a strict program schedule of the network providers. Some even allow for free content alongside the paid ones. Amazon for example allows users view Amazon prime content if they previously have an account with them using Amazon Fire TV or Amazon Fire Stick.

Set boxes also have very good picture quality with 1080p (1920 x 1080) pixels usually a standard display with some offering 4k (4096) pixels, providing higher picture quality. The TVs and actual programs however also need to have the same picture quality to enjoy this feature.

Most of these boxes also have the provision for setting parental guidance which allows parent exercise extra control over what their kids watch. This does not however exempt kids from enjoying the small box because they also have programs (some free) for the kids. They are also games that the kids can play. This may mean that kids no longer need an extra console to play their games.

For those who are fans of fashion shows, cuisine recipes, travels and tours, there are lots of channels to choose from to satisfy your needs also. Of course you cannot miss out on entertainment, live shows, series, seasonal movies, soap operas, musicals, documentaries and even comedy, because they are also available in large quantities on these TV boxes.

Sports fans and followers are also not left out in this bouquet of content available on TV boxes. The internet is the natural home of instant sport news. With internet TV built on the internet, you are assured of news on the go. You can also easily follow the stock market and monitor financial news. TV boxes also how religious programs and activities. You can listen to your religious preachers from any religion and from any part of the world.

A number of TV boxes are available in the market with apple, Amazon, Roku and Google android TV leading the pack. The common denominator among them is that, they all require good internet connection, preferably a broadband to work properly and stream programs smoothly and stream programs smoothly without buffering.