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TheBolt

The official blog of Abt Electronics & Appliances

Archive for September, 2008

Hooray For Blu-ray

Monday, September 29th, 2008

The research firm DisplaySearch is predicting that worldwide sales of Blu-ray players will triple this year and double next year as prices fall, more titles get released in the Blu-ray format, and more people continue to purchase HDTVs. Blu-ray, for those of you who don’t know, is an optical disc format that enables recording, rewriting, and playback of high-definition (HD) video. These discs also have more than five times the storage capacity of traditional DVDs and can hold up to 25GB on a single-layer disc and 50GB on a dual-layer disc.

Sony Blu-ray BDPS350

Blu-ray players let you enjoy the full 1080p high-definition experience your HDTV was made to deliver. If you’ve been putting off buying a new Blu-ray player until prices dropped to an amount more in line with the cost of a conventional DVD player, your wait is finally over. Major manufacturers are now offering Blu-ray players for less than $300, including the Sony Blu-ray Disc Player (model BDPS350), the Samsung Black Blu-ray Player (model BDP1500), and the Panasonic Blu-ray Disc Player (model DMPBD30K).

Panasonic Blu-Ray Disc Player - DMPBD30K

All the major Hollywood studios are releasing their latest films on Blu-ray discs, including recent blockbusters like “Iron Man.” In addition, they are converting their back catalogs to the Blu-ray format, so now you can enjoy your favorite movies from the past like you’ve never seen them before—in brilliant high-definition.

Click here if you’d like to see all the Blu-ray players available at Abt. With “The Godfather Collection” just released on Blu-ray, getting a Blu-ray player now at a great price just might be an offer you can’t refuse.  —by Graham W.

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Track Your Abt GiftCard Balances Online

Friday, September 26th, 2008

Many of you are already familiar with Abt GiftCards. If you’re giving gifts to people who are hard to buy for, these are a great way to make sure the recipients get exactly what they want—and recently we’ve made some changes that make our GiftCards even more convenient to use.

Abt Gift Card

Now you can purchase and redeem both in-store and electronic gift cards (e-GiftCards) through our website. In addition, you can now check your GiftCard balances through our website. All you have to do is enter your card number and click “check balance.” Card numbers are conveniently located on the back of your in-store GiftCard or on your e-GiftCard e-mail.

With the holidays fast approaching, Abt GiftCards can help take some of the stress out of your shopping decisions. For all the information you need concerning Abt GiftCards, click here. —by Graham W.

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Google Unleashes Its Android To Battle The iPhone

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

For the past few months, much of the talk in the cell phone world has centered around Apple’s latest version of the iPhone and its hot new features. Established cell phone manufacturers have been doing their best to build their own versions to take on the iPhone, but now Google, that insatiable monster of the Internet, has entered the ring with its own creation.

T-Mobile Android G1 keyboard

Powered by Google’s Android software, the T-Mobile G1 features a 3-megapixel camera and a large color touchscreen that slides out to reveal a full keyboard, a feature missing on the iPhone. The huge benefit of the Android software is that it will give users easy access to a host of Google’s services, including Search, YouTube, and Gmail. Like the iPhone, the G1 also will run programs created by third-party developers, which will be offered at the Android Market store. Amazon’s MP3 store will be preloaded on the phone.

T-Mobile Android G1 with Apps.

The T-Mobile G1 also features Wi-Fi access, Bluetooth, and GPS navigation, and will run on high-speed 3G networks as well as older networks. It will be available at Abt on October 21 in black, white, and brown versions for $179 ($20 less than the iPhone) with a two-year T-Mobile contract. According to T-Mobile CTO Cole Brodman, there will also be a contract-free G1 available for $399, with buyers able to unlock the phone after 90 days.

Google’s co-founder Larry Page and Sergey Brin skated onstage wearing roller blades at the news conference in New York announcing the arrival of the G1. Whether they can skate off with huge profits from this iPhone adversary probably doesn’t worry Larry and Sergey too much, since they already have about a gazillion dollars to play with in their Mountain View, California fortress. —by Graham W.

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Apple MacBook Pro— Staff Favorite

Friday, September 19th, 2008

Hi, my name is Michael Dumong, and I have been in sales with Abt since August of 2007. Since I was a young child my family has shopped with Abt, and I have always been so impressed with the knowledge, expertise, and kindness of the Abt employees—that and the outstanding service has always kept our family coming back year after year. With the evolution and change that goes on throughout the store and our product selection, it’s hard to keep your hands off all the nice new gadgets that come in, which brings me to my favorite new product I recently purchased…

 

Apple MacBook Pro

This year I was in the market for a new computer, and after much research and thought, I decided to purchase the Apple 15-inch 2.4 GHz MacBook Pro. The decision was very hard at first, considering I had been a Windows/ PC user for so long, but the idea of owning an Apple computer was very intriguing. I mean, the thought of no viruses, no spyware, no frustration!?! I thought wow, that’s incredible! Not to mention the beautiful aesthetics of the laptop, between the classy stainless steel casing and the white luminescent keyboard, it was a very easy decision.

The scariest part was yet to come—transitioning from Windows to Mac. But little did I know, Apple makes it very easy with their migration assistant tool that literally takes all of your important data from your Windows machine and moves it right over to the Mac with a click of the mouse! Within less than an hour I was up and running with everything I needed. I am absolutely in love with my new Apple laptop and would highly recommend any of the MacBook line of computers.      —by Michael Dumong

 

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New Abt Electronic Billboard Flashes Tollway Drivers

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

People have mixed feelings about tollways. On the down side, there’s the constant construction and the crazy drivers—oh, and that thing about having to pay tolls. On the up side, you (usually) can get where you want to go much quicker than if you took the side streets.

Abt Electronic Billboard close-up

Abt is located near the I-294 tollway, which makes it convenient for customers from all over the Chicagoland area to visit our store. To keep our customers up to date—and to inform people who somehow have been kept in the dark about our store’s existence or location—we have constructed a new electronic billboard that faces the tollway. It provides the latest information on in-store special events and sales to people in the estimated 250,000 cars that pass by the sign’s location each day.

Abt Electronic Billboard far shot

“We decided to build an electronic billboard because we wanted the ability to quickly and easily change our messages,” said Abt building manager Bob Taylor. “With the construction on Milwaukee Avenue (where Abt is located) and the 294 tollway, this sign also gives us the chance to provide our customers with new directions to the store if necessary. We wanted to have a sign that’s on the cutting edge, like our store, and this electronic billboard fits the bill.”     —by Graham W.

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Abt Receives Circle of Excellence Award

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

We are proud to announce that Abt has been named a Gold Honoree winner in the ninth annual BizRate Circle of Excellence Awards. According to BizRate, Abt “is in the elite group of 53 online retailers that have met the rigid criteria set by BizRate for outstanding service from September 1, 2007 through August 15, 2008.”

BizRate gold award

BizRate receives millions of customer surveys that provide the basis for its Circle of Excellence Awards. These surveys show that Abt consistently achieved outstanding ratings in the following areas: Ease of Site Use, On-Time Delivery, Overall Satisfaction, Customer Support, Product Met Expectations, and Likely to Shop Again.

“It’s great to see that customers really appreciate all the hard work and extra attention that goes into making our website consumer friendly and a great place to shop,” said Abt company president Jon Abt. “We are honored to receive this award.” —by Graham W.

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TiVo HD Digital Video Recorder—Staff Favorite

Friday, September 12th, 2008

I’m Isaac Benjamin, and I started at Abt in December 1998 at the age of 22 in the small electronics department. It was a fun department with all young people that were easy to get along with, and I became very good friends with many of them. A few years later I met a cashier named Joy. After a few years of dating we got married and now have been happily married for over two years. This building is more than just a job. Every conversation I have outside of work somehow turns into an Abt conversation. Weird.

 

Anyway, I recently purchased a TiVo HD Digital Video Recorder at Abt, and I love it. Once you have one you can never go back to watching TV without a DVR. The install was simple. I just called Comcast and had them bring out two cable cards. Once set up, TiVo learns what you like to watch. You can also set up something called a “Season Pass.” That is when you add a show to record and it will record it every time it’s on.

 

 

TiVo DVR

TiVo has also added some new features that the original TiVo didn’t have. It can link to other TiVos in your home so you can watch the shows from other rooms and also stream pictures and music from a computer in your house. It’s like a whole media center in one box. I would recommend a TiVo to anyone who has little time to watch their favorite shows when they originally air.                 by Isaac Benjamin

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MK Sound Available Exclusively At Abt

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

CEDIA EXPO 2008 wrapped up just a few days ago in Denver at the Colorado Convention Center, and the show stealer turned out to be loudspeaker manufacturer MK Sound. CEDIA (Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association) is the No. 1 show in the residential electronic systems industry, and many of the estimated 25,000 attendees were thrilled to see MK Sound had returned as one of the more than 500 exhibitors.

MK Sound speakers

Abt was recently appointed exclusive U.S. distributor for MK Sound consumer products, and store president Mike Abt reports that “many people came up to our booth at CEDIA and told us that MK coming back was the most exciting thing at the show. MK Sound has a cult following with custom installers and industry people, and they said they haven’t been able to replace MK and were very glad to see us again. Sound designers used MK speakers when mixing the movies Iron Man, Star Wars, and King Kong, to name a few.

“We had the three MK Sound company owners from Denmark working the booth and a sound room at the Sheraton Suites. Everyone who went to hear the products was blown away. They sound a bit better because of the better crossovers (a means of separating frequencies so they can be rendered most efficiently). They also looked better with a laser cut cabinet and nice round edges on many models. MK is back with fewer models but the core is all there.”

MK Sound booth at CEDIA

Asger Bak, co-owner of MK Sound, explained his company’s relationship with Abt. “We met with Mike Abt at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show in January and were immediately impressed by the scope and seriousness of their operation, which still manages to retain the atmosphere and sensibility of a dedicated family business. The fact that 90% of their current turnover is repeat or referred clients speaks volumes for their integrity.”

Mike Abt added: “This new relationship will benefit both companies and provide U.S. retailers with easy access to MK Sound’s fine products through our knowledgeable and experienced sales force. We look forward to a close and long-standing relationship.”

Click here to see the exclusive line of MK Sound speakers available at Abt. —by Graham W.

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Apple Displays Its Newest Harvest

Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

Earlier today Apple held its “Let’s Rock” event in San Francisco to unveil the latest incarnations of its iPods for the enjoyment of Apple fanboys and girls throughout the world. As Apple CEO Steve Jobs first took the stage, a slide on the huge screen behind him read, “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated,” a reference to recent rumors about his health. He seemed healthy and energetic, though, despite looking as thin as the new iPods.

New 2008 iPod nanos

The new iPod nanos

Here’s some of the new Apple product info in handy bite-size bullet-point form (all existing inventory iPods are on sale at Abt):

  • The iPod nano has gone on a diet and now looks more like its original, taller self, with curved edges like the iPhone and several new colors, including orange, yellow, and purple.
  • The iPod Touch now features a chrome rim, with a tapered back like the iPhone. It’s also $100 cheaper than before ($229 for the 8GB, $299 for the 16GB, and $399 for the 32GB).
  • The iPod Classic has grown from 80GB to 120GB for the same price ($249).
  • The iPod Shuffle remains basically the same (1GB and 2GB models) but is available in four new hues.
  • New premium in-ear headphones will soon be available, featuring dual drivers (a woofer and a tweeter) and a built-in remote and mic for only $79.
  • iTunes 8 was unleashed today and features “Genius technology,” which lets you automatically create playlists from songs in your music library with a single click. The iTunes store also is now selling TV shows in high-definition, including shows from NBC, which had a recent falling-out with Apple.

Want some more detailed details? Steve Jobs referred to the iPod Touch as “the funnest iPod ever,” and it now comes with an integrated volume control on the side, a speaker, and Nike+ iPod built in. The iPod nanos are priced at $149 for the 8GB and $199 for the 16GB, with both models now sporting a voice recorder and a “shake to shuffle” feature that shuffles your music when you gently shake your iPod.

For those of you with environmental concerns, the new nanos and touches are arsenic-free, BFR-free, mercury-free, PVC-free, and are highly recyclable. According to Jobs, these are the “cleanest, most toxic free” iPods Apple has ever made, so now you can enjoy your music and videos without worrying about destroying planet Earth.

—by Graham W.

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Panasonic 42" Plasma TV—Staff Favorite

Thursday, September 4th, 2008

Hi, I’m Brian English, and I’ve worked at Abt for three years in the internet sales department. I’m a lifelong Cubs fan and have enjoyed plenty of “friendly” discussions with Carl Prouty (click here to see Carl’s own blog entry) over which Chicago baseball team is better. I do not believe in the supposed Cubs curse involving a goat, so I’m looking forward to watching my team in the World Series this October on my new Panasonic TH42PX80U plasma television.

Panasonic TH42PX80U plasma TV

I purchased the Panasonic recently at Abt, mostly because the recent drops in prices on flat panel televisions made it the perfect time to get a new second TV for the bedroom. At a distance of 12 feet away I am amazed at the picture quality of this set. When hooked up properly to my HD Comcast cable box, the TV provides a detailed and crystal clear picture.

Blu-ray high-def movies take the picture quality to a whole new level. You almost forget that you’re watching TV. I don’t currently have it hooked up to a stereo system, and for a bedroom TV, the sound quality is sufficient. The addition of a surround sound system would make this a truly amazing experience.      by Brian English

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