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TheBolt

The official blog of Abt Electronics & Appliances

Archive for March, 2012

NARTA Comes to Chicago

Friday, March 30th, 2012

Recently, an Australian/New Zealand buying group NARTA visited Chicago. They came to get a better perspective of how retailers operate in the U.S.  Meeting with Abt representatives, Jon Abt and Steve Weiner, NARTA was able to pick the brains and discover just how Abt specifically, handles such a large volume for only one independantly owned location.  After touring our store, they visited Publican Quality Meats for a private dinner.

It was a treat meeting the representatives from NARTA and all of us here at Abt hope they enjoyed their visit!

 Start from the right : Cameron Trainor (JB Hi Fi), Kay Spencer (Narta), Lionel Lee (Bing Lee), Graeme Cunningham (Betta Electrical), Stephen Weiner (Abt), Sherry Corley, John Bongard (Narta), Can(John) Dincer (Arcelik), Essa Dincer, Michael Jackson (Narta) and Peter Drummond (Appliance Connexion Limited), Jon Abt (Abt).

 

 

 

 

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Star Trek Fiction Comes Into Reality

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Summer is here, products from January’s CES 2012 are slowly hitting the market and the Electronic Entertainment Expo is just around the corner.  Technology is changing faster and faster with each passing day.  Some of the creative technological wonders that were once a dream, are now becomeing a reality.

Case in point: over 20 years ago the popular TV Show Star Trek: the Next Generation introduced a wonderful, new technology to both the crew of the USS Enterprise and millions of viewers.  It was a hand-held electronic device that responded to users via touchscreen.  Called a “Personal Access Display Device” or, “PADD” for short (see where I’m going with this?) crew members can check status reports, take notes and even give themselves reminders.

PADD in Star Trek: The Next Generation/Deep Space 9

Since the release of Apple’s iPad (no relation to PADD) Star Trek fans have been giddy with the similarities, many hoping space exploration is just around the corner.  In recognition of the similarities the iPad and Star Trek’s PADD have, the Apple store now has a Star Trek: PADD application turning your iPad into what the PADD looked like on Star Trek.  Unfortunately, no warp speed yet.

Who would have thought 20 years ago that a fictional, super advanced technology in the world of sci-fi would become an everyday item for consumers today?  What items in the history of sci-fi would you like to see a reality?

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Google Play is…

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

As consumers, we are forced to accept “new” products as the latest and greatest but the truth is, a few hardware upgrades and higher resolution don’t exactly constitute true innovation. I digress, but seriously, remember when the iPad first surfaced? It was something we had never seen before, it changed the way we do business, communicate, and interact with the world around us. Lately, it seems like manufacturers are just trying to pump out new models to turn more profit rather than push the limits and create something truly inspirational and socially-cataclysmic. For those of your Google-oids, I apologize but this new “Google Play” is just that, a technically new product that is a combination of smoke and mirrors surrounding a bunch of features we are already familiar with.

I know what you’re saying, “But it’s Google!”—I get it; their name on a product has some level of clout but is that enough? Shouldn’t be. Let’s take a closer look at Google Play and see how the sum of the parts does not equal innovation.

Content

Movies, music, books and apps—seems simple enough.  “450,000 apps, millions of songs and books, and thousands of movies” says Google but it’s the quality of content is what we care about. What’s “thousands of movies” mean if 200 of them begin with “Earnest goes to the…” I guess we’ll have to see what kind of licensing Google has pulled off. There is also a selection of free and paid content. Are these 450,000 apps the same we have seen for years? Hopefully some original content will improve the experience.  All in all, we can’t fault Google here, in a world where content is king we have to appreciate the diverse selection they bring to the table.

Just like Netflix, Pandora, and any other media providers with decent programmers, Google Play provides users with media recommendation based on perceived preferences. Nothing special here—just another feature that we have seen a billion times before. However, it would be nice if they made recommendations based of what we like AND what we have already experienced. It would be nice to be recommended only content I have never seen/listened to before.

Sharing

Anyone surprised that the only social network Google Play can share on is Google+? This monopolistic approach to online social sharing is really disheartening and is a factor that could definitely push a lot of users away, but who knows, maybe this integration will be the Chipetto that turns Google+ into a real boy in the social network world. Of course, there are other options to share via text message and email, but those are so last year…right? One interesting feature is the ability to share individual “listens” with friends. Friends get one free listen one of your music and then have the option to purchase the content from Google Play.

Cross Platform/Cloud Compatibility

This is something I think we will be seeing more and more of as operating systems become increasingly cross-functional. Content is stored in the cloud and is accessible on a variety of devices. Google Play users can download content on their android device on the post-work commute (at a stoplight of course) and access it later on their PC. Again, this feature isn’t ground breaking by any means, but is nice if you don’t believe that the cloud is really Skynet monitoring all your media usage. This all fine and dandy, but what if I want to enjoy my content offline? Users can “pin” the content to a device for hours of offline enjoyment.

Nothing is more of a hassle then starting a new season of Dexter and then having to pack up and leave mid kill-scene to head to the dentist. Just like we saw on the Playstation Vita, Google Play users can pause content on once device and continue on another. Again, nothing original but definitely a nice addition.

Bottom line is that although this is just a combination of features found elsewhere with the big G on it, Google Play has some potential to convert a few iTunes users, and it definitely provides a solid media hub for Android users. The question is, as it starts to take off will we see some true invention and game-changing moves from the developers at Google Play? I hope so.

What do you think? Are you an Android user who jumped for joy when a common-ground media hub was released for your device? What do you think would make Google Play a serious innovator in the online media content market? Maybe you’re critical of the whole thing like me, either way we would love to hear what you think.

 

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5 Smartphone Apps That Save Lives

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

5  Mobile Apps To Keep You Safe

Using a cell phone while driving, or even walking, is a major issue among smart-phone users. Truth is, it can wait—but since most users ignore the serious danger this habit presents, here are a few apps to help keep you and those around you safe.

1.  Awareness (Essency)

Awareness is a wonderful little app that utilized the microphone in your phone to transmit outside noise through your headphones. You control the threshold and volume of the sound so you can enjoy your tunes while remaining aware (get it?) of your surroundings. Never worry about getting smacked by an ice cream truck on your afternoon jog again.

2. Type n Walk (CGactive LLC)

 

We have all been there—trying to coordinate the nights events via text while walking through the house and then– *SMACK*– your big toe meets the corner of the coffee table. No? That’s just me?   What if the background of the text window could somehow magically replicate the surroundings? Type n Walk uses the on-board camera to see what that beautiful 5 inch touch screen is blocking, and displays it as the background of your texts. No more running into walls, street signs, or street performers for that matter. Airheads, space cadets, and communication junkies alike can benefit from this app.

3. Pocket First Aid & CPR (The American Heart Association & Jive Media) 

Be prepared to be the hero you always wanted to be with the Pocket First Aid & CPR app. If this app can help Dan Woolley survive 65 hours under a pile of rubble, it can help you. This app features 34 videos and 46 HD illustrations to walk you through adult, child, and infant choking and CPR scenarios.  The app also comes complete with an enhanced medial profile section so you can access and share insurance, allergy, doctor, and other information in times of need.

4. PulsePoint (PulsePoint Foundation) 

A social network for life savers—PulsePoint alerts registered CPR certified users of nearby cardiac emergencies using location-based services. Although the app has current limited availability, the future life-saving potential is impressive. The app also directs citizens to the exact location of the closes public access Automated External Defibrillator (AED), as users can photograph and geo-tag locations throughout the city.

5. iTriage (Healthagen LLC) 

Created by two ER doctors, iTriage answers all of your medical questions. Search symptoms, learn about potential causes, and find the most appropriate facility or doctor. A must have mommy-app, iTriage can provide crucial information like ER wait times, pre-registration for select facilities, one-touch access to emergency hotlines, map and directions, and everything else you need to ensure the safety of those around you.

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Sonos’ Secret Android Feature

Monday, March 26th, 2012

Those familiar with Sonos’ line of wireless hi-fi music players can attest to the freedom and enjoyment that come along with owning a Sonos music system, but did you know that you could also extend your Wi-Fi network for even more control by connecting your Android phone to your Sonos network?

The release of Sonos Software 3.7 marked a major update to the Sonos Controllers for Mac and PC, but the team over at Sonos also through in a little extra surprise for you Android lovers. Users can connect their Android device to SonosNet, Sonos’ wireless mesh home network. No longer will your musical enjoyment be handicapped by the limited reach of your home Wi-Fi. Let your music free and bask in full, rich, clear, Sonos sound from anywhere in your location by following the simple steps below.

Don’t have a Sonos yet? Check out Abt’s selection of Sonos wireless music systems!

Using your Android Controller for Sonos, navigate to the device’s settings.

  1. Select “Advanced Settings”
  2. Select “Connect to SonosNet”
  3. Press “Next”
  4. Toggle “Allow Connection” setting to “yes”
  5. Select “Done”

Note: This feature does not allow users to directly stream music from the Android device to the Sonos player. This feature also requires Android 2.1 and up, Sonos software 3.7, and a Sonos controller for Android 3.7.

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Bundle Up & Save On Free Extras!

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

Everyone loves free things.  Free food samples at the grocery store, free SWAG at convention centers, and free comic books on Free Comic Book Day (some of us REALLY like that one).  Now at Abt, you can get some great, free products whenever you purchase select bundles from top-of-the-line manufacturers.  Visit our website and search through our Bundles promotion and find just what you are looking for!

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Take DirecTV Anywhere With the DirecTV iPad App

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

DirecTV introduced its new iPad App version 1.5.0 that will enable users to stream on-demand programming outside the home.  However, streaming content outside the home through the app is limited to on-demand content from partners HBO, Starz, Encore, Cinemax, and it will not include live channels.

To use the new outside-your-house application, users can go to the “Watch on iPad” tab located at the bottom right of the iPad app and select Movies, TV Shows or Networks to start watching their favorite programming.  To watch live programming (inside the home only) users click on the Live TV tab.  Users can also view programs they bean watching on the iPad and resume viewing where they left off.  DirecTV said the feature will let subscribers turn their iPads into a portable TV to watch favorite channels in any room of the house.

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Abt.com: A Great Online Shopping Experience

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Being interactive in social media is extremely important to get your name out there, especially if you are a retail store who does a lot of business online.  A website that specializes in compiling retail sales and deals called, joeshopping.com released a list recently of “The 40 Online Stores You Need to Follow on Twitter”.  We are pleased to announce that our very own @abtelectronics was mentioned.

Joeshopping.com states, “From iPads to Blu-ray players, the Abt gang shares a love of electronics with their Twitter followers as they chat about the latest innovations in technology. You’ll also regularly find deals spotlighted and plenty of gift card giveaways.”  Abt.com has been available to consumers online for over the last 10 years.  We have embraced social media sites, like Facebook and Twitter as a way to better hear from the customer as well as inform our audience of our specials, sales and topical news.  Follow us on Twitter (@abtelectronics) or Abt’s Facebook to always be aware of sales and events.

We would like to thank joeshopping.com for the shout out and will continue to offer consumers our unique brand of customer service and hope to stay strong in eCommerce for years to come.

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Marine Audio at Abt Electronics!

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Yesterday marked the first day of spring, which means summer is right around the corner. Time at the beach, ice cream, and water parks all remind us of summer, but how about boating? Anyone who has ever owned, or been on, a boat knows the feeling. The waves glisten from the sun, the air is crisp and cool as it comes off the water, and you can feel the subtle tingle of the mist coming from the sides of the boat. Maybe there is a water sports enthusiast behind the boat or maybe you’re just docked in a cove enjoying the company of good friends, but either way, it’s a memorable and completely summer experience. Is there anything that could make it better, more fun? How about your own personal soundtrack coming out of a custom marine audio system in clear, full, and powerful sound to accentuate the experience? With the line of 2012 marine radios, speakers, subwoofers, and amplifiers at Abt, we can turn any boat ride into an unforgettable experience.

From simple upgrades to custom installations, the marine audio team at Abt can fit your watercraft with the perfect system. Increase the loudness, bass, and fidelity of the sound on your boat so the tandem water skiers 60 feet behind your boat can rock out with you. Whether you want “water pounding” bass, or just some extra power, Abt’s marine audio department has it all.

Not only do we cover speakers, but stereos and CD players as well. Complete iPod/iPhone integration means being able to safely store and play your favorite music and playlists during all of your summertime marine adventures.

So come in and let our team of experts complete your summertime boating experience with a complete multimedia system, or just a couple of upgrades to really make the most of your time on the water.

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Get excited about the 2012 Samsung Smart TVs!

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

With the exception of bringing those chicken and bean burritos from Paula Dean’s kitchen to your lap, Samsung’s line of 2012 Smart TVs do just about everything else. Their stunning resolution and wealth of innovative smart features will turn any room into the smartest room in the house capable of entertaining and educating your kids, and keeping you in shape at the same time.

Let’s start with the bread and butter of a good television—the picture. Full 1080p (1920×1080) resolution and sky-high refresh rates display a picture so crystal clear, it may even be better than the real thing. Samsung’s “Wide Color Enhancer Plus” ensures that you see the complete range of colors as the director intended you too. Images are full and vibrant, but remain natural.

Ok, so we have the incredible picture, but what about that pesky motion blur? Not a problem, Samsung’s series of panel processing advancements has achieved a Clear Motion Rate (CMR) of 120, ensuring that each and every flawless image stays that way, no matter how fast it moves across the screen.

So it looks amazing…Don’t all Samsungs? Good point. However, the Smart TV functions on these bad boys take your experience to the next level.  The built-in Wi-Fi empowers you to stream the content you crave from providers like Hulu™, Vudu™, Youtube™, and Netflix™. You can find new addictions, and rediscover old ones with features that handpick content based on your likes.

Never again do you have to sit and watch The Bachelor alone (Ben & Jerry don’t count as “company”); Share the entire experience with complete Facebook and Twitter integration through Samsung Social TV.  Enjoy the benefits of a full web browser while you shop, chat, or even Skype. Thousands of applications can be explored and enjoyed with Samsung Apps and managed through Samsung’s intuitive Smart Hub.

Upload media (even from a mobile device) and keep the family up-to-date with message boards, real-time chat and calendars through Family Story, while entertainment and education are fused into Kids Story. Kid-friendly programming and engaging games will keep them learning, and more importantly, entertained.

Samsung alleviates that lazy-stigma from channel surfing with the new Fitness feature. You can maintain a healthy lifestyle by exercising at home with video on-demand service and even manage your workout history. Download the mobile “Exercise App” so you can track your progress and share your achievements with friends.

The AllShare™ Play feature connects your TV to any compatible device (like a PC), wirelessly allowing you to share movies, photos, music, and more. You can even access and share content when not at home using the breakthrough cloud technology.

Finally, the kicker, a Search All feature lets you quickly search for web content related to the program you’re watching, or access other features like VOD, Apps, and social networking services. Where was this movie filmed? How heavy is that Blue Whale? The answers are just a few clicks away. Users can even search through USB drives connected through ConnectShare for their own content.

Don’t miss out and order yours today!

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