Monthly Archives: January 2017

Home Theater System for a High Definition Super Bowl

The annual Super Bowl is not only football’s big day, it is also one of the best excuses to have a viewing party.

For 2017, the Big Game will be held on Sunday, February 5th and broadcast on Fox and Fox Deportes TV. The broadcast of the game is scheduled to begin at 3:30pm PST/6:30pm EST on Sunday, February 5th, from NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. However, there will be several hours of pre-game TV programming.

Check your local TV, cable, or satellite provider for the programming available in your area. For 2017, the Super Bowl will be broadcast in 720p resolution.

In order to fully appreciate the Super Bowl, you need an HDTV and Home Theater System.To prepare for the best home-bound Super Bowl viewing experience, check out the following three setup tips:

Receiving the Game

Make sure your antenna, cable, or satellite box is functioning properly and that you will be able to receive the channel in your area that is broadcasting the Super Bowl. If you will be receiving the Super Bowl via an antenna and need to get one, check out our suggestions. For questions regarding Cable or Satellite, contact your local cable provider or satellite provider.

Watching the Game

If you want to get the best possible picture, an HDTV is your best viewing option. If you already have an HDTV, then you are all set, provided your HDTV has either an ATSC tuner, which is required for receiving over-the-air high definition television broadcast signals, or that you subscribe to HD-Cable or HD-Satellite service.

Also, make sure your cable and satellite service will provide access to the channel broadcasting the Super Bowl in high definition.

If you don’t own an HDTV and want to buy one in time for the Super Bowl, an LCD (or LED/LCD) flat panel set is the most affordable option available.

Sorry Plasma TV fans, these sets were discontinued back in 2014, but you may find one available on clearance or used from third parties.

If you have the opportunity to grab one, Plasma TVs do provide better natural motion response that LCD or LED/LCD TVs, which is great for sports viewing.

On the other hand, LCD TVs are available in screen sizes as large as 75-inches and perform well in a brightly-lit room. Check out our suggestions for 1080p LCD and LED/LCD Televisions 40-inches and Larger.

Also, although the Super Bowl may not be broadcast in 4K, your Super Bowl TV viewing experience may still be further enhanced on a 4K Ultra HD TV. These newer LED/LCD technology-based sets provide 4K upscaling capability, which will add more perceived detail from the HD broadcast signal, especially if you spring for one that is 65-inches or larger. Check out our suggestions for 4K Ultra HD TVs.

Another TV option that is available is OLED TV. So far, LG is your only brand source for these high-end sets. OLED TVs are offered in screen sizes ranging from 55 to 77-inches. The 55-inch sets come in both 1080p and 4K options. Also, while some have a traditional flat screen design, some feature a curved screen design.

However, be wary of Curved Screen TVs – They do look great but keep in mind that if you have a large group, the people sitting off to sides may not have a complete view of all the action.

Hearing the Game

To get the best sound experience for the Super Bowl, there are several ways to go, depending on your setup.

Option 1: If you are planning to receive the Super Bowl using an over-the-air antenna, which is connected to an HDTV with an ATSC tuner, then check to see if your HDTV has a Digital Optical Audio Output Connection. Also, if you have a surround sound system in your home theater setup, check to see if the receiver in your system also has a corresponding Digital Optical Audio Input connection. If so, then simply connect the digital audio output of the HDTV to the digital audio input of the home theater system, and you will experience the surround sound feed for the Super Bowl.

Option 2: On the other hand, if your HDTV does not have a Digital Optical Audio Output, but has a set of analog stereo outputs, then connect those outputs from your HDTV to your home theater system. If using this connection option, check to see if your home theater system a Dolby Prologic II or IIx setting option. If so, then you will still be able to extract a surround sound signal from the stereo input signal, although it is not as effective as the surround sound signal accessed by the Digital Optical Audio connection option.

Option 3: Another way to access audio that you may be able to take advantage of is Audio Return Channel. The feature utilizes the HDMI connection that you may already have between your TV and a home theater receiver (or HDMI-equipped sound bar) and can transfer the audio signal originating from the TV back to the home theater receiver without having to make a separate digital or analog audio connection from the TV to the home theater receiver. However, in order to take advantage of this option, both your TV and Home Theater Receiver/System or Sound Bar have to incorporate this feature. For more details, read my article on Audio Return Channel.

Option 4: If you subscribe to HD-Cable or HD-Satellite, then your cable or satellite box should have a Digital Optical Audio Output connection. If this is the case, then connect directly from the box to the Digital Audio Input Connection of your home theater system. You will now be able to access the surround sound signal from the high definition cable or satellite feed.

Option 5: If you have a home theater receiver that has HDMI audio access, and if your HD-Cable box or HD-Satellite Box has an HDMI output, then the best option would be to simply connect the HDMI output from your Cable or Satellite box to your home theater receiver and then connect the output of your home theater receiver to your HDTV. This simplifies the number of connections; you will be able to access both audio and video using a single connection from the cable or satellite box to the home theater receiver, and then to the HDTV.

If you don’t have a home theater system to complement your HDTV, consider an all-in-one home theater system. To find out what you need to know about these systems, check out my article: Home Theater – The Easy and Inexpensive Way. Then, check out some affordable all-in-one home theater packages that may provide the perfect option for hearing those Super Bowl bumps and grinds: Top Picks For Home Theater-in-a-Box Systems.

Also, if you aren’t interested in having extra speaker clutter – you can also take advantage of the more modest Sound Bar Option – check our suggestions in this audio product category.

The Video Projector Option

Another TV/Home Theater viewing option for the Super Bowl is to use a video projector. This option can deliver a huge screen size, which is great for a large group, but the setup requirements are different than that of a TV.

First, you need either a large screen or blank white wall.

Next, you need a video projector – However, if you are planning to use it in a room with that has some ambient light present (such as daylight viewing with just the drapes, blinds, or curtains drawn), you need a projector that can put out a lot of light. Fortunately, you may be in luck as a growing number of projectors these days can put out enough light for such conditions.

In terms of light output for use in a room that is not dark, consider a projector with a rated light output of 2,000 lumens or more – refer to a handy guide provided by Projector People.

For some inexpensive video projector suggestions, also check out my listing of Best Cheap Video Projectors.

TV Reception and Audio Considerations When Using a Video Projector

In addition to light output, you also have to consider how you are going to get the TV broadcast/cable/satellite signal to the projector. Since projectors don’t typically have built-in TV tuners, you need to connect a cable or satellite box to the projector using an HDMI connection.

Also, since most projectors do not have built-in speakers, and the ones that do are not that great, you need to connect either an analog or digital optical/coaxial audio output connection from your cable/satellite box to a home theater system, sound bar, or under-TV audio system.

More Game-watching Tips

If you are starting completely from scratch, and need to purchase and set up an HDTV (or video projector) and home theater system in time for the Super Bowl, be sure to check out Planning A Home Theater System.

Once you have your system all set-up and ready to go check out the useful THX Home Theater Tune-Up App for IOS and Android devices.

The Streaming Option

For those that will not be home, or are working, on the big game day, you will need to check streaming options. For 2017, the game is being broadcast by FOX. Check for their live streaming options at

There is no requirement that you also be cable or satellite subscriber in order get access to the stream – anyone with an internet connection will be able to watch the same (that means PCs, laptops, tablet, and smartphones, if it is available.

Home Theater Troubleshooting Tips

Home Theater Setup Frustrations

You’ve finished setting up your new home theater system and big-screen TV. You turn everything on and…nothing happens. Most consumers, including us “pros”, have moments like this. However, this doesn’t mean that it is time pull out the cell phone and dial tech support or a repair man just yet.

Before you grab the phone, there are some practical things you can do, and knowledge you can arm yourself with, that may get your system running, or determine what the actual problem is that needs repair.

Nothing Turns On

Check all power connections. If you have connected everything into a surge protector, make sure the surge protector itself is turned on and plugged into the wall. Believe it or not, this is one of most common reasons that home theater systems and/or televisions don’t power up the first time.

No TV Reception

Make sure your antenna, Cable, or Satellite box is connected correctly to your Television. If you have a standard Cable or Satellite box, make sure it is connected to the antenna/cable connection on your TV and that your TV is turned to channel 3 or 4 (depending on area).

If you have a High Definition Cable or Satellite box and an HDTV, make sure you have the box connected to your TV via HDMI, DVI, or Component Video Connections.

In addition, if have your HD Cable or Satellite video and audio outputs routed through a Home Theater Receiver to the TV, make sure your Home Theater Receiver is turned on and set to the appropriate input so that HD-Cable or Satellite signal is routed to the TV.

The Picture Quality is Poor

If the picture is grainy or snowy, this could be the result of an incomplete cable connection or bad cable. Try a different cable and see if the result is the same. If you are on Cable, your cable company usually provides free service to check your main cable line for any defects.

If using an antenna, change the position of the antenna to get better reception, or try a better antenna.

Another factor is watching analog signals on an HDTV.

Improper or No Color

First, check to see if the color is bad across all input sources. If so, make sure you have your TV’ color settings set to your preferences. If you don’t like fiddling around with the individual color and picture setting controls, most TVs offer up a series of presets that may have titles, such as Vivid, Cinema, Living Room, Day, Night, etc… that may work your specific needs. Also, once you select one of preset options, you can also tweak each one slightly to improve color, brightness, contrast, etc… further.

However, if everything looks good except, say, your DVD player, and it is connected to your TV via Component Video connections (which is composed of three cables – Red, Green, and Blue), make sure they are matched up correctly with the Component (Red, Green, and Blue) connections on your TV. This is a common mistake as it is sometimes hard to distinguish the Green and Blue connectors if the lighting in the connection area is dim.

The HDMI Connection Doesn’t Work

You have a DVD, Blu-ray Disc player, or other component with HDMI connected to an HDMI-equipped TV, but when you turn them on, you don’t get an image on the screen.

This occurs sometimes because the source and the TV are not communicating. A successful HDMI connection requires that the source component and TV be able to recognize each other. This is referred to as the “HDMI handshake”.

If the “handshake” doesn’t work, the HDCP (High-Bandwith Copy-Protection) encryption that is imbedded in the HDMI signal is not being recognized properly by one, or more, of the connected components. Sometimes, when two or more HDMI components are connected in a chain (such as media streamer or Blu-ray Disc player through an HDMI-enabled home theater receiver (or HDMI switcher) and then to the TV, this can cause interruption in the HDCP encryption signal.

The solution is usually figuring out a sequential turn-on procedure for your setup – in other words, does the sequence work best when you turn the TV on first, then the receiver or switcher, and then the source device – or vice versa, or something in-between?

If this solution does not work consistently – check for any announced firmware updates addressing “HDMI handshake” issues with your components.

For more tips on HDMI connection problems, check out my article: How To Troubleshoot HDMI Connection Problems

The Surround Sound Doesn’t Seem Right

The first thing to check: Is the DVD, TV program, or other programming source in surround sound? Next, check all speaker connections and make sure they are correct, according to the channel and polarity.

The next thing to check is how you have the Blu-ray Disc/DVD player, Cable, or Satellite box connected to your Home Theater Receiver. To access Dolby Digital/DTS surround sound, you need to have either HDMI, Digital Optical, Digital Coaxial, or 5.1 channel analog connection going from the source component to the Home Theater Receiver. Only these connections are able to transfer a Dolby Digital or DTS-encoded soundtrack.

It is also important to point out that the Dolby TrueHD/Atmos, and DTS-HD Master Audio/DTS:X surround sound formats, which are available on many Blu-ray Disc movies, can only be transferred via HDMI connection.

If you have RCA analog stereo cables connected from a DVD player, or other source component, connected to a Home Theater Receiver, the only way to access surround sound is with Dolby Prologic II, IIx, or DTS Neo:6 settings, if available.

These processing schemes extract surround sound from any two-channel audio source, including CDs, Cassette Tape, and Vinyl Records. When using this method with Blu-ray Discs/DVDs, it isn’t the same as a true Dolby Digital/DTS signal you would get from digital or 5.1 channel analog audio connections, but it is more immersive than a two-channel result.

Another thing to remember is that even with true surround sound material, surround sound is not present at all times. During periods of mainly dialog, most sound comes from the center speaker only, with ambient sounds coming from the rest of the speakers. As the action on the screen gets more complicated, such as explosions, crowds, etc… or when the music soundtrack becomes more a part of the film, you will notice more sound coming from the side and/or rear speakers.

Also, most Home Theater Receivers offer automatic speaker setup programs to balance the sound coming from your speakers. Some of the systems include: MCACC (Pioneer), YPAO (Yamaha), Audyssey (Used by several brands), AccuEQ Room Calibration (Onkyo)), Digital Cinema Auto Calibration (Sony), Anthem Room Correction (Anthem AV).

Although there are some variations how these systems operate, they all make use of a special provided microphone that is placed in the listening position and also plugs into the receiver. The receiver then generates test tones that are sent to each speaker that are, in turn, sent back to the receiver through the microphone. The receiver analyzes the test tones and can can set speaker distance, speaker size, and speaker channel level in relation to the listening position.

In addition to the above automatic speaker setup systems, you can always opt using the receivers manual speaker setup menu. Also, here are some reference articles that can aid in manually setting up correct speaker balance: How Do I Position My Loudspeakers and Subwoofer For My Home Theater System? and Correcting Low Center Channel Dialog. Also, if something still doesn’t sound right, you may even have a bad loudspeaker that could be causing the problem, check out How to Determine If You Have a Bad Loudspeaker

For a resource on how to get better sound for TV viewing, check out: How To Connect Your TV To An External Audio System.

A DVD Won’t Play, Skips, or Freezes Often

There could be several reasons for this. One reason is that some DVD players, especially ones made before the year 2000, have difficulty playing back recordable DVDs. If you are having trouble playing a homemade DVD, check the disc it was made on, if it is a format other than DVD-R, this could be the culprit.

However, if you also have trouble playing DVD-Rs, it could even be the brand of blank DVD-R used to make the DVD. There is no guarantee that a specific homemade DVD will play in all DVD players, but DVD-R’s should play on most of them. For more information on recordable DVD formats, check out my resource article: What Are The Recordable DVD Formats?

Another reason a DVD might not play at all, is that it may be the wrong region or made in the wrong video system. For more specifics on these issues check out my resource articles: DVD Region Codes and Who’s Your PAL?

Another factor that contributes to DVD skipping or freezing is the playing of rented DVDs. When you rent a DVD, you don’t know how it has been handled and it could be cracked or be full of greasy fingerprints that may cause some DVD players to mistrack the DVD.

Lastly, it is possible that the DVD player may be defective. If you suspect this, first try using a DVD player lens cleaner, and also, try cleaning the “problem” DVDs. If this does not improve DVD playback, then consider exchanging the DVD player for another one, if still under the exchange or warranty. However, take the “problem” DVDs with you to your dealer and see how they play on other DVD players in the store first to rule out any problem with the actual DVDs.

The DVD Recorder Won’t Allow  Recording of One Channel and Watching Another at the Same Time

Just as with a VCR, as long as you are not using a Cable TV or Satellite Box, you can watch one program on your TV, while recording another on your DVD Recorder. The reason you are unable to to do this when using a cable or satellite box, is that most cable and satellite boxes can only download one channel at a time through a single cable feed. In other words, the cable and satellite box determines what channel is sent down the rest of the path your VCR, DVD recorder, or Television. For more details on this, read my FAQ: Can I Watch One TV Program While Recording Another With a DVD Recorder?

The Turntable Volume is Very Low or Distorted

With renewed interest in vinyl records, many are not only dusting off their old records, but are attempting to reconnect their old turntables to their new home theater systems.

However, one issue to content with is that many newer Home Theater Receivers do not have dedicated phono turntable inputs. As a result, many consumers are trying to connect their turntables into the receiver’s AUX or other unused input.

This does not work due to the fact that the output voltage and impedance of the turntable cartridge is different than the audio outputs of CD players, VCRs, DVD players, etc… as well as the requirement of the turntable for a ground connection to the Receiver.

If your Home Theater Receiver does not have a dedicated phono turntable input, then you need to purchase an external Phono Preamp or a turntable that has a phono preamp built-in. If you need a phono preamp check out some listings on

Of course, another option is to purchase a new turntable that may already have a phono preamp built-in – Check out offerings on

The Radio Reception is Poor

This is usually a matter of attaching better antennas to the FM and AM antenna connections on your Home Theater Receiver. For FM, you can use the same type of rabbit ears or outdoor antenna used for analog television reception. The reason for this is that the FM radio frequencies actually lie between the Television channels 6 and 7, if you reside in North America. Wisconsin Public Radio offers an excellent resource for checking and improving radio reception.

Having Trouble Streaming Audio/Video Content From The Internet

Internet streaming has definitely become a big part of the home theater experience, in terms on how we actually access content. Although most home theater enthusiasts pre physical media (CDs, DVDs, Blu-ray Discs), many are definitely attracted to the convenience of going online and simply downloading music and movies.

However, while there are growing number of TVs, media streamer, and home theater receivers that provide built-in Wifi to make access of music, movies, and TV programming easier, depending on capabilities of your wireless router, as well as the distance of your Wifi-enabled TV, media streamer, or home theater is from your router, you Wifi signal may be unstable, causing signal interruptions, as well as decreased streaming capability.

In such cases, check your TV, media streamer, or home theater receiver for an Ethernet Connection. This option, although requiring a less convenient (and unsightly) long cable run, the signal is more stable, which is especially important for streaming video content.

If switching from Wifi to Ethernet doesn’t solve the problem – another important thing to check is your actual Broadband speed. The reason that this is important is that even if you have no difficulty streaming music, the broadband speed required to stream video needs to be faster. This may require a call your ISP (Internet Service Provider) to see if you can access the speeds necessary to stream a stable video signal. For more details, refer to my articles: Internet Speed Requirements for Video Streaming , How To Stream Netflix in 4K, and What Data Caps Are and How It Limits the Amount of Online Video that You Stream.

Additional Tips

In setting up any home theater system, things can end up being connected improperly due to both inadvertent oversight or lack of knowledge. This can result in thinking that there is something wrong with the system’s components. However, many of the most common problems, such as the ones illustrated in this article, you will run into can be easily remedied, once a closer look is taken, especially when reading the user manuals before setting everything up.

Even when taking time to do everything correctly, it is not unusual, especially in a complex setup, that you may still run into a problem that you can’t seem to solve. You have done everything you can – you’ve connected it all, you set the sound levels, you have the right size TV, used good cables – but it still isn’t right. The sound is terrible, the TV looks bad. When this happens, instead of spending more time and money, or returning it all, consider calling a professional installer to assess the situation.

It is possible that, indeed, something may be defective in one your components. To find out for sure, you might have to swallow your pride and pay for a house call, but the investment can salvage a home theater disaster and turn it into home theater gold.

Everyone Loves Entertainment

Whether you’re a talented singer-songwriter or a writer looking to pen sitcoms, the entertainment industry is one place that has a career for just about anyone.

Everyone loves entertainment. Whether you’re into romantic weepies, punk rock, or the Food Network, there’s a niche to fit virtually every artistic taste. TV, film, music, theater, and even radio continue to be strongholds in the vast world of entertainment, but with the growth of the Internet and digital media, new technologies only increase the ways in which we are entertained- and the opportunities to make your own career a part of that process.

Plus, you don’t have to be a performer to participate. Do you love the magic of movies, but have no desire to get in front of the camera? Are you a music buff, but can’t sing to save your life? Never fear. Although entertainment is usually equated with the big-name movie stars and musicians that make it seem so glamorous in the first place, it could not exist without the thousands of professionals that create, produce, and support the films, TV shows, theater productions, and radio programs that we so eagerly consume.

Advertising, engineering, business, sales, and production are just a few of the areas that are fundamental to the entertainment industry that can make great careers for non-performers. Although a college degree isn’t as necessary as talent and experience are for an aspiring performer, it’s often a requisite in other fields. A degree in accounting, finance, or business is necessary to work in the financial arena. Degrees in journalism and communications are most practical for careers in television and radio broadcasting. Movie studios and production companies have lawyers, too, but you’re going to need that law degree to be one.

As varied as its career opportunities may be , with so many creative, driven people seeking to break into the industry, the entertainment industry is a dog-eat-dog world. If you think you’re interested in a career in entertainment, start gaining experience as early as possible; and while everyone would love to work for MTV, be willing to think more realistically and embrace any experience. Get involved with film and theater productions on campus. Work for your college radio station. Take your love of entertainment seriously and invest all of the enthusiasm, persistence, and talent you have, and you could be in for the ride of a lifetime.

Industry Culture

The entertainment industry may be a showcase for creative talent, but it’s first and foremost a business, and an intensely competitive one at that. Where you live and who you know can often trump your ability and talent.

Hollywood: As you may be aware, the center of the entertainment universe is a little place known as Hollywood. As varied and far-flung as opportunities to work in the entertainment industry are, if you’re interested in working for the major (and minor) players in the film or television industries, your chances of getting a foot in the door and ultimately succeeding increase strongly if you’re based in Hollywood or L.A. At the same time, job seekers face stiff competition from the hordes of other eager  stars-in-training flocking to the city.

New York: Although Hollywood may immediately conjure images of celebrities and elaborate studio lots, New York has its own possibilities. The Big Apple is the place to be if you’re interested in making it in independent film or theater, and its music scene is one of the biggest in the country.

Fierce competition: Whether you’re behind the camera or in front of it, onstage or off, the entertainment industry is extremely competitive. Case in point: the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), the film industry’s major labor union, represents an estimated 120,000 performers alone- compare that to the number of celebs who have actually made it big. Even internships in production or art departments are very difficult to come by.

Low pay: Working in the entertainment industry by no means consigns you to a life of paltry paychecks, but when you’re starting out, the experience and connections that an internship or assistantship can yield are also accompanied by very little, and often no, money.

Emerging Trends

Technological innovation has transformed every aspect of entertainment. Consumers and creators alike are driven by the changing landscapes of the Internet, digital video, and media-on-demand.

  • Entertainment Goes Digital

The late twentieth and early twenty-first century saw a technological revolution that continues to evolve and has profoundly changed the way the entertainment industry operates. From iTunes to YouTube to podcasts, new methods of viewing and sharing content challenge the industry’s ability to adapt to changing technologies and maintain consumer loyalty in an age where it’s easier and cheaper to pirate a DVD or song instead of pay for the real thing. ABC, for example, has begun to offer recent reruns of its most popular shows online for free.

  • New Demands, New Opportunities

At the same time, the dawning of the digital age creates both opportunities and demands. In the realm of video, digital film has literally revolutionized the way that film is produced. It’s cheaper, easier to create (consider the number of videos on YouTube alone), and is even being taught in many high school film classes. At the same time, film directors and editors must keep up on the latest technologies and video-editing programs, and technical expertise in editing and special effects are more and more important. Even the advent of blogging has brought a more democratic method of showcasing talent: some high-profile bloggers have gained a level of visibility and readership that makes them authorities in everything from celebrity gossip to political commentary. So while your blog may not effortlessly land you a career in journalism or screenwriting, it’s a great way to hone your writing skills in the semi-public eye.

Smart Bed, ‘Emotional Honda’, Insightful Shoes, and More

The technology industry’s annual CES convention kicks off this week and is expected – as usual – to broadcast what the industry considers to be the top trends of the year.

 Press previews started Tuesday for the event, which will be held Thursday through Sunday.Technology companies headed into the 50-year-old showfighting what has become a difficult narrative to shake: that there’s nothing new to show. It has been years since the show has turned out a really exciting gadget. That reflects broader criticism of an industry that seems to have no blockbuster follow-up to the smartphone.
 The industry is still innovating, analysts say, but just in a different way. Consumers will see more services instead of gadgets coming out of this year’s show, with products that combine both hardware and software.
 Take smart-home technology, for example. This area has been a highlight for several years, and analysts expect it will make some of the biggest splashes in this year’s show.

The technology industry’s annual CES convention kicks off this week and is expected – as usual – to broadcast what the industry considers to be the top trends of the year.

Press previews started Tuesday for the event, which will be held Thursday through Sunday.Technology companies headed into the 50-year-old showfighting what has become a difficult narrative to shake: that there’s nothing new to show. It has been years since the show has turned out a really exciting gadget. That reflects broader criticism of an industry that seems to have no blockbuster follow-up to the smartphone.

The industry is still innovating, analysts say, but just in a different way. Consumers will see more services instead of gadgets coming out of this year’s show, with products that combine both hardware and software.

Take smart-home technology, for example. This area has been a highlight for several years, and analysts expect it will make some of the biggest splashes in this year’s show.

Ahead of CES,Samsung touted a robot vacuum cleaner that will work with Amazon’s Alexa so you can clean up using just your voice. Whirlpool is touting a smart garbage can that can compost your trash in one day. Lightbulb company Sylvania announced a smart lightbulb that won’t require its own app to work but will instead integrate completely with Apple’s Siri and Home app. So you’ll be able to say “Hey, Siri, turn on my lights at 7pm” and save some storage space on your phone.

This approach is good for companies in the long run, because it makes them more useful to their customers’ lives, analysts say. But it’s harder to sell in a flashy way.

“The specs are easier to point to and say, ‘it’s 20 percent faster,’ ” said Accenture analyst John Curran. “But the end-to-end innovation is perhaps more exciting in the long run, because they can transform how they’ve gotten things done and create some new experience that was never before possible.”

There still will be eye-popping gadgets of note, even if the top trends that analysts say to watch this year are much like those in years past: Internet-connected appliances, drones, robotics, artificial intelligence and wearable devices.

LG previewed a levitating speaker that’s supposed to stay floating for up to 10 hours. Under Armour is showing off a new line of smart shoes, which will track your steps and offer insight on muscle fatigue. There are also new areas of the floor devoted exclusively to smart energy tech and sleep tech. Sleep Number has anew smart bed that continuously adjusts itself to make your sleep more comfortable.

A lot more car news is also expected to be coming out of the show, with many automakers showing off their latest ideas for ways to make our vehicles into rolling living rooms – complete with entertainment options, self-driving technology and Internet connections. Ford will use the show to debut its new autonomous driving system. There even will be a car by Honda that is supposed to understand our emotions and develop its own emotions.

The increased presence of automakers and other nontraditional tech companies illustrates how the show itself is growing, said Gary Shapiro, chief executive of the Consumer Technology Association – the trade group that hosts the convention each year. The CES is also highlighting more nontraditional companies, he said. For example, Carnival Cruise Line chief executive Arnold Donald will talk, in a keynote speech, about how his firm is using connected devices to run its ships like self-enclosed smart cities.

While there aren’t that many new types of products to talk about, there’s a lot of growth within categories people already know. Wearable technology exhibitors are up 100 percent, Shapiro said, while virtual reality, smart home, drones and robotics companies have upped their space on the show floor by more than 30 percent. And, he said, each of those types of technologies open the possibility for more accessories and other companies to build on their platforms for future gadgets down the line.