Bethesda Systems Donates State of the Art Media System

On February 16, members of the Bethesda Green community enjoyed a TEDx Manhattan viewing event, “Changing the Way We Eat.”

Hosted at Bethesda Green on Cordell Avenue of Downtown Bethesda, attendees were able to view the live webcast of the event in Manhattan in-house at Bethesda Green’s newly upgraded conference room, a donation from Bethesda Systems.

Bethesda Systems, an on-going sponsor of Bethesda Green, donated a state-of-the-art conference room media system, digital signage system for the lobby, and a multimedia display for the learning center to the Bethesda Green office.

Bethesda Green is a local non-profit organization based in Bethesda, Md. With the support of major corporations, local business, and individuals throughout the community, Bethesda Green is able to communicate and promote Bethesda as a model for greener economic growth and more sustainable practices.

Jonathan Stovall, co-founder of Bethesda Systems, knows that supporting the smaller businesses and entrepreneurs will promote more sustainable living and business practices. He feels that organizations like Bethesda Green make it much easier for startups to thrive in their respective communities.

“The new system has given us a lot of possibilities,” said Dave Feldman, Executive Director of Bethesda Green. “Each area has its own distinct value.”

Before, Feldman said, the organization only had a desktop LCD projector along with two speakers, which were independent from the projector system.

Bethesda Systems integrated a projector and projection screen for their conference room. For their lobby, Bethesda Systems added a 55-inch LCD to Bethesda Green’s new Learning Center. The Learning Center will be a place for Bethesda Green to engage the community with videos on recent projects and innovations from all throughout the area.

The LCD also has the ability to mirror videos being shown in the conference room to the lobby—an ideal application when the conference room gets too full, said Nate Black, systems designer.

In addition to this, Bethesda Systems incorporated a 42-inch display for digital signage, which will be able to greet visitors. The screen is able to display any image or video that Bethesda Green programs into the player.

“We’re able to present photos on a daily basis, and play films in the lobby with a touch of a button,” Feldman said.

The solution for controlling the newly added technology to Bethesda Green lies within a Savant iPad control system, which allows for one-touch control over the entire system, Black said.

Within the Savant-powered conference room, Bethesda Green has a cable box, Blu-ray player, Mac Mini (equipped with a wireless keyboard and mouse), and Apple TV. The upgraded conference room is also HDMI or VGA cable ready, if presenters use their own laptops for presentations in the room.

“The conference room lacked integration,” Feldman said. “Now, it’s a lot nicer. It’s cleaner—better.”

Feldman is excited to provide the Bethesda Green incubator companies with a high-end facility to use.

“We love it—it’s awesome!” said Feldman. “It’s exactly what we’re looking for. From service and integration, to support and sponsorship, we’re so grateful for what Bethesda Systems has done for us.”

Bethesda Systems Upgrades Children’s Inn at NIH

The Children’s Inn at NIH has an all-purpose room for their residents, where the children can watch movies and hang out. In addition, this room serves as a conference room for board meetings. Earlier this summer, the Inn reached out to us seeking a much-needed renovation of this room.

Reaching Out

Bethesda Systems was happy to help. We provided an all-in-one solution, featuring a new projector and a new server for the room. In addition, we transformed each child’s room into smart media room, where they are now able to stream movies, and use the internet right from their own televisions. With several donations set up by Bethesda Systems, the Children’s Inn paid less than half of what the initial renovation costs were.

Andy Cabrera, Bethesda Systems: “The room looked like a school cafeteria before. It was plain, and not livable. When we took on the project, we wanted to create a warmer atmosphere where these kids can really relax on a Friday night.”


We were able to partner up with Runco, a home theater projector manufacturer, and Kaleidescape, another business focused on home entertainment, to provide the Children’s Inn with free new products. Runco donated an LS 7 projector, and Kaleidescape donated a Cinema One movie server.

With the Cinema One movie server, the Children’s Inn was able to upload and store over 25 DVDs for children to watch on the theater system, or in their own rooms. Also featured in the all-purpose room is Apple TV.

In addition, Cuddlebag also donated four of their products to the Children’s Inn too!

Smart Media Rooms

In each room, we incorporated the Google TV interface using Verizon FiOS. Samsung flat panels were installed as well, on an evo wall system.


Bethesda Systems Reviews Roku vs. AppleTV

Which one should I buy?  We review and compare the Roku  2 XS against the APPLE TV and give our candid opinion on installation experience and features. Our technician Jason recently installed a Roku 2 XS and shared his opinion with us in comparison to installations of the AppleTV unit.

Both are outstanding devices that allow you to add streaming video from several free and pay per view sources on the internet and when combined into a home theater design or installation  you can have a truly screaming custom home cinema experience.

Notes on the Roku 2 XS. 

by Jason Baumann

– It’s just like hooking up an Apple TV2 – which means it only has HDMI out (HDMI to comp converter may be needed for older systems).

– Connects wireless or hard wired to network

– Requires IR from controller for third party control

– When you install the device it requires activation from a computer and you MUST input credit card account info for the Roku to activate. No credit card, no content! So make sure you obtain the following before you set this unit up:

– Full name and Credit card information including security code

– Billing address

– Email address

– 4 digit pin that they would like to use when ordering content

Roku XDS 

– Out of the box expect an update to run and setup time (30min or so)

– The Roku interface is a little harder to use compared to AppleTV

– The Roku is bigger than the AppleTV by almost 50%

– Roku did freeze up on me during the “download” process of initial setup. (Required a power cycle) after this I had to “re-link” the account a go through the channel download process again

– Download speeds compared to Apple TV (Wirelessly) are much slower. It was actually painfully slow

– Download speeds hard wired were fine. I would only set this device up hardwired.

Crackle Upside: free movie and TV content.  Higher HD quality than AppleTV and more connection options

Crackle Downside: Poor video quality. “All channel” audio output. It’s kind of like free Netflix streaming. Movies are old and video quality is poor.

My opinion, it’s a wannabe AppleTV that I would not waste my money on unless there was some sort of content I absolutely had to have. Crackle is cool, but it appears to be Standard Definition, and once you go HD, there’s no turning back!

AppleTV is my choice between the two.

Full detailed comparison chart of the AppleTV compared to Roku below:

3D Television…Worth the Hype?

By Jonathan Stovall

In a word: Yes!

Well, almost Yes.  Please read on.

Listen up folks…this stuff is AWESOME!

Thursday was one of those days here at the shop where the heavens above opened up and dropped down upon us a new video blessing.  It doesn’t happen often. In fact the last time I felt this transformed was over a decade ago when I watched my first HD program.

It was extra special because not only was I watching a live television broadcast in 3D for the first time but the program happened to be first round coverage of The Masters golf tournament—always an annual favorite of mine.  The HD broadcast alone is some of the best video eye candy available in televised sports but the added depth of 3D raised my senses to a new level. I actually believed I was standing inside the ropes!  Seeing the slope of Augusta National was not possible in 2D, so now I have an even greater appreciation for the pro golfer because I can actually see exactly what their shot looks like.  Thank you Sony & Comcast for carrying selected parts of the back nine for two hours each day in 3D…commercial-free even!

The real hype began last year with the success of Avatar.  Even my mother loved it. I knew right then that 3D quality was finally good enough, but how long would it take to gain widespread acceptance?  I knew it wouldn’t come easy.  First, we would need 3D content, and much more than just movies and video games.  Then we would need to convince everyone that wearing glasses on the couch is cool!  And finally, how much more was this technology going to cost us?  The battery powered glasses alone average $200/pair.  And how much more would the cable bill be each month?  Yet another reason to jack the rates. Yikes!

Earlier this year during the International Consumer Electronics Show we were promised that 3D content was on its way…and soon. 3D Broadcasts & Blu Ray discs were mere ‘months away’.  25 World Cup Soccer matches and ESPN 3D this June!  All the major players showed up with their prototype panels, projectors & set top boxes and wowed us with their 3D demos.  But ultimately they confused us with varying types of display technologies and glasses, which reminded me all to well of the competition a few years ago between HD-DVD and Blu Ray. This ended up slowing down mass acceptance and scared off most consumers, still to this day, even though Blu Ray ‘won’ the format war.  I left Vegas with more 3D questions than I had answers and was worried (yet again) we were at the mercy of our friends in Asia to work it out.

So, where do things currently stand?  At the time of this writing, approximately one million 3D sets have been sold worldwide (that’s twice as many iPads by the way). There is only one 3D Blu Ray title available, DreamWorks Animation Monsters vs. Aliens. There are no additional 3D broadcasts scheduled for the immediate future besides The Masters (at least until ESPN 3D launches in 8 weeks).  Also in June, DirecTV  promises three separate 3D channels that will showcase a variety of programming similar to what HDNet did almost 9 years ago which helped spur more HDTV sales because the major networks weren’t as quick to change.  Got FiOS?…Verizon is promising 3D in time for Christmas.

In the meantime, yet again I’ve been spoiled.  A friend invited me over for a cookout this evening.  I told him sure, but it would have to wait until The Masters was over.  He told me that he’d have it on at his house. And I replied ‘yea…but not in 3D!’  Just as I had become an HD snob a decade ago…when I would watch NOTHING unless it was broadcast in HD. I find myself eventually heading down the same road with 3D.  I need serious help!