According to Tom Adams, president of Adams Media Research, movie studios will eventually have to release their titles on both HD DVD and Blu-ray as "no studio will be able to afford not to". Apparently, the majority of HDTV owners are perfectly happen with standard DVD and the availability of upscaling DVD players could mean that high-def disc players may never be a mainstream product, but rather emerge as more of a luxury item. Here are some interesting format war facts:
1. 578, 000 standalone HD DVD players and 370, 000 standalone Blu-ray players will be sold by the end of 2007
2. If a winner is eventually decided, it could very likely be decided by which camp offers more content
3. Upscaling DVD players cut into sales for both camps dramatically
4. Research by the NPD Group has found that only 11% of HDTV owners intend to purchase a high-def disc player by spring 2008 and 75% are content with standard DVD
5. High-def disc players may "emerge as a premium, luxury item, not a successor to DVD"
6. Forecasts indicate that 5 million laptops will be sold with HD DVD players by the end of 2008
7. 3.4 million Blu-ray drives have been sold with PS3's, 300, 000 HD DVD drives have been sold with the XBox 360
8. 400 movie titles are offered by both camps, 90, 000 are offered by Netflix
9. Blu-ray discs outsell HD DVD discs 2 to 1
10. 70% of Blockbuster HD disc rentals are in the Blu-ray format
11. HD DVD believes users want interactivity in movies, research states otherwise: only 3% of users actually want interactive features
12. As the price of dual format players drop, we'll see studios pull away from their respective sides and a truce will emerge
Will a truce eventually take place with studios releasing movies on both disc formats? Will the much criticized dual format player eventually be the "format" of choice? Will high-def disc players disappear altogether with standard DVD being the real winner in the end? What do you think?
2008 is just around the corner and now is the time to figure out your theater-going schedule for the upcoming year. Torrent Geek has the 10 most anticipated movies of 2008 and their corresponding trailers. Would it be nihilistic of me to say that they all look pretty bad?
The only thing holding plasma screens on their pedestal is the Pioneer Kuro series and Business Week calls the newest model, the 60-inch Elite Kuro PRO-150FD, the "best television on the market today, handily outperforming rival manufacturers in every area where it matters most". Priced at a whopping $7000, the PRO-150FD features full high-def 1920x1080 pixel resolution, minimal bezel, 4 HDMI ports, deep blacks and excellent color reproduction. Definitely the best choice on the HDTV market right now if you have money to burn.
Do ever wonder how to move an embedded flash (FLV) file such as a YouTube video from the internet to your iPod. First of all, the file needs to be converted to MP4 format, but how do you go about doing that?
An excellent beta freeware application called Vixy will convert FLV files to MP4 format and maintain the original video quality. It's also quick and easy. Find the URL of the video file you need to convert, head over to Vixy, enter the URL, choose the format you wish to convert to and there you go. Almost instant conversion. Not only can Vixy convert FLV files to MP4, it can also convert to AVI files for Windows, MOV files for Macs, 3GP files for mobile phones, and even MP3 files if you're only interested in audio.
Looking to add a projector to your cutting edge home theater setup? Try the Optomo HD72 DLP projector, regularly $3000, but now only $1199.99 after $1599 in instant savings and a $200 mail-in rebate. That's a lot of extra money in your pocket! The HD72 features high-def 720p resolution, a 7-segment color wheel with BrilliantColor and TrueVivid color enhancement technologies, a 16:9 aspect ratio, 5000:1 contrast ratio, and brightness rating of 1300 ANSI lumens. Wow! Combine all these features and you get superior color, deeper darks, and subtle color details only available with much higher-end, higher-priced projectors.
120 Hz frame rates will be all the rage in 2008, and one of the bestselling 120 Hz LCD's of this holiday season has been the Samsung LNT4671F 46 inch 1080p 120Hz LCD HDTV. With a MSRP of $3200 you pay for the cutting edge technology and picture the display offers, but right now the LNT4671F is $1200 off coming in at only $1999.98. Not only are you saving 38% off the regular price, but shipping is free and you'll receive a $100 gift card for NFLShop.com if you mail in this rebate form.
Want to compare prices before making any decisions? Head to Shopzilla's price comparison page for the LNT4671F.
Constantly missing all of your favorite TV shows because of work or school? Don't have a TiVo or other timeshifting-capable set top box? Don't even have a television, never mind a high-def LCD or plasma? No worries, take a look at the quick 4 minute video above showing you how to use your computer as a TiVo/television.
The Blu-ray camp has been having a rough time lately. First the Blu-ray Association site gets hacked and redirected to the HD DVD camps page, but at Myer's in Sydney, Australia, you can buy two HD DVD's and they'll just give you a Blu-ray disc for free! Engadget HD questions which camp would be more embarrassed, but we'd imagine Blu-ray since HD DVD earns revenues on throwaway Blu-ray discs. Hilarious! No comment from either camp yet, but we're heading over to the AVS Forum now to check out how this has affected the ongoing flame wars.
With a whole lot of HDTV-related corporate reorganizing going on across the globe, most of it in the past month, and rumors of long awaited new technologies about to be unveiled, we're wondering if 2008 is the beginning of the end for plasma televisions.
Prices for LCD's have dropped drastically this year leading research firm iSuppli to predict a 31.9% compound growth rate in the LCD market into 2011. While 41.4 million LCD's were shipped in 2006, this would mean that by 2011 we'll see 165.3 million units shipped. Respective revenues would increase from $47.8 billion in 2006 to $116 billion in 2011. On the other hand, while shipments of plasma televisions will increase from 9.3 million units in 2006 to 19.3 million units in 2001, revenues will actually decrease from $15.6 billion to $14 billion over the same period. These numbers would leave plasma holding only 10.4% of industry shipments and 10.7% of industry revenue in 2011.
Corporate collaborations and corporate reorganizations, mainly in the past month, have further reinforced the belief that LCD TV's will rule the industry in the next few years.
Want to move your living room home theater to your laptop, desktop PC, or mobile phone with no monthly subscription fee? Then you need a Sling Media Slingbox AV, which can be had for only $69.99 right now at Woot.com. They are refurbished, but they work just as good as new and will move quickly. Compared to the Amazon price of $100 on sale, why wouldn't you save yourself $30 for adding the word "refurbished" to the product name?
For the most part we focus on the technology end of the whole television experience here at TVSnob. But, once in a while there is something newsworthy to report. And while this may not be newsworthy from a, um, conservative point of view, it's worthy of reporting in our books because it's just so funny. Laughter is important to your health and well-being you know.
Britney Spears is apparently looking to get her career back on track, again, by starring in a new movie entitled Memoirs of a Medicated Child. At first I thought this was a joke, especially when I read that she was chosen over other potential star Lindsey Lohan. But it seems otherwise as it was reported to the New York Post by director Tommy Parker that "as far as Britney's concerned, we're talking". Spears was supposedly approached by producers as a potential actor to take on the role of the girlfriend of a misdiagnosed mental patient (insert comment here).
You may want to wait until this one comes out on DVD before you check it out, that it even if it hits theaters and DVD in the first place. But if it does, check it out just to see how bad a movie can be.
From the very beginning, we've found the Hollywood Writer's Strike to be extremely exciting for one reason: its potential to move internet video forward, rapidly, and with genuine Hollywood talent. Some of the internet videos created by striking writers uploaded the web, featuring big names such as Eva Longoria have attracted huge numbers of viewers, and that seems to have helped them see the light. While studios and writers battle over internet revenues, the writers are beginning to be attracted to the more egalitarian, open-source business approach of Silicon Valley venture capitalists. Contrary to the top-down, control-oriented approach of the studios, Silicon Valley is helping writers' see that the 21st century offers all kinds of opportunities for Hollywood types in a free and open environment far removed from what they've been used to for the majority of the last century.
It's rumored that seven independent groups of A-list writers including screenwriter Aaron Mendelsohn (Kindred: The Embraced, upcoming Cat Tale, Air Bud) are all developing companies that hope to challenge the dominance of the studios by creating television and movie content and distributing via the web. Some writers have even announced that once their respective contracts run out, they'll move the internet entirely, not re-signing with the studios at all.
One move to the Silicon Valley model of film distribution has been made by director and writer George Hickenlooper who has teamed up with Prince of Persia videogame creator Jordan Mechner to make a feature film that will be released in daily segments on the web. They will be using A-list names in the movie and the plans are to release the movie over either a month or 50 days and then release it on DVD in its entirety.
Hopefully this transition will continue and 2008 will be a revolutionary year for web video.
Projectors tend to be a little on the expensive side, so anytime we see a great deal we want to let you know. The Mitsubushi HC 4900 home theater projector is regularly a pretty pricey $3000 at Circuit City. Not only is the projector $700 off at Circuit City, but a $500 mail-in rebate further brings the price down to $1800. The HC4900 is a 1080p LCD projector with a 7500:1 contrast ratio, and an ultra-quiet design and this deal includes it being shipped to your door for free!
Do you have a Scientific Atlanta 8300 cable box and use either Comcast or Time Warner as a service provider? Would it make your day to know that you could do a couple of easy things to get more HD out of that box resulting in a better picture on your HDTV? Technology columnist Don Reisinger will show you how to do this in about 5 minutes. It's the weekend so you might as well.
We reported the other day that Apple would be announcing at the MacWorld conference that they had signed a deal with Fox to provide movie rental on the iTunes movie service. Disney has now jumped on the bandwagon according to Variety. There is still a chance that studios such as Paramount, Lionsgate, and MGM will also sign with Apple, while Sony, Universal, and Warner Bros will probably not be included for competitive reasons.
This expected announcement has provided fodder for interesting discussion regarding how iTunes movie rentals will affect other online movie services such as Netflix and Blockbuster. Silicon Valley Insider did an excellent analysis of the effect of iTunes rentals on the movie industry in general. Check it out here.
Can you not wait to get your hands on a Sony XEL-1 OLED TV? We don't blame you, neither can we. But you might not have to wait. There are currently three available, available now at the "buy it now" price of $1999 US on ebay. Being sold by kyotostyles2, an ebay powerseller with a positive feedback score of 203, it looks like this is for real. Why didn't he do this before Christmas?
It's pretty common to hear HDTV buyer's, especially those buying for the first time wondering why the picture doesn't seem as good on their new HDTV at home as it did in the store. Just so you know, there is probably nothing wrong with the set, it was just calibrated and optimized for the best performance possible when it sat on the store shelves, for that environment, so you'd be wowed and buy it. It worked, but now it has to be optimized so you get the best picture possible in your living room, very different from the bright, wide open spaces of a big-box store. Here is a great write-up from USA Today giving you a few tips to hook up that new HDTV properly, so you get the best picture possible.
With all the craziness over the past year with the HD DVD/Blu-ray format war, many of us have forgotten about good ol' DVDs. Most of us, but not all of us. Brian Lam over at Gizmodo still thinks DVD is the best video format around and he can back that statement up too.
YouTube has released the top vids of 2007 taking into account not only the amount of times each video was viewed, but also how often they were shared, discussed, and how highly they were rated by viewers. The famous Britney boy clip, "Leave Britney Alone" by Chris Crocker, was among the top ranked, as was Obama girl, featuring an attractive singer professing her love for Barack Obama through song. The "Battle At Kruger" was also unbelievably popular. Viewed more than 21 million times, the vid features a battle between a pride of lions, a crocodile, and a herd of buffaloes over a calf. People are sick, I know. Other popular videos of 2007 included Esmee Denters from the Netherlands, singing Justin Timberlake's "What Goes Around" and Tay Zonday "Chocolate Rain".
One of the big questions on the minds of TV Snob's heading into 2008 is whether or not internet video will hit out living rooms in the new year. This isn't quite internet video, but it's definitely a step in the right direction and a cool application nonetheless.
Interestingly, this cool new software developed by Dave Winer, called FlickrFan, grew from Winer's dissatisfaction with the Apple TV. What a surprise! In a news release today, Winer says that there is a "convergence between big screen high-definition televisions, and photography as an Internet based activity" and "the purpose of this product is to smooth that convergence, to make it easy to set up a connection between the Internet and your television. To allow photography to come into your living room in new, powerful and easy ways".
Basically, the new software which is available for free download is a uses folders on your Mac to sync up to Flickr so you can display your Flickr photos or your friends Flickr photos on your HDTV. Or you can hunt down professional photography and display that too. Flickrfan was just released this evening and is in beta, is if you have a Mac or better yet a MacMini that connects to your HDTV, joint the early adopter game and give this a try.
This could be the beginning of the internet to living room convergence we're all hoping for in 2008.
By the way, if you haven't already figured it out, Winer's new software is Mac only. However, Slickr is apparently a workable software package for PC owners. Haven't tested it, but heard it works.
Via Podcasting News
Here's a good one for our readers. Every month the Official Xbox Magazine reviews at least one HDTV as one of the big challenges for game console owners is finding a compatible high-def display that'll maximize the picture quality of their games. Currently working on a review for the March 2008 issue of OXM, tech reporter David Murphy decided it was time to review a Sony Bravia set, one of the best gaming HDTVs currently on the market. Here's where it gets interesting.
Murphy contacted the Sony PR department to request a set for review and was told...NO! Why you might ask? Because OXM is a Microsoft-focused company and Sony is a Playstation-creating company. Looks like the HD DVD/Blu-ray format war isn't the only one getting a little heated. The PR rep apparently stated, "I have to support our friends over at our sister company". Surprised, Murphy wrote back that many of OXM's readers purchase sets that are reviewed in the magazine and that he himself had even just purchased a Bravia and found no incompatibilities with the XBox 360 console at all. Sony still decided "to pass on this opportunity".
So, XBox 360 owners, it looks like Sony is too good for your money!
Could 2008 be the year that online video makes it into our living rooms? NewTeeVee has come up with a panel of new media experts and posed the question to them. Not surprisingly the answers are varied. Experts include such names as John Cioffi, the Hitachi America professor of engineering at Stanford, Zadi Diaz of Smashface Productions, and George Kliavkoff, former interim CEO of Hulu.
Futurama fans will be delighted to know that every single Futurama episode EVER will be airing on the Adult Swim network starting tonight at 11 PM in a Futurama marathon that will see nothing buy Futurama on Adult Swim until 11:30 PM on December 31! On December 31st, Adult Swim will air the first Futurama episode, "Space Pilot 3000", and the last episode, "The Devil's Hands Are Idle Playthings" at 11 and 11:30 PM respectively. This is all in preparation for Futurama's move from Adult Swim to Comedy Central as of January 1. Should you happen to miss the marathon (we know it happens over the holidays and yes we believe you didn't know the eggnog was spiked), Comedy Central will air 3 episodes of Futurama per night starting at 8 PM and hold a Season 2 episode marathon on January 6.
If you're looking for a Blu-ray player to go along with that brand new HDTV you got for Christmas, now is the time to buy. You'll get 6 free Blu-ray movies with the purchase of select Blu-ray players at Amazon right now. Even the 40 GB PS3 qualifies for this awesome deal. Just click on the link above or below to head to Amazon.
Advertising has been a big topic of discussion in 2007, especially pertaining to online video. Until online advertising evolves to the point where online video can be better monetized, we'll never see it reach its full potential. Television advertising on the other hand, just keeps getting better. There has been many an occasion this year where I enjoyed the ad interruptions more than the show I was watching. So I thought it'd be appropriate to point you in the direction of Wired's "10 Best Gadget Ads of 2007", with a little taste of what you can expect above.
Christmas is over and 2007's most popular DVDsare on sale for up to 60% off! Titles include The Simpson's Movie, Planet Earth, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and Heroes-Season One. These are some of the cheapest prices you'll find around, so check it out now.
The rumors floating around the blogosphere for the past couple of months regarding Apple's intentions to provide a video-on-demand service via its iTunes platform seem to be coming true.
Apple has signed News Corp's 20th Century Fox Studio to a new video-on-demand service that would allow movie buffs to download a digital copy of the latest Fox DVD releases from the iTunes platform for a limited time, after which they would no longer be viewable.
Fox will use Apple's FairPlay digital rights management system to protect digital files included in Fox DVD releases, however the digital file does enable content to be ripped from the DVD disc to a computer or video iPod. This is the first time that Apple has allowed the use of their FairPlay technology beyond their own products and an unnamed studio exec has said that Apple hopes the deal will increase their sales of iPods substantially.
The deal is expected to be officially announced at the MacWorld conference on January 14 (although Steve Jobs doesn't actually speak until the 15th?) and with Apple apparently in talks with Sony Pictures Entertainment, Paramount and Warner Bros regarding making their new releases available on iTunes to buy and rent, we wonder what else may be announced.
Talks are rumored to have covered FairPlay deals with the above-mentioned studios as well, meaning that if Apple extends their digital rights management technology to those studios as well, 2008 may be the year of the iPod rather than the Apple TV.
When you purchase one of the three players, you'll be given a selection of HD DVDs from which you pick three choices, 300 and The Bourne Identity come packaged with the player, and you'll get another 5 free titles with the use of this mail-in rebate form bringing the total to 10 free HD DVDs. At an average price of around $35 per HD DVD, you're keeping $350 in your pocket by buying a high-def player. Sounds like an amazing deal to me and what makes it even better is that all the players will ship to your doorstep for free!
Amazon has a "Buy One, Get One Free" HD DVD limited time offer on at the moment. Selection is limited, but all 39 available titles are on sale, then the second pick will cost you nothing. All four Harry Potter movies are available as are such titles as Knocked Up, Evan Almighty and Alpha Dog. Head there now though as a hot deal like this means titles will sell out quickly.
This one took some creative thinking. What better way to use your unused cellar space than to turn it into a batcave home theater! Created by New Hampshire-based DC Audio Video Systems, the batcave home theater features a 110 inch 16:9 Stewart Electriscreen displaying picture from a $36000 Sony G90 1080p 2500x2000 pixel CRT projector. Sound emanates from Triad Silver THX Speakers, and eight black leather motorized recliners provide the seating. Lighting is controlled by a LiteTouch LC5000 System and prop bats even hang from the ceiling. Check out the link for more pictures of this cool creation.
Japanese newspaper Daily Yomiuri ran an article the other claiming that Matsushita, the maker of Panasonic flat panels, will unveil a 150-inch plasma HDTV next month, making it the world's largest TV. The set is rumored to be debuting at CES 2008 in Las Vegas, beating out the 108-inch Sharp display from last year's CES show and the 103-inch Panasonic display in 2006. So far no price has been set on the massive display, but it's expected to hit shelves sometime in 2009. The display is so big at 3x2.5 meters is large enough to display a full-size adult.
Having trouble deciding on what size your new HDTV should be? Try out Display Wars, a free web tool, that graphically compares HDTV sizes to make it a little easier to make a comparison. All's you need to know is the aspect ratio of the two TV's to be compared and their diagonal measurement in inches. It's particularly good for helping you visualize, for example, that 52-inch plasma in the big-box store with your 37-inch LCD at home. Televisions displayed at stores with their wide open spaces look a whole lot smaller than they would in a small room in your house or apartment. Display Wars will help you better visualize the two models in a controlled environment.
Display Wars Via Lifehacker
Sony's 11-Inch OLED TV was named the coolest gadget of 2007 by InfoWorld, leading a good showing by TV-related gadgets. Others that made the list include the Casio Exilim EX-S880 and EX-Z77 digital cameras that include a video mode optimized for YouTube uploading, NEC's Lui concept PC which include two digital HDTV tuners, DLNA connectivity, and a Blu-ray disc writer, the Hitachi Blu-ray disc camcorder, and the Sony Video Walkman with TV.
I'm pretty excited about some of the innovations in mobile entertainment I think we'll see in 2008, but we all still have to remember that distribution of forms of entertainment such as video to your cell are still very inefficient and therefore very expensive. A 29 year old British factory worker named Ian Simpson found this out the hard way after downloading "20 to 30 TV shows and 4 albums" using the Vodafone provider for his cell phone service. His cell phone bill? $54000. Unaware of the charges he was racking up, Simpson was surprised to find his service disconnected one day and found out about the substantial bill after phoning Vodafone to find out why he had no service. Simpson is in tough now though as he states all he can afford to pay for at the moment is the room in which he lives. He hopes Vodafone will go easy on him and it seems they might even though he ran up the charges legitimately. Vodafone has said that they will "try to come to some sympathetic arrangement" with Simpson, but if he can only pay for a room, he better hope the company's sympathy is extreme.
You got that brand new LCD or plasma you wanted for Christmas and now you have to figure out where to put it. You don't have an appropriate entertainment unit and you kind of like the idea of mounting it. Personally I'm a big fan of wall mounts more for their aesthetic qualities than anything and the majority of them can be angled to maximize the picture quality of the HDTV. It's good to know then that all PDR wall mounts are on sale at Amazon and they all include a mail-in rebate that'll net you up to $75 off the sale price. Here's a list of all the PDR wall mounts on sale and their prices after the mail-in rebate.
For each of the above mounts, there'll be a rebate link you can't miss on the respective Amazon page. It'll bring up a PDF file on your screen that you can just print out and send in to the address given on the form.
2007 has been a wild year for television. Not just for the amazing innovations in TV technology, but for television content as well, even with the ongoing writer's strike. Yahoo! has compiled a list of the 10 most shocking television moments of the year, summarizing for you the stupidest stuff on TV in the past year.
Alot of you will be unwrapping a brand new XBox 360 sometime today and you must remember your new toy is more than just another gaming console. Here is a 6 step guide to streaming video from your PC to your TV with a little help from the XBox 360.
TVSnob would just like to extend our happy holiday greeting and wishes to our readers and their families. We hope this holiday season is one of joy with friends and family, and our hope for you is a healthy and successful New Year in 2008!
Tell us about the TV of your dreams you found under your tree in the comments section!
We know you last minute holiday shoppers are in a panic now. A lot of you probably have to work today, may have a family function tonight and still have half, or possibly all, of your Christmas shopping to finish. Don't you just wish that churning stomach would just take it easy?
They're available in any amount from $5-5000, won't expire, and are redeemable for basically any item on Amazon with the exception of those from a few third-party sellers. That means that even though you didn't get that plasma set you were supposed to buy on time, you'll still be able to redeem yourself. Glad to have saved your procrastinating ass and have a merry Christmas!
Do you ever wonder why the contrast ratios on newer model LCD TV's can vary so much? It's not uncommon for contrast ratios to be 2000:1 and 25000:1 on two HDTV's that are otherwise very similar in their features and overall quality. Why is this?
There are actually two types of contrast ratios and the difference lies in the definitions. Unfortunately not all salespeople and marketers of HDTV's bother to point out which type of contrast ratio is being reported. The first type of contrast ratio, the static contrast ratio, is the ratio of the brightest part of an LCD screen to the darkest part that can be simultaneously displayed on screen. The second type of contrast ratio, the dynamic contrast ratio, is measured by comparing the blackest black of one image to the whitest white of another image at a different time.
By measuring the dynamic contrast ratio in such a way that allows for the entire screen to be darker for dark scenes and lighter for light scenes, this allows LCD makers and marketers to claim a larger dynamic contrast ratio. So when you see two otherwise comparable LCD's with contrast ratios of 2000:1 and 25000:1, you now know the larger, more impressive looking number is a dynamic contrast ratio, while the smaller one is a static contrast ratio.
The most interesting part of this is while dynamic contrast ratios can improve the picture quality for scenes that are predominantly dark or bright, the actual reported contrast ratio can't actually be achieved. So don't get confused. Yes, dynamically-altered brightness is a good HDTV feature, just don't base your buying decision on the massive looking dynamic contrast ratio.
Kind of like a digg for production comparisons, ProductClash lets you submit two products and then watch site users vote for the best of the two. The site also lets users submit comments for each clash and even a "blog it" option that allows you to embed or reference a clash on your website or blog.
For each clash, total votes for the two products are combined and a list of the ten most popular clashes is compiled based on these combined votes. A list of the ten most popular products is also compiled based on the number of votes for each product. Not surprisingly, the most popular product at the moment is the Nintendo Wii.
The best part about this site is the fact that TVSnob's can take any two televisions, high-def optical disc players, media streamers, etc, etc, submit them as a clash and then let people who actually have experience with the products ultimately tell you which one is best through votes and comments. No hype from companies or salespeople, just pure unadulterated honesty. Something you need if you're planning on forking out thousands of dollars for that new HDTV.
Yet another Sony Blu-ray model has dipped below the $300 mark. The Sony BDP-S300 is currently sitting at $299.97 over at Amazon, including Spiderman 3 in the box and 5 free Blu-ray discs via the Blu-ray Disc Association's current rebate offer. That's a huge savings of $200 off the regular price of $499. Keep your eyes open however, as earlier this morning the player sat at $288 at Amazon, but if you're hoping for an $11 savings your taking your chances as we imagine these will sell out quickly.
Wired mag has gone out on a limb and predicted that 2008 could be a very big year for the Apple TV. Yes, that's right, it's not a typo. First pointing out some of the reasoning behind the remarkable failure of the Apple TV in 2007 such as it's total eclipse by the iPhone launch, and Steve Jobs' calling it merely a "hobby", Bryan Gardiner has put together a list of things Apple can do in 2008 to make the "new DVD player for the internet age" a hit.
Gardiner isn't alone in his optimism, as analyst's such as Carl Howe predict upwards of 7 million Apple TV's sold next year. Given the pathetic 400000 units sold as of the beginning of the holiday season this year, we're tempted to call this optimism something more along the lines of irrational exuberance. But here is Gardiner's list of tasks Apple needs to accomplish to turn the Apple TV from hobby to hit in 2008. Of course we stuck in our own smart-ass commentary just to make things interesting.
Digital picture frames have been a hot seller this holiday season, but we haven't mentioned them because this is a TV blog. That is until now. Yes, this is still a TV blog, but Mustek, a digital imaging solution company, has come up with a digital picture frame that doubles as an iPod docking station.
The PF-i700 is a 7 inch color digital picture frame with a built-in iPod docking station that can actually play your iPod files. And that means video. There's the link to TV you're looking for. The PF-i700 has a 480x234 resolution screen roughly three times the size of the Apple iPod's with a widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio for playback of MPEG, Xvid, and motion-JPEG video formats. It even includes integrated stereo speakers, a headphone jack, a card reader for SD, xD, MMC, MemoryStick and MemoryStick Pro cards, and a USB 2.0 port for thumb drives or connecting to a PC.
The picture frame, which can be used in both portrait and landscape positions and features a removable stand in case you wish to wall-mount it, will be available in March 2008 for $129.99.
Samsung's LNT4661F 46-inch LCD TV has been one of the most popular HDTV's of 2007. With top of the line features such as 1920x1080 pixel resolution, a 10000:1 dynamic contrast ratio with 16-bit color processing, and lightning quick 8 ms response time, we're not surprised. Samsung's lowest cost 46-inch LCD model also boasts 3 HDMI ports, a USB 2.0 connection, and SRS TruSurroundXT sound, so when we found a brand new one for only $700 we thought you had to know. Found on the Yahoo Auctions site, the Samsung LNT4661F 46 in LCD TV is up for auction at a starting bid and "buy now" price of $700. The set is brand new with all the accessories, warranty and original box and its seller has "good" ratings from all of his previous sales. Looks to be a kosher deal and shipping is free. So far, no one has bid and the auction is set to end early tomorrow, so if you're interested, head that way now.
Jonny Evans of MacWorld states that the Christmas 2007 holiday season could be a deciding factor in establishing the next-generation of optical discs and "may bring the market closer to resolving the war between the competing formats". As demand for the new-generation HD DVD and Blu-ray players increases, prices for system components will also continue to decrease. We'll see continued prices decreases that culminated this year in a sub-$100 HD DVD player and a sub-$300 Blu-ray player. In fact, analysts expect that manufacturers will be able to put together both high-end HD DVD and Blu-ray players for under $150 by sometime in 2008. As manufacturing costs decrease, prices on the players will decrease leading to a wider adoption of the competing formats eventually resulting in widespread sub-$100 prices for both player formats by 2011.
Analysts have also said that Blu-ray sales still dominate the high-def optical disc market most likely due to its greater Hollywood support and studios in support of HD DVD such as Paramount have failed to change the overall dynamics of the market. But things could change, and as we begin to see price decreases in the next year some clarity in the format war should begin to emerge.
It's been predicted that Blockbuster Video will be bankrupt within two years, and the company has responded in an interesting way. After focusing on their Total Access online video business since Netflix came on the scene, probably the major reason for their current financial problems, they've decided to alienate the online customers that have remained loyal to the video giant by jacking up online video rental prices.
Originally Blockbuster charged $17.99 for a 3-DVD plan, that let you have 3 DVD rentals at once, with unlimited mail exchanges and 5 in-store exchanges per month. Netflix was able to charge $16.99 for the same deal, but Blockbuster was losing money. The company elected to up the price to $24.99 per month for the same plan, but allowed unlimited in-store exchanges for the extra $7 per month. They still lost money. Although they boosted their subscription rates for the Total Access service, they found they were attracting the most "price-sensitive" and "heaviest consumption" customers with the in-store exchanges. Because the economics of subscription services means that money is made off of subscribers who don't actually use the service alot, Blockbuster actually made a mistake by offering a service of great value that attracted the most active of movie buffs.
To remedy this situation, Blockbuster has now upped the price of the 3-DVD subscription to $34.99 for new customers for unlimited exchanges by mail and in-store, and from $17.99 to $19.99 for the 5 in-store exchange deal. The real exasperating changes came upon the company's existing customers however. Depending on how much existing customers use the Total Access service, the price for the 3-DVD unlimited exchange plan will be anywhere from $19.99 to $34.99 per month. And you can bet that Blockbuster's most loyal, most active customers will take the heaviest hit to the pocketbook.
Maybe this is part of a greater business strategy that will benefit existing customers in the long run. That remains to be seen, but if not, two years to bankruptcy is starting to sound just about right.
Danish HDTV maker Zepto is set to release two new LCD sets. The 32-inch A32 and 40-inch A40 both feature a built-in wireless media center that detects Windows XP Media Center and Vista Home Premium on a local network, allowing you to view web video without a set-top box. The A32 features a 720p resolution and is priced at $3084 and the A40 features full HD 1080p resolution and will be priced at $3855. Both sets boast a 2000:1 contrast ratio, an 8 ms response time, as well as an adjustable ambient light system that apparently reduces eyestrain without adding excessive light to the room. Both analog and digital broadcasts are received via dual analog tuners and a DVB-T tuner.
If you're planning on doing any last minute online Christmas shopping at Amazon.com, today is the last full day to order using one day shipping guaranteeing delivery by December 24. Back in November we posted our Holiday Gift Guide comprised of all the best Amazon products and prices and today is the last day to check it out if you want to get your high-def gift by Christmas Eve. Take a look at the best plasmas, LCD's, projectors, media streamers, and HD disc players of 2007. Just click on the text link above or the pic at the top of the posting.
Vudu is offering a free set-top box and $50 in movie credits with the purchase of select Sharp Aquos LCD TV's. All Sharp models 42 inches and above include the free box which usually retails for $399. The Vudu box offers instant access to high-def films, TV shows, and approximately 5000 movies with more being added every week. There is no subscription fee for the box or Vudu service; you simply pay as you watch, from 99 cents for a rental to $20 for a movie purchase. We will warn you however, that you pay the full suggested retail price for the Sharp TV's, so you pay for the Vudu in the TV price. The cheapest model available on the Vudu site is the Sharp Aquos LC42D64U, a 42-inch 1080p LCD for $1799.99. Over at Amazon.com, you'll find the same model for $1380. Almost exactly the price difference required to cover the Vudu and movie credits. As the Aquos models get bigger and more expensive, the difference becomes even greater. It'd be cheaper for you to purchase the Aquos models at Amazon and then purchase the Vudu box for it's full $399 price. You'd actually save more money that way.
Do more expensive HDMI cables really deliver a better picture? According to Popular Mechanics, the answer is no. Three types of cables were tested: a generic 13 foot cable priced at $13 at Newegg.com, the $200 13 foot Monster Cable Advanced HDMI 1000 HD cable, and the $300 16 foot Honeywell HDMI Cable With CURxE Light Technology. Surprisingly, despite the huge difference in prices between the generic and brand name cables, the testers were not able to tell the difference in picture quality between any of the cables. Because HDMI is digital, it will either transport the feed or it won't. Popular Mechanic's recommendation: buy the cheap HDMI cables you can find online, and put the price difference into upgrading your HDTV.
Any technology that evolves rapidly tends to leave consumers confused. We can't decide whether to pay the big bucks now and join the early adopters or wait a couple of years until prices drop and included features are better. In the HDTV market, things are especially confusing at the moment. Prices on 40 and 42 inch HDTV's have dropped 39% in the past year and research firm iSuppli figures they'll drop another 30% or so in 2008. Price decreases are comparable for 47 and 52 inch HDTV's dropping 40% this year, and another expected 25% decrease by the end of 2008. So what should you do? Buy now or wait a year?
The New York Times recommends opting for cheaper models at any given time rather than paying an arm and a leg for the newest technologies. If you want to know why, consider this. Only 5 years ago, Fujitsu had a top-of-the-line HDTV tagged at $15000. Early adopters then figured that buying the best HDTV available on the market would future-proof their purchase against technological change over the coming years. They were wrong. That TV is unable to display a 1080p signal, the best resolution currently on the market. If you do want to make the big HDTV purchase now though, what should you be looking for?
HDTV Magazine founder Dale Cripps figures that display resolution won't move beyond 1080p anytime in the near future, so definitely look for a 1080p set. Also make sure there is an ample supply of HDMI ports, preferably three or more. Look for LED backlighting and frame rates of 120 Hz as they tend to produce a clearer picture devoid of motion blur. And as always, just use common sense. More expensive doesn't necessarily mean better.
I've only been at TVSnob for the last quarter of 2007 and I've definitely learned an amazing amount in that time. One of our readers let me on to another secret a couple of days back. Justin, he said, HDTV fans tend to be gadget fans in general and when we look for HDTV deals online we often have our eyes out for other gadget deals as well. Lately, he continued, many of us HDTV buyers are also moving into the world of GPS and we'd like it if TVSnob would point us to more "combo" deals where you feature an HDTV and GPS deal from the same site, just to make it easier for us.
So, just for you HDTV/GPS/gadget fans, we'll point out 3 great HDTV/GPS combo buys just in time for Christmas.
A survey conducted by Harris Interactive of 2455 American adults has revealed that more and more TV viewers are turning to the web to meet some of their entertainment needs. YouTube continues to lead by leaps and bounds as the internet's top destination for video, but search engines and television networks have also gained more traction. 65% of surveyed adults have watched a video on YouTube, up from 42% last year, and 42% of this year's YouTube users visit the site frequently. 43% of surveyed adults have watched video on a television network site, 35% have watched video on a news site, and less than 30% have watched video supplied by a search engine such as Google. Interestingly, more than one-third of those surveyed and more than half in the 18-24 age group like watching web video just because they enjoy the discovery process and sharing the video with friends. Of those surveyed, almost all would watch more full-length television shows and movies online if a greater selection was available. This really seems to go against the conventional web video wisdom that says "shorter is better".
So you've read everything there is to read about Hulu but you either don't have an invite or live outside of the United States so you can't actually see the video platform in action yourself? No worries. A plethora of Hulu clones are popping up on the web that feature Hulu content without all the protective walls.
OpenHulu is one such Hulu clone that, masterminded by Matt Schlicht, features all of Hulu's content on an open site not requiring an invite. However, this will only be of use to you if you live in the US. OpenHulu still doesn't allow visitors from outside of the US. Not really all that open, eh?
TVParadise.org is a site created by some French dude specifically so that non-Americans could watch Hulu content. The site uses embeds and points users to a free VPN that gives them a US-based IP address. The bit stream rate of Hulu video is too much for the VPN, but the lower bit rate of embeds allows the VPN to work. Embeds can also be enlarged to full screen size which isn't a possibility when playing video directly from Hulu.
If you want to take a more ethical route to watching Hulu content without being able to access Hulu, just head to some of its syndication partners's sites. Primetime on MySpace, MSN, Yahoo, AOL, and Comcast's FanCast all feature Hulu content outside of the closed beta platform.
So you already know there'll be a brand new LCD or plasma set gracing your home theater setup as of Christmas day. You've chosen all your accessories and even made a choice between Blu-ray and HD DVD. You still have another choice to make. How'll you receive television content? Cable? Satellite? FiOS? Ben Hardy has penned an excellent article over at Electronic House that lets you in on the pros and cons of each service provider. Definitely a must-read for new HDTV owners this holiday season.
Attention gamers! Get a Gamecube for $50 for only a couple more hours! Regularly priced at $100, Amazon's Gold Box discount brings the price down 50%! Just add it to your cart and the discount will be automatically applied at the checkout!
There is still time to do online shopping for Christmas and have your gifts shipped in time, and the deals just keep getting better as we get closer and closer to the big day. Sony's DAV-X1 Platinum DVD Dream Home Theater System is only $319.97 with free shipping at Amazon.com today. Putting that price in perspective is pretty easy, since it's a huge 73% off the regular price of $1200!
The DAV-X1 is a stylish home theater unit featuring a multi-format single disc DVD player, 2.1-channel surround sound through two satellite speakers and a subwoofer with SACD playback, and standard DVD upscaling to 720p/1080i high-def resolution. It also features an ample amount of audio/video connections including an HDMI output port and a digital tuner with 30 AM/FM station presets.
Also, if you're looking for a pair of speaker stands and way to maximize this already unreal deal, couple the DAV-X1 with Sony's WSFV11 speaker stands.
Currently marked down 50% from $140, a pair of the WSFV11 stands are only $69.99 if purchased as a standalone product and with the DAV-X1 the final combined price is only $389.96. Regularly, the combined price of the two products would be $1340! Just add the items separately to your shopping cart and let Amazon take care of the details or press the Buy both now! button on the DAV-X1 page.
Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer will be trying his hand at making video games soon, thanks to a deal with MTV. Games would probably begin to hit store shelves in 2009 and will be completely separate and distinct from his popular TV shows and movies such as CSI and Pirates of the Caribbean. Rather than games based on popular TV shows, this deal would see something of the reverse done, with original games being released and then shows or movies released based on the games. Bruckheimer is already working on a movie adaptation of the video game series Prince of Persia, which will begin filming next summer. One thing we do know for sure is to expect video games with plenty of action, explosions, fights, and car chases! We're looking forward to this!
Planning on upgrading to a new high-def television? Have an old clunker headed for the garbage dump? We have a better idea for you. Sony is offering you $100 off a new Bravia set if you trade in your old television. Of course, there is one small catch. Only old Sony sets will be recycled for free, all other name brands will only be recycled for a "nominal fee" (somewhere in the neighborhood of $25-50). Regardless of what type of set you bring in though, you'll still receive the $100 discount. All's you have to do is bring your old set down to the nearest Sony Style store or call 877-865-SONY. The program, called the Sony Take Back Recycling Program ends March 15, 2008.
Could we be seeing LCD TV's boasting resolutions of up to 4000x2000 pixels in our living rooms in the near future? An article in the New York Times quoted Samsung's American VP for LCD sales as saying that "LCD sets are getting bigger, and increasing in resolution and quality, leading to a market similar to computers" and "the next wave of resolution will be 8-times the resolution of HD". That could be a hint that Samsung plans to start mass producing 4000x2000 pixel displays in the near future. This would require an entirely new manufacturing plant and Samsung is apparently talking "about the idea with potential customers". Maybe "near future" is an overly optimistic prediction. Given it takes about 18 months to get a new plant up and running, we give it at least 3 years to happen.
Ingram Micro Inc.'s V7 has announced a new line of LCD mounts and monitor stands for mounting most brands of flat-panel TV's and monitors. All mounts and stands come with a quick releasing bracket for easy installation, are UL approved, and meet VESA standards.
The Universal Combo Display Wall Mounts are made of stainless steel and available in two sizes, one for 23-37 inch displays and one for 37-60 inch displays. They can either be mounted flush with the wall for direct viewing or at a 5 degree downward angle. The smaller mount will retail for approximately $199 and the larger mount for $299.
If you're the web TV-viewing type, you'll have a choice of several monitor mounts included in the new line. The Single Gas Arm Monitor Stand is made of stainless steel, can support up to 28 pounds, and is built for monitors 13-23 inches. The Dual Arm Work Station Monitor Stand and the Quad Arm Work Station Monitor Stand are made for viewing several two monitors simultaneously. We see this as the future of flipping channels, minus the carpal tunnel syndrome. Available in single, double, and quad models for those with amazing powers of concentration, the stands will retail for $199.99, $249.99, and $499.99 respectively.
Finally, the V7 Height Adjustable LCD Monitor Stand features an adjustable height of up to 18 inches and tilts and swivels up to 15 degrees to suit your best viewing angle. Once again made of solid steel, this monitor stand can hold monitors weighing up to 25 pounds and will retail for $119.
Oh, the format war just keeps getting better and better. If you just can't decide on whether or not to buy that Blu-ray or HD DVD player as a gift this Christmas (after all we know it's confusing), consider bidding on this "extremely rare and official" Sony Blu-ray leather jacket over at ebay Netherlands. Bidding starts at 75 Euros for the black leather jacket with the Blu-ray logo emblazoned on the breast and Sony logo on the cuff. I mean yeah, I guess you'll be taking sides, but it's just so cool! Whether or not this is a Sony promotion is unknown, but the consensus seems to say yes as it originated at a Sony presentation in the US.
ebay via Gizmodo
If you're looking to stock up on either Blu-ray discs or HD DVD's, Best Buy has a "buy one disc, get one free" offer happening now at their website. Title selection is limited, but hot titles such as 300 and Saw III are available and all titles are around $10-15 off. Just add two titles to the shopping cart and your purchase will be automatically priced accordingly.
LG Electronics has released two more DivX certified high-def televisions in their Time Machine LCD TV Series. The two new models, the 42LB9RT and 32LB9RT, allow you to watch and record programming at the same time and allow DivX content transfer to the TV through a built-in USB port. They also both feature a built-in 80 GB hard disc drive. The two new models, as well as the rest of the Time Machine Series, will be geared toward the South American market.
As you probably know now, the Playstation 3 2.10 update has been released, bringing with it Blu-ray Profile 1.1 support. Gizmodo has run a battery of tests on it and given us a verdict. After testing, they've decided the XBox 360 implementation is better. There is DivX and WMV playback support as promised, but no such support for XviD as many were hoping. Definitely not a feature that should be missed given that many video downloads are now in XviD format. You also need to download Windows Media Player 11 for video playback. The Windows default SMB folder sharing or Windows Media Connect are not usable. Definitely a pain in the ass. You can playback burned CD's and DVD's and the picture quality is pretty good for both this type of content and streamed media as well. Plus the PS3 can tell what aspect ratio your files are and adjusts them to properly fit your screen, doing a much better job than the Xbox 360. And finally, according to Gizmodo, the new user interface is just plain pathetic. They recommend the XBox 360 as the better media center.
Sony's BDP-S300 Blu-ray player has dropped in price all the way down to $294 from $500, also a price reduction from the summer release price of $600. Blu-ray is definitely making a last minute bid before Christmas to make a similar price impact to that of HD DVD prior to Black Friday.
The 1080p full HD BDP-S300 also upscales standard DVD format and 24 Hz True Cinema video output allows you to view movies exactly as they'd be played in the theater, but with a much better picture. x.v.Color allows 1.8 times more color reproduction than current HDTV signals, and Bravia Sync technology allows you to control the BDP-S300, select Sony Bravia television's and Sony audio/video accessories with one remote. A Blu-ray copy of Spiderman 3 is also included in the box and if you place a copy of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End in your shopping cart at Amazon.com, a discount will be applied at the checkout which will end up getting you the movie title for absolutely free! And don't forget the rebate offer from the Blu-ray Disc Association which will net you another 5 Blu-ray discs for free.
Toshiba has released the world's first re-writable HD DVD drive with their Qosmio G40 computer which also comes equipped with a digital tuner and is capable of recording two programs at once. HD playback is courtesy of Toshiba's HD QosmioEngine on a 17 inch LCD monitor with 1920x1200 pixel resolution using a 2.2 Ghz Core 2 Duo T7500 processor. The G40 also features 400GB of HDD space, HDMI output, and 2GB of memory. Priced at ¥400,000 or $3530 US, the Qosmio G40 with HDDVD-RW is set to be released in Japan in February 2008.
For those of you overcome by sins of the flesh, or in different terms, like to watch porn, you'll be thrilled to know that a new IPTV service FyreTV is launching in beta today. The service uses its own set-top box that connects to your television and broadband connection and streams DVD-quality adult content to your television screen. It uses a search feature that allows you to find movies based on variables such as title, performer, and even (get this!) sexual positions. The box has TiVo-like qualities that allow you to fast forward, rewind, and even pinpoint certain scenes in the content and create lists of favorites to bookmark your favorites. Just remember you do pay for what you watch. But by watch, FyreTV means straightforward playing time. You won't pay for time rewinding, fastforwarding, or searching for content. And just think, no more embarrassment when everybody looks at you "in that way" as you walk out of that room in the back of the video store with your paper bag.
Last month we introduced you to MobiTV's MobiVJ service which allows you to view a variety of music video stations on your cell phone through AT&T service provision. Check out the video of the MobiVJ service in action above.
Halo fans will be pleased to know that Walmart has Halo 3 Legendary Edition for the Xbox 360 on sale for $59.82. The latest purchase date to receive your copy by Christmas Eve using standard shipping is December 18 and using 1 day shipping, December 20. Judging by the fact that the first-person shooter is going for $130 at Amazon.com, supplies won't last, so jump on this now!
Christmas Day is approaching fast and the next few days are critical for those looking to order gifts online. Most online retailers are stating that you must order within the next 4 days to receive your gifts by December 24, just in time to get them wrapped up and under the tree.
So, for those of you who are really pushing things to the last minute, our Holiday Gift Guide is still going strong and will save you the precious time required to research the best HDTV models and prices on the web. We've already done it for you and have linked right to the product pages to make it as easy for you as possible.
The guide is separated into 5 separate mini-guides featuring the best products of 2007 in each category. The mini-guides outline the best LCD's, plasma's, HD DVD and Blu-ray players, media streamers and projectors of 2007. Just click on the gift guide image above to access the main page for the guide.
Save $800 off the regular price of $2800 for the Samsung FPT5084 50-inch plasma tv, meaning you'll pay only $1999.77 with free shipping.
The FPT5084 features 1920x1080 pixel resolution, an impressive 15000:1 contrast ratio, Natural True Color technology with an 18 bit processor, an anti-glare filter, and an NTSC/ATSC tuner with QAM capabilities. Picture in picture lets you watch TV while at the same time using a different device such as your PC, although it does not allow the simultaneous viewing of two separate television shows. SRS TruSurround XT sound is delivered through built-in bottom speakers via 15 watt amps and plenty of inputs are included such as three HDMI 1.3 ports and two conveniently located A/V inputs on the side of the set so you don't have to access the back for all of your wiring. Head on over to Amazon.com or click on the image above to take a closer look at the Samsung FPT5084.
Oh, and a couple more quick things. Right now, those who purchase Samsung HDTV's 40 inches or larger will receive a free $100 gift certificate for NFLShop.com. Just click this link to open a PDF file you can print out and mail in to receive yours. Also, when you checkout with your brand new HDTV, add the Logitech Harmony 550 universal remote and you'll receive it for free!
Right now at Amazon.com, if you buy one HD DVD you get one free. Your selection is limited to 52 different titles however, and of those only 5 are 2007 releases. They are all on sale however, and come on now, you do get one free!
Once again all the cool stuff hits Japan before it jumps the pond. December 18 a big Sony PSP firmware update, version 3.8, is being released allowing the new slim PSP's to record 1 seg digital broadcasts. While it is definitely cool to see such an ultimate portable DVR, recording is only possible in Sleep mode, so you can't record while using the internet or during gameplay. But recording during Sleep mode will definitely be less of drain to battery life, very possibly the reason for that decision on the part of Sony. Other new features coming with the firmware update include expanded RSS capabilities, an internet radio station, video search by scene, and access to a series of demos and wallpapers via PSP WiFi spots.
The PlusTV Hybrid Stick is a pocket-sized tuner that simply plugs into your PC's USB port and after an easy setup process you're ready to watch either analog or digital cable TV on your computer screen. It streams signals up to a resolution of 1080i, is compatible with Windows Media Center, and feature Digital Dolby audio output.
Samsung will be showing the world's biggest OLED TV at CES 2008. While Sony was first to hit the market with their 11-inch XEL-1, Samsung has definitely trumped them in the size category. So far that's the only news. No word yet about cost, mass production, or consumer availability. We do know though that even at a price tag of the equivalent of $1800 US for the XEL-1, Sony is still taking a loss on each set, even though only enough are produced to sell 2000 units per month. It'll probably be a while before mass production of OLED displays becomes cost efficient enough to produce 40-inch displays for home theater use at a decent price.
The LNT4669 features full 1080p high-def resolution, Wide Color Enhancer technology making colors look more natural, Auto Motion Plus 120 Hz frame rate technology, and a 178 degree viewing angle making your home theater organization a cinch. A 20000:1 contrast ratio guarantees a huge range of vivid colors between the blackest of blacks and whitest of whites. 3 HDMI ports and a variety of other inputs make hooking up all of your home theater components no problem at all and HDMI-CEC means you can coordinate everything on your new Logitech Harmony remote. This would definitely make a great gift; don't pass it up.
NEC's largest LCD display yet, the 65-inch Multisync LCD6520, announced just last week, features some of the most innovative features on the market. Marketed for commercial uses, such as digital signage, this monster would be just as well-suited to your home theater. Featuring NEC's Digital Signage Technology Suite, the LCD6520 features more than 20 features specific to digital signage. It also includes an expansion slot, an important HDTV component in the rapidly evolving TV tech world, making it adaptable to emerging technologies such as IPTV.
The full HD 1920x1080 pixel display features a 2000:1 contrast ratio, a quick 6 ms response time, and NEC's Ambix+ Technology which supports both digital and analog inputs. Optional components include a digital tuner for landscape model and 15-watt speakers available next year.
Coming in two models, the LCD6520L-AV and LCD6520P-AV, priced at $18499.99 and $19999.99 respectively, NEC's new LCD is available for shipping. If of course it fits in your budget.
In another high-def related market research survey, Frank N. Magid Associates have reached the conclusion that HDTV buyers' are making their purchasing decision based on the picture quality inherent in high-def TV's, as opposed to buying for HD specific programming. Sometimes I wonder why companies spend thousands of dollars to conduct surveys that state the obvious, and repeat the results of every other market research companies identical survey from the past year. However, in this survey, only 13% of respondents said they were likely to purchase an HDTV in the next year. Far off the one-third of "HDTV Intenders" who are likely to purchase in the next 6 months!
Sony CEO Howard Stringer has announced that the US will be the next launchpad for the Sony XEL-1 OLED TV after its recent release in Japan. The 3 mm thin OLED will begin "limited sales" next year on American soil at a price that is as of yet unannounced. In Japan, only 2000 XEL-1's are available per month at a price tag of the equivalent of $1800 US dollars. Despite the hefty price tag for the 11-inch TV, Sony says they are still taking a loss on each set due to the high cost of production.
The Diffusion Group, another bunch of market analysts thrilled by the HD DVD/Blu-ray format war, have predicted HD DVD will be the format of choice in the next 6 months for those intending to move into the high-def world of television. Their research has indicated that nearly one-third of non-HDTV households are interested in purchasing a high-def TV in the next 6 months. This group of consumers, labeled by The Diffusion Group as "HDTV Intenders" tend to be more mainstream than early HDTV adopters, being more ethnically diverse, lower income, and younger. Interestingly, of this group of Intenders, 43% prefer HD DVD, 27% prefer Blu-ray, and 30% are undecided. Maybe the format war isn't as confusing to buyers as originally thought.
Toshiba has delayed to plans to sell OLED TV's by 2009-2010 as originally planned. Back in April, Toshiba announced plans to begin marketing 30-inch OLED TV's by March 2010, but the costs of mass production are currently too high for that to be a reality. The company will focus on commercializing OLED displays for cellphones next year and continue to monitor the market for a better time to hit the OLED TV scene. High production costs are the reason only 2000 Sony XEL-1 units per month are available in Japan despite much higher demand for the 11-inch wonder. OLED, which stands for organic light-emitting diode, displays are of interest to both television manufacturers and consumers because they are lighter, brighter, thinner and more energy efficient than the LCD and plasma displays currently on the market.
The Vudu digital media receiver, that up until now only streamed internet-delivered movies onto your TV and called "Netflix in a box" by CNET is now featuring some television shows on its content roster. Vudu has added 12 TV shows to its selection including 24, Family Guy, My Name Is Earl, Prison Break, and Shark. Priced at $1.99 per episode, the same price as shows downloaded from Apple's iTunes, the episodes will be available in standard definition although Vudu continues to make the move to HD with the availability of The Bourne Ultimatum starting today and the previous two Bourne blockbusters in HD since November 23.
TVSnob's everywhere have been buzzing the past few days after the Samsung BDP1400 Blu-ray player cracked the $300 barrier, with the best prices found at Amazon.com ($274) and Costco ($280). While the price has been reduced at Amazon.com again early this morning. At only $269.98, once again we have the lowest price on a stand-alone Blu-ray player ever. And shipping is free, right to your doorstep in time for Christmas. The only deal around that could be argued to be better would be the $399 40 GB Playstation 3. Obviously not a stand-alone player.
Just when we were all impressed with the TiVo Series 3 with 2 terabytes of storage, we come across this. The SnapStream Enterprise DVR, a cross between a traditional DVR and a search engine, can record up to 10 channels at once and store up to 2300 hours of content. Being commercial grade, the Enterprise actually allows you to search within content to pinpoint that which happens to be most important to you. It has the easy setup and all the features of a consumer DVR as well, allowing to to watch, rewind, and pause live TV. Skipping commercials is easy as well with SnapStream's SmartSkip technology, and you can even work on your PC while watching TV in one corner of your computer screen. It's not priced like a TiVo however, with a hefty tag of $15000. Check out the video above for a demo.
Costco is selling the Samsung BDP1400 with 8 Blu-ray discs for $279.99 according to a rumor floating around the blogosphere. Buyer's receive a $100 instant rebate and then head over to the Samsung website to receive their 5 free discs from the Blu-ray Disc Association, 2 Warner titles from Samsung, as well as a bonus copy of the first disc in the Planet Earth series.
Blu-ray definitely seems to be firing back at the HD DVD camp just in time for Christmas after massive price cuts on the Toshiba HD-A2 HD DVD player pre-Black Friday. In the past week, we've seen the BDP1400 on both Amazon and Target.com for under $300.
Engadget HD has also reported that Panasonic plans to begin bundling Blu-ray players and plasma TV's starting next week in an attempt to double their American market share. So far they've been sparse with details, but the bundling "may" result in a discount and will be focused on Best Buy and Circuit City stores. Panasonic also has stated a planned release of two "higher-end" Blu-ray players in January. Hopefully with a few higher priced releases we'll see lower-end Blu-ray prices continue to drop!
WeaKnees, the online superstore devoted to TiVo products and upgrades, is featuring a TiVo Series 3 DVR with an unbelievable 2 terabytes of storage capacity. That's about 292 hours of HD content storage capacity and 2800 hours of standard definition capacity. Rather than just a 1 terabyte internal drive, the WeaKnees TiVO also includes a 1 terabyte external hard drive, but it will also set you back a pretty penny as it costs $1599 after a $200 rebate. The company is generous enough to ship for free after you empty your bank account into theirs.
The Samsung LNT4671F 46-inch LCD TV is on sale at Amazon.com for $1000 off right now including free shipping. Regularly priced at $3200, you'll pay only $2199.98! There is nothing better than keeping a grand in your wallet in the weeks before Christmas. The LNT4671F goes way beyond 1080p resolution which is an achievement unto itself. It uses Auto Motion Plus 120 Hz technology for a clear picture with minimal motion blur, a 25000:1 contrast ratio for deep blacks , white whites and every vivid color in between, and an 8 ms response time. Hidden side speaker and 2.2 channel dome speakers use SRS TruSurround XT sound technology for a life-like audio experience and 3 HDMI ports and a wide variety of other inputs makes connecting all your home theater components to the LNT4671F a piece of cake. The best part is the HDMI-CEC features lets you control everything with one remote!
We should also point out that Samsung's previous model, the LNT4669 46-inch LCD is also on sale for $900 off, meaning you pay only $2099.98 including free shipping!
Nokia chief technology officer Tero Ojanpera said on Wednesday that Nokia phones will not only be able to playback high-definition video content, but record it as well within 2 years. Nokia's first phone with NTSC (640x480) video capture, the N95, only began shipping last year and many improvements must still be made to reach 720p (1280x720) resolution, the generally accepted baseline resolution required to be considered HD. Many of the challenges in the next two years will be directly related to improving chipset performance without significantly reducing battery life and finding ways of storing content on the phones without consuming dozens of megabytes-per-minute. Nokia's CTO fully believes that given the current state of high-def video now, that they will reach this goal in 2 years, no matter the current challenges.
When the post-Black Friday numbers came out and it was reported that Blu-ray disc sales had reached 2.7 million units sold in North America we knew that a good chunk of those sales came from Playstation 3 purchases. What percentage of sales came from the PS3 was something we weren't sure about, but the folks over at DailyTech did a little digging and came up with this: Playstation 3 sales account for 74% of the 2.7 million Blu-ray players sold. The number of PS3's sold through Black Friday was about 2.3 million, meaning only 400000 standalone players were sold in North America in the first 11 months of 2007. HD DVD's reported sales number of 750000 HD DVD units sold post Black-Friday also includes contributions from the XBox 360. One big difference though is the fact that the 360's HD DVD functionality requires a separate add-on that pretty much ensures those buyer's use the 360 to watch HD DVD. On the other hand, we wonder how many PS3 users use the Blu-ray player on their consoles? We'll do some digging and see what we can find.
Save $225 on the Samsung BD-P1400 Blu-ray player and pay only $274.48 at Amazon.com. This is a full 45% off the regular price of $500 and probably one of the best Blu-ray buys you'll find before Christmas. The BD-P1400 has Blu-ray playback at 1080p through HDMI output, upconverts DVD's to full high-def, and theater-quality sound is delivered by Dolby Digital Plus and Dolby True HD technologies. Once again, I'll remind you that in my personal opinion, this will be the best Blu-ray deal until Christmas!
Have any questions about your HDTV hook-up this Christmas? Panasonic has relaunched their Plasma Concierge service through until February 3, 2008 and unlike last year, you don't have to be a Panasonic plasma owner to use it. Live experts will be open to HDTV questions for any make and model and if you don't have an HDTV yet and aren't sure exactly what you need, they'll do an over-the-phone assessment of your TV-watching environment, budget, etc. and provide you with the best models to suit your needs. Just expect they'll be peddling off Panasonic models.
You can access the Plasma Concierge service by calling 1-888-777-1170 Monday to Friday 9 AM to 9 PM ET, and Saturday to Sunday 10 AM to 7 PM ET.
Target.com is featuring the Olevia 747i 1080p LCD TV for $1600, $500 off the regular price of $2100. The 1080p, 47-inch panel displays video in sharp, vivid, yet natural color and is completely devoid of picture noise. It also features rear speakers that are removable if you happen to have better ones. Oh yeah, and a solid layer of protective glass protects the LCD screen from such damaging objects as your children! As a little incentive to purchase, Target is also promising free shipping of the 747i to your door in 1-2 business days, well before your December 25 deadline.
EchoStar, the company that purchased Sling Media for $380 million near the end of September, has changed its name to DISH Network in an attempt to better reflect its business. It will also spin-off some of its businesses into another company called EchoStar Holding Co. (EHC), which will include its Sling Media branch. Company big-wigs believe that separation from EchoStar Communications will allow them to more easily distribute set-top boxes to a broader market of multi-channel video distributors. GigaOm's Om Malik has come up with some interesting scenarios that the new structural organization of the EchoStar business could lead to. We'll let you head over there to explore a little more, but in the meantime check out the cool presentation above of the Slingbox in action.
Amazon.com has made a $30 price cut on the Xbox 360 HD DVD player just in time for Christmas. Regularly priced at $180, the HD DVD player is now only $149.99 and free shipping is included. The player delivers video in resolutions up to 6 times that of standard DVD, features built-in surround sound audio, and an easy-to-use, interactive graphical interface with picture-in-picture commentary. This is your lowest cost option to enter the HD DVD market and will make an excellent addition to your home theater.
Not even six months ago, Microsoft's high-def player dropped in price to $180 and there are reports circulating the web of its availability on Amazon for $129, but I haven't seen it myself at that price yet. $149 is the lowest I've seen it go.
When will the HD DVD/Blu-ray format war end? No time in the foreseeable future, according to Helen Davis Jayalath, senior analyst at Screen Digest. She estimates that by 2012, American high-def software sales will still be more or less evenly split among the two formats with Blu-ray making up 55% and HD DVD making up 45% of sales respectively. Globally the split will sit at 60%/40%, with the advantage once again going to the Blu-ray format.
This so-called stalemate is the result of a few different factors. One is the continuing dominance of the standard definition DVD and the availability of low cost upscaling DVD players that improve the playback of standard-def DVD's to high-def quality. Similar quality at a lower cost is obviously going to be the consumer's pick. Another reason is the format war itself. Without either format proclaiming dominance or victory, potential buyers will sit back and wait for a dominant format to emerge before making any high-def purchasing decisions. Finally, studios' continuing obsession with copyright theft makes spreading high-def content to platforms most convenient to the consumer, such as portable media devices, difficult thereby delaying adoption.
I've quite enjoyed keeping you updated on the neverending drama of this format war, but will it remain interesting for another 5 years?
If you're still desperately searching for a Nintendo Wii to become your latest home theater addition this Christmas, you can check out the Wired Guide to scoring one which we mentioned yesterday, or you can head over to ebay where you'll find one on sale for the very reasonable price of $1234567.89! But this isn't just any Wii, this ia a "lucky" Wii destined to bring you all the attention you need to launch your business, brand, or product to the moon. Seller 69starz69 even makes sure he justifies his use of the word "lucky" by providing a convincing explanatory Christmas tree!
Michael Bay of Transformers fame says that the ongoing HD DVD/Blu-ray format war is nothing more than a huge conspiracy engineered by Microsoft. Now the format war has always been characterized by constant drama, from European disputes over sales numbers to legal involvement in forum arguments, but this takes it to a whole new level. Bay, a Blu-ray supporter, says that Microsoft has been paying off studios as a way to lend more support to HD DVD to create "confusion in the market" where Blu-ray is the clearly superior player. Microsoft is apparently doing this until video downloads go prime time in hopes that both sides in the format war will flounder and the company will emerge as the leading player in the video download market. Wow, nothing like a conspiracy theory to make that war flame burn brighter!
The heavily criticized video platform, Hulu, has announced the launching of their HD Gallery, an assortment of high-definition videos with 1280x720 resolution made possible by the compression powers of the H.264 video codec. The system requirements are fairly high-end at the moment, but Hulu acknowledges that the gallery is a sneak preview for those on the cutting edge of technology who want a look at streaming high definition video on the web. At the moment, system requirements include an internet connection of 24 Kbps or higher, a completely up-to-date Adobe Flash Player 9, and a "fast computer".
There has been speculation for some time now that the Xbox 360 fall update would include IPTV, and for the past couple of days the rumor began to float around again. This time was only different in that the IPTV update would require provider support to work. Gizmodo contacted Microsoft today and lo and behold, they said in no uncertain terms that there would be no IPTV included with the current update. Let the rumors begin again.
The Nintendo Wii has to be the Christmas gift in highest demand this holiday season, and high demand usually means low or no supply when you head to your local retailer in an attempt to get your hands on one. And that's proved to be true, with Nintendo expecting to fall short of Wii's before Christmas. One guy I work with has been talking about his adventures in Wii-hunting for the last three weeks now, and his lack of success in getting his hands on one. He finally did succeed this past Saturday at a local Toys R Us outlet, but only after waiting outside for 4 hours before the doors opened to ensure he got a ticket to guarantee he got one of the 52 in stock.
For those of you who haven't be so lucky as of yet, and are losing hope in your ability to get a Wii for the big day, take a look at this guide over at Wired.com: How To Score A Wii This Christmas. It outlines all the best strategies and techniques for upping your chances of landing the elusive Wii.
CNET's Crave blog has found more than a few sellers are offering the 4GB Microsoft Zune MP3 player for around 30% off this week, priced at only $149.99. BuyDig, OfficeMax, and others are featuring the Zune deal through December 8. The Zune, among other things, features video playback and composite video output, of utmost importance to TVSnob's. The 4GB Zune offers the same downloading ease as the Apple iPod, and supports WMV, MPEG-4, and H.264 video formats at DVD-quality natively at a rate of 30 frames per second. The Zune can also import DVR-MS recorded video content using Windows Media Player and although the player's small screen only has a pixel resolution of 320x240, it can store video content with resolution up to 720x480. While it may not be the best portable media player around, the price cut makes it worth a look.
Why anyone would download a movie off iTunes for $15 is beyond me, but Gizmodo has reported that Apple has given in to movie studios resulting in the price increase and is apparently part of a strategy intended to attract studios to the iTunes music store. The average DVD costs around $18 and with that you get a tangible item, with a case and insert with movie details and artwork. I rather pay the extra $3 myself.
Gizmodo has stated that this is all rumor at this point in time, but the concessions made on the part of Apple are also a way to get studios to encode an iTunes-friendly version of their movie directly onto DVD so people can import them to their computers and then to their various Apple media-playing products. Good work on Apple's part in working with the studios in such a way that benefits them, but I think this is one Apple affair that won't take off.
Sony will debut a for-pay video download service for the Playstation 3 starting December 6 in Japan. While they've offered movie trailers since the PS3's release, their download service really marks their official entrance into the video-on-demand market. They plan to offer video downloads starting at $1.85 as compared to Microsoft's $2 price tag for standard definition content, and will start with "BBC-fueled car-related content in honor of Gran Turismo 5", likely the Top Gear content announced for the game. I've said from the beginning that Sony should look at the PS3 as a full-blown media center/set-top box rather than a video game console and it seems with Microsoft moving full speed ahead into the IPTV market, they're finally moving in the right direction. When the download service will be available in North America is unknown, but we'll continue to follow the evolution of the PS3 and have you a date as soon as possible.
Save $200 off the Logitech Harmony 1000 Advanced Universal Remote, regularly priced at $500, and featured right now at only $299.99. That's a full 40% off this one-button-press, full home theater power remote. That's right, with the touch of only one icon on the Logitech's 3.5-inch touchscreen, all your home theater components will launch. The user interface is large and backlit for a clear display and ease of use. While most universal's are a giant pain in the ass to setup, all you have to do is connect your 1000 Advanced to your computer and a wizard-like setup process gets everything integrated for you in a matter of minutes. Also, a lithium-ion battery with an included recharging stand ensures that you'll never suffer from dead remote batteries at the most inopportune times again. Don't pass this one up! One of the best remotes for techies and TVSnob's alike at nearly half off!
There is an absolute multitude of hilarious video content on the web. In fact, if you're looking for a good laugh, you've got better chances on the net than your TV. Productivity blog Zen Habits has dug up the top ten funniest YouTube vids out there right now. Here they are:
Save a huge $820, a full 33%, off the Sony KDL-40XBR2 40-inch Bravia XBR 1080p LCD TV right now at Amazon.com. Featuring a 16:9 aspect ratio, full HD 1080p panel, a Bravia Engine PRO video processor, and a Live Color Creation System featuring WCG-CCFL backlight, the KDL-40XBR2 is a must buy addition to your home theater system. Three HDMI inputs can accomodate your PS3, XBox 360, or your Wii, as well as your HD DVD and/or Blu-ray player, and set-top box is the perfect input combination for all your entertainment needs. The CCFL backlight results in vivid colors, and the Bravia Engine will bring the darkest darks and whitest whites to your LCD screen. Did we mention it features a built-in ATSC tuner with QAM capability? Don't pass this one up!
Audio technology dealer Klipsch has an awesome article entitled "Get Turned On: A Woman's Guide To Purchasing Audio Gear". Being the Christmas season, alot of TVSnob men are going to be asking for audio equipment to spiff up their home theater, and it usually falls on the significant other to go out and make the requested purchase. The problem is that alot of women tend to look at electronics as a "man thing" and find the concept of entering a big-box electronics retailer or specialty shop to buy speakers more than a daunting prospect.
Sarah Knight of Klipsch turns this myth on its head by explaining how she went from "audio illiterate" to a virtual technical connoisseur in the span of a few years. Rather than try to impress us with her knowledge, she lays out some excellent tips in laywoman's terms for women expecting to make speaker purchases. I encourage you to head over to Klipsch and read the article, but I'll condense it here into ten of the more relevant points. Before I do that though, I should also point out that this would be a great read for a lot of men looking to make speaker purchases as well.
Ten Tips To Remember When Purchasing Speakers
1. Don't buy into the myth that audio is a "man thing". Quality home theater sound should be enjoyed by everyone.
2. Do not let the box filled with a bunch of wires and plastic parts intimidate you.
3. The environment where the speakers are set up will effect the sound quality. Room dimensions, wall ornaments and furniture placement affect sound. Before going out to search for the perfect speaker system, draw up a diagram of the room you will place them in.
4. Know what the speakers will be used for. If they are to be used solely for listening to music, you'll need a different system than one that'll be used for TV, movies, and video games.
6. Decide on your budget and then decide whether you'll be purchasing your speakers at a big-box retailer, specialty shop, or through a custom installer. The price tends to increase in the order of the three options listed.
7. Bring your favorite CD or movie when shopping for speakers so you can test it on different brands of equipment.
8. Do not buy speakers based on their looks.
9. Don't let a salesperson confuse you with technical jargon. They want the sale, so if you don't know what they're talking about, work with a different salesperson.
10. Once you have your speakers, you will need a receiver to funnel sound through those speakers. The more stuff you have hooked into your home theater system, the bigger the receiver you'll need. Buy a receiver with a little more capacity than you need in case you decide to add another component to your entertainment center at a later date.
For those of you anxiously waiting for the expected debut of the laser TV this Christmas: you can stop waiting. The Sydney Morning Herald reported on November 27 that the "plasma killer" probably won't be available until 2009 in Australia. Mitsubishi Digital Electronics said that we can expect a major announcement at CES 2008 in the US, but when the laser TV will be available to American buyers is still unknown. It is expected that that the new model will be sold in the States 12-18 months before it hits shelves in Australia, so with a forecasted release of 2009 down under, it seems that the CES announcement would be that of an upcoming release date. Of course it won't be Christmas 2007.
The laser TV can supposedly produce twice the range of colors as the best plasmas while at the same time being thinner, lighter, and more energy efficient. The recent move into 3D movies such as Beowulf will likely increase the popularity of the laser TV upon release as the new technology fully supports 3D home theater. So we won't be seeing the promised laser TV this Christmas, but keep your eyes and ears open for the CES show in January 2008.
Wal-mart started the month off with a bang announcing an early Black Friday and pricing the Toshiba HD-A2 HD DVD player at only $99, although the player had broken through the $200 barrier for the first time only a week previous. Best Buy matched their offer only a few hours later and the race was on for buyer's to take advantage of this sweet deal. This proved too much for certain members of the Blu-ray party in the ongoing format war and police became involved in a dispute over at the wildly popular AVSForum.
It's hard dealing with job loss and most of us have to do it at some point in our lives, but Vimeo (high-def video platform) co-founder Jakob Lodwick dealt with his dismissal in a fashion destined to become classic. Rumor started yesterday that Lodwick had left Vimeo, but the reasoning behind his departure was an unknown. Techcrunch reported today that he was indeed fired after not seeing "eye to eye with the IAC brass on creative issues" and a dispute with IAC chief exec Barry Diller. Vimeo is IAC-owned for those of you who didn't know, just to clarify the above statements.
Obviously being let go from your baby, so to speak, is a tough nut to swallow and it showed as this great picture was included with Jakob's farewell post on his blog (it seems to be gone now).
Save $450 or 25% off the Sony Bravia KDL-40V3000 40-inch 1080p LCD television right now at Amazon.com. That means you'll only pay $1450 rather than the regular $1900, and the sale price includes free shipping to your door with plenty of time to spare before Christmas. The KDL-40V3000 features a 10-bit color processor and display, 1920x1080 full HD pixel resolution, and 16:9 aspect ratio. It also features the Bravia Engine EX Full Digital Video Processor which can upconvert 480i standard definition signals to full high-def! The WCG-CCFL backlight works in tandem with the Bravia Engine to create deep blues and natural greens, colors that typically cause problems with LCD's. Sony also uses an Advanced Contrast Enhancer function that build on their on-contrast ratio performance of 1600:11 resulting in a dynamic contrast ratio of 13000:12 meaning deeper blacks with no loss of detail otherwise. There is almost too much to talk about with this model. It'll provide you with ample inputs for all of your home theater needs and is definitely a model I'll think about adding to my home theater setup!
The world's most popular high-def online video platform, Vuze, has signed a deal with the United Talent Agency, who will be the sole representative for the company in the area of business development. Although Vuze already has over 100 content partners, the United Talent Agency aims to help the company better infiltrate Hollywood's most creative writers and producers, help find more high quality content providers, and help connect Vuze to consumer brands leading to more branded entertainment channels. Of course this means you'll probably see a heck of a lot more advertising from the video platform. Formerly known as Azureus, Inc., Vuze has acquired 13 million unique clients in its first 10 months of operations, and its user base continues to grow at the rate of 500000 per week.
A rather critical review of the Solwise DMP-1120w UPnP/DLNA network media player by Reg Hardware shed some light on the functionality of this relatively low-cost PC-to-TV box. The Solwise seemed to be plagued by problems right from the initial setup. While most wireless streamers simply plug into your TV and connect wirelessly to your network's router, not so with the Solwise. It was an ordeal to establish a wireless connection and once that was done, another ordeal began as the testers tried to establish the PC as the "media source". This should be a straight forward process. Furthermore, the Solwise's specs aren't anything great either. There is no HD output, and though you can connect the streamer to a HDTV, you'll still see a standard definition picture on the screen. The box also has no hard drive so your PC has to be turned on pretty much all the time and it can't pull content from your computer without the user being logged in to Windows Media Player or installing a Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) compliant media server app.
Importing your iTunes library from WMP to the Solwise pretty much guarantees a complete reorganization or perhaps disorganization of your files, and the box can't pull content from YouTube or a great many other media content providers found on the web. The only file type that didn't present a playback problem was the DivX codec and though the manual states support for MPEG 4, Windows Media Player won't recognize the file type at all. Doesn't make a whole lot of sense, does it?
In terms of photographic display, the Solwise only supports JPEG files and because it only outputs standard definition, photographs that look good on your laptop, Mac, or PC will probably look horrible when displayed on your HDTV. The reviewers found this to be true.
The Solwise can play media directly off SD, Memory Stick, or CompactFlash card and works well with standard definition television, something that the more expensive Apple TV does not do at all. The user interface is fairly friendly and straight forward, and the price tag is less than half the cost of the 40GB Apple TV (in the UK) at $171 US. Low cost yes, but you definitely get what you pay for.