Digital photo frames have definitely been a hot seller for the past year or so, but by and large they're pretty much all the same. That is until now. Sony has announced a new line of digital photo frames, the S-Frame brand, featuring three new photo frames: the DPF-V900, DPF-V700, and DPF-D70.
All three frames have the standard features including 800x480 WVGA resolution, 15:9 aspect ratio, and an image processor that will display pictures up to 48 megapixels. You can also choose between 10 different slide show options, display more than one picture at a time, and display a calendar and clock. The DPF-900 has a 9-inch screen while the DPF-700 has a 7-inch screen and both have 512 MB of internal storage. The DPF-70 features a 7-inch frame and 256 MB of internal storage.
The added memory of the DPF-900 and DPF-700 allow the photo frames to boast some extra features that really differentiate them from other frames on the market. First of all, using a Bluetooth adapter sold separately, you can import photo files wirelessly from a handheld Bluetooth-enabled device to your digital photo frame. Plus, the frames connect to Sony Bravia HDTV's and a few other compatible sets via an HDMI cable so you can view your photos in high-def resolution on your TV screen. Finally, the frames use Sony's revolutionary Bionz processor which recognizes faces in pictures allowing for faster processing and in-frame photo corrections. I would have to say that up until now, digital photo frames didn't particularly appeal to me, but with these new features and the HDTV connectivity, I'll definitely check these ones out. I'll have to wait until March though, the expect release date, when we can expect to pay $250, $190, $140 for the DPF-900, DPF-700, and DPF-70 respectively.
Remember when Steve Jobs promised us the Apple TV Take 2 software update during his Macworld keynote a couple of weeks back? Wondering what ever happened to that software update? Apple is now saying that the Take 2 software, which allows direct download movie rental via iTunes, is "not quite finished" and will be made available for free to current Apple TV owners "in another week or two". Jobs was definitely pressured to live up to last year's Macworld where he debuted the iPhone, a nearly impossible task, so we're not surprised he may have fibbed a little by giving us the impression the software was available for immediate release. If you're looking at purchasing a MacBook Air, however, they are shipping.
The Asus Eee PC family of low-cost computers will soon have an addition of interest to TV fans. The E-TV is a 42-inch LCD TV that will actually have the Linux operating system on board, allowing users to surf the web and check their email right from their TV. We've seen this before, but not at a price tag of no more than $200. No word on availability dates yet, but other additions are expected to be available by April or May, so it's reasonable to assume we'll see the E-TV in just a few months.
Nothing like kicking a high-def disc format when it's down, and that's exactly what Sony is doing in Germany right now. The company is offering a savings of 150 Euros off the purchase of a Sony BDP-S300 when HD DVD owners turn in their used players. The offer is only available in Germany currently, and isn't as great as it seems as BDP-S300's go for 499 Euros there, equivalent to $737 US greenbacks. Minus the discount, the price of the BDP-S300 is more comparable to the American regular price of around $500. Don't count on this deal coming to the US anytime soon though. HD DVD adoption is much greater in the States making such a deal nothing more than a financial nightmare for Sony. Good for Germans though, and pretty hilarious too.
Sony launched the BRAVIA Full HD VPL-VW40 Home Theatre Projector yesterday in Europe, bringing professional picture quality to a wider audience by appealing to the price-conscious home theater enthusiast.
The VPL-VW40 delivers full HD 1080p picture quality utilizing Sony SXRD™ technology bringing the cinema experience into your living room. Powered by a Bravia engine, which digitally enhances each frame in real time and reduces noise considerably, the VPL-VW40 features a super fast 2.5ms response time and a contrast ratio of up to 15000:1. Such a high ratio is made possible by Sony Advanced Iris 2, that responds automatically to the level of lighting in each scene and adjusting the projector's aperture to achieve the best contrast possible at any given moment. The VPL-VW40 is compatible with most other home theater components as it has 24p True Cinema allowing it to handle a 1080/24p input. With two HDMI connectors, you can even hook up your Blu-ray player or Playstation 3 to the projector and project the resulting images on screen sizes up to 300 inches.
Ease-of-setup, a quiet fan, and a contemporary design round out the features of the Bravia VPL-VW40 home theater projector. The price for this high-end projector is expected to be relatively low-end, tagged at somewhere just south of $3000.
Two Chinese-language newspapers, Economic Daily News (EDN) and Commercial Times, are reporting that international HDTV manufacturers such as Sharp and Panasonic will slash LCD TV prices by 7-20%. Even some plasma prices have been slashed including Panasonic's 103-inch monster plasma set, price reduced to NT$2 million ($62, 072 US), and Kolin's 65-inch LCD set, down to NT$298, 000. While these price reductions apply to the Taiwanese market, it's reasonable to assume these price cuts will eventually make their way over to the United States in the near future.
Toshihiro Sakamoto, president of Panasonic AVC Networks Company, shed some light on what we can expect from Panasonic's high-def department in the next few years, in an interview with TWICE, an online consumer electronics magazine. Some of the highlights of the interview are old news, but Sakamoto provided clarification on a number of issues including the usage of Tru2way technology. So what can we expect from Panasonic?
1. Flat panel TV's still are the center of the 21st century living room and Panasonic tends to make HDTV more usable with technologies such as the VIERA Link audio/video operating system. All Panasonic HDTV's will now be under the VIERA brand name.
2. Panasonic will have a Tru2way-ready HDTV available sometime this year in collaboration with Comcast. Tru2way requires no set-top box and is controlled via one remote.
3. VIERACast, a VIERA IPTV, will enable access to YouTube and Picasa photo albums on your HDTV via Google.
4. Plasma displays in development will have about twice the brightness of current models and be ridiculously thin as their 24.7 mm thin plasma display showed. Sakamoto says plasma can compete with LCD even with larger LCD screens drastically dropping in price.
5. Panasonic's monster 150-inch plasma display shown at CES will not be available until after 2009 as a new factory must be built to house the building requirements for such large panels. The reasoning behind such a large TV: that's what consumers want and it's the perfect size panel to display 2160x4096 pixel resolution, 4 times 1080p.
6. Wireless 1080p signal transmission will be a prominent HDTV feature in the next few years.
7. Panasonic is in talks with cable companies other than Comcast to use Tru2way and other DVR technologies.
8. We won't see any OLED TV's retailed for a few years yet. Panasonic feels they need their own specialized facility for the production of OLED and doesn't expect it to be available in larger screen sizes (32 inches and above) until somewhere in the vicinity of 2012-2014.
9. Panasonic is happy about Warner Bros. decision to exclusively back the Blu-ray disc format as it will accelerate the American format war, something that ended already in Japan.
SIM2 Multimedia, an Italian manufacturer of electronics has announced the upcoming release of the Grand Cinema HD3000 home theater projector. To hit shelves next month, the HT3000 was first seen at the 2007 CEDIA show in Denver, Colorado boasting the latest "DarkChip 3" DLP 1080p chipset and an outboard video input processor that connects SIM2's three-line optical-digital High-Definition Optical Signal Transfer (HOST) system resulting in the connection of the projector and outboard processor at distances of up to 250 meters.
The HOST systems is revolutionary, allowing consumers to input any number of different sources to the projector via a single fiber optic cable. Not only does it make installation options endless, the HOST system also eliminates signal losses associated with long cable runs. The HOST processor has 6 HDCP-compliant HDMI inputs, 3 HD-cable component video inputs, in addition to composite, DVI, S-video, and RGB. An RS232 port allows for integration with home automation systems via a compatible touch panel and 10-bit video processing scales to 1080p. Non-proprietary technologies used in the SIM2 Grand Cinema HT3000 projector include Texas Instruments' BrilliantColor which increases the color range of the projector allowing for more intense colors and greater contrast, and Unishape's lamp technology, a precise light delivery system that increases both light output and color bit depth.
The projector's smoothly contoured exterior was designed by internationally-renowned Giorgio Revoldini giving a true European quality feel to HT3000.
The UK's biggest retailer of next-generation DVD's, Woolworth's, has dropped the HD DVD format in favor of Blu-ray. No cutbacks for shelf space there, they just dropped the format entirely. The change will take a few months, to commence in March, but Woolworth's will continue to sell HD DVD's online.
The decision was made after Christmas sales figures showed that Blu-ray outsold HD DVD 10-1 during the festive season in UK Woolworth's stores, though those numbers due in part to the success of the Playstation 3 game console in the land of royalty.
The HD DVD Promotional group has responded with pricing info and standalone sales numbers. Olivier Van Wynendaele, European assistant general manager of the Consumer Products Division for Toshiba told Pocket-lint that HD DVD standalone player sales still account for 60% of overall high-def player sales and HD DVD players still cost about half the price of Blu-ray players. He also pointed out to software sales figures, saying that UK HD DVD player owners have purchased on average 3.5 HD DVD's while the average Blu-ray player owner has only purchased one Blu-ray disc.
While disappointed by the decision, Van Wynendaele said that it's much to early to pick a winner in the format war, and where customers have choice they'll inevitably pick HD DVD over Blu-ray.
Aquavision will be unveiling a 57-inch waterproof in-wall LCD television at Integrated Systems Europe 2008 (ISE), suitable for installation in bathrooms, sitting rooms, and even swimming pools. The Aquavision AVF 57-4LCD features full HD 1080p resolution, both analog and digital tuners, and a full supply of inputs including 2 HDMI ports, 1 component video, 1 S-video, and a PC input. The set also has an RS232 control port which enable it to be controlled from a compatible touch panel anywhere in the home. Also, because the AVF 57-4LCD can be seamlessly integrated into any wall, the set has a Mirrorvision finish, which turns the screen into a mirror when the set is turned off. Finally it comes with two remotes, one master and one waterproof in case you want to have it by your side when you're in the bathtub.
With a MSRP of $999, we'd hope that the new LG BH200 would be a full-featured dual format player and it is. The player fully supports HD DVD and Blu-ray specs including menu viewing and bonus content on HD DVD discs and picture-in-picture on Blu-ray. In addition it upscales standard DVD to 1080p resolution and has full support for audio CD playback. Audio support includes decoding capabilities for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio in-unit and the player's design is slick and stylish with an easy-to-use graphical interface.
With some discs, especially those incorporating BD Java, occasional pauses were present and the player could be sluggish at times when identifying the disc format and when using advanced menus. While it is a full-featured dual-format player, we question if the heavy price tag is worth the features when you can buy two separate HD DVD and Blu-ray players for less than half the price.
You may want to head to your local Circuit City outlet if you still have an interest in purchasing an HD DVD player. Rumor has it the Circuit City is looking to clear out their stock of Toshiba HD DVD players, pricing the HD-A3 at $100 and the HD-A30 at $149. These are ridiculously low prices, blowing the $98 HD-A2 deal pre-Black Friday last year, right out of the water. Tyler Pruitt of Format War Central took a trip to his local Circuit City and has confirmed that the rumors seem to be true, but I'm sure despite the beating the HD DVD has taken lately, they'll sell out fast, so you better hurry. This could mean that Circuit City is ditching HD DVD in favor of Blu-ray. We'll have to wait and see.
JVC has announced the late February release of the Genessa Premium LH905 LCD TV series in Japan. Coming in 37-, 42-, and 47 inch sizes, all models of the LH905 series feature full 1080p resolution, 10-bit processing, and a 120 Hz frame rate resulting in a picture free of motion blur. JVC-specific features include a 32-bit Genessa CPU imaging engine, Real 36-bit RGB processing, a Real Bit Driver, Clear Motion NR-i technology, Real Color Creation, and x.v.Color support. Inputs include 3 HDMI 1.3 ports plus a generous amount of component, composite, D4, and S-video inputs. The three models are expected to be priced at 30 million JPY for the LT-37LH905, 40 million JPY for the LT-42LH905, and 50 million JPY for the LT-47LH905.
If you're looking forward to picking up all kinds of cheap HD DVD's as stores clear stock to make shelf space for Blu-ray, you might as well pick up a bargain HD DVD player to go with you new movie collection. Now only $127 at Amazon.com, the Toshiba HD-A3 HD DVD player is Toshiba's third-generation HD DVD of choice displaying resolution up to 1080i or 720 and upconverting standard definition DVD's. If you buy it now, you'll also get 5 free HD DVD's via a mail-in rebate!
Gefen has released a new line of A/V products aimed at home theater enthusiasts, simply called Gefen TV. The Gefen TV line is designed to enable an impressive home theater setup without in-depth knowledge of audio/video systems and priced to appeal to a audience beyond A/V professionals.
The first product release is the Gefen TV Switcher, which allows you to share one HDMI 1.3 port to 4 separate devices, allowing you to manually switch between devices. The Switcher also can detect which devices have recently received power and will automatically switch to those devices if you're not the manual type. Marketed as a "perfect companion to the Apple TV", The Gefen TV Switcher will route up to 1080p high-def content to your HDTV from all kinds of devices including Blu-ray players, set-top boxes, and game consoles. The Gefen TV Switcher is available for $200 via the Gefen website.
Gefen will also be re-issuing their standard and high-definition personal video recorders under the Gefen TV name.
Best Buy has announced that they will have analog-to-digital converter boxes on their shelves February 18 in the US, in preparation for next year's big digital TV switch when those with analog-only television sets not hooked up to cable or satellite service will need a converter to receive over-the-air signals.
917 stores in 49 states will carry the Insignia brand of converters, expected to be priced in the $50-$70 range. Wyoming residents, who don't have access to a Best Buy outlet in-state, will be able to get their hands on a converter box via a special 800 number.
Remember that all US households are eligible for two $40 coupons to be used for the purchase of analog-to-digital converter boxes through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration's TV Converter Box Coupon Program. You can apply for yours here or call 1-888-DTV-2009 to apply over the telephone.
For that past year and even more so at CES 2008, the trend in HDTV's seems to be shifting away from how big the screen is, to how thin the entire set is. Many people may find this to be a trivial detail, despite the aesthetic advantages of a super-thin HDTV, but Gizmodo's Wilson Rothman has pointed out that thinness isn't always trivial. Take for instance the example of installing a 50-inch plasma on a wall mount. The absolute thinness is not really the critical part, says Rothman, it's the reduced weight you have to wrestle to actually install a thin HDTV. He's put together an excellent chart comparing the screen size, thickness, and weight of old and current model HDTV in a number of different brand categories. You'd be surprised at how lopping a few inches off a set's thickness can drastically reduce its overall weight.
Internet TV startup Veoh has continued to built on its diverse content offerings, this time via a distribution deal with FearNet, a horror-themed web venture by Comcast. FearNet has launched their own channel on the Veoh platform and will feature full-length movies, footage from horror conventions, celebrity interviews and eventually FearNet features that will be exclusively aired on Veoh. The deal will allow FearNet to reach a much larger audience than it currently has access to, although they'll take a monetary hit by splitting ad revenues with Veoh.
Walt Disney Studios has big plans for it's Toy Story animated movie series, releasing new Disney Digital 3-D versions of Toy Story on October 2, 2009 and Toy Story 2 on February 12, 2010 according to Dick Cook, chairman of The Walt Disney Studios.
The 3D releases will lead up to the release of Toy Story 3, Disney-Pixar produced and to be released in 3D in movie theaters June 18, 2010. The Toy Story 3 theatrical release will be a first-of-a-kind in the animation world, and will be directed by Pixar filmmaker Lee Unkrich.
If you are the parent of a school-age child, you MUST read this. Remember that great show Bill Nye The Science Guy? While the Emmy Award-winning producers of that show will be debuting Biz Kid$ tomorrow, a fast-paced public television series aimed for school-aged kids that teaches kids all about money and finance.
Designed to be engaging and entertaining, Biz Kid$ will air across the United States with 26 30-minute episodes, teaching kids the importance of establishing good financial habits early on through the use of profiles of kids who run their own businesses. Kids running every type of business from dog-walking to big companies with their own product lines are profiled, in cooperation with JA Worldwide(R) (Junior Achievement(R)), showing kids the basics of saving, budgeting, investing, and giving back to the community, while showing young viewers that they can be Biz Kid$ too.
Says Biz Kid$ Executive Producer Jamie Hammond of profiling young people running their own businesses, "This humanizes the financial literacy aspect of the production and shows kids the range of possibilities available to anyone who wants to become a biz kid."
More more information and resources check out the Biz Kid$ web site at bizkids.com.
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment and Panasonic announced today the extension of their Disney Magical Blu-ray Tour to 7 new North American cities in 2008. The educational tour showcases Blu-ray technology through hands-on kiosks, product demonstrations, and a special presentation theater utilizing Panasonic VIERA HDTV's and Blu-ray players. The tour will make its first stop today in Toronto, Canada and then will head to Connecticut, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Colorado, and Illinois.
The tour will include previews of upcoming Blu-ray releases such as Finding Nemo and The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe as well opportunities to try interactive games like "Car Finder Game" from Disney/Pixar's Cars.
YouTube officially launched YouTube For Mobile yesterday, offering mobile access to the majority of YouTube videos, access to your account and community features fundamental to the internet platform such as sharing, favorites, and commenting, and the ability to upload your own videos via email/mms on your cell phone.
YouTube For Mobile Explained
YouTube says the mobile service will be available in every corner of the globe including the following countries: UK, Italy, France, Spain, Netherlands, Poland, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, New Zealand, Germany, and Russia. Some features are required to use the service such as service with a wireless carrier that allows streaming videos and a mobile device that supports RTSP streaming.
InFocus has released a new line of DLP front projectors aimed for educational and commercial markets, the IN2100 Series. The Learn Big IN2100 EP Series is designed for the educational market, reasonably priced and full of easy-to-use features, while the Work Big IN2100 series is a conference and meeting room solution with a remote control system.
The IN2100 Series offers the choice of three resolutions: SVGA, XGA or WXGA. They are filter-free, have a brightness of 2500 lumens and a lamp life of 2500 hours. Plus, if you want to upgrade to InFocus' LiteShow II Wireless Presentation adaptor, these DLP projectors feature a built-in wireless port for facilitating the upgrade.
The IN2100 Series projectors will be available in February 2008 at US$599 for SVGA, US$749, for XGA and US$999 for WXGA models.
We've been highlighting some excellent big-screen purchases that will make your Super Bowl 21 party the party of all parties. Today we're featuring the Mitsubishi WD-73733 73-inch monster of a DLP HDTV. Regularly priced at $3100, Amazon.com has a sale on right now pricing the model at only $2378.86 with free shipping, leaving an extra $721 in your wallet.
The WD-73733 is a 1080p DLP rear-projection HDTV utilizing the latest DLP chip from Texas Instruments. The set can display any signal, automatically upscaling everything to 1080p and supports the x.v. Color standard and Deep Color technology delivering resulting in 80% more color than standard HDTV's, greater contrast and less banding. Other exclusive technologies used in the display include Color 4D Noise Reduction, PerfectColor, and PerfectTint resulting a greater color palette, and the ability to fine tune your picture to your exact preferences. Plenty of connections are available including 3 HDMI 1.3 ports with Simplay HD certification, 3 component video inputs, a front USB connection for displaying pictures, and 3 A/V inputs with S-video. Outputs include Dolby Digital/PCM and an analog stereo output. Light at only 100 pounds and 17.5 inches at its thickest point, the WD-73733 is thin enough to fit pretty much anywhere you wish to put it. This is definitely a hot pick for your 2008 Super Bowl bash.
Vudu has dropped the price of their set-top box in response to the Apple TV price cuts and upgrade. Vudu has knocked 25% off the price of their set-top box effective immediately, lowering the price from $399 to $295. The company will also offer a $100 credit to anyone who purchased a Vudu in the last 30 days. First released in September 2007, the Vudu offered high-quality, PC-free movie downloads from all major studios, and now includes downloadable TV shows and high-def content as well. Of course, with Apple's recent announcement of the Take 2 upgrade for the Apple TV, Vudu has a competitor with similar set-top box functionality. The Vudu price cut still puts them at nearly $70 more than the 40GB Apple TV and a little more than $30 cheaper than the 160GB Apple model, meaning that Vudu better look at coming up with some new and improved features very soon.
Designed by Sungwoo Park, the Game Card remote uses the typical movements used in handling cards during a card game to take care of the usual remote control functions. Using a grip located in the in the center, similar to where you'd place your thumb when holding playing cards, you change the volume by sliding your thumb up and down and change the channel by sliding the top card over a notch. So simple yet so cool.
When it comes to Super Bowl 2008, if you don't have tickets then you want to watch it on a nice, big flat-screen. And you're in luck, because here's monster sure to wow your friends and family headed over to your place for Super Bowl 21.
The Samsung HLT6176S 61" UltraSlim DLP HDTV is a 1080p, 3D capable display featuring a 10000:1 dynamic contrast ratio, thin bezel, hidden integrated speaker system with SRS TruSurround XT sound support, and the best next-generation DLP chip around from Texas Instruments. Loaded with inputs including 3 HDMI, 1 USB, and 1 PC mini-jack, the HLT6176S is a must-have for any home theater, especially to wow those watching Super Bowl 21 with you. With a MSRP of $2299.99, Amazon.com's price of only $1499.98 will save you $800 and right now with your purchase you'll receive a FREEPhilips DVP5982 Upscaling 1080p DVD player when you purchase the TV. All's you have to do is add it to your shopping cart and Amazon will automatically deduct the price from your overall purchase!
We thought we'd give you a quick update on how the ever-popular format war is shaping up, although it's quickly becoming a one-sided battle judging by the news we're about to share with you.
1. The Save HD DVD petition launched to convince Warner Bros. to reconsider their decision to jump ship to become an exclusive Blu-ray supporter now has over 16, 000 signatures.
2. Illinois-based Grant's Appliances, the 26th largest electronics retailer in the United States, has stopped ordering HD DVD stock even though their existing stock is depleted indicating that they'll be the latest retailer to exclusively sell Blu-ray products.
3. The Nintendo Wii may the hot console today, but the winner of the current generation game console sales war will be the Playstation 3, according to Next Generation editor Colin Campbell.
4. Samsung will be releasing firmware updates for their lineup of Blu-ray players in the coming weeks, most likely to fix playback problems with certain Blu-ray discs.
5. The week after Warner Bros. announced they would go Blu-ray exclusive, Blu-ray grabbed a huge 93% market share leaving HD DVD in the dust. "Format war" may no longer apply.
6. Home entertainment purchases and rentals fell 3.1% in 2007, the first relatively drastic drop in recent years, thanks in part to customer confusion created by the format war.
7. The Blu-ray Disc Association figures it'll take 8-10 years for Blu-ray to formally replace standard DVD, but have big promo plans later in the year with BD Live. Disney will apparently utilize it in a big way. Their smartest move will most likely be a greater emphasis on consumer education.
While the Hollywood Writer's Strike definitely has a negative points, we love the fact that all of these "without the oppressing studios" film startups popping up seemingly every other day. Yet another project has been launched, the Film 7 fund, composed of five Hollywood producers and two Silicon Valley execs that plan to bring in financing from outside investors in order to fund films without the help of the major studios. The long-term plan is to produce 25 studio-quality films with moderate budgets over the next 5 years.
Liz Gannes over at NewTeeVee first caught wind of this, and while no names of involved parties have been released, she plans on attending a meet-and-greet for Film 7 this weekend with the likes of Jim Carrey and Jenny McCarthy so hopefully we'll get some more info then. One detail we're curious about is whether there are currently any projects in the works and how the films will be eventually distributed. Will we see them playing in theaters or will they be released solely on the web? We'd imagine that outside investors would demand a return on their investment and it seems doubtful that there would be to many willing to part with their money for a multi-million dollar film project to be released solely on the web. While video advertising is definitely evolving, it just wouldn't be a safe bet right now. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.
Since the Apple iTunes movie rental service announcement at this month's MacWorld conference, we've wondered what Apple's strategy for the rental platform is. One theory is that Apple hopes to break into the digital movie rental sector before it takes off, and with the current popularity of the iTunes platform, now would be a good time. Another idea was that the company hoped to boost Apple TV sales by announcing movie rentals in conjunction with the release of the Take 2 software upgrade for the Apple TV. Neither theory really made complete sense to us.
With Apple's first quarter financial results announced today, the real story behind the movie service became clear. An analyst attending the press conference asked Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer if the goal behind iTunes movie rentals was profitability or incremental Apple TV sales, and the answer was actually something we never thought of but in hindsight should have been pretty obvious.
Of the $9.6 billion in revenue from the last quarter, the music segment accounted for 50% with 22 million iPods sold while the 2.3 million Mac's sold accounted for another 47% of quarterly revenues. With such a large portion of their revenues coming from these two segments, it shouldn't be surprising that the whole point of the iTunes movie rental service is to sell more iPods and Macs. In terms of profitability, Apple only expects to be slightly above the breakeven point after expenses are deducted from total movie rental revenues.
No mention was made of forecasted sales volumes for the Apple TV, but with the Take 2 upgrade, the company feels they "have it right this time" and could possibly be looking at improved marketing and in-store displays.
High-end HDTV maker NuVision is shipping the first 3 models of their 10 model Lucidium DCM LCD HDTVs. The three sets, in sizes of 42-, 47-, and 52 inches boast 1080p resolution, NiDO III Image processing, a Digital Switching Deep Black system, slim mounting depths, and a generous 4 HDMI 1.3 ports. Priced at $2199, $2799, and $4199 respectively, the three models are the first releases of a ten model lineup, with the remaining seven to ship next month. Six of seven February release will be in the 22-37 inch category, priced from $749 to $1899, and the last model will be the Lucidium HDN 65-inch model that will retail for a hefty $11999. The remaining seven models will have the same features as the currently shipping models.
Comcast is finally ready to release the TiVo interface as a software upgrade for its DVR subscribers two years after initially promised...but only in Boston. Back in 2005, DirecTV stopped marketing TiVo after developing their own DVR, a big hit for TiVo. However that same year Comcast announced in a press release that they expected TiVo service to be available to the the majority of their customers by mid-to-late 2006. Definitely a lifesaver for TiVo. But it never happened and TiVo has lost hundreds of thousands of subscribers since.
Finally ready in 2008, Comcast says they drastically underestimated the difficulty of integrating TiVo into their DVR's and operating system, but the struggle finally ended thanks to the development of Tru2way software, a big focus of this year's CES conference in Las Vegas. Tru2way allows "TVs, DVRs and other consumer electronics to handle its interactive services, including video on demand", currently only provided by Comcast gear.
The partnership will run until at least 2014 and TiVo CEO Tom Rogers is excited about the possibilities of a "total integration of cable services into TiVo", even beyond Comcast. There are a few remaining issues however. Number one being the service will only initially be offered in Boston, a far cry from the promise of availability in the majority of Comcast markets two years ago. The software also has some remaining bugs though Comcast has updates planned in the coming weeks to fix the problems. And finally, the complexity of the system means subscribers have to schedule an hour long telephone call with Comcast for consumer education purposes, making us wonder: if the software upgrade is so difficult to use, will anyone use it?
Take a look at some of the Super Bowl commercials you weren't allowed to see from the past 5 years. Personally, I think networks would better capitalize on their viewer base during the Super Bowl if these were the ads we saw, but maybe that's why I don't work in the ad industry.
As HD DVD slide into the abyss at an ever increasing pace here in the United States, the Japanese threw the high-def format right to the bottom according to sales figures from the last 3 months of 2007. A study of 2300 Japanese stores found that Blu-ray players accounted for 90% of high-def player sales in the last three months of 2007. And before you say that the only reason the number is so high is because of the Playstation 3, it's important that you know the study only looked at stand-alone players. The PS3 wasn't even included meaning HD DVD's market share in the last quarter of 2007 was well under 10% in Japan.
The top three selling players were all manufactured by Sony and accounted for 60% of total high-def player sales, while Panasonic and Sharp took 27% and 10% of sales respectively. Toshiba, the leader in HD DVD took only 4% of sales signifying that the HD DVD format doesn't have anywhere near the problems in the US as it does in Japan.
Keep your eye on this deal just in case it jumps the pond. Browsing the Pioneer Electronics USA site confirms this deal is not yet available in the US, but in France if you buy certain Pioneer Kuro plasma HDTV's, you'll receive a free Pioneer DVR-555HX digital video recorder. The ad above is in French, but it covers the Kuro models included in the deal which runs until March 31.
Despite the fact that monolithic giants in the TV manufacturing world such as Sony are leaving rear-projection TV's behind to focus on LCD's and plasma's, Texas Instruments is holding out, betting on smaller digital light processing (DLP) chips and other technological advancements to revive the rear-projection sector.
Definitely a brave move by Texas Instruments though, as their third quarter revenues last year dropped 21% from third quarter 2006 and research firm iSuppli forecasts a 25% drop in rear-projection sales over the next 2 years culminating in a paltry 1% market share by 2010. But Texas Instruments argues....
The New England Patriots capped their perfect 18-0 season today with a 21-12 win over the San Diego Chargers to secure a spot in this year's Super Bowl while the Giants beat the Packers 23-20 securing their trip to Arizona. An absolutely remarkable achievement guaranteeing the Super Bowl will be a fast-paced, action-packed game this year. But the real question is what type of TV you're going to watch the game on. Fast-paced football games don't look great on just any high-definition television, so we'll point you in the right direction with some of the best LCD's and plasma's for an optimal Super Bowl viewing experience in 2008.
Two separate statements made by NBC Universal's Jeff Zucker and Apple's Steve Jobs in the Financial Times and Business Week respectively indicate that the relationship between the two is returning to good terms and NBC could make a return to the iTunes platform in the future. Remember back in August of 2007, NBC pulled their content off of iTunes due to pricing and DRM-related disagreements with Apple. A war of word ensued over the folowing months, and only in the past couple of days has any indication been apparent that the relationship between the two companies is improving.
Zucker states in a Financial Times interview that:
"'We've said all along that we admire Apple, that we want to be in business with Apple.' He then unexpectedly adds, 'We're great fans of Steve Jobs.' No telling what has caused the turnabout. Perhaps the writers strike gave both parties time to reflect on their mounting lost revenue."
"“We’ll put it back together on the TV thing. Everybody lost (when Zucker pulled his content off iTunes). But NBC is a great company, and Apple is a great company,” neither of which make a habit of ignoring their customers’ desires, he said. “Fortunately,” he half-joked, “there was a writers’ strike, so it didn’t matter as much as it might have.”
Sounds like at two media execs are thankful for the Writer's Strike. At least they'll be able to blame the poor numbers related to their poor business decision on something other than themselves.
Update: Paidcontent.org indicates that the Financial Times quote by Jeff Zucker was in the context of NBC allowing movie rentals on the iTunes movies service mainly because of Apple's allowance of variable pricing, one of the issues that contributed from the studio pulling their TV shows from iTunes.
Apple's Steve Jobs expects that the Apple iTunes movie rental service will expand internationally later this year, but realizes that the European Union may pose a challenge. Cross-border regulatory issues, staggered film releases, and anti-competitive behavior are just some of the challenges Apple will face as it tries to move into the 27 European Union countries. Rather than a single market, the European Union is "a patchwork of individual countries", says the New York Times, and most likely the iTunes movie rental service will only enter a few countries at a time. Apple didn't comment on its timetable for entering the European market.
Soon it looks like you'll be able to make Skype calls via your Apple TV. In an email to blog Apple TV Hacks, Brandon Holland says:
"Hey Apple TV Hacks, I have started developing a Skype Plugin that will utilize the Skype API and make the user able to make calls and send text messages to anyone on there Skype contact list. As far as calls go, I think a standard usb headset or usb phone will work. Text messages will most likely be entered using the remote and the standard text entering method. No release yet, but I will release a beta as soon as it is able to make calls. Huzzah!"
Now if you're sure if this guy's genuine or not, I assure you he is. He's also developed a GPS plugin for the Apple TV and a wireless keyboard hack. Apple TV Hacks did point out that Brandon should wait for the Apple Take 2 update before he releases the plugin, just in case Apple repeats history and it doesn't work along with every other plugin developed for the first-generation Apple TV.
Yet another film label has thrown HD DVD out the window. R&B Films Richard Casey announced in a forum posting on Blu-ray.com the "we are excluding HD-DVD with respect to our future releases". He cited however that the decision was made prior to Warner Bros. announcement to go Blu-ray exclusive and was made based on consumer behaviour and AVS Forum abuse. Hilarious!
Do you ever wonder if you're about to be nabbed for using torrent sites to download movies, TV shows and games? The reality is you could be tracked right now by anti-P2P agencies determined to nail you to the wall in court. The video above by Dan Morrill, a Security Project Manager with VMC Consulting in Redmond, Washington shows him downloading a file using the Azureus while commenting on the information made available about the client and how that info can be processed in order to track you. He also discussed the use of blocklists in order to protect yourself from the identification techniques shown in the video. Check out the vid if you're a chronic illegal downloader. It could save you a huge headache down the road.
Marketed as a "digital media hard drive", this quasi-media server, the LaCie LaCinema Premier is a decent storage and transfer solution for all your multimedia files. Manufactured in 500GB, 750GB, and 1TB version, the Premier hooks up to your computer via a USB 2.0 port from which you can transfer your videos, music, and pictures. The inconvenient part about this is that when you're done, you have to disconnect it, move it to your television where you connect it via composite cable and view or listen to the content on your TV. Any content will be upscaled to 1080i if necessary. Strangely, given the popularity of HDMI, there is no HDMI support at all with the Premier.
The LaCie LaCinema Premier features silent operation, a plain but easy-to-use interface, and supports most audio and video codecs. Rather than a dedicated media server, we'd recommend the Premier as a multimedia storage or backup solution.
Available in February 2008, the Premier will be priced at $230 for 500GB, $329 for 750GB, and $460 for 1TB of storage space.
Things just keep getting worse for HD DVD. Several retailers are planning on kicking HD DVD to the curb to open up more space for Blu-ray players in the wake of the Warner Bros. announcement. Trans World Entertainment, Newbury Comics, Video Buyers Group members and Hastings Entertainment are all opening up more shelf space for Blu-ray in hopes of reducing customer confusion and boosting high-def player and disc sales. Consumers "don't want to buy into another Betamax", says Mark Higgins, Trans World VP of DVD, videogames and consumer electronics merchandising. Global market strategist Stephen Pope also said in an interview with CNN that Wal-mart would no longer reserve any physical store space for HD DVD, although the format would be available online at Walmart.com. Engadget HD questions whether Pope meant to say Target rather than Wal-mart, but no matter what he meant to say, the trend toward Blu-ray is clear.
It should be noted that not all big name retailers are so spooked by Warner's move to Blu-ray that they've started to cut HD DVD out of the picture. Best Buy, Amazon.com, DVDEmpire, and Bjorn's have not changed their high-def offerings yet believing that there are several upcoming releases in HD DVD that will be strong sellers. They'll wait until consumers give their final say.
For all-in-one media system fans, the Razor Home Entertainment System not only supports sound, but plays DVD's as well as a variety of file formats including: DVD-R/RW, CD-R/RW, MP3, VCD, SVCD, WMA, MPEG 1, MPEG 2, MPEG 4, JPEG, and more. It'll even hook up to your USB stick for easily transferring compatible content. While it has somewhat of a techy look to it, it's actually made of wood, houses a subwoofer, front speakers, and center speakers. Available from Gadget Universe, the Razor Home Entertainment System is priced at a pretty pricy $399.95.
Designed specifically for the IPTV and video-on-demand market, SysMaster's new Tornado M50 set-top box is full of useful features such as H.264 and MPEG-4 compression technology that deliver high-definition video all while cutting down on costly bandwidth usage. SysMaster says the M50 is revolutionary because while drastically cutting down operating expenses for IPTV service providers, subscribers are still guaranteed a high-definition picture and with the case of closed network infrastructures, up to 1080p resolution.
The Tornado M50 can also decode MPEG-2 and WMV files, delivering decoded content from the set-top box to your large, flat screen TV (hopefully) via HDMI or composite cable. End-users, that being you with the TV, can also communicate via email and chat with friends right from the TV screen. Stored media content on your PC can be streamed to your television through the box through your Local Area Network and information such as weather forecasts and even your RSS feeds can all be streamed right to your television.
SysMaster says that the Tornado M50 delivers exceptional sound via the Dolby 5.1 sound standard, meaning up to 6 channels of surround sound for the IPTV content delivered to your home theater.
Apple, Microsoft, and YouTube all make claims of HD video offerings through the iTunes movie service, the Xbox 360, and YouTube.com respectively. We've talked about YouTube's claims before and the company later said they were misconstrued and they offer near HD-quality video on a designated part of their web video platform. We've never really looked into Apple's and Microsoft's claims, but George Ou of Real World IT blows the truth out of the water and exposes the HD conspiracy.
It all comes down to bit rates. Here's a good example. HD DVD has a bit rate of 28 mbps. Uncompressed 1080p video at 60 frames per second registers at 3000 mbps meaning that HD DVD needs to be compressed at 107 to 1 with the H.264 or VC-1 codec. Therefore, Ou argues that 28 mbps is the minimum bit rate to be considered high-def after loss of quality from compression.
Now consider these numbers:
1. Standard definition DVD's are usually 5 to 8 mbps MPEG-2
2. Apple's new HD movies service is 4 mbps-not even close to HD
3. Xbox 360 downloads are 6.8 mbps 720p VC-1-borderline HD
4. The only time 4 mbps 720p video will look better than 8 mbps MPEG-2 is if the screen is completely stationary or low-complexity video
Ou's conclusion: None of these service offer HD video by any definition, pardon the pun. The best these services offer is video that is slightly lower quality than an upscaled standard DVD.
If you're looking for a for midsize LCD, say somewhere in the area of 37 inches, we've found a great deal for you. The Sharp Aquos LC37D43U 37-inch LCD has faced a 31% price cut at Amazon.com. With a new price tag of $895, you'll keep an extra $405 in your wallet that you wouldn't have had before.
The Aquos features a 6000:1 dynamic contrast ratio, 720p resolution, and a rapid 4ms response time for a clear, crisp image even during fast-moving scenes. It's 176 degree viewing angle means you can place it pretty much anywhere and still be able to see the screen as if it was right in front of you. A slew of inputs including 2 HDMI ports makes the Aquos easily compatible with all of your home theater components, and it's built-in ATSC/QAM/NTSC tuners receive all types of programming, analog and digital.
High-definition televisions, though still in their early years, are already infamous for their ruthless power consumption. A few of the major manufacturers are actually marketing HDTV's that are comparatively economical in their usage of power as a differentiating factor that actually makes their set better, regardless of picture quality. There are other ways to cut down on your HDTV's power-greedy ways, however, besides buying the latest and greatest "green" TV.
Would you believe a surge protector could be an effective solution? It can, but it can't be just any surge protect. It has to be a Belkin Conserve. The 8-outlet surge protector cuts down on your home theater's power consumption by reducing its standby power saving you money and helping our fragile environment. It comes with a wireless remote, with which you can complete shut off devices that consume standby power when not in use, saving you from a trip on your hands and knees into the dark abyss of wires behind your home theater or underneath your computer desk. For those devices that need to be on all the time, such as your set-top box, the Conserve features 2 "always-on" outlets.
The Belkin Conserve is slated for a summer 2008 release in North America for US $49.99.
UK electronics manufacturer Loewe knows two very important things. One, as the television market becomes saturated with sets that have very similar features, design will become more important; and two, the living room must allow access to everything media, including the internet.
They've used this knowledge to develop a new "Connect" line of multimedia televisions offering a high-def picture, wireless connectivity, and internal storage space for storing all of your multimedia files such as video, photos, and music. The "Connect" even has DVR-capabilities, if you want to record programming received via a built-in digital tuner.
The set will come in 32-, 37-, and 42-inch models with color options including high gloss black, matt chrome silver, and white. The "Connect" will be available from Loewe January 30, 2008.
TiVo has partnered with peer-2-peer movie service Jaman, bringing a slew of American indie and international films to the set-top box. The deal brings a nice supplement of hard-to-find content to its mainstream offerings. Some rentals will be available for free, but the majority will start at $1.99. Definitely a good move by TiVo given the recent launch of the Apple iTunes movie service.
An email send to Sound And Vision magazine from a district sales manager at a Pioneer deal states that it will no longer manufacture 42 inch plasma sets in future generations, nor will it sell XGA sets. The email also hinted that Pioneer would replace the 42 inch plasma lineup with an LCD lineup of that size, though it wouldn't happen this year. Apparently, Pioneer's decision is due to LCD manufacturer Sharp acquiring a stake in the company.
The BBC is apparently considering porting their iPlayer to Mac OS X to allow downloads of their programming to the Apple TV, says NewTeeVee. The iPlayer, which launched on Christmas Day, has a combined 3.5 million program streams and downloads in less than a month, through usage by a whopping 1 million users.
BBC finds the new Apple TV attractive, especially combined with the new iTunes rental model, meaning that the networks programming can be downloaded for free, but then erased after a certain period of time. However, that would require Apple making its FairPlay DRM system accessable to the BBC, unlikely given that the company hasn't been willing to do that for anyone as of now.
While this is big news given that it includes Apple, does anyone really care?
LG Electronics believes that great HDTV picture quality doesn't cut it anymore. With all of the top HDTV manufacturers boasting excellent picture quality, the South Korean company feels the way to differentiate their product line in 2008 isn't through semiconductors, but through design.
"In the TV market, design will be a critical differentiator this year," says Simon Kang, president in charge of LG's digital display unit.
LG's flat panel releases at CES were eye-catching and part of the company's strategy to up flat-panel sales from 9 million in 2007 to 17 million in 2008, and grab a place among the top 3 manufacturers. By the end of 2007, they sat in 4th place, with only half the market share of top manufacturer Samsung. Big goals, but some analysts say that LG has unrealistic expectations.
"LG doesn't have [the] brand clout of its Japanese rivals," says Harrison Cho, electronics analyst at Seoul-based Mirae Asset Securities. "Such an enormous volume expansion isn't realistic."
LG won't be deterred however. The company says that its aesthetically pleasing sets practically guarantee that consumers are "bound to make a stop in front of our new products, making it easy for salesmen to start explaining their features," says Kang. And don't assume that LG's penchant for design means that their HDTV's are lacking in the feature department. It's new LG60 boasts a refresh rate of 180 Hz and a contrast ratio of 30000:1 putting it on par with the picture quality of better known manufacturers.
HD DVD has announced a variety of titles that they will soon be releasing including American Gangster, Bee Movie, Zodiac, and Into The Wild. Ironically, one of the highest-profile releases from the red camp comes from Warner who will continue to release titles on HD DVD until the end of May. And while it seems HD DVD has some fight left in it with new titles flowing into the high-def disc market, Nielsen Videoscan data paints a frightening picture for the future of the red camp.
According to Nielsen numbers for the past week, the top 10 selling high-definition disc sellers all come from Blu-ray. Even worse for HD DVD is their market share: only 15%! And, the top HD DVD title of the week, "The Kingdom" sold 10% of the copies that top Blu-ray title, "3:10 to Yuma". It looks like Steve Jobs won't be ending the format war with iTunes movie rentals because it seems to be already over.
Sharp has done something innovative with its AN-ACD2 home theater, to be released as part of its Aquos Audio lineup. The AN-ACD2 is actually a home theater built right in to a TV stand that'll support HDTV's 37 to 42 inches in size, and has a built-in gap for placement of your Blu-ray player or game console. It features a 150 W, 2.1 channel receiver, HDMI input, and 11 presets for fine-tuning your audio depending on what you're watching. Of course, like most cool new HDTV-related announcements, the Sharp AN-ACD2 home theater will first be released in Japan on February 1. No word yet on when this one will jump the pond.
mDialog, a web video 2.0 platform provider, announced at the MacWorld expo that the company would be optimizing its platform for the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch. The upgraded version will allow filmmakers to both watch and deliver high-definition video content on the mobile devices. New features include instant messenging, an easy-to-use interface that integrates the scroll wheel of the iPod, social networking features that allow users to view channels being narrowcast or privately shared, and a Video Survey Engine that allows surveys to be attached to videos.
DVD rental kiosk operator DVDPlay doesn't seem to be worried about iTunes, video-on-demand, or any other digital content provider on the market. The company achieved ten-fold growth in 2007 and just celebrated their 13 millionth DVD rental through the use of 1400 kiosks in the United States. They plan to install another 1800 kiosks by the end of this year.
"The DVD is very much alive and will continue to be a dominant home entertainment medium for the foreseeable future," said Chuck Berger, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of DVDPlay. "Video on demand is still an emerging market given the significant technology obstacles and other barriers that have yet to be overcome."
While much of the focus in the past year has been on digital content, US consumers purchased 33 million DVD players in 2007 bringing the total number of players in US homes to 230 million. Berger also pointed out that DVD resolution is 3 times the quality of any downloadable content and the success of DVDPlay indicates that consumers still prefer DVD's to another other video format.
The queen of all media icons, Oprah Winfrey, will soon have her own television network. OWN, short for the Oprah Winfrey Network, will be jointly created by Winfrey and Discovery Communications and will air sometime in 2009 on what is currently the Discovery Health channel. The popular Oprah Winfrey Show won't air initially on the new network, but Winfrey has the option of ending the show in 2010 or 2011 at which time she intends to move it to her network
OWN's editorial control will fall solely in the hands of Winfrey who says that she will still continue to produce material for other media outlets. The network will be owned jointly by Discovery and Winfrey's production company Harpo Inc., Winfrey will serve as chairwoman, and the search for a chief executive officer will begin immediately.
OWN will have the added benefit of being broadcast in the 70 million homes that currently have Discovery Health.
If you're looking to get into the TiVo market, now may be the time. TiVo has a special offer starting today and ending February 17 that includes the first 3 months of a 12 month subscription service free when you buy the TiVo HD DVR. It works out to a total price of $299.99 for the year. Buy the TiVo, and you won't start paying your $12.95/month subscription fee until month 4 of your one year contract.
Syndication network 60frames has been oft-mentioned since the beginning of the Hollywood Writer's Strike as a web video platform that could be utilized by professional content creators as an alternative to the politics of the world's best known movie mecca. Today, they've officially launched their programming on their website with Cockpit, an exclusive comedy created by the makers of "Prom Queen", and Erik the Librarian, written and directed by Brent Forrester, known for his work on the hit television series "The Office".
60frames launches at a good time, as not only is the Writer's Strike ongoing, but they've successfully signed distribution deals with the likes of Bebo, Blip.tv, Break.com, Dailymotion, Heavy.com, iTunes, MySpace, Veoh Networks, Vuze, and YouTube. Putting their whole distribution network together means that 60frames reaches nearly 90% of all internet video traffic. The company has an additional twelve projects in the works currently, with plans to have 50 original series' by the end of 2008.
CEO Brent Weinstein said in a press release by the company today, "The idea behind 60Frames was to create a set of financial, creative, marketing and distribution resources that professional artists could use to bring exciting new projects to life in an environment that provides artists meaningful profit participation, ownership, and control of their IP. We’re very excited about our initial offerings and future projects which we believe will expand, in terms of genre and form-factor, the notion of what ‘works’ online. By partnering with the leading online sites, we are giving artists’ content the widest possible exposure while maximizing revenue opportunities.”
60frames is backed by entertainment industry talent agency United Talent Agency and ad agency Spot Runner.
Digital media company DivX continues to attempt to "create a seamless media experience where consumers can enjoy high-quality video on any kind of device" by licensing their DivX video technology to semiconductor supplier AMD. AMD will use the DivX technology in certain Xilleon(TM) processors used to power a wide lineup of next-generation digital televisions.
CEO of DivX, Kevin Hell, said of the agreement, "Digital televisions are an increasingly important element of the 'three screens' that define the digital media experience today--the PC, the television and the mobile device, and we believe our agreement with AMD will help improve the media experience for consumers."
DivX has been on a role lately as they attempt to saturate the market with their video playback technology. They've signed a whack of deals since the New Year with the likes of Next New Networks, Vuze, Jaman, Broadcom, Veoh Networks, D-Link, and Ubicom.
It's quite apparent that the greening of the home theater will be one of the big trends of 2008, and Dolby has jumped on the green bandwagon with a new set of guidelines for the design architecture of LCD televisions. High Dynamic Range, or HDR, is a set of guidelines that improve the backlight function in LCD's. You may or may not know that "first-generation" backlights provide uniform lighting for the entire television screen while newer backlights can provide much more localized lighting as they are divided into smaller light-producing regions. Because newer LED backlights only illuminate the pixels that need to be illuminated, a picture with greater contrast results and the television uses less electricity, hence the use of the term "green". LED-lit LCD's also don't contain any mercury, a toxic element pervasive in our landfills where it can seep into groundwater, contaminating that water which we drink.
Dolby also states that its HDR guidelines, which it will start approaching manufacturers with in the first quarter of 2008, require LCD sets to display black and whites in a "dynamic range of five orders of magnitude, akin to what the human eye can naturally perceive, providing truly life-like imagery of a scale never-before seen."
So there we have it. HDR should mean three things when implemented into the design of LCD TV's: improved contrast ratios, simultaneously high brightness levels, and 30% energy savings when compared to older CCFL backlight technology.
Sony has announced its new European Bravia B4000 Series LCD lineup available in Pearly White and Glossy Mocha color options, and in 3 sizes: 20-, 23-, and 26-inches. As you can intuit from the size options, the B4000 is designed for easy portability and the ability to fit into small spaces making it an ideal option for the kitchen and bathroom. Exactly what Sony intended, as the series is "engagingly stylish", typical of Bravia sets, but also an "ultimately practical lifestyle solution". Its Bravia engine provides vivid color and deep contrast while remarkable sound is delivered via Virtual Dolby Surround and BBE ViVa audio signal processing. Other features of note include two HDMI inputs, Bravia Theater Sync technology for theater integration from one button push on your remote, a built-in digital tuner, and displays the energy efficiency characteristic of next-generation prototypes by utilizing only 0.7W of energy when in standby mode.
John Gruber of Daring Fireball did a little detective work today and sifted through the updated iTunes Terms Of Service. Interestingly, while standard definition downloads working on a variety of devices including PC's, HD downloads can only be downloaded to the Apple TV. Gruber received a few emails suggesting the reasoning behind Apple's exclusivity with HD content might be due to piracy concerns, as the Apple TV has HDCP DRM-enabled output. Of further interest is the fact that downloaded movies can be moved from your Mac or PC to your Apple TV, but not vice versa. We'll do a little more digging into this one and let you know what we find.
Check out the first show from Goggleburn: Photo-A-Day
Goggleburn is Next New Networks latest channel, the "online TV you gotta see", hosted by Nick Douglas, writer for Gawker Media. It's flagship show is a weekly rundown of the ten best videos on the web, as judged by a formula that looks at "the most-viewed and most-loved" from the gamut of web video sites. Goggleburn promises that the content found on their weekly Wednesday show is exclusive and also plan a weekly Monday show examining web video trends and a weekly Friday show that remains a surprise. But they've made it clear that we just can't be prepared in any way for Friday shows.
Oh, and what exactly is Goggleburn? "Goggleburn is the sting in your eyes when you've been ogling online videos all night and it's 6 AM on Monday and oh dear lord you can't see anything because the Internet blasted you with whiteout."
Want a rent a movie from iTunes? Get the iTunes 7.6 update for both Windows and Macs here!
It seems that the "leaked" crib notes for today's MacWorld keynote by Steve Jobs were either fake, dated, or a brilliant marketing scam by Apple. As rumored, the iTunes movie rental service was announced, with Jobs claiming "every major studio has signed on to some degree". Those studios include MGM, Lion's Gate, Sony, and Universal, Paramount, Warner Bros., Miramax, and Fox. Jobs strongly emphasized the depth of their movie offerings promising 1000 films by the end of February. A definite drawback to the service is that iTunes will not have titles available until 30 days after they have been released on DVD.
Rentals can be viewed on Mac's and PC's are easily ported to mobile devices such as iPhones and iPods. Library titles will be available for $2.99 and new releases $3.99, titles are downloaded instantly and rentals last for 24 hours. The rental service is available as of today, only in the United States, via an iTunes update. International access will apparently come sometime in the future.
An updated Apple TV was also the focus of rumormongers for the past month or so, and sure enough, the Apple "Take 2" was debuted. Appropriately named given the "failure" of the Apple TV in the past year, the Take 2 version of the Apple TV requires no computer and has built-in rental support for the iTunes service accessible through the press of one button. The price has also been cut to $229 moving the set a little closer to the mainstream market. Other new Apple TV features include Dolby 5.1, built-in support for video and audio podcasts, flickr support, and an upgrade for the existing Apple TV to Take 2 functionality.
The HD DVD camp looks like they're in tough now with Warner Bros. backing Blu-ray exclusively and last two major supporters, Paramount and Universal, not looking so supportive these days. Heck, even major porn studios are starting to jump ship. But contrary to popular opinion, HD DVD is not dead as they announced their new battle plan yesterday.
Effective yesterday, Toshiba Corp. said that they would be slashing player prices 40-50% in order to better appeal to mainstream consumers. "While price is one of the consideration elements for the early adopter, it is a deal breaker for the mainstream consumer," Toshiba executive Yoshi Uchiyama said. Now, top-of-the-line HD DVD players will be selling for a fairly reasonable $399 and lower end players such as the Toshiba HD-A3 are already selling for as low as $131.98 on Amazon.com.
Toshiba has also said they will vastly improve their marketing campaign with extended pricing strategies, joint advertising campaigns with studios and an extension of their "5 Free HD DVD's With Select Players" deal.
Well this is all well and good, the fact still remains that without major studio titles being released on HD DVD, cheap player prices won't mean consumers will buy. The red camp just better hope Paramount and Universal stay put. On the other hand, Brian Behlendorf, investor in Aaron Mendelsohn's Virtual Artists said to me in a conversation last night that he doesn't regret purchasing an HD DVD player because he'll just stock up on cheap titles when stores begin to try to get rid of them all to create more shelf space for Blu-ray!
If Steve Jobs announces an iTunes movie deal today at MacWorld, the Writer's Guild of America believes their argument will be validated and it could push the writer's strike to a quicker finale.
"It could validate everything that we've been saying," says WGA Assistant Executive Director Charles Slocum. "If he also announces that it will be in high-definition and you can order from the TV, it will mean the creation of a whole new market."
Basically the WGA feels that an announcement of an iTunes movie deal would be one of great enough significance that the studios would no longer be able to argue that the online market isn't big enough for them to bump up the amount of money they pay writer's for downloads.
With with some of the biggest companies in the world including Microsoft and TiVo signing deals with studios lately, it appears that the studios may be losing the argument. It's just a question of whether or not they'll lose the fight.
Each year CNET gives out its "Best Of CES" awards and this year's best TV of the show was the Philips ECO FlatTV (the 42PFL5603D). You might wonder how Philips pulled it off. After all, Philips isn't exactly the premier name in high-def televisions, and Panasonic's 150 inch behemoth as well as Sony and Samsung's OLED displays were a little more eye-catching. But "green" is in.
The Philips ECO TV, part of the company's Green Flagship product line, has been independently certified as being up to 10% more efficient than other LCD's its size. At 42 inches, with 1080p resolution, the ECO TV saves energy by regulating the use of its backlight. It has a built-in sensor that actually measures the rooms ambient lighting, adjusting the amount of light emitted from the backlight, not only saving energy but resulting in a better picture on the screen. Definitely the best of/for both worlds!
Expect the ECO TV to hit shelves in March for $1399.
Check out NEC's CRVD-42DWX+ curved gaming display. The 2880x900 (double WXGA+) panel features a 10000:1 contrast ratio and is manufactured by ODM, Ostendo. And that's all we can tell you. No pricing or shipping information is available for this beauty yet.
We all know that Sony has made some mistakes in their handling of bringing the Playstation 3 to market and then, of course, marketing it. But for a great rundown of Sony's journey with the Playstation 3 and the company's fumbles since November of 2006, check out this article from investment blog Seeking Alpha. It's a really great read. Key points to consider: KISS (keep it simple stupid) and listen to your customers.
Judging by the leaked MacWorld keynote crib notes supposedly belonging to Steve Jobs, it doesn't look like tomorrow's going to be a particularly exciting day for Apple fans. Although there have been rumors of an iTunes movie service announcement and a new and improved Apple TV, the two announcements of particular importance to TV fans are missing from the crib notes. The only things worth getting semi-excited about this year are a new MacBook Air, suitable for high-def television viewing, a 16GB iPod meaning a little more storage room for digital content, and of all things, YouTube video integration with iTunes. Wow, that sounds useless!
Of course, there's always the possibility that the leaked crib notes are a complete hoax, but as Valleywag points out, a hoax would probably include mention of the iTunes movie service as it's been such a rumored and anticipated announcement. Here's a thought: What if Apple posted the fake crib notes to lower expectations for the keynote where they'll actually unveil something amazing?! That would be just like Jobs. See the crib notes after the jump.
While the adult film industry has so far leaned toward HD DVD, the Warner Bros. announcement seems to be turning the tides in favor of Blu-ray. Cost prohibitions and the lack of porn-friendly Blu-ray producers have turned porn providers away from Blu-ray in the past, but industry bigwigs say that a market shift toward Blu-ray could change all that.
John Rhys-Davies seems conflicted. The former Lord of the Rings actor discussed his role in his latest film, In the Name of the King, with Game Daily and says the whole concept of converting video games into Hollywood movies is a "disaster"...not to mention "stupid". The irony in this is that In the Name of the King is a film based on Dungeon Siege, a video game from Gas Powered Games. But then again, the only reason he took the job was because he was tired of waiting for his house to be built and felt he should get away for a while. So what exactly did he have to say about video game-movie conversions?
"You really want me to answer that? It's a disaster. It's a disaster. One or two may succeed, and I hope this is one of them, but the structure of a game is completely unlike the structure of a film. And it shows the despair of the studios and producers that these movies even get a look at. If we had good writing, it would not happen. I think that right at the moment, the film industry in Hollywood is in a crisis because we have successfully excluded young and able talent for so long that now there is nothing left. There are only remakes and adaptations. There's this mentality of "oh my god. lets try to find another genre and see if we can invigorative that." When you look at the fact that only one in 10 films makes its money back, or makes enough money to keep the rest going, of these 40-odd films from games, are you going to see four successes out of that? I doubt it. If you see one or two, that will be good. It's dumb. It's stupid. But then who ever said the film industry was being controlled by smart people?"
Sharp has promised that it's 108 inch LCD will hit shelves sometime this year. Wouldn't it make a great Super Bowl party centerpiece? That is if you have cash to burn. What do you think, high five figures or low six figures?
Do you ever record shows on Windows Media Player, commercials and all? How would you like to get rid of commercials? If you happen to use Windows Vista as your operating system, a free application and Media Center plugin, Lifextender scans your Windows Media video files, re-cuts all of the files, and replaces them with commercial free copies. And it even works with Xbox 360 extenders! Click the link above to download a free copy of the plugin.
Most likely in anticipation of the rumored iTunes movie rental announcement at MacWorld on Tuesday, Netflix will offer unlimited streaming of online movie rentals starting tomorrow. This applies to customers on the $16.99/month rental plan. Currently unlimited streaming is limited to 17 hours per month. Unfortunately for those on the $4.99/month plan, there will be no unlimited streaming for you.
With iTunes rentals rumored to be $3.99, studio Disney and Fox partnered with Apple and both Paramount and Warner Bros. rumored to be close to signing deals as well, it looks as if Netflix will finally have a worthy online competitor.
It seems that Toshiba's HD DVD is attempting to fight the whole Blu-ray debacle by lowering prices on select Toshiba HD DVD players. The Toshiba HD-A3 is $139, shipped for free on Amazon and the Toshiba HD-A30 is $180. Rumors are on the move that have both Costco and Sam's Club selling the Toshiba HD-A3 for as low as $128. If you believe the format war isn't over yet, these are reasonable deals and the players still come with 7 free HD DVD's.
CES wasn't the only conference happening in Las Vegas last week. The AVN conference, the biggest adult film expo of the year, was in Las Vegas too and a big topic of conversation was how the internet and specifically film-sharing sites are cutting into the revenues of adult film studios.
Many studios now use sites with free film previews to steer users to pay-per-minute or other subscription model sites, but are now realizing that they may have crossed the fine line between providing too much free content and providing too little. Clickthrough ratings are poor from free content with only about 1 in 500 moving from free content to paid sites and only 1 in 50 clickthroughs actually subscribe.
That means that the adult film industry has to start looking at alternative business models if they want to continue to bring in the necessary revenues to continue filming adult movies. Some industry execs have talked of partnering with big network providers such as Comcast and AT&T. Most have refused to comment on any talks with porn bigwigs, although Verizon has said they don't believe there's any money in adult content for them.
Perhaps most interesting were the comments of former husband and video partner of Jenna Jameson, Jay Grdina. Grdina, who is currently the president of ClubJenna, Inc, stated that the company has approached the likes Apple and Microsoft looking for distribution deals. While Microsoft has denied any plans to be included in any adult content distribution deals, but Apple refused to say whether they have talked or are in talks with adult studios. With Apple's track record of refusing to comment in the past, it would make us believe that Apple may indeed be considering distributing adult film content via iTunes. Grdina said himself that distribution would include easy transfer of content to mobile devices such as the iPod.
Just imagine if the Steve Jobs' much anticipated keynote at MacWorld in a couple days was the inclusion of a porn studio in Apple's growing list of iTunes content providers!
Sharp's popular Aquos lineup of LCD's got an upgrade at CES with the showcasing of the new SE94U series with Aquos Net. The high-end series features a display that is 28% thinner that previous Aquos models thanks to an upgraded backlight system in its ASV panel, as well as a 27000:1 dynamic contrast ratio, and a 120 Hz frame rate. A 4 ms response time, 3 HDMI inputs and dual HD component terminals round out the critical features. The lineup will come in three sizes: a 65 inch model, to be released this month with an MSRP of $10999, a 52 inch model to be released this month or next for $4199, and a 46 inch diplay priced at $3199 in February.
Aquos Net, which connects through an ethernet jack, allows users to download supported widgets and connect to Sharp's technical support team in real-time through your TV, all part of the eventual move to internet-supporting televisions.
It looks like Blu-ray may win the format war after all, but there's another war looming on the horizon and it's not coming from web video or video-on-demand services. It's coming from Blu-ray supporters themselves, though most of them don't know it yet.
BDA: PS3 Only Blu-ray Player You Should Currently Buy
BD Live or Profile 2.0, which was demonstrated by the Blu-ray Disc Association at CES, is set to be released this coming October. The update will bring internet connectivity to Blu-ray players, something the latest Profile 1.1 update doesn't include. The earliest adopters of Blu-ray with players that have Profile 1.0 support aren't able to update to Profile 1.1, with the exception of the Playstation 3, and once Profile 2.0 becomes available, current Profile 1.1 players will face similar problems. The question of utmost importance here is how many Blu-ray supporters actually know of the coming problems?Continue reading:"Blu-ray Disc Association: Buy The Playstation 3, No Other Blu-ray Player Before BD Live Release"
Most of us have a TV in the bedroom these days even though studies indicate we probably shouldn't. If we're going to set up a mini home theater in the bedroom, why not just buy a bed with a home theater built-in. This is the idea behind the Starry Night Sleep Technology Bed by Leggett & Platt, Inc. Featuring an LCD projector, DVR capability, an iPod dock, an integrated surround sound speaker system, wireless internet connectivity, and dual temperature controls, Starry Night is expected to be available for purchase in the first half of 2009 for $20000 to $50000 depending on what features the buyer chooses.
And what about if your partner snores? The bed also comes with a vibration-detector that can detect snoring from its source, triggering an 7 degree elevation of the offending parties side of the bed. Once the vibrations, or snoring, are no longer detected the positioning of the bed returns to normal. Don't tell my wife about this one. I don't want to pay five figures for a bed, even if it does have a built-in home theater.
Arguments abound in the blogosphere regarding the relative merits of web video compared with traditional TV, the effects of the Writer's Strike on web video traffic, and when online video will be monetized to the point where it's attractive to better content providers than Chris Crocker. I'm a big believer in online video. While I think that it's success will come from the internet's integration with the traditional home theater, several startups are popping up from the devastation of the Hollywood Writer's Strike that may prove me wrong.
Rumors first began to spread about online startups launched by unemployed writers/victims of the Hollywood Writer's Strike near the end of December and the first name that popped up was Aaron Mendelsohn, the screenwriter perhaps best known for his Air Bud creation. I had the pleasure of talking to Aaron this evening about Virtual Artists, a fledgling online video startup that aims to bring "content creators directly to content consumers" with no big studio-meddling in between. Seeking funding to the tune of $30+ million from a variety of backers including Silicon Valley VC's, angel investors, and writers themselves, Mendelsohn is a quickly becoming a leader in moving online video to a place that could enable it to finally reach its potential.
By enabling professional writers to submit their works for production on the web in exchange for lower up-front payment but a greater share of overall ownership, Virtual Artists could be the type of platform that finally attracts the advertising dollars that so many video startups struggle to find. Mendelsohn fully believes this is the missing link in online video. Why would major advertisers spend their valuable dollars on one-hit viral wonders that will never do anything big again? Professional content is exactly what is needed. I tend to agree with him.
The Video Xtreme VX-22i projector is Runco's latest addition to their high-end lineup of THX-certified , 3-chip DLP projectors. Featuring 1920x1080 SuperOnyx DLP resolution, the VX-22i uses O-Path technology to maximize light output while reducing the stray light that can reduce brightness and contrast ratio. CinOptx Premium Grade lenses are used with the choice of six different Triton lenses including four zoom and two short-throw for rear projection applications. CineWide and CineWide with AutoScope widescreen reproduction technology are optional features that reproduce movies originally filmed in CineScope 2.35:1 on your screen as they would be seen the theater. That means the picture simply gets wider, as compared to the native 16:9 aspect ratio, while the vertical height stays the same, all while resolution and image quality is maintained. Other specs include a 4000:1 contrast ratio, 2850 ANSI lumens of light output, a lamp life of 2000 hours, and a DVI-D Dual Link Connector input. Opt for the CineWide with AutoScope version and you'll pay a whopping $54, 995 for this pricey projector; minus the AutoScope, the CineWide version still costs a whopping $39, 9995. You might need to take a line-of-credit for this projector...if you really want it that bad.
While everyone is touting the near death of HD DVD set off by the recent announcement that Warner Bros. would back Blu-ray exclusively, the news doesn't necessarily mean much for retailers yet. Why? Because as long as HD DVD remains alive, even if just barely, consumers will not be ready to make a high-def disc player purchase. Even with Warner Bros., New Line and HBO all moving to the Blu-ray camp in the past week, and the last two major HD DVD-backing studios, Paramount and Universal, ending their respective exclusivity agreements with the red camp, retailers say a winner in the format war is not yet definitive enough in the minds of consumers.
Steve Eastman, vice president of Target's consumer electronics division stated, "I don't think we're in a position to go out and declare a winner...until it settles completely I think we're going to continue to see consumers sitting on the sidelines". The only unaffected retailers in the continuing war between the high-def formats are online retailers such as Amazon that can stock pretty well every model of both HD DVD and Blu-ray players and don't have to worry about dedicating valuable shelf space to a wrong pick.
While the high-def formats were originally expected to revive the slowing DVD market, numbers for 2007 show otherwise with a 4.8% decrease in overall revenues, by far the biggest drop since DVD's hit the market. Most retailers would be happen if the war is resolved by Christmas of 2008, but somehow we doubt that will happen.
"In 2006 EMI, the world’s fourth-biggest recorded-music company, invited some teenagers into its headquarters in London to talk to its top managers about their listening habits. At the end of the session, the EMI bosses thanked them for their comments and told them to help themselves to a big pile of CDs sitting on a table. But none of the teens took any of the CDs, even though they were free. ‘That was the moment we realized the game was completely up,’ says a person who was there.”
Since we're such big fans of new media, specifically online video, here at TVSnob, we've decided to adapt this quote as if Warner Bros. invited some teens into its headquarters to ask them about their television viewing habits.
"In 2009 Warner Bros, the world's largest movie studio, invited some teenagers into its headquarters in California to talk to its top managers about their television viewing habits. At the end of the session, the Warner Bros. bosses thanked them for their comments and told them to help themselves to a big pile of DVD's, HD DVD's, Blu-ray's, and HD VMD's sitting on the table. But none of the teens took any of the discs and looked at each other in confusion, despite the fact they were free. 'That was the moment we realized the game was completely up. Those kids didn't even know what a Blu-ray disc was. Heck, no wonder sales have taken a nosedive," says a person who was there."
Expect to see that quotation in a future edition of The Economist.
The letters HD VMD made their way out of Las Vegas via CES, but not alot of other explanation was offered regarding what it is and what kind of products feature this mysterious HD VMD. Well, HD VMD is the latest addition to the high-definition disc market also featuring the likes of HD DVD and Blu-ray. Oh no!
Developed by New Medium Enterprises (NME), HD VMD stands for High-Definition Versatile Multilayer Disc, touted by NME as being "the format of choice for high definition content, by providing increased storage capacity per disc". NME says that the VMD format is a lower-cost solution for storing high-def content that uses multi-layers on a single disc that each store up to 5 GB of information. Each disc can have up to 20 layers meaning a single disc can store up to 100 GB of content while being the same size and thickness as a DVD. A DVD, by the way, consists of 2 layers and the traditional DVD you probably have laying around your house can only store 8.5 GB of info.
Standard-def DVD's are manufactured using red laser technology while newer high-def discs such as Blu-ray use blue lasers which are of a shorter wavelength than the red laser. This means that they can store information, but the costs of manufacturing using blue lasers are also higher, resulting in the high prices you pay to purchase a Blu-ray player. NME claims that they have found a way to use red laser technology with the multi-layer format of the VMD, meaning a cheaper end price for the consumer as compared to other high-def formats.
The players come in two different models, the ML622S and the ML777S, and support HD VMD, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, WMV9, and H.264 video formats, as well as a variety of audio formats including THX, DTS, and Dolby Digital. The players also support JPG and BMP images and will play a variety of disc formats with the exception of HD DVD and Blu-ray, of course. Video resolution is up to 1080p and DVD's are upscaled to 1080i. The ML622S is priced at $199, while the ML777S costs $210, significantly cheaper than either HD DVD or Blu-ray but minus the content.
Therein lies the problem for HD VMD. No content. How do they expect to succeed with no partnerships with major content providers? Not sure, but I have sent their public relations department an email asking what their strategy is in this area. Definitely save your money for now, unless you think you'll enjoy SFM Entertainment titles such as "The Jungle Book" and "Bud Greenspan's Favorite Stories Of Olympic Glory".
In a remarkably well done interview at CES 2008, given the fact she had to carefully choose her words due to the Hollywood Writer's Strike, NBC Universal's President of Integrated Media, Beth Comstock had a few interesting things to say. When asked about her feelings regarding the current positioning of Hulu, Comstock praised the work of CEO Jason Kilar and said that while he hasn't announced a concrete date for the video platforms consumer launch, it is expected to be sometime in the first quarter of 2008. Comstock said the company is also progressing in its digital media activities faster than expected, with a forecast of $1 billion dollars in digital media revenues for 2008, a projection originally not expected to be reached until the end of 2009. While the rest of the world tries to figure out how advertising is supposed to monetize web TV and other digital media, Comstock predicted that digital media business models will reach far beyond advertising in the near future, because they have to for "the sake of digital’s healthiness".
Amazon has a variety of products from CES 2008 available for pre-order already. Well there are no actual TV's yet, which isn't a surprise since half of them were prototypes anyway, there are some excellent laptop deals for web TV watchers and gamers and the new Logitech Harmony One remote is available as well.
The Consumer Electronics Show is over for another year, and while we couldn't be there, we did enjoy vicariously through the great coverage by other bloggers in attendance. Here's a few video clips for you to check out, via Wired, showing some of the hottest TV tech of 2008.
CBS CEO Leslie Moonves said their interactive business is leading all CBS departments in terms of growth at Citi's 18th Annual Global Entertainment, Media & Telecommunications Conference. He also said that the internet is a friend to TV citing traffic spikes on the Grey's Anatomy website during the TV broadcasts commercial breaks. With this knowledge, Moonves says we can expect to see digital and content acquisitions in the near future as the network moves to integrate traditional television with the web. Interestingly, Moonves believes that in the long term digital video recorders will be a benefit to networks and their advertisers by encouraging people to watch more television. He believes that a 35% DVR penetration will offset commercial viewing and expects this to happen by the end of 2008. Should we expect major networks to start manufacturing and distributing their own DVR's with advertiser integration? Would they be able compete with the likes of TiVo? We doubt it, but it's an intriguing idea nonetheless.
Despite popular opinion forecasting an upcoming bankruptcy, Blockbuster is determined to move ahead in the world of movie rentals and is revamping their business model to eventually morph into a digital download giant.
Blockbuster CEO Jim Keyes outlined the plan at the Citigroup 2008 Global Entertainment, Media and Telecommunications Conference on Tuesday, stating that in the first two quarters of this year we'll beginning seeing kiosks in Blockbuster stores that will allow movie downloads. The will be the first step in Keyes' plan to turn Blockbuster into "an entertainment convenience store." The kiosks will likely be a stepping stone on Blockbuster's way to offering a digital movie download service on the web.
Interestingly, when responding to a question about the potential of flash drives in movie download distribution, Keyes said "we are working on a flash drive ourselves...a micro SD chip for side-load capabilities into portable devices, and we’re working on direct download to a device itself.” We'll have to keep our eyes out for the Blockbuster flash drive in the future.
Keyes was bullish about Blockbuster's financial potential this year, citing high gas prices, the turning of the tides in the HD DVD/Blu-ray format war, the downfall of competitor Movie Gallery, and the lack of fresh television content thanks to the Hollywood Writer's Strike.
Everyone hates wires. They're ugly, look messy, and are just a plain ol' pain in the ass. A small company in China, Shenzhen Kechenda Technology Company, specializes in wiring, specifically HDMI, USB, and DVI cables, has tried to do what they can to make HDMI cables a little more eye-catching.
If you've ever read the book "A Whole New Mind" by Dan Pink, you'd know that design is one of the six most important aptitudes you can have in the working world of now and the near future. Whoever created the Moneual I*magine HTPC definitely has his or her fair share of design ability as this is one of the most eye-catching HTPC's we seen lately.
The Moneual I*magine features a 7 inch touchscreen, 2.0 Ghz Intel Core2Duo T7300 processor running Vista Home Premium, 2 GB of memory, 7.1 channel sound from Realtek, and an ATI 2400 Pro 256 MB HDMI graphics card. If you want to upgrade the graphics card to an ATI 2400 XT, it'll output 1080p. You can even operate the device using your voice via a built-in microphone or bluetooth headset if you're far away. The HTPC will hit shelves in March for $1999.
Want to do your part to save HD DVD? Then go sign the "Save HD DVD" petition that's gone up online. Started by Tudor Cacenco who's obviously an HD DVD player owner, unhappy that Warner Bros. jumped ship, putting a limit on his movie title choices, the petition currently has 2702 signatures. We're sure this'll make for some great discussion in the blogosphere as the day progresses. So, if you're a big HD DVD fan pissed off at Warner Bros., just click the link below and sign away.
Variety has reported the last two major studios supporting HD DVD, Universal and Paramount, may jump ship in the near future...the very near future. In fact, Universal has ended their commitment to release movie titles on HD DVD exclusively and Paramount has an escape clause in their contract with HD DVD that allows them to release titles on Blu-ray once Warner Bros. backs the blue camp exclusively, which they now do. Both studios however have upcoming promotions with HD DVD, so it doesn't look like they'll throw in the towel in the first half of 2008 anyways.
Creator of the HD DVD optical format Toshiba has reaffirmed its commitment to its creation in the past couple of days, citing strong sales in the fourth quarter of 2007, although we have to wonder what the profit margins were like on those sales as they were derived from massive price cuts on Toshiba HD DVD players leading up to Black Friday in November.
With Warner Bros. sister companies New Line and HBO now exclusively supporting Blu-ray, it looks as if HD DVD could be lacking retail shelf space this year which could cause huge problems for the format. Without sales, HD DVD will surely die.
Gaming blog Kotaku spoke to a Microsoft spokesman that squashed rumors that the company may include Blu-ray with the Xbox 360 if consumer demand dictated that would be the best choice for the console. The spokesperson said that their comments were misconstrued and they still believe in and back HD DVD as being the best optical solution for buyers.
Apple will begin offering movie rentals on iTunes according to unknown sources familiar with the company. Currently Disney offers new releases, and Paramount, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Lionsgate offer older titles for sale rather than for rent. The sources also said that Warner Bros. and Fox will also supply rental films.
This is to be officially announced January 15 by Steve Jobs at MacWorld, at which time he will also announce pricing of $3.99 for 24 hours for both new releases and older titles. Analysts expect other major studios to jump on board in the near future.
In March of this year, TiVo Season Pass users will be able to watch a huge variety of web video content directly on their TVs. Users will be able to subscribe to and watch any video content available via RSS feeds, "providing consumers a new way to easily and automatically access the content they want to watch on their television sets", says CEO Tom Rogers. With this new web video-elevating innovation, TiVo is well on the way to "providing one stop for all content, through one box, integrated into one interface, accessible through one simple remote control." The new functionality will require TiVo Desktop Plus 2.6 which will also be available in March for $24.95, or free for those with earlier versions.
As online video sites like YouTube become ever more popular, TV manufacturers are racing to integrate internet capabilities into their new HDTV's. It's been an obvious trend at CES, and now Matsushita, the maker of Panasonic televisions, has partnered with Google to launch a new plasma series that allows users to search and watch YouTube vids and both view and share photos from Picasa Web Albums.
Matsushita will be provided with special servers from Google that will be able to transmit high-quality images from YouTube to the living room HDTV and access to both YouTube and Picasa will be via a simple button push on the HDTV's remote control. The internet functionality will be included in Panasonic's VIERA PZ850 plasma lineup to be available this spring in the US.
Expect the ability to copy Blu-ray files from your Playstation 3 to your PSP as part of the next PS3 firmware update sometime this year. Sony demoed copying Blu-ray from the PS3 to a Playstation Portable or memory stick at CES.
"This way, you can have a portable copy you can take with you," explains David Bishop, president of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. "There was always the promise of greater interactivity. You'll see that coming in the new year."
It looks like Steve Jobs won't be announcing Blu-ray integration into Apple Macs next week at MacWorld. Apple showcased their upgraded Mac Pros and Xserve servers yesterday, sans Blu-ray. That would make it very unlikely that Apple would happen to release a new computer next week with Blu-ray. They could announce an add-on Blu-ray drive option however, but even that is unlikely as those that purchase a new Mac Pro this week would miss out. It looks like whatever Jobs has to say will probably be focused on the iTunes movie service.
Sony Pictures Television has entered into a partnership with DivX, Inc. that will allow online retailers to offer DivX-format Sony content for download. The deal will "cover all titles in the Sony Pictures Television library", and though download-to-own the files will have some sort of DRM protection. So far though, no retailers that actually offer Sony DivX downloads have been announced. When they are, the DivX files should be available the same day as any Sony Pictures Television DVD release.
A big topic of conversation in the world of television and media for the past few months has been the Hollywood Writer's Strike and what it could mean for the development of online video in 2008. Forbes had a little chat with Dan York, chief of content strategy and acquisitions for AT&T that revealed some interesting little conversational tidbits for those interested in the developing world of digital media.
The main questions asked: Will Hollywood go the free download route or will they populate subscription services on the web? Or will networks continue to run the show? The conversation shed some light on a fact that few of us bother to remember when fantasizing about web video, that being that the networks dictate where and when Hollywood airs their content, and cables, satellites, and networks control two-thirds of current content distribution. That's a pretty big hurdle for online video to overcome.
To put into perspective, York gave an example of a "major production network" that aired a show which registered 11 million viewers over 3 airing via cable and satellite. When the same show was put online for free, it only registered 62000 viewers over 3 days. Definitely not alot of money from 62000 views, at least not when compared to 11 million.
Things will change, though as the living room continues to evolve and the internet is brought to our HDTV's. That's when we'll start seeing the real evolution of online video.
We don't normally think of the name Honeywell first when it comes to LCD TV's, but consumer electronics manufacturer will be releasing a new line of LCD's under the name Honeywell. The Honeywell Altura LCD TV's will range in size from 42 to a whopping 82 inches and feature 1080p resolution, a 120000:1 dynamic contrast ratio, and support for SRS TruBass and TruSurround, Dolby Digital ProLogicII Sound and MTS/SAP.
Made of steel with brushed aluminum bezel, the Altura's have response times of 4 ms for the 57 and 65 inch models and 3 ms for the 70 inch model. Combined with the full HD resolution and contrast ratio, the Altura's have a crystal clear picture that rivals better known names. The models have a full selection of connections include 3 HDMI inputs and a V-chip for parental control.
The 57 inch model has a MSRP of $5999, the 65 inch model is tagged at $7499, and the price of the 70 inch model has yet to be determined.
Have some spare time on your hands? Like about 9 hours. While most of us have a limit of 10 minutes on our YouTube uploads, certain members have the luxury of longer and larger uploads. Come in Charles Trippy, one of those lucky few, who had the luxury of posting a 9 hour video of his evening on YouTube. Why you'd want to watch it I don't know, but I suppose Trippy got his 15 minutes of fame for an utterly useless accomplishment.
According to Kotaku, Samsung's 3D Plasma TV gaming capabilities suck, to put it very bluntly. Apparently the oversized goggles for playing the likes of Madden NFL 08 and Need For Speed ProStreet produce a feeling more like nausea than feeling like "you are in the game". Lots of flicker for a plasma too.
Apple's iTunes movie service will be getting some gold old-fashioned competition from long time tech competitor Microsoft. During Bill Gates' keynote address at CES he announced deals with studios Walt Disney, NBC Universal and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to "bolster online video sales" and that Xbox 360 gamers would be able to download and watch shows like "Desperate Housewives". The company also relayed news of a partnership with telecommunications firm BT to bring together BT Vision next-gen TV with the Xbox 360 game console. The news was somewhat downplayed by the fact that Gates' announced his coming departure from day-to-day operations at Microsoft in July.
Rumor also has it that despite the fact that Microsoft says they still fully back Toshiba's HD DVD technology in the Xbox 360, the could consider jumping ship to Blu-ray if consumers dictate that's what they want. This from Xbox hardware group marketing manager Albert Penello. If this happens, it could really be the death of HD DVD.
Speaking of the whole format war, you have to wonder if Blu-ray's currently gained upper hand will put the struggling PS3 on par with the Xbox 360 in terms of sales numbers in 2008. Sony's in tough though as Macquarie Securities predicts only 9.2 million PS3's sold this year, compared to Sony's forecast of 11 million.
Project Infinity was one of Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian L. Roberts' announcements at CES today, but for those that who missed it, you're probably wondering what Project Infinity is all about.
Project Infinity is Comcast's vision to make all high-def content available to viewers on demand. That includes sports, movies, kid's programming, network TV and even user-generated content where you want it, when you want it. And by where you want it, we mean all platforms from your living room HDTV to your mobile phone.
Comcast will use its existing infrastructure, in place for its current Comcast On Demand service, to support Project Infinity, which will also include servers placed around the United States that will serve VOD content and enable the company to greatly expand their library of HD content which already offers about 10000 selections each month.
Their expanded library will include more than 1000 HD movie and TV show selections each month by the end of 2008, and by sometime in the beginning of 2009 Comcast plans to make 6000 movie titles available each month, 3000 of those in high definition. This wasn't the only announcement by Comcast today however.
The company also launched their Fancast IPTV initiative, featuring full-length TV shows only, as well as a TV listing management feature and Fandango, an online movie ticket vendor. Interestingly, you can't watch shows in full screen, nor can you embed them outside the site. Comcast hopes their Fancast service will provide an "an “easy way to manage their entertainment experience as the number of viewing choices that are available across platforms continues to grow rapidly.” Like IPTV competitor Hulu, Fancast has its detractors. Henry Blodget of Silicon Alley Insider recommends that Comcast ditch Fancast altogether and buy Netflix. But then again, for those who remember the dot-com crash of the early 21st century, you just shouldn't listen to Henry Blodget (sorry Henry, bad joke, your blog is one of my favorites).
The Unofficial Apple Weblog received a tip today that DVD's with iTunes-enabled ripping could be available as early as January 15, right around the MacWorld expo. The tipster received an early copy of the Family Guy Blue Harvest DVD with an iPod-compatible "Fox Digital Copy File" included on the disc. Head over to TUAW for pics confirming this rumor.
Check out the vid of Panasonic's new 150-inch plasma set. With a resolution of 4096x2160, we can't even imagine what the picture quality looks like in real life. Not only is this set huge, it's also thin at only one inch thick.
Microsoft has this to say when confronted about the Xbox 360 HD DVD rumor:
We have reiterated multiple times since launching the Xbox 360 HD-DVD Player that we have no plans to integrate an HD-DVD player in to the Xbox 360. We feel that offering the drive externally is the best way to give consumers the ultimate choice to create their own high-definition experiences.
Of course they would say that. I mean, HD DVD is dead, right? Maybe they'll offer a built-in Blu-ray drive instead. Or maybe not, as an announcement at CES yesterday makes it seem that Microsoft wants no part of the format war at all.
Microsoft will be offering high-def movies and programming from ABC, Disney, and MGM Studios as part of its Xbox Live service. The deals are said to be part of Microsoft's ultimate plan to make internet-connected televisions the primary source for HD content, which could in the end make the HD DVD/Blu-ray format war a pointless issue.
We do have to wonder though, after Warner Bros. announcement that they would solely support the Blu-ray format if Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates was originally planning to add a built-in HD DVD player to the Xbox 360, but changed his mind at the last minute. I guess we'll never know.
Mitsubishi chose the Moon Nightclub at The Palms Hotel to finally unveil their laser TV yesterday. The 65 inch rear projection set uses a laser backlight to produce remarkably vivid colors. Especially impressive were the colors of red, green, and blue and the display's blacks are as black as black can get to the naked eye. The set will hit the market "later this year" at an undisclosed price, said Mitsubishi officials, who added that the laser TV will cost about the same as other flat panel TV's of the same size.
Blu-ray announcements galore at CES 2008. Sony is showcasing two BD-live prototypes, the Sapphire 3 and 4, both slated to be Profile 2.0. The PS3 is also rumored to be getting a BD-live upgrade in the near future. The company also announced plans to release a sub-$200 PC Blu-ray drive, although specs won't be released until tomorrow.
Samsung has announced a new dual-format player, the BD-UP5500, that will play "any HD format disc you have" according to Samsung product rep Nelson Allen. The players will display in 1080p resolution with 24fps playback meet Profile 1.1 standards.
Panasonic has unveiled the DMP-BD50 Blu-ray player with BD Live (Profile 2.0) and the ability to decode Dolby TrueHD as well as DTS HD Master Audio. SD card functionality is identical to Panasonic's current DMP-BD30. Check out a full fact sheet for the Panasonic DMP-BD50 here. Panasonic also announced the new SC-BT1000 home theater in a box with a built in Profile 1.1 Blu-ray player.
I'm sure we'll here a lot more from the Blu-ray camp as the week continues in Las Vegas.
Panasonic launched their update lineup of LCD and plasma displays at CES today. Both LCD and plasma models will be under the Viera name. New displays include the 37-inch TC-37LZ85 LCD and the 46-inch TH-46PZ800 under the Viera brand, of which all displays incorporate SDHC flash memory card support. The PZ800 plasma releases include 42, 46, 50, and 58 inch displays, all THX certified, including 4 HDMI and an SDHC port. New LCD releases include the TC-37LZ85 and the premium TC-37LZ800, Panasonic's first 37 inch, 1080p models.
The new Viera lineup will be released in North America sometime this spring. No prices have been announced.
The Sony XEL-1 OLED TV is now available at select Sony Style stores for $2500. Yes, that means it's finally going to be available in the US. CNET questions why the same 11 inch model that's been selling in Japan for months now hasn't gotten any bigger since jumping the pond, especially because very few North Americans are willing to sport 11 inch televisions. Even with the state-of-the art OLED display and 1000000:1 contrast ratio. Could poor manufacturing yields be the result? High costs to manufacture bigger screens in other words?
The company that makes the best plasma TV's in the world, Pioneer, is showcasing a new Kuro concept model on the floor at CES 2008. Called Project Kuro, the 50 inch plasma is only 9 mm thin and has a contrast ratio that is nearly infinite. In fact, the company says that the plasma is so black that when the set is on with no picture, it practically "disappears into your wall"! We have no other specs on the model right now, but it looks like this'll be impressive when finally released. Which, by the way, won't be this year.
Vizio apparently brought their assembly line to CES 2008. Their new Black Tie LCD series includes the 42-inch SV42LF and the 47-inch SV47LF, both 1080p models with 6500:1 contrast ratio, 120 Hz processing, 4 HDMI 1.3 ports, an integrated NTSC / ATSC / Clear-QAM TV tuner, and Dolby 3.0 processing. Both models also feature Motion Estimation Motion Compensation technology, a side access HD game port, and trendy slimmer bezels. The models will be available in July for 1,499 and $1,899, respectively.
The company has also announced two new models for their Envy lineup, the 32-inch VU32L priced at $699 and the 37-inch VU37L with a price tag of $899. Both sets feature 720p resolution, numerous HDMI ports with a side access HD game port, and detachable bases in case you want to mount them on the wall. Stereo speakers are built-in for great sound with little clutter. No release dates have yet been announced.
Six new models have been announced for the Vizio Evolution LCD lineup: VO22L ($459.99), VO32L ($699.99), VO37L ($899.99), VO42LF ($1299.99), VO47LF ($1799.99), and the VO52LF ($2499.99). The 22 inch model has a resolution of 1680x1050 and will be available in March, the 32 and 37 inch models have a 720p resolution and will both be available in March, and the 1080p 42, 47 and 52 inch models all have 1080p resolution and 4 HDMI inputs. The smaller models both have two. The larger 1080p models will be available in April, January, and July of this year, respectively. All the models come with a 6 foot HDMI cable and a "Deluxe Size Cleaning Cloth".
Confused with all this Vizio madness? Gizmodo has put together an article differentiating all the Vizio models that'll explain some of the key differences for you.
Thin seems to be in once again at CES 2008 as JVC has announced a new lineup of super-thin LCD's. The thinnest parts of the TV's measure in at 1.5 inches, but the widest part still measures in at 2.9 inches. This summer will see the release of the first two models, the 42-inch LT-42SL89 and the 46-inch LT-46SL89, both featuring 1080p resolution and built-in tuners although no prices will be announced until closer to the release date. JVC has also made a point of marketing the fact that the new TV's use comparatively less energy than most other LCD's on the market. Good job, JVC.
LG is just pumping out both LCD's and plasma early in 2008. The PG60 tooks a Best of Innovations prize at CES and features 1080p resolution, a 30000:1 contrast ratio, 4 HDMI inputs and TruMotion 120 Hz technology is a glossy, ultraslim package with an integrated and invisible speaker system. The LG60 is set to come in both black and red, and features 1080p resolution, a 15000:1 contrast ratio, 4 HDMI inputs, automatic optimization and a lighting sensor that automatically adjusts the televisions picture brightness to the level of lighting in the room. So far no release dates or prices have been announced.
Logitech is set to release the latest remote in the company's incredibly successful lineup of Harmony touchscreen remotes. The Logitech Harmony One features one-touch control of your entire home theater system replacing up to 15 remotes, greatly simplifying your home theater automation. It's user-friendly touchscreen display is fully colored and backlit for use in dark environments and has an integrated rechargeable battery so you'll never have to worry about dead batteries at the worst possible time, because we all know that's the way things usually work, right? Setting up the remote to integrate with your home theater is simple with online setup and a knowledge of 225, 000 devices from 5000 brands making it unlikely that you own anything the Harmony One can't work with.
The Harmony One works with most recent operating systems including Windows 2000, XP, and Vista as well as all Macintosh operating systems OS X 10.3 and later and was the winner of the Best Of Innovations award in home theater accessories at the ongoing CES 2008.
Vizio, maker of comparatively low-cost LCD and plasma televisions, have announced seven new plasma models: the VP504F-50" 1080p plasma display featuring Silicon Optix HQV processing, the VP605F-60" 1080p display, and some new additions to the VP series including the VP322-32", VP422-42", VP423-42", and the VP503-50" all with 720p technology.
The 50" Vizio VP504F uses a Silicon Optix REON HQV chip, technology that guarantees the sharpest, most detailed image on the market. Artifacts from signal compression are a non-issue with the chip's advanced noise reduction capabilities, and the chip can process two high-def or standard-def channels simultaneously so your picture-in-picture features the same resolution as your big screen picture. Both the VP504F and VP605F both feature an integrated, DTV-compliant HD/QAM tuner, a 30000:1 contrast ratio, and four HDMI 1.3 ports. Both models are expected to be released in June with the VP504F priced at $1699 and the VP605F priced at $2899.
The 32 inch Vizio VP322 features 720p resolution, a 15000:1 contrast ratio, and three HDMI inputs and has an expected retail price of $689.
The VP422 and VP423 models are both 42 inches with 720p resolution, 20000:1 contrast ratio, and two HDMI inputs. The VP422 will be sold from the shelves of discount retailers such as Wal-mart and Kmart for $999. The VP423 will be on the shelves of club retailers such as Sam's Club and Costco, also for the price of $999.
The Vizio VP503 is a 50 inch set with a native resolution of 1365x768 pixels, compatible with 1080p content and features a remarkable 30000:1 contrast ratio. It will be priced at $1399.
The Vizio VP324, VP422, VP423, and VP503 are all expected to be available to consumers in May or June.
Vizio will also be releasing two new models to their all-in-one home theater category: the VP500 and VP501. The VP500 features a 50 inch display with 720p resolution, picture-in-picture functionality, plenty of inputs including 3 HDMI ports. It also has a Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound system integrated into the TV that attaches wirelessly to a subwoofer eliminating cable clutter. Expect it to hit stores in June with a price tag of $1799. The VP501 shares all the features of the VP500, expect its resolution moves up a notch to 1080p. No pricing or availability details have been announced.
Vudu has announced a second-generation set-top box that promises to store up to 500 standard-definition movies, 5 times more storage than the current Vudu allows. The box, called the Vudu XL, is priced at a whopping $999 compared to the current Vudu which is a little more affordable at $399. The company also plans to add 70 high-def movie titles to its movie roster later this month, so for Vudu fans who are willing to pay the price, you'll probably need the extra storage space.
JVC is set to debut four new LCD's that feature iPod docking stations at CES this week. Coming in four sizes, the 32 and 42 inch models will be released in March, the 47 inch model will be coming in April and the 52 inch model will hit shelves sometime mid-year. So far, prices haven't been announced.
Each LCD TV contains an iPod docking station at the base of the set, from which you can charge the popular portable media player, and call up songs or video onto your TV. You'll also be able to view photos from your iPod on the high-def sets and play regular television during music playback.
Each model comes with a remote designed in much the same way as the iPod, with a rotating wheel-style keypad.
CES 2008 will undoubtedly showcase some of the hottest TV tech products of the next couple of years, and we're very excited about that. However, we're also very excited about the drama we expect on the CES party scene on the coattails of the Warner Bros. Blu-ray announcement. We've taken a look at probably the most comprehensive CES party list on the web and have made 10 party predictions, tongue-in-cheek of course.
Prediction #1-The HD DVD Promotional Group crashes the invite-only CES Unveiled press event tonight and announces that the Blu-ray Association raised the funds to supposedly pay off Warner Bros. through fraudulent means.
Prediction #2-Bill Gates wonders why he's the only person at the HD DVD party tomorrow following his keynote address to three people, then realizes after a couple of glasses of punch that they all went to the Panasonic party earlier in the day. Apparently, the HD DVD fans of yesterday are Blu-ray fans now as the whole lot of them spend the entire party trying to cop Panasonic Blu-ray players. After another glass of punch, Gates realizes he has made a fairly poor business decision. Damn HD DVD, he thinks.
The newest issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly, to hit shelves January 15th, contains a rumor that Microsoft is working on a next-gen Xbox 360. Dug up by rumor afficiondo Q-man, and reportedly from a mole working at Microsoft, a first party sequel that was originally to be released for the current Xbox 360 is being developed and released for the next-gen console instead. Maybe a next-generation Halo? A next-gen console will probably be a couple of years off, as the Xbox 360 is only a little over two years old, so don't expect this to be the much-anticipated CES Microsoft announcement. Most likely that will be the debut of a built-in HD DVD drive for the 360. Or maybe Microsoft will follow Warner Bros. over to the Blu-ray camp. That really would be the death of HD DVD!
One thing is for sure: the way the format war is looking at the moment, expect a next-gen Microsoft console to have a built-in Blu-ray player.
Is HD DVD officially dead? Up until now, I've been leaning toward HD DVD in the high-def disc format battle based on a few different reasons. Number one, HD DVD player prices have been cheaper than Blu-ray players, especially in the last quarter of 2007, price being an important part of the consumer adoption equation that could make or break both formats. Number two, neither camp had a definite advantage in having exclusive access to studio titles, the rational being that if both formats produce a quality picture, one's much cheaper and has a similar number of movie titles compared to the more expensive format, the cheaper player will win. And number three, sales of standalone HD DVD players have been greater than standalone Blu-ray player sales in the US in 2007. Blu-ray takes the number one sales spot based on PS3 sales and most gamers don't use their consoles for movie viewing.
TheStreet.com analyst Shaw Wu has indicated in a written preview of the upcoming MacWorld conference that "our souces indicate that Apple will outline its high-definition video strategy with the support of Blu-ray as opposed to HD-DVD". Disney, on whose board Apple co-founder Steve Jobs sits, not surprisingly also supports Blu-ray. If true, this is a huge win for the Sony's blue camp and could signify coming domination for Blu-ray.
There's a catch however. Wu also writes that Apple will probably want to avoid participation in the high-def format war and will probably choose to release a combination HD DVD/Blu-ray drive in upcoming computer models. Apple Insider has reported though, that Apple has Macs ready to ship with solely Blu-ray support, no HD DVD anywhere to be found. It's all rumors and speculation right now, but we'll know more after Steve Jobs' keynote at the MacWorld conference on January 15.
Westinghouse will be debuting the first integrated wireless HDTV next week at CES 2008. The Westinghouse Digital Wireless HDMI HDTV will be released in the second quarter of 2008, first marketed to the digital signage market, and features Pulse Link’s integrated CWave UWB Wireless HDMI technology for real-time wireless streaming of audio and video content from your Blu-ray, HD DVD or DVR home theater accessories or live cable/satellite feed.
Video is encoded using the JPEG2000 codec, and transmitted via a FCC Certified CWave® UWB chipset that at a 1.35 Gbps over-the-air signaling rate delivers 890 Mbps application layer throughput which is the fastest wireless speed currently available. The wireless range of the HDTV is also impressive with the CWave surpassing 500 Mbps at 8 feet and 115 Mbps at 40 feet.
No price or size details are yet available for the Westinghouse Digital Wireless HDMI HDTV, but expect to learn more after the unveiling next week at CES.
Look for Marantz to unveil the "ultimate-quality" BD8002 Blu-ray player, up to Blu-ray Profile 1.1 standards, at CES 2008. Using a 10-bit Silicon Optix Realta chipset, the BD8002 displays the best quality 1080p picture possible via HDMI 1.3 as well as upconversion and IP scaling. A pixel-by-pixel Digital Noise Reduction feature removes digital artifacts, clearing up the picture considerably, and the player can even output 480i video via its HDMI connection.
The BD8002 can output both 7.1 channel analog sound and PCM audio, offering High Resolution HD audio with decoding of Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby True HD and DTS-HD Master Audio. The player can also play back a variety of codecs in addition to Blu-ray and standard DVD including VCDs, SVCDs, MP3s, WMA and DivX video files, and it also displays JPEG images.
The price tag has been set at a hefty SRP of $2099.99 and Marantz's new Blu-ray is scheduled to be released in the second quarter of 2008.
A SlingPlayer for the Blackberry will hit shelves by the end of 2008, according to Sling Media. Designed for 3G wireless or wi-fi Blackberry smartphones, the Sling Player will allow streaming of live TV from your home Slingbox right to your phone. The new software is expected to be priced at $30 and a demo will be conducted at CES 2008 on the Pearl 8120.
Sling Media has announced they will be released the Slingbox PRO-HD, the first of its placeshifting boxes that will be able to stream fully high-definition video, sometime in the third quarter of 2008. But, you are saying, I thought that HD video couldn't be streamed over the internet because of the huge amount of bandwidth required? Well, you would be right, and that's why the PRO-HD is designed to stream HD video only over your home network, although PC's connected to the SlingPlayer software or TV's connected to the SlingCatcher will be able to view a stream up to 1080i in 5.1 surround sound.
Priced at $400, the PRO-HD has the usually range of connections and ports, although nothing for HDMI, and ATSC, NTSC and clear QAM tuners.
Not everyone wants their flat panel HDTV on display all the time, hence motorized lifts and other tools that give you the opportunity to hide away the tube when not in use. From custom cabinetry, to concealment behind oil paintings, and decorative mirrors, the options are limitless for creatively hiding your display. And best of all, prices of lifts, frames, and screens used to hide the display are coming down at an avalanche-like pace. Marketnews helps you explore your options for hiding your flat-panel display.
Amazon has taken full advantage of the HD DVD/Blu-ray format war and by offering deals such as as a "buy one, get one free deal" for Blu-ray discs and up to 10 free HD DVD's with the purchase of select HD DVD players, they've seen high-def disc sales skyrocket.
The big news in the blogosphere is how Blu-ray has taken the top 5 bestselling spots in disc sales on Amazon with their ongoing "buy one, get one free" deal. Not surprisingly, another HD DVD deal is taking a prominent place on their electronics deals page with the promise of 10 free HD DVD's with select HD DVD players.
Don't let the format war intimidate you, take advantage of these deals while they're around.
Microsoft's Bill Gates has hinted that there'll be a Xbox 360-related announcement at CES 2008 on the heels of revelations that the Sony PSP will soon be integrated with online telephone service Skype. Reported by the Seattle Times writer Brian Dudley who speculates that the announcement could be a new Xbox 360 SKU with integrated HD DVD playback. Currently the Xbox 360 supports HD DVD, but only with a separately purchased HD DVD player. The rumor further goes on to include a possible partnership with Toshiba in developing a "digital video recorder with a hard-drive, high-definition HD-DVD drive and Xbox gaming capabilities".
The Xbox 360 is allied against the Blu-ray camp and Dudley also states that such a partnership could help the gaming console successfully penetrate the lucrative Japanese market. Further rumors from gadget mag Stuff include the possibility of an Xbox 360 Ultimate system to be released in August 2008 that would include "built-in wi-fi, hi-def audio output, 1080p HDMI support, cooler 65nm hardware architecture and a near-silent fan" putting it on par to compete with the functionality of the Playstation 3. Stuff says that the new Xbox 360 Ultimate will also include the built-in HD DVD drive and a huge 320 GB hard drive for storing content from the Microsoft's IPTV service which will apparently be finalized at CES 2008.
This doesn't really sound like an earth-shattering announcement as the Playstation 3 already includes the majority of these features, with the exception of a Blu-ray player replacing the HD DVD playback of the Xbox. The real earth-shattering announcement will probably the price Microsoft intends to charge for the new Ultimate Xbox.
Netflix and LG Electronics have teamed up in developing a set-top box that will deliver Netflix video content from the internet to your HDTV. Due in the second half of 2008, the new set-top box will be the most direct way that Netflix users can view video, trumping the ability of users to stream content to their PC's for the past year.
Netflix hasn't named a price for the box yet, but Piper Jaffray analyst Michael Olsen figures that in order for it to be profitable, it'll have to cost around $100 and have an additional $12/month subscription fee for 2-3 rentals at a time. He always wonders if the future holds a battle between Netflix and Apple since Apple has announced iTune's video deals with Fox and Disney in the past couple of weeks. We think that would be a great battle indeed.
An inadvertent leak by the BBC has revealed that Pioneer plans to showcase a 9 mm thin "world's thinnest" plasma TV at CES 2008. The story has been taken down, but Gizmodo managed to get their hands on a picture. A little blurry perhaps, but the rumor is the leak is real and could hit American shores real soon. No other details are available, but we're curious as to whether or not the ultra-thin Pioneer will be a member of the Kuro lineup, hands down the best plasma sets in the world.
Own a Mac? What about a TiVo Series 3? Then you may find this neat little dashboard widget handy if you want to see your TiVo content on your Mac. All's you have to do with the free Showcase widget is enter your TiVo IP and MAK and you'll get your listing on your Mac. Then you can download the shows you want to watch and they'll automatically be decoded so you can watch them on your computer.
The cool thing about the Showcase widget is that it does everything the TiVoToGo does, but for free.
Asahi newspaper reports that Canon will begin to mass produce surface-conduction, electron-emitter displays, also known as SED TV's using their own technology after SED's failed to hit shelves in 2007 due to a patent dispute with U.S.- based Nano-Proprietary Inc. Canon's technology is reportedly more stable than Nano-Proprietary's, but Asahi neglected to mention where they received their information from.
Mitsubishi first starting talking about the laser TV back in 2006 and the technology was much-anticipated at last year's Consumer Electronics Show. Problem was, Mitsubishi didn't debut the laser TV at last years CES. Two years later, it looks like the company is primed to show off it's laser TV in Las Vegas next week.
The Novalux Necsel-based laser TVs are still 1080p resolution HDTV's, but they have the advantage of being lighter, thinner, and having a wider viewing angle than most other HD technologies available. They can also display 90% of the colors the human eye can see, whereas LCDs and plasmas can only display about 40%.
So you've been on the couch for the past week with your eyes glued to that brand new HDTV go got for Christmas, haven't bothered to have a shower and are dreading going back to work now that the holidays are coming to an end. Wouldn't it be a shame to find out that you spent your entire Christmas break thinking your were watching high-definition content on your new HDTV, but you really weren't.
Approximately 1 out of every 6 homes in the United States now have at least one HD-capable television, yet only about 50% of HDTV owners are actually watching HD picture on their televisions. The numbers are even more startling when you realize that 25% of HDTV owners think they are watching HD content when they aren't. Talk about customer confusion.
Since the advent of the internet, we've steadily moved away from the living room television as the hub that connects us with the rest of the world. The under-30 crowd today mainly use the internet to connect with others and get the scoop on ongoing world events that we used to turn to the television for. Steve Rubel of Micro Persuasion argues that in 2008 the living room will undergo something of a rebirth and will redeem itself as the social hub that it used to be.
Called Living Room 2.0, this rebirth originated with the HDTV says Rubel, and with HDMI enabling us to connect internet-enabled devices to our televisions, we once again have the bridge connecting our families with their respective online happenings. Rubel states that the main beneficiaries of this evolution happening in our living rooms are the early adopters, but as the "devices get simpler, cheaper and the benefits are more pronounced", the rest of us will benefit too.
By the end of 2008 he predicts that "every device that already has a place in an home theater set-up will connect not only to the web but, increasingly, to existing social networking platforms like OpenSocial, MySpace, Facebook and others" meaning that "devices like the Wii, Slingbox, Vudu, TiVo, Apple TV or even your trusty digital cable set-top box will start to allow you to connect with the rest of the world online". Once this happens, these technologies will become more mainstream.
So for those of you fretting because your kids are spending the majority of the day locked up inside their rooms surfing the web and chatting with friends, fret no more. 2008 could be the year that Living Room 2.0 goes mainstream, bringing the family unit back together once again, in the living room and in front of the TV.
Do you ever wonder how you can easily find stories submitted to Digg.com that relate to Sony's HDNA technology used in Blu-ray players and Bravia HDTV's? Sony actually uses their own Digg-based content aggregator, Stories We Digg, that features Sony HDNA-related articles that have been submitted to Digg. Check it out by clicking the above link.
Heading to the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas? If so, we'd love to hear from you. Email the editor at email@example.com. We'd love to get the odd update and picture from you as get first view of the hottest TV technologies in the world. Unfortunately we won't be going, so if we could vicariously enjoy the experience through you, we'd definitely give you some mad props!
Happy New Year's TV Snob's! Posting was a little late today due to family commitments, but that doesn't mean we don't hope you have the best year of your life in 2008, especially when you finally have the home theater of your dreams! 2008 will see TVSnob.com continuing to cover the best television technologies in the world and find you the best HDTV and home theater accessory deals that'll get you the most bang for your buck! So once again, Happy New Year's!