Sports fans rejoice! It looks like ESPN will be producing exclusive content for the web in light of ABC's recent success with long-form television shows streamed via its online video players. While ESPN has always posted all kinds of short-form material on its site, this year they'll be launching "a number of new, original shows only on ESPN.com", according to Ed Erhardt, president of customer marketing and sales for ESPN and ABC Sports. While it's well known that short-form video content tends to generate the most traffic on the web, ESPN is looking to experiment with lengthier material and continues to work on expanding their platform and ad-serving capabilities.
CBS also recently announced that the network will stream for free all the NCAA's March Madness basketball games through their website and with an anticipated $22 million in online ad sales directly related to the b-ball tournament, it looks to be a success before it's even begun.
Got your 3D glasses ready? You could need them soon as Samsung has announced the release of their 3D Ready PAVV Cannes 450 plasma TV into Korea. Featuring an amazing 1, 000, 000:1 contrast ratio, rivaled only by Sony's XEL-1 OLED TV, as well as 3D content support, the PAVV Cannes 450 couldn't do it without the help of Samsung's proprietary Cell Light Control, Ultra Daylight Technology, and a DNIe+ chipset.
We can expect a fair amount of 3D interactive content from Electronic Arts who are reportedly developing content specifically for use on the PAVV Cannes 450. That will probably mean some cool new 3D video games from the world's largest interactive entertainment software company.
The PAVV Cannes 450 will come in both 42- and 52-inch models priced at 1, 750, 000 Korean Won (US$1862) and 2, 500, 000 Korean Won (US$2660) respectively. Samsung will also release a higher-end 50-inch PAVV Cannes 550 model for 3, 900, 000 Korean Won or the equivalent, US$4150.
Yet another display geared for the business market, NEC's MultiSync LCD5220 features full 1080p resolution on a 52-inch LCD panel surrounded by an ultra-thin 19 mm bezel. With support for nearly 1.7 billion colors, brightness of 700 cd/m2, a 2000:1 contrast ratio, and 8 ms response time, we couldn't imagine finding a business presentation or application the MultiSync LCD 5220 couldn't handle. But at over 90 pounds, we hope buyers will be using this LCD TV in-house as lugging it around all day to meetings probably wouldn't be worth the technology inside the box.
The MultiSync LCD5220 features a variety on inputs and outputs including HDMI and PC and is Windows Vista-certified in the United States. Due out April 11 in Japan, the expected price of the NEC MultiSync LCD5220 is 600, 000 Yen, the equivalent to about US$5745!
Details are a little sketchy at the moment, but according to "market sources" in Taiwan, if you purchased a Vizio LCD TV in the United States in the last year or so, it very likely may not have been made by Vizio at all. The number 7 ranked LCD TV manufacturer globally, with 2.65 million units shipped, a 3% market share and 338% year-over-year growth, Vizio had a successful 2007. But many of their globally shipped LCD TV's were produced by Taiwan-based Amtram Technology, and as of last March 1, Foxconn supplied 26-inch Vizio LCD TV's to the US. Now, according to those "market sources" we mentioned above, another Taiwanese company, Tatung will be supplying more Vizio LCD TV's to the North American market! With all the partnerships going on over in Asia by HDTV manufacturers, it's really hard to say what type of TV you actually have in your living room these days!
Since I began working as editor for TVSnob.com near the end of last September, I've really tried to get a feel for what you, the readers, like to see. It's always tough to begin writing for a site that's been around for a couple of years and continue to please fans of previous editors. What I do know is that you like straight-to-the-core news and reviews about products as well as updates on all the best home theater deals around.
Since I've hopped on board here, I've tried to integrate some of the TV industry happenings that'll eventually have an effect on the products you can buy and the prices you'll pay for them, but boring old news doesn't seem to appeal to most of you. However, because what happens behind the scenes with the likes of TV manufacturers collaborating with each other and the web moving to our TV's and vice versa, I'd come up with what I guess you could call an editorial calendar to keep every happy.
Every day from here on in, we'll try to feature 2-3 articles focused on home theater products and their respective deals, as well as a link post that will feature the business and digital media news that will affect you now and/or in the future. That way, if you care to follow the business of TV, you can just follow the links. Occasionally we'll feature articles related to this type of stuff if it's really interesting, but we'll try this system out and see what you think.
If you have any thoughts or suggestions, email me at jdavey at tvsnob dot com.
The new BENQ CP220c DLP projector, tailored to the fast-paced business market, is the high-end projector manufacturer's latest Japanese offering. Available March 5 in Japan, for the expected price of 99, 800 Yen (US$941), the BENQ CP220c is a compact, super-lightweight DLP featuring 1024x768 XGA resolution, 2000 lumen brightness, and a 700:1 contrast ratio. Bulb lifetime is an expected 3000 hours in Economy mode and 2000 hours in normal mode, and built-in cooling fans continue to operate after the power source is removed from the projector. That means after a business presentation, a busy presenter can quickly pack up and move on without worrying about any lasting damage to the CP220c from excessive heat. The CP220c uses high-end German Zeiss lenses and comes with a lens cover to protect the lens during transportation and 9 preset modes allows the display to be optimized to any lighting or presentation conditions. For an extensive listing of features, check out the BENQ Japan website.
Toshiba Canada is launching a new line of their popular REGZA LCD TV's specifically for the gaming community. The REGZA RV530 lineup features 5 new models: the 32-inch 32RV530 for $1099, the 37-inch 37RV530 for $1299, the 42-inch 42RV530 for $1499, the 46-inch 46RV530 for $1999, and the 52-inch 52RV530 for $2499.
Toshiba is marketing the 42RV530 as the LCD TV of choice for gamers, but all of the models feature 1080p resolution, Toshiba's 14 Bit PixelPure4G Video Processor, and an enhanced DynaLight blacklight control. The DynaLight results in a contrast ratio up to 10 times greater than original panel contrast allowing gamers to see the detail built in to the graphics of their favorite video games.
As with any TV for gamers these days, the 42RV530 features all the inputs and outputs you could ever need, including 4 HDMI ports, as well as a high resolution PC input for easy hook-up to your gaming system of choice. Plus, an exclusive Gaming Mode brings a direct video signal to the screen for a faster controller-to-screen response, a must for fast-paced, action-packed video games.
We'd be willing to bet money that you weren't even close because it costs a whopping $17, 000. Yes, that's right, Goldmund's new Eidos 20 BD Blu-ray player will cost you that much when it's released. Of course, like most new products leaked onto the web, no date has been announced as of yet. Not to many details have been released either, but at $17,000 we'd hope you'd be witness to one of the greatest HD movie experiences ever.
Sony announced the upcoming release of two new Blu-ray players as well, the first to support Sony's BD Live service which allows you to download bonus materials and games from the internet and enables picture-in-picture viewing. Sony will first release the BDP-S350 sometime this summer for "around $400" but won't support BD Live until the fall when it's expected to officially debut. The BDP-S350 will feature an ethernet port for connecting to the web via your home broadband connection. The second player, the BDP-S550, will be released in the fall after BD Live is available and will be priced at "around $500". Looks like Blu-ray players won't be getting cheaper anytime soon.
Toshiba may have missed the boat with HD DVD, but a series of Turkish dealers appreciate their carbon-fiber LCD TV creation. The television is your normal everyday Toshiba offering, but the surrounding bezel is made of carbon fiber. What Turkish dealers find attractive about a carbon-fiber bezel, I'm not sure, but they found it attractive enough to pay $1000 more than they'd pay for the same TV minus the carbon fiber. Currently there are no plans for mass production.
There's got to be some crossover between gamers and S&M out there. So for those interested in both subcultures, two designers from the German Academy of Media Arts bring you the Painstation. The prototype game console, designed by Volker Morawe and Tilman Reiff, actually brings you pain for making mistakes. Make for two players, the Painstation uses an adapted version of the Atari classic Pong, in which the two players face each other and use their right hand to control a bat on the screen while their left hand is placed on top of the console. Every time they happen to miss the ball, they face pain in their left hand through the form of heat, electrical shock, or some sort of lashing on the back of the hand. If at any time they remove their left hand from the Painstation, it's game over. No it doesn't kill them or anything, but they lose the game. The designers says the integration of pain into video games makes them more interactive as well as much more entertaining for the audience!
We can totally see why the audience would find this so entertaining!
The Origami TV Remote Control, designed last year by Hayeon Yoo, eliminates the complications inherent in today's remote controls. Using only Max/Msp software, wireless keyboard sensors, paper, and some folding skills, the Origami TV Remote Control uses simple movements based on the popular kid's cootie catcher and is designed for kids, although most adults would probably appreciate its simplicity.
While the general consensus is that Warner Bros. decision to release their movie titles exclusively on Blu-ray was the last straw in the format war, sealing the fate of HD DVD, general manager of storage device strategy for Matsushita, Masayuki Kozuka says otherwise.
Remember the hoopla surrounding the $99 (and in some places cheaper) Toshiba HD-A2 HD DVD player available from Wal-mart and Best Buy just before Black Friday? According to Kozuka, this pricing strategy was the worst thing Toshiba could have done for HD DVD. By introducing such low prices, Toshiba effectively discouraged new manufacturers from producing HD DVD players. For the most part, Toshiba had the only established series of HD DVD players on the market. Up until this point, standalone HD DVD players were actually outselling standalone Blu-ray players, but by Christmas Blu-ray had a clear lead. So it turns out that maybe Warner Bros. never killed HD DVD, nor did any backroom $400 million payoff, a pre-Black Friday sale did.
Now that HD DVD is dead, movie studios will aim to move the DVD market to Blu-ray, expecting movie titles sales to increase from 7 million last year to 50 million this year. And what about the meme floating around the web stating that Blu-ray will be the next format to go at the hands of digital downloads. Not going to happen anytime soon, says Kozuka, adding that 7-8 years from now could be a totally different story.
If you're reading this right now, we're pretty sure you're a Sony Bravia fan. That being said, today is your lucky day because we have six more Bravia's for you.
The Bravia V1 series comes in 40-, 46-, and 52 inch models, with respective model numbers KDL-40V1, KDL-46V1, and KDL-52V1. All 3 V1 models feature Motion Flow 120Hz technology, 24p True Cinema, 1080p resolution, and a 3000:1 contrast ratio. Each model also has plenty of inputs including a couple of HDMI CEC slots. Expected to be released April 25 in Japan, the KDL-40V1 will be priced at 260, 000 yen (US$2406), the KDL-46V1 at 370, 000 yen (US$3424), and the KDL-52V1 at 460, 000 yen (US$4257).
The Bravia J1 series features the 20-inch KDL-20J1, the 26-inch KDL-26J1, and the 32-inch KDL-32J1. All 3 models feature 720p resolution, while the 20-inch model features a 1200:1 contrast ratio, the 26-inch model a 2000:1 contrast ratio, and the 32-inch model a 2500:1 contrast ratio. The J1 series also features a 178 degree viewing angle, both digital and analog tuners, and all the inputs and outputs you could possibly need. Expected to be released in Japan March 20, the KDL-20J1 will cost 110, 000 yen (US$1018), the KDL-26J1 150, 000 yen (US$1388), and the KDL-32J1 around 170, 000 yen (US$1573).
Panasonic, apparently not quite ready to release it's 150-inch monster plasma, has upgraded its 103-inch model with a new "10 series", featuring "better wall mount configuration, improved video processing technology, anti-Reflective coating, enhanced wireless presentation capabilities, more versatile media card readability, and a dual HDMI board". The new TH-103PF10UK comes with an impressive 100, 000 hour service agreement, though that's probably not to much to ask with an expected price tag around $70, 000.
We initially reported the other day that Sony had struck a deal to purchase LCD panels from Sharp, a cost-efficient way for Sony to keep up with demand for its hugely successful Bravia line-up. It seems the two companies are closer than we originally thought.
Sharp and Sony have signed a memorandum of intent to both produce and sell large-size LCD panels. A factory for the new joint-venture which is so far unnamed is being built, and once fully operational will supply Sharp and Sony with panel amounts respective to their investments in the venture. In the future we could possibly expect joint production of LCD components as well.
The factory is slated to be operating at full capacity sometime in the last quarter of 2009, initially producing 36, 000 panels/month, gradually increasing to 72, 000 panels. Sharp will carry about 66% of the total investment into the joint-venture and Sony will invest the other 34%.
ABC Networks, its affiliates and Cox Communications are expected to announce a new video-on-demand service today that will allow viewers to watch ABC shows anytime they want. Definitely a big plus for busy fans of shows such as Desperate Housewives, who after missing one episode are completely lost for the remainder of the season. The new service is an outright attempt on the network's behalf to fight the use of digital video recorders such as the TiVo, which enables on-demand viewing of TV shows and lets you fast forward through commercials. And that's where the catch comes in.
The new service will allow you to watch your favorite ABC shows on-demand, but disables commercial fast forwarding. In exchange for your shows when you want, you'll be forced to watch commercials, although the on-demand commercials will be much shorter than what you're used to on traditional over-the-air TV.
"As network and affiliates, we both have an interest in slowing down the explosive growth of DVRs," Mr. Cole said. "This is about combating DVRs. As we developed this at every stage, there was an agreement that however we put this together, disabling the fast-forward function was key."
Looking to get your hands on copies of all the Academy Award-nominated films before they're out on DVD and Blu-ray? You shouldn't have any problem with all the popular BitTorrent sites out there these days. Andy Baio of Waxy.org has put together detailed piracy reports for the 151 Academy Award-nominated films since 2003 and all but 3 are available via pirate sites. This year, of the 34 Academy Award-nominated films, only 5 haven't leaked in anything less than DVD-quality online.
Any movie lover with a dash of common sense would probably have guessed it's true: movie theaters charge an arm and a leg for popcorn and other concessions in order to keep ticket prices relatively affordable. But now we Ph.D's telling us it's true.
Researchers at Stanford and the University of California, Santa Cruz, looked to answer whether it's better to charge a premium on a primary item (the movie ticket) or a secondary item (the popcorn) and found that by charging a premium on the popcorn and keeping the tickets a little cheaper, more price-sensitive consumers would hit the theaters and those with a little more cash would still pig out on the profitable concessions.
It's important for theaters to attract as many viewers as possible for their screenings as profits are split with movie distributors and without viewers, movies will be played elsewhere. But concessions, which account for 20% of movie theaters' gross revenues, actually account for a full 40% of their profits because 100% of concession revenues stay with the theaters.
Count your lucky stars because it looks like those movie theaters that we complain rip us off are actually doing us a favor!
Most of us immersed in the working world these days don't have a lot of time to play good ol' video games, although most of us probably wish we did. Those in the 25-35 age group or thereabouts probably spend a good chunk of their childhood sitting in front of their CRT TV's playing Nintendo...classic Nintendo. Now, even with your lack of time, you can at least reminisce with the Nintendo Controller Universal Remote, available from Thinkgeek.com for $12.99 and, get this, delivered to your door in a winged turtle shell! Remember Super Mario Bros.?
In yet another strategic partnership between high definition display manufacturers, Pioneer will no longer be producing 42-inch plasma displays, instead purchasing panels 42-inches and lower from Matsushita (parent company of Panasonic) or Hitachi. It will instead focus on panels 50-inches and larger, ending production of 42-inch panels in March of 2009. Looks like we can expect some big-ass, high-end Kuros in the near future.
One of the best ways to get an big screen LCD or plasma HDTV on the cheap is to go the refurbished route. ecost.com is featuring a Westinghouse TX-47F430S 47-inch LCD for only $1029.99 right now, an excellent price. You could expect to pay $1299.99 over at Amazon.com right now for the same model, and that's on sale for a full $500 off. If you're looking for a brand new model, then definitely head to Amazon. If you're looking to go the cheapest route possible, then head over to ecost.
Coming March 25 in Japan, the new Sony Bravia M1 LCD TV series features 2 new models with a whole lot of color options. The 16-inch KDL-16M1 and 20-inch KDL-20M1 are the perfect high-end LCD TV's for colorful kid's rooms as they come in the usual silver and black colors, but also pink, green, blue, and orange. Special edition sets are also available that offer different shades of the typical color offerings.
Both sets feature 720p resolution, a 178 degree viewing angle, both ATSC/NTSC tuners and a whole whackload of inputs. The KDL-16M1 has a contrast ratio of 1300:1 while the KDL-20M1 has a contrast ratio of 1800:1.
Each model has the renowned Bravia Engine bringing a world-class picture to the display, a 24p Cinema Mode, and support for DLNA. The KDL-16M1 is expected to be priced at 89, 800 Yen (US$838) and the KDL-20M1 will sell for 109, 800 Yen (US$1024).
It was only a matter of time after Toshiba killed HD DVD, but Microsoft has officially announced that they will no longer manufacture HD DVD add-ons for the Xbox 360. They will still honor warranty support for those that already own one though. Check out the official statement below:
"As a result of recent decisions made by Toshiba, Hollywood studios, and retailers, Microsoft plans to withdraw from HD DVD. Xbox will no longer manufacture new HD DVD players for the Xbox 360, but we will continue to provide standard product and warranty support for all Xbox 360 HD DVD Players in the market. As we stated earlier, we do not believe this decision will have any material impact on the Xbox 360 platform or our position in the marketplace. HD DVD is one of the several ways we offer a high definition experience to consumers and we will continue to give consumers the choice to enjoy digital distribution of high definition movies and TV shows directly to their living room, along with playback of the DVD movies they already own."
Only a matter of time until the Xbox 360 Blu-ray player?
If there was one red flag in the agreement drawn up by the Writer's Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers at the end of the Writer's Strike, it was definitely the 17-day window in which writer's will not see any revenues after content they wrote is streamed online.
Last year networks only made $120 million in ad revenues from free streamed content, compared to the $9 billion spent on traditional TV ads. And with NBC admitting that 78% of their online viewers watch streaming video to catch up on episodes they missed on TV, we have to wonder if writer's are really being ripped off here...
Advertisers continue to look for ways to effectively monetize web video, a focus that will be key to integrating television and the web. One of the most exciting revelations this week came from Google who has opened Adsense for video in beta. While right now, only video publishers who meet some pretty impressive traffic standard can participate, eventually video Adsense will be available to everyone. And get this: rumors are rolling around the blogosphere that estimate that Google will pay $15 for every 1000 impressions. But how do you attract the traffic necessary to actually make money from video advertisers?
We've pulled 5 ways to ensure you make money from your online video from a Los Angeles Times article, Behave, the Video Vigilante is watching, an article that discusses the convergence of activism and the web.
1. Keep Your Upfront Costs Low
You don't need thousands of dollars worth of fancy electronics to make money in web video. A half decent camcorder and video editing program on your computer will do the trick. Content is key.
2. People Love Seeing Others Publicly Humiliated
While this may sound like a tip from a heartless bastard, some people should be publicly humiliated. John's that troll the streets looking for underaged prostitutes captured on video and plastered on YouTube attract all kinds of traffic. "If you get caught...you get a life sentence", says the Video Vigilante of Oklahoma City, Brian Bates.
3. Compromising Situations Involving Authorities Such As Cops And Pastors Attract Traffic
People love seeing those of legal and moral high-standing break the very laws and virtues they promote. Traffic cops breaking laws they're supposed to enforce, pastors trolling for hookers, and nightclub violence are guaranteed to attract traffic if you happen to catch them on tape.
4. Shamelessly Self-Promote
Give yourself a nickname, call local news stations and tell them what you're doing, leverage social networks on the web. Don't be shy and get the word out. We're sure that a Los Angeles Times piece will do wonders for Brian Bates.
5. When Looking For A Subject To Focus On, Choose Something A Tad Unethical
While I don't believe that taping john's taking advantaged of the disadvantaged is unethical, some people do. Because it's difficult to use online video to convict criminals, some civil libertarians say that people such as Brian Bates are serving as "as judge, jury, and executioner", all roles meant for the justice system. The key point to remember here is that negative publicity is still publicity and sometimes it's even better for attracting traffic than positive publicity.
Want some numbers to back these tips up? No problem. Brian Bates owns JohnTV, a website where he publicly airs his provocative footage. Videos like that of a Lowe's deliverman having sex with a prostitute on top of a washing machine have attracted many hundred of thousands of views. And with traffic like that, Bates will make $70, 000 this year from his website alone. He also licenses his footage to talk shows for $250 a clip, has been paid to appear on Maury Povich and signed a deal with YouTube to upload his videos to their video-sharing site and split the ad revenues. Convinced?
There is a catch of course: you need to live in Japan. But it is true. Edion, the owner of several electronic chains in Japan is accepting 7 different HD DVD players through the month of March in exchange for a brand-spanking new Blu-ray player from Sony, Panasonic, or Sharp. Of course, traders will have to make up the price difference as Blu-ray is a tad more expensive.
Civil rights groups are calling the 2009 digital TV transition a big problem for minorities and the disadvantaged, who they say are poised to be cut off from important resources and the American political system of all things, if they aren't properly informed of the steps they must take to prepare for DTV2009.
Wade Henderson, CEO and president of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), says that civil rights group want to make sure that DTV2009 is an "equal opportunity" transition where all groups and locales have the same opportunity to prepare.
Groups such as LCCR have stepped in to assist in the transition as research groups have found that of the 21 million US households that rely on over-the-air signals for TV reception, 33% are Spanish-American, 25% are black, and about 12% are Asian. Nearly half of the 21 million affected households have annual incomes under $30, 000, nearly 40% have at least one resident over the age of 50, and about 33% have a resident who is disabled.
Unfortunately the LCCR and other such groups have a ways to go as only 4.7 million coupons have been requestion as part of the TV Converter Box Coupon Program, which refunds up to $40 to the purchase of a digital converter for analog TV sets.
Demand for LCD TV's is expected to at least double by 2012 to 155 million units, and in anticipation the major display manufacturers are working hard at ramping up production. A source with knowledge of the flat-panel industry has said that Sony will be buying 40 inch LCD panels from Sharp Electronics in order to meet demand for their Bravia sets without making any huge investments in building new manufacturing plants. Sony is expected to begin purchasing from Sharp as early as the beginning of their new fiscal year, coming up in April with first year purchasing projections in the amount of 3-5 million units.
Sharp is currently building the world's largest LCD manufacturing plant, with a projected cost of $3.55 billion, and slated to be fully operational by March 2010.
Sharp has created the world's smallest 1-seg digital TV tuner for mobile phones with its new VA3A5JZ922. With dimensions of 5.9 x 5.9 x 09mm, the digital tuner is a full third smaller than the next smallest 1-seg tuner on the market. Sharp looks to be betting big on mobile TV to eventually become mainstream as they will produce 1 million VA3A5JZ922 tuners per month once mass production starts September 30, 2008.
Apparently the HD DVD/Blu-ray format war was impeding a coalition of 150 HD player manufacturer's from developing innovations that will eventually do away with HD discs altogether. Home Theater Specialists Of America director of training and public relations David Berman says now that Toshiba has announced the death of HD DVD, the coalition is free to go ahead and move toward a future that will see Blu-ray players with no discs in our living rooms.
Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O and Bam Marega, the original Jackass's themselves are moving to the web. Jackassworld.com, a new video site jointly run by Knoxville and MTV Networks, is part of a bet on the part of MTV that niche sites will better target viewers and maximize revenue opportunities from web video.
To promote the site launch, the Jackass crew will be taking over MTV all day tomorrow so we expect they'll have some impressive ratings to boast about once the official numbers are released. Fans of the Jackass movies will be happy to know that Jackass 2.5 is available for free viewing via the website, and expect new and outrageous content from the boys on a daily basis.
Set up as a video blog more or less, Jackassworld features a home page with current updates, a photo gallery, and community features allowing for plenty of opportunity for interaction with Knoxville and pals as well as with other community members. This is a good move by MTV to turn an old media hit into an online revenue opportunity. The only question we have is whether or not the site has the server capacity to handle the inevitable traffic surge it'll have during tomorrow's Jackass-hijacking of MTV.
Check out Sony's 27 mm-thin "wall-style" Bravia F series and easy-to-use remote, due out in Japan on March 25. The series features 3 models: the 32-inch KDL-32F1, the 40-inch KDL-40F1, and the 46-inch KDL-46F1. The two largest models feature full HD 1080p and the smallest 720p. All three models feature a 3000:1 contrast ratio, a 24p Cinema mode and a 120 Hz frame rate for true Bravia picture quality. All of the usual inputs are present including 3 HDMI, an ethernet port, phone jack, and a PC input. As with any digital TV, both analog and digital tuners are built into the sets.
As is the the trend in the newest HDTV's, an internet browser can be opened on the side of the screen while you watch TV, allowing you to check the weather, latest news, and even the latest deals on Yahoo! Auctions or Amazon Japan.
Perhaps the most interesting feature of the Bravia F series is the "wall-style" stand (SU-FL71M) sold separately, but created specifically for the inch thick displays. Japanese architecture makes wall installation of an LCD TV a real hassle, so Sony came up with the thin Bravia F series and wall stand as a way to make the television look as if it is built right into the wall, without the hassle of mounting or installation.
The Sony Bravia F series comes in two colors, either Black Sapphire or Silver, and will initially be released in Japan priced at the equivalent of US$1850 for the KDL-32F1, $2700 for the KDL-40F1, and $3700 for the KDL-46F1.
In Part 2 of The DTV2009 Transition Guide For The Uninformed we presented 3 different options to prepare for next year's digital TV transition: buy a digital TV, buy a digital receiver, or sign-up for a pay-TV service. Today we want to talk about the second option, buying a digital receiver.
You may have heard of the TV Converter Box Coupon Program, and if not we'll tell you what it's all about. In a nutshell, if you don't have a digital TV and you down right refuse to get cable, you need to get a set-top box that will convert digital signals into analog signals so that your TV can understand them. The Coupon Program is very simple. If you need to buy a set-top box, or two, US Congress will pay up to $40 per box via a coupon obtained by mail-in request. You can get a coupon request form at the Coupon Program website and then print it off of your computer. Converter boxes typically cost about $50-$70 at typical retailers such as Best Buy, so after receiving your coupon, you'll maintain your signal for only about $10-$30. You have to make sure you buy an eligible converter box, so the Coupon Program website provides a list of them for you as well as a list of the retailers that sell them.
You can only use one coupon per box, with up to two coupons available per household and once it's used, it's immediately deactivated. It's that simple.
Be careful what you upload to YouTube or any other video-sharing site for that matter. If your upload is a criminal offense in action, consider yourself convicted. That is, if the fuzz can move past the crappy video quality found on the likes of YouTube and actually identify you.
Several cases lately have found the world's stupidest video-sharers guilty of crimes they chose to broadcast to the world. Posting a video of you driving a car moving at 130 miles per hour in a 50 mile per hour zone could net you a 4 month suspended prison sentence. Hurl a cat 20 feet and face a 5-year animal ban (imagine explaining that one to an employer conducting a criminal record check). If you're extraordinarily stupid and choose to post a video of yourself raping or murdering someone, you might as well try out Google's new Video Adsense program so you can buy chips from the canteen where you live in federal prison. And believe it not, crooks have actually uploaded videos of themselves committing all of these acts on YouTube.
While this may make some parts of a criminal investigation easier on authorities, the lack of video quality on sites such as YouTube pose challenges as well. First off, cops must be able to identify the face of the person in question in order to make a positive identification. Unfortunately, the video quality is so poor on YouTube that this can require facial mapping and voice identification technologies. Secondly, an uploaded video used as evidence in a video trial must have a date, time and location attached to it. YouTube tracks upload times, but not necessarily the time and date of the actual video recording. The site can also monitor the location the upload is coming from, but this doesn't prove where the video was taken.
Oh, and by the way, if you're not the the criminal in the video, you could still be convicted of aiding and abetting a crime just for filming it and uploading it to YouTube, even though you actually had no involvement in the crime or with the parties involved.
Advertisers have always found males aged 17-25 notoriously hard to reach, but British "media consultancy" ST16 may have found an intriguing yet obvious way to do it. ST16 just won the International Gold Award for viral film at the New York Film Festival for its hit online short called Steamy Windows. The video has attracted 2.4 million views on YouTube in the past 6 months and another 65, 000 on Kontraband. Why so many views?
Because before it was tagged Steamy Windows, it was called Hot Girl Sex In Car. If you're trying to reach 17-25 year old males on YouTube, then a video of a hot girl having sex in a car is the way to go. The catch is that the video initially gives the impression of a backseat romp, but it's actually a anti-drunk driving commercial.
You may be wondering what has happened in the HD disc world since Toshiba finally called it quits yesterday, finally conceding victory to Blu-ray. It's amazing what can happen in the span of a day. Here's an update...
If your still working on upgrading from VHS to DVD after the first HD disc format has already moved through its entire life cycle, you are undeniably a little behind the times. But that's no reason to toss out all of your old VHS movies. Just transfer them to DVD. Wired magazine has reviewed 4 VHS-to-DVD converters to help you get started.
With the web video revolution in full swing, ASUS has introduced the HDTV Suite-HDMI, turning your computer monitor into an 1920x1200 pixel HD display. That means the title of this post is actually a lie; your monitor will have a higher resolution than your home theater HDTV! The stand-alone box will also upconvert lower resolution signals to full HD 1080p resolution. Besides its obvious HDMI port, the HDTV Suite-HDMI offers a whole gamut of inputs including RF, DVI/VGA for PCs, S-Video, composite and component and peripheral support includes HDMI, DVI/VGA and line-out. Picture-in-picture allows you to browse the internet while watching TV on your monitor, though I don't know how many of us have the powers of concentration to pull this off. The ASUS HDTV Suite-HDMI also comes with a fully functional remote. So far no pricing info or availability dates have been released.
Blu-ray may have won the format war, but standard DVD is still the format of choice for consumers. And we'll soon be seeing DVD's replacing Kevlar in police-issue bulletproof vests. Okay, maybe not, but South Carolina Barry McRoy can testify to the DVD's success in stopping bullets.
After eating breakfast at a local breakfast at a local restaurant, McRoy was just leaving when he was knocked over by two fighting men flying through the entrance. He was knocked over and in the scuffle a gun went off. The bullet shattered a window, but ricocheted right into McRoy's stomach. He felt the hit, but didn't realize he'd been "shot" until he felt shattered DVD in his jacket pocket. Blu-ray is getting all the attention these days, but has a Blu-ray disc ever saved someone's life?
If you happen to have a huge amount of patience and time, you can actually convert all those now-defunct HD DVD's into Blu-ray discs. Thanks to Wired's How-To Wiki, you can ensure you have copies of all your movies in a format that endures!
Panasonic has spit out 3 new media recorders in Japan: the DMR-BR500, the DMR-XW320, and the DMR-XW120. The DMR-BR500 is a Blu-ray video recorder with 250 GB of HDD and the DMR-XW320 is a traditional DVD recorder that allows recording of HD content and features 500 GB of space. The DMR-XW120 is the lower-end model of the three featuring the same specs as the DMR-XW320 but with half the HDD space at only 250 GB. All three models support the Mpeg-4 AVC/H.264 codecs at a max bit rate of 8.6 Mbps allowing you to record full HD content.
HD DVD is officially dead, so now's the time to get some great deals on HD DVD players. Sure there won't be anymore HD DVD movie releases, but you can still get your hands on titles that have been already released. And hey, it'll make a great collector's item. You can get your hands on a HD-A3 HD DVD player for $110 at Amazon.com with 5 free HD DVD's or you can head over to Circuit City if you're really quick and pick it up for $99. Personally I'd wait until they're going for free, but then again, I'm cheap.
The HD DVD/Blu-ray format war is over and Blu-ray has won the nearly two year long battle after Toshiba president Atsutoshi Nishida announced this morning in Tokyo that the company will no longer develop, make, or market HD DVD players. He admitted that Warner Bros. decision early in January to back the Blu-ray format exclusively was the blow that killed HD DVD. It's unclear as to what will happen with Paramount Pictures, Universal Studios and DreamWorks Animation, the remaining major Hollywood studios that stuck by HD DVD's side until the very end. I would imagine there would be a clause in their respective contracts that would free them from HD DVD exclusivity if HD DVD no longer exists. We do know that shipments of HD DVD players will cease by the end of March, so if you want one of the remaining HD DVD players out there to add to your Betamax collection in the attic, now is the time to do it. Finally, after all the rumors and insider info floating around the blogosphere, an official announcement!
So the question is: How do I prepare for the digital TV transition if I have a 20 year old analog TV with rabbit ears and no cable or satellite subscription? The first thing you should remember is that analog TV's just started being taken off retailers shelves late last year. Your TV doesn't have to be ancient to be analog. The second thing you need to remember is that if you already have a TV that receives digital signals like most newer widescreen TV's, or if you have cable or satellite, you're already prepared. February 17, 2009 will pass you by just as any other day would. If you're sure you have an analog set and only receive TV shows over-the-air meaning you have no cable, you have a few possible ways you can make sure you're not seeing snow come next year...
It's the question on everyone's minds these days. You've probably heard about it and you've probably seen the odd commercial on TV talking about it, but you might not be clear about what it is. We'll break it down for you. The digital TV transition is something that's been ongoing, but the date that applies to you is February 17, 2009. Right now when you watch TV, most stations broadcast programming using both analog and digital signals. On February 17, 2009, the analog signals will be shut off and from that point on only digital signals will be broadcast.
Blu-ray looks to have sent HD DVD the way of the deadpool in the HD disc format war, but can internet TV's do the same to cable and satellite services anytime soon? We doubt it, but it seems a new revolution in TV viewing has begun. Sony now has web-enabled Bravia sets and has signed deals with the likes of CBS Interactive, Sports Illustrated and Yahoo to bring web content to Bravia HDTV's. Panasonic signed a deal with Google this January to bring YouTube videos to internet-connected Panasonic sets. And both companies are part of a growing revolution on the part of TV manufacturers to eventually have the typical home theater consist of an internet-connected TV...
We've been waiting on official word from Toshiba that HD DVD is deadpool and we haven't got it yet, but the source behind the rumor is apparently directly connected to Toshiba. The source said an official announcement regarding Toshiba's plans could come early this week and the company is planning to make an "exit from the next generation DVD business". The source said Toshiba doesn't consider HD DVD to be a total loss even though it will likely cost hundreds of millions to nix production of HD DVD products. "Marketing was a weak point for Toshiba. We learned a lot from HD DVD. Strengthening marketing will continue to be an issue for us going forward," the source said.
The unidentified source has put this marketing lesson to good use already. Even though the HD DVD rumor is not official, it's viral movement across big media and the world wide web over the past couple of days has sent Toshiba's stock price skyward. Trading in Tokyo today saw Toshiba shares up 6%, signaling that investor's are pleased Toshiba is considering putting its money to use somewhere other than the next-gen DVD business. Nikko CitiGroup analysts in Tokyo even raised their Toshiba stock rating from Neutral to Buy citing that the company's operating profit would increase 20% or about $280 million in the fiscal year beginning April if they did indeed nix HD DVD despite the high costs of eliminating the format. So what will Toshiba do with all of this extra cash?
Apparently Toshiba will focus on moving into the flash memory business, going ahead with plans to build two Japan-based manufacturing plants starting in March. So in a couple years, when digital downloading of movies kills off Blu-ray, you'll be storing your the newest movie format of choice on a Toshiba flash memory drive. Wouldn't that be ironic?
The switch from analog to digital broadcasts will be complete in exactly one year: February 17, 2009. At that time analog signals will be switched off for good and the 13 million of you in the US that Nielsen says rely completely on analog signals need to begin preparing for the big switch now. Another 6 million of you have at least one TV in your home that relies on analog signals and if you don't want to be staring at a snowy screen come the big day, you need to prepare as well. When it comes right down to it preparation is fairly simple: you either need to purchase a digital TV, buy a converter box, or subscribe to a subscription TV service. That's it, that's all. But because the FCC hasn't done a terribly great job at informing consumers about the digital transition and even big box employees routinely hand out faulty information about the switch to questioning consumers, we figured we'd give you all the information you need here at TVSnob over the next week. So stay tuned for "The DTV2009 Transition Guide For The Uninformed".
A new line of LCD TV's from LG Electronics is impressive. The Xcanvas "Scarlett" series features 5 new models ranging from 32 to 52 inches, colored black with (not entirely surprisingly) scarlet highlights. All of the models feature full 1080p resolution with the exception of the smallest model, 50000:1 dynamic contrast ratio, a 4ms response time, a 4 HDMI 1.3 ports. Making sure they're squarely on the green bandwagon, LG has also implemented an energy saving Green EYEQ feature that reduces power consumption by up to 60%. While you can pat yourself on the back for doing your part to save energy with the Scarlett series and undoubtedly would see savings on your electric bill, you can bet the prices of the 5 new models will offset any savings. The 32 inch 32LG60D rings in at the equivalent of US$1534, the 37 inch 37LG60FD at US$2010, the 42 inch 42LG60FD at US$2540, the 47 inch 47LG60FD at US$4233, and the 52 inch 52LG60FD at a whopping US$5291! Don't expect to pay this much anytime soon in the United States though; the Scarlett series is a Korea-only release for the time being.
Samsung HD DVD/Blu-ray Players: Joining The Format War Deadpool
While Samsung has adopted a dual strategy since the beginning of the HD DVD/Blu-ray format war, releasing several combo players, it looks as if the company is ready to ditch HD DVD in light of recent developments and focus exclusively on moving its Blu-ray business forward. Industry sources in Korea say that Samsung is "expected to show more interests in Blu-ray products than rival HD DVDs" and plans to shut down its HD DVD business early this week. Although Samsung has not yet commented on the news, one market expert says that "aggressive marketing and closer industry connections over the technology" lie behind the decision. Not that HD DVD's quick and painful death have anything to do with it.
While it's expected that mass production of OLED TV's is at least 5 years in the future, Samsung and LG are gearing up for an early move into the OLED TV market by investing millions in the technology and setting up test lines to iron out the production quirks inherent in OLED displays currently. From a current market of 3 million units and $130 million in sales, the OLED industry is expected to grow to 70 million units and $2.5 billion in sales in the next 2 years. LG Electronics is currently looking into building a new plant exclusively for the production of OLED TV displays and Samsung is currently running a test line focusing on 20-inch OLED TV panels to determine if mass producing larger displays will be a reasonable expectation for next year's start of mass production. Of course, while Samsung and LG battle it out to have the first cost-efficient OLED TV production line up and running, Sony is first to market with an actual OLED TV with their 11-inch XEL-1.
Ever accidentally, or perhaps purposely, hurled you Wii controller at your TV screen? Some have, resulting in substantial damage to the screens of their expensive LCD or plasma HDTV's. If you happen to be one of these controller-tossing crazies, maybe you should take a look at this: Panasonic's Wii-proof TV. Interestingly, Panasonic didn't have to really do a whole lot to Wii-proof their HDTV offerings. LCD screens are pretty flimsy, but plasma screens have a glass-front making them nearly Wii-proof to begin with. The Wii-proof panels are specially treated, offering 4 Joule's of resistance to flying controllers. A Joule is a unit of energy measuring heat, mechanical work, and electricity, and 4 Joules is just enough to make sure your Wii controller bounces off your HDTV screen next time you whip the thing in frustration.
Toshiba has ALMOST officially killed HD DVD. Now it really is ALMOST officially dead. Japanese public broadcaster NHK says Toshiba is planning to stop production of anything and everything HD DVD-related although they plan to continue selling remaining stock in stores for the time being. Wal-mart's announcement yesterday to only sell Blu-ray players and disc was the final straw for the HD DVD format and it's expected to cost Toshiba millions of dollars to eliminate HD DVD.
It's important to realize that this does not constitute an official announcement from Toshiba, as the company declined to comment on the NHK story, but the public broadcaster does have a reputation of being a reliable source.
Up until the end of 2007, HD DVD was arguably even with Blu-ray in the HD disc format war, but an announcement by Warner Bros. to release movie title exclusively in the Blu-ray format has send HD DVD on a long, but rapid descent into extinction.
With Wal-mart announcing yesterday that they will devote their shelf space to Blu-ray and Blu-ray only, tech pundits and analysts believe the format war with HD DVD is finally over. "Wal-Mart is the biggest player in the DVD market. If it says HD DVD is done, you can take that as a fact," said Rob Enderle, a Silicon Valley tech industry analyst. In the last week or so, first Netflix, then Best Buy, and finally Wal-mart have all vowed Blu-ray exclusivity, rapidly moving the HD DVD format toward extinction.
Toshiba hasn't yet commented on Wal-mart's announcement, so HD DVD isn't officially dead, but comment or no comment the industry has obviously chosen its format of choice. By finally eliminating HD DVD from the mix, retailers hope that the customer confusion generated by two competing HD formats will cease and sales will move ahead. There has also been incentive to resolve the format war in a timely fashion because digital downloading of movies is posing an increasingly formidable threat. While Blu-ray backers don't feel that digital downloads pose an immediate threat to physical disc movies, telecommunications companies are getting to the point where the bandwidth they offer to consumers will make the perfect pipeline for bringing movies to living room home theaters instantly and on the cheap.
It'll be interesting to see how Blu-ray's victory affects the sales of Sony's Playstation 3 over the next year or so. The Playstation 3, which has an integrated Blu-ray player, accounts for 3 million of the 4 million Blu-ray players sold in the 2 years since the format war began and in January of this year, the Playstation 3 made in a huge move in the gaming console wars by selling 269, 000 units, a full 16% victory over Microsoft's Xbox 360 which sold 230, 000 units. More impressive is the fact that the PS3 nearly overtook the massively popular Nintendo Wii last month falling only 5000 units behind the 274, 000 Wii's sold.
Research firm iSuppli predicts that by 2011 the Playstation 3 will tie down a victory in the game console war with a combined 38.4 million consoles sold, with the Wii close behind and the Xbox 360 coming in a distant third. While sales of the Xbox 360 and the Wii are expected to peak in 2010, sales of the PS3 will continue climbing upward after that.
With the January 2008 sales numbers confirming the PS3's popularity is skyrocketing, we wonder if the PS3 may move well ahead much sooner than 2011, especially with the developments in the HD disc format war. You can bet that Sony will milk Blu-ray more than they ever have in light of Blu-ray's unofficial victory over HD DVD, and be assured that an official announcement from Toshiba declaring HD DVD dead will send both Blu-ray players and PS3's skyrocketing.
It seems that every couple of days now, another studio or retailer decides that they will support Blu-ray to the exclusion of HD DVD. In the past week alone, both Netflix and Best Buy have committed to Blu-ray exclusivity. Opportunities to buy movie titles on HD DVD are rapidly dwindling especially after Warner Bros. went Blu-ray exclusive, and if you can't find HD DVD titles, you're not going to buy HD DVD players. If people don't buy HD DVD players or movies, then it makes sense to say that HD DVD is dead. Toshiba, the creator of the HD DVD format, hasn't thrown in the towel yet, but it may be time.
With both Blu-ray and HD DVD formats still appealing to mostly early adopters, backers of neither format have placed a huge emphasis on differentiating their respective products through pricing. But Jodi Sally, vice president of marketing for Toshiba's digital AV group, says HD DVD has a clear pricing advantage which will come into play as high-def discs move into the mainstream market. Consumers are satisfied with standard-def DVD's, making price the most important part of the game in the battle of the formats. But will pricing matter if there is a lack of HD DVD movie title selection? Not at all, said Sally, as studios will continue to release all of their titles on DVD, and HD DVD players can upscale standard DVD's to almost high-def picture quality.
It sounds to me like Toshiba is beginning to reach in desperation here. It almost sounds like Toshiba is throwing in the towel and moving the HD DVD format into the world of upscaling DVD players. But for one thing, Blu-ray players can upconvert standard DVD's to near high-def quality as well. And furthermore, one has to wonder why anyone would buy a relatively expensive upconverting HD DVD DVD player when one can buy a plain ol' upconverting DVD player for half the price that does the same job.
So is Toshiba throwing in the towel and conceding the format war to Blu-ray? And can they even compete in the upscaling DVD market? They obviously can't differentiate HD DVD based on price when compared with other upscaling DVD players. What do you think?
TV design trends in the past year or so have dictated that thinner sets are better. DLP TV's use a rear-projection lamp that makes it virtually impossible for them to be as thin as plasma, LCD, or OLED displays, and that's probably why DLP revenue fell 21% between the third quarter of 2006 and the third quarter of 2007. Nobody wants a thick TV anymore. But the maker of DLP chipsets, Texas Instruments, won't give up on the high-definition technology.
Not only is Texas Instruments working to improve the quality of DLP technology, they're also promoted the benefits of DLP projectors to entirely new markets like churches and schools. The most interesting thing the company is doing with DLP though, is developing a handheld video projector.
The company announced plans at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona to release the DLP Pico, an ultrasmall projector, later in 2008. Targeted for the mobile phone market, the DLP Pico has been shown in the past as a prototype but Texas Instruments has never announced plans to actually release the technology to the consumer market.
The DLP Pico is composed on an ultrasmall DLP device and both DDP1500 and DDP1505 control processors. It also employs proprietary "DarkChip technology" for an improved contrast ratio. Whether or not the idea of a mobile handheld projector will be accepted by the buying public remains to be seen, we'll definitely know more in the latter half of 2008.
Cineversum's three new additions to the "Blackwing" line of high-end projectors brings innovative, high-concept design to the projector world. Eerily similar in look to the US Air Force's Blackbird, the Cineversum "Blackbird" lineup is pricey, with the lowest priced "Blackwing Three" model setting you back a substantial $16000. You're not only paying for a cool look though, you're paying for high-end specs as well. All three projectors in the lineup which also includes the "Blackwing Three PRO" and the "Blackwing Three Ultimate", use a three chip, 0.7-inch D-ILA chipset with a 1080p resolution, a 30000:1 contrast ratio, and 16:9 widescreen with a 2.35:1 THEATRE concept option. All three models also use a 170W UHP lamp giving off 900 ANSI lumens of light output, and feature a new optical lens with motorized zoom and focus. The only specs differentiating the Cineversum lineup is the connectivity options. The "Blackwing Three" has 2 HDMI inputs with HDCP, 1 component video, 1 composite video and 1 S-video input. The two higher end models feature the same, but also have extended inputs featuring another 4 HDMI ports as well as a slew of other handy connections.
There are some cool things coming out of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, one of them being a mini optical disc drive for your mobile phone from Vmedia. Called the "Vmedia" format and "designed to bring the quality of a big screen experience...to mobile consumer electronics", is currently shipping to phone manufacturers.
A Vmedia disc inserts into the world's smallest blue-laser drive, holding complete feature-length movies in 576p resolution with H.264 video and AAC audio codecs. Discs are currently single-layer with 1 GB of storage space, but a dual-layer disc with twice the storage capacity will ship in 2009. A second-generation "slim" drive with a reduced height is expected to ship near the end of 2008 as well.
If the Hollywood Writer's Strike hasn't convinced you that online video is a legit form of television, then Nielsen's plan to track online video views should. Nielsen, the company behind the TV ratings we hear about, plans to "introduce measurement of TV viewing on the PC screen" by the end of 2008.
While measuring internet video viewing poses some challenges due to the number of platforms and devices capable of playing web video these days, Nielsen plans to start by using a panel of voluntary participants, expected to be 40000 homes with 60000 residents, that will have measurement technology installed in their TV sets. The company will also use VideoCensus, another measurement service to compile data.
Probably the most important part of this development is that advertiser demand is the reason Nielsen will move into the web video sector, and advertising dollars will be the real driving force behind innovations in web TV.
Samsung's LNT2653H 26-inch LCD TV is $200 off at Newegg.com. Regularly priced at $849.99, the LNT2653H is now only $650. Featuring 720p resolution, a 5000:1 dynamic contrast ratio, a 170 degree viewing angle, and an 8ms response time, the LNT2653H delivers the blackest blacks, a full palette of colors, and a smooth, blur-free picture from anywhere in the room.
The Samsung LNT2653H features both ATSC and NTSC tuners for analog and digital reception and a full complement of inputs including a couple of HDMI ports for all of your home theater gear. Hidden bottom speakers broadcast SRS TruSurround sound in 3 dimensions throughout the room and a couple of cool other features include picture-in-picture and Game Mode, optimizing the sets picture for game consoles. The Samsung LNT2653H is the perfect set for an entertainment room, especially if mounted, and at a price like this, why wouldn't you pick one up?
While Blu-ray has been getting all the press lately with its likely triumph over HD DVD in the battle of HD optical disc formats, a couple of stealth startups are looking to develop its eventual successor. Kaai and Soraa, who have both received an unknown amount of funding from VC firm Khosla Ventures, are working on developing lasers and LEDs that could revolutionize optical data storage, and replace Blu-ray.
Both companies will use gallium nitride, used in today's blue laser and blue LEDs, to develop technology that is cheaper and more energy-efficent than today's Blu-ray format. Founders Shuji Nakamura (pictured above) and Stephen DeBaars have extensive experience in the LED industry and have been working on the unknown technology since 2000, so hopefully we'll learn more soon. Unfortunately, given that the technology is still in its developmental stages, Khosla Ventures is keeping a pretty tight lid on the companies, making details sparse.
Planning on taking a taxi in New York City anytime soon? Reuters has signed a deal with WABC-TV to bring news and financial information to Taxi TV, the ABC owned-and-operated television service available in 4500 NYC taxis, with another 1000 additions in April.
Reuters will join AccuWeather, ESPN, Zagat Survey and WABC-TV's Eyewitness News in providing "people on the go their choice of frequently updated content from the top providers".
After 100 days on strike, Hollywood writer's have voted in favor of returning to work today. 3492 writer's voted to return to work with only 283 voting to stay off the job, meaning the February 24 Academy Awards will proceed normally and production will begin for everyone's favorite TV shows.
Writer's haven't voted on whether or not to accept the tentative contract yet, which will be conducted by mail ultimately finishing February 25. Los Angeles County alone, home to Hollywood, lost $3.2 billion as a result of the walkout.
After a bit of a delay, Apple TV owners will be happy to know that the company released its Take 2 software update today allowing users to rent HD movies directly from their widescreen's and featuring a new and improved user interface. The Take 2 update is available to current Apple TV owners as an automatic download accessible from the "Update Software" option under the "Settings" menu. All Apple TV's manufactured as of today will have the Take 2 software pre-installed.
With the software upgrade, Apple TV user will now be able to rent over 1000 movies titles, including over 150 HD titles with Dolby 5.1 surround sound from the press of a remote button. Prices are $2.99 for catalogued titles, $3.99 for new releases, and $3.99 and $4.99 for catalogued and new release HD titles respectively.
TiVo's HD dual-tuner DVR's will now all contain a 3-in-1 TV tuner from Microtune, according to an announcement from Albert Taddiken, Microtune's Chief Operating Officer. The MicroTuner MT2131 enables the TiVo's entertainment, multimedia and interactive service capabilities, including superior HD picture and sound performance. Perhaps more beneficial is the fact the MT2131 tuner picks up both analog and digital broadcasts meaning dual compatibility with today's analog signals and the digital signals of today and after next year's digital transition.
The New York Times questions this morning if the writer's or the studios were the real winners in the Hollywood Writer's Strike. While the writer's eventually gained a piece of the digital pie they were after, the studio's learned a thing or two during the strike that could take more money out of the writers' pockets in the long-term. Pilot season, traditionally lucrative for writer's, may be a thing of the past as nearly 70 development deals were cut during the strike as the networks found success in focusing their primetime schedules on reality programming. It's expected that this will continue into the next television season. On the other hand, while the studios figured that the writer's would not be able to unify during the strike due to their varying interests, they were wrong. The Writer's Guild is a remarkably unified group and that must make the major studios a tad uncomfortable.
Not too many big name HDTV manufacturers could get away with releasing a special edition black and white plasma HDTV these days...except Pioneer that is. Pioneer has announced a new limited edition take on the popular Pioneer Kuro plasma line-up called the Pioneer Shiro Kiro. With specs pretty much identical to the Kuro line, including a 50-inch screen, 1080p resolution and "Intelligent Brightness Control" that'll adjust your picture to the surrounding lighting conditions, the Shiro Kuro has one main difference: it has a white frame. Yes that means we sort of lied. The Pioneer Shiro Kuro is not exactly what you might call a black and white display, but "Kuro" means black in Japanese while "Shiro" means white. Put it all together and you have the Pioneer White Black plasma HDTV. Headed for the UK market, the Pioneer plans to make you pay a premium for the white frame, pricing the Shiro Kuro in the vicinity of 3300 Pounds when it becomes available later in the year.
It's always hard to say if new TV technologies will take off, or fall flat. Just look at HD DVD. Three or four months ago, it was hot. Prices for players were dropping drastically and the HD disc format looked like it may take the format war with Blu-ray just based on its much cheaper price. But how things change.
One of the newer TV technologies making waves right now is OLED TV. The buzz surrounding the first commercially available OLED TV, the Sony XEL-1, has been huge. Even though the set measures only 11 inches and costs more than $2000.
American marketing firm Frost & Sullivan believes OLED is here to stay, predicting that the OLED panel market will hit $1.4 billion in 2013, up from $475 million in 2006. Of course, a fair chunk of this market share will be thanks to cell phone screens and portable media players, so the growth doesn't necessarily say too much about how sales of OLED TV's will eventually evolve.
Netflix announced Monday that after offering both HD DVD and Blu-ray high-definition discs since 2006, they'll now be going Blu-ray exclusive. The company said they believe the Blu-ray format will prevail over HD DVD now that 4 of the 6 major studio's support Blu-ray exclusively.
Not many customers order HD discs from Netflix currently, but the company says "focusing on one format will enable us to create the best experience for subscribers".
A full 47% of UK men surveyed by electronics retailer Comet would give up sex for 6 months in return for a 50-inch plasma TV! 2000 Brits were surveyed to figure out what people were willing to give up in return for a big screen HDTV. Of course the survey was a little on the biased side being carried out by a television retailer and all, but a third of women surveyed would also give up sex for 6 months in return for the plasma, and a quarter of those surveyed would give up either smoking or chocolate.
Comet had perhaps the best perspective on the survey, saying "it seems that size really does matter more for men than women".
We should know by tomorrow if the Hollywood Writer's Strike will finally end, and you may now be wondering when new episodes of your favorite TV shows will hit the air. While not all hit shows ran into repeats, a fair number did including the likes of CSI: Miami, Gossip Girl, and Grey's Anatomy. TV Decoder has put together a comprehensive list of all your favorite TV shows and when you can expect to see new episodes...if you see them at all.
Manufacturer of high-end home entertainment servers, Kaleidescape, will release a Blue-Laser player sometime in 2009. What exactly is a Blue-Laser player? It's a device that will work with all of Kaleidescape's home entertainment servers that supports H.264, VC-1, and MPEG-2 formats, and let's you copy Blu-ray discs onto your Kaleidescape server for storage and playback.
Kaleidescape licensed the DVD Copy Control Association's Content Scramble System which enables the company to bypass the copy protection on DVD's and as of next year, Blu-ray discs. Kaleidescape home server owners will be able to store roughly 33 Blu-ray movies on a 750 GB disk cartridge, allowing them to be stored, organized, and played back from the server rather than from the original disc.
Not surprisingly, Kaleidescape has no plans to support HD DVD unless it "becomes a more successful format".
Panasonic will be launching a new plasma TV incorporating new "Neo PDP" technology that will cut the power consumption of the plasma in half. "Neo PDP" increases the luminous efficiency of plasma sets meaning that the amount of brightness achieved with a set amount of power is doubled, resulting in a 50% decrease in energy consumption as compared to regular plasma's at the same level of brightness.
To be launched sometime this spring, Panasonic's new plasma comes about as regulations controlling the CO2 emissions of flat panel TV's become stricter in Japan and the European Union. No compliance means no plasma TV sales in many countries, but Panasonic says that with "Neo PDP", this won't be an issue for any of their new plasma sets and the company aims to have the power consumption of Panasonic plasmas on par LCD TV's by next year.
Does anyone out there actually the cable messes that come as a nasty by-product of that kickass home theater? Probably not, and if you've incorporated your own media server into the mix, the mess can get a whole lot worse. Maybe it even looks like this.
If so, maybe you should embrace cable organization as art. Not only will your cables be beautifully organized, but beautiful to look at as well. Here are some examples of what we'll call "cable organization art".
Netflix's Red Envelope acquisitions manager Liesl Copland said at the Berlin International Film Festival that Netflix has no current plans to expand overseas. They had thought of expanding into the UK a couple of years back until Wal-mart launched their now-extinct movie download service as they "are a huge customer of the postal service and we can't just go in to a territory ... as the digital future is now". Possible in 10 years says Copland, but first they have to acquire the rights to each territory they plan to enter.
As for the Wal-mart movie download service, HP strategy manager Raoul Heinze said that the service wasn't making enough money and Apple was just too much competition. HP is such as large company that if a project doesn't turn a revenue of at least a billion in a fairly short timeframe, it's not worth HP's time and manpower to manage it. Obviously the Wal-mart service wasn't anywhere near the point of turning a billion in revenues, Heinze did speak admirably of the new iTunes platform and its future potential.
The board of the Writer's Guild of America met earlier today, deciding to expedite a typically lengthier voting process into a 48-hour ordeal that will see the WGA membership vote on whether or not to end the Writer's Strike as early as Tuesday, meaning writer's could return to work Wednesday.
The usual 10-day voting process was expedited after the WGA Negotiating Committee recommended this morning to the WGA West Board and WGA East Council that they accept the tentative agreement reached the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers early yesterday.
One negative effect of a resolution to the HD format war is lower profit margins for Netflix because more customers could begin renting HD movies. Lower profit margins could mean increased prices for those same customers. Any price increases that do happen won't be in any way related to internet downloads, according to Netflix CFO Barry McCarthy. He said at the Thomas Weisel Partners Technology, Telecom & Internet Conference in San Francisco this past week that internet downloading will not threaten the DVD business until prices drop and content is accessible through multiple devices. This would require an "open system", of which none of Netflix's competitors such as Amazon Unbox or Apple iTunes have.
Going back as far as last October's TiVo software update, a small "subset" of TiVo users who use the TiVoToGo feature to transfer recorded shows to mobile devices such as their cell phones have been having all kinds of problems. Not only with the TiVoToGo feature, but also with getting TiVo to fix the problem.
TiVo's fall update changed the way recorded files were saved and since then, the Toast 8 software created by Roxio used to transfer recorded content has had all kinds of technical glitches as a result of not meshing properly with the TiVo update. The main problem has been with audio delays and skips during the playback of transferred content rendering it completely unwatchable for some users. Roxio did release an update of their own to try and solve the problem, but it wasn't a complete success and some users are still having problems...5 months later. And they're having trouble getting TiVo and Roxio to acknowledge them as valuable customers.
Hollywood writer's could return to work as early as Wednesday after meetings on both US coasts yesterday unveiled the details of a tentative agreement reached by the WGA and the studios was deemed a success by the writer's and Michael Winship, president of the WGA East.
"I believe it is a good deal. I am going to be recommending this deal to our membership," Michael Winship told reporters before the New York meeting.
The three year deal is not official yet however, as a by-mail voting process will take about 2 weeks before it may or may not be officially ratified. But the WGA board will meet today to decide if they should authorize a two-day vote of Guild members to see if the strike order should be lifted. That would mean that writer's may return to work as early as Wednesday.
While you'll probably never get your hands on one of the 8 biggest TV's ever made as the majority of them were never mass produced and the ones that were are just priced beyond the clouds, it doesn't hurt to web window shop and fantasize. Check out this cool slideshow of the 8 biggest TV's ever culminating in the...can you guess?
One of the unspoken downsides of high-def video is its ability to bring out bodily imperfections like the wrinkles, blemishes, and zits of the previously perfect actors we see on screen with regular frequency. Never before did we ever consider that Angelina Jolie or beau Brad Pitt had any physical imperfections whatsoever, but with the advent of high-def we now know that's not so true.
Obviously this problem has brought a level of insecurity upon Hollywood actor's that has reached a point where a make-up line specifically for high-def video shoots has become a necessity. Cosmetics company Cargo recently debuted a new Blu_ray make-up line specifically for hiding physical imperfections on high-def video shoots.
Definitely another big win for Blu-ray as we haven't come across any HD DVD make-up as of yet. But then again, Blu-ray sounds so much better. Cargo HD DVD make-up? No, not quite smooth enough.
The Hollywood writer's and the bargaining unit for the studios will be meeting today and tomorrow to discuss a tentative agreement reached that the writer's feel sufficient to begin discussions to end the Writer's Strike that has dragged on since November 5.
WGA West president Patric Verrone and WGA East president Michael Winship said in a memo e-mailed to the 10, 500 members of the Writer's Guild of America that "the agreement is neither perfect nor perhaps all that we deserve for the countless hours of hard work and sacrifice, our strike has been a success." Specifics of the deal which will be discussed this weekend establish new revenue models for new media, specifically internet distribution of content, which will aim to see writer's paid when the studios are paid. Obviously the writer's will not receive the residuals they had hoped for, but must deem the amount agreed to reasonable enough to consider ending the strike.
Now for a truly portable Sony Bravia. Of course the truly portable will only be released in Japan, but these miniature Bravia's are just too cool to not tell you about. The XDV-D500 is a 3-inch (yes we mean the screen's diagonal measurement, not its thickness), 432x300 pixel Sony Bravia featuring a 500:1 contrast ratio, 160 degree viewing angle, 2 GB of internal storage equating to about 10 hours of recorded TV programming and an 8 hour battery life. The XDV-D500 will cost the equivalent of about $355 US, a large chunk of change for a 3-inch TV. But wait, they get smaller yet. The XDV-G200 features a 2-inch screen and identical features to the XDV-D500 minus the EPG and recording function, but adds an AM/FM radio. I don't think these mini Bravia's will be hopping the pond and entering the US market anytime soon, but one thing is for sure: with my history of losing cell phones, I don't think I'd be carrying around a 3-inch Sony Bravia in my pocket!
Love your Sony Bravia so much you'd like to have a "portable" one? Sony is creating a new line of "portable" Bravia LCD's in the size range of 20 to 26 inches and will feature the famed Bravia engine, a TV tuner and 2 HDMI ports. So far there is no word on pricing or release dates, but we do know the knew Bravia line is slated for European release only at the moment. Really, they're not that special anyway. How portable is a 26 inch HDTV? Can you carry it with you on the bus? No. We'll let you know if it's expected to hit the United States anytime soon.
The first OLED TV available for consumer purchase will be available at select Sony Stores in Canada as of February 29. Retailing for $2499.99, the Sony XEL-1 will be a new focus on the part of Sony as they continue to build on the success of the Bravia LCD name in the Canadian marketplace. The Sony XEL-1 uses OLED technology, an organic light-emitting display that is more energy efficient than either LCD or plasma screens. The main drawbacks are the 11-inch screen size thanks to the cost of producing OLED displays and of course the price. But hey, you always pay to be an early adopter.
There is definite progress happening in the Hollywood Writer's Strike and we could see a deal between the Writer's Guild and the AMPTP very soon. We hope a deal doesn't distract some of the great Hollywood writer's from focusing on their various web video ventures that have sprung up as a result of the shortcomings of the big movie studios.
Last week, I had the opportunity to talk to writer Peter Rader.
The latest HD-ready LCD from JVC's GENESSA lineup can now be had in Japan for 1250 Euros. The 32-inch LT-32LC305 HD-ready LCD TV is the latest release from JVC, featuring a 120 Hz "Twice Velocity GENESSA" panel with 1366x768 pixel resolution, 300cd/m2 brightness, MaxxAudio, an SD and SDHC card reader and 3 HDMI inputs. A rather boring offering we must say.
Panamorph, a manufacturer of conversion lenses for home theater projectors, has introduced the UH380 lens and M380 transport which enables owners of 16:9 aspect ratio projectors to view 2.35:1 content without black bars.
2.35:1 aspect ratio, also known as Cinemascope, is a widescreen aspect ratio used by movie theaters. Originally developed based on research that human sight is more receptive to information at the left and right, rather than top and bottom of the screen, widescreen aspect ratios were the movie theaters strategy to beat out competition from television. They figured widescreen viewing was more immersive than traditional 16:9 television. The problem with widescreen ratios on normal televisions is that they result in black bars at the top and bottom of the television screen. The same goes for 16:9 projections.
With the UH380 lens and a 2.35:2 projection screen, any current 16:9 projector can display content in widescreen, movie theater-like format, resulting in a brilliant home theater viewing experience; without the black bars. The biggest problem with Panamorph's technology is the price. The UH380 lens has an MSRP of $2995, and the M380 transport is priced at $2995 as well. Throw in the new projection screen and the bill will probably want to make you stick with your 16:9 and black bars after all.
Lumenlab is now shipping the Q42 HDTV/PC for $3850, perfect for those who like the idea of having a computer as part of their home theater setup. The Q42 includes a computer with an Intel Core 2 Quad Q9300 processor, 2 GB of memory, a 1 TB hard drive, and an optional upgrade that will allow the Q42 to read and write Blu-ray. This last feature is very important considering that the other half of the Lumenlab Q42 is an HDTV, more specifically a 42-inch 1080p LCD display. The display boasts 24 bit color, a 1500:1 contrast ratio, 500 NITS of brightness, and an impressive 6.5 ms response time. Another add-on available for web TV/video junkies is the Lumenlab HotWire networking technology, which provides a 200 Mbps broadband connection, perfect for streaming HD video, audio, and home automation. The Q42 is actually handmade in Asheville, North Caroline, USA, and has received the Energy Star rating from the US Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency. Expensive yes, but oh so cool!
Rumors have been swirling around the web this past weekend about a possible tentative agreement between the WGA and the studios as early as today in the now 3-month long Hollywood Writer's Strike, but a joint letter issued by WGA West president Patric Verrone and WGA East president Michael Winship late yesterday called for picketing to resume today and for its members to disregard any rumors.
The letter stated that talks are continuing and no agreement has been reached as of yet, but multiple sources said on the weekend that the sides are nearing an agreement. Unfortunately none of the rumors can be substantiated because due to a media blackout imposed by both the WGA and the studios, no one is willing to speak on record.
Another date that is rumored to signal the end of the strike is February 15, as industry insiders say a resolution by that day will allow the Academy Awards to go ahead as planned and leave time for networks to get their fall schedules together. We're sure more will emerge over the course of today, but in the meantime we'll continue to enjoy some of the startups emerging from the strike zone. Tomorrow we'll tell you about Hollywood Remix, formerly Hollywood Disrupted, a web TV platform headed by blockbuster writer Peter Rader, who we had the pleasure to talk to last week. While you may be upset that your TV schedule has been disrupted, the Writer's Strike is revamping the Hollywood business model and moving it squarely into the world of new media, an exciting "show" in itself.
Today's Woot over at Woot.com is a 52-inch Olevia 252TFHD 2 Series 1080p LCD TV, priced at $1599.99 plus $5 shipping. Maybe a little late for the Super Bowl, but never too late for a high quality LCD TV. The Olevia 252TFHD features full HD resolution, a lightning fast 6.5ms response time, Director's Image calibration, MDDI video processing, and Big Picture technology which displays up to 37% more of analog images and 11% more of digital broadcast images, without distortion. The LCD set also boasts 2 HDMI ports, an easy-to-use graphical interface, firmware upgrades via a built-in USB port, and a 1600:1 dynamic contrast ratio. This is definitely a fully featured LCD set from one of the best names in the business. Hurry over to Woot.com though, it'll sell out fast.
So Eli Manning and his New York Giants pulled a last-minute touchdown out of their bag of tricks to win Super Bowl XLII over the New England Patriots last night with a final score of 17-14, officially killing the Patriots' chance of being the second undefeated team in the history of the NFL. The real story for HD fans though is the Toshiba HD DVD commercial that aired for most around half-time and ironically in standard-definition. Will the commercial revive the flagging HD DVD format?
While we don't think that Toshiba's 30-second ad spot during the Super Bowl yesterday will do anything to revive it's standing in the format war, the decision to spend $3 million dollars for exposure to 90 million or so viewers was still arguably a good one. Why?
Because University of Wisconsin researchers, Charles Tomkovick and Rama Yelkur, say that for 10 of the past 12 years, companies that ran Super Bowl ads beat the S&P 500 index. Meaning that if an investor bought shares of every company running a Super Bowl ad the Monday before the big game, and sold them 5 days after, they'd be up an average of 1.3% over an investment in the S&P 500 index over the same time period. And technology ads are typically some of the best rewarded by Wall Street. Even if the ad doesn't revive HD DVD, it most likely will increase the value of Toshiba by 10's of million and reward their investors. More on this later.
Up to 80% of the 35 Super Bowl commercials aired during the pre-game, game, and post-game shows tomorrow will be aired in HD, according to Bryan Burns, ESPN vice president for strategic planning & development. This despite that the majority of American homes don't support the 720p/1080i HD resolution that Fox Sports, which owns exclusive telecast rights to tomorrow's big game, prefers for signal transmission.
This is important to advertisers because HD commercials have up to 3 times the brand recognition of standard-definition commercials and grow intent-to-buy by up to 55%. In short, you're more likely to buy if you view an ad in HD! We hope that Toshiba remembers this as they prep to air their $3 million ad spot tomorrow. Wouldn't it be ironic if the HD DVD ad was one of the 20% aired in standard definition? Unlikely, but we think it would be a smart move on Toshiba's part to point out that even if the ad in shown in HD, those watching it are seeing a picture quality much less than they'd enjoy with a Toshiba HD DVD player.
It's your last day to purchase that new flatscreen before tomorrow's Super Bowl and if you haven't already down so, the very thought of spending the whole day today running around looking for the perfect HDTV for your Super Bowl party probably has you in need of a strong sedative. No worries, we have some more tips and techniques to make sure you get your desired HDTV in time with a little bit of extra money left over in your pocket.Continue reading:"Super Bowl 2008: Last Minute Super Bowl HDTV Buying Tips To Save You Time And Money"
I would bet that the majority of HDTV owners don't have their set calibrated correctly, meaning that they're not taking advantage of their HDTV's maximum resolution. There's a neverending amount of HDTV calibration tutorials to be found on the web, but most of us just don't have the time or inclination to actually learn how to calibrate our sets. That's why Bang & Olufsen have come up with the BeoVision 4 plasma HDTV. With a maximum resolution of 1080p, the BeoVision 4 has a robotic arm built into the back of the set that emerges after every 100 hours of TV viewing, takes a snapshot of the TV screen via a camera on the end of the arm, and then analyzes the picture's color temperature and correctly calibrates the display if it's not optimized for its best possible picture. Sensors in the plasma's hardware system also constantly measure and adjust the sets contrast and brightness levels to make sure your eye is seeing the deepest blacks and most crisp, clear colors possible on the BeoVision 4.
The BeoVision 4 is currently available in a 50-inch screen size for $7500, and a larger 65-inch display will be available in March for whopping $13500. A robotic TV is definitely pretty cool, but the hour you may have to spend reading an internet HDTV calibration tutorial will save you thousands of dollars. Might be worth the time now, eh?
Sony is getting its proverbial feet wet in the digital signage market with the announcement of the 52-inch GXDL52H1 Full HD LCD display, intended for use in shopping malls, railway stations, boardrooms, and even hospitals. The GXDL52H1 features full 1920x1080 resolution and is Sony's first full HD LCD display for the digital signage market. The display also has some unique features not typically seen in living room LCD's including heat management based on internal air circulation, which eliminates the need for ventilation holes, protecting the display from dust. The GXDL52H1also has a protective glass screen to protect the display from damage in busy consumer environments, and if need be can be replaced without taking the display off its mounting. Other features include an anti-failure backlight system, built-in and invisible speakers, and HDSDI compatibility.
Vudu has announced a version 1.2 software update for their set-top box; perfect timing given the expected two week delay for Apple's Take 2 update for the struggling Apple TV. The Vudu update brings 60 new HD titles for rental to Vudu users, ranging in price from $3.99 to $5.99, as well as some updated settings including instant HD, change speed limit, and constant audio setting. Instant HD uses a green triangle and HD symbol on the screen to indicate a broadband connection fast enough to download high-def titles, roughly 4 Mbps. Change speed limit offers Vudu users the option of changing their bandwidth usage as well as a recommendation for their "speed limit" setting, while constant audio setting is for users with high-end audio systems.
Vudu has also made some usability enhancements to their interface with scrollable movie browsing which brings 6 titles at a time to one screen, eliminating constant and annoying scrolling from title to title as well as a re-ordering of menus on the Find Movies Screen.
Ease-of-use and plenty of movie titles make all the difference in set-top box sales, but even with Vudu's price reduction to $295 from $399, they'll be hard pressed to compete with the new and improved Apple TV if it lives up to its expectations.
Despite the fact that the National Retail Federation estimates that 2.5 million HDTV's were sold specifically for last year's Super Bowl, and expect numbers to be similar for this year's Patriots/Giants matchup, some analysts expect sales numbers to be well below expectations once the numbers roll in. Why?
Continue reading:"How To Watch The Super Bowl In HD Without Buying An HDTV"
Yet another retailer seems to be giving up on HD DVD, even the high-def disc format continues to fight. Best Buy is offering a free HD DVD with the purchase of one other select HD DVD and we're wondering if it's an attempt to clear some shelf space for Blu-ray. The title options aren't extensive, but if you don't have a copy of The Bourne Supremacy or Transformers yet, this is your chance to get one free.