Hulu for mobile could be coming to your cell phone in the near future, according NBC Universal's Chief Digital Officer George Kliavkoff. The online video industry was "at a similar log-jam a year and a half ago" said Kliavkoff at CTIA tonight, leading to NBC's launch of Hulu. "I don't know why we couldn't do something similar for mobile", he said.
When questioned directly if Hulu Mobile was coming, Kliavkoff replied that mobile TV is definitely of interest to NBC, but Hulu Mobile is "total speculation". Take note that there is no flat-out denial there.
Other interesting revelations from NBCU's CDO include live programming and highlights from this summer's Beijing Olympics broadcast onto mobile networks via MediaFLO and a partnership with Verizon Wireless and Research In Motion that'll see a number of NBC network TV sites coming to the cellular networks' supported phones.
Looks like a movie network from Sony Pictures Television, PIX, is going to be one of the two exclusive channel coming to the AT&T mobile TV service we told you about earlier. Titles will come from Sony labels such as Columbia, TriStar, Screen Gems and Sony Classics, and offering a diverse selection of movies including titles such as Resident Evil and Ghostbusters.
Films will run on PIX for a month, with new titles coming weekly and Sony is apparently in talks with other US mobile carriers interested in including the new mobile channel in their mobile TV offerings. Sony has also said that the PIX channel is largely experimental and could include more short-form content in the future, be switched to an on-demand service, or even move its way online.
Microsoft has reached an agreement with Hollywood producer Peter Safran's Safran Company to produce original video content for Xbox Live. The producer behind big names such as Sean Combs and Nia Vardalos says the first round of programming will be all scripted (no reality crap, thank goodness), run under 10 minutes, and focused on genres that appeal to the core 14-34 demographic of Xbox 360 users.
The first shows are expected to be released this fall, exclusive to Xbox Live initially and will be accessible via the paid points system currently used to access content from networks such as Spike TV. Revenues will be further supplemented by advertising.
Scott Nocas, global marketing manager of programming for Xbox Live says Microsoft is looking "at this as the first of many" deals that will see more original video content available on the Xbox 360. And while established filmmakers will be acquired to produce the new series', Safran says we shouldn't expect to see any big-name stars actually acting in them.
Darn, that could be one of the keys to success in digital entertainment.
Loewe's Connect 37 DR+ is a beautifully designed 37-inch LCD TV that features some seriously high-end features. With 1080p resolution and 24fps HD media playback, expect a near-perfect picture, while a built-in 160 GB hard drive eliminates the need for a set-top box altogether. You'll have plenty of integrated space to record all of your favorite TV shows. A Connect 37 model is also available minus the hard drive.
Both models feature Wi-Fi and Ethernet options for streaming video from your PC using Windows Media Player. Unfortunately, no other streaming options are available. The Connect 37 DR+ also has a Scart socket for component video, 2 HDMI slots, and RCA digital audio inputs and outputs for connecting to a home theater system. It can even display photos and play music via two USB ports.
A couple of added options available to you are purchasing the Loewe Connect without the media streamer and adding DVB-S for receiving HD satellite signals. Available in black, white, and silver the Loewe Connect 37 DR+ is priced at 2150 Pounds or US$4300. Remove the internal hard drive and you'll pay 100 Pounds less, add-on will cost you extra.
Sony's Playstation 3 may be getting Bluetooth sometime in the near future according to a recent Sony filing with the FCC. Reading through the filing it looks like both the 60GB and 80GB PS3's will be soon released as Wi-Fi certified models with the addition of a Reverse F antenna. This is definitely going to require some further investigation.
AT&T Mobile TV, using Qualcomm's MediaFLO technology, will offer subscribers 10 mobile TV channels come May. Owners of Samsung Access and the higher-end LG Vu will be able to view CBS, Comedy Central, ESPN , FOX, MTV, NBC, NBC News, and Nickelodeon and two unannounced, exclusive to AT&T channels.
AT&T uses the same mobile TV network as Verizon, so the quality of the broadcasting is expected to be just as good as regular TV with an affordable expected pricing plan of around $15/month.
We missed this a couple days back, but in case you haven't heard yet, the HD DVD Promotion Group officially dissolved and removed their website March 28. Navigating to their homepage now will only net you this letter:
Sony will be selling a 32-inch LCD set in Wal-mart stores for $699 this spring, with a possible price decrease to $648 if a rumored Wal-mart discount is included. This is the first time Sony will sell a 32-inch set for less than $700 and is part of the electronic giant's strategy to bump mid-range Japanese brands such as Vizio and Olevia down a notch. With a slow US economy, the Bank of America is predicting that this is the first step in an all-out price war that will see LCD TV prices drop drastically. But not so fast.
All of the typical 32-inch models already sold in Wal-mart are already sold below the $699 price tag of the 720p Sony, plus LCD panel supply is going to be tight in 2008 with demand most likely exceeding supply. This doesn't bode well for lower prices. It does move Wal-mart one step closer to being a dangerous competitor to the likes of Best Buy and Circuit City, especially as the digital TV transition draws closer and people flock to upgrade to a digital set. This could mean a price war down the line, but we don't see it happening in 2008.
If you're wondering when the next generation of video game consoles are expected to hit the market, you could be waiting a very long time. According to Sandy Duncan, former VP of XBox Europe, game consoles as we know them could be dead and gone within the next 5-10 years. He expects by that time, we won't have any boxes sitting under our high-def TV's as most technologies will be virtualized by our web providers. As it is, the costs associated with the release of a new game console are extremely high and profit margins can be thin. It only makes sense that our content providers provide us with low-cost delivery video game content as well.
One of the best Blu-ray player deals around at the moment comes in the form of a laptop computer. That's right, the new Dell Inspiron 1525 at only $879, comes with an integrated Blu-ray player and HDMI slot, and has all the functions typical of a laptop computer. Makes sense being a laptop and all. Using Broadcom Media PC technology and a built-in accelerator, the Inspiron 1525 can playback Blu-ray titles either on the laptop display or on your HDTV via the computer's HDMI connection. To be honest with you, I wouldn't buy any standalone Blu-ray player until prices come down. Buy the PS3 or Inspiron 1525. Look at all the added value for relatively little additional money spent.
Microprojectors, such as Microvision's PicoP embeddable cellphone projector, are expected to be available by the end of this year. Small enough to fit in your pocket or placed inside your cellphone, these tiny projection wonders are expected to cater mainly to the business market, enabling presenters to conduct on-the-fly presentations without worrying abour carrying around a clunky projector and finding a suitable screen.
Several different companies are currently working on different microprojection models, many of which will be integrated into cellphones. Stand-alone models are expected to cost about $350 when they first hit the market, but drop to under $300 fairly quickly. And microprojectors are expected to bring in big dollars. As telecom companies run out of ways to make money, microprojection and other video-related technologies are expected to be the next big moneymaker. By 2012, sales are expected to reach $2.5 billion for stand-alone models and $1 billion for module embedded into cellphones and other devices.
You have to wonder though, what the ramifications will be if microprojectors hit it big with the younger markets. Are we going to see guerrilla video presentations in public? Annoying teens playing YouTube clips on the back of people's heads on the bus? We can't wait to see!
Regularly priced at $1800, the Toshiba REGZA 42HL67U LCD TV is a 42-inch 720p display with 4096 levels of color gradation thanks to 333 Mhz, 14 bit PixelPure 3G digital video processing. That's 16 times the variety of color you'd find in a typical 8 bit model. DynaLight technology automatically regulates the brightness of the backlight and has 256 different brightness settings creating seamless frame transitions without flicker or motion blur. The 42HL67U uses an SRS WOW Soundstrip speaker system to deliver high-quality Dolby Digital sound and features PC support, 3 HDMI and 2 component inputs. Right now at Amazon, you'll pay only $899.98 for this popular 42-inch REGZA, saving $900, and the purchase includes free shipping.
In this world of multi-tasking and high-speed, watching television while fixing your face in the mirror is a great use of time. In my opinion anyways. Seura has developed a new TV mirror technology that allows the viewing of a HD television picture, but allows it to complete vanish when not in use. Coming in three series'-enhanced, premier, and decouverte-TV mirrors are perfect for bathroom use, or, coming in larger sizes, for a simple but contemporary addition to your living room or hallway.
Looks like Apple has quietly released their first Apple TV update since its mega Take 2 overhaul in February. The company hasn't even mentioned the update yet, though it appears to be little more than a maintenance fix available through their upgrade utility. The only visually noticeable change so far is a new Genres category under the My Movies heading allowing users to browse movies by, well, genre.
Most of us familiar with the internet have heard of mashups which basically just combine two services, applications or concepts to produce something new and different. Humax has taken the term mashup to a whole new realm, producing a concept LCD TV designed by UK industrial designer Tej Chauhan. The set combines a retro exterior design reminiscent of the typical curvy design from the 1950's, but boast the hardware common to the most technologically advance HDTV's on the market. Will it hit shelves anytime soon? We doubt, but by making the rounds of the world's most popular design show, the Humax retro LCD TV will make for some cool eye candy.
Pantel has two new outdoor LCD TV's available that are rain, sleet, and sun resistant, perfect for some summer high-def R&R in your backyard. Coming in 32- and 42-inch sizes, the Pantel 320 and 420 feature 1336x768 resolution, a 1600:1 contrast ratio, an RF wireless receiver that allows wireless transmission of high-def audio and video up to 150 feet and a waterproof remote control. Pantel is apparently looking at the possibility of adding some larger models to the line-up, but expect them to be pricey, as the 32-inch Pantel 320 will cost you $3, 950 and the 42-inch Pantel 420 will set you back $4, 450.
Blu-ray disc sales have skyrocketed this year, recently passing the 9 million discs sold landmark, with a full third of those sales coming this year alone. This, according to stats from HMR Research, means that Blu-ray is on track for 15 million sales this year. This numbers come upon the release of Oscar-winning No Country For Old Men, selling over 68, 000 copies in its first week, besting the previous best first-week average of between 10, 000 and 30, 000 copies.
In other Blu-ray news, Sony has announced that its latest Playstation 3 update will include Blu-ray Profile 2.0, also known as BD-Live, which enables PS3 movie viewers access to interactive features such as downloadable content and games related to BD disc being viewed. Requiring an internet connection and at least 1 GB of free storage space, Sony's first BD-Live releases, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story and The 6th Day, are slated for release April 8.
The newest PS3 update will also allow users to transfer music playlists and photos to the Sony PSP, the first step by Sony in turning the PS3 into a mobile home theater hub. Other features included with the Profile 2.0 update include:
"Resume play" will enable PS3 system to start playing a Blu-ray disc and DVD at the point it was stopped, even if the disc had been removed.(*1)
"Audio Output Device" will be a new Remote Play setting, enabling PSP to serve as a remote control for music played through PS3.
PS3 system's Internet browser will be enhanced: Video files directly linked from a Web page will be able to be streamed, and the browser's view speed will be improved.
DivX and WMV format videos that are larger than 2GB will be playable.
"Mosquito Noise Reduction" will be added as an AV setting in the control panel of the DVD/BD player for improved movie playback.(*2)
*1 BD-J format disc is not supported.
*2 BD discs recorded with BDMV format are not supported.
The USB Dongle, developed by Legend Silicon and aigo, has been developed to allow Chinese sports fans the ability to watch the 2008 Beijing Olympics in HD on their laptops. Of course, with China's big media being state-owned and all, it'll only work with coverage being broadcast by China Central Television (CCTV).
An estimated 800, 000 foreign tourists and 15 million Chinese residents are expected to tune into the Beijing Olympics via CCTV, and the developing companies of the USB Dongle say that their product is the most economical, efficient and portable way to view Olympic coverage.
Sanyo's PLC-XW60, announced by the company yesterday, is the world's smallest and lightest XGA LCD ultraportable projector. Sanyo was able to develop ultra-small optical components for the projector contributing to a decrease in lamp size of 39% and lens weight of 44%, ultimately resulting in a 3.6 pound projection tool perfect for corporate schleps constantly on the go. Features include:
2000 lumen brightness
4:3 aspect ratio
automatic keystone correction
automatic input signal detection
guidance display for easy step-by-step setup
easy-off function that eliminates the need for cooldown time
Color or Blackboard mode displays pictures on any solid-colored service eliminating the need for a white projection screen
built-in 1 watt mono speaker
Interestingly the PLC-XW60 isn't compatible with HDMI, using component and composite video inputs. The Sanyo projector will be available in April 2008 at an expected street price of $795.
Looks like Toshiba's failure with HD DVD has spurred them into entering the remote control market, and this time it looks to be no holds barred. The 5 pound, 11-inch ApriPoko can detect infrared signals from home theater devices resulting in the android asking you, "What did you just do?". If you tell ApriPoko you just ordered an on-demand movie, it will commit the command to memory so the next time you want to do the same thing you can just tell your robot friend to do it for you. By learning about your behavior through Q&A, ApriPoko functions as the ultimate personalized universal remote. ApriPoko is still in the R&D stages but is expected to eventually be released to the consumer market.
Matsushita, maker of Panasonic flat panel HDTV's, discussed its plasma business and what the next-generation of TV sets, the Fifth Wave, promises at a pre-seminar for the 2008 Flat Panel Display International conference. Susumu Tsujihara, a Matsushita manager, said that Panasonic will continue to focus on the plasma business and described three key characteristics of next-generation HDTV's:
active TV's will fuse television, print, movie, PC and digital signage cultures
TV's with more compression capabilities and professional digital technologies
displays that drive compression technologies used for formats such as Blu-ray
He also said that despite the recent focus on plasma thickness (or thinness), weight is just as important and Panasonic plasma sets will continue to get lighter.
Microtune, a company that makes tuners for some of the analog-to-digital converter boxes, says it has tested 5 NTIA-certified converter boxes not containing its tuners, and found problems with all of them. Revealed in a letter to the NTIA (National Telecommunications & Information Administration), private testing by the company revealed "numerous and pronounced test failures" that could lead to "the loss of television reception in large areas of many metropolitan areas throughout the United States."
Microtune president Jim Fontaine said all five boxes were bought off the shelves although he declined to identify who the manufacturer's of the supposed faulty boxes are. Microtune has called for the NTIA to expand testing of all converter boxes to ensure they all comply to minimum standard and decertify those that aren't up to snuff.
Because decertification of boxes that contain rival tuners would benefit Microtune, we're all wondering if this is some kind of sick marketing ploy, but the company says that anyone can come and test their boxes, giving a guarantee of complicity with NTIA standards.
This wasn't the only case of "converter boxes under fire" today as the Community Broadcasters Association asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to force the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to put a stop to "the marketing of DTV converter boxes that block analog signals." They say that the court action is to protect the business of low-power local television stations, citing a 1962 law that forced the FCC to make sure that "all television receivers shipped in interstate commerce, or imported into the United States, for sale or resale to the public be capable of receiving all channels allocated to television broadcasting." Unfortunately, analog-to-digital converter boxes approved under the NTIA's TV Coupon program cannot have an analog tuner according to government specifications, a direct violation of the cited law.
Some local stations and even network affiliates will not be converting to digital in 2009, meaning that those that use the current NTIA-approved boxes will not have access to those stations. Many in the television industry are critical of the court action, saying that a positive resolution for the Community Broadcaster's Association would do little more than impose new costs on consumers to access services they probably don't and won't use. The FCC hasn't commented yet, but we'll keep you updated.
An interesting bit of research from iSuppli has revealed that while price is the most important factor for US consumers in the market to purchase a new TV, the richer folk actually care more about price than the poorer folk.
In the last quarter of 2007, 59.6% of American with incomes less than $25000 annually citing price as the deciding factor in their latest TV purchase. 63.1% of Americans making $100000-$149000 annually cited price as the main factor in their television purchase choice. What does this tell us?
Those who make more money are more concerned about money management than those who make less? No, it's probably the big house, fancy car, and pending divorce putting the screws to them!
The 22-inch LCD-DTV221 XBR PC monitor, from Japan's I-O Data, is the latest addition to a growing trend of PC displays with integrated digital TV tuners. With a digital TV tuner, 1680x1080 pixel WSXGA+ resolution, a 1000:1 contrast ratio and a 300cd/m2 brightness level, the DTV 221 is the equivalent of many popular second-tier HDTV brands on the market currently. Other features include picture-in-picture, D5 compression, DVI HDPC, and even an HDMI port. Sound is pumped through two 2.5W integrated speakers, rounding up your home theater PC experience.
A partnership between Oki Electric Industry Co Ltd, Intel KK and Huashu Digital TV Co Ltd has resulted in the announcement of a "Next Generation Hybrid STB (set top box)" with both DVB and IPTV compatibility. Chinese operators usually distribute lower end STB's to consumers for free, but this results in users denied access to higher-end value-added services and minimal profits for operators. The next generation hybrid was developed as a solution to these problems.
Featuring an Intel CE 2110 media processor, the next-gen STB is compatible with HDTV, MPEG-2, MPEG-4 and H.264 codecs. It also has a plug-in Flash Player, a 2D/3D graphic accelerator, JVM (Java Virtual Machine), and internet access.
According to Oki Electric, 23.64 Chinese households had digital TV subscriptions in 2007, and the upcoming Beijing Olympics and Shanghai World Expo in 2010 would lead to an increase in the number of cable channels being digitalized. This combined with HDTV and IPTV penetrating deeper into the consumer mainstream should lead to a huge demand for STB's in China for the next few years.
The number of ways designers attempt to incorporate flat panel TV's into home interior decor are becoming to high to count as HDTV continues to penetrate the mainstream market, but this Art Deco and Baroque framed media center, from Vismara Design, is one of our favorites as of late. Maybe not techie enough for some of you, but it definitely has a sense of old-school class and style, although apparently Crave doesn't agree with us.
With 329 days left until analog television signals are switched off forever, you still have plenty of time to prepare for the digital television transition. We'd like to claim that we're the best resource on the web for everything you need to make sure you're not watching "snow" come February 18, 2009, but the truth is that there are plenty of other great resources out there as well.
According to recent research by Frank N. Magid Associates, 6 out of 10 Americans are now aware of the 2009 digital television transition. That means 4 out of 10 Americans don't even know it's going to happen, and likely more than four aren't completely prepared. In comes the newest site dedicated to DTV2009-FreeDTVShop.com.
A creation of Mosquito Productions, FreeDTVShop.com contains the largest selection of government-approved, coupon-eligible converter boxes around. Owner John Buchman says that "it shouldn't be a chore for TV viewers to track down coupon-eligible
converter boxes" resulting in his decision to put them all in one place.
The site is probably one of the most detailed of all the available web resources as well, offering tutorials showing customers how to hook up converter boxes to all types of older TV's and showing customers what their onscreen displays will look like once they have their digital receivers all connected.
While Buchmann has developed a great business model that's almost guaranteed to generate profits, it's important to note that 10% of all profits from converter box sales will go to New York's Freedom Calls Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to providing soldiers with the necessary technology to keep in contact with their families. Says Buchmann, "Everyone who purchases a coupon-eligible DTV converter box from FreeDTVShop.com will not just be getting a good deal on the equipment they'll need to keep their TV functioning after February 17th, they'll also be helping a military family to remain close in spite of the distance separating them."
65.7% of US multichannel households will have either high-def cable or high-def satellite subcriptions by 2012, according to a recent study by SNL Kagan. That's a huge increase from an 18.8% HD penetration number for 2007, but with 1 in 3 homes now having at least one HDTV, networks are under pressure to provide more HD content. We wouldn't doubt they hit 2012's expected numbers by the last half of 2010.
At the recent DisplaySearch Flat-Panel TV Conference, industry experts came up with some predictions regarding expected pricing for LCD and plasma flatscreen HDTV's for holiday season 2008. While HDTV prices dropped by about one-third last year, 2008 won't see drops quite as drastic, yet they'll continue to drop nonetheless.
LCD TV prices will drop by about 5-19%, resulting in the following expected prices by December 2008:
a 32-inch 720p set will sell for $647, down 7 percent from December 2007
a 37-inch 720p LCD TV will cost $782, down 5 percent
a 40- or 42-inch 720p LCD TV will sell for $944, down 5 percent
a 40- or 42-inch 1080p set will sell for $1,123, down 19 percent
a 46- or 47-inch 1080p set will sell for $1,528, down 17 percent
a 52-inch 1080p LCD TV will sell for $2,243, down 19 percent
Plasma sets saw drastic price cuts last year, the largest of which was the 63% price drop for 50-inch 1080p sets. This year we can expect to see a more moderate decrease in prices, 17-27% by year-end. So what can you expect to pay for a plasma HDTV by December 2008?
a 42-inch 720p set will sell for $803, down 20 percent from December 2007
a 42-inch 1080p model--which were scarce last year--will sell for $1,200, down 20 percent
a 50-inch 720p model will sell for $1,154, down 17 percent
a 50-inch 1080p model will sell for $1,817, down 27 percent
Other predicted HDTV trends for the rest of 2008 from DisplaySearch industry experts:
HDTV sizes uncommon last year such as 55-inch LCD's and 32-, 37-, and 46-inch plasma sets will take a more prominent place in the US
120 Hz motion blur technology will become more popular
higher-end brands such as Panasonic and Samsung will increase their market share, eliminating lesser known brands from the US
the use of LEDs will surge, including the use of OLED's, usage of which is expected to see 120% growth
Wal-mart and other general retailers will become more prominent in television sales
retailers will begin to offer more HDTV packages that could include, for example, Blu-ray players with the television purchase
with the top manufacturers exchanging the number one sales spot so frequently, most retailers will carry a fair selection of different HDTV brands
Starz Media, a television production and distribution company that houses Anchor Bay Entertainment and Manga Entertainment, will launch on iTunes tonight. Starz typically distributes both proprietary and licensed content on DVD through bricks-and-mortar retail chains such as Best Buy, but Marc DeBevoise, SVP of business development and strategy believes that people will purchase episodic content through the iTunes platform "as long as it feels like free". Starz will debut with two sitcoms, Hollywood Residential and Head Case as well as four popular anime series'.
Starz Media video content is already available on Amazon Unbox and Xbox Live. We'll keep you updated as to what content will be available on iTunes.
Last year, before we had any indication that HD DVD would be dead and gone by now, a company by the name of SlySoft announced that they had broken the Blu-ray BD+ copy protection used to encrypt Blu-ray discs. They announced that the software would be available from the company by the end of 2007, and while that didn't happen, last week SlySoft announced the release of AnyDVD HD version 220.127.116.11. The company says it will now be "possible to make backup security copies of Blu-ray discs protected with BD+". I'm sure that's what we'll use it for...right!
While we're sure Blu-ray's not to happy about this, ultimately copy protection does little more than nudge people towards other digital media sources such as the popular BitTorrent client, Pirate Bay. But, while this may have some negative connotations for Blu-ray's bottom line in the short-term, ultimately it'll make Blu-ray more attractive to consumers and positively impact Hollywood as well.
Update:SlySoft has released AnyDVD HD version 18.104.22.168 in beta already with some minor fixes, updated languages, and support for some German structural protections.
Despite the European Union throwing its complete support behind DVB-H, analysts say it won't be enough to ensure success for mobile TV. First of all, a lack of innovative business models won't bring back the viewers who are steadily flocking away from broadcast TV. Second of all, carriers also face the absence of a workable business model and viewers would be unwilling to pay the costs necessary just to cover the cost of content creation. The only ones who will really be able to profit from mainstream mobile TV is manufacturers such as Nokia because they actually provide the equipment, keeping their costs relatively low.
Currently mobile TV consists of nothing more than repackaged content straight from the same channels as that on your living room set. Analysts say that mobile will never succeed like this-content will have to be much more personalized and on-demand. If broadcast TV is ever so slowly moving the way of the deadpool from the comfort of your living room, it'll never succeed as a business model for those on the go. The challenges described so far are all reasonably easy to solve with a little brainstorming. The final challenge may be the one that a common DVB-H standard can't beat.
The EU will also have to reach a common spectrum for DVB-H use, as standard DVB-H will be useless if the spectrum available to transmit it isn't common as well. Interference at borders would be on consequence of uncommon spectrum use. And while the US has auctioned off blocks of open spectrum available as a result of the coming digital TV transition, Europe hasn't, meaning mobile TV will have to compete with other television formats just to gain the spectrum necessary to exist.
The world of TV continues to ramp up, with this year's new models now hitting shelves and new episodes of your favorite shows finally to hit the airwaves after the Writer's Strike delay. That means more deals for you as retailers look to get rid of last year's models. LCD TV's
Haggling, at one time relegated to used car lots and black market deals is making a comeback. Thanks to easy access to pricing info on the internet and a weak US economy, haggling seems to be going mainstream-even becoming acceptable at big-box electronics retailers such as Best Buy.
It's not just consumers that hit by the tough economy, it's retailers too, most of which are willing to allow their salespeople some price flexibility when making a sale in order to retain the customer, ensuring a return visit sometime in the future. "This is one of the periods where the customer is empowered," Wachovia analyst John Morris said. "The retailer knows that the customer is enduring tough times -- and is more willing to be the one who blinks first in that stare-down match."
Knowing this may save you some serious money on your next big HDTV purchase. Take for instance New Yorker Mike Roskell, who used a good cop/bad cop haggling strategy to know $1000 off the price of two 46-inch HDTV's at P. C. Richard & Son. Or another guy or haggled his way to $300 off a 50-inch plasma TV.
Says Frederick Stinchfield, ""If you get denied once, go looking for someone else who looks nice", but make sure you "come armed with information, and you will be rewarded."
Oh, and if you're looking for a new pair of pants, you can probably haggle your way to a deal on those too.
China is cracking down on web video again. Just days after the Communist government blocked access to foreign video sites such as YouTube after a video of the ongoing Tibetan protests appeared, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television said that 25 video-sharing sites have been ordered to shut down. 32 others will face penalties including Tudou, one of the most popular video sites in China.
The Chinese government has felt threatened by web video since day one. Mass media in China including all television stations are state-owned and at one point the Chinese government declared that all online video sites would have to be state-owned as well. They backed off however, when they realized that the profit potential generated by traffic numbers rivaling their state-owned TV stations would be stifled under Commie leadership.
A lot of worry on the part of the government is undoubtedly related to the Beijing Olympic Games this summer. Worry about the countries image being tarnished just ahead of such a dollar-generating event is valid, but any negative views of China are caused by the actions of the government, not the video-sharing sites. No matter how hard they try, the democratization of information will win in the end. What is the government going to do? Cut off internet access to China altogether? I don't think so.
Looks like Microsoft is making a move for your living room. Microsoft and Onkyo, maker of high-quality AV products, announced yesterday that they will enter into an intellectual property collaboration giving each company access to the other's patents. The company's hope this will foster innovation in audio-visual home entertainment. What could we expect from this? Most likely Microsoft software integrated into Onkyo's hardware, the obvious answer. A Microsoft interface for Onkyo hardware setup? We'll have to see as the press release linked to below is pretty vague.
Onkyo also entered into the Microsoft Windows Rally program giving Onkyo access to "Microsoft technology, streamlined licensing, and technical guidance for effortless, security-enhanced and reliable connectivity between devices and PCs". Looks like Onkyo is getting ready for the web TV revolution.
Gertrude Neumark Rothschild, a Professor Emeritus at Columbia University, conducted research into "into the electrical and optical properties of so-called wide band-gap semiconductors" proving "pivotal in the development of short-wavelength emitting (blue and violet) diodes". Ultimately she filed patents in 1993 covering her method of producing blue and blue and violet LED's, such as those used in Blu-ray devices.
Now Rothschild is requesting that US imports of devices containing this technology be blocked which would effectively eliminate any Blu-ray player from entering the United States. What'll become of this investigation is uncertain. No manufacturer is currently commenting, but we're sure Rothschild would settle for a little financial compensation and scientific recognition.
It's about time we throw a wrench in the mix. We're more focused on the techie aspect of things here at TVSnob, but once in a while it's good to get outside of your comfort zone and check out something new. But don't worry, we won't take you to far. It's all TV-related of course. There's a design niche out there called kinematic typography, basically typography combined with motion. A number of designers out there have taken this concept and extended it into the world of TV and film, taking scenes out of popular films and interpreting them with typography. One of my all time fav films, Fight Club, has a couple of key scenes interpreted above. Check out another 9 films and shows at Always Watching.
Channel Master's CM-7000 DTV converter box has been approved by the National Telecommunications and Infrastructure Administration as a coupon-eligible analog-to-digital converter box. The Channel Master CM-7000 allows users to view both high-definition (so Channel Master says, but the CM-7000 only outputs 480i) and digital television on their analog televisions and offers easy setup and a friendly user interface. Features include an onscreen programming guide, parental controls, a fully functional remote control, closed captioning and a standby mode for energy savings. Those who have tried the CM-7000 seem to think it works fairly well, although no one is particularly happy with Channel Master marketing the converter as HDTV-compatible when it's not. After coupon use, expect to pay anywhere from $20-$40 for the Channel Master box.
With so much talk about Blu-ray's defeat of HD DVD in the HD disc format war lately, we just had to show you this cool 1975 promotional video for Sony's Betamax. If you're a hardcore videophile that can remember back to the 1970's and 1980's you'll remember the Betamax/VHS format war from which VHS emerged victorious. The only remnant left of Betamax now is the slang term "betamaxed" referring to a product with a relatively short shelf life. I guess HD DVD was betamaxed.
Interesting how Betamax marketed its product as a kind of TiVo of its generation.
Panasonic has officially unveiled its new plasma VIERA lineup for the North American market, bringing 16 new models to shelves in the coming months. VIERA, which stands for "Visual Era" and "exceptional picture, connectivity, customer service, and satisfaction" is Panasonic's latest North American plasma brand. A rundown of the new models is after the jump...
Polaroid is experimenting with a new concept HDTV that utilizes a prototype design that displays the Union Jack on the TV's frame. Polaroid says that the idea beyond the concept design is simply to prove that "something like this is possible" and could merge into "custom screens for gaming fans". No launch date has been set, nor has a price been released although Polaroid says that customers will have to pay a premium for their patriotism.
Remember the Tom Cruise Scientology video Nick Denton made famous a couple of months back. You know, the one where the ever-so-crazy actor preaches about the bizarre Hollywood religion founded by L. Ron Hubbard. Well, to date the video has had nearly 3 million views on Gawker and we'd imagine that many page views would bring in a fairly sizable chunk of coin. But rumor has it that Nick Denton's bandwidth bill from the embedded YouTube video was a whopping $118, 000 from his provider Panther. Apparently though, Denton, famed for the things that come out of his mouth managed to talk the bill down to only $10, 000. For comparison sake, I would love to see a comparison between the bandwidth bill and the revenues the Cruise vid generated. Then we'll really see if there is a case for online video.
Greenpeace has released its latest Greener Electronics Guide adding TV manufacturers Sharp and Philips to the mix. HDTV makers Samsung and Toshiba share the top spot, both scoring a 7.7 points out of a possible 10 based on "their policies and practices on toxic chemicals and takeback". Nintendo, which scored a 0 in the last report released November 2007 improved slightly, scoring a 0.3 to take dead last by several miles.
The Greener Electronics Guide is a way of forcing manufacturers to deal with e-waste issues, according to Greenpeace, and since its inception in August 2006 many of the ranked companies have vastly improved their environmental policies and practices fearing the negative publicity the report could bring them.
The cost of the death of HD DVD to Toshiba isn't as high as the $986 million originally reported. Toshiba has announced officially that the expected HD DVD loss will be $665.5 million for the 2007 fiscal year ending March 31. This is close to double Toshiba's 2006 fiscal year loss from HD DVD of $348.1 million.
HD DVD isn't the only consumer electronics business from which Toshiba will take a hit. The company's projected operating loss from LCD is $122.8 million. Across all company units, the revised net income projection for the 2007 year ending March 31 is $1.28 billion, down from the original forecast of 1.84 billion, a 30.6% decrease.
This Friday, ABC's 20/20 will be airing a 2 hour prostitution special titled On Prostitution in America: Working Girls Speak. In the works for 2 years, the special was initially scheduled to air in May or June, but former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer's resignation in light of revelations he enjoyed the services of high-priced call girls. Obviously a ploy by ABC to use Spitzer to gain ratings, the network hurriedly set up interviews with top-dollar hookers to supplement a visit to a legal brothel in Nevada and a slew of interviews with street-walking types. Surprising the network said that the special is meant to be a serious look at the issue rather an attempt to be salacious. Yeah, okay.
Best Buy will be sending out $50 gift cards to the poor souls who were duped into buying the now-defunct HD DVD player before February 23, 2008. Of course, this only applies to HD DVD owners who bought the merchandise at Best Buy. If this describes you, you should be receiving the gift card automatically in the mail within the next few weeks, but if you haven't received your pity money by May 1 just call 1-888-BEST-BUY with your receipt or credit card statement.
This Friday you'll also be able to trade in your used HD DVD player at BestBuyTradeIn.com, probably netting you another $50 or so.
Projectors are getting pretty advanced these days, sometimes to the point that they're difficult to use. But remember way back when when theaters still used Super 8 projectors? You may have even used them in the classroom, or when your grandparents showed you some old fashioned family video pre-HD camcorder.
As of April 24, Japanese retro video fans will be able to get their hands on a Super 8 projector kit from Gakken. The film is spooled using a handcrank and you can't actually buy a Super 8 camera to go with it, but it does come with modern LED technology. The kit will be priced at 8000 yen or $80 US.
Our UK readers may be interested in 3 new Sharp Aquos HD-ready models launching in the UK in the next few months. The Sharp Aquos D44E Series features the 37-inch LC-37D44E, the 32-inch LC-32D44E, and the 26-inch LC-26D44E all with the option of a new silver-grey color design.
Key features include 720p resolution and 10000:1 contrast ratio on all models, and a luminance of 470-500 candelas per square meter ensuring brilliant colors. Optimal image control automatically adapts screen brightness to the lighting level in the room. Automatic sound control allows you to preset sound levels depending on the content you are viewing, and is pumped through 2 10W loundspeakers via a built-in digital amplifier.
Other key features include:
* 176 degree viewing angle
* 6ms response time
* Enhanced programme overview with image-split and image-in-text functions
* Freeze-frame function to keep a favourite scene on screen
* Built-in DVB-T and analogue tuner for all-round TV reception
* 2 SCART sockets and the HDMI inputs with HDCP support
* YUV, AV/S Video IN, VGA IN and Audio OUT sockets
The 26- and 32-inch models will be available later this month for 499 and 599 Pounds respectively in either black or silver-grey. The 37-inch model will be available in July in black only, with pricing still to be confirmed.
Sure you can stream video from your Apple TV Take 2 to your HDTV, but what if you want to stream content to your Mac? Try out ATV4mac, downloadable from MacGeek. It's a plugin that enables you to run your Apple TV Take 2 as a Mac application. Other features of the plugin include keyboard support and internet browsing. One catch you'll have to deal with is that the ATV4mac doesn't work with Leopard yet. So unless you use Tiger, you're SOL.
Canon Inc. is the latest company to exit the rear-projection television market due to shrinking consumer demand. Way back in October 2005, Canon revealed a prototype 64-inch RPTV that was in development until the announcement by the company yesterday. They'll now try to enter the SED TV (surface-conduction electron-emitter display television) market, though they're already facing roadblocks as patent disputes have put commercialization of SED TV on hold, as has production technology issues.
Late last year, Sony also made an exit from RPTV citing lack of consumer demand.
Sony is going to be using technology used in the manufacturing of Blu-ray discs to produce an anti-glare film for LCD screens. They will be commercializing the new technology as early as 2010 in LCD TV displays, cell phones, and laptop computers.
Moth Eye uses the technology to produce a film with a series of minute bumps resulting in a redirection of light rays, reducing glare to 0.1% of visible light, about 1/30 that of LCD displays today. This improves display efficiency by a minimum of 10% allowing for enhanced color even in bright environments where LCD TV's tend to underperform.
The real reason Microsoft will never opt for a Blu-ray add-on for the Xbox 360 has finally come out. According to Chris Lewis, the VP of Microsoft Interactive Entertainment, the reason is simple: users prefer downloadable HD content as opposed to HD Blu-ray discs.
Says Lewis, "The broadband proliferation is amazing - people's appetite to download movies through Video Marketplace is testament to that. The future is about people taking their digital content on an online rather than physical media. We have no plans to do anything at all in terms of further or additional movie playback peripherals."
Microsoft also feels that adding a Blu-ray drive to the Xbox 360 would "force" gamers to go with Blu-ray HD playback as Sony's Playstation 3 has an integrated Blu-ray player. This is the reason that the HD DVD add-on was never fully integrated into the Xbox 360. It's all about giving gamers options.
Hitachi will use Tzero's ultra wideband technology to enable wireless HD video with its upcoming ultra thin (UT) HDTV series. Tzero's technology will eliminate cables but still allow HItachi's UT HDTV's to receive wireless signals from any HDMI-equipped audio or video component. The wireless connection features transmission speeds of up to 480 megabits per second (Mbps) and is based on standards by the WiMedia Alliance making it compatible with any WiMedia device.
Hitachi said that after combing the market for a wireless solution, "only Tzero's UWB implementation could provide the video quality and performance that is required for our demanding UT customer base." Unfortunately, the Hitachi UT Series is only available in Japan.
For those not ready to fork out a ton of money on a new Blu-ray player now that the format war is over, you can always spend a ton of money on a new Oppo DV-983H upconverting DVD player instead. But while we understand if you're not ready to fork out $400 for a Blu-ray player, you may as well if you're going to fork out $399 for the DV-983H. Key features include:
1080p HDMI upconversion
Anchor Bay VRS (Video Reference Series) video processing
7.1 channel audio
aspect ratio conversion
multi-level zooming, allowing users to stretch to full screen or crop black borders
support for USB content, Kodak Picture CD, WMA, as well as a variety of other multimedia formats
For an extensive list of specs and features, click here.
If you're not quite ready to fork out $399 for an Oppo DV-983H, Amazon has sales on last generation upconverting models:
Flat panel manufacturers are becoming a little more incestuous every day in a bid to reduce costs as HDTV profit margins drop. This time around, LG has announced they'll be buying LCD panels from rival Sharp. LG plans to initially purchase 2 million 32-inch panels from Sharp, followed by an unspecified amount of 52-inch panels.
LG hopes the partnership will enable delivery of 14 million LCD sets to customers this year and is the latest in a series of strategic partnerships struck by flat panelmanufacturersthisyear.
Sling Media is working on new versions of its SlingPlayer Mobile for S60, Windows Mobile Standard and Windows Mobile Professional. The updated software will better support newer handsets such as Nokia's N95. Sling Media is also hard at work on its SlingPlayer for the Blackberry which should be released sometime later this year.
The Meridian MF10 D-ILA projector has hit US shores, although you'll pay for this high-end model priced at $14995. The British manufacturer has also just announced the release of the DVP2351 digital video processor that'll really give the MF10 a high quality kick. You'll pay for the DVP2351 too at $3995. Key features of the Meridian MF10 projector include:
D-ILA (Digital Direct Drive Image Light Amplifier) light-engine with a three chip, 1080p array
Today the European Commission added the Digital Video Broadcasting Handheld (DVB-H) standard to its list of telecommunicatio standards, a step forward in establishing a single market for mobile TV across the European continent. By integrating the DVB-H standard across Europe, mobile TV providers will have a market large enough to begin offering services on a bigger scale, moving toward the expected 20 million Pound, 500 million customer (globally) mobile TV market in 2011. For more information, check out the European Commission's press release.
Remember that $999 Vudu XL set-top box we told you about back during CES 2008? Well, Vudu has announced partnerships with Control 4, Crestron, Logitech, NetStreams, Philips, Universal Electronics, and Universal Remote Control, which will allow the control companies to integrate its products into the Vudu XL. So far no specific products have been announced, but "control codes will be made available in programming tools and databases for Logitech Harmony Advanced remotes, Philips Prestigo and Pronto lines, Universal's Nevo Controllers and URC's Custom Professional products".
The Vudu XL, only available through authorized dealers, features a slate of more than 5000 standard-def and 100 high-def movies on-demand for rental or purchase. This is the latest announcement in a big push latelyby Vudu togain market share in the set-top box market.
Bodian Electronics Technology's new Taka bathroom TV lineup includes 4 new models-TKW168-17, TKW168M-17, TKW168-17W, and the TKW168M-17W. All models have a diagonal screen size of 17-inches, a 16:9 aspect ratio, a 400:1 contrast ratio, and a response time of 16 ms. Being waterproof, the Taka TV lineup uses an induction touchpad as opposed to buttons and features two 3W waterproof speakers. Other key specs include:
1440x990 pixel resolution
PAL, NTSC, and SECAM RF inputs
IPx6 waterproof rating
4.1kg lightweight build
The TKW168-17 has a black frame while the TKW168M-17 has a "mirror"-colored frame hence the "M" in the model number. Color specs are the same for the TKW168-17W and TKW168M-17W except these two models utilize a IEEE802.11a/g 2.4 GHz wireless connection via an included wireless transmitter.
Bodian Electronics Technology via Aving
Acer unveiled its second-generation line of multimedia-based laptops this week. Named Gemstone Blue, the new line features 16- (6920) and 18-inch (8920G) displays that output 1080p resolution. Combined with surround sound support and Blu-ray drives on both models, the Acer lineup is ready to take on any cutting edge multimedia format, making the Gemstone Blue lineup ideal for web video and gaming.
Acer also built a Cinetouch touchpad into the keyboard layout on the Gemstone Blue models, but most who have had a chance to try it out find it oddly designed and a little difficult to use.
Prices for the Gemstone lineup start at $900 and the new models should be shipping in April.
The Twinbird JL-J405PW waterproof TV has a 1-seg tuner and is the latest Japanese portable TV release. It features a 480x272 resolution 4-inch screen with an LED backlight and its battery life should result in about 4 hours of playback time.
Engadget HD's Ben Drawbaugh got a close look at Crestron's DVPHD-Pro digital video processor at the ongoing EHX 2008 conference, and we must say it looks impressive. At at a price of $50000 plus an extra $8000 bones for a touchscreen the DVPHD-Pro should be nothing but extraordinary. The processor has an eight input, 1080p HD video switch with RS-232 and USB control, allowing you to eight 1080p sources on the display simultaneously! If I only had the money to integrate the DVPHD-Pro into my home theater system, I'd never miss a favorite TV show again.
After all the rumorssurrounding YouTube going HD sometime this year, denied by the video-sharing subsidiary of Google, the platform is finally experimenting with high quality video. Over time more and more of the YouTube Community videos will have the option of being viewed in "high quality". For the moment, certain video will be chosen depending on the source file uploaded to the platform. Also recognize that you'll have the option of viewing the vids in "high quality", not high-definition...
We're getting close to finishing up the first quarter of 2008, and most of us are finally recovered from the financial devastation that Christmas brought. That means alot of us are on the hunt for hot HDTV deals again. That said, here's some weekly deals for the week of March 16:
Samsung HPT5054-$1149.98 at Amazon. Features a 50-inch screen, 720p resolution, 15000:1 contrast ratio, and 3 HDMI inputs.
Samsung LNT3253H-$789.51 at Amazon. Features a 32-inch screen, 720p resolution, 8000:1 contrast ratio, and 2 HDMI inputs.
Panasonic TH-42PZ700U-$1319.99 at Amazon. Features a 42-inch screen, 1080p resolution, 5000:1 contrast ratio, 4096 gradations of color, and 2 HDMI inputs.
Samsung LNT4061F-$1144.99 at Amazon. Features a 40-inch screen, 1080p resolution, 10000:1 contrast ratio, picture-in-picture, and 3 HDMI inputs.
Sharp Aquos LC32D62U-$867 at Amazon. Features a 32-inch screen, 1080p resolution, 10000:1 dynamic contrast ratio, 6ms response time, and 2 HDMI inputs.
Sony Bravia XBR KDL-46XBR4-$2397.70 at Amazon. Features a 46-inch screen, the famed Bravia color engine, 120 Hz frame rate, and 3 HDMI inputs.
DVD Players & Recorders
Toshiba HD-A3 HD DVD-$79.99 at Amazon. HD DVD players are no longer manufactured, but if you're looking to build your HD DVD collection from the options available, this is a great price for a player.
Despite comments made by Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer hinting at a Blu-ray add-on for the Xbox 360 in the near future, the company is now denying they have been or are currently in talks with Sony. Aaron Greenberg, product manager for the Xbox 360, says his boss's comments are unfounded telling Reuters, "Xbox is not currently in talks with Sony or the Blu-ray Association to integrate Blu-ray into the Xbox experience". This isn't the first time Microsoft has squashed rumors of a Blu-ray Xbox 360. During CES 2008, rumor began to fly just as Warner Bros. had decided to exclusively back Blu-ray, the final straw that broke HD DVD's back. At that time Microsoft claimed to still support HD DVD. Since then they've eliminated the HD DVD add-on for the Xbox 360.
Toshiba's v2.0 firmware update, which enables 1080p24 output on the company's HD-A30 and HD-A35 HD DVD players, apparently causes jaggies when MPEG4/AVC discs are played in 1080p24. This is the same problem Toshiba had with the HD-XA2 update last September, but this time we're wondering if a fix will be provided. With HD DVD's demise, it may not be worth the time and money to develop and provide a patch for the flawed update-on Toshiba's part anyway. The company is already lost close to $1 billion to the failed HD disc format, so pissing off its remaining customers probably isn't in the company's best interests. A fix from Toshiba might not be completely necessary though, as the HD enthusiasts at the AVS Forum have already came up with a couple of workarounds for the problem.
Integrating a small HDTV into the kitchen isn't a new phenomenon, but Pandigital takes it a couple steps further with the Pandigital Kitchen HDTV/Digital Cookbook/Digital Photo Frame. To be officially unveiled at the International Home & Housewares Show in Chicago tomorrow, the 15-inch LCD TV sports a 1280x720 resolution and has 512 MB of internal memory. The digital cookbook comes with a variety of preloaded recipes and the internal space necessary to upload your own. Pics can be uploaded via the memory card or Google's Picasa photo-sharing platform. The Pandigital Kitchen HDTV/Digital Cookbook/Digital Photo Frame is expected to hit shelves in June priced at $399.99.
Paris Hilton is getting her own TV show. Yes, I know, I probably just put a damper on your weekend but I thought I should give you fair warning. Coming some time in the 4th quarter of 2008, Hilton's new series My New BFF will feature Paris in a frantic hunt for a new best friend. The series will be paired with an online voting site which launched yesterday. The good thing is the series will only last 10 episodes probably much longer than any friendship Paris has ever had.
To be produced by Ish Entertainment and aired on MTV, My New BFF will follow Hilton as she lives in a house with 20 potential new best friends, all vying for the coveted BFF title allowing them to follow Paris to big Hollywood A-list parties and business functions. How humiliating for the new BFF.
The series is capitalizing on the popularity of Hilton on the web where she is consistently one of the most searched celebrities.
Samsung's TV frames tend to be black and only black. Not anymore, with the company's introduction of its new favorite color-"rose black". Unfortunately Samsung loves "rose black" so much that it's even extending the new color to its new HT-X710 and HT-X715 home theater systems. Despite the color faux pas, Samsung redeemed itself with some decent specs for the A6 LCD TV series blessed (or cursed) with the new color palette.
The A6 series features 19-, 22-, 32-, 37-, 40-, 46, and 52-inch screen sizes, all boasting 1080p resolution (with the exception of the 19 and 22 inch models), a contrast ratio of up to 15000:1 on the larger sets, a Game Mode, 4 HDMI sockets on any model above 32-inches, and "ultra clear panel" contrast-improving technology. Models above 37-inches also have 100 Hz technology which reduces motion blur and artifacts, pretty well ubiquitous in fast-moving movies and video games.
Samsung still seems to be trying to revive their ailing BD-UP5000 HD DVD/Blu-ray combo player, even after the BD-UP5500 was canceled in part because of chronic compatibility issues and customer complaints with the BD-UP5000. With firmware update v1.2, Samsung aims to "fix the network connection error" inherent in the BD-UP5000 (if you own the model, give us some details in the comments). Samsung seems to be spending a lot of time and money doting of the player's fragile nature with firmware update v1.2 the second update in as many months. We just wonder if its worth it with HD DVD out of the picture.
Toshiba will post a loss of $986 million this year thanks to the discontinuation of HD DVD, doubling the expected losses from the HD disc format before the electronics company announced its decision to nix the format. The added loss is thanks to production line changes as Toshiba moves its core business focus to flash memory cards. A Toshiba spokesperson refused to comment on the numbers as they haven't been officially announced by the company, but were reported by Japanese news source Nikkei.
Sony's DVP-NS700H 1080p upconverting DVD player couldn't be announced at a better time. With the recent death of HD DVD and Blu-ray prices at an all time high, upconverting DVD players will very likely be a popular purchase choice for those in the home theater market. The DVP-NS700H upconverts standard definition DVD's via an HDMI connection to your HDTV and features multichannel audio. Support for JPEG digital photo viewing on your HDTV is also included via the Burabia Photo viewer, and if you wish, you can even view all your pics in a slideshow with preset music. Finally, the DVP-NS700H will also record digital television broadcasts just in case you don't have a TiVo. Scheduled for an early April release in Japan, there is no pricing info available yet for the Sony DVP-NS700H.
A strange and unexpected bit of news from HDTV manufacturer LG, but a recent study conducted by the TV maker has found that men are twice as likely as women to buy an HDTV "due to the effect it has on their interior design"! The study also found that men are more likely than women to rank size as a defining factor in purchasing an HDTV with a full 78% of men focused on size, compared to 71% of women. We wonder if anyone has yet come up with a study looking at the correlation between TV-size obsession and genitalia-size obsession. We're pretty sure there's a connection.
Hulu is set to make its long-awaited public debut tomorrow after 5 long months of waiting. Back in early November, Hulu's library of video content was pretty thin, but upon launch tomorrow we can expect a huge selection of full-length movies, syndicated TV shows, current TV hits and even sports highlights. All in all, Hulu will offer free videos from more than 50 broadcast and cable networks, movie studios and other web content providers.
April 15 is coming quickly and we hope you've got your financial affairs in order to appease Uncle Sam. However, there could be another deduction to your return that you've never considered. You know that expensive home theater and big screen plasma TV you bought this year? Uncle Sam may subsidize its purchase, potentially saving you thousands of dollars if you follow these 5 steps from Sound And Vision.
Paramount released their Voozoo Facebook app yesterday, enabling Facebook users to share thousands of movie clips with friends. After each clip is played, Paramount will briefly advertise the corresponding DVD and hopes to use the application as an innovative way of marketing new titles. As of last night the Voozoo Facebook group had 237 members, including myself.
The company looks to be targeting those with less disposable income in the US, but expects to find more demand overseas in Australia, China, India, Central Europe, Russia and Scandinavia. They claim that they won't rekindle the format war, but Blu-ray scoffs at their attempt at moving into the HD disc market with pricing promotion. "When you mass produce blue lasers in large quantities, hardware costs will absolutely come down," Mr. Parsons said. "I'm sure we'll eventually be able to charge $90 for a Blu-ray player. "When you mass produce blue lasers in large quantities, hardware costs will absolutely come down," Blu-ray Disc Association chairman Andy Parsons said. "I'm sure we'll eventually be able to charge $90 for a Blu-ray player."
One major problem faced by HD VMD so far is actually finding studios that'll print movie titles on the new format. So far only 17 titles are available in the US via the New Medium Enterprises online store, and pretty much all of them are little-known independent titles. None of the major studios have commented on any intention to release titles on HD VMD.
HD VMD uses the red-lasers used in standard definition DVD players, while Blu-ray players use the more expensive blue-lasers. The disc is multi-layered allowing for more storage space, while a standard DVD only features a single layer.
"We've already been working on, for example, in Windows, device driver support for Blu-ray drives and the like, and I think the world moves on," said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. "Toshiba has moved on. We've moved on, and we'll support Blu-ray in ways that make sense," he said.
It's expected we'll hear an announcement for an Xbox 360 Blu-ray peripheral in the near future, big news after rumors that prices will drop for the gaming console in the US.
A December 2007 online survey of 1002 Americans conducted by ABI Research yielded some interesting finds. Conducted to learn more about how Americans view their service providers, what technologies they use and how price sensitive they are, here is the results of the survey broken down into numbers:
38% of respondents have home theaters or game consoles attached to their televisions
38% of respondents use DVRs
25% of respondents chose their pay-TV service based on price
25% of respondents chose their pay-TV service based on convenience and promotional offers
15-20% of respondents chose their pay-TV service provider based on programming quality and customer service
6% of respondents were interested in mobile TV
35% of respondents would not pay for common add-on services
65% of respondents said online news clips was their preferred online video content
43% of respondents said movie trailers was their preferred online video content
43% of respondents said that user-generated content was their preferred online video content
53% of respondents use pay-per-view services to watch movies only a few times per year
40% of respondents own at least one HDTV
<50% of those HDTV owners actually subscribe to HD content
So what does this all mean? According to ABI Research, PVRs, DVRs, gaming, home theater installs, free content in exchange for ad views, HDTVs are all hot commodities. Network media adapters, the Slingbox, pay-per-view and program quality not so much. One insight gained from the research, which is not surprising, is that despite the fact that many people own HDTV's, very few actual subscribe to HD content or care about programming quality when choosing a pay-TV service provider. Can we say consumer education?!
Ever wonder how a media center actually works? Sound And Vision mag explains the inner workings of the Denali Limited Edition media center from Niveus, a high-end model priced at a whopping $11, 600. After learning how the Denali works though, you can appreciate the price. You really do get what you pay for. Our only complaint: the Denali Limited Edition comes with an HD DVD drive. Your bad Niveus.
We have no need to panic though, according to Pioneer executive VP Russ Johnston, as Pioneer will simply not be producing plasma sets in-house, but instead outsourcing them to other manufacturers. In the case of the Kuro series, Pioneer will be sharing a few trade secrets with Panasonic who will produce the Kuro panels. Pioneer will continue to produce the video circuit and processor, and supply the color filter technology. The Kuro series will live on. Johnston says that Pioneer offers a premium product and rather than lower the prices of their sets, they want to make the technology more advanced. That'll require lowering expenses and that's where the partial outsourcing comes into play.
Johnston also says that while plasma is best at sizes ranging from 50-70 inches, there are limits to its quality at certain size ranges. Due to this fact, we can expect another announcement from Pioneer come May as the company looks to expand into new markets.
The last time we mentioned MobiTV here at TVSnob was way back in 2006 when AT&T was the first American broadband provider to offer a live mobile TV subscription service in partnership with the mobile content provider. Now MobiTV is the mobile TV provider on Sprint Nextel cell phones and has been in a fight with Toronto-based HowardForums the past couple of days to get the cellular forum to take down instructions revealing how to access MobiTV's content feeds for free. Originally sent a cease and desist letter from MobiTV, HowardForum's refused to take down the posting after which MobiTV sent notification to the forum's service provider looking to take down the site entirely. Howard Chui, owner of HowardForums originally refused to take down the posting because it simply linked to feeds available to the public domain via MobiTV's website. Apparently the situation has now been resolved though. MobiTV has secured the content and is back on good terms with HowardForums.
Remember a while ago there was that ad for HBO's In Treatment sitting in our sidebar? Well if you have nothing to do today, consider heading over to Amazon Unbox where they're giving away the first 15 episodes of the series for free. Nothing like some hardcore neuroticism for a laugh to get your work week started on a positive note! Commenters are encouraged to begin flame wars in the comments section in response to my incredibly insensitive comment.
Disney's classic TV shows from the past 50 years could soon be available on its website, according to CEO Bob Iger. Disney doesn't appear to have an execution plan or time frame for the project, indicating that this is something the company is currently just discussing. But Iger did say that iIn the near future, you'll see more of that product available on Disney.com, either for free or through some sort of subscription."
Disney Channel already offers some of their programming on their website and as downloads from Apple's iTunes.
BBC's iPlayer which allows people to download BBC programs or watch them over the internet, is now available on Apple's iPhone (or iPod Touch). Being in beta, it's only available in Britain right now, but an interesting development that could one day be available worldwide. Because the iPhone does not support Flash video playback, the BBC has to reformat it's content into Apple's QuickTime version of the H.264 standard video format. Those videos are then streamed to the iPhone via a modded version of the iPlayer website.
The iPhone's inability to play Flash has meant the BBC really had to take extreme measures to bring their programming to the iPhone. They had to built a "transcoding farm" of 50 computers just to reformat the 400 hours of television programming per week they want to make available on the iPhone. It's also of interest to note that the iPlayer only works when the iPhone is connected through Wi-Fi as the video players doesn't work with EDGE, most likely because the bandwidth required to stream the content is too high for current cellular networks.
It's got to be tough successfully ending the short life of HD DVD, only to return fearing the threat of a standard definition format. But that's exactly the predicament Blu-ray has found itself in. Sony president Stan Glasgow knows this, acknowledging in a recent press conference that "the battle really begins now to move people away from DVD to Blu-ray". With Blu-ray's expensive pricing an obstacle to mainstream success, Glasgow says that we can expect sub-$300 Blu-ray players this year and sub-$200 players in 2009. More likely than not, the only sub-$300 model we'll see this year will be one or two lower end models nearer to the 4th quarter. Sony also says that they'll continue to improve their emphasis on marketing some exclusive Blu-ray features such as BD Live as upscaling DVD players continue to improve. Oh yeah, and as for digital downloads? No threat for at least a decade. Yeah right.
Gizmodo has done some remarkable detective work and uncovered Circuit City's clandestine attempt to allow trade-ins for deadpool HD DVD players. Those who have bought HD DVD players can bring them back to Circuit City and trade them in for a Blu-ray player or a gift card refund for the original purchase price. Apparently Circuit City wanted to offer world-class customer service to their valued customers by not telling anyone about the return policy. Some employees are still denying that it exists. Here's an internal memo from a Circuit City employee forum that says otherwise...
The NEC VT800 digital network-ready projector is NEC's latest addition to the VT projector series. Geared for educational institutions and corporate use, the VT800 offers advance networking features such as remote diagnostics that enable monitoring and control of the projector over a network and Image Express Utility for transmitting video and data over a network connection. The NEC VT800 utilizes HQV (Hollywood Quality Video) resulting in high quality video and data display, Advanced AccuBlend which clears up images from non-native resolution sources, and automatic keystone correction for eliminating vertical distortion when the projector is set up at an angle to the screen. It also includes handy features such closed captioning for decoding and displaying text in video and an input-output panel with built-in AV switching. The VT800 will be available in April for $999. Full specs are below:
* 2,700 lumens
* XGA native resolution of 1024 x 768
* Contrast ratio of 500:1
* Up to 3,000 hours of lamp life
* 5-watt speaker
* ECO ModeTM technology, which reduces energy consumption and increases lamp life by up to 50 percent
* PIP/ESS for picture-in-picture or side-by-side image configurations
* Built-in wall color correction presets, which provide for adaptive color tone correction to display properly on non-white surfaces
* 3D ReformTM, which squares the image by adjusting horizontally, vertically or diagonally when the projector cannot be placed parallel or perpendicular to the screen
* Standard two-year limited warranty, including the first year with InstaCareTM, which provides repair and return in three business days or next-business-day exchange.
* One-year/500-hour lamp warranty
Samsung plans to begin mass-producing 14-inch OLED displays starting in 2009, according to company officials. At the ongoing ceBIT 2008, Samsung is showing off both the 14-inch and a 31-inch OLED display. The economics of manufacturing the larger screen means we won't be seeing 31-inch OLED TV's in the near future, but next year we will see the 14-inch screen used in laptop computers such as the Asus EEE PC. A technological advance such as this could work wonders for web video. Samsung also said that we can expect 15- and 21-inch panels next year and both 40- and 42-inch OLED TVs by 2010.
If you've been waiting for the release of the second-generation Samsung BD-UP5500 Blu-ray/HD DVD hybrid player, you can wait no more. That's because it will never be released. With Blu-ray winning the 2-year-long battle with HD DVD in combination with the compatibility issues with Samsung's first generation BD-UP5000, Samsung looks to have exited the hybrid market.
In comes Prime Time Rewind, which aggregates all of the network TV shows available online and allows you to watch them for free via their website. No more navigating site to site, and once at Prime Time Rewind you'll have no problem navigating their site to find the content you want either. They use a unique method of sorting video-a cube where each face represents either a different network or different genre of TV show. Spin the cube one way using your mouse or keyboard arrow button and you'll see all of the major networks: ABC, NBC, Fox, CBS, USA, and TNT. Spin it the other way and you'll see the shows sorted by genre-action, comedy, reality, and drama.
Not only does Prime Time Rewind aggregate all the network TV shows for easy viewing, it also allows you to personalize your account by pulling video from YouTube and RSS feeds of other major video sites on the web. And soon, the company will be unveiling a sidebar widget that'll allow you to embed Prime Time Rewind content right onto your blog or website!
Vudu has released their version 1.3.0 software update with a whole new load of features for the set-top box. First off, Vudu now provides you with two ways to remove movies or TV shows from your box-archiving and deletion. Archiving allows you to transfer owned titles to the secure Vudu Vault which frees spaces for additional purchases. Archived titles can be found under the My Movies heading and can be redownloaded at any time for free. Deletion permanently removed titles from your Vudu meaning you'll have to pay again next time you want to watch the same title.
Now you'll be able to watch TV with you Wii! Kind of. Of course this doesn't apply if you don't live in Japan, but hey, isn't that where American trends always start? Nintendo Japan has just launched TV NO TOMO, a new Wii software that features an interactive TV guide that allows you to bookmark favorite shows and receive email notification 30 minutes before they start. Available for free download, TV NO TOMO is available now for Japanese Wii owners.
The Panasonic BD30E, to be released later this month, is the first DivX-certified Blu-ray player available to the European and Russian markets. No prices have been released yet, but the BD30E is supposedly identical in features to the Panasonic BD30 with the DivX playback the only significant difference.
This is a smart move on the part of Panasonic as consumer demand for DivX playback is at an all time high. While the studios unleash their DVD-sniffing dogs on the world of movie pirates, manufacturers may as well make a buck at their expense.
If you thought piracy was a big concern in North America, you're right. But it pales in comparison to the concern of the Malaysian Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs (MDTCA). Last year the MDTCA made headlines when they began to use dogs to sniff out large caches of pirated DVD's. The dogs, Lucky and Flo, were loaned to Malaysian authorities by the Motion Picture Association of America, and trained to sniff out a chemical used in DVD production. While the dogs aren't actually capable of differentiating between real and pirated DVD's, they do have the ability to detect large caches of DVD's. Malaysian is one of the world's pirated DVD hotspots, so large caches often mean a big bust. In fact Lucky and Flo were able to help Malaysian authorities uncover 1.6 million pirated DVD's and equipment worth nearly $6 million!
Now, two more dogs have been added to the canine fleet. Paddy and Manny are the latest additions and will be permanent fixtures in Malaysia's ongoing war against DVD pirates, which the country hopes will eventually see themselves taken off the list of "pirate watch countries" in the United States.
We should also mention, just in case you want to make a little extra cash, that Malaysian pirates have placed a bounty of $30, 000 on the heads of the original dynamic duo, Lucky and Flo.
Washington Consumer Electronics Association president Gary Shapiro says that there will be glitches in the digital TV transition coming February 17, 2009...but there is no need to panic. There are worse things than losing TV service, he says. What?! We all know that television is a key staple of the American entertainment diet and nothing could possibly be worse! "This is not people losing their homes", he says. But what's the point of having a roof over your head if you can't sit on you couch and enjoy your favorite TV shows? Panic is evident among American citizens, not helped by the fact that the professional television associations such as the National Cable & Telecommunications Association are now admitting they're not sure they've "gotten the message exactly right". No worries though because we did. If you're in a panic, stay calm and check out our tutorial on preparing for the transition so you don't lose your service.
Taiwanese makers of optical disk drives believe BD-ROM drives will gain popularity in 2008 and possibly move ahead of stand-alone players. Sony's recent release of the BDU-X10S BD-ROM and its leadership role in the Blu-ray camp will propel other manufacturers to begin producing their own BD drives. In fact, Hewlett-Packard, Pioneer, Acer, and Asustek Computer all plan on releasing their own BD-ROM drives as early as the 2nd quarter of this year.
The latest 32-inch flat-panel LCD TV from Toshiba, the REGZA 32C3800 features full 1080p resolution with a 178 degree vertical and horizontal viewing angle resulting in a clear picture no matter where you are in the room. Both analog and digital tuners are integrated into the 32C3800 and sound is streamed via 6 speakers. The model also supports HDMI interlocking and features HDMI, DVI, and R-SUB ports. The REGZA 32C3800 will be released March 16 for 19 million Yen in Japan.
Calling all torrent freak/iPhone owners! The iPhone now has its own native P2P torrent software, courtesy of the iPhone Hacker core who were able to take the open-source BitTorrent client Transmission and get it running on the iPhone after a few failed attempts. While the coding isn't my forte, I was able to decipher the following: don't run this client with EDGE and if you do use this, expect your battery to die real damn quickly.
Just last year experts thought the transmission of such massive bandwidth signals were 15-20 years away, but Japanese broadcaster NHK recently was able to transmit 7680 x 4320 pixel, 33 megapixel frames via H.264 compression and 16 Kyrion encoders. Put it this way, this video if uncompressed, would require 200GB of bandwidth for just one minute of video. A whopping 10TB per hour!
While this amazing feat drastically reduces the time it'll take to get such high quality picture into our homes, the amount of computing power required to achieve this level of compression still needs to be drastically reduced. Think set-top box reduced. But while 1 year ago, we thought it would take 15-20 years to achieve this, NHK figures it'll only be 10-15 years until we're watching 7680 x 4320 pixel ultra-HD resolution on our home theater TV's. That level of picture quality is truly frightening!
Saturday's a great day to tinker around with some TV-related projects. Anything you don't get done today, you can finish tomorrow and any damage you do today, you can fix tomorrow too. Here's some ideas for you:
Remember the day of TV sign-offs where the day's programming culminated in vertical color bars and an annoying high-pitched hum. Spent some time checking out different TV sign-offs from years back. We don't recommend this one unless you're really bored.
Interested in learning how to build your own television receiver? We should warn you, these how-to's come from 70-80 years ago so don't expect them to work after next year's digital TV transition.
Finally we've decided to experiment with a new editorial calendar here at TVSnob, bringing the focus back to products and deals, but provided you with a list of daily links, TV Biz Watch, that'll lead you to the news and business happenings that'll affect your home theater experience now and in the future.
Well, today's March 1, and that means another beginning and another exciting month here at TVSnob.