Sharp's new Aquos X-Series ultra-thin LCD TV's will offer a wireless WHDI link from Amimon that'll allow uncompressed streaming of high-def content from an external tuner unit straight to the Aquos without the use of any cables whatsoever. WHDI technology uses a video-modem to stream HD content up to 100 feet, with the ability to stream through walls and according to Amimon, resulting in video quality equal to that of HDMI.
The Sharp Aquos X-Series will be made up of three models--the 37-inch LC-37XJ1-B, 42-inch LC-42XJ1-B, and the 46-inch LC-46XJ1-B. 3.44 cm thick at the thinnest point, the X-Series' models achieve their remarkable thinness thanks to the external tuner unit and wireless connection. All three units use an active-matrix drive system, feature 1080p resolution, 15000:1 dynamic contrast ratio, wide viewing angle, fluorescent tube backlight, 8 speakers and all the usual inputs and outputs. We'll be waiting for this in North America for a while I'm sure, but it should be available in Japan now, priced at ¥350,000 ($3,290) for the LC-37XJ1-B, ¥430,000 ($4,050) for the LC-42XJ1-B, and ¥480,000 ($4,510) for the big LC-46XJ1-B.
April has been a killer busy month, and if you haven't been here everyday to catch the latest ins and outs of TV, chances are you're behind. There's probably something you don't know that's costing you money and/or picture quality, and not necessarily in that order. So, as we do at every month-end, we're posting a round-up of every single thing we clued you in on in the last 30 days. Like we said though, it's been a lot, so take a look after the jump...
The LG "LG 60 Scarlet" LCD TV isn't exactly brand-spanking new. Across the pond in Korea, it's been on shelves since February. And while it's a pretty typical LCD TV in terms of specs, LG's marketing campaign to boost the Scarlet is simply amazing. For the last 4 months, in 27 countries worldwide, LG has been raising all kinds of excitement about a new TV series, Scarlet, directed by David Nutter and featuring beautiful up-and-coming actress Natassia Malthe in the lead role.
Great play on words LG, because at a Hollywood unveiling of the new show a couple of days back, the company revealed the new TV series was nothing more than a promotional push for the Scarlet LCD TV series. Even going as far as starting a blog for the mysterious character Scarlet on MySpace, and a dedicated group on Facebook, LG's Scarlet character was nothing more than a way to brand the Scarlet TV's.
The name 'Scarlet' was inspired by the design of the LG60 and the red
hue of the casing. From a side profile, the TV's silhouette flows like a
red dress. Scarlet's character also reflects everything that the LG60 is.
She is intelligent; she is dazzling; she is extraordinary; she is exciting;
and she will change the way you view TV, forever.
And LG has done a great job. The Scarlet TV series comes in sizes ranging from 32-52 inches, colored black with red highlights. Featuring 1080p resolution, 50000:1 dynamic contrast, 4 ms response time, and 3 HDMI slots, not to mention a Green EYEQ power saving feature, the Scarlet is a decent television. We just hope LG's marketing campaign doesn't overshadow Scarlet the TV with Scarlet the actress.
While mobile TV struggles to catch on in the western world, across the pond in China, the mobile landscape is just plain hot. A survey by mobile TV chip provider Telegent Systems, conducted in China where there are more than 3 million regular mobile TV users, revealed that 85% of cell phone buyers bought the phone mainly for the mobile TV feature. Amazingly 74% watch mobile TV for 30 minutes or more at a time, showing an increased interest in longer form programming, and 54% watch at least 5 times per week. Admittedly this survey may be a little on the biased side being conducted by a mobile TV solution provider and all, but even if we cut those numbers in half, they're still impressive compared to the stickiness of mobile TV in North America. A total of 400 cell phone buyers were surveyed at the point of purchase between July and September 2007 and February 2008.
Other interesting revelations from the survey include:
90% found the free-to-air TV feature interesting or useful, even 4-6 months after purchase
60% recommended mobile TV to their friends and family
about 50% of users watch mobile TV when traveling, 43% watch at home, and 17% at the office
the most popular time to watch mobile TV is between 7-8PM, followed by morning commute time of 8-9AM
88% of those surveyed find mobile TV picture quality "acceptable"
Amazon has a pretty nice deal running now until May 5 that'll net you a free Samsung DVD-1080P8 1080p upconverting DVD player when you purchase select Samsung LCD TV's. All's you do is place the DVD player in your cart along with your HDTV of choice and the DVD player's cost will be automatically deducted when you pay! So what are the qualifying television models you ask? Here they are:
40-inch Samsung LNT4071F--1080p, 25000:1 dynamic contrast ratio, 120 Hz Auto Motion Plus. Price: $1699.99 with free shipping.
Pioneer's KRF-9000HD projector, the latest in its Kuro line, features full 1080p resolution, wide lens shift, a couple of HDMI 1.3 ports, and both composite and component inputs. The best part though is the 30000:1 native contrast ratio enabled by "liquid crystal on silicon" (LCoS) projection technology. Liquid Crystal on Silicon is similar to DLP technology, but rather than mirrors, uses liquid crystals like LCD's. However, LCD projectors use liquid crystal that allows light to pass through, while LCoS chips have liquid crystals directly applied to a silicon surface with an aluminum coating that is highly reflective.
Given the Kuro KRF-9000HD's high-end technology, expect to pay a high-end price, and you will. The price? About $12500!
It looks like the Samsung BD-P1500 Blu-ray player has finally been released, along with another home theater offering. This announcement has us a little confused though given just last week Samsung announced a delay in the release, pushing it back to June. The BD-P1500 offers 1080p resolution, Blu-ray disc, DVD, and CD play back, Bonus View allowing picture-in-picture viewing, bookmarking, USB-enabled firmware updates, and BD Live interactive features.
The new home theater, Samsung's HT-BD2F features 5.1-channel sound and support for a variety of audio codecs including Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus, DTS-HD and lossless DTS-HD Master Audio. Samsung's initial home-theater-in-a-box release, the HT-BD2 carried almost identical features but had a 7.1-channel surround sound system. As a result, the new release will feature a lower price.
Along with the announcement of the new product releases, Samsung also gave us a glimpse into their overall Blu-ray strategy. A leader in Blu-ray product development, Samsung predicts the Blu-ray market will achieve an average annual growth of 80% through 2012. By then the company expects 51 million Blu-ray units will sell per year, well above the expected 5 million this year, which is already a three-fold increase from last year. The company expects its own sales to increase to W400 billion (Korean Won) this year and surpass W1 trillion by 2010, and intends to be the market leader.
Samsung is also working hard to allow for mobile product compatibility with its Blu-ray offerings (such as camcorder and digital camera plug-ins) as well media streaming options bringing the best of the web to your HDTV.
JVC lost a considerable amount of money this year despite strong LCD TV sales, mainly because of the company's stubborn refusal to let go of CRT and rear-projection sets. I guess losing millions will make the most stubborn corporations move a little quicker as the company announced that they will be closing a JVC UK plant in East Kilbride, United Kingdom. The plant has been around since 1987 and produces both CRT and LCD TV's. With flat-panel prices dropping fast, only 25% of the UK-produced TV's sold inside the UK, and an expanding Eastern European production market, JVC decided it was best to shut down production by July and sell everything. Look for a move into Eastern Europe in the near future, and once there, JVC says they'll no longer produce panels internally, instead outsourcing production, and buy all the need LCD TV parts locally.
European's love their BRAVIA's and that's why the company is expanding production of the popular LCD TV in Slovakia. Back in April 2006, Sony starting pounding out BRAVIA's in Trnava, Slovakia, but quickly reached full production and with no room to expand, built the the Nitra Technology Centre. It started production in August 2008 along with another plant in Barcelona, Spain.
The Nitra plant managed to ship 2 million BRAVIA's by the 2007 fiscal year end, but due to growing European demand, will double production this year to 4 million panels making the plant Sony's highest-producing LCD TV plant worldwide. All the main BRAVIA line-ups will be produced at Nitra, including the new BRAVIA E4000 and a new logistics center will be build next door, establishing the Nitra location as Europe's BRAVIA business hub.
Oh, and if you happen to be looking for a job in Slovakia--a workforce of 2300 employees currently will increase to 3500 by the end of December 2008.
Rumors has it that trading of both Matsushita and Sanyo shares have been suspended on both the Tokyo and Osaka Stock Exchanges after newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun reported that the two companies are considering a "possible capital and business tie-up". The possible merger is apparently an option Sanyo is considering to turnaround its struggling business, quite apparent after the company was investigated for cooking the books near the end of 2007.
How would this affect the two companies' respective TV businesses? Sanyo could definitely augment the Panasonic HDTV line, bringing its respectable global market share over to Matsushita, who in return would give Sanyo the backing it'll need to turnaround its overall business.
So far the problem right now is to figure out exactly whether this rumor is true or not. Both companies have denied they've ever discussed such a move and trading is set to resume on both Stock Exchanges tomorrow morning.
While you can find business projectors for a few hundred dollars these days, looking for the cheapest price around may be selling yourself, and your audience, short. Many lower cost business projectors only work well in completely darkened rooms, and when's the last time you gave a business presentation in the dark? The optimal price range for finding good value and great features? In between $1500-$2000, says Peter Knaak of the German consumer testing organization Stiftung Warentest in Berlin. Knaak adds that he has yet to see a projector priced at less than $1500 that is worth recommending for business presentations.
Okay, so we've nailed down price, but what about features?
Look for more and more digital TV's shipped with a DivX-certified sticker on them this year, as DivX has signed agreements with the likes of LG and HP to release over 80 digital television models that simply allow you to plug in a USB device into your TV enabling DivX video playback. We know of at least a couple of LG Time Machine LCD TV's already DivX-certified down in South America. DivX is also working with chip makers AMD, Chips and Media, Broadcom, and Trident to further extend DivX capabilities into the digital TV market. Earlier this year, we found out that AMD will use DivX in digital TV's using certain Xilleon processors such as select models from Samsung, Mitsubishi and Westinghouse.
The company has been spreading through the digital entertainment industry like wildfire, available on a variety of DVD and Blu-ray players, the PS3 and Xbox 360.
This slipped by us the other day, but we're glad we know now that the Bravia Internet Video Link is now available. Kind of inconvenient that the DMX-BV1 (yes, that's the model number) is only compatible with Bravia's, but if you do have one, it'll let you stream web video right to your Sony TV through your broadband connection. If you're more into the news and weather, you can get that too through internet providers such as Yahoo, Grouper, and AOL.
Winner of an 2008 International CES Innovations award, the DMX-BV1 Bravia Internet Video Link sits behind your TV, integrates with the Xross Media Bar (XMB) which'll pick up new video partners as they become available, and supports all HD resolutions via HDMI pass-through. Looking to pick one up? They're now available at Amazon.
Matsushita, the maker of Panasonic HDTV's, aims to ramp up flat-panel TV sales big time this year, aiming for a 40% increase in sales for the year ended March 2009. That equates to 11 million plasma's or LCD's sold, an increase in sales of 40% in the plasma sector and over half in LCD TV's. If the company hits its targets this year, it'll be a huge move, taking them from the 6th largest global HDTV market share globally, jacking them up all the way to number 3, just behind high-def kingpins Samsung and Sony.
How do they plan to achieve such an accomplishment? According to the company, by expanding production lines in Russia and China, and focusing on the US for big sales increases. And with their hot new Viera line-up, big sales this year wouldn't surprise us at all. Something we're wondering though (any accountants can feel free to jump in and explain this one to us)--is it possible for Matsushita to cook the books a little bit, and include Matsushita panels used in Pioneer plasma's to jack up their sales numbers?
Can't get enough of reality TV? Are half of your Facebook friends unknown to you? Have some unsavory pics of your drunken exploits in your Facebook photo album? If you answered yes to all three questions, you'll be happy to know you're a promiscuous social networker spurred on by your reality TV addiction.
That's right. Joint research from the University of Hawaii and the University of Buffalo has concluded that reality TV fans are more likely to accept unknown people as friends on Facebook and post pictures of themselves than their Survivor-hating cohorts are. According to researchers, we'e always on the lookout for new ways to behave and when we see folks on shows like American Idol rewarded for being the center of attention, we strive to emulate that behavior.
Being your real friends here at TVSnob, we just want to remind you that having hundreds of unknown "friends" on Facebook will not make you the next American Idol, and the 5000 friend Facebook limit has already been reached, so even that won't make you famous. "Promiscuous" is a label you don't want attached to your name.
Sharp's first quarter numbers are in for the 2007 fiscal year and not surprisingly the company posted a 1.5% operating loss despite a 9.3% increase in sales. Much of the sales growth was driven by LCD TV's growing popularity, with the company posting a sales increase of 15.7% in its audio/video sector. Sales of LCD panels were also strong for Sharp, especially in larger screen sizes, increasing 8.7%. In the past year Sharp has established new LCD manufacturing plants in Poland and Mexico, a third production line at one Japanese plant, and construction has begun on another Japanese plant. Sharp is expecting 2008 to be a tough year due to global economic stress, but plans to increase its focus on its LCD TV business. Interestingly, no mention was made of the company's recent investment in Pioneer, which played a role in Pioneer's decision to restructure its Kuro manufacturing process.
While blacks and brightness levels are improving exponentially every year with new LCD and plasma TV releases, cathode ray tube TV's are still the industry standard for both. But a couple of companies are working on technologies at the moment to solve the problem-Dolby and THX. Dolby, better known for its sound expertise, has bought a company called BrightSide Technologies with the intent on improving just one aspect of the HDTV experience-black levels. Through the acquisition, Dolby has developed Dolby Contrast, an LED backlighting system that allows LED lights located in dark parts of the picture to be switched off, enhancing contrast ratio. The company hopes that manufacturers will license the product and, if they do, we could start seeing Dolby Contrast used in new TV releases in the next year.
THX, also known for their sound technology, has a couple of projects on the go. THX Media Director simplifies HDTV calibration, automating it so that the TV's owner doesn't have to fiddle around with a boatload of different settings in order to tweak the picture. The company is also working on a licensing program that would lend their name to sets they've reviewed and deemed to be satisfactory under their standards. The program, the company believes, would not only help ensure consumers they're buying the right HDTV, but also lend a little extra credibility to the THX brand.
While some second-tier companies such as LG Display are considering the technologies, top-tier manufacturers will be tough to crack for the two companies as most are working on their own proprietary technologies addressing the same problems. "It may be more useful for companies that don't have the kind of expertise we have", said Matt Chang, product manager from Sony.
Toshiba's Q1 numbers for 2008 are in, and not only did they face big losses from eliminating the HD disc format, they've taken big losses again. A 95% year-over-year profit loss is sure to send shareholders running for the hills and that's exactly what happened when Toshiba announced profits of only 1.25 billion yen ($12 million) at the end of Q1, as compared to 26.17 billion yen last year. Shares in Toshiba were down 2% at market close yesterday, and much thanks to HD DVD, quarterly revenue dropped 3%, net profit dropped 7% and the company suffered a 60.2 billion yen ($580 million US) operating loss. The only consolation to Toshiba is a forecasted 2% increase in net profits by this time next year. I gotta say, Toshiba really looks to be playing it safe with such a conservative number.
Japanese electronics maker JVC has finally realized that its traditional rear-projection and tube TV business is dead, but it took a $455 million loss in the past year for the realization to set in. The company says the majority of its losses resulted from nixing unprofitable businesses, but restructuring of its HDTV business is necessary. In fact, JVC is moving a factory in Scotland to Poland, and actually moving its Japanese manufacturing into Thailand, both moves an effort to reduce manufacturing costs. The company will also focus on larger LCD TV's, 42-inches and above in Japan for sure, but no decision on its US focus yet. Big screen LCD TV's tend be fairly lucrative for manufacturers thanks to generous profit margins, and definitely an improvement from the margins of RPTV's and the now seemingly ancient tube TV.
Companies have been busy announcing their Q1 earnings, and in some cases losses, this week, and Samsung was definitely on the earnings side of things. Samsung's profits were up 37% in the first quarter of 2008 with profits of $2.2 billion on sales of $17.2 billion. Much of Samsung's growth was generated from LCD TV sales, especially those 46-inches and above. The company's LCD business generated 53% year-over-year growth itself, with the majority of other profit growth thanks to mobile phone sales.
Samsung and Sony are using their collective strength to quickly launch another 8G LCD panel production line in addition to the one already at volume production, but LG Display isn't too far behind with plans to begin moving equipment into their Korean plant mid-2008. According to the company they'll be at volume production by March 2009, when Taiwanese rivals AU Optronics and Chi Mei Optoelectronics are just beginning to start production in their new 8G plants.
8G lines are traditionally used to manufacture larger LCD displays, those 50-inches and above, but greater flexibility means that LG Display will focus on 32-, 47-, 52-, and 57-inch LCD TV panels. Maybe a little behind top-tier names like Samsung and Sony, LG Display will most likely have their first panels shipped well ahead of its Taiwan-based rivals, a full 2-3 quarters. Hopefully they'll use the time cushion usefully, and by that we mean ramping up production for those 32-inch OLED TV's we can't wait to see!
When we heard that LG Display had plans to start producing 32-inch OLED TV's come 2011, we were excited, yet a little bit skeptical. With Sony still trying to work out the kinks to reach volume production for the 11-inch XEL-1, it's tough to believe LG Display will be churning out OLED TV's 3 times the size in just two and a half years. Maybe Sony or Samsung, maybe even Panasonic, but LG Display? They're still miles behind in LCD panel manufacturing! But than again, focusing on OLED panels would be a smart strategic move for a company like LG. They'll never be number one in LCD or plasma, so why not skip ahead to the next generation of television and do some damage there.
Sony and Samsung have agreed that the popularity of LCD TV's worldwide is justification for investing nearly $2 billion into another 8G LCD line at the South Korean Tangjeong Complex, part of their joint venture established back in 2004, dubbed S-LCD Corporation. The new line, called "8-2" will be added to current 8G and 7G lines, and production should be ramped up about this time next year, with a goal of 60, 000 220cm x 250cm panels per month. 51% of the panels will head to Samsung and the remainder to Sony. With this announcement it seems Sony is getting its LCD panels everywhere but from its own factories, as they also have a 34% interest in another joint LCD manufacturing plant with Sharp. If manufacturers keep teaming up like this, pretty soon we'll be dealing with whacked-out hybrids put together from pieces from every manufacturer other than the one on the TV's label. Ugggh!
103.7 million large LCD panels were shipped in the first quarter of 2008, according to research firm WitsView. That's a decrease of 1.5% from 2007 fourth quarter shipments, not bad given the typical weak sales of the post-holiday season. Year-over-year though, the first quarter of the year saw a 41.5% increase in large panel shipments, moving 30 million more than this time last year.
If it weren't for poor LCD TV sales in the first quarter, down 9.9% to 23.5 million units from the holiday season, we may have seen overall growth in the first quarter of the year. Amazingly, laptops and monitors sporting LCD displays actually grew from the 2007 holiday season sales numbers.
Low demand means high supply, and high supply means prices begin to drop. Manufacturers saw a decrease in the price per LCD panel of $188 since Christmas, probably a tough pill to swallow for top manufacturers desperately trying to cut LCD TV prices in preparation for the Beijing Olympics.
LG Display is taking action towards doing its part to reduce energy consumption in light of our current global environmental concerns. In the second half of 2008, all LCD TV's with in-plane switching (IPS) will use optimized power control, reducing energy consumption 20-30% from that used by vertical alignment panels. The good news is that it doesn't cost much more for LG Display to produce OPC-IPS panels meaning you won't pay any more for an LG Display LCD TV on your end.
IPS technology was developed by LG Display and Hitachi in a joint effort. The new OPC addition will allow part of the display's backlighting to be switched off during darker screen images, eliminating the unnecessary energy used to power the unused backlights.
Other interesting news from LG Display is its revelation that its 7.5G plant in Korea has reached it volume production goals, leading to economies of scale in 42- and 47-inch LCD panels. Hopefully that'll translate to lower LCD TV prices in the respective panel sizes from LG Display in the near future.
A National Telecommunications and Information Administration request for the Senate Commerce Committee to free up funds to help low-power TV stations make the switch to digital sooner. With the digital TV transition less than a year away, concerns have been raised about low power and translator stations being completely nixed from television, as analog converter boxes are not allowed to have analog tuners and aren't required to pass through analog signals, though some do.
The Senate Commerce Committee has given low-power TV stations a $65 million boost to help them make the transition to digital, much earlier than the October 2010 date they were originally to get the money. The bill was a sigh of relief to states such as Alaska and those along the Mexican border who often rely completely on low-power stations for their broadcast needs.
Projectiondesign debuted 3 new DLP projectors at the High End home cinema event in Munich. Dubbed the Avielo series, the 1080p Avielo Spectra, 1080p Avielo Optix and 720p Avielo Prisma, are the first of 5 Avielo DLP projectors to launch in 2008. The two higher-end projectors use Signature-series lenses and the Optix, which comes with 6 different lens options, uses projectiondesign's proprietary dual lamp system. The Spectra is suitable for screen sizes up to 120 inches, while the Optix is suitable for screen sizes up to 180 inches.
Samsung slipped word out that it's Series 6 and Series 7 LCD TV's with a Touch of Color are now available for purchase. Well, the Series 6 models anyway, the Series 7's are slated to hit shelves next month. I'm pretty sure they've been available over at Amazon for almost a couple of weeks now though and at least one Series 7 model is available a month ahead of its supposed official release date.
First showcased back at CES in January, both the Samsung Series 6 and Series 7 LCD's are downright impressive, boasting all the best features and technologies available including 1080p resolution, Auto Motion Plus 120Hz and Ultra Clear Panel technologies, up to 50000:1 dynamic contrast ratio, and compliance with the EPA's EnergyStar rating system. Of course all of the sets have Samsung's Touch of Color, which we've learned actually uses dual-injection technology to embed color into the bezel, not paint or dye like we previously thought.
Other amazing features include on-demand InfoLink RSS which allows you to access weather, news, stock prices and other useful information from USA Today at the touch of a button, WiseLink for managing multimedia files such as pictures and MP3's via the LCD TV's USB 2.0 interface. Models and MSRP's are below:
Samsung Series 6 LCD TV's
Back in March, the European Commission formally defined and added the Digital Video Broadcasting-Handheld (DVB-H) mobile TV standard to their official list of telecommunication standards. Now Dish Network and Alcatel-Lucent are teaming up to test the next-generation DVB-SH satellite standard in the US, taking place at Dish Network's lab in Atlanta between May and August, to test the cost-efficiency and performance of the new mobile standard.
The most powerful mobile broadcast standard in the world today, DVB-SH is built on the DVB-H mobile TV standard, but has evolved globally seemingly leaving North America behind. Dish Network feels that the testing is the first step in the company staying on the cutting edge of consumer TV technology, and Alcatel-Lucent have pledged a commitment to the success of the DVB-SH standard in the US.
New numbers from Frank N. Magid Associates showed growth in HDTV adoption, as 25% of households now have an at least one HDTV up from 20% in September 2007. That's an impressive growth rate for such a short period and pushed by 5.5 million first-time HDTV purchases during the 2007 holiday season and 2008 Super Bowl run-up.
Of the 28 million US households that now have an HDTV, 3 million purchased a second HDTV during the same period bringing multiple HDTV households to 10 million. Don't think for a second that HDTV adoption is driven by solely HD television programming and video though. 18% of new HDTV buyers in the last year bought their high-def set specifically to take advantage of the HD graphics used in Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 games. And expect further growth in the next year to be driven by current owners of HDTV's of whom 40% will buy another.
So you've decided to stick with your plain old analog set with rabbit ears and spring for a converter box, paid for in part by your $40 converter box coupon. Now you're feeling all set for the February 17, 2009 digital TV transition. But all of a sudden those rabbit ears, so successful at pulling in premium analog reception aren't working so well anymore, despite the digital converter box. Why? Because digital signals behave differently than analog signals. Digital signals are prone to physical interference such as big hills, skyscrapers, and miles of bush.
What's the solution? Most likely you'll have to purchase a new antennae. How do you know which antennae you should buy? Head over to antennaweb.org where you can type in some details about your location and will be recommended an ideal model. You may be lucky and be able to purchase something usable indoors, on your set-top, or may be faced with the task of installing a giant set of rabbit ears, motorized and all on your roof.
Still having problems? You may need to buy a digital signal amplifier to strengthen up any flailing digital signals. Sorry, there's no $40 coupon for either new rabbit ears or a signal amplifier.
The Samsung BD-P1500 Blu-ray player, announced back at CES in January, is facing a delayed launch thanks to some BD Live implementation issues. Originally slated for a May release, the BD-P1500 now won't hit shelves until June, but with full BD Live interactive capabilities.
Tentatively priced at $399 in January, the price is now listed as TBD, making us wonder if the 4th-generation Blu-ray player might break the $400 mark. With features such as 1080p playback, standard DVD upscaling, support for Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus and Dolby TruHD and a future update to DTS-HD, we wouldn't doubt a price increase. Plenty of connections are also incorporated including HDMI 1.3, component and S-video inputs as well as a couple of audio outputs and a USB port for firmware updates.
The Matsushita-Pioneer plasma partnership rumor we told you about earlier this morning is apparently true. The two companies have announced a basic agreement, though a formal cementing of their relationship will indeed not happen until next month. The two companies did release a few tidbits though.
They'll be combining their R&D efforts to reduce the cost of manufacturing larger size plasma panels, so it won't be as simple as Pioneer simply buying panels from Matsushita. In fact, the panels produced will utilize Pioneer's Kuro technology and Panasonic's Neo PDP energy efficiency drive and be sold as both Kuro and Viera panels.
Don't expect the first Matsushita-made Pioneer Kuro's right away though. The first releases will hit shelves come fall of 2009.
Osakabe Akihiko, president of the plasma display wing in Panasonic's Shanghai branch, says the company plans to dominate the plasma TV market this year reaching for a 60% market share. The company is apparently quite comfortable with their prospects, investing 300 billion yen in a new LCD panel plant for IPS Alpha Technology, giving Matsushita a 50% share in the company and a goal of a 10% LCD market share by the end of the year. Perhaps the best news from Matsushita is their plans to begin OLED TV production sometime in the near future.
On Tuesday, Forbe's reported that Pioneer and Matsushita have yet to agree on the details of Pioneer's planned outsourcing of its plasma panel production. Back in March, Pioneer decided to quit producing plasma panels in-house sparking fears that the legendary Kuro series of high-end Pioneer plasma was done, but Pioneer later stated that they were only reorganizing their supply chain to reduce manufacturing costs. Basically, Pioneer plans to continue manufacturing the majority of the Kuro hardware in-house, but outsourcing plasma panel production so the company can begin mass producing LCD panels.
A Japanese newspaper published an unconfirmed report earlier this week that Pioneer plans to transfer 200 of their plasma engineers to Matsushita, and that a press conference would be called today or tomorrow announcing details of the agreement the companies reached. The company declined to comment, but did say they had no plans for a press conference this week and not to expect an announcement until at least mid-May.
Now, we have an unconfirmed rumor from a Japanese source that the two companies have reached a basic agreement that'll determine how Pioneer plans to incorporate Matsushita into their plasma panel supply chain. The details of the basic agreement we're not sure of at this point and we're still waiting on confirmation that the rumor is true, but we'll let you know what we find out later on.
If you've already ordered your TV converter box coupon or if you're planning to, be aware of the 90 day expiration date on the coupon. You're given 90 days past the date of issue to use the coupon after which it's no longer valid, and if you don't use it, don't expect to get another one.
Lobbyists are calling for an extension on the 90 day expiration date because many of the converter boxes approved by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration still aren't on store shelves. Especially those with analog passthrough, of which only 10 are currently available. Remember from the other day we told you analog passthrough is required for low-power and translation stations that won't switch to digital come February 17, 2009, preparing for an eventual switch at a later date.
Unfortunately for those of us who need to use our converter box coupons now, when our converter box of choice still isn't available, a extension on the 90 day deadline most likely won't happen. So make sure before you order your converter box coupon that the box you want is available and consider reading our digital TV transition tutorial to review all of your options.
The new Iomega ScreenPlay HD Multimedia Drive is a 500 GB portable external hard drive that delivers high-definition content from your PC straight to your HDTV. Capable of storing 2 million photos, 9,250 hours of music, or 750 hours of video (MPEG-2), the Iomega ScreenPlay is a perfect example of how companies are leveraging the popularity of LCD and plasma TV's to bring peripheral devices to the forefront.
About the size of a typical paperback book, the ScreenPlay has a 3.5-inch, 7200 RPM NTFS file-formatted hard drive, and is easily connected to most newer model TV's through HDMI, composite, component, or SCART (RGB) connections. The drive gives you the ability to choose video settings from a standard-def 480i to an upscaled 720p/1080i, and supports a variety of codecs including MP3, AC3 (Dolby(R) Digital Encoding), WAV, WMA, MPEG-1, MPEG-2 (AVI/VOB), MPEG-4 (AVI/DiVX 3.11, 4.x, 5.x/XViD) and JPEG. All Windows PC transfers use the USB 2.0 interface and a remote control is included.
Priced at $209.95, the Iomega ScreenPlay is now available in North America and will see an international release in May, priced at 180 Euros.
Panasonic's three new wireless projectors including the "industry's first widescreen" compatible model, according to Panasonic Japan, will be released this coming May and July. The PT-LW80NT, PT-LB80NT, and the PT-LB75NT are suitable for permanent installation in your home theater or for portable business uses. The PT-LB80NT and PT-LB75NT models both feature active matrix drive, 4:3 aspect ratio LCD lenses, manual zoom and focus, full color reproduction (1.677 billion colors) and respective brightness ratings of 3200 and 2600 lumens. The two wireless projectors also have 500:1 contrast ratios, 1024x768 pixel resolution, accept PAL, NTSC, and SECAM video input signals, and have a variety of inputs including an RGB computer input and S-video input. Both units should ship May 26, 2008.
The Panasonic PT-LW80NT wireless projector, touted as the "industry's first widescreen" projector should ship a couple months later, July 7. More after the jump...
Sony's newly announced European lineup of hard disk drive DVD recorders, marketed as the perfect companion to your Bravia, features 8 new models ranging from the RDR-HX680 with 160 GB of drive space to the RDR-HXD1090 with 500 GB of space. The two flagship models RDR-HXD1090 and the RDR-HX1080 both feature 500 GB of HDD space, enough to record 1420 hours of video, feature both analog and digital tuners, and all models feature a HDD camcorder connection that'll connect to any standard-def Sony Handycam for direct dubbing to your DVD recorder.
X-Pict Story allows you to create personal slideshows with the option to add background music, viewable directly on your TV or burned to a DVD. Time-shifted television shows and other recorded video content is recorded using a high-bit rate HQ+ record mode that reduces image noise and improves the reproduction of moving images.
Owner's of Bravia TV's will be familiar with Bravia Sync which allows you to coordinate your entire home theater, controlled by a single remote control button push. When connected to your Bravia via an HDMI connection, all of the new DVD recorders are compatible with this feature. Check out the full press release from Sony after the jump...
If you're looking for a low-cost high-definition solution for your kitchen, bedroom, garage, or bathroom, Westinghouse may have your solution in the form of its new Westinghouse Flip TV. The 16-inch PT-16H610S LCD can flip and fold into any nook and cranny making it the ideal set for the out-of-living-room television. With a super-thin screen, the Flip TV will cost only $349 when it comes out in the next couple of weeks, and for that low price comes features like a 1080p HDMI input, 180-degree rotating front bezel, photo viewer, and tons of mounting options.
Epson will be shipping 5 new commercial projectors in the coming months, all using 3LCD technology. The Epson PowerLite 6110i features XGA resolution and 3500 lumens of brightness, while the PowerLite 1825 features XGA resolution, 3500 lumens of brightness but has added wireless capability and supports Windows Vista. The new Epson PowerLite Pro series features 3 new models-the G5150NL, G5350NL and G5200WNL. Built on the success of the popular PowerLite series, the PowerLite Pro's have the "superior performance, features and support that is expected by professionals in the installation and vertical markets". The PowerLite Pro G5150NL and G5350NL project 4000 and 5000 lumens of brightness respectively, both support Windows Vista and feature XGA resolution, while the PowerLite Pro G5200WNL boast 4200 lumens of brightness and 1280x800 WXGA widescreen resolution. All of the Pro models accept content via wireless networks.
The PowerLite 6110i and 1825 are already available, priced at $2899 and $2299 respectively. The PowerLite Pro series will be available in early June, closer to which prices will be announced.
It was only a couple months back that Samsung announced that they were ramping up investment in OLED manufacturing, tweaking the production of 20-inch panels on a test line partly to determine the viability of producing larger panels to be used in OLED TV's. Within a couple of weeks the company announced they would begin mass production of a 14-inch panel next year, most likely meaning Samsung will be debuting an OLED laptop in the near future (CES 2009?), and larger 40-42 inch panels by 2010.
The major issue with the production of larger panels has been economies of scale. Production costs so far have limited the amount of OLED panels manufacturers can produce and by not having the advantage of a large supply, profit margins have been slim. For you and me this means a hold on the big screen OLED TV we've been waiting for so patiently. However, Samsung has just announced that they will in fact reach economies of scale next year, promising larger size applications in 2009. Could this mean we'll see Samsung OLED TV's on the shelves by sometime next year?
The company currently can pump out 1.5 million panels annually, only half of the 3 million needed to reach economies of scale, says Samsung. But next year the 3 million will be reached and are expected to double to 6 million in 2010. Once production costs become more manageable, we'll start seeing OLED TV's become mainstream. Is it just me or does the OLED TV timeline seem to be getting shorter? They don't seem 5 years away anymore, do they?
LG Electronics new Xcanvas BoBos line headed for Korea looks pretty impressive. The 1080p plasma line will feature 3 displays: the 42-inch 42PG61RD, the 50-inch 50PG61RD, and the 60-inch 60PG70FHD. Supporting LG's proprietary Smart Time Function, the Xcanvas BoBos feature frameless panels and an invisible speaker system. No word on pricing yet, but don't worry about it anyway, like LG's Xcanvas Scarlett series, we won't see the BoBos in the US anytime soon.
The options for movie downloads seem to be growing everyday, making it tough to keep track of who's out there, who has the best prices, and who has the best selection. Over at HDTV Magazine, Shane Sturgeon has done your homework for you, rating five of the top movie download services offering titles via the internet. Using a 46-inch Samsung 1080p LCD TV connected via HDMI through a Gefen 8x1 switch, and an AT&T 4Mbps DSL connection, Sturgeon painstakingly tested the Apple TV, Vudu, Amazon Unbox, Xbox 360 and Dish Network services and came up with some interesting results. Of the five services Vudu came up on top with the only "A" grade, followed by the improved Apple TV with a "B+". DishONLINE struggled with lack of content, especially in the HD arena and sloth-like download times, but being so new it'll probably improve over the next year or so.
Wow, Best Buy will actually come to your home and "professionally install" your Xbox games. Of course, just by using the words "professionally install", the big box retailer is making sure you're paying a premium for someone to head to your home, insert an Xbox game into the appropriate console and turn it on. Hopefully the pro installers will clean your house and make you dinner while they're there. Yes we know, probably misplaced labeling, especially with Best Buy's history, but we think its pretty funny.
A war between LCD TV manufacturers, expected to heat up this quarter could mean you'll have to pay less for an LCD TV in the range of 32-46 inches. And we're not taking talking about cheapie models either, we're talking about first-tier brands such as Sony here. In fact, Sony has even placed a new 32-inch LCD model on Wal-mart's shelves, better known for its cheaper, second tier models, in a bid for market share. Currently a 32-inch Sony model sells for about US$767 at Wal-mart, but expect to pay as low as $699 over the next few months as an increasingly crowded flat panel market sees top brands scrambling to gain market share. Apparently the magic number all manufacturers are looking for is a 20% market share, roughly the share Sony had in the CRT market with its explosively popular Trinitron lineup. Expect price drops on 40-, 42-, and 46-inch LCD TV's as well over the next couple of months. Now might be the time for a new TV!
LG Display is hopping on the ultra-thin display trend happening in the HDTV market right now, beginning mass production of 42-inch LCD panels that are only 19.8mm thin. Byung-Chul Ahn, the head of LG Display's technological advancement unit, says slimmer design is just one prong of a three-prong strategy the company intends to take. The other two prongs are building faster panels and sets with more value-added features. In fact LG Display plans to roll out LCD panels with a lightning quick 4 ms moving picture response time in 2009 and expects high-demand in the 19-22 inch panel market as more people begin to use their computer monitor for television viewing. In fact 30% of LG Display's LCD panel shipments this year will be headed for computer monitor installation.
Prices are looking pretty stable, but this year's newer models are gaining popularity among internet buyers and some smaller 720p models are seeing some small price drops. I headed over to Best Buy this weekend to take a look at the new Panasonic Viera lineup and was absolutely impressed by the picture clarity. I would definitely recommend a Viera for anyone looking at purchasing a plasma.
46-inch Samsung LN46A550P-1080p, 30000:1 dynamic contrast ratio, 5 ms response time, 3 HDMI-CEC, USB 2.0, picture-in-picture. $1499.98 at Amazon with free shipping.
40-inch Samsung LN40A550P-identical features to the LN46A550P aside from the smaller size. $1179.98 at Amazon with free shipping.
46-inch Samsung LN46A650A-1080p, 50000:1 dynamic contrast ratio, 120Hz Auto Motion Plus, red bezel, 4 HDMI-CEC ports, 4 ms response time, USB 2.0. $2144.98 at Amazon with free shipping.
Rarely is a major corporate announcement made on a Sunday afternoon, but that's exactly what five Hollywood studio heads did today, spewing out a real conversation starter in the process. Viacom through its Paramount Pictures and Paramount Vantage units will be teaming up with Lionsgate, MGM and United Artists in a joint venture that will launch a premium TV channel and VOD service in the fall of 2009.
The five studio co-op will have access to Paramount and Paramount Vantage titles released theatrically after January 1, 2008 and MGM, United Artists and Lionsgate titles released theatrically after January 1, 2009, according to the press release. Viacom will head operational support for the JV, with marketing help from its own MTV Networks. While definitely something to look forward to as premium content is a real pain in the ass to find when it comes to cable providers these days, perhaps most interesting is Viacom CEO's revelation that online movie distribution will play a big part in the JV's future plans. In fact in an interview with Philippe Dauman, CEO of Viacom, Rafat Ali from Paidcontent.org was apparently told, the JV's distribution strategy will have a definite online emphasis.
This will definitely be good for movie viewers, and its important to note that by premium, the JV is referring to the quality of the content. While we kinda doubt it, the new channel could be released as a basic cable addition. Unfortunately, some current cable channels will be hit hard, like Showtime, poised to lose programming from Paramount, MGM, and Lionsgate only to face a tough new competitor in the as-of-yet unnamed venture.
An unofficial rumor has it that Sony Europe's marketing chief Martin Micko wants to bring Sony's XEL-1 OLED TV to Europe and specifically Austria as soon as possible. Apparently coming from an Austrian newspaper this morning, which we haven't been able to find, the rumor says that Micko believes that contrary to popular belief, the XEL-1 would have a market in Europe and he expects OLED televisions will be the eventual successor to Sony's remarkably successful series of Bravia LCD TV's. We'll wait for an official announcement on this one before we say anymore.
Let's just clarify something right now. In the context of this article, we're talking about standard definition digital TV's rather than high-definition TV's. But hey, if you want to save money, there are always tradeoffs involved.
We've told you about your options when preparing for the DTV 2009 digital television switch come February 17, 2009 already, but for those who've already decided to purchase a new digital TV rather than go the converter box or cable/satellite service route, you don't have to spend an arm and leg on a brand new high-def television.
Most of what you read here at TVSnob is focused on new HDTV-related products, services, and the news you can use, but TiVo has forced us out of our comfort zone with both a new website design and Facebook application in the same week. TiVo, known for a nicely designed product, but ugly-as-all-hell website decided to step up giving their website an impressive makeover last week, dramatically improving not only its looks, but its usability, improved product descriptions and even some video tutorials. Interestingly, TiVo looks to have forgot to update its "Find TV Shows" page, which is still ugly-as-all-hell. Maybe this page will require some time-consuming database updates or something. Who knows, but I'm sure the company has been made aware of it by now, so doubt it's an engineering problem. Now that TiVo isn't so ugly, they've decided to venture into the world of social networks, debuting the My TV Facebook app which allows TiVo users to converse, share what they're currently watching and making it a little funner to find new stuff to look at. No actually TiVo box integration though-in fact you don't even need to own a TiVo to use it. Looks like the company needs a little work on the distribution end of things though, with only a few postings on the app's page so far, mainly about how it's slow, boring, lacking conversation, and even TV show titles.
The world's first commercially released pico projector-packing portable media player comes from an unlikely source, SunLink. Unveiled at the Hong Kong Electronics Fair this past week, the 3.5-inch TFT-LCD touchscreen Sunview PMPP has a built-in iView IPL630 LCOS pico projector module that uses LED illumination and DisplayTech's LCOS technology to project a 640x480 VGA image up to a diagonal 53-inches.
The tiny projector only weighs 40 grams and uses 2-3 Watts of power, and uses a 630P engine to produce 7 lumens of brightness. The innovative Sunview PMPP also features Microsoft Windows CE 5.0 core, Office Viewer, an SD card slot, speaker, remote control, and built-in rechargeable battery. It can display all kinds of media ranging from movies to business presentations, but unfortunately for those jumping at the chance to get their hands on this PMP, it's only available in Hong Kong at the moment. But hey, look around, maybe you can get a cheap flight.
Ever since Blu-ray put HD DVD in an early grave, sales of both Blu-ray discs and Blu-ray drive-equipped Playstation 3 game consoles have absolutely skyrocketed. PS3 console sales were up 100% in March with 257, 120 units sold and Blu-ray disc sales have shot to the moon, increasing 351% in the first quarter of 2008. In fact, the week ending March 23 was Blu-ray's second best week ever and 2008 sales are expected to be in the range of $800 million to $1 billion. That's two to three times the total 2007 sales number of $300 million.
It'll be interesting to see how Blu-ray's BD Live feature affects PS3 sales numbers as more of the interactive Blu-ray discs are released, especially with over 3.7 million Playstation Network accounts already in use in North America. While the format war's end may not have done a whole lot for standalone Blu-ray player sales, it could have inadvertently made 2008 a hot year for the previously struggling Playstation 3.
What is analog pass-through? While first a little background. As you probably know by now, come February 17, 2009 analog television signals will be switched off for good, meaning that if you want to watch TV, your TV will need to be able to process digital signals. For a good number of us with cable or satellite subscriptions, this won't affect us in the least. But for those who aren't subscribers and only receive over-the-air (OTA) signals (think rabbit ears), we'll need to either bite the cable bullet, buy a new digital TV, or a set-top box that'll process digital TV signals in a way that can be interpreted by your analog TV so you get a picture.
But will ALL analog signals really be shut off on February 17? Not exactly. Low-power TV stations, translator stations, and Class A stations will all be able to transmit analog signals past the February deadline. These types of stations are free, OTA signals that were created for rural residents, or those in tough geographical areas with poor reception. Right now there are 7000 of these types of stations and there is no set timeline for their eventual switch to digital. For television viewers who anticipate using these types of channels, their best bet if going the set-top box route is to purchase one with analog pass-through.
By now you've probably put two and two together and answered the initial question for yourself. A digital converter box with analog pass-through is just a converter box that allows the remaining analog signals through so they can be displayed on your TV screen.
If you're not sure whether or not you're being served analog signals from these types of stations, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration has a full list of them available online. If you're not keen on wading through a list of 7000 stations, there are a couple of little tricks you can use. Most low-power stations have call letters that end in -LP or have 5 characters starting with K or W followed by two numbers and two additional letters.
So how do you know if a converter box has analog pass-through? If you head over to the NTIA's list of approved converter boxes, those with analog pass-through will have an asterisk next to them, but we'll display them here to make it a little easier for you. Currently these are the approved analog pass-through boxes:
DIGITAL STREAM DTX9950
DIGITAL STREAM DSP7700T
DIGITAL STREAM DX8700
So there you have it. Analog pass-through sounds a little technical but it's really simple. A converter box that allows analog signals through unprocessed so you can watch them on your TV has analog pass-through. Stay tuned over the next little while for reviews of all of the converter boxes featuring analog pass-through. And one more thing-make sure you order your $40 converter box coupon from the NTIA before you head out to buy one!
HP is working hard to bring web TV content to your living room HDTV and "there's never been a more fun time to hang out in the living room with friends and family" with the company's announcement that HP MediaSmart TV owners can now use Microsoft's Media Center Extender to connect their Windows Vista PC right to their HDTV.
The new capability is accessible via a firmware update for MediaSmart models SL4278N
and SL4778N, both which have the Media Center Extender built into their internal hardware. And since the extender is built-in, your PC doesn't need to be hooked up directly to your TV, which instead takes content from Windows Media Center on your PC and brings it either through a wired or wireless home network directly to your television. All second-generation MediaSmart TV's will receive the extender functionality automatically and new MediaSmart models will be ready to go right out of the box.
Using Windows Media Center means you'll also be able to view or hear other types of media on your HDTV including pictures, video, and music. New content will now be accessible from Starz Media, Vongo, and MovieLink, and Fox Sports and the Windows Media Center Internet TV Beta will bring more than 100 hours of content from A&E, Bio, CNBC, DIY, Fine Living, Food Network, FOX Sports, Happy Tree Friends, HGTV, History Channel, iFilm, JibJab, MSNBC, National Geographic, NBC News and StupidVideos.
Does the Sony XEL-1 run on a modded Bravia Engine? That's the conclusion of one bunnie's blog, who got to see the XEL-1 OLED TV taken apart live at the Embedded Systems Conference in San Jose. The amount of hardware stuffed onto the 11-inch TV's circuit boards is incredible. Click the via link to take a look at more pictures of the high-end guts of the XEL-1.
Via bunnie's blog
ViewSonic's PJ513DB DLP projector caters to budget-conscious business and educational consumers with a rock-bottom $499 MSRP. "Designed to be a competitively priced, stylish projector that meets the diverse requirements of users today and tomorrow", according to GM ViewSonic Canada Colleen Browne, the PJ513DB is a lightweight 5.7 lbs, and features 800x600 resolution, 2200 lumens of brightness, and 2000:1 contrast ratio. The projector also has a number of image settings including brightest, photo, presentation and cinema mode and includes OnView controls for adjusting color intensity. Support for 720p and 1080i signals is included and an image reversing function allows for flexible installation. Environmentally conscious users will be happy to know the PJ513DB also features an ECO mode that decreases the noise level of the fan and increases the lamp life.
If you thought Sony's 1mm thin XEL-1 OLED TV was ultra-thin, feast your eyes on these two new OLED's from Sony, measuring in at 0.3mm and 0.2mm. Not alot is known about the displays at the moment, but the 0.3mm display at 1/10th the thickness of the XEL-1 fits 960x540 pixels onto the screen and we're looking at 2-3 years of wait time before we could expect this to be released in television format. The 0.2mm thin display which is the thinnest display in the world isn't made for television at 3.5-inches thick. More likely you'd see this OLED used in something like a GPS unit or portable media player. Other than the width and resolution of 320x220 pixels, not much is known about this display either, but we'll keep you updated as we find out more.
An unlikely partnership between fashion house Armani and Samsung has resulted in a couple of new LCD TV's, part of a "range of prestige portable and home consumer electronics products matching Giorgio Armani's iconic design aesthetic with Samsung's cutting-edge technology and leadership in consumer electronics". The partnership so far has produced a mobile phone released last year.
The two new LCD's, which debuted at Milan's world-renowned International Furniture Fair will come in 46- and 52-inch sizes, and though details are sparse at the moment, we do know they have glass fronts, 100Hz Full HD, and HDMI compatibility. Of course that doesn't tell us a whole lot as it describes most LCD's!
We can expect some style from the new releases though, and the Armani/Samsung doesn't fail, at least with the remotes anyway. The sets actually come with two uniquely designed remote controls, a main remote with "radiant" backlighting and a smaller "pebble-shaped" remote that controls the sets basic functions. There is also a 4-mode power switch that allows you to customize both the Armani and Samsung logos on the front of the set. Why it is that "premium" models that differentiate themselves with unique design always have the most useless features?
Anyway, look for the 46-inch Armani/Samsung LCD TV to be released mid-summer to Europe, Russia, and Korea, followed by the 52-inch display come late summer.
Expect an announcement from Universal Studios later today that they'll officially be entering the Blu-ray market July 22. At one time HD DVD's most loyal backer, Universal will ironically kick off its Blu-ray campaign with another flop, Doomsday. They'll also be releasing its Mummy movie trio at the same time-The Mummy, The Mummy Returns, and spinoff The Scorpion King starring wrestler The Rock.
Other titles included in the total of 40 Universal plans to have on shelves come year end include The Incredible Hulk, Wanted, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, and musical adaptation Mamma Mia.
All Blu-ray releases will be coupled with the identical DVD release.
Sharp's 46-inch LC-46D64U LCD TV, with a sexy black, slim design, is a rare HDTV that seems compatible with every type of home theater accessory. With 3 HDMI 1.3 inputs, the LC-46D64U can support pretty much any home theater add-on you can think of including the Apple TV, Xbox 360 and its own Sharp BD-HP20U Blu-ray player, all of which its been tested with, passing with flying colors. Also tested with an antenna and cable feed, the LC-46D64U features bright, popping colors and impressive contrast, and even ranks easy-for-the-HDTV-novice on the usability scale.
Of course every set has its negatives when reviewed, but this Sharp TV's problems are relatively minor. Aside from a bit of a grainy pictures during a few shows and movies, an oversized remote, awkwardly positioned analog inputs, and some channel-change lag when using the built-in digital tuners, the LC-46D64U looks to be a good buy.
Look interesting? Amazon is selling the 46-inch Sharp LCD TV for just over $1700, $500 less than you'd pay from Sharp's own website.
Rumor has it that JVC is set to pull out of the Japanese LCD TV market to instead focus on the North America and Europe where the brand has seen greater success. Expected to be officially announced April 25 at its earnings call for the 2007 fiscal year, JVC has apparently made the decision after spending the last few years trounced by domestic competitors such as Panasonic and Samsung. The company, of which Panasonic-parent company Matsushita owns 36.8% is currently the 5th largest LCD TV manufacturer in Japan, but only holds a domestic market share of 3.1%, succumbing to the greater manufacturing powers of bigger brands.
Although JVC plans to continue serving the LCD TV needs of corporate and public sector clients in its home country, its decision to pull out of the consumer market definitely made investors happy yesterday as JVC share shot up nearly 12% following the announcement. The company, which supposedly lost $470.2 million last year, hopes to up their LCD TV sales to 1.1 million units in 2008, with 65% of that total contributed by overseas sales.
Anyone who's ever bought an HDTV knows that once you bring it home, the picture tends to look a little different in your living room than it did on the store's shelves. That's because manufacturer's adjust the blue, green and red color settings, emphasizing the blue, in order to produce a super bright, pop-out-at-you image calibrated for shelf display. Your living room environment is different though, typically a lot brighter, making a super-bright image less than optimal for high-def TV viewing.
It can be fixed though. Big-box retailers such as Best Buy offer home calibration services, but charge you $300 arm-and-leg. Yeah, they do a great job and will have your picture about as optimized as it can get for the environment it's in and the expectations you have, but there are cheaper, do-it-yourself ways that do a comparable job.
Low tech and relatively low cost solutions include buying ultrasuede curtains to keep out some of the outdoor light, painting the walls a dark color, or even something as simple as putting the TV 3 times its diagonal screen measurement away from you and at eye level.
Higher tech and more effective solutions include using the THX Optimizer feature found on many DVD titles, which allow you to calibrate your set specifically for the movie you're watching with the help of a pair of blue-lensed Optimizer glasses. Calibration DVD's such as Monster's HDTV Calibration Wizard ($30), Digital Video Essentials' High Definition ($35), and the Avia II are also extremely effective and easy on the pocketbook.
If you're willing to spend a little more money, Datacolor's SpyderTV, priced at $173, uses suction cups attached to your HDTV screen and attached to your computer by USB cable to transmit information that tells you how to adjust your color, tint, and contrast levels. In the end, just know that your screen needs to be calibrated once it's set up in your home, and you don't have to spend a ton of cash, or have a ton of technical knowledge to do it.
After losing 8 million viewers last year during one CSI premiere, Anthony Zuiker knew the internet would kill the hit series if he didn't act fast. One of the smarter TV execs, Zuiker decided to start engaging viewers on other platforms aside from the living room TV set, coming up with a model called Cross Blending Storytelling. Zuiker discussed the new viewer engagement model at the National Association of Broadcasters conference in Las Vegas yesterday, part of his ultimate plan, he says, to bring eyeballs back to the TV. And preferably CSI.
Zuiker's new Cross Blending Storytelling approach involves moving the shows storyline across media boundaries from the "television to the Web to mobile to gaming and back to television", avoiding what he says will be the inevitable dominance of the laptop for TV viewing. Not only does Zuiker figure his method will bring viewers back to the tube, but the ability to monetize all four platforms will make up for any TV dollars lost. Somehow we don't think the monetization potential of the web and mobile is strong enough to make up for lost television dollars, but a proper use of the gaming medium definitely could.
Whether or not Zuiker can manage to turn the tides of evolution in the television world remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure-even he acknowledges the"days of just watching a show from 9-10 (p.m.) are over...it's all going to change."
While FCC head Kevin Martin's focus should probably be on the digital TV transition and the consumer education problems that's come along with it, big name cable programmers such as ESPN and MTV Networks are calling him out for focusing on something else altogether.
A misplaced comment by Martin proposing a la carte cable packages for channels that are more expensive to subscribers currently, but integrated into typical cable subscriptions has put him under fire. Not only is his focus a far cry from DTV2009, but the a la carte proposal would take the most popular cable channels, and separate them expanded basic cable putting them into their own pay packages, costing us more and penalizing popular networks with price controls.
Inevitably, the passing of such a proposal would force cable programmers to cut back on their currently diverse programming lineups meaning you, the consumer, would end up paying more for less.
Of course, if you currently receive over-the-air analog signals right now, this might not affect you because not only are you not a cable subscriber, but your set is to go dead come February 17, 2009. Then again, unless you're reading this right now, you may not know this because Kevin Martin forgot to tell you.
If you'd like to send Martin a line, letting him know you want him to smarten the &^%* up, you can send him an email here.
Would you pay $9 for an HD video-on-demand movie rental released in the same timeframe as the standard-def DVD of the same title? Personally I wouldn't do it, I have a hard enough time spending 4 or 5 bucks on a pay-per-view title that 90% of the time sucks too bad to justify wasting 2 hours of my time watching it. Apparently though, a lot of people out there would opt for the former and dish out $9 for HD VOD.
This coming from a survey of 2000 US consumers conducted by Oliver Wyman, an international strategy consulting firm, that did indeed reveal that people were willing to pay $7-$9 for an HD VOD or HD movie download released in DVD window. This is great news for Hollywood studios as Oliver Wyman figures that HD VOD combined in combination with other offerings from cable companies would encourage viewers to watch an additional 3 movies per year, generating $5-$10 billion in additional VOD spending by 2010. HD movie rentals on demand would also decrease DVD cannibalization by a full 40%.
Releasing VOD titles simultaneously with the like-titled DVD release has some interesting effects, as tests last year by Warner Bros. showed an increase in VOD purchases by 50% when DVD titles were released at the same time. The DVD's also showed a 10% increase in purchases. Why this is I'm not sure. Maybe the double advertising exposure. Or maybe a lot of us prefer to check out titles via rental before purchasing. Whatever it is, this simultaneous release window will also grow the internet movie download market to $2.5 billion by next year.
Ultimately Oliver Wyman concludes paying $9 for an HD VOD rental is in the best interests of the consumer, but I think I'd rather have $5 billion in the bank than an HD movie on my widescreen for a couple hours. But to each his own.
Sony's Bravia XBR Series was one of 2007's hottest LCD TV lineups and we've been waiting ever so patiently for the announcement of new models advancing beyond the XBR5. Thanks to some impressive digging by the folks over at Boy Genius Report, we're both happy to know and happy to tell you that not only is an XBR6 series on its way, but also an XBR7 and XBR8 series as well. All in 2008.
Judging from the spec sheets dug up by BGR, the XBR6 and XBR7 are radical departures from the XBR5, but they do have a few upgrades including DLNA compliance, TV Guide IPG, an enhanced XMB interface, and BRAVIA Sync capability. The XBR8 series on the other hand is the highest of high-end, utilizing a TRILUMINOS RGB LED backlight, the powerful new Bravia Engine 2 PRO, Advanced Contrast Enhancer PRO, as well as all of the features of the XBR6 and XBR7 series'.
The 3 new Bravia LCD Series' total 13 new models ranging from 32- to 70-inches. We'll see the first model released next month, the 32-inch 32XBR6, while the rest of the LCD TV's will see release dates ranging from June to October. Click the "Via" link to head over to Boy Genius Report and take a look at the full release schedule and spec sheets. You'll be impressed.
Japan's Kaga Electronics will be launching 4 new Taxan Series 2 DLP projectors come mid-May. The PS200 Series features 2 models, the KG-PS232Xh (319,800 yen) and KG-PS232X (259,800 yen), both with 1024x768 pixel resolution, Texas Instrument's BrilliantColor technology, a 230W lamp output, and a manual zoom/autofocus lens. The PS232Xh pumps out 3000 lumens of brightness, while the PS232X settles for a slightly less 2500 lumens.
The lower-end models making up the PV100 series are the KG-PV131X (159,800 yen) and KG-PV131S (134,800 yen). Like the PS200 series, both models have a 0.55 DMD-type panel but don't use BrilliantColor instead opting for a more cost-effective model low on features but high on lamp life, an expected 4000 hours. The PV100 projectors both feature 2000 lumens of brightness, while the PV131X boasts a 1024x768 pixel resolution and the PV131S only 800x600 pixels. The PV100 series also pumps out less light at 200W, using less energy than the PS200 projectors, and doesn't feature the autofocus of the higher-end models, settling for manual focus.
Both the PV100 and PS200 projectors have the same inputs and outputs. Video inputs include a couple of analog RGB, one S-video and a composite. Other connection include a 15-pin, D-Sub monitor output, an analog audio inputs and a RS-232C port. Like mentioned before, the Taxan Series 2 projectors will hit Japanese shelves sometime in mid-May.
"We will leave no TV set behind", said National Association of Broadcasters President and CEO David Rehr today in reference to the NAB's "highest TV priority" of ensuring that the 20 million American television sets that will lose over-the-air reception February 17, 2009 don't.
Both consumer and regulatory groups have called for more comprehensive consumer education regarding the digital TV transition and the NAB says it's here. We can expect to see the now familiar DTV2009 TV commercials about 642 times between now and the soon-approaching analog signal shutoff date as well as a $1billion educational budget spread between commercials, online and offline campaigns. Rehr said the NAB will continue to lobby the FCC on key issues including the use of unlicensed devices in the DTV-spectrum band and praised the digital switch concluding it will make TV "the say TV should be".
Digital signals will open up new revenue streams for broadcasters as digital signals can be transmitted to mobile devices which should bring in an expected $2 billion to broadcast TV by 2012, but Rehr said that the NAB shouldn't stop there. Probably the most interesting part of Rehr's keynote was his questioning of the future success of the current broadcast TV business model. Citing the success of online video platforms such as YouTube, Rehr questioned, "Because of YouTube, because of the Internet, because of cell phones and iPods, is our model broken?"
This cool looking hybrid DVD player and display from industrial design company Touch Interactive aims to "regenerate the look and feel of a home entertainment system through the design of a new generation DVD system". Touch Interactive wanted to bring the traditional video cassette player design back, taking a backwards design approach from the usual DVD player, typically small and compact. With a display system connected directly to the DVD player, Touch Interactive has developed a unified display device perfect for presentations and home use.
While maybe not directly related to OLED TV, Sony's HDVF-EL100 professional HD camera with an 11-inch integrated OLED panel is definitely a step in the right direction. Industry heavies are calling for huge growth in the OLED market, but because of inefficiencies in producing larger OLED panels, most of the growth is expected to come from cell phone and portable media player screens. When Sony released their XEL-1 OLED TV earlier this year, the company was only originally able to release 2000 models in Japan, pricing the 11-inch displays over $2000. They've since come to the US and Canada, but we haven't seen any other manufacturers release new OLED TV's since. With Sony's ability to manufacture more OLED panels now, even though still only in the 11-inch dimension, it gives us the feeling that at least they're finding more efficient manufacturing methods, hopefully resulting in something bigger than the XEL-1 for the consumer market by the end of the year.
Oh yeah, and as for the camera, it should be available at an undisclosed price later this year to the corporate market.
Hitachi unveiled 9 new Wooo HDTV's yesterday across the pond in Japan. The Hitachi Wooo UT Series will be available in three sizes, 32-, 37-, and 42-inches, all with full 1080p resolution save for the smallest display which features 720p. Super-slim 35 mm thin bodies are a result of several of the televisions' components and dual TV tuner being removed from the set itself and placed in an external box connected to the set by Ultra Wide Band. All three LCD's have 250GB of internal HDD space, an iV an iV port for iVDR HDD cartridges, DLNA compatibility, x.v. Color, and Deep Color. The two smaller screens feature IPS Alpha panels while the 42-inch display boasts a 120Hz IPS panel.
Three more LCD's will become members of the Wooo XV Series, available in identical sizes as the UT Series, and utilizing many of the same features. Once again, all displays are 1080p aside from the 32-inch display which features 720p resolution and all have an iV port. None of these sets have any internal drive space and aren't quite as thin, integrating all the TV's components within the sets.
The final three new releases are plasma displays, branded under the Wooo 02 Series moniker, and available in either 42- or 50-inch sizes. The 42-inch big screen features 1024x1080 pixel resolution, while the two 50-inch sets feature 1920x1080 pixels or 1280x1080 pixels. Like the Wooo UT series, the two larger 50-inch displays integrate a 250GB hard disk drive, while all three new Hitachi plasmas features an iV port.
Not content to call it a day with 9 new HDTV's, Hitachi also announced a new Wooonet application for the UT series which allows transfer of video content from house to house, from PC to TV, and also allows access to a new VOD portal.
Week to week prices are pretty steady at the moment, but we're hoping to see some more substantial price drops by the end of the quarter. However there are some pretty good home theater deals at Amazon. In the meantime, here's some great deals to help you make it there.
Blockbuster Video may be working hard to catch up with the times and save its business, but it seems the company may still be a couple of steps behind with an open standards set-top box, Myka, coming this summer. Myka will have the official BitTorrent client installed right onto the Linux-based box, allowing you to simply point the Myka's browser at a tracker file and click to download. In fact, later this year if you happen to be browsing tracker sites such as isoHunt, you'll probably see a "Download To Myka" icon right on your computer screen.
Available in 80-, 160-, and 500 gigabyte models, Myka hooks up to your internet connection via ethernet or wifi and to your TV via a HDMI, composite, S-video, or SPDIF connection allowing you to watch virtually any type of video you can find on a P2P network right on your TV. The set-top box supports any and all files you'd find on the web including MPEG2, h.264, DivX, and WMV video codecs.
The Myka team like we already said has BitTorrent on board, meaning you'll have legimate access to content from studios such as 20th Century Fox, MTV, Warner and Playboy, and has teamed up with isoHunt to grant you access to newer and more, um, illegitimate content. In fact isoHunt users will get a $25 discount on the box, which is already available for preorder from Myka's website.
The Myka boxes are fairly pricey, ranging from $299 to $459, but hey, look what you have access to!
You may have already heard about this, but if not we'll tell you now. PS3 firmware update 2.30 will allow your game console to support DTS-HD Master Audio, perfect for those who use their PS3 for Blu-ray playback. Basically, the HD audio format will match Blu-ray's high-def picture quality, meaning a full high-definition experience for film fans. The audio format can also support 7.1 channel surround sound, delivering sound that is "bit-for-bit identical to the studio master" at up to 24 Mbps on Blu-ray. Look for the firmware update on April 15.
Now that Blu-ray is the HD disc format of choice among consumers, laptop manufacturers are beginning to integrate Blu-ray optical drives into computers like crazy. The top 5 Blu-ray laptops currently according to CNET Asia are Dell's Inspiron 1520 and XPS M1730, Sony's VAIO models VGN-AR59GU and VGN-FZ28G, and the HP Pavilion dv6700, all with Blu-ray drives and all using NVIDIA's GeForce GPUs. NVIDIA seems to have formed an indirect bond with the Blu-ray format, providing remarkable video quality and stutter-free playback of Blu-ray discs and standard-def DVDs. We wouldn't be surprised to see a more official partnership between Blu-ray and NVIDIA in the future, especially with more 3D content likely to hit Blu-ray very soon.
Built by Hyundai, the world's first 3D stereoscopic TV available to the consumer market is the 46-inch E464S will hit Japanese shelves April 12. Ideal for gamers and film buffs alike, the 3D TV is stereoscopic by way of needing the use of 3D glasses to view, and comes with a couple pairs included. Lose them and an extra pair will cost Japanese 3D fans 2980 Yen. But back to the TV.
Featuring a 1920x1080 pixel LCD display, 1200:1 contrast ratio, 3D comb filter, film mode, noise reduction features, and both analog and digital tuners, the E465S EPG digital broadcasting and is able to grab BS11 3D broadcasts from Nippon BS in Japan and works just as well with 2D broadcasts.
As per usual with new HDTV releases, inputs and outputs are plentiful with dual HDMI, 3 composite inputs, an S-video output and a few others. One more things, sound is pumped through a couple of built-in 10W speakers, but this 3D TV is best hooked up to a high-end home theater.
The Hyundai E465S stereoscopic 3D LCD TV will retail for 498, 000 Yen (US$4857).
I remember when Hulu first came online in beta and I headed over to check out the much-anticipated online video platform in hopes of reporting back to you what it was like. Once there, I was greeted with an error message bluntly telling me that Hulu content was only accessible in the US. At the time, the restrictions were mainly due to content licensing and distribution agreements that limited Hulu's TV shows and movies to US ISP's. Looks like that may soon change however. Heading over to Hulu from my Winnipeg, Manitoba address now results in a more positive greeting:
44 million households worldwide will have a HD signal received and displayed on an HDTV by the end of 2008. That's 4% of worldwide households, double that at the end of 2007, but only a quarter of the expected 180 million HD homes by 2012. All this thanks to dropping HDTV and set-top box prices according to the London-based research firm behind the new numbers, Informa Telecoms & Media. Not surprisingly, HD penetration has been the highest in North America, due to the growing availability of HD content and the poor quality of analog signals. The research also found the HD subscriptions rose dramatically once 20 HD channels are available in any given area.
When this summer rolls around, and the torch is lit kicking off the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games, networks such as NBC who paid $5.7 billion for exclusive US broadcast rights to the games, hope to see a return on their money. And they just might, as the Beijing games is being touted as the biggest HD broadcast ever, featuring more HD footage and broadband coverage than any other sporting event in the history of televised broadcasting.
The Beijing Olympic Broadcasting Corp. which will handle the main production operations come the torch-lighting August 8 will have 1000 HD camera and 60 HD mobile units set up at the various Olympic venues, and hooked up to fiber optics suitable for HD transmission. Not one standard-definition camera will be used at this year's Olympics. Just 4 years ago at the Athens Olympics, NBC only managed to broadcast 396 hours of HD coverage, compared to the expected 756 hours this year. Plus, with broadband broadcasting now playing a greater role in television, we can expect to see 3600 hours of exclusive content at NBCOlympics.com.
The Shuttle XPC G5 6801M HTPC looks to be a great solution for European's sucked into the now legendary HD DVD marketing ploy. Boasting an LG GGC-H20L Blu-ray/HD DVD Combo optical drive, the Shuttle will playback the boatload of HD DVD's you mistakenly bought before the HD disc format went deadpool. Also featuring an AMD Athlon X2 6000+ processor and 500GB of hard disk space, Shuttle says its new HTPC is "ideal for fluid playback" of HD content. The Shuttle XPC G5 6801M HTPC uses the Windows Vista Home Premium OS and has both DVB-T and analog tuners, as well as wireless LAN and 8 channel audio. Check out the press release after the jump...
The latest D-ILA equipped digital projectors from JVC both feature impressive contrast ratios of 30000:1, electronic image zoom and focus, HDMI 1.3 compatibility and 2.35:1 image stretch that widens 2.35:1 film to properly fit your HDTV's screen. The only difference between the JVC DLA-HD100 and DLA-RS2 D-ILA projectors is the latter is marketed to the pro installer market. Featuring a black glossy finish, the HD100/RS2 projector is simple to setup and calibrate, stunning 3D image quality, and nearly zero defects that lend clues to the image being projected as digital. Despite the fact that the HD100/RS2 boasts impressive black levels for a digital projector, they still don't match up to those of CRT projectors, although that can be fixed with the installation of a 4x Neutral Density filter. And every once in a while in an extremely fast moving gaming scene, there was some image smearing similar to that seen on some LCD displays.
Despite the minor defects, the JVC DLA-HD100/RS2 D-ILA projectors are great picks for viewing any type of HD content, especially film playback for those who want a true-to-life cinema experience with an exponentially better picture.
Last week when we came across the FCC's agenda for today's public meeting, it revealed that the Federal Communications Commission was considering laying fines on a number of retailers and manufacturers for among other things, failing to properly label analog-only TV's as just that. The meeting today did indeed see a number of fines handed down, with a total of 11 companies, including 7 retailers receiving $6 million in fines for infractions related to DTV2009.
Sears and K-mart received a combined $1.09 million, followed by Wal-Mart ($992,000), Circuit City Stores ($712,000), Fry's Electronics ($384,000), Target Corp. ($296,000), Best Buy ($280,000), and CompUSA ($168,000.).
Syntax-Brillian Corp. was fined $1.26 million, and Precor Inc., $357,000, for violating digital tuner rules that restrict the shipment of analog-only TV's.
We're not surprised with the staggering increase in online crime lately that scammers are targeting those using the CTIA's $40 converter box coupons, at times redeeming them in exchange for delivery of a non-existent converter box. One company in question, Memsen, via its website convertmy.tv has been offering the CTIA-approved Maxmedia MMDTVB03 for awhile now exciting consumers who believed it was the most feature-rich of the approved set-top boxes. Unfortunately, after Memsen took pre-orders, taking customer credit card info in the process, they continually pushed back the date of the converter boxes release. First April, them May, then not at all. Interestingly, backordering is a violation of the converter box coupon program rules. Memsen now states that the MMDTVB03 will be replaced by the Maxmedia MMDTVB02, claiming that the new box will result in a better picture. However, they're also stating this box won't be released until June and its not even on the CTIA's approved list. Gumshoe detectives over at the AVSForum have been working on figuring this one out, but it's been tough-neither Memsen or MaxMedia feature physical addresses on their respective websites and phone calls to a Memsen number have revealed that it's not in service. The lesson here is to be aware. Don't blindly use your converter box coupon, do a little research on your seller first.
Looks like Pioneer will be extending their Kuro lineup in Europe this year, even moving into the projector market with an HD-ready 1080p front projector. The second-generation plasma lineup will include the 50-inch PDP-LX5090, 60-inch PDP-LX6090, the 50-inch PDP-LX5090H, and the 60-inch PDP-LX6090H. All four models feature 1080p, 100Hz panels and reduced idling luminance and black levels five times those of the world-renowned 2007 lineup. The initial two models will be available in June, while the latter models will be available at different times depending on the region. No pricing info is available yet.
As we told you earlier this year, Pioneer will be moving into the LCD market, outsourcing much of their plasma production and thus will be releasing three new LCD models-the 32-inch KRL-32V, 37-inch KRL-37V, and 46-inch KRL-46V. All three models are HD-ready 1080p 100Hz displays, featuring anti-reflective filters, triple HDMI 1.3 support and an aluminum-looking finish. The two smaller displays will be available come June in Europe while the larger 46-inch model has no release date yet, nor have pricing details for any of the models been released.
The Kuro front projector will be available this month, configured for screen sizes starting at 60 inches, and featuring the same amazing contrast levels the Kuro name is known for, bring theater-like film quality to your home theater projection screen. The projector also utilizes LCOS 1080p technology, wide lens shift capacity and dual HDMI 1.3 support.
Blockbuster Video looks to be making some inroads into repairing its struggling movie rental business, as the company is developing a set-top box that will stream films directly to our televisions. Although Blockbuster has refused to comment on the "rumor", the new service will be an offshoot of their 2007 acquisition Movielink which enables users to watch film content online. The company is working on integrating Movielink into Blockbuster.com, to be completed sometime this quarter, and is also apparently working on a mobile streaming platform and in-store kiosks for downloading movies. While its a smart move on Blockbuster's behalf to start offering digital services, we wonder if offering so many new ways of renting film content from the company will completely cannabilize their brick-and-mortar service. If so, all the the work will be for naught, because it won't make any type of positive difference to their bottom line. It remains to be seen I guess.
Sony's Bravia E4000 series seems to be more of a home fashion statement than a technological one from Sony's popular LCD TV brand. Designed to integrate via wall-mounting right into your home decor, the upcoming 32- and 40-inch Full HD Bravia's are meant to be an "integral part of your personal living space alongside other framed works of art." Midnight Sky, Aluminum, Pearly White, and Dark Walnut are the unique frame color options that allow the E4000 models "to blend effortlessly with contemporary or traditional interiors". Not surprisingly the E4000 series features Sony's Picture Frame Mode which allow you to display your photos on the TV's display via USB or choose between the Bravia's built-in masterpieces from the likes of Van Gogh. A smaller 26-inch model will also be available, meant for desktop display, and with the ability to meld into your collection of framed desktop photographs. No availability dates or pricing info have been released yet, nor has a list of full specs, but we'll keep you updated.
Kevin Rose, founder of Digg and Revision3, is taking a whole lot of heat for spending less than 10 grand on his entire home theater system despite having a substantial wad of cash in the back. Rose didn't even bother with an LCD or plasma screen instead choosing the Panasonic PT-AE2000U HD projector and a large motorized screen...placed right next to a huge window. Other components include the Denon AVR-4038CI, Klipsch XF-48 home theater system, TiVo Series 3 and Apple TV. Using online video platform Qik, Rose filmed himself doing the whole setup, cutting out the installation price altogether. Final price: $9040.
Toshiba has launched 10 new REGZA LCD's, highlighted by 4 high-end models, the 37- and 42-inch ZV500's and the 46- and 52-inch ZH500's. All 4 models feature 10-bit, 1080p resolution panels, 120Hz technology, x.v. Color, DeepColor, a wide 178 degree viewing angle, and both ATSC and NTSC tuners. The ZH500 models also have a 300GB internal hard disc drive, one 13W and two 10W speakers, 4 HDMI inputs, 2 USB and 3 ethernet ports, and an S-video output. The ZH500 models also both have an SD card slot, while the ZV500 models have all of the above minus the internal HDD and extra 13W speaker.The 4 high-end REGZA's are also internet-connected and Bluetooth compatible. The larger ZH500 models will be available in early May with the 46ZH500 priced at 500, 000 Yen and the 52ZH500 at 600,000 Yen. Toshiba has also released couple of lower-end REGZA lines with "basic"features-the 32-, 37-, and 42-inch RH500 line and the 32-, 37-, and 42-inch CV500 lines. All displays feature 1080p resolution with the exception of the smaller 32-inch models, and the RH500 models all feature a 300GB ESATA HDD. They also feature 120 Hz technology, both analog and digital tuners, but only the 42-inch RH500 boasts DeepColor and x.v. Color. All models also have a variety of inputs and outputs similar to the higher-end models. The CV500 series has very similar features minus the internal HDD. The 32- and 37-inch RH500's will hit the market in early June for 250, 000 and 300, 000 Yen respectively, while the 42-inch display will come in early July for 400, 000. The CV500 series has a staggered release schedule with 32-inch model hitting Japanese shelves later this month for 160, 000 Yen, the 37-inch CV500 will see a mid-may release date priced at 230, 000 Yen, while the largest 42-inch model is expected to appear in early July for 250, 000 Yen.
It seems Nintendo is attempting to make a move into your home theater, with a beta release of "iPlayer in your living room" today, enabling you to download the BBC's iPlayer onto your Nintendo Wii, allowing you to watch your choice of programming on your TV. The first step is to install the Internet Channel on your Wii, costing you 500 Wii points or 3.50 Pounds. Hopefully in the future, using the iPlayer on the Wii will be entirely free. Next to head over to BBC's iPlayer page, find your program and just hit play. It should playback immediately.
Nintendo seems intent on moving the Wii from a video game system to a full-on media center, developing an interactive TV guideearlier this year and allowing compatibility with the Moowee.tv interface last fall. We're excited to see what Nintendo has up their sleeve next.
A bargain by Runco standards, maker of some of the most expensive HDTVs in the world, the $9000 Runco PlasmaWall XP-50DHD plasma TV, deserves a little recognition. The 50-inch plasma flat screen sports a 1080p resolution, multiple aspect ratios, and is "Imaging Science Foundation calibratable" so you can bring in a pro to tweak your set for optimal viewing.
One of the defining features of the PlasmaWall XP-50DHD is the DHD, or external signal processor. The DHD is a box measuring roughly 2 feet by 1.5 feet and can receive virtually any type of signal, modding it to perfection by the time it reaches the display. However any high-end set is bound to be fickle when it comes to the usability factor and that's simply a matter of having too many features and flexibility. While the high-end picture processing results in a fabulous picture it also slows down the system quite a bit, and the remote could use a revamp as changing aspect ratios and inputs is all down via one button. Apparently this can be quite confusing for the new user. Add in the audio system and only an engineer could figure this set out. But like we said, you get what you pay for, and $9000 for a Runco is a bargain.
US senators are apparently panicking that many American citizens won't be ready for DTV2009 for such reasons as not being able to spell and inattentiveness. At a hearing this afternoon on Capitol Hill, members of the US Senate Commerce Committee questioned whether or not FCC Chairman Kevin Martin and NTIA Chief Meredith Baker were doing an adequate job spreading the message of the digital TV transition to every corner of the US. Among the groups most worried about were senior citizens, residents of "tribal areas" and those who don't know how to type. Concern about the latter group led Arkansas Senator Mark Pryor to call on Baker to purchase more domain names other than dtv2009.gov to cover all possible spelling mistakes. Apparently if those searching for the site don't type in the exact domain name above, they'll be led astray, never to reach the elusive $40 converter box coupon.
More educational campaigns have been called for including more TV announcements during primetime TV hours, vehicles with DTV2009 digital signs driving around urban areas, and monthly progress reports from both the FCC and NTIA.
Toyko-based real estate company Orix Real Estate Corp. has found a new and innovative way to sell more real estate and attract tourists, as well as up the value of the selling properties. Orix had started off last year pitching a planned community, The Mark Springs, as an ideal location for TV show and movie filming, offering community locations for more than 60 screen projects.
The company came up with the idea after "At-home Dad", which began filming in Yokohama in 2004, increased the amount of visitors to the town 10-fold and sent Orix Real Estate's web site traffic soaring. Advertising increasing were in the amount of several hundred million yen and some people signed residential real estate contracts for properties featured in the show.
I'm writing this posting from Winnipeg, Canada, called by some the Hollywood of the North. Maybe I should be in the real estate business rather than the blogging business.
While Blu-ray continues to get walloped by standard DVD in the US, the Japanese seemed to have jumped on the Blu-ray bandwagon the second HD DVD died. An internet survey of nearly 15000 Japanese conducted by MyVoice Communications at the beginning of March revealed that a full 81% of those surveyed intend to buy a Blu-ray disc recorder. Of course, they're not that comfortable just yet, as 69.4% of respondents "have no specific schedule for purchasing it".
A large majority of those surveyed weren't prepared to pay more than 50000 Yen for a new Blu-ray, equating to US$493. Evidently the Japanese are willing to pay more than us across the pond who fret over sub-$400 prices, although they state price is the most important factor in making the final decision to purchase a Blu-ray player. Panasonic and Sony were revealed to be the most likely to gain from Blu-ray's popularity in Japan, being ranked as the two most popular Blu-ray manufacturers.
Verizon will begin phasing out the last of their small number of duplicate analog channels available via its Fios TV service this month, well ahead of the planned transition date of February 17, 2009. The final transition will happen regionally beginning with New York on April 21. Verizon has offered the analog channels up until now so that subscribers to its all-digital television service could access some analog channels without the use of a set-top box and also has provided the channels to a small number of solely analog customers. With the coming shutoff, Verizon will provide free set-top boxes to its affected customers to make sure they won't face any disruptions in service. As a step up from the free set-top box, Fios also offers a box that allows access to more programming, HD channels and interactive services such as VOD. Verizon's Fios TV service is a suitable option for those preparing for the upcoming digital TV transition, and is arguably one of the highest quality cable providers in the US.
Sony's BDZ-A70 Blu-ray DVR performs all the typical functions of any digital video recorder, but what makes it uniques is its ability to transfer any television content to your Sony PSP or Walkman. Just slip in the PSP's memory stick and with the press of a button, the BDZ-A70 will sync your selected TV shows onto your PSP. You can transfer video in either QVGA 384k or 768k and the download time is remarkably fast, taking only about 3 minutes for the higher-quality 768k and a quick 2 minutes for 384k.
The BDZ-A70 also features a 320 GB HDD, 2 ground analog and digital TV tuners, and Sony Room Link. Japanese customer of NTT's DoCoMo mobile phone service can also transfer video onto their cell phones, which should clue you in to the fact that right now the Sony BDZ-A70 is only available in Japan.
One downside to the BDZ-A70-it can't rip Blu-ray or DVD to your PSP. Darn, that would've been cool!.
Quite the stir started when Comcast announced that it would be squeezing 3 HD channels into the bandwidth they previously slotted for two, resulting in a degraded picture for those of us who subscribe to the cable provider. Customers are raging that the new system starting this month will result in pictures that sometimes border on worse than analog. Comcast has decided to go the route of added compression in response to competitive pressures from the likes of Verizon Fios TV, making more channels available without increasing the amount of space necessary to transfer them to your HDTV. So how much will this affect you?
An AVS Forum member decided to find out just how much picture quality would be affected with Comcast's new compression policy by recording two shows, on the same channel, at the same time delivered from both Comcast and Fios TV. The results were astounding. Average bit rates were calculated, and a huge difference was observed, with Fios TV performing at a much higher rate. Screen captures also illustrated the degraded picture quality coming from Comcast as you can see below:
Take a look at the facial features and you'll immediately see the difference. You'll tend to see more problems with channels that are already highly compressed such as Discovery HD, while some channels hardly seem to be affected. Regardless of the channel though, you're guaranteed to see a decrease in contrast and a whole lot more banding and artifacts on your screen.
The US market won't be the only one affected by compressed HD signals either. Canada's Rogers Cable has announced that effective April 9, a bunch of channels delivered to its Personal TV customers will face added compression. Like Comcast, the cable provider defends its decision by saying that they'll be delivering more channels to its customers without using more bandwidth keeping bill about the same. It seems though that no one is listening. I mean, why would we want more HD channels that look worse than the analog pictures of 30 years ago?
It seems we'll be seeing a lot more HDTV buyer's dishing out thousands for a new flat panel absolutely refusing to pay an extra $10 to their cable provider for a high-def signal this year. Our recommendation: stick with Fios TV, they don't compress their signals.
While the GE 22730 digital converter box may be eye-catching with its unique design, you're best bet is to put your $40 converter box coupon elsewhere. Yes, it handles widescreen aspect ratios well and features a programming guide extending more than a week, but the GE 22730 also features horrible video quality (and we're talking about a comparison to standard-def), and a completely unusable remote. It's also not very effective at pulling channels in and those that it does are plagued with interference. We could go into more detail regarding features and the like, but what's the point? Our recommendation: save your $40 coupon for another box.
Mitsubishi announced their 2008 HDTV lineup today including the long-awaited laser TV we saw early this year at CES in Las Vegas. The laser TV will be branded under the LaserVue name and will be available in the 3rd quarter of this year. LaserVue will be the first ever laser-powered TV available to the consumer market, making available a color spectrum that's twice that of current LCD's and plasma's on the market. The LaserVue also offers 3D viewing capabilities and is incredibly energy efficient, using half the power of a typical LCD TV and one-third the power of a typical plasma. Still no pricing info yet though.
While many big name manufacturers are pulling out of the DLP market, Mitsubishi announced 7 new models, all big screens with increased brightness, thinner bezels, proprietary 6-color processor and 3D viewing capability. The first five models and their prices are as follows:
60-inch WD-60735 - $1,799
65-inch WD-65735 - $2,199
73-inch WD-73735 - $3,199
65-inch WD-65736 - $2,499
73-inch WD-73736 - $3,599
The other two models will be part of the Diamond DLP line which features Smooth120Hz for crisp, clear fast-moving scenes and Dark Detailer for higher contrast. The sets will have a high gloss design and Blue Light Accent. The 65-inch Diamond WD-65835 and 73-inch Diamond WD-73835 will retail for $3399 and $4699 respectively. All the new DLP models should be available this month.
The company also has 7 new Ultra Thin Frame 1080p LCD TV's with frame widths reduced to less than one inch. The sets will feature 10-bit panels, x.v. color, 6-color processing, Smooth120Hz Film Motion, GalleryPlayer, and Deep Color. The GalleryPlayer is downloadable software which can be loaded onto the Mitsubishi allowing you to view high-definition art and photography right on your TV screen. The first five models and their respective prices are as follows:
40-inch LT-40148 - $2,499
46-inch LT-46148 - $2,999
46-inch LT-46149 - $3,499
52-inch LT-52148 - $3,599
52-inch LT-52149 - $4,099
Like the DLP line, the new LCD line will also feature two Diamond models: the Diamond LT-46246 and the Diamond LT-52246, priced at $3799 and $4499 respectively. The Diamond models feature Variable Smooth120Hz Film Motion, low profile speakers, DeepField Imager for improved contrast, and a high gloss design with Blue Light Accent. The new LCD line will be available in May.
Most of us hate reality TV by now. Sure, the first Survivor season was great, but after that they began to reproduce faster than bacteria in your kitchen sink. Now, every evening of TV features tens upon tens of different reality shows. But while they may suck on the regular tube, they tend to fare better on the web, beating out network series' that propel primetime TV rankings.
Just look at the Hitwise numbers for US broadcast network's websites above and the shows which receive the most interest. Reality TV pretty well monopolizes the market share. Why? Probably because reality TV tends to be very interactive, utilizing viewer feedback, voting, and other features that draw the viewer in, says Michael Learmonth from Silicon Valley Insider. And he makes another good point as well: as more and more ad dollars are siphoned to the internet, reality TV's success in cyberspace means that network's will continue to search for the next American Idol, so to speak. That means we won't be rid of reality TV anytime soon!
It's not to often we feature speakers on TVSnob, but everyone once in a while we come across ones that are just too cool not to mention. These 2.1-channel aluminum speakers from the Gais Lisire Series 020 look like misplaced airplane parts but they're actually perfect for those of you who prefer watching TV shows on your PC. The main subwoofer is 12-inches wide and contains a built-in 6 Watt amp, while the two satellite speakers both contain 2.5 Watt amps. You can find them at AudioCubes for $199.99.
Sony intend to spend the rest of 2008 attempting to take over the world...in the Blu-ray market that is. Blu-ray's creator, currently the owner of a 20% global market share, wants to up its BD product penetration to 50% by the end of 2008. What'll that take? A wider range of Blu-ray products and prices, which we hope means some "lower-end" Blu-ray players with lower-end prices for those of us not ready to fork out $400 for current models. This is all according to Sony Electronics CEO Ryoji Chubachi, who also revealed at an April 3 press conference in Taipei that Sony will soon be releasing LCD TV's with integrated Blu-ray players/recorders and featuring more Blu-ray integration into IT devices.
NHL.com will be launching a major web TV initiative just in time for the 2008 Stanley Cup playoffs. A new online video player, 3 years worth of archived clips and footage and 7 channels featuring hours of programming per day are just the beginning of the NHL's strategy to move online.
The new video player, produced with NeuLion, will be a major improvement on last year's NHL Integrated Video Portal and home to 7 new channels to be organized around themes. The Hockey Show will feature new episodes every weekday from preseason to Stanley Cup and will have a VOD option, while The Playoff Channel will feature documentary-type vids called Journey to the Cup. The third channel that's been revealed so far, LiveWire, will focus on live events such as press conferences and also feature original programming. All the stations will have a sponsor who will use the stations as a targeted approach to launching products during the playoffs.
The new web TV move is only the beginning though. This summer, each NHL team will get its own channel to produce video for fans, and in the fall two new channels will launch as will NHL.com's entire website. The first channel coming this fall will be devoted to user-generated content, giving a fans an online voice. The second channel, called MyNHL, takes your registration information to target you with channels you'll probably like, and will allow you to take video from the website and embed it within your own.
The NHL has made a big move into the world of broadband as of late, signing deals with online video sites Hulu and Joost, and forming strategic relationships with YouTube and Sling Media.
The famed Sony XEL-1 OLED TV is now available from Amazon. Pricey, but utilizing the most cutting-edge TV technologies around, the Sony XEL-1 is selling for $2499.99. The 11-inch set uses organic LEDs to boast incredible contrast ratios approaching 1000000:1 and full HD 1080p resolution. Want a closer look before you make the big purchase? See it unboxed first.
One choice we all have to face in the next year is whether or not to buy a digital television in preparation for DTV2009. If you're planning on going that route, prices have been dropping a little lately on last year's models as the 2008 lineups are being released. Take a look at some of the deals we found you for this week.
Rear Projections HDTV's
One item of interest I noted this week is how much rear-projection set prices are decreasing, especially last years models.
Home theater equipment can get expensive as we all know and the projector can be one of the costliest items depending on the features you're looking for. For some of us, our only option may be to buy used. But is this a smart strategy and is it a good investment? It depends. Projectors tend to be more fickle than most other home theater accessories and thus a warranty can be important. If you're buying a used projector that's actually fairly new, you're losing out on the warranty and properly paying a fairly high prices. On the other hand, if you buy a slightly older projector, you'll pay maybe half the price of a new model and losing out on the warranty won't be such a big deal.
Two other areas of concern you should be aware of: first, never buy a used projector from a smoker as cigarette smoke damages projector's optics, and two, DLP projectors have lamps that do burn out and can be pricey to replace. If you buy a used projector, assume the lamp will burn out almost immediately and tack the replacement cost onto what you're paying. Be aware when you're buying used and you'll be able to avoid making a costly mistake.
The famous mom from popular 1970s TV show The Brady Bunch will be part of an educational program launched by the Consumer Electronics Association aiming to prepare the elder among us for DTV2009. Florence Henderson will be one of the figureheads behind the "Convert Your Mom" campaign which is aiming to get baby boomers to convert their moms and other older relatives to digital before analog signals are shut off February 17, 2009.
Seniors are among the demographics deemed to be the least aware of the steps needed to prepare for the digital television transition, and the CEA feels that family is the best way to reach them. The initiative will launch in May with a downloadable guide for seniors detailing converter box options as well as digital TV buying advice, as well as a series of interviews conducted by Florence Henderson.
Hannah Montana's, aka Miley Cyrus', huge "Best of Both Worlds" live concert film which took in some $40 million in box office receipts, will be making a Blu-ray first when it comes to Blu-ray disc August 19. It'll be the first Blu-ray disc to feature a 3D viewing mode in addition to the usual 2D option, in 1080p video resolution of course, and with uncompressed PCM 7.1 Surround audio. Expected to be priced at $35.98, the Disney release will also feature plenty of extras including "The Ultimate Personal Tour" documentary which will follow Hannah through a day of preparing for the tour, as well as two live bonus tracks. Whether or not the 3D viewing mode will require any 3D glasses or related gadgets for an extra dimension of viewing pleasure remains to be seen.
Planar's PD8130 and PD8150 1080p single-chip projectors, designed exclusively for your home theater, are shipping in high-gloss black for $5999 and $7999 respectively. The Planar PD8130 has a 10000:1 contrast ratio and multiple HDMI and component connections while the Planar PD8150 has a 15000:1 contrast ratio, HDMI 1.3 and 12-bit Deep Color.
Both projectors have a number of features in common including Planar video processing technology with Dynamic Black and BrilliantColor enhancement, horizontal and vertical lens shift, sharpness and noise reduction controls, ISF day and night calibration memory settings, programmable image memory selection keys, built-in test patterns and an easy-to-use remote.
Just head out to purchase a brand new digital TV in preparation for DTV2009? We hope you haven't been had. An agenda released for an FCC public meeting scheduled for April 10 has revealed that the federal communications regulation body is considering fines against a whack of manufacturers and retailers for "for failing to build digital TVs that work sufficiently well with the V-chip/TV-ratings system", "violating the FCC's requirements that they label analog-only TV's as such", and "importing and shipping analog-only TVs". 14 retailers have apparently been caught with analog-only TV's on their shelves not labeled as such and a single manufacturer has been shipping analog-only TV's months after the practice was supposed to be stopped.
We have no word yet on who the offending retailers and manufacturer are, but you can bet we'll let you know as soon as we find out. The last thing you need come DTV2009 is to fork out a bunch of money for a TV that's going to cause you problems.
Panasonic's PT-F200NTU and PT-F200U projectors, the company's two newest fixed installation models feature fourth-generation Daylight View 4 image-processing with Edge Enhancement, a lamp life of 5000 hours, brightness of 3500 lumens, both vertical and horizontal lens shift, closed captioning and Auto Rolling Filter (ARF) reducing dust build-up and air contamination. The PT-F200TU has a wireless local area network connection that supports the Japanese PJLink protocol allowing it to be controlled from a PC. Pricing? Expect to pay $4499 for the PT-F200NTU and $3999 for the PT-F200U.
If you have young kids running around your home theater setup all day long, then you know all about the knot that forms in your stomach when the thought of thousands of dollars going down the drain at one wrong step by the young ones overwhelms you. Oh, and of course we know you're concerned about the safety of your kids too.
No worries. You can protect your home theater from flying 50-pound rugrats. Wired's How-To Wiki has a whole load of tips and tricks for childproofing your home theater.
The rumor mill just keeps going and going. We though Microsoft had put the Blu-ray Xbox 360 rumor to rest the last time they denied it, but it started again a couple of days back when Digitimes reported that Lite-On would be manufacturing a next-generation Xbox 360-with Blu-ray of course. Microsoft very quickly jumped all over that one and once again denied that the Xbox 360 would be getting a Blu-ray player. Of course, like most rumors, all of these statements are unofficial and said by nobody in particular.
"No. Lite-On is not manufacturing Blu-ray drives for Xbox 360. As we have stated, games are what are driving consumers to purchase game consoles and we remain focused on providing the largest library of blockbuster games available.
"For our customers who want a premium movie experience we offer the largest library of on-demand HD content available and the ability to play back DVDs in high definition."
Is anyone else getting sick of this back-and-forth yet?
While thin has definitely been in lately with some flatscreen models becoming no thicker than two of your finger, we haven't heard of a TV mount being marketed as the "industry's thinnest". Until now of course, or we wouldn't be telling you about it.
Chief's new Thinstall Series features TV mounts with depths slim enough to accommodate even the thinnest LCD and plasma sets on the market. Take for instance the Thinstall PSMT2015, designed for Hitachi's new UltraThin TVs, which are just 1.5" thin. With a mount depth of 0.49-inches, it's actually only one-third as "thick" as the Hitachi it supports.
The steel mounts can hold weights of up to 175 pounds, plenty of strength to hold up models that are as thin as an inch. They all feature a Glide Lock for easy install with no tools, lateral shift and an open wall plate eliminating much of the need to fiddle with electrical cord placement.
Chief says that all of their Thinstall mounts are custom-made, and as new and thinner flat panels hit the market, they'll be there to build the corresponding thin TV mounts.
Mitsubishi's WL6700U projector will hit shelves later this month for an MSRP of $9995. The 5000 lumen, WXGA resolution (1366 x 800 pixels) projector features a 1000:1 contrast ratio, three 1.2-inch 3LCD panels, a DVI connector enabling a whack of HD connection options, as well as a live video feed and simultaneous presentation for videoconferencing. The Mitsubishi WL6700U is available in white, has RJ45 network support for online management, and an motion-sensitive anti-theft alarm just in case you're using it for a public use. Finally, Mitsubishi guarantees 3 years on the projector's parts and 90 days on the lamp.
The Panasonic SC-BT100 Blu-ray home theater system, first announced at CES 2008, is supposed to be available later this spring at an unconfirmed price. It seems to have popped up on the J&R website already for pre-order priced at $999.95. Not a bad price for a higher-end home theater system with Blu-ray playback.
The SC-BT100 system's key features:
Blu-ray profile 1.1 for picture-in-picture viewing
7.1 channel ready (meaning you actually have to purchase an extra couple of speakers and a wireless transceiver to actually make it a 7.1 channel system)
five disc changer
SD card slot (for digital media playback
wireless rear speakers
The system has a few lacking areas as well. Profile 1.1 is a step behind Profile 2.0/BD Live which enables more interactive features and internet connectivity straight from Blu-ray disc titles. The SC-BT100 only plays back iPod video via a low-res composite output and its pretty barren in the connectivity area.
At $1000, this is a better deal than many, but we'll have to see the price drop substantially before we run out and purchase the Panasonic SC-BT100.
You know whenever you watch a show such as America's Most Wanted, the surveillance images of bad guys in action are so blurry and grainy you can't even tell what they're doing, never mind what they look like. That's all about to change as Mobilygen, a provider of low-power H.264 codec solutions, has announced the world's first digital video recorder with HD monitoring. Designed specifically for the surveillance industry, the new DVR uses Mobilygen's MG3500 Codec ICs to "record up to 16 channels of full D1 resolution H.264 video while streaming multiple video channels over an IP network with low latency". In bad guy terms-you're busted, because with HD video surveillance we're going to get a much, much better look at your clothing, features, face, and crime.
The MG3500 Codec IC has all the necessary features for optimal video surveillance including "image stabilization, motion detection, object tracking, scene change detection, event-triggered HD still image capture, privacy region protection, burn-in, and digital time stamps and signatures". Mobilygen's new surveillance DVR will be tagged at $9995 available in May 2008.
If you think 1080p resolution, infinite contrast ratios and LED backlights are the best flat-panel displays have to offer, you're dead wrong. The 14 foot by 8 foot widescreen VisWall located at the Tufts Center for Scientific Visualization has a 3D picture so intense and real that viewers feel that they are actually right in the display! With a huge 9 megapixels of resolution and twice the sharpness of the best high-def TV's, the VisWall is actually used by scientists to visual images and situations that are usually beyond the capability of the human eye.
The display uses twin projectors rather than multiple projectors resulting a smooth image and eliminates "ghost" images using a German-designed filter. The VisWall also goes another sense beyond vision, something we won't have in the HDTV world until touchscreens are prevalent. It has something called "haptic" ability meaning it can use computer-generated feedback to impart a feel of touch on a viewer using remote controls to, for example, use an on-screen scalpel to perform a virtual surgery. It's akin to your child being able to feel as if they can give their favorite cartoon character a hug through your LCD TV! Wouldn't it be nice to have a VisWall in your living room? Cost to build-$350, 000.
Verizon Wireless just keeps on announcing new channels for its V CAST Video service. Now TMZ TV, an entertainment news and gossip channel, based on the popular TMZ.com will be available to Verizon Wireless customers. All commercial-free highlight clips from the TMZ television show will be available on TMZ's mobile station 24 hours after broadcast, enabling busy Hollywood gossip mongers to keep up to date with the dirt on their favorite stars.
Verizon Wireless will be getting another two MTV Networks channel tacked on to their V CAST Video mobile TV service-GameTrailers and The N. GameTrailers, a mobile channel for gamers will feature game trailers and reviews, and even an original series called Go Gaming which focuses solely on mobile video games. The N will features clips from popular teen shows such as Degrassi.
The two new mobile channel additions add to a growing collection of MTVN channels available on Verizon Wireless phones. MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, VH1, CMT, Logo, Spike, MTV Tr3s, and Atom Films are already featured on V CAST Video and just a couple of days ago on March 29, Verizon announced V CAST Mobile TV which features full-length, broadcast-quality streams of popular shows from MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, as well as MTV Tr3s.
Will Farrell's popular online video site, Funny Or Die, will also get its own dedicated V CAST Video channel featuring regularly updated clips from some of the funniest stuff found at Funny Or Die's website.
Dolby and Sim2 debuted a prototype 46-inch "high-dynamic-range (HDR)-enabled LCD flat-screen display" yesterday, giving us a look into the future at the next-generation of HDTV's. Using Dolby's LED local dimming technology and Sim2's backlight unit, the prototype LCD "matches real-world visual perception" and features 1838 LEDs, 1080p resolution, infinite contrast ratio, a brightness of greater than 4000 cd/m2 and 16 bits of luminescence through more than 95% of the panel.
The prototype also uses a Xilinx Virtex field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) chipset that allows Dolby's HDR algorithms to mesh properly with Sim2's display.
If you're a big fan of Fox shows like 24, Nip/Tuck, and Family Guy, and a busy person on the go constantly, you'll be happy to know that Fox Mobile Entertainment announced yesterday the launch of the Fox Entertainment Mobile Network.
Bringing a whackload of content from stations such as Fox, Speed, FX, Fox Reality and the National Geographical Channel as well as over 30 mobile sites dedicated to hot programs, the Fox Entertainment Mobile Network can be accessed on your mobile phone's browser at FoxMobile.com bringing mobile TV's most popular content to one destination.
All wireless subscribers will have access to the service, which will also be available via MEdia Net on AT&T and Sprint's Wireless Web.
New York Yankees fans can expect a high-definition treat to go along with their new stadium in time for the 2009 season. A brand new Mitsubishi Electric Diamond Vision HD video-scoreboard measuring a whopping 101 feet wide by 59 feet tall, amassing a total of 5925 square feet will be installed in the new Yankee stadium. The installation is to start this summer and be complete by March 2009, in time for the opening of the new stadium and start of the 2009 MLB season.
The giant HD display will display 1080p resolution, and driven by Mitsubishi Electric's state-of-the-art DSC2 Digital Display Controller, display up to 4 full HD resolution images at once. The display will be the first to use Diamond Vision(TM) AVL-ODQ8 LED's, totally an uncanning 8,601,600 LED lamps.
For comparison's sake, the current Yankee scoreboard, also a Diamond Vision display measures only 25 feet by 33 feet and uses 486,400 LED lamps. Huge difference!
With broadband connections that are too slow in North America to effectively playback HD video on the web, Adobe's Kevin Towe's says a new "HD Web Concept" is needed. For internet HD video playback, the solution is simply the H.264 file format.
It looks like Verizon's FiOS HD VOD service is going live in some areas today. Forum postings from Broadband Reports indicate that FiOS TV markets in Texas, California, Maryland, Northern NJ, Philadelphia/Delaware should go live today if they haven't already.
Following the death of HD DVD and Microsoft's decision to discontinue offering the HD DVD add-on for the Xbox 360, we first heard from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer that we would see some sort of Xbox 360/Blu-ray integration sometime this year. This statement from Microsoft's guy-who-should-know was quickly deemed a misinterpretation by the Xbox product manager, Aaron Greenberg, who said days after the Ballmer statement that Microsoft is "not currently in talks with Sony or the Blu-ray Association to integrate Blu-ray into the Xbox experience". Days after Greenberg quashed the Ballmer rumor, another Microsoft exec, Chris Lewis said that Xbox 360 users prefer digital downloads over any type of physical media storage device and with increasing broadband proliferation we would never see a Blu-ray player comingling with an Xbox 360.
Most of the back-and-forth has come from within the backrooms of Microsoft so far, but independent industry sources have now said that Japanese manufacturer Lite-On is currently producing BD-ROM drives for the next-generation of Xbox 360 consoles. That would mean two things we didn't know before-there'll be a next-gen Xbox 360 and it looks like it'll have an integrated Blu-ray player. Lite-On will begin shipping the BD-ROM's in the second half of 2008 meaning we could see a new Xbox 360 release as early as 2009.
The next-gen Xbox 360 is also rumored to be smaller than the current edition console thanks to a reduction in its power supply from 210W to 170W. The reduction in power should also reduce production costs, which hopefully will filter down to the final buyer (read: us) resulting in lower consumer prices.
As 2007 wrapped up we wondered if 2008 could be the beginning of the end of plasma TV as the last quarter of the year saw a whole load of corporate restructuring and new partnerships on the part of flat-panel manufacturers centering around the LCD market. Through the first quarter of this year, we began to see more evidence of plasma's struggles as Pioneer, the producer of the famed Kuro series, first announced it was killing off its 42-inch plasma model production, followed by an industry-shocking revelation that the company would be exiting the plasma business altogether. This started a short-lived panic as consumers thought that the Kuro series, the best plasma TV's on the market, would be dead. Pioneer revealed soon after that the Kuro series would live on, but with the exception of some internal hardware would be produced elsewhere.
We knew once Pioneer decided to bail on plasma production, our predictions had a fairly strong base to stand on. Now, industry sources have stated that a failure on the part of manufacturers to reach their PDP shipment goals this year could result in plasma going bye-bye for good. They've stated that behind closed doors, plasma suppliers are unsure whether industry expansion should continue, but the leading suppliers such as Samsung and LG agree that falling of short of shipment goals in 2008 will halt expansion in the plasma industry altogether. Once expansion halts, manufacturers will have to accept that they've reached the beginning of a period that will see the plasma TV phased out for good.
What do you think the future holds? Will LCD emerge as the king of HDTV flat-panel formats?