If you're looking for a solid midrange home theater receiver, CNET says Pioneer's VSX-1018AH-K is a good pick. The unit has onboard Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio, 1080p upconversion over HDMI, automatic speaker calibration, Sirius and XM satellite radio-ready, and iPod control via USB. That's the upside. As for the not-so-good things, the VSX-1018AH-K has a reasonable 3 HDMI slots but other units offer more for less money, a cramped remote, and rough looking interface. All in all CNET gave the AV receiver 3.5 out of 5.
The Philips 21:9 Cinema TV I first told you about earlier this month probably won't be hitting the United States, or Canada for that matter. A spokesperson for the company told ZDNet that the release will likely be limited to Europe, which seems to mesh with the previous announcement...but I was hopeful. The 21:9 aspect ratio enables the 56-inch set to reproduce Hollywood film very close to its 2.39:1 aspect ratio. It's tough to say how well it works and unfortunately we probably won't know anytime soon, but we should find out more near the end of February.
The joint venture between Sony and Sharp to produce LCD panels has been pushed back to March 2010, thanks to recession. The venture required a new manufacturing plant to be built and it was originally scheduled to be fully operational sometime in the last quarter of the year. Unfortunately, now that demand for panels is tanking, both companies are probably producing too much inventory anyway, so what's the point?
The digital television transition date is still in question after the House failed to reach the two-third's majority vote supporting the Senate's bill to postpone the transition to June 12.
The digital TV transition is currently scheduled for February 17. On that day, analog TV signals will be shut off across the United States in favor of all-digital signals in order to free up spectrum for wireless networks.
But recent studies have shown that many Americans aren't prepared and will lose their TV reception should the plan go ahead on February 17. People who have older television sets without cable--typically those sets with rabbit ears--and rely solely on over-the-air signals for reception are the only people who'll be affected. Anyone with a cable or satellite plan, or with a newer digital TV are in the clear. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration has been providing $40 redeemable coupons for people to purchase converter boxes that convert analog signals to digital, but a flailing economy has left the program short of cash and millions on a waiting list.
So, the date is really up in the air right now. Without a majority vote from the House, the bill which passed through Senate earlier this week won't pass uncontested. We'll keep you updated.
Pico projectors really came into their own last year, and Samsung's AnyCall Show phone is the latest related hit. Not just a pico projector, the AnyCall Show is actually a 3G mobile phone with a 3.2-inch OLED touchscreen, a 5 megapixel camera, global roaming. Behind the touchscreen is the Texas Instruments projector capable of beaming still and moving images up to 50 inches in size. The 10 lumen lamp also assists in pumping out 480 x 320 pixels. Check out the video demo above!
Pioneer's trio of Blu-ray players that debuted at CES now have some approximate prices--something you may want to know if you're planning your next Blu-ray player purchase. The BDP-120 is the player most likely to appeal to the mainstream with a price point under $300. Which, of course, probably means $299.99. Still a bit pricey, but not quite as expensive as the BDP-320 and BDP-23FD which will come in at under $400 and a confirmed $600, respectively. The BDP-120 is similar in specifications to Panasonic's DMP-BD35 which according to most reviews performs quite well.
If consumer advocates thought that the digital TV transition was confusing before, it just got worse. Today, the United States Senate voted unanimously to delay the DTV transition, currently scheduled for February 17, up to four months to June 12. The approved bill will now head for Congress where it is expected to be approved as early as tomorrow.
Unfortunately, there are currently 2.6 million people on an NTIA waiting list for coupons as the program hit a funding snag a few months back. If the delay is approved by Congress, it is estimated to cost public broadcasters $22 million.
Sadly, NFL football will come to an end next weekend. On the other hand, Super Bowl time means party time, i.e., gluttony/debauchery. And with the party comes beer and and a big screen. In order to buy more beer, you got to find a big screen deal, right? Well, Walmart is here to help, dropping its HDTV prices to Black Friday-like deals. You can get yourself a 32-inch Samsung LCD HDTV for $498, or spring for something larger like a 46-inch Sony for $1298 with a $100 gift card included. Not bad. Hit the read link for all the deets.
Best Buy is rolling out a deal that will net you a 32-inch LCD HDTV and 80 GB Playstation 3 for $1100. Though the two items combined are about $300 less than you'd pay if bought separately at Best Buy, this doesn't really seem like a deal. Not only is it fairly simple to find a 42-inch set for under $1000 from online retailers like Amazon, but who the heck wants a 32-inch set these days...well, except for the bathroom.
Your converter box not quite cutting it for good digital reception? Got some extra coat hangers laying around? John Park shows you how to make a DTV antenna out of spare coat hangers. Check out the video above and the PDF for all the instructions!
Here's a nice cheapie Blu-ray player for you. The AMEX Digital BD-P1 Blu-ray player offers up 1080p video playback, DVD upconversion to 720p, 1080i, or 1080p via an HDMI connection, and has both Ethernet and USB 2.0 ports. Sound support includes Dolby Digital Plus, DTS-HD Master Audio, and Dolby TrueHD. Sure, you could argue it's pretty basic, but the AMEX BD-P1 has a starter price of $239.
Vudu has released a Movie Catalog application for the iPhone and iPod Touch. The free application lets you search through Vudu's movie catalog from anywhere an internet or Wi-Fi connection is available, and then rent or purchase titles which are automatically downloaded to your home Vudu box. Pretty cool I guess, but that's the extent of the application's features. It might be useful if you're so crunched for time that you don't have time to search through the Vudu catalog after a hard day's work, but I hope Vudu adds some extra features when they update this one.
LG has just announced the arrival of a duo of new HDTV's for the Korean market. The Xcanvas bobos 42PQ60D and 50PQ60D are 42- and 50-inch sets respectively and were not on display at CES. The 42PQ60D sports a wild 600 Hz refresh rate, according to LG, so likely motion blur is barely noticeable in this model, while the 50PQ60D sports a one billion to one (yep, 9 zeros, 1, 000, 000, 000) contrast ratio.
Both models are a little over 3 inches thick, have a USB port for hard drive or external flash storage and WMV and DivX support, and built-in speakers. Each model also has an ambient light sensor to dim the backlight should the external brightness dictate, which LG says reduces the energy use by 60% compared to normal plasma HDTV's. But perhaps most remarkable is the price of the Xcanvas bobos plasmas.
The 42-inch and 50-inch models will be priced at the US equivalent of $1022 and $1460 respectively when they arrive in Korea mid-February. LG hasn't said if the PQ series will be available outside of Korean borders.
If you're not familiar with Google's Android operating system, it's an open source, free-to-use OS originally built for mobile phones and used with T-Mobile's popular G1. Several other handset manufacturer's are currently working on Android-based phones hoping for higher profit margins resulting from the free nature of the software. At CES recently, several prototype web tablets and netbooks were also on display running Android.
But could you imagine an HDTV with a customized version of the Android operating system?
From The Wall Street Journal:
Mr. Horowitz added that he is aware of companies trying to translate Android -- whose software is open source, making it easier to customize -- to devices that aren't phones, like netbooks (a new breed of low-end portable computers), or televisions, but declined to go into details.
Mr. Horowitz is Steve Horowitz, the engineer hired back in 2006 to spearhead Android's development. He seems to indicate that one or more television makers are hard at work trying to port Android to televisions. Definitely something we have to keep our eyes on!
Things aren't always clear cut when it comes to companies going out of business. Can you still use the Circuit City gift cards you got for Christmas? Will warranties still exist? You just never know, but here's a few pointers from Circuit City's Q&A page:
Will Circuit City stores continue to accept Circuit City gift cards?
Yes, customers holding Circuit City gift cards may redeem them at full value at our stores during the liquidation sales. Once the stores are closed and the company is out of business, the gift cards will have no value.
Are Circuit City's extended warranties affected by the liquidation?
No. Circuit City Advantage Protection Plans® (extended warranties) have been backed by third-party independent companies for more than 15 years and as a result, are not impacted by Circuit City's closing.
Currently, all Circuit City Advantage Protection Plans are fully backed by the Assurant Solutions companies. Assurant Solutions operates as Federal Warranty Service Corporation, Sureway, Inc., and United Service Protection, Inc. Assurant Solutions is part of Assurant, Inc. (NYSE: AIZ), and its extended service contacts are backed by an Assurant insurance subsidiary rated A "Excellent" by A.M. Best Co.
When will the liquidation sales begin?
Liquidation sales begin as early as Saturday, January 17, 2009, and will last as long as it takes to sell through the merchandise at each of the stores. We expect the sales to wrap up by the end of March 2009.
How much will merchandise be marked down, and can customers negotiate prices for the merchandise?
There will be clearance pricing, but specific discounts are not being announced. All sale prices are at the discretion of the liquidator. Prices are non-negotiable and all adjustments must be approved by the liquidator's on-site managers.
What payment types will be accepted at the liquidation stores?
Stores in liquidation will accept cash, Circuit City gift cards and most credit cards. Personal checks will not be accepted. All sales are final.
Will Circuit City's price matching policy or the One Price PromiseSM apply during the liquidation sale?
Because the liquidation company is in charge of the sales at the closing stores, their policies are in force. So, One Price Promise does not apply during liquidation events, nor does the company's Unbeatable Price Guarantee. All sales are final.
What about returns and refunds?
Customers can return products they purchased prior to January 16 for a 14-day period for exchange or refunds. All other terms of return policy are in force.
When closing sales begin on or around January 17, 2009, all sales will be final.
Will delivery service be available for products purchased from liquidation stores?
Yes, home delivery service will still be available for products purchased from liquidation stores.
It's been a long time coming, but BitTorrent downloaders will be able to get their paws on a Myka Box in the next four to six weeks. Apparently the 6 month delay was the result of financing issues, probably as a result of the ongoing economic crisis, but the company says its Chinese manufacturing partners are now hard at work. Myka will be available in 80 GB, 160 GB and 500 GB versions, connect your PC and TV so your pirated media can directly playback on your set. It'll be priced between $299 and $549 depending on the amount of storage space you're looking for.
When we talk about aspect ratios, widescreen typically equates to 16:9. Unfortunately 16:9 still nets you those annoying black bars at the top of your TV screen. Not quite as bad as cinematic film on 4:3, but still a nuisance. Philips is looking to put the black bars behind us with its 21:9 Cinema TV. Now that is widescreen, which is, of course, assisted by Philips' ubiquitous Ambilight technology. According to Philips, the Cinema TV will launch in the UK, France, Germany, and Belgium sometime this spring. No word on a US release or price. You can see the official site here, but it won't launch in its full glory until January 29.
The quality of a Blu-ray disc compared to a DVD, or high-def TV compared to standard-def TV is astounding. But get this:
Phillip Hyde, dispensing optician and head of professional services at Vision Express, said: 'Even a marginally short-sighted person sitting on a sofa watching an HD broadcast may not see the full benefits in enhanced image quality.
'A small change in prescription can potentially make a big change in the quality of the picture that you see.
'If you're investing in HDTV, you ought to have your eyes checked to make sure you get the full benefit.'
In a nutshell--if you need glasses and don't have them, you're wasting money on HD.
JVC's got a full HDTV line-up set for release throughout the year, and all's we can say is we hope they're more reliable than last year.
First off is the 42-inch LT-42B300, an LCD TV with an integrated Blu-ray player. It has 1080p resolution, a built-in ATSC-QAM tuner, dynamic backlight control, digital noise reduction, and a plethora of connectivity options including 3 HDMI slot. No word on price yet, but the LT-42B300 is slated for a June release.
JVC's run-of-the-mill LCD TV's, the J300 series, brings 4 new models to shelves this year. Sized from 32- to 52-inches, all four sets offer 1080/24/30p resolution, dynamic backlight control, Smart picture technology that automatically adjusts brightness, 3 HDMI slots, and JVC's cone speakers which use an "off-center voice coil design" to direct sound at the viewer's head level. The 32-, 42-, and 46-inch models will arrive in March but we'll have to wait until August for the 52-incher. No prices have been announced.
Next up is JVC's TeleDock line of LCD TV's. Sets run in size from 32- to 46-inches and all include an integrated iPod dock. Of the five models, only the 42-inch LT-42P500 and 46-inch LT-46P500 feature Clear Motion Drive technology which smooths out motion blurring. The iPod dock is located in a flip-down panel at the bottom of each set. Docked iPod's can playback music and video controlled by the TV remote. The P-series, which also includes 3 P300 sets, offers 1080p resolution, an ATSC-QAM tuner, dynamic backlight control, a USB photo viewer, plus a variety on connection. All 5 sets in the P-Series will launch in April.
The D200 series consists of a couple of LCD sets with integrated DVD players. The 19-inch LT-19D200 and 32-inch LT-32D200 both sport 720p resolution. The 19-inch set has a top-loading integrated DVD player, while the 32-inch model has a side-loaded DVD player. Features are similar to other the other LCD TV's mentioned so far. Both sets will hit shelves in March.
Finally, the 42-inch LT-42WX70 comes with a separate TU-CX100 tuner box allowing for a super-slim design. Aimed at digital professionals, specifically DSLR photographers, the 1080p set boasts 50, 000:1 dynamic contrast ratio, x.v. and Deep Color, 3 HDMI ports and some high-end picture technologies including a Genessa Picture Engine and 100% sRGB/96% Adobe RGB coverage. No word on release date or price for this model.
As part of Blockbuster's race to catch Netflix in the digital video business, comes another announcement. The video chain has partnered with Sonic Solutions to offer both Blockbuster and CinemaNow flicks to all kinds of devices including internet-connected HDTV's, Blu-ray players, PC's, cellphones and portable media players. Over 10, 000 titles will be available for rent and purchase, initially through a pay-per-view service, but Blockbuster says it may offer a subscription service for unlimited viewing in the future.
LG Display already supplies 70% of Apple's notebook screens and monitors, but it appears that the company which also produces displays for HDTV's has secured Apple for the long term. Reuters is reporting that LG Display has signed a deal to supply Apple with LCD displays for 5 years. The financial terms of the agreement weren't disclosed, but LG did state it would receive a $500 million advance this month.
The Memorex MVBD-2520 Blu-ray player looks to be a solid choice for a budget Blu-ray player. It doesn't have the streaming capabilities of the LG BD390 or the Samsung BD-P4600 but it does manage to meet Profile 2.0 specs. It also has onboard decoding for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio sound, SD card and USB slots, and a sub-$200 price tag. Not too shabby. Wonder how the MVBD-2520 would fare up against Vizio's sub-$200 VBR100?
Panasonic's Viera PZ850 plasma line has 4 new additions this year, all IP-enabled so they can stream Viera Cast internet content. The 46-inch TH-46PZ850, the 50-inch TH-50PZ850, the 58-inch TH-58PZ850 and the 65-inch TH-65PZ850 all feature 1080p resolution, a 1, 000, 000:1 dynamic contrast ratio, 24p picture reproduction, Game Mode, and a variety of connection options including 4 HDMI slots, a PC input, and an SD card slot with H.264 video support. It's funny because we were supposed to be able to get our hands on these a long time ago, but now that they're official let's hope they hit shelves soon.
Sanyo's PLV-1080HD may have a sub-$2000 price tag and general global availability, but the company has also debuted a higher-end projector at CES 2009. The PDG-DHT100JL DLP projector will be released in Japan initially but has some premium features including 1920 x 1080 resolution, a bright 6500 lumens, dual twin color wheel system, and twin UHP lamp. No pricing information is available yet but it'll be on the expensive side.
Sharp has launched its third-generation Blu-ray players at CES 2009. The company's first Profile 2.0 player, the BD-HP22U, connects to the web via Ethernet and includes a 2 GB USB drive for storage. The lower-end BD-HP16U only sports Profile 1.1 features so while you'll have access to Bonus View and picture-in-picture you won't be able to access the interactive web features of BD-Live. Both players have slimmer form factors than last years models, 7.1-channel Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio support and an efficient 19 Watt power output. The prices are high on these AQUOS players. The BD-HP22U will set you back $300 when it arrives in May while the BD-HD16U will be $280 when it debuts in March.
Sharp's 2009 Blu-ray home theaters include the BD-MPC30 and BD-MPC30. The first has a synthetic finish while the latter has a wood finish. Both come complete with a Profile 2.0 Blu-ray player, an internal amp, and a 720 Watt 5.1-channel sound package. Both will be priced at $800 when they ship sometime this spring.
Sharp's LCD TV's with built-in Blu-ray players are finally hitting the United States. Dubbed the AQUOS BD Series, the Blu-ray sets range between 32- and 52-inches, feature 4 HDMI inputs, a 10-bit panel, and a 120 Hz refresh rate. All 5 models will be available in the United States this month and next but we'll have to wait on prices.. We can't wait! Check out the full release after the cut.
Part of Sharp's AQUOS E-Series LCD line that includes the E67U models, the E77U Series includes the 40-inch LC-40E77U, 46-inch LC-46E77U, 52-inch LC-52E77U, and gigantic 65-inch LC-65-E77U. Features include:
4ms pixel response time
120 Hz frame rate
Optical Picture Control which adjusts brightness for room luminescence
exceed Energy Star 3.0 requirements by at least 15%
5 HDMI 1.3 slots with Deep Color and 24p input
2 1080p component video inputs
PC input and RS-232 port
Availability dates are as follows:
LC-40E77U--March release for $1399.99
LC-46E77U--February release for $2099.99
LC-52E77U--February release for $2399.99
LC-65E77U--June release for $4499.99
We're already well aware of LG's intent to add internet video streaming directly into its TV's. The LG50 LCD series does exactly that. The 47-inch 47LH50 and the 42-inch 42LH50 will both be able to stream Netflix, YouTube, Yahoo Widgets, and a plethora of other broadband content through Ethernet or possibly a third-party wireless hub.
Both models feature a 120 Hz refresh rate with dejudder processing, a room lighting sensor, extensive picture controls, picture wizard, and 4 HDMI inputs. Shipping in late spring, prices haven't been announced.
LG's PS80 plasma series will consist of the 50-inch 50PS80 and the 60-inch 60PS80 and both will also feature the same streaming capabilities of the LH50 series. In addition both sets can connect to a computer or USB drive to display photos and play music. The sets are also THX certified like Panasonic's G10 series which should improve color accuracy. The PS80 series has all the pictures control and picture wizard found on most of its 2009 models. Slated to hit stores in June, we're still waiting on prices.
Sure, LG's LH55 series sports a 240 Hz frame technology, but the LH85 series is wireless. The new 2009 LCD line, the LH85 series consists of the 47-inch 47LH85 and the 55-inch 55LH85, both of which can deliver 1080p video wirelessly using a 60GHz radio and multielement antenna array. The LH85 line uses a 120 Hz refresh rate with dejudder processing, a 10-point IRE system and color management controls, and a picture wizard to assist the process of manual calibration. Both sets will hit shelves in May.
Despite the fact that there is some debate about whether the human eye can really notice the difference between 120 Hz and 240 Hz in terms of picture smoothness, LG's heavily marketing 240 Hz as the selling point of its new LH55 LCD line. Well there's a little more to the story. The company says that the scanning backlight used in its sets is better than the MEMC system used by Sony and Samsung because it requires less hardware, less steps and less energy.
Whatever the case may be, the sets look sweet. Consisting of the 37-inch 37LH55, the 42-inch 42LH55, the 47-inch 47LH55 and the 55-inch 55LH55, the LH55 line is set to ship in March.
Pioneer has come out with its 2009 Blu-ray line-up at CES. Consisting of the BDP-120, BDP-320 and Elite BDP-23FD, all three B-ray players are BD Live-capable, offer Pioneer's 1080p True24FPS video playback, USB and Ethernet, and support Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD bitstream audio. The BDP-23FD offers additional digital audio decoding and 7.1-channel analog audio output.
The BDP-120 will come with a 1 GB flash drive, while the BDP-320 and BDP-23FD will have 1 GB of built-in memory. Expected to ship in the summer of 2009, pricing has yet to be announced.
Sanyo's PLV-1080HD 3LCD projector has finally launched. On displaying at CES 2009 this week, the PLV-1080HD can display images up to 300 images with a throw of 60 feet. Boasting 1080p resolution, 1200 ANSI lumens, 10000:1 contrast ratio, and a lens shifting system to allow for more flexible placement. In terms of connectivity, the PLV-1080HD has dual HDMI and component slots, and s-video, composite, and RGB connections. The best feature of the Sanyo PLV-1080HD undoubtedly is the price--only $1999 and it's available from Sanyo's website.
Toshiba has revolutionized its LCD business, increasing the features in its REGZA line and coming out with a mass market non-REGZA LCD family. Its three new REGZA lines, the XV645, ZV650, and SV670 series' all feature a 'Deep Lagoon' design--really just a fancy name for a fancy bezel that makes the LCD displays look thinner.
The XV series will be released in May 2009 with invisible speakers, automatically adjusted picture parameters, color temperature control, and an insta-port for improved HDMI switching. The ZV series, coming in April, combines all the features of the XV REGZA's with a ClearScan 240 Hz frame rate, Dolby Volume sound control, expert calibration, and both USB and SD ports. Finally, the SV series gets all the above features plus a special 'infinity design' which apparently makes the sets look like its a picture and nothing else. It'll also get a full matrix LED backlight and FocaLight LED backlight with local dimming. No prices have been announced.
Toshiba's non-REGZA's will include 19-, 22-, and 26-inch models colored in your choice of glossy black or glossy white. The 22-inch set will launch in March for $539.99, the 22-inch models will launch in April for $449.99, and the 19-inch models will roll out in April and May for $349.99.
Finally, the company announced its Cell TV technology which basically runs an HDTV on the same chip as the Playstation 3. It's also being displayed in a set-top box that Toshiba says can record 6 HD programs at once. The technology will be in a line of A/V receivers later this year along with widgets from Intel and Yahoo.
Panasonic's NeoPDP TC-P54Z1 is nothing less than impressive with its 1-inch thin display, 1080p resolution, 40, 000:1 contrast ratio, THX-certification, VieraCast, 600 Hz sub-field drive, SD card slot, and Viera Link. The Z1 line-up is Panasonic's second of 2009. The NeoPDP G10 line also features THX as well as VieraCast internet connectivity. The 54-inch plasma will be the first Z1 to roll out this summer, likely with further display sizes in the future.
Panasonic's DMP-B15 is the first Blu-ray player suitable for underarm-carrying or backpack storage. With its 8.9-inch WSVGA LCD and 3-hour rechargeable battery, it's perfectly suitable to take on the go in case of any sudden HD video viewing needs. If you're sitting at home, simply connect it to your HDTV with an HDMI cable and it functions like any other Blu-ray player. Features include BD-Live, Bonus View, VieraCast with Amazon VOD, an HD card slot, and a headrest-mounting kit for keeping the kids occupied. The DMP-B15 will launch in May for an undisclosed price.
Panasonic's new G10 line--the 42-inch TC-P42G10, the 46-inch TC-P46G10, the 50-inch TC-P50G10, and the 54-inch TC-54G10--boasts THX-certification. While THX doesn't actually divulge what the certification requires, THX-certified sets typically sport better color accuracy than those that don't. All of the sets have VieraCast internet video streaming now including Amazon VOD, Panasonic's new NeoPDP displays with 1080p resolution, and a 600 Hz sub-field drive improving motion control . While prices haven't been announced, the 42- to 50-inch plasmas will ship in March while 54-inch display will ship in May.
Epson has added the PowerLite Home Cinema 6500 UB to its line of 3LCD 1080p projectors. The projector uses the latest 3LCD D7 chip, built-in HQV Reon-VX processor by Silicon Optix, Ultra Black vertical alignment technology, and has an amazing 75, 000:1 contrast ratio. Furthermore the 6500 UB pumps out 1600 lumens of brightness and has plenty of connection ports including two HDMI 1.3 slots, S-video input, composite video input, and VGA-type RGB input. Set to launch in late January, the PowerLite 6500 will set you back $2999.99. The release is after the break.
Westinghouse has obviously been busy considering the sheer number of new HDTV's it announced at CES. The TX Series will feature the 37-inch TX-37F510Z, the 42-inch TX-42F970Z, and the 55-inch TX-55F350Z. All will have 1080p resolution and a 120 Hz refresh rate, but differ in their contrast ratios and response times slightly. No prices have been released but all the models will be released between May and July.
The VK Series includes the 46-inch VK-46F260S and the 47-inch VK-47F140S. Each delivers 1080p, 500 nits brightness, a 6.5 ms response time and three HDMI inputs. In terms of contrast ratio they differ slightly. The 46F260S has a 5000:1 contrast ratio while the 47F140S has 4000:1. No prices yet but expect these sets by April.
The SK Series features smaller 720p models. The SK-26H630S and the SK-26H735S are both 26-inches and feature 800:1 contrast ratio, a 8 ms response time, and two HDMI inputs. The 32-inch SK-32H635S and SK-32H820S, and the 37-inch SK-37H730S all have 2500:1 contrast ratio, 6.5ms response time, preset viewing modes and multiple HDMI inputs. All of the models include an ATSC/NTSC/ClearQAM tuner and 450 nits brightness. Once again, no pricing is available but each will be released in March except the SK-37H730S which will hit shelves in May or June.
Finally, the PT Series includes the 19-inch PT-19H340S and 22-inch PT-22H340S. Both are 720p sets although the 22-inch model is capable of '1080'. Expect the PT Series to hit stores in March.
The successors to last years DMP-BD35 and DMP-BD55, Panasonic's new Blu-ray's--DMP-BD60, DMP-BD80, and DMP-BD70V--take Blu-ray functionality to a whole new level. Each incorporates the Viera Cast platform meaning you'll be able to playback all kinds of internet video content, now including Amazon VOD. The players provide PHL Reference Chroma Processor Plus for theater-like video reproduction, decoding for the newest audio codecs, DVD upscaling, Viera Link, among other new features. The DMP-BD70V is actually a dual-deck Blu-ray player that has a slot for ancient VHS tapes in case you have any left. No word on availability or pricing at the moment.
LG Electronics has followed up its BD300 with the BD370 and BD390 Blu-ray players. Both feature LG's NetCast Entertainment Access which allows instant streaming of Netflix movies, CinemaNow and YouTube videos. The BD-Live players also have Profile 1.1 Bonus View, 1080p DVD upscaling, support for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio, and a USB port. The BD390 adds in wireless compatibility and 1 GB of built-in memory. The BD370 is slated for release in 2009's Q2 while the BD390 will be available in Q3.
LG has also added 3 new Blu-ray home home theater systems to its collection. All 3 have 1080p Blu-ray playback, NetCast Entertainment Access, 5.1-channels, Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio support, and an iPod dock. The mid-range LHB977 adds a couple of HDMI slots, and substitutes the entry-level LHB954's spherical speakers with a couple of tallboys and a couple of satellite speakers. The flagship LHB979 blows 1000 Watts out of a champagne speaker silhouette and a two wireless rear speaker designed by Mark Levinson. The LHB954, LHB977, and LHB979 will be available in the second quarter of 2009.
Down in Las Vegas, Vizio is busy rolling out its 2009 TV line which will include 7 new EcoHD LCD TV's. Ranging in size from 19- to 32-inches, all the sets in the EcoHD line beat out Energy Star 3.0 standard by as much as 25%. All seven sets have 720p/1080i resolution, 60 Hz frame rate, and SRS TruSurround XT for all the model except the two 32-inchers which use TruSurround HD. The two larger models also utilize Vizio's Mega Dynamic Contrast ratio to improve black depth. All set to ship between now and summer 2009, the EcoHD line ranges in price from $249.99 to $449.99.
Vizio will be adding 4 new Java-colored LCD TV's to its VL line in 2009 ranging from 32- to 47-inches, while its VT series will get 42- and 47-inch additions. All six models feature full 1080p resolution and 50, 000:1 contrast ratio, and aside from the 32- and 37-inch VL models, all will have a 120 Hz refresh rate. With 3 HDMI inputs for the smaller models and 4 for the larger, you'll be able to easily connect all your home theater accessories to the new Vizio's. Scheduled to be delivered in spring and summer 2009, the Vizio VL and VT additions will range in price from $599.99 and $1099.99.
Adding to its EcoHD line, Vizio has also rolled out 5 new XVT models. The flagship 55-inch VF551XVT1A sports a 240 Hz refresh rate, 1, 000, 000:1 Mega Dynamic contrast ratio, a Scanning LED backlight, and Smooth Motion II technology. Vizio also added 42- and 47-inch displays to its 240 Hz, LED LCD family.
The company also added 32- and 37-inch XVT models with 120 Hz refresh, 50, 000:1 Mega Dynamic contrast ratio, and both SRS TruSurround and TruVolume.
All 5 XVT's can playback MPEG2, H.264, and WMV9 video files via a USB drive as well as display JPEG pics and play MP3's. Slated for release in the summer and fall of 2009, Vizio's new XVT additions range in price between $749.99 and $1999.99.
Not only do Vizio products generally perform well, they're quite cost effective as well. Case in point: Vizio's new VBR100 Blu-ray player costs only $199.99.
The BD-Live VBR100 plays back Blu-ray discs in 1080p and can upconvert standard DVD's to your choice of 720p/1080i/1080p via an HDMI output. It has built-in decoding for uncompressed Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio codec, multi-channel PCM and all the other surround sound audio codecs. Connection include HDMI, composite, and component video outputs and 7.1-channel analog audio, coax and digital optical audio, and RCA audio outputs. Coming April 2009, the VBR100 brings a whole new price point to Blu-ray.
Vizio is also launching a couple of new HD sound bars--VSB210WS and VSB210. They have most features in common except the VSB210 doesn't include a wireless subwoofer. Both sound bars have 4 3-inch mid/bass drivers, a couple of 3/4-inch tweeters, SRS TruSurround and TruVolume. The VSB210WS also includes a 2.4 GHz wireless subwoofer with a long throw 6.5-inch woofer providing 35 to 80 Hz bass response. Both sound bars include a tabletop stand and wall-mount bracket.
The Vizio VSB210WS Sound Bar with Wireless Subwoofer will launch in February 2009 for $349.99 while the Vizio VSB210 will hit store in April 2009 for $199.99.
Samsung will roll out three new LED LCD HDTV lines this year. The 6000, 7000, and 8000 Series' all feature high dynamic contrast ratios, Wide Color Enhancer Pro, Auto Motion Plus, Energy Star 3.0 compliance, and are just over an inch thick.
The 6000 Series will have a 120 Hz refresh rate, Samsung InfoLink RSS, and light ruby Touch of Color highlights.
The 7000 Series will also have a 120 Hz refresh rate and a light ruby touch of color. Internet content will be delivered through Internet@TV--Content Service.
The 8000 Series will have a faster 240 Hz refresh rate, sport Internet@TV--Content Service and feature a chrome Touch of Color. Check out the full release after the jump.
Samsung has launched a variety of home theater products in addition to its new HDTV lines at CES 2009 including the HT-BD8200 Blu-ray Home Theater Sound Bar, HT-BD7200 Blu-ray 2.1-channel Home Theater System, and HT-BD1250 Blu-ray Home Theater System.
The HT-BD8200 Sound Bar is equipped with a 1080p playback-capable BD-Live Blu-ray player and wireless subwoofer. Wall-mountable and highlighted by Samsung's Touch of Color, the 2.6-inch deep HT-BD8200 delivers 5.1 channel virtual surround sound and has "Smart Volume" technology that automatically adjusts the sound volume. 802.11 b/g/n compatible with an optional USB dongle, the HT-BD8200 can instantly stream Netflix movies and Pandora music and playback a variety of multimedia via USB or Bluetooth. It also includes an iPod dock.
The HT-BD7200 is a 2.1-channel home theater that can pump out 400 Watts and simulate 5.1-channel surround sound via its two speakers. The unit is constructed from kelp and features an improved amplifier engine to minimize digital noise. It's wireless compatible with an optional 802.11b/g/n USB dongle and features a charcoal grey Touch of Color.
Finally, the HT-BD1250 will be a lower cost Blu-ray home theater system. It will blast 1000 Watts through its 5.1 channels and can decode Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, and DTS-HD Master Audio sound. Also built with kelp, the HT-BD1250 is wireless-ready.
I'll keep you updated with release dates and prices once I find out more.
And now for Samsung's 2009 plasma line. Two lines actually--Series 6 and Series 8. The Series 6 has a rose black hue within its semi-transparent frame. The edges of the frame are completely transparent which makes the Series 6 plasmas look like they're floating. The Series 8 sets are an inch thick, which Samsung claims is the thinnest plasma with a built-in ATSC tuner.
In terms of features the Series 6 and Series 8 are similar. All the sets have a high dynamic contrast ratio paired with Ultra Filter Bright Plus technology reducing luminance in blacks by 50%. All the sets have Wide Color Enhancer 3 technology as well which maps SD and HD signals to the panel's native color space resulting in excellent color reproduction.
The Series 6 and Series 8 plasmas will be equipped with Internet@TV--Connect Service to receive widgetized internet content, are DLNA compliant, and can play back multimedia from a USB drive plugged into the set's USB 2.0 port. Codecs supported include MKV, 3GPP, WMV9, and DivX.
Like the rest of Samsung's products this year, both plasma lines will be Energy Star 3.0 compliant. I'm still waiting on sizes, prices and release dates but I'll update once I find out more.
Samsung's latest Blu-ray players, announced today, are the BD-P4600 and BD-P3600.
The BD-P3600 is a BD-Live player with 1080p Blu-ray playback and DVD upscaling. Just over two inches tall, the BD-P3600 is black with charcoal grey Touch of Color highlights around the edges and boasts touch sensitive controls. Sound support includes Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, and DTS-HD Master Audio. Sound can be pumped through the BD-P3600's 7.1-channel analog audio outputs or as an uncompressed PCM signal for older A/V receivers.
It can stream Netflix video and Pandora tunes as well though a subscription is required for both. Other features of the BD-P3600 include CD playback, JPEG viewing support, DivX support. Upgrades can be downloaded either via Ethernet or with an 802.11b/g/n wireless dongle. The player also has two USB 2.0 ports and 1 GB of internal flash memory.
The BD-P4600 is similar in features to the BD-P3600 but is only 1.5-inches tall and is the world's first wall-mountable Blu-ray player. Black with ruby red Touch of Color highlights, the BD-P4600 can sit on a stand at a 25 degree incline if not wall-mounted. For its innovative design, the BD-P4600 has won a "Best of Innovations" award at CES 2009.
No word on price or release dates for either models. Check out the full release after the cut.
CES 2009 is just hours away from opening and Samsung has revealed its 2009 Series 6 and Series 7 LCD lines.
The Series 6 line will come in screen sizes of 19-, 22-, 32-, 37-, 40-, 46-, and 55-inches, display a ruby red Touch of Color on the sides, and sport a 120 Hz frame rate in sets 32-inches and larger. Sets above 32-inches will also feature an Ultra Clear anti-reflective coating and all have "Natural" mode which Samsung claims combines the brightness of LCD's with the theater-like qualities of plasma. Ideally this mode is used for film viewing. Sets 40-inches and larger will have the Internet@TV--Content Service which delivers internet media through Yahoo widgets. All the sets are DLNA compatible with the use of a wireless dongle.
The Series 7 line will come in panel sizes of 40-, 46-, and 52-inches. All will have Ultra Clear anti-reflective coating with CCFL backlighting, a 240 Hz refresh rate and Auto Motion Plus technology, Wide Color Enhancer 3 technology, Internet@TV--Content Service, Ethernet, DLNA support, and Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n via a wireless dongle. All three models are Energy 3.0 compliant and feature Samsung's Touch of Color.
No prices have been announced but all the sets will be available in the first half of 2009. Check out the full release after the jump.
Sharp's' LC-E67U LCD line which debuted today at CES 2009 features a couple of sets that won't stand out this year. But then again, they're not really supposed. One of Sharp's more standard line-ups, the E67U family will feature 32- and 40-inch screen sizes coated with Advanced Super View anti-reflective technology. Both sets are Energy Star 3.0 compliant, feature a couple of component and 4 HDMI slots, and have a Vyper Drive gaming mode. The LC-32E67U will hit stores in February with a retail price of $900 while the LC-40E67U is slated for a March release priced at $1200.
Vizio's XV551XVT LED-backlit LCD HDTV is making some history at CES 2009. The 55-inch, LED-backlit television is bring LED technology into the realm of affordability for mainstream consumers. Typically LED-backlit TV's are expensive. Take for example Samsung's LN55A950 which currently costs roughly $4000 at Amazon. Vizio's XV551XVT is half the price, expected to retail for $1999 when it's released in June.
The XV551XVT features a 1080p anti-glare display, 240 Hz refresh rate, wide angle viewing, and an integrated sound bar with virtual surround sound. The set also has a USB input that can playback MPEG2, H.264, and WMV9 video files, MP3 music files, and display JPEG photos. The set also comes with a USB thumb drive pre-loaded with 1080p video.
Logitech's Harmony 1100 remote control looks more like a portable navigation device than a remote. It has a 3.5-inch touchscreen with QVGA resolution, comes with redesigned Harmony software and features a wizard-led, internet setup that lets you customize the remote to your home theater. And there isn't really any device the Harmony 1100 can't work with--it can learn the codes and command over 225, 000 different devices. The rechargeable Logitech Harmony 1100 will be available in both the United States and United Kingdom in February for $500 or its equivalent.
The Apple TV has been thrown another curve ball by the Netflix-streaming Roku player. Not only will the Roku box stream Netflix movies, in "early 2009" it will allow owners to purchase or rent digital movies from Amazon on Demand. That will add roughly 40, 000 more titles to Roku's streaming database.
So what can the box do now? From the press release:
Amazon Video On Demand and the Roku Player will enable customers to:
Access and add to their virtual library of purchases via Amazon Video On Demand's Your Video Library, and re‐watch them anytime on the Roku Player or online with a PC, MAC or other compatible device.
Watch new release movies the same day that they are released on DVD. Hit titles such as "The Dark Knight," "Hancock," "Pineapple Express", "Tropic Thunder" and hundreds more that are not currently available on the Roku Player.
Enjoy instant playback, no downloading, no waiting and no subscription fee.
Browse Amazon.com's huge selection of over 40,000 movies and TV shows for rent or purchase.
Enjoy Amazon Video On Demand's high‐quality video through its use of the advanced h.264 codec and an automatic bandwidth detection feature that seamlessly plays back the best quality file at either 300, 600, 900 or 1200 kbps.
Easily setup their Roku Player using its built‐in Wi‐Fi connection and begin watching videos within minutes.
Connect their Roku Player to any television set using HDMI, Component Video, Composite Video, S‐Video, Stereo Audio or Optical Audio connections.
Given the Roku's $99 price tag that includes Netflix content and the $0.99 to $3.99 price of Amazon title's, now's the time to grab a Roku because there is likely more big partnerships on the way.
Via Roku (PDF)
Select 2009 Samsung HDTV's will be effectively widgetized, allowing viewers computer-like interactivity with their TV screens. Powered by Yahoo's Widget Engine, the TV widgets are the product of a collaboration between Samsung, Intel, and Comcast announced in summer 2008.
Officially called the Internet@TV--Content Service, the widgets will bring Flickr, Yahoo News, Yahoo Finance, and Yahoo Weather content from Yahoo properties and 3rd party content from services such as USA Today, Showtime, Youtube, and eBay straight to the TV screen. Additional services will be continually added as the Internet@TV grows.
Developers will also have access to a Widget Development Kit to develop their own 3rd party widgets. The 2009 compatible Samsung models will be at CES 2009 and will be released in 13 countries over the course of the year. Check out the full release after the cut.
SlingPlayer Mobile should be available for the iPhone by the end of the first quarter. Already available for Blackberry, Symbian, Windows Mobile, Palm, and UIQ platforms, SlingPlayer Mobile for the iPhone will likely cost $29.99 when it hits Apple's application store.
SlingPlayer Mobile for the iPhone lets you stream video from your at-home Slingbox so you can watch TV on-the-go. You can manage your DVR from your iPhone and both add and remove favorite channels right on your phone. None of the other mobile platforms allow this. Using the iPhone's touchscreen you can move through your favorite stations by swiping the screen horizontally and move through your home channels by swiping diagonally.
Some more info has slipped out regarding LG's LH95 super LCD TV. It's a 55-inch display measuring 24.8 mm thin, but despite its thin form factor squeezes in HD DivX so you can watch movies via USB, Bluetooth connectivity, a couple of speakers and wireless HD streaming via LG's AV media box. Now we just have to wait to hear what will likely be a hefty price tag.
Victor JVC will be showing off a prototype of the world's lightest 32-inch LCD TV at CES 2009. Weighing in at only 5 kg the LCD display is not only the world's lightest but Victor's thinnest measuring 7 mm in width. According to a press release (PDF), Victor says the set uses 50% less material resources and 10% fewer LCD modules than other comparable Victor LCD TV's. There are no specs available at the moment, nor is there a model name or number. The set is expected to hit Japanese shelves sometime in 2009.
Adobe Systems and Intel are teaming up to port Adobe Flash onto Intel's Media Processor CE 3100. The CE 3100 is built specifically for consumer electronic devices such as Blu-ray players and HDTV's. With the addition of Adobe Flash, such devices, if internet connected, will be able to display richer web content and Flash-based applications. Both Adobe's Flash Player and Flash Lite will be optimized for the CE 3100 and Intel chips with the latter Adobe technology are expected to ship later in the first half of 2009.
LG Electronics will be announcing new lines of LCD and plasma HDTV's today that can directly stream internet video without a wired connection, set-top box, or add-on module like the Sony Bravia Internet Video Link. Called Broadband HDTV's, the sets will retail for about $300 more than same-sized models without internet. Unfortunately the Broadband HDTV's won't be able to surf the web freely as the processing power and memory chips in the TV's aren't powerful enough. But LG's new lines will be able to directly stream over 12, 000 Netflix Watch Instantly movies and television shows (Netflix is supposed to announce new Showtime content today), and access a few unnamed internet video content sites.
LG has made huge inroads into bringing web video to the living room home theater over the past year. At CES 2008 the company announced a it'd be partnering with Netflix to develop a set-top box that could deliver web video content to the HDTV. That of course later came to be known as the Roku box. The company also decided to back the CableLabs tru2way standard which allows TV's to communicate with cable providers and vice versa. Finally in the latter half of the year, LG released its BD300 Blu-ray player which also plays back Netflix content.
Have a DTV converter box coupon but still haven't sprung for the converter box. CompUSA.com is running a deal right now that'll net you a Apex DT502 converter box for $0.01. The actual cost of the box is $59.99 but with a currently running $19.98 instant rebate and your $40 coupon rebate, the total cost comes down to $0.01. You won't do much better than that, especially with the coupon program going broke and DTV2009 just around the corner.
Samsung will be unveiling an LCD TV between 6.5 and 7 millimeters thin later this week at CES in Las Vegas. The new Samsung launch will cement the set in the spot of the world's thinnest LCD TV, ahead of Philips' 8 millimeter prototype set shown off in Berlin last summer and Sony's 9.9 millimeter 40-ZX1.
The new Samsung set scraps fluorescent backlights for the LED flavor, enabling the super-thin width. No other details are available at the moment, but the Samsung LCD TV will have its public debut at a news conference this Wednesday.
If you're looking for a reasonably priced HTPC you may be in luck come CES. Ace Computers will be using the tradeshow to debut its $999 CableCard-equipped HTPC which will be able to view and record unencrypted cable channels. Model name LMS 250, the HTPC will come with a couple of processor options--AMD's Phenom X3 triple-core CPU or Intel's Core 2 Duo E7300. The Phenom option is based on the Maui entertainment platform while Intel's is based on its Viiv technology.
The LMS 250 will also feature 2 GB of RAM, a 500 GB hard drive, DVD burner, and an internal ATI Digital Cable Tuner which houses the cable provider's CableCard. And this HTPC comes with ALOT of USB ports. The Intel version sports 8 USB ports while the AMD version has a whopping 12!
Both models ship with Windows Vista Premium and Windows Media Center and for an extra $100 you can add a Blu-ray drive. That model will run a little more than $999 however. It'll be priced at $1249.
It's pretty much a given we'll see some new 3D video technologies at CES this year. Sure enough, yesterday a company called TDVision announced it'd be showing off the world's first 3D/2D compatible full HD stereoscopic broadcast and Blu-ray format. The system uses something called the TDVCodec for encoding and decoding 3 dimensional video streams which are then filtered to the display in 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution. TDVision says the technology isn't limited to TV's--it can be used with computer monitors and even with glasses! The one sore spot is the need for those pesky 3D glasses, but as 3D video technology moves beyond its infancy I'm guessing they should eventually disappear.