June 26, 2009
If only you could project iPod and iPod video images on the wall, right? Now you can with the iJector, a front-projector that can cast images up to 50 inches from your docked iPhone or iPod. Unfortunately it doesn't look like the iJector will produce images that are earth shattering. With resolution amounting to only 557 x 234 pixels and only 20 lumens of brightness, you might just have trouble seeing anything. Interestingly though, the iJector is licensed by Apple and is compatible with the first three generations of iPod nanos, fifth generation iPod Videos, first generation iPod Classics, iPod Touches and iPhones. The iJector is only shipping in Japan as of July 17, but given the specs I'm not sure I'd pay the equivalent of $670 for it. Seems a little steep.
June 26, 2009
Now that is interesting. A British LCD TV company named Cello Electronics has announced the world's first HDTV that records directly to SD cards. Unfortunately for us in North America, it's only headed for the European market at the moment. The set, available in 22-, 26- and 32-inch screen sizes, records over-the-air Freeview TV to an SD card making it easy to transfer content for viewing on your laptop or netbook. Moreover, the HDTV has dual SD slots and two TV tuners so you can record two channels at once. Known specs are minimal at this time, but it is known that the set has a remote-controlled EPG, 1440 x 900 resolution, but unfortunately no HDMI slots.
Shipping in July under the Soundwave brand, the Cello Electronics HDTV will be priced at TBA, £399.99 and £469.99, in order of size mentioned above.
June 26, 2009
If you have $500 to spare and want to spend it on an A/V receiver with multi-room functionality, a recent CNET review of Pioneer's VSX-1019AH-K indicates it's a potential best bet. Of all the midrange receivers tested by the CNET crew, the latest Pioneer model is the "go-to choice for sound-quality conscious midprice receiver buyers." Recognize there is no mention of video here, but that's because the VSX-1019AH-K's performance in this area leaves something to be desired. At the same time, it's video performance is the best out of midrange receivers so far this year and good enough for 1080p upconversion if you don't have an upscaling DVD player. Other pluses: an included USB cable for the latest iPods, 4 HDMI slots, Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio, automatic speaker calibration and Sirius radio. In the end, Pioneer's VSX-1019AH-K received an impressive score from CNET given its midrange status--a 4 out of 5.
Pioneer VSX-1019AH-K--At Amazon for $447
June 24, 2009
Ok, so maybe JVC isn't renowned for rolling out the most reliable HDTVs on the market, but personally I think the company is kicking out some pretty cool stuff in 2009. At CEDIA UK this week, JVC announced the LT-32WX50, its 32-inch debut in the LED backlighting market. The new LCD is notable for its minimalist 7 millimeter thickness and 5 kilogram mass. It also sports some half decent specifications including a 1080p panel, 100 Hz frame rate, 4000:1 contrast ratio, 90% Adobe RGB color space, a pair of HDMI ports, a PC port, and both SD and USB slots. JVC has a trick up its sleeve with its target market for the LT-32WX50 though. Because it's aiming the set at the post-production market (and though it has consumer market hopes), JVC can, or at least try to, charge a ridiculously high price. When the set goes on sale in the UK come October or November, it'll cost a big £1,900. In the US that equates to $3147--for a 32-inch television.
June 24, 2009
There's an interesting article in The New York Times this morning discussing the past, present and future of Qualcomm's Flo TV, the company's cellphone television service. Currently run by Bill Stone, who admits Flo has been a bit too expensive thus far, Flo TV currently offers about 20 stations for $15 per month. But because Qualcomm doesn't control the pricing--AT&T and Verizon do that as it's only offered through their networks--Flo is often offered as part of a more comprehensive wireless video package running up to $30. Way, way too much if you ask me. Especially given the amount of free video out there.
But Stone told the Times that Flo will soon be offered straight to consumers on an annual or monthly plan that wouldn't run more than $10 per month. That sounds a little better. Qualcomm is working on enabling other gadgets to broadcast Flo as well--think GPS navigators, netbooks, portable gaming systems and in-car entertainment systems. In my opinion, that would be a big step in adding more value to the service.
The big question remains though: would you pay for Flo TV? Or any mobile TV service for that matter? If so, how much would you be willing to pay per month? If not, why?
June 23, 2009
Vizio barely got its spring HDTV line out the factory gates before it announced its fall 2009 line this morning. The internet-connected SV422XVT, SV472XVT and VF552XVT are sized 42-, 47- and 55-inches, respectively. The trio features 1080p resolution panels, 240 Hz SPS (scenes per second) and Smooth Motion technology. The larger two models also feature TruLED backlighting with Smart Dimming, while the two smallest feature 4 HDMI slots and the largest 5 HDMI ports. The Vizio HDTVs also have new content thanks to recent partnerships. Widget functionality over 802.11n LAN or Ethernet now includes Amazon Video On Demand, Blockbuster On Demand, Rhapsody, Vudu, Revision3, Twitter, Faceibook, Netflix, Flickr, Pandora and more. The 42-, 47- and 55-inch Vizio XVT Connected HDTVs will ship in November, October and December priced at $1199.99, $1699.99 and $2199.99, respectively.
Vizio will also be launching a pair of 120 Hz Thin Line XVTs in September, sized 32- and 37-inches. They'll be priced at $749.99 and $849.99, respectively.
Read--New Vizio XVT HDTVs announced
Read--Vizio and Rhapsody partnership announcement
Read--Vizio announces new content partners
At the InfoComm conference last week, Norwegian projector maker projectiondesign unveiled its latest LED projector, the FL32, as well as a variety of new 3D stereoscopic and high resolution versions of its F22 DLP projection platform.
The company's first solid-state LED projector system, the FL32 is designed for mission-critical operations such as security monitoring and simulation training. The FL32 is available in either 1080p or WUXGA resolutions, utilizes projectiondesign's patented ReaLED optical technology, and has a guaranteed 100, 000 lamp life.
Four different 3D stereoscopic projection platforms were on display at InfoComm--the F10 AS3D active stereo projector, the F10 1080 3D stereo projectors with built-in INFITEC technology, and F22 passive series with INFITEC. projectiondesign says the F22 series offers a ColorCode 3D solution, the most cost-effective among passive 3D solutions. The 3D projectors are aimed, more or less, at commercial markets like gaming, production, military, medical and education.
Wrapping up projectiondesign's conference portfolio was the F22 DLP projector platform. Already available, the conference offerings were new versions of the F22 in 1080p and WUXGA resolutions. The new F22 utilizes Phillips' VIDI technology, improving image quality, color reproduction and management, as well as performance predictability.
One of the most common complaints about new internet-connected HDTVs is the noticeable unresponsiveness of content widgets such as those offered by Yahoo's Widget Engine. The reason for this is that the CPUs used in these televisions were designed for nothing more than a menu and a picture. Network access severely stresses HDTV manufacturer-made CPUs. In a world where speed is everything, lag time in electronics is unacceptable is you want to sell.
That said, LG is reportedly discontinuing in-house manufacturing of CPUs for its HDTVs, instead outsourcing production to chipmaker ARM. Future LG internet-connected HDTVs will use the ARM11 MPCore processor, a multi-core chip that should easily handle local area network access and TV widgets when used in tandem with the company's Mali graphics chip.
Variations of the ARM11 processor are used in the new iPhone 3GS and Palm Pre, both of which handle internet connectivity without a hitch. Notably, Intel helped develop Yahoo's Widget Engine, so look for Intel to push its chips on HDTV manufacturers in the near future as well.
June 21, 2009
A recent online poll conducted in April by research firm Harris Interactive has revealed some home theater-related oddities. Notably, that sales of HD DVD players in 2009 are up by roughly the same amount as the high-def format war winner Blu-ray. 11% of Americans own an HD DVD player in 2009 compared to only 6% in 2008. Surprisingly only 7% of Americans own a Blu-ray player in 2009 compared to 4% in 2008. If you factor in the 9% of Americans that now own a Playstation 3 and 3% that own an HD DVD add-on for the Xbox 360, the two HD formats are still close to even. Moreover, the survey indicates that interest in Blu-ray isn't going to pick up anytime soon--unless prices come way down. Only 7% of non-Blu-ray owners reported an intent to purchase a Blu-ray player in the next year.
HDTV ownership on the other hand continues to move skyward--47% of Americans now claim to own an HDTV compared to only 35% in May 2008.
June 18, 2009
A 47-inch LCD just doesn't cut it anymore. After delivering the 47LH50 to the United States, LG is shipping a 3D version of the same in South Korea. The set can process 3D imagery natively but it still requires those irritating 3D glasses for full effect. LG will be marketing the 3D version under the Xcanvas brand in South Korea, but it's unknown whether the company will ship the modified version elsewhere or if it will extend the 3D capability to other LH50 LCDs. As for the price, I'm not sure about that either.
Digital Projection has added a trio of new WUXGA (1920 x 1200) 3-chip projectors to its 3D-capable Lightning Series at InfoComm in Orlando, Florida today. The Lightning 38 WUXGA-3D, the Lightning 45 WUXGA-3D and the Lightning WUXGA-3D Ultra Contrast are the three new models. All feature 16:10 resolution, 1080p video without scaling, Texas Instruments Darkchip DMD technology, ColorMax calibration, FastFrame blur reduction and Dual Flash Processing with support for 120 Hz frame rates.
The three projectors differ in their brightness and contrast ratios.
- Lightning 38: 20, 000 lumens, 2000:1 contrast ratio
- Lightning 45: 30, 000 lumens, 2000:1 contrast ratio
- Lightning Ultra Contrast: 15, 000 lumens, 4000:1 contrast ratio
All three Lightning projectors are now available.
We've seen some monster HDTVs over the past few years, mainly from Panasonic. The Japanese manufacturer was showing off an 85-inch plasma TV yesterday at InfoComm in Orlando, Florida. That's second in size to its 103-inch plasma. The 85-inch set, equivalent to four 42-inch sets combined, features 1080p resolution, 40,000:1 contrast ratio (2, 000, 000:1 dynamic contrast ratio), a 99 millimeter thickness and a 100, 000 battery life. While Panasonic hasn't announced pricing yet, the 85-inch plasma is expected to ship in the United States and Japan in the fall.
June 17, 2009
Sure, $129.99 is pretty good for a Blu-ray player even if it's only Profile 1.1. But if you're okay with something refurbished, $99.99 is even better. Sears has a Magnavox RNB500MG9 Blu-ray player for a penny under $100 on the company's website. With 1080p output and upconversion, Profile 1.1-compatibility and no other information, I'm not sure if the $99.99 price tag is worth it. Especially after you factor in the $9 shipping charge and sales tax. If you're going for cheap, Best Buy's Insignia brand is probably your best bet.
Sanyo has announced a boatload of new projectors this year, for the most part targeted at commercial markets. Today in Japan, the company added another pair to the roster--the PDG-DET100JL and the WTC500L. The former boasts SXGA+ (1400 x 1050) resolution, a rather bright 7500 lumens of brightness, a contrast ratio of 7500:1 and DICOM (or Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine) which improves image detail for medical uses.
The WTC500L has somewhat less impressive specs yet they are nothing to cringe at. The projector has WXGA (1280 x 800) resolution, 5000 lumens of brightness, and dual lamps which can be switched between with a button push.
The PDG-DET100JL will ship in Japan on August 21 for US$20000 while the WTC500L will make it to the United States July 1 for $11000.
It seems like an eternity since Sony's 11-inch XEL-1 OLED TV was released and despite a plethora of prototypes, no other model has hit the consumer market. Until December 2009 according to an interview with Won Kim, LG's vice president of OLED sales and marketing. That's when LG will begin shipping its 15-inch OLED TV which has 1, 000, 000:1 contrast ratio, 1366 x 768 resolution and a 30, 000 shelf life. The OLED set will first launch in Korea and hopefully other markets will follow.
PopcornHour has announced its latest media streamer, the C200, that will ship this July. It's quite the improvement from the company's previous models, this time adding a drive bay for a Blu-ray drive, DVD or a hard disk drive. Pushed by a 667 MHz Sigma SMP8643 processor, the C200 supports more than 30 audio and video codecs as well as a variety of video partner sites such as CNN, CBS and Youtube. Some other new features include a wireless RF remote, a gigabit Ethernet connection, AVCHD support and plenty of connection options. The latter include HDMI 1.3, dual SATA connectors, four USB 2.0, component, composite, s-video and a miniPCI card slot designed for an 802.11 draft-n Wi-Fi card. As I mentioned above, the PopcornHour C200 is shipping in July for $299.
June 16, 2009
Paying $129.99 for a Blu-ray player is an acceptable proposition. It's the type of price point needed for mainstream Blu-ray adoption. Best Buy is currently selling the Insignia NS-2BRDVD Blu-ray player for $129.99 shipped, meaning you can order it online and have it delivered to you. Sure, it's not a Profile 2.0 player (it's Profile 1.1) and it doesn't stream Netflix movies or anything. But for a penny under $130 it does feature 1080p output and upconversion, Dolby Digital Plus and DTS-HD audio, and a one year warranty. You'll be on your own for the HDMI cables as well but they don't cost too much if you look around.
June 15, 2009
Japan's JVC has announced a new XIVIEW line of LCD HDTVs geared for the business market. The first model, the 42-inch LT-42WX7, is a 1080p display covering 100% of the sRGB color space and 96% of the Adobe RGB color space. It sports a 4000:1 contrast ratio, 5.5 millisecond response time, 450 cd/m2 brightness, a 178 degree viewing angle, 3 HDMI slots and dual 10 Watt speakers. Priced the equivalent of US$3700, the JVC XIVIEW LT-42WX7 will ship in Japan next month. It isn't known whether the new XIVIEW line will become available internationally.
June 13, 2009
It amazes me that after months and months of heavy advertising that some people still didn't realize analog TV signals were going bye-bye in the United States yesterday. That's right. After being delayed from the original February 17, 2009 digital TV transition date, yesterday's cutoff still left 2.8 million Americans hanging. If you have an older television, no cable subscription, and are wondering why the good ol' rabbit ears are only pulling in static, check out our digital TV transition prep guide...for (finally) the final time.
June 12, 2009
Blockbuster may not be rolling in the dough, but keeping customers in mind the video retailer keeps rolling out the deals. Today it announced the Summer Escape Pass, giving customers unlimited weekly movie and video game rentals for only $10. The catch is that there can only be one rental at a time, so you'll have to make a few trips to get your money's worth. This is a limited summer time promotion, but until the leaves fall you can purchase a new pass each week.
June 10, 2009
CNET has had the chance to review the Panasonic 50-inch TC-PV10 plasma HDTV and has nothing but great things to say. While it doesn't quite beat out the discontinued Pioneer PRO-111FD (the best HDTV ever), the TC-PV10 comes close with incredibly deep blacks, great shadow detail, color saturation and flicker-less 1080p/24 video playback. The 50- and 54-inch plasmas which feature identical specs also have a one-sheet-of-glass design bringing the glass over the bezel giving the sets a seamless, sleek look. As with any high quality plasma HDTV, Panasonic's 50-inch TC-PV10 is expensive--one of its few downsides. It's also not quite as energy efficient as LCD displays, though it performs better and is more efficient than the vast majority of same-sized plasmas. In the end, the VieraCast-compatible Panasonic TC-PV10 is so far the best HDTV tested by CNET this year, receiving a 4 out of 5 and an Editor's Choice pick.
Panasonic TC-50PV10--Ships from Amazon for $1880
Epson has announced the arrival of its latest flagship projector, the EH-TW5000. The 1080p projector pushes out 1600 ANSI lumens of brightness, has a 75000:1 contrast ratio, and a low 22dB noise level. The 3LCD projector also has a few screen adjustment options such as 2.1 optical zoom, and both horizontal and vertical lens shift. Connection options come in a wide variety and include 2 HDMI ports, component, composite, S-video and RGB slots. Available at certified Epson retailers, the EH-TW5000 isn't priced cheap at $5299.
June 9, 2009
Harman Kardon today announced its BDP-1 Blu-ray player would be shipping in the United States this month. The company's first Blu-ray player, the BDP-1 is a Profile 2.0 player enabling it to access extra movie content via an Ethernet connection. It also will upconvert standard definition DVDs to 1080p resolution, support JPEG and MP3 playback from discs or USB sticks, and has an RJ-45 slot. All of the newest high definition audio codecs are also supported included Dolby TrueHD, DTS and DTS-HD Master Audio, as well as Dolby Digital, LPCM and WMA files. When it ships later this month, the Harman Kardon BDP-1 Blu-ray player will carry a suggested retail price of $499. A bit pricey in my opinion.
June 8, 2009
Granted, a pair of 24-inch NEC LCDs just isn't quite as cool as a 43-inch curved desktop display, but either would make a half decent computer monitor. The LCD2490WUXi2 and LCD2490W2 are the latest color-accurate monitors to be spun off of NEC's production lines. Each IPS panel covers about 96.7 percent of the sRGB color space, producing better images than either TVA or PN displays, and enabling them to be used for professional-level video editing. Other common features between the two include 12-bit color lookup tables, ambient light sensors, automatic brightness controls, 320 cd/m2 brightness, 1000:1 contrast ratio, and both DVI and VGA inputs. The only difference between the two is that the LCD2490W2 includes a SpectraView color calibrator enabling enhanced imagery. Both panels sit on swivel stands and will ship later the month; the LCD2490WUXi2 for $1099 and the LCD2490W2 for $1299.
When it comes to announcing new HDTV lines, it's go big or go home these days. Aside from price, there just isn't all that much differentiating different displays. That's what Vizio is doing this morning, adding 31 new models to its XVT, M and E series lines. The new XVT models, ranging from 32 to 55 inches, bring TruLED backlighting, 1080p resolution, 2, 000, 000:1 contrast ratio and SRS sound technology to the table. Models come in both 120 Hz and 240 Hz varieties. The M series is the designer line, sporting JAVA color, 1080p resolution, 50, 000: 1 contrast ratio, 120 Hz technology, and multimedia playback via USB. Models will be available sized between 32 to 47 inches. Finally, the E series is the eco-friendly family, ranging in size from 19 to 42 inches. With its EcoHD technology, it manages to use 20% less energy than the Energy Star 3.0 specifications while (hopefully) maintaining picture quality and performance. Check out the full press release with all the little details after the cut.
Continue reading: "Vizio outs 31 new HDTVs spread among XVT, M and E series'"
June 5, 2009
We first saw Pioneer's 2009 Blu-ray family at CES in January. Then we received some indication of pricing and an early release for Japan. Finally, after quite the wait, Pioneer's BDP-23FD, BDP-320 and BDP-120 Blu-ray players are available in the United States.
All three models are highly functional and Profile 2.0-compatible, differing only in the finer details. For instance, while the BDP-320 and BDP-23FD sport built-in flash memory, the BDP-120 instead includes a separate 1 GB SanDisk flash drive. The BDP-23FD or Elite BDP-23FD is the top-end of the three and includes features for custom installs. KURO Link Picture Mode and Precision Quartz Lock System Multi (PQLS) are two features unique to the Elite model, added so that Blu-ray playback would sync nicely with Pioneer A/V receivers and KURO flat panels.
All three players are now available. The BDP-23FD, BDP-320 and BDP-120 cost $599, $399 and $299, respectively.
If you happened to attended the Electronics Entertainment Expo this year and hit up the Alienware booth, you were lucky enough to lay eyes on the 43-inch immersive display optimized for video games. Manufactured by US-based Ostendo Technologies, the CRVD Display is 103.6 cm long and 32.5 cm wide, has a 122 cm radius, a response time of 0.016 milliseconds, a resolution of 2880 x 900 and a contrast ratio of 10000:1. Interestingly, the CRVD Display opts to use rear projection technology packing in 4 DLP lamps as the RGB LED light source. The display was only a prototype and wasn't accompanied with any indication of a release date or potential price, but Ostendo said it would be working closely with Dell to bring the 43-inch gaming display to market.
We've all missed a phone call because the TV's been too loud at one time or another. Some of us more than others depending on the quality of our hearing or aptitude for constantly misplacing the remote. The TV Silencer is a handy little gadget that eliminates the chance of TV-responsible missed calls altogether. Basically a programmable remote, the TV Silencer hooks to your landline and automatically mutes your TV and/or pauses your DVD player when it detects an incoming call. It also doesn't require a separate plug-in, batteries or recharging, because it pulls power straight from the phone line. Nice. You can grab a TV Silencer now for $44.95.
June 4, 2009
NEC delivered today what could be the ultimate in computer monitors though the 43-inch CRV43 curved LCD is officially a "specialty desktop display." Built for commercial applications such as digital imaging, command and control and professional graphics, the CRV43 provides an ultra-wide field of view (32:10 aspect ratio) thanks to its slightly curved design. Features include:
- 2880 x 900 double WXGA native resolution
- 200 cd/m² brightness
- 0.02ms Rapid Response
- 10,000:1 contrast ratio
- Wide color gamut with 100% coverage of sRGB and 99.3% coverage of Adobe RGB
- Single link DVI-D and HDMI 1.3 input connectors
- USB 2.0 connectivity for easy use of peripherals
- Front panel controls
- On Screen Display (OSD®) and software-based GUI, which enables advanced display control options
Shipping in July 2009, NEC's CRV43 curved desktop display will result in a $7999 hole in your pocket. At least that includes a 3-year parts and labor warranty including the backlight.
June 2, 2009
It's been a couple of years since high-end HDTV maker Bang & Olufsen released the 40-inch BeoVision 7 LCD HDTV. But despite the fact the company has announced the BeoVision 8 this year, it decided to give the 7 series an upgrade anyway. Scrapped is the DVD optical drive, replaced instead by an integrated BD Live Blu-ray player. Picture frame rate has been upped to 120 Hz from 60 Hz reducing motion blur, and buyers will have the choice of two loudspeakers: either the BeoLab 7-2 stereo speaker or the BeoLab 7-2 center speaker unit with Acoustic Lens Technology. Also included with the updated home theater package is the Beo5 remote control, enabling turn-and-tilt control of the 40-inch LCD panel and control of automated home systems such as lighting and outdoor pool covers. Unfortunately the price of the BeoVision 7-40 remains about the same sporting an MSRP of $13500 with the included center loudspeaker. Got the cash? You'll be able to pick up the integrated Blu-ray BeoVision 7 this month at all Bang & Olufsen retail locations.
Microsoft announced a flurry of new Xbox-related innovations yesterday at the opening of the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3).
Many of the new additions are to Xbox Live including instant 1080p movies in 5.1 surround sound. Delivered to consoles hooked up to compatible HDTVs, the instant HD movie service also adds Netflix rentals and Live TV with BSkyB in the United Kingdom and Ireland. In addition, Microsoft added 10 new markets to its TV and movie service via Xbox Live including: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.
Looking to make interactive gaming and TV watching more social, Microsoft also announced that Facebook, Twitter and Last.fm would be integrated into the Xbox Live experience, in effect creating a new social network. Users will be able to share status updates and screenshots from supported games including Tiger Woods PGA Tour. Last.fm integration will allow users to listen to music and even create personalized radio stations from a pool of millions of songs. Furthermore, Xbox Live Party for movies lets you share the 'living room' with friends from across the country. The new service lets friends share a virtual movie theater, complete with personalized avatars and voice chat.
One of the wildest announcements to emerge from E3 yesterday is that of Project Natal. Compatible with any Xbox 360, Project Natal is actually a sensor that combines an RGB camera, depth sensor, multi-array microphone and a custom processor to enable gameplay without a controller. Project Natal recognizes your face, tracks full body movements in 3D, and responds to commands, directions, and changes of emotion in your voice.
June 1, 2009
Panasonic has announced today the upcoming availability of the DMP-B15, the world's first portable Blu-ray player. The BD Live Blu-ray unit sports a 8.9-inch WSVGA LCD display along with many of the features inherent in Panasonic's standalone players. 1080p resolution is enabled by PHL Reference Chroma Processor Plus technology, and the DMP-B15 also has Viera Cast internet accessibility so users have access to Amazon video on demand content, YouTube, Google Picasa photos, Bloomberg news and weather reports. The unit doesn't have a particularly great battery life--only 2.5 hours--but it does have an SD card slot and the ability to connect to an HDTV via HDMI for a standalone experience.
Panasonic will be shipping the DMP-B15 portable Blu-ray player this month for a rather extravagant $799.95. Guess you'll have to pay for portability. Not so sure portability is worth the extra $500 or $600 you'll pay if you opt for portable over standalone.
It's getting to be the busy time of year when all of the products we first laid eyes on at the beginning of the year finally get release dates and price tags. I'm in the market for an entire new home theater myself and the choices are overwhelming! But it's definitely nice to see the HDTV industry picking up again after the economic slowdown. Here's TVSnob's look back at the month of May 2009:
Digital TV Transition 2009
Home Theater A/V