August 31, 2009
The SatanVision LED TV is a project put together by David Forbes for Burning Man. The idea behind the 3-month, $1000 project? What would a TV look like "if it was designed by The Horned One?" The answer to that question is an LED-based TV with a red and black picture that's so dim it can't even be watched during the day. The set displays regular NTSC video content in 128 x 96 resolution and was designed for Burning Man, according to Forbes, because "nowhere else could anyone ever find a reason to watch such a crummy TV set."
August 31, 2009
It's not the prettiest piece of hardware we've ever seen, but the 2.5 kilogram portable LED video projector from Japan's Kumazaki-Aim does pack in a DVD player. Unfortunately the 268×295×92 millimeter projector, which also includes a screen with purchase, doesn't have the greatest specs. 640 x 480 VGA resolution, 300:1 contrast ratio, 200 lumens of brightness, 60 inch images from 2.1 meters away, an SD/MMC card reader, S-video and VGA ports, and 3 Watt/2 channel speakers. The DVD player also supports MP3, WMA, AVI, JPEG, DivX, and Xvid audio, video, and image formats. Available in Japan tomorrow, the DVD-packin' portable projector will cost the equivalent of US$600. A little much in my opinion.
August 30, 2009
Although the economy is arguably beginning to recover, HDTV retailers won't recover for some time. And many of us just don't have the extra cash around to purchase a new HDTV. Sooner or later, retailers like Best Buy have to cut their losses and clear inventory. Hence the giant savings revealed in today's Best Buy Sunday circular on big-screens sized above 39-inches. In fact, a few 46- and 55-inch Samsung HDTVs have $1100 lopped off the price tag. There's also a few HDTV, Blu-ray and home theater packages featuring big savings as well. Check out HD GURU or the Best Buy flyer for all of the details.
August 30, 2009
LG Electronics is shipping a 15-inch OLED TV in South Korea this November, according to a Reuters article; one month earlier than the December release date we heard about in June. We'll first see the OLED TV at the IFA conference in Berlin next month, nearly 2 years after Sony released the first OLED TV, the XEL-1, back in 2007. LG said it is also planning to commercialize a whopping 40-inch OLED model "in a not too distant future." Wow, that's quite a bit bigger and sooner than a 32-inch model in 2012?
August 28, 2009
The prolific CNET reviewers have taken the 46-inch Toshiba SV670U LED-backlit LCD HDTV to task in their laboratories and given its cost, it looks like a good bet. The 46-inch set costs less than most sets using LED backlighting with local dimming, yet still manages plasma-like black levels, accurate color, and can separate its antiblurring and dejudder processing. The 240 Hz set also has plenty of connectivity options including 4 HDMI ports and a PC input, plus adds some silver into the usual plain black design of most other high-end LCD models. On the negative side, the 46SV670U suffers from some blooming, a poor off-angle performance, and a bit of an overactive backlight. But when all things were considered, including the relatively low price point, the Toshiba 46SV670U LED-backlit LCD HDTV scored a 3.5 out of a possible 5 stars from CNET.
Toshiba 46SV670U LCD HDTV--At Amazon
If you have a few thousand dollars to burn and are looking for a high-end HTPC, then definitely take a look at the Okoro OMS-BX300 Blu-ray Digital Entertainment System. The dedicated HTPC has specs to die for: Intel Core i7 920 2.66 GHz processor, 6 GB DDR3 memory, 512 MB ATI Radeon HD graphics card, RAID Level 1 2 TB hot-swappable hard drives, a 64 GB solid state drive to speed up boot times, multiple HD tuner card options including CableCard support, a pair of recordable Blu-ray drives, Radeon HD 4850's 7.1 LPCM audio support to output surround sound over HDMI, and optional preinstallation of SageTV Media Center 6.5 for Windows Media Center haters.
The OMS-BX300 also has a variety of add-ons, though they'll cost a little extra. The $300 ATI TV Wonder Digital CableCard Tuner, $250 for 6 TB or $550 for 8 TB of additional storage, and an $800 touchpad remote can all be added on to the $3095 base price of the OMS-BX300. However, if you're looking for a dedicated HTPC to attach to your HDTV, this Okoro appears to be worth considering.
August 27, 2009
As expected, Microsoft has dropped the prices of its Xbox 360 Elite and 360 Pro game consoles to $299 and $249, respectively, this morning. However, the company denies the price cut has anything to do with the recent Playstation 3 price cut, also to $299.
According to paidcontent.org:
But to hear Xbox 360 Product Manager David Dennis tell it, the price cut had nothing to do with Sony or the PS3--it's part of Microsoft's plan to phase out the mid-tier Xbox Pro. "We haven't been building the Pros anymore; we're phasing them out at a $249 price point. This is a manufacturing change that has been in the works for many months--we couldn't just make a global supply change within a week."
So there you have it. The 360 Pro is going bye-bye. The company also doesn't feel that the PS3 is its real competition either. And with 9 million PS3s sold compared to 16 million Xbox 360s, that's probably a fair assumption. Microsoft really wants to go after the PS2; with 138 million units sold, it's the best-selling game console of all time.
August 26, 2009
The gdgt blog is reporting that Qualcomm has a portable TV in the works that it hopes will push its FLO TV mobile TV service. According to the website, the Qualcomm device will be called the FLO TV Personal Television, or PTV for short, and roughly the size of an iPhone.
The rendering above was apparently created by Frog Design for Qualcomm, and should it be real, gives us an idea of what the device will look like if ever released. Other rumored features include a capacitative touchscreen with a swipe and gesture-recognizing user interface, 4 GB of memory for music storage, built-in stereo speakers, 300 hours of standby battery life, 5 hours of TV playback, and 15 hours of music playback.
I'll definitely be keeping my eyes open for this.
Sony Japan has announced its latest group of Blu-ray recorders, all packing built-in hard drives ranging from the the 320 GB BDZ-RS10 (single tuner) to the whopping 2 TB BDZ-EX200. Rounding out the five new models are the 320 GB BDZ-RX30, the 500 GB BDZ-RX50, and the 1 TB BDZ-RX100. Aside from the RS10, all of the Blu-ray recorder have twin tuners.
Other features include the CREAS 2 Engine which offers improved picture quality and standard-definition upscaling, 1080p video playback, a USB port, and for the EX200, RX100 and RX50, support for Sky PerfecTV, and both PSP and Sony Walkman compatibility.
The RX100, RX50, RX30 and RS10 are all hitting Japan in September priced at $1800, $1500, $1200, and $1000, respectively. The EX200 will arrive on Japanese shelves in November priced at $2800.
August 25, 2009
More evidence as emerged, complementing a leak last week, that supports a price drop for the Xbox 360 Elite AND the Xbox 360 Pro. Leaked shots of next week's Target ad sent to Engadget depict the 60 GB Pro for $250 while the 120 GB Elite will drop $100 to $300. Target's ads run from Sunday to Saturday, so expect this price cut to go into effect on August 30!
Hitachi this morning added five new HDTVs to its Wooo TV line, all packing an internal 500 GB hard drive for storing downloaded or recorded video content. The three plasmas, sized 42-, 46- and 50-inches and two LCDs, sized 37- and 42-inches, all feature 1080p resolution, automatic brightness control, DLNA media streaming, an iVDRS slot, and HD storage of up to 400 hours on the internal hard drive. The plasmas, in order mentioned above, will sport price tags of $3000, $3500, and $4000, with a shipping date of September 10 in Japan. The LCDs will cost $2500 and $3000 for the 37- and 42-inch models, respectively, with an expected shipping date in October. So far Hitachi hasn't mentioned plans to ship the five new Wooo HDTVs outside of Japan.
August 24, 2009
For $220 I wouldn't mind grabbing an AOC 2436Vx 24-inch 1080p monitor. Specs include a 5 millisecond response time, 300 nits of brightness, 60, 000:1 contrast ratio, and DVI and VGA plug-ins, so they aren't the best we've seen. But the price seems to be right in our current economy, and with a 49 Watt power consumption you'll be doing your part for the planet as well.
Two separate flyer leaks have appeared on the interwebs over the last couple of days showing a $100 price cut for the Xbox 360 Elite 120 MB SKU. A Meijer's flyer and more recently, a Walmart flyer, both show an Xbox 360 Elite priced at $299.99. So should these leaks prove true, what does this mean other than savings for the end consumer? A vicious battle between the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3, which also dropped to $299.99 with the announcement of the Playstation Slim!
August 20, 2009
Prolific Piper Jaffray senior analyst Gene Munster believes that Apple will launch a full blown HDTV with built-in digital media recording capabilities by 2011. And how will this vision play out? Munster says it'll go something like this:
- Apple will release a new Apple TV set-top box soon with a TV input a built-in DVR. This would tie in to a subscription-based service for its iTunes TV content.
- An iTunes TV Pass within the year that will leverage Apple's cable network relationships and content library. Consumers would have unlimited access to a sub-library of cable content for a flat fee of $30-$40 per month.
- An Apple TV set within two years that will be able to wirelessly sync with iPhones, iPods, and iPod Touch's.
Munster continues to go on to argue that Apple's partnership with LG to produce LCD displays and a variety of digital video recording-related patents further support an Apple TV.
Personally I'm on the fence about this one. With budget HDTV brands such as Vizio producing quality sets on the cheap, this might be a tough market for Apple to break into. Especially given its premium pricing strategy. Pioneer had the bestplasma TVs around--still do really--but pulled out of the business because the high prices it charged didn't enable it to grab enough market share.
Then again, if any company could pull off a premium pricing strategy in what is quickly becoming a commodity market, Apple would be it.
Mitsubishi has debuted a trio of impressive Blu-ray DVRs in Japan. The flagship DVR-BZ330 has a whopping 1 TB of built-in memory and Diamond HD chip-powered super resolution upconversion. The mid-range DVR-BZ230 has 500 GB of hard drive space but no super resolution capabilities, while the DVR-BV530 has the usual Blu-ray capabilities AND VHS playback (but no recording). Available in October, the Mitsubishi DVRs run from ¥120,000 ($1,270) for the DVR-BV530 to ¥180,000 ($1,915) for the top-of-the-line DVR-BZ330.
August 18, 2009
As expected, Sony revealed its new PS3 Slim gaming console this morning at the Gamescon European gaming conference. The unit is roughly 1/3 the size of the current PS3, packs a 120 GB hard drive and costs $299 when it ships in the first week of September.
Also, despite no verification from Sony on this one, an FCC database digger has uncovered a 250 GB PS3 Slim. Sony hasn't mentioned this larger capacity version but it exists and will probably launch sometime in the fall after the 120 GB PS3 Slim. The company even filed the product under the name Sand Company Enterprise in an attempt to keep it hidden from FCC snoopers. Looks like the plan didn't work out so well.
Here's an interesting partnership between two companies, both struggling in their respective industries: Blockbuster and Motorola have teamed up to bring OnDemand video content to future Motorola mobile phones. This is the first time Blockbuster have streamed its content to mobile phones, somewhat of a last ditch effort to save its flailing business. The company has been pushing hard this year to establish relationships with hardware manufacturers in order to broaden the reach of its digital content. Recently, Blockbuster has signed deals with Samsung to stream OnDemand to its home theater products and Archos, a netbook maker. Blockbuster hasn't released a timeline for availability or movie prices, but claims thousands of titles will be available.
Rumors of an upcoming Playstation 3 price cut have been flying around for awhile, despite repeated denials from Sony, maker of the game console. But today it appears that "the rumors are reality". A Kmart.com promotion has the PS3 listed for $299 (80 GB), a $100 price cut, a drop meant to prepare us for a "new" PS3--presumably the PS3 Slim. Later today there is a Sony press event in New York during which I'm expecting we'll hear more details. Stay tuned.
August 17, 2009
I was looking forward to Sony's 'larger-than-11-inch' OLED TV originally slated for a Christmas release. Unfortunately, due in large part to tough economic conditions, it looks like Sony will be putting its XEL-2 plans on hold until 2010. In the meantime, the company plans to focus on lower-end models to appeal to the massive number of consumers looking for value at the moment. The good news? LG is still on track to release its 15-inch OLED TV this winter.
BenQ last week announced the launch of two new LED-backlit desktop monitors: the 24-inch 1080p V2400 Eco and the 21.5-inch 1080p V2200 Eco, both widescreen displays.
BenQ claims that both Eco monitors, in addition to being environmentally friendly, leak no light enabling each to sport 5 million to 1 dynamic contrast. Also, both monitors augment the LED-backlighting and high contrast with Senseye 3 Human Vision Technology, proprietary to BenQ.
The monitors will ship first mid-month in China, before shipping globally. Check out the full release after the jump.
Continue reading: "BenQ goes green with V Series Eco LED monitor family"
August 15, 2009
I have to admit: the direction of the HDTV market is tough to predict. In the first quarter of 2009, HDTV sales grew despite the worst global economy in decades. Now, as the second quarter reports begin to appear, research firm Quixel Research says that plasma TV sales were the fastest-growing. This despite reports and predictions of the demise of plasma for a couple of years now.
This wasn't a small amount of growth either. Plasma TV sales in Q2 were up 31% in volume and 35% in value from Q1, just south of $1 billion in sales. The key takeaway from the report though was more significant. The real plasma growth was in the 42-inch 720p class of plasma HDTVs, more of a value proposition than newer, larger and higher-resolution models.
The growth in plasma does seem to stem from its relative value to LCD models in this quarter alone. Or maybe it has something to do with the 'load of crap' LCD specification revelation. In all seriousness, these plasma numbers may seem counterintuitive because they are. A dynamic of pricing in one quarter alone rather than an indication of a longer-term trend.
You can check out the report here (PDF).
LG first announced a trio of Blu-ray HTIBs at CES earlier this year, and now the product reviews are beginning to roll in. CNET put the screws to the LG LHB953 Blu-ray HTIB recently, and by the time the review was done, the LG home theater unit had thrown the screws right back.
Though the LHB953 wasn't the best HTIB from an aesthetic perspective released so far this year (it's a little big), it's Blu-ray image quality and 5.1-channel audio playback was top of the line. Furthermore, it's excellent streaming capabilities which include Netflix, CinemaNow, Pandora and Youtube really push it over the top.
CNET says the LHB953 could use some video inputs, as well as automatic speaker calibration and a wireless rear speaker option. But for $436, it's well worth the money spent for the overall quality purchased.
LG LHB953 Blu-ray HTIB-->At Amazon
August 11, 2009
The Roku set-top box, also known as the Netflix box, has added to its roster of video streaming content. And the addition will prove to be a popular one.
Starting today, subscribers to MLB.com Premium, which typically streams baseball games on PCs and the iPhone, will be able to access live games through Roku. This is actually a very significant development no matter which way you look at it. Not only is it great content, but live content is one of the few types subscription cable is counting on to keep the advertising revenues rolling in.
From an end user perspective, MLB streaming works the same way as Netflix or Amazon on Demand streaming. You'll be able to see any game except for the usual blacked-out home games, see the schedule a week in advance, and be able to access games up to one week old in the archive.
In order to improve the picture quality, Roku uses adaptive bit-rate technology Swarmcast, which detects your connection speed and adjusts the video quality in order to prevent lags from buffering and the like.
And the great thing is the the Roku box only costs $99.
Logitech announced today its new Harmony 900 remote control, adding an RF to IR bridge system to complement similar high-end features to those of the company's previous remotes like the Harmony One. The Harmony 900 communicates with an RF hub, which in turn creates an IR signal to communicate with one of two receivers. What does this mean for you? You'll have the benefits of out-of-range RF home theater or media PC control while still retaining IR compatibility. Other features of the Harmony 900 are similar to previous models including a color touchscreen, activity-based menu system, and the ability to control numerous devices simultaneously. In fact you'll be able to control up to 15 different devices with the Harmony 900. Software updates are uploaded through a USB connection to your Mac or PC. Shipping in September, the Harmony 900 will cost roughly $400.
Logitech Harmony 900-->At Amazon
August 10, 2009
Last week the prolific Onkyo announced its HT Series AV receiver duo. This week the company has shipped a pair of additional models in its TX line. The TX-NR807 and TX-NR707, successors to the TX-NR607 launched last year, cost $1100 and $900, respectively.
The flagship TX-NR807 is packed with features. Among them: Audyssey DSX processing (up to 9.1 speakers), Dolby Pro Logic IIz, Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio support, THX-Select2 Plus certification, 1080p video upconversion, DLNA 1.5-compliance, 6 HDMI inputs, and streaming audio from Pandora, Rhapsody, Sirius and vTuner internet radio. Support for MP3, WMA, FLAC, Lossless, Ogg Vorbis, and AAC files from hard drives and network-attached PCs is also included.
The TX-NR707 has all the features of the TX-NR807 with the exception of streaming audio and networking support. It also has less power.
Onkyo TX-NR807-->At Amazon
Onkyo TX-NR707-->At Amazon
Last month we heard that Toshiba would be releasing a Blu-ray recorder or Blu-ray player by the end of 2009. Today, the former kingpin of the failed HD DVD format, has officially confirmed it will release Blu-ray products and plans to join the once-rival Blu-ray Disc Association.
It's appeared for some time that Toshiba would skip the Blu-ray revolution altogether, possibly to work on a different video technology again. But with Blu-ray's popularity picking up steam, and with high-def drives beginning to supplant DVD drives in laptops and PCs, Toshiba would be leaving a huge pile of money of the table if it were to opt out.
The company says it will release more details later this year.
August 9, 2009
Xbox LIVE Marketplace just got a new payment option in the form of Paypal. For those not so sure about entering their credit card information online, this is pretty welcome. You can't access the sign-up from the Xbox 360; you'll need to go to Xbox.com, click on the "Manage Payment Options" link and you'll be good to go. Then you'll be able to purchase games and other downloads using your Paypal account. The only bummer about the new option is that it's only available in the United States currently, and there's no word on when it will be extended to other countries.
August 8, 2009
Usually resolution is converted upward from standard-definition to 720p or 1080p high-definition resolution. In the case of Atlona's AT-HD530, the down-converter changes high-def video content to standard-def. The unit accepts high-def sources over HDMI or DVI inputs, converts it, and then sends it to a standard-def display over composite or S-video outputs including any accompanying audio.
The AT-HD530 not only accepts 1080p video content from HDTVs but also UXGA (1600 x 1200 pixels at 60 Hz) content from a Mac or PC. Also, both NTSC and PAL signals are supported so the AT-HD530 is good to go in North America or Europe.
On sale this month, the Atlona AT-HD530 will cost $299.
Blu-ray and iTunes together at last? Possibly, according to Boy Genius Report, citing "a pretty reliable source" as saying iTunes 9 will feature Blu-ray integration. Recently Apple Insider reported that Apple's new iMac line will integrate Blu-ray playback, so the two would tie up nicely together. Other than Blu-ray integration, iTunes 9 is also rumored to have an iPhone/iPod Touch application organization interface, and possibly Twitter/Facebook/Last.fm integration; presumably to share what you're listening to or watching with your friends. The BGR source didn't supply a launch date, but the consensus is that it would most likely come during Apple's annual iPod event in September.
August 7, 2009
Sharp announced its second generation AQUOS DX series this morning with an improved 7x mode that the company claims extends Blu-ray disc recording times.
The AQUOS DX series which integrates a Blu-ray disc recorder into the set itself will consist of 40-, 46- and 52-inch models, all of which sport 1080p resolution and a High Quality Picture Master Engine which improves picture quality.
The second generation will also include 26- and 32-inch models, both of which are 720p.
The two largest DX series models will be available in black and white, while the three smaller models will also have a red color option.
All of the DX series sets will ship in Japan the September. Prices and other countries of availability weren't announced.
August 6, 2009
Owners of 2009 Panasonic Viera Cast-enabled Blu-ray players may notice something different this morning. An automatic update yesterday brought Amazon on Demand to your internet-connected HD disc player. The update came to the DMP-BD60, BD70V, BD80 and the portable B15 Blu-ray players, bringing 45, 000 SD titles and 1, 000 HD titles to the already accessible Picasa and Youtube (among other) content.
Continue reading: "2009 Panasonic Blu-ray players get Amazon on Demand with software update"
One of Taiwan's biggest projector brands, Optoma, has announced the HD20 DLP home theater projector. Features include:
- 32.4 cm x 23.4 cm dimensions
- 2.88 kg mass
- 1920 x 1080 resolution
- 1700 ANSI lumens of brightness
- 500:1 contrast ratio
- 38 to 300 inch projection size range (100 inch image from 3.32 meters)
- color and image adjustment features including processing engines for color temperature, gamma, B/W extension, and RGB gain/bias; and format, overscan, zoom and digital image shift image manipulation features
- HDMI and PC inputs
Optoma hasn't announced a price for the HD20 projector, but says it expects it to be "affordable to a wider range of home consumers."
August 5, 2009
Onkyo has added a pair of home theater receivers to its roster today. Called the HT Series, the first model is the 7.2-channel HT-RC160. Key features include Dolby ProLogic IIz, 5 HDMI inputs and an MSRP of $549. The step-up HT-RC180 features include those of the HT-RC160 and adds in THX Select2Plus Certification, and networking features that include streaming radio from Pandora and Rhapsody. The HT-RC180 has an MSRP of $1049.
Okay, so maybe good ol' fashioned cable TV isn't in danger of going out of business just yet. But just wait until the current generation of youngsters have the cash to plaster a brand spankin' new web-connected HDTV on the wall.
A recent survey by Pew features some revealing stats about the state of online video viewership. Consider this:
- 62% of adult net users have watched video online (an increase from 33% 2.5 years ago)
- 35% of net users have watched a movie or TV show online (2x times that of 2007 survey results)
- 23% of these people have hooked up their PC to a TV
Now consider these stats:
- 89% of youngsters watch video online
- 36% of youngsters watch online video in a typical day
What do you think? Is cable heading for an eventual demise a la newspapers?
Folks, my apologies. I've been having MAJOR computer issues for the past few weeks which is why posting has been at a minimal. But now I'm back so let's do a little a catching up.
Last week, Samsung officially announced its 8500 series, its latest in a line of LED-backlit LCD HDTVs.
With two new models, sized 46- and 55-inches, the Samsung 8500 series sports features such as a 7, 000, 000:1 dynamic contrast ratio, color-enhancing Wide Color Exchange Pro, ambient light-considering Ultra Clear Panel technology, 2 millisecond response time, a 240 Hz refresh rate, an Energy Star 3.0 efficiency rating, and internet access to all kinds of web-based content. DLNA compatibility, two USB slots, a 1.6-inch depth and a charcoal-accented Touch of Color bezel are also of note.
The 46-inch UN46B8500 and 55-inch UN55B8500 will ship for $3599.99 and $4499.99 this month, respectively.
August 1, 2009
Deal of the Day
Home Theater A/V
How to buy an HDTV
PVR & DVR