January 31, 2011
Deal of the Day
Home Theater A/V
January 31, 2011
The UK's Lovefilm may have recently been acquired by online retail giant Amazon, but that hasn't slowed the former's forward progress down in any way.
Samsung has announced today that it will include Lovefilm movie streaming by way of application on all of its UK Blu-ray players. The app will be activated by a Lovefilm subscription of £5.99 or above and give customers access to thousands of movies via Samsung's Internet@TV service.
Via The Register
January 24, 2011
Academy Award-winning film editor and sound designer Walter Murch writes in a letter to film critic Roger Ebert that 3D will never work. Not because it's expensive, requires uncomfortable glasses, causes headaches, or any other of the usual complaints - but because the evolution of our species has never requiredour eyeballs to focus and converge at different points.
From the Chicago Sun-Times:
The biggest problem with 3D, though, is the "convergence/focus" issue. A couple of the other issues -- darkness and "smallness" -- are at least theoretically solvable. But the deeper problem is that the audience must focus their eyes at the plane of the screen -- say it is 80 feet away. This is constant no matter what.
But their eyes must converge at perhaps 10 feet away, then 60 feet, then 120 feet, and so on, depending on what the illusion is. So 3D films require us to focus at one distance and converge at another. And 600 million years of evolution has never presented this problem before. All living things with eyes have always focussed and converged at the same point.
In a nutshell, our eyeballs make it nearly impossible - without another few million years of HDTV-related evolutionary adaptations - to properly process 3D images.
What do you think about 3D? Will it ever truly catch on?
January 20, 2011
Amazon's Video On Demand service is making inroads into Europe with the acquisition of Lovefilm. Lovefilm, in which Amazon already has a minority stake, is the European version of Netflix, operating a DVD rental service (originally purchased from Amazon) and streaming video to the Playstation 3, some TVs and computers.
The deal, expected to be completed by the end of March, is a strategic move again both Netflix, which hasn't expanded into Europe yet, and Apple's iTunes which does offer service to Europe.
January 19, 2011
Nintendo is working to update its DS handheld game console with the 3DS, coming to Japan February 26th. The 3DS is a dual-screen unit - a touchscreen bottom screen and a 3D upper screen. The glasses free console runs on two 266 MHz ARM processors, comes with a 2 GB SD card for expansion and a charging cradle as opposed to a plug-in connection. It will also have a gyroscope and accelerometer so it can sense motion.
LED lights act as indicators on the unit with a green light meaning the unit is fully charged, a red light meaning the battery is low, and an orange light indicating the presence of a friend online.
Pilotwings Resort, Nintendogs and Cats, Steeldiver (a submarine game), Legend of Zelda, Ocarina of Time 3-D and Kid Icarus: Uprising will all be available when the unit launches next month for the equivalent of US$300.
Via Fast Company
Sanyo's PLC WL-2503 ultra-short throw multimedia projector allows presenters to create a fully interactive exhibition without a sensor-backed whiteboard. Combining a camera module mounted on the front of the projector, an IR transmitter-equipped pen, and a PC connected by USB to the projector, the interactive system allows a presenter to write on top of the projected display.
Able to produce an 80-inch, 1280 x 800 XGA resolution picture from only 34-inches away, the PLC WL-2503 pumps out 2500 lumens of brightness, features Sanyo's PJ Network Interface for wired networking, a 4000 hour lamp and filter life, blackboard/colorboard mode, and Closed Caption compatibility.
Hitting shelves at the end of January, the Sanyo PLC WL-2503 is priced at $1695.99.
January 18, 2011
When it comes to setting trends, the country of Japan is often a likely culprit. Japan is at it again with rapidly increasing adoption of 3D-compatible home theater hardware. According to blog Crunchgear, 57% of Blu-ray recorders and 23% of all 40-inch plus HDTVs sold in Japan last month were 3D ready. This is up from roughly 7% and 3% for each, respectively, in early fall 2010. Cheaper prices and the holiday season probably bumped up these numbers temporarily, but big numbers nonetheless.
Epson has announced four new projectors geared for the education market. The PowerLite 1835, PowerLite D6150, PowerLite D6155W and the PowerLite D6250 make up the four new units, priced at $1199 (March), $1649, $1799 and $1799 (all three in April), respectively.
The PowerLite 1835 features XGA resolution, 3500 lumens of brightness, 16W speaker with closed captioning decoder, HDMI and USB inputs, an optional wireless connection and a 6000 lamp life.
The D6000 series swap major features with each other. The D6150 features 3500 lumens of brightness, XGA resolution, 5000 hour lamp life and 10000 hour electrostatic filter. The D6155W steps up the resolution widescreen XWGA and the D6250 is a bit brighter at 4000 lumens but keeps the XGA resolution.
January 11, 2011
The days of HD over analog are coming to an end. Any new Blu-ray player announced after January 1, 2011 will only output HD over HDMI. Transmission through a component connection will automatically downgrade HD content to 540p thanks to something called Image Constraint token or ICT. Studios will set this on titles from now on but thankfully will have to mark it on the Blu-ray disc box and cannot retroactively apply it to any Blu-ray discs you may have now. You can also buy a Blu-ray player announced last year until the end of this year to temporarily override the issue. In the end though, this is a good thing. By the end of 2013, analog outputs will no longer be integrated into Blu-ray players at all and the move to higher definition digital output will be a great thing for HDTV viewers everywhere.
Most home theater geeks are probably familiar with buyer's remorse, that feeling of regret you sometime have to deal with after shelling out a few dollars for a new HDTV. Why does it happen? Mainly because the HDTV just bought will be a technological midget compared to the next big thing that will be on shelves in 6 months.
Consumer electronics retailer Best Buy knows this and has today launched the Buy Back program, available this month in both bricks-and-mortar stores and online. The premise of the program? Buy, for example, an HDTV under $5000, purchase the Buy Back protection at the time of original HDTV purchase and then know that if you'd like to upgrade in less than 6 months you'll get up to 50% of the original purchase price back in the form of a Best Buy gift card.
Interestingly, the rebate is given back at the time of trade-in - no messy paperwork or waiting 6 weeks after a mail-in.
HDTVs themselves can be traded in for up to 48 months after the original purchase for a rebate of up to 10%.
The Buy Back program in expected to encourage early technology adopters to feel more comfortable making expensive technology purchases in an era of nearly constant product releases and updates from manufacturers.
January 5, 2011
High-definition junkies will be pleased to browse the latest news from Philips over coffee this morning. The company has announced a variety of new products at the Consumer Electronics Show this morning including its 4000, 5000 and 6000 HDTV series', five Blu-ray home theatre systems and 5 new Blu-ray players.
Kicking things off with the 4000 series, you can expect availability in 40- (40PFL4706), 46- (46PFL4706) and 55 (55PFL4706) inch screen sizes, all available with MediaConnect and NetTV sometime this May. The Philips software allows your PC to collaborate with your HDTV in order to access content from the likes of Vudu, Blockbuster and Netflix. All of this is done wirelessly as per 2011 technology. The three models will be priced at $679, $899 and $1099, respectively. 19-, 22- and 32-inch replicas minus the MediaConnect and NetTV integration will also be available for $199.99, $249.99 and $449.99, respectively.
The 5000 series is basically the same bowl of Cheerios with the addition of a Pixel Precise HD engine and a 120 Hz refresh, plus SRS TruSurround HD. Also available in 40- (40PFL5706), 46- (46PFL5706) and 55- (55PFL5706), the 5000 series will set you back $749, $999 and $1499 when they land on shelves sometime in April or May.
On to the 6000 series, available in 40- (40PFL6706), 46- (46PFL6706) and 55-inch (55PFL6706) display sizes once again, you'll get full 3D support for a little extra cash output. Coming this September, the 6000 series will cost $999, $1299 and $1699, respectively.
As for the home theatre systems, they'll ship from February to May with price tags ranging from $269.99 to $449.99. All include MediaConnect and NetTV, three sport 3D support and features like wireless rear speakers appear as the price point increases.
The Blu-ray players will also ship next month until April, beginning at $169.99 and moving on up to $219.99. 3 of the new models will include 3D support and the most expensive BDP7506 also has built-in MediaConnect/NetTV.