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.
Vudu has announced a partnership with LG Electronics, incorporating its streaming movie service into broadband connect LG HDTVs. Vudu continues to sell its set-top box online and through bricks-and-mortar retailers like Best Buy, but is increasingly focused on partnerships in the consumer electronics industry. Earlier this year Vudu announced a similar partnership with Vizio. At the same time the company, which arguably offers the best movie streaming service on the market, will face big competition from Amazon and Netflix. Both companies are also working hard to establish partnerships with HDTV manufacturers.
We recently saw a review of LG's new LH90 LCD HDTV line and it was dubbed "LG's best ever" and one of the best families on the market. So I'm happy to see that the company announced Wednesday that the LH90 line has finally shipped in the United States. Available in 42-, 47- and 55-inch models, the LH90 series features 1080p resolution, LED backlighting, THX Display Certification, 2, 000, 000:1 dynamic contrast ratio, 240 Hz TruMotion refresh, and Energy Star 3.0 certification. From smallest to largest, the LH90 series will set you back $1900, $2400 and $3200, respectively.
DynaScan's DS0716 is undoubtedly the most bizarre television I've ever seen. Captured on film by the DVICE crew at Rockefeller Center, the DS0716 is a cylindrical set with spinning LED technology. Inside the outer display (2 millimeters between pixels) is a spinning drum with RGB LEDs, controlled by some sort of proprietary system as its spins to an accuracy of 1/100th of a degree. The DS0716 is a rental unit that is customizable. If you don't want the spinning display, you can opt for a static image or split it into a checkerboard display and increase the rotation speed. Sounds like it'd be great for parties--but only if you have cash to burn. Depending on what you want the DS0716 to do, it costs from $4000 to $14000 per week to rent--technician included.
ASUS seems to have a foot in every consumer electronics market these days--including televisions. The company announced the TV Monitor T1 Series yesterday, a line of 1080p HDTVs/computer monitors available in 22- (22T1E), 24- (24T1E) and 27-inch (27T1E) display sizes. Specs include a 20, 000:1 contrast ratio, 5 millisecond response time, 300 nits of brightness, dual 7-Watt speakers, and a built-in digital TV tuner (DVB-T for Europe). Ports include a pair of HDMI, composite, component, VGA, S-video and a 3.5 millimeter headphone jack. As for pricing and a release date, ASUS hasn't spilled the beans yet, nor has the company said if an NTSC version will hit North America in the near future.
I've long been calling for the death of Blockbuster, big cynic that I am and all. But a partnership announced today with Samsung is probably the best thing that's happened to the former video rental bigwig in a long time. And it could be a big step in proving my long-standing prediction wrong.
Blockbuster OnDemand, the company's streaming video service, will be integrated into Samsung's home theater products by this fall. As part of the agreement, Blockbuster OnDemand will be available through all 2009 Samsung HDTVs coming this fall, and have preferred placement on Samsung Blu-ray players.
Furthermore, Samsung Blu-ray products will be sold in Blockbuster's bricks-and-mortar stores as well as through Blockbuster online.
Blockbuster OnDemand allows users to rent or buy movies directly from Samsung products. It can be managed directly from the HDTV using nothing more than a remote. No PC integration or management is needed.
For those of you who have already bought early 2009 models, a firmware update will allow you to access Blockbuster OnDemand on Samsung LCDs and plasmas 650 and above, and LED HDTVs 7000 and above.
DisplayMate Technologies, in collaboration with Insight Media, have just released the results of a new study revealing that LCD specifications are nothing but a load of crap. Really.
The study pitted top 2008 Sony, Samsung and Sharp LCD HDTVs against a Panasonic plasma, and not surprisingly the plasma set outperformed all LCDs. This is notable because plasma is looking to be on the way out. Most new HDTV buyers are opting for lower-cost LCD sets.
A couple of the most interesting test results have to do with viewing angles and contrast ratio. Pretty well all new HDTVs these days come with manufacturers claiming a 176 viewing angle. But the test results revealed that picture quality on LCD sets deteriorates at 10 degrees (roughly the width of a person from center) and falls all the way to 50% for a person sitting at a 45 degree angle. In essence, everyone watching the same LCD TV is seeing a very different picture. The Panasonic plasma, on the other hand, didn't have a distinguishable decrease in picture quality until a 45 degree viewing angle was reached.
The same goes for contrast ratios. These days we see incredible dynamic contrast ratios of 1, 000, 000:1 and even 2, 000, 000:1. The study revealed static contrast ratios of 1000:1 and 2000:1 for all of the tested LCD HDTVs. The plasma set reached 3842:1.
This is just one study of course. But it just goes to show that specs don't mean everything and despite its cost, plasma appears to still be the superior technology--unless you're watching TV in direct sunlight. LCD's higher brightness helps in that regard!
CNET's latest HDTV review concerns the 47-inch LG LH90 LCD TV and not only is the set dubbed LG's best ever, but it's also honored as being one of the top performing LCD TV's on the market today. The depth of its black levels and its shadow detail rival most plasma sets around, something we don't see from an LCD TV very often. Furthermore, CNET says that the 47LH90 boasts excellent color accuracy thanks to tons of picture controls, excellent performance in bright light due to a matte finish screen, not to mention 4 HDMI slots.
On the downside are the sets lack of interactive features, a missing S-video slot, some overlap between anti-blur and dejudder processing, and of course the lack of discernible performance difference between its 240 Hz frame rate and those sets with a 120 Hz speed.
Overall, CNET gave the 47LH90 a 4 out of 5, honored it with a power saver award, and said that "despite a few flaws it's a worthy member of the flat-panel elite." LG's other LH90 models come in 42- and 55-inch display sizes and would perform identically. Moreover, LG's LH55 series shares many features with the LH90 line ensuring those sets would perform similarly.
Netflix this morning announced that Sony is its latest partner in the instant movie streaming business. As of this fall, Sony BRAVIA internet-connected HDTVs and older BRAVIAs compatible with the Sony Internet video link will be able to access over 12, 000 Netflix flicks directly from their high-def TVs. As Engadget points out though, it's disappointing that the Playstation 3 isn't included in this deal. In the future maybe?
The Netflix-Sony partnership is the latest in a line of recent partnerships with electronics companies. Other Netflix partners include Microsoft, Roku, LG, TiVo, Samsung and Vizio.