Not for US consumption: The Philips 56″ Cinema 21:9 HDTV

January 31, 2009 by  
Filed under Philips, Technology News, TV Brands

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1-30-09-philips-cinema-219In one of the stranger moves in recent HDTV history, (and if one spokesman who talked to ZDnet recently is accurate), Philips’ quite awesome experiment in 21:9 HDTV displays, the 56-inch Cinema 21:9 HDTV (article about the TV itself in the link) won’t ever be available in the US.  And it’s a head scratcher as to why, the spokesman didn’t have an answer.

Why doesn’t Philips like the US for this device and why was this decision made? It missed much of CES 2009, it seems to have handed over its DVD and TV day-to-day decision making to Funai recently, and most of their top notch gear seems to only be planned to be available across the ocean. They seem to have developed a strange allergy to the American market in general of late.

It’s common sense that the Americans love their gadgets, and would snap this up if it landed on these shores. Who knows, they may change their mind. We hope Philips sees the light at one point.

VOOM HD programming expands into Latin America

January 31, 2009 by  
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voom_logo-1It seems interest in HD is pretty much global: VOOM HD has signed a deal with DLA to bring its HD programming to Latin America and related territories (including Mexico, Central America, South America and a number of Caribbean islands as well).

VOOM HD programming covers a variety of subjects, including travel, fashion, art, live concerts and more, and will add Spanish language tracks to their broadcasts as well.

Their CEO indicates a slowly emerging interest in HD programming of all types, and views their partnership with VOOM as a triumph for their market and affiliates.

VOOM HD is currently available in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. We reported on a story awhile back where they decided to move out of most US markets, due to increased competition and low subscriber rates. It appears they’ve found their niche: to supply quality HD programming to areas that don’t always have access to it, and they look like they’re gaining ground in that quest.

In the “Officially getting old” department: Senate passes another DTV delay bill to the House

January 31, 2009 by  
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tv-transitionThe US Senate has approved yet another bill that would delay the DTV transition until June 12th today, and passed it to the House of Representatives, where it needs a 2/3 vote to pass once again.

The bill contains some “minor edits” according to many observers, including a clause that may allow some local stations to switch over early if they wish. That might not be so bad, we suppose. Still, this whole thing has been dragged to death, it’s confusing everyone, and it needs to either pass or be shot down already, in our humble opinion.

The House is in recess until next week, but its appearing that this bill may pass, and we’ll have to wait until June for the full “official” switchover to DTV. A sad day for those HDTV fans (and TV fans in general) waiting for this to finally become reality.

Recession? Super Bowl may help to sell over 2.5 million HDTVs

January 31, 2009 by  
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1-20-09-super-bowl-xliiiYes, the economy is struggling, yet…according to a Consumer Electronics Association survey, over 2.6 million HDTVs will be due to Super Bowl fever, a tick upwards from the two million predicted last year at this time.

As far as year total sales, those are predicted to be around 29.8 million (out of 34.5 million digital TVs), topping 2008′s total by 3+ million, primarily because prices are low and continuing to slowly drop, probably hitting rock bottom towards the middle of this year or so. LCD’s will be the most popular, with Plasma only expect to account for 10% of the year’s total sales.

March Madness, the World Cup and other events taking place soon will serve to drive sales even more.

Another Economic Casualty: Sharp and Sony delay LCD venture

January 29, 2009 by  
Filed under Sharp, Sony, Technology News, TV Brands

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2-23-08-sony-sharp-lcdThe economy (and rising yen) has claimed another venture: a partnership between Sharp and Sony on a series of new LCD HDTV’s (kind of like LG and Philips were getting hitched together recently). It’s really not that big of a deal at this point, as both companies are pretty independent selling their own panels at this point.

They were scheduled to join together in a new factory that would have produced over 70,000 large LCD panels per month, with Sharp owning 2/3 of the venture, and Sony the other 1/3.

The venture has now been pushed back to March 2010, but who knows if that will end up happening at this point.

The Merry-Go-Round continues: DTV transition bill may be riding again

January 29, 2009 by  
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dtv_converter_couponEngadget HD and the L.A. Times are reporting that the DTV delay bill may be up for voting again soon, possibly next week.

Yes, this is officially getting old. Congress and the Senate need to get their heads together and decide this once and for all. This whole rollercoaster is creating confusion and chaos among the general TV population about what’s going to happen.

Article link here.

Our prediction: The delay won’t happen. Too many stations would lose a lot of money, the coupon system is so backed up it would take long time to sort it all out, and it would create needless confusion.

Shocking DTV transition delay news: Not happening

January 28, 2009 by  
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dtvYes, every once in awhile, our government works, and gets it right.

In a vote that pretty much shocked everyone, the United States House of Representatives did not pass the digital TV transition delay bill that was pretty much assumed to fly through just a few days ago when we reported this possible delay. The bill needed two-thirds of the votes of the House under special rules vote, and reportedly, the vote was just 258 to 168 in favor of changing the date, so it fell short of passing.

Our reaction: Good. The delay would have been costly, confusing to those who have had the Feb date drilled into their heads, and not really needed when you analyse the situation logically. Of the 6.5 million people not ready, many (you would assume) have been warned enough about the change and had enough time to save for a box, get a government coupon, get cable or satellite, or in some other way prepare for the change. If they haven’t by February, it would be safe to assume TV isn’t that important to them.

Now its full speed ahead for DTV, and we welcome the changeover with open arms.

Survey: HD Super Bowl could be a uniting family force

January 28, 2009 by  
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sony-braviaIn our experience, survey results can be pretty crazy before, but this might be the weirdest result ever recorded.

A Samsung-led poll recently released has shown that the temptation of football’s big game in HD (so owning an HDTV is assumed) can lure family members to each other’s houses. I bet you never thought all it took to bring a family together was 1080 joy. Meaning it could help create new memories with your family if you can offer an HDTV experience for TV viewing.

The actual results were that 43 percent would travel to their in-laws if they could count on watching the big game in HD (of that amount, 50% were men, no shock there). Believe it or not, 81% answered that the quality of the TV image was more important than how good the food was, which is the big stunner of the survey.

So fire up the big game in HD; it could help bring your family together. Read here for more stats.

Deal of the Day: Toshiba 40″ 1080P HDTV, $690 + shipping

January 27, 2009 by  
Filed under Toshiba, TV Brands

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t24-4004-mainxxHere’s yet another great deal on HDTV joy, this time from long-time veteran vendor TigerDirect on a 40″ 1080P HDTV with 10,000:1 contrast ratio, good specs and really good overall reviews.

How about $689.99 + shipping for a deal? It’s the best we’ve seen from a major vendor for this model by $100-$300, and the picture has been raved about on a number of sites. A few sites have commented that the sound could stand some improvement, but hey, for this price, you can’t go too wrong.

Note: Tax is added in NC, FL, and IL.

You can check it out here: Link

Tune in tomorrow for even more great HDTV deals courtesy of your ever-watchful friends at Screen Sleuth.

BD-Live: Will it ever take off?

January 27, 2009 by  
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4-3-08-walk_hard_bd_liveLet’s be honest: BD-Live has pretty much been a failure overall. Two things have factored in to keep interest down: 2.0 players are now very inexpensive and easily available, but the main obstacle is that the content hasn’t been awe-inspiring, even for owners of high-end HDTVs to feast on. According to reports on several sites, that may be changing in 2009, as several providers are gearing to provide more content.

Lionsgate is planning to open its own BD-Live portal (named Lionsgate Live) which will offer filmmaker interviews, ring tones and other similar material. More studios plan on focusing on the discs to add more BD Live content and make it easier to access. Time will tell if this is effective or not.

2009 is more than likely a watershed year for BD-Live; if consumers don’t take to it by 2010 or so, odds are it will slowly die off. Widgets in HDTV are all the rage at the recent CES a few weeks back, so who knows: that trend could help BD-Live gain a new foothold.

New Report: “Significant gap” between HDTV ownership and HDTV usage

January 26, 2009 by  
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hdtvResearch firm In-Stat (they do a lot of tech surveys, so its fairly relevant) is back with brand new numbers on the amount of HDTV owners vs. actually viewing shows in HD, and there’s still a pretty big chasm between the two. Too large for the format to grow as much as it could.

The report states that the “number of US HDTV households, defined as households having both an installed HD-capable TV set and also receiving and watching HD programming, increased by almost 40% in 2008.”

The sadder thing is, it could have been even better.

Of 39 million homes that have an HDTV, only 22 million actually subscribe to any form of HD programming, and that’s a crying shame. What’s the point? As far as the world goes, it warms our hearts to see that HDTV homes rose from 29 million at the end of 2007 to 36 million when 2008 was done, but it may be a few years before Europe in general hits 10 million HDTV homes.

The fact is, more consumers need to be educated as to the wonders of HD programming, and maximizing the potential of their TV’s. Otherwise, you might as well just buy a regular ol’ tube TV or one of those older projection things.

It happens: DTV transition delayed until June 12th

January 26, 2009 by  
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dtv_converter_couponYes, the ridiculous happened: for the 6% of the US population not ready for the transition or sitting around waiting for $40 vouchers, the Senate voted to delay the DTV transition until the 12th of June. Who knows if it will change again?

It’s confusing and frustrating for those of us in the HDTV and DTV community who want the improved picture and sound that will come from the transition, or those station who have already started to take down their analog equipment (which is more than a few).

Customers with expired vouchers can now request new ones, so that will be a good thing. It seems that those who haven’t acted by now, TV ain’t that important to them. This delay seems overly cautious, costly and unnecessary, in our eyes. But it’s happening. It still has to pass the House, which its expected to do, according to political reporters.

Hopefully, that date will stick and no more delays will happen.

What’s old is new again: GE releases plans for a premium HDTV line

January 25, 2009 by  
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ge-logoApparently, GE “leaked” some details about a possible entry into the big-time HDTV market back in September of last year. Many scoffed and forgot about it, as GE hasn’t been a big player in larger entertainment items for awhile now. But it appears they were serious about their efforts.

Interviews recently detailed in several blogs and article indicate they intend to compete with Sony, Samsung and other major brands with unique internet connectivity and support for wireless audio hookups, and more. It does sound intriguing, if GE can pull it off.

At CES, they displayed a 46-inch HDTV with a GLT light that utilizes Luminus LEDs and GLT’s light guide “blades”. They also plan on manufacturing wireless video boxes with full 1080 support, so it could be pretty cool if they really do follow through with their plans. Competition is almost always a good thing, so cheers to GE and let’s hope they give the established brands a run for their money.

No prices or release dates have been set, so this is purely informational, for now.

Animated HD Goodness: The Simpsons and South Park finally debuting in HD

January 25, 2009 by  
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1-25-09-simpsonsThe Simpsons is truly the longest-running sitcom style show of all time, now in its 20th season. Very much hard to believe, and until now, the episodes weren’t in HD. According to FOX, starting on February 15th, the show will be mastered and broadcasted in HD (1080i).

It’s one of a number of shows now shot in HD format. The majority of new dramas and shows from major networks are now shot in widescreen HD by default, which is a very welcome trend. Many pundits predict that by 2011 or so, 90% of networks will shoot everything in full HD by default and with the digital transition, TV for everyone will be shown with much better quality picture and sound.

Rumors are that South Park will do the same this coming season. Hopefully the other top animated show, Family Guy, will follow suit at some point.

Deal of the Day: Samsung 37″ HDTV for $745 – free shipping

January 24, 2009 by  
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9a44b561945740eca99cfd1b26892fb9Here’s yet another great deal from Screen Sleuth, the internet destination for all things HDTV.

BuyDig.com has the Samsung LN37A450 37″ HDTV with 720p, 10,000:1 contrast ratio and 20 watt speakers, with 6ms response time and 3 HDMI plugins for only $745, and free shipping (tax in NJ).

It’s been reviewed fairly well on a number of sites, and it’s one of the better prices we’ve seen for this model.

Go here to get the price and check it out: Link

Subject to dealer stock and end of sale at any time, as per usual, of course. Feel free to come back every day and check the latest great deals on HDTV goodness being offered on the internet with Screen Sleuth.

Poll: Internet-connected HDTV – Hot Trend or Fad?

January 24, 2009 by  
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hp-tvOther than 3D (one of the biggest and most overblown themes of this years CES), the biggest trend this year was internet-connected HDTV’s and widgets built into TV’s that display info and content. It sounds like a great idea when you look at it from a distance, but is it practical for everyday use? Is it something that will genuinely catch on in years to come? Enough to become truly useful?

So, here’s a survey posed by Engadget HD: Do you plan on buying an net-connected HDTV this year (or any year soon), or do you think it’s just a trendy indulgence that won’t last?

Feel free to go vote here (I voted option 3 personally; I want to see it mature more before I commit to it): Link

Corporate Shame – and Hope: DisplaySearch predicts half of flat-panels will be “green” within 2 years

January 23, 2009 by  
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11-7-08-vizio_eco_tv_320_450While Energy Star 3.0 compatibility has become more of a rallying cry for many companies this coming model year, there are a few companies that have quite a way to go in the “green” area of company responsibility.

DisplaySearch, a HDTV and display research company, indicated that only 20% of LCD and Plasma display shipments had any “green” features at all, which is a pretty sad number considering the rate the planet is coming apart right now. Good news though: they expect that to rise to 50% by 2011 and 70% by 2012, which sounds much better, though it should be a around 50% already.

So what features indicate a “green” TV? It needs to fit one of the following conditions, quoted from the Energy Star guidelines: “Use environmentally friendly components and materials; achieve lower power consumption by using new components or technologies; be compliant with environmental regulations such as waste disposal; use production processes that reduce energy and materials consumed; or be completely or partially recyclable after useful life or use green or eco-friendly concepts in product design”

Bear in mind, it just has to do ONE of those things in that list. That’s hardly an insurmountable goal, really, and it’s just plan lazy and irresponsible to not have at least 50% of TV’s do ONE of those things. Thankfully, it appears more companies are taking the time and effort to meet more of these guidelines.

PR disaster in the making: DTV delay act now detailed a little further

January 23, 2009 by  
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big-changeSenator Jay Rockefeller seems behind the bill in Congress to delay the DTV transition from Feb. 17th to June 12th, in the latest embarrassment for the DTV movement in the US. The latest Nielsen stats do point out that over 6+ million homes are not DTV ready, but it doesn’t detail how many of those really care about it. If they haven’t acted already, they probably don’t care very much, with all the coverage on the subject.

Yet, Congress seems ready to approve this delay, with a nod to stations that have started to take down their analog equipment already: stations locally have the option of switching over to digital on the Feb. date or sooner than June, if they wish to. So some areas may still switch over sooner, so it may best for those still stuck with rabbit ears to get their acts together and get ready for the switch, because it will (eventually) happen.

Congress did say this would more than likely be “the last delay barring emergencies” if this does happen.

WSJ Report: Will we see HDTV companies merging during economic downtime?

January 22, 2009 by  
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2-23-08-sony-sharp-lcdIt’s a question that’s always asked during economic rough patches, but if the rumor mill is to be believed, there’s a small chance this might actually become reality.

A Wall Street Journal article writes that industry pros anticipate only the big name brands — Sony, Samsung, Panasonic, Sharp, LG and Toshiba — surviving this steep economic downturn. Others (Vizio, even with Wal-Mart support, Insignia, etc) may be forced to join up with a larger company or perish.

We’re not entirely sure that’s the likely scenario — after all, price right now is what many consumers care about, and Vizio and the “alternate” companies have generally the best prices.

And why would they merge? It wouldn’t make sense for two struggling companies to merge into one mediocre sales volume company. This may be an instance where the press assumes based on previous track records what may happen, but business wise in this case, it wouldn’t make sense. No Viz-inghouse in anyone’s future, we think.

Hard to believe: DTV switchover may be delayed until June

January 22, 2009 by  
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dtvYes, it may be ridiculous, but the digital TV switchover date may be delayed until June, as a recent report indicated that over 6 million homes still aren’t DTV ready, and the voucher system is logjammed pretty badly. The February date has been blasted all over the country for months now, and all this will do is create confusion, in our opinion, but hey…what can you do?

Rumors have surfaced that the new DTV transition date may end up being June 12th, instead of the heavily advertised February 17th date.  Unless Congress overturns the ruling, the old date still applies, but it appears that Congress may do just that, which saddens us as HDTV fans ourselves.

It’s amazing to think in these days of digital technology, high-definition TV’s, music players that fit in the palm of your hand and internet streaming video that over 6.5 million people still use rabbit ears.  Hopefully, things will get sorted out and the date will not change. We’ll keep you informed of any official announcements, of course.

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