A New Player: Viewsonic unveils two new LCD HDTV models

February 28, 2009 by  
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2-26-09-viewsonic-vtms2431We’re not precisely sure what makes this “multimedia” over any other HDTV, but we’ll just go along with it for now. Viewsonic is getting into the HDTV business, it seems.

They’ve unveiled a 24″ LCD  with full 1080p HD res, an internal “media player,” and an RS-232 port for home automation purposes, so its got all the bells and whistles.

Alongside that model, which will retail for $449 (a bit steep for a 24″ to be honest), which will be available in the 2nd quarter 2009, the company is also releasing a bigger cousin, an ultrathin 42″ LCD. Included will be 500 nits of brightness, a decent but not spectacular 1,500:1 contrast ratio, VGA / DVI connections, and built-in handles to make it easy to carry. It will also appear in Q2, and will retail at $1,999 or so.

It’s interesting to see Viewsonic as a player in the consumer HDTV industry, but with economic times the way they are, the pricing may not be ideal. We’ll have to wait and see what comes of this development.

Curiosity: Were any of our readers looking at Plasma TVs?

February 28, 2009 by  
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pn42a450ppn50a450p-smThe world of Plasma HDTVs is crumbling quite rapidly, and its become apparent that maybe the demand for Plasma (compared to LCD) just wasn’t there, at least in the US anyway. Or was it?

With Pioneer exiting the business of selling Plasma TV’s and LG considering doing the same, it seems as though Plasma may be on its way out of the business at some point altogether.

Which leads us to a curious question: among our readers, were any of you thinking about purchasing a Plasma TV, but changed your mind due to all the instability in the Plasma end of things lately? Feel free to leave comments here.

Hold on a minute: LG isn’t withdrawing from the Plasma market…in the UK, at least

February 27, 2009 by  
Filed under LG, Product News, Technology News, TV Brands

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2-27-09-lg-plasma-hdtvIt seems as though someone might have jumped the gun on LG and the fate of their Plasma TV line, at least in the UK.

George Mead, the Marketing guru for a large segment of the TV market at LG Electronics UK, has informed a few websites that LG Electronics UK will NOT be stopping the sale of Plasma TV’s in the UK in the near future. He was not able to comment about the US or any other territories and Plasma sales there, obviously.

To repeat: this applies only to the UK, since the statement we reported yesterday was pretty definite sounding in tone and came from the main VP of LG himself, Lee Gyu-Hong.

Mead spoke on, and we quote: “we have recently implemented a bespoke strategy to promote and market plasma TVs here in the UK”, so it appears Plasmas are safe there for now. As for the rest of the planet, who really knows now?

Tech Notes: Toshiba playing around with OLED TVs

February 27, 2009 by  
Filed under Technology News, Toshiba, TV Brands

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japan_toshiba_tv_xits101Toshiba has been claiming they’re tweaking OLED TV technology that could be appearing in TVs in the very near future, and could best LCD in color accuracy and black levels, two primary LCD sticking points (though not as big a sticking point as a few years ago; LCD has improved in these areas somewhat).

Of course, Toshiba has been saying this about OLED for a few years now.

Lately, the trade papers are reporting that they are working with diffraction gratings (a technical buzzword for reflecting light in certain ways internally) to make an OLED picture extra sharp and clear.  Their goal is to make the output efficiency much better than LCD currently, and these new tech additions have improved light output by 60%, without increasing power consumption, which sounds good to us.

Toshiba for their part still claims mainstream OLED TVs are years away even now, but after hearing about (and seeing some of the tiny OLED TV’s out there now) them, we’re excited to see the first practically priced bigger models roll out.

Thought of the day: Will Blu-ray succeed long-term?

February 26, 2009 by  
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buy_blu_ray_300Many experts have been guessing and analysing for awhile now about whether Blu-Ray will find its footing as a medium and at least come near the success of DVD. Some say yes, some say no, but most agree its at least gaining some ground. The CEA has forecasted over 5.7 million BR players to be sold this year, which is pretty good, but nowhere near what DVD’s do.

As a movie-viewing medium for HDTV’s, its pretty much the best quality you can get, as it supports 1080p and more detail than DVD or many streaming or cable systems do.

LG guesses that the economic troubles may actually help the BR industry, as many will be staying home instead of being out on the town spending money.  Most have stated that when the unit prices hit $99 or so, the market will explode rather quickly for HDTV owners, and it may have a chance to supplant DVD in the hearts of many home movie lovers. Right now they’re at $149-$249 or so overall on average, and with the economic climate where it is, that’s still considered too high for many owners.

What do you think? Will BR succeed commercially, or will it always be a niche media format?

Another one bites the dust?: LG may be pulling out of the Plasma TV market

February 26, 2009 by  
Filed under LG, Product News, Technology News, TV Brands

5-13-08-lg-plasmaWhatever did Plasma do to anyone? Suddenly, many manufacturers seem to be looking to abandon the technology like a sinking ship, and now LG may be looking to join the parade.

After Vizio and Pioneer both leaving the Plasma marketplace, now LG has reportedly stated that they are currently considering their own stake in the Plasma HDTV industry, and are now pondering ending their own production of Plasmas.

Should LG decide to pull out (many rumors around the web say it will happen, more than likely), that will leave just Panasonic and Hitachi as current producers of Plasma TVs. LG’s stance: the profitability of those TV’s is deteriorating rapidly, and due to the way the TV’s are produced, cost savings wouldn’t be possible without sacrificing quality.

The choices of Plasma TV makers going from 5 to only 2 in less than 2 months? Who woulda’ thunk it? Certainly not us. The days for the technology in general may be numbered, it appears.

Declaration of War: Vizio asks FCC to step in to punish Funai

February 25, 2009 by  
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vizio_logo1The brewing war between Vizio and Funai stepped up a notch today as Vizio formally asked the FCC to step in and punish Funai for various patent offenses. It’s getting a little ugly, as far as corporate battles go.

Vizio has filed an lawsuit against Funai just a scant few days ago (written about here on our site), they’ve taken the offensive by asking that the FCC make Funai (quote from a statement filed by Vizio) ”comply with patent licensing conditions imposed by the FCC when it adopted the digital television standards for the United States.”

Vizio also asked the FCC to “order Funai to cease its unreasonable and discriminatory patent enforcement policies while the FCC considers a pending petition for declaratory ruling.”

No word on any reply by the FCC. My money is on that the FCC will slap Funai on the hands, but it won’t get much beyond that. Nothing like a little soap opera to make the world of HD more interesting.

HD Primer: Why are there black bars on my new HDTV?

February 25, 2009 by  
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ar12_mdYou just bought a new HDTV with widescreen, and expect all of your content to fill all of the screen, right? You get it home, and see most of the content has black bars or is centered in the middle with bars on the side. What is this?

Here is one of the most detailed and interesting explanations of all the differing reasons and types of screen types present on HDTV’s, presented by Engadget HD. It comes with screenshots of each type of screen you may encounter, with full technical explanations of each.

The gist is: most shows are still presented in 4:3 mode, which is typical old-fashioned tube TV dimensions, and only carry enough info to fill this space. You can set it to “stretch”, but depending on the TV, it may look “stretched out” and unnatural. This is slowly changing as more and more shows are shot in widescreen.

Here’s the article: Link

HD News: VUDU first to sell HD movies via their set-top box

February 24, 2009 by  
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2-23-09-vudu-hulkVUDU made news with their Blu-ray-competition HDX format, and now its the first set-top company to begin selling movies in HD format to users, for them to keep forever (on their boxes anyway).

Announced today, all VUDU users can browse a decent sized library of HD/HDX movies, with prices ranging between $13.99 and $23.99, depending on the movie, of course. It will include 50 (mostly indie) movies initially, including Man on Wire, which won an Oscar this year. FirstLook studios will feature a few movies as well.

Hopefully, it will continue to grow, and more large studios will jump on the bandwagon and offer their wares as well. With the recent price cuts of the VUDU box, there should be a larger market for this service. The only thing i’d be wary of is the fact that your purchases will only exist as long as VUDU remains around, which is always a gambit these days.

Element Proof (almost): The Sony GXD-L64H1 65″ LCD

February 24, 2009 by  
Filed under Industry News, Product News, Sony, Technology News, TV Brands

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sony-gxd-l64h1-20090224-600Most of the HDTV’s these days are decently durable, but of course, at the prices of many of these devices, you wouldn’t want to touch them with anything but the softest touch, for fear of messing up your cherished panel. With this new entry from Sony, you apparently don’t need to handle it so gently.

Sony’s GXD-L64H1 is apparently an extremely ultra-durable LCD, a 65-inch monster that scored an IP54 on the International Protection Rating chart, meaning it’s (almost) entirely dust-proof and can survive rain/snow showers, wind, whatever. Which we suppose is useful depending on how rough you treat things you pay a lot of money for (and the climate you live in).

Our only problem with this unit (and why it may struggle), the price: The indestructable LCD wonder is due to be available in May, at the rather sky-high ¥1,850,000; that’s about $19,300 USD, so you’ll need to be floating in cash to make this a part of your household.

New News Worth Noting: LG announces 42″ and 47″ Bluetooth LCD HDTV models

February 23, 2009 by  
Filed under LG, Technology News, TV Brands

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2-23-09-lg_lh70-hdtvLG has unveiled the very newest of their Scarlet line, which will feature built-in Bluetooth, and we’re only hoping they go beyond the shores of South Korea, where they will debut initially.

The LH70 line will be made up of 2 models, both mega-thin: a 42″ and larger 47″ sibling. Each set will have a full host of great specs, including a razor-sharp 100,000:1 contrast ratio, now-standard 120Hz technology, lightning-like 2 millisecond response time, a USB port for connecting all manner of devices to it, and a very cool ambient light thingie to automatically adjust brightness in order to best fit the room and to lower energy usage (many HDTV’s are now including something similar to this as well).

Of course, as is typical with release announcements like this, no word on prices or availability, but we assume the latter will be very soon.

A Widget Revolution: Chumby and Broadcom team up for internet content on HDTV’s

February 23, 2009 by  
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small_chumby_tv_01Chumby already makes very solid digital photo frames, but they haven’t stopped there, apparently. Today they announced a collaboration with Broadcom that could change the landscape of widgets and HDTV forever.

This partnership, according to several sources, will integrate its media internet platform onto a a chip that will find its place among set-top boxes and DVD players, among other similar devices.

Chumby may be the perfect one to accomplish this feat, as widgets and similar type stuff is about they really do, and therefore they can do them quite well. Just imagine: having over 1,000 snippets of info at your fingertips, constantly being updated on the internet, while watching your favorite HDTV show. It’s a future that was beyond imagining just a short time ago, but it could be coming to a set near you very soon.

Global HD News Report

February 22, 2009 by  
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1-23-09-international-hd-newsThe very latest global HD happenings have been posted in an article at Engadget HD, and lots are goin’ on on the international front with HD and related subjects.

The biggest news was 90,000+ Sky HD boxes made by Pace, which have been attributed to poor hardware. The company is addressing the concerns thankfully, offering free service to those affected for 3 months. This comes at a bad time for the company, since they’re trying to push their HD service across Europe, and this sort of incident won’t help at all.

Other news includes Starhub jettisoning analog cable service in Singapore, and they’re phasing out set top boxes altogether at some point (smart!).

Read more here.

You get what you pay for: The Insignia NS-2BRDVD player

February 22, 2009 by  
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2-20-09-ns-2brdvdWe’ve all heard that eternal saying: “You get what you pay for”. Well, this is a case of that being true, unfortunately.

The Insignia Blu-Ray player debuted a few weeks ago, and its now been reviewed at CNET, and reviews have been poor, to say the least, with the player lacking in several essential areas (except its sub-$200 price), including Dolby DTS Audio decoding, BR Profile 2.0 isn’t working yet, it’s very slow to load discs, and it doesn’t support firmware updates via USB.

It seems like the player was issued as an afterthought, and many of the comments we’ve read basically say, if this is all you can afford, don’t bother. If you need very basic BR playback and that’s it, it may be ok. Otherwise, you can buy a Sony for $20-30 more, so shop around carefully.

Quickie Deals Post (and yes, it’s been awhile)

February 21, 2009 by  
Filed under Hitachi, Sharp, Sony, TV Brands

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hot_dealsWe admit it – it’s been awhile since we posted HDTV deals on here. We’ve been focused on the mess that was (and is) the DTV transition, and other tidbits in the news regarding HDTV. Well, hopefully we earn back your respect with this post, filled with great deals on HDTV goodness. All are subject to selling out/sales ending, of course.

OneCall, digital superstore, has a really nice deal on the Sony KDL-40XBR7 40-inch Bravia XBR Series 1080p 120Hz LCD HDTV – $1,770 + free shipping. That’s about the lowest we’ve found on this right now. This one does action about as well as any HDTV on the market (right now anyway), though Sony ain’t cheap as many HDTV fans know.

NewEgg has been around awhile and sometimes offers rally good HDTV deals, like the Hitachi UT32X812 Directors Series 32in 120Hz LCD HDTV Monitor w/ 1.5in UltraThin – $700 + free shipping. And even better, they throw in a free Hitachi AVC08U Audio Video Center with the deal, which makes it super good.

6ave.com has been a popular electronics destination for some time, and they’re featuring the Sharp LC-46D85U 46in 1080p LCD HDTV for only $1288 + here’s a 5% off coupon code for you to use: AFL5 + free shipping = $1233 shipped, which is a very cool deal, indeed.

Feel free to feast on our bounty of HDTV deals, and we hope to continue focusing on more great deals in the days to come once again.

Thought: Would a Blu-Ray recorder have a market in the US?

February 21, 2009 by  
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5-28-08-dmr-xw300Just an interesting thought: Would Blu-Ray recorder units have a market here in the US? They’re not really available here, though they’re available in Japan and have been for awhile now, as in several years. Numbers there don’t indicate a huge demand.

It’s obviously not a technology thing, as the tech does exist. I’m certain its a DRM/movie studio holdup primarily. But then: would there be a market for it really? Blu-Ray players are just really starting to become more mainstream in the marketplace, so recorders probably wouldn’t sell well enough to justify the expense and distribution.

With the advent of DVR as a popular recording medium, maybe physical medium recorder days are numbered anyway. Digital will eventually replace most existing physical solutions anyway, so we may never see BR recorders on these shores, and it might not a huge loss really.

Rosy Outlook: Vizio sets all manner of records, business booming

February 20, 2009 by  
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vizio_logo1Many analysts say there’s no money in many industries right now, including HDTV’s. Try convincing Vizio of that fact, as they come off a record quarter of prosperity.

While many companies are cutting staff, restructuring or shuffling their priorities,  Vizio is sitting pretty with rosy financial statements right now, and it comes as a bit of a surprise to us, HDTV veterans we are. I’m used to seeing them as bargains in Wal-Mart, or something you settle for when you can’t afford a “name brand”. That apparently isn’t the case anymore.

Here’s some numbers for you to peruse: they’re the second largest shipper of HDTV’s as of now, their sell-through increased 52% during the holidays over 2007, and they shipped 1.2 million HDTV in the 4th quarter of 2008.

The CEO was quite happy about their success, being quoted as saying that as other HDTV makers drop their prices and still struggle a bit, Vizio is humming right along with smart business moves. No doubt about it; Vizio has a good thing going on, and here’s to them keeping it up.

Info Nugget: Philips Cinema 21:9 has a release date

February 20, 2009 by  
Filed under Philips, Technology News, TV Brands

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2-20-09-cinema_21-9_06_lifA recent UK trade show revealed that the large HDTV wonder would be released “sometime this Spring”, but now more solid details about price and shipping date have been revealed. There’s some good and bad news associated with this, however…the price will be a tad more than originally suggested.

The 56-inch 21:9 (that’s theater width screen) widescreen HDTV panel will cost you a wallet-busting $5,000 USD. So this one is squarely in the “elite” category of entertainment items.

We previously posted about this TV and its awesome specs, so no doubt it will appeal to the high-end market right out of the gate and get its fair share of takers. We can’t wait to see it when it comes out and we’ll bring you the early reviews, of course.

Big Time HD Gear: The Panasonic BT-LH2550

February 18, 2009 by  
Filed under Panasonic, Technology News, TV Brands

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2-16-09-bt-lh2550_500

For those working on critical productions in print and media on their monitors, this might be a listing you take a look at.

This full-production quality HDTV will run you $5,995 for a 25.5-inch monitor. For those of you who make big-time media production your livelihood, we present the Panasonic BT-LH2550 LCD production monitor.

Featuring a unique IPS panel and a razor-sharp 1,920 x 1,200 resolution, this one features a huge palette of colors (more than the typical monitor/TV), as it (according to the company: “surpasses the ITU-R BT.709 standard (130%), enabling it to display a greater range of colors than conventional LCD and CRT displays.” If you need something done to show to huge corporations and such, this will be your best friend.

If those specs didn’t make you drool, the inputs just might. This beauty features two auto-switching SDI (HD/SD) inputs, component, DVI-D, and RGB inputs. Pretty much everything you would need.

Yes, it’s overkill for the average monitor/HD user, but for the big time professionals, 6 thousand isn’t very much. Needless to say, a very cool and very niche product. It should be available very soon (if not already).

How well is the DTV (early switcher) transition going?

February 18, 2009 by  
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dtvIt depends on which group you ask really. Some say the early adopter transition has been very smooth, and others say confusion over the new and old ads are creating a wealth of befuddled calls from various analog TV users.

Yesterday, about 30%+ of TV stations switched over to DTV, and the National Association of Broadcasters indicates they’ve received a few hundred calls that were mostly dealt with over the phone. That would be considered a smooth transition by many.

The cutoff date is now June 12th for all analog TV stations to switch to all-digital signals, which will improve both regular SD and HD picture and sound quality, and provide more bandwidth for HDTV channel expansion as well, which is already starting to shift into high gear on some carriers.

Let us know if you were prepared for the switchover and how things went with you, if you’re in an affected area (the full list of stations were published here yesterday).

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